Friday, September 26, 2014

THE MOST INFLUENTIAL


Earlier this year Time magazine published it's "100 Most Influential People" issue. Beyonce' Knowles-Carter is on the cover . I don't know if she is number 1 or 100, I was curious as to what her sphere of  influence was; but then Oprah wasn't on that list.
I wanted to list a group of influential people in my life, but I tend to overanalyze  and I can't think of 100 people I have known. But I thought about my paternal grandmother Elizabeth.  She was very strict(to me) and she always had a "switch" in her purse which was often used judiciously (on me). Now those of you who don't know what a "switch" is , I suggest you look it up in the dictionary of Southern Idioms. Let's just say she was a strict disciplinarian. 
She was also a serial churchgoer and attended at least 3 on any given Sunday. And more often then not, I was her companion. A typical Sunday would start very early, we would all attend the early morning services at the local Church my mom and dad attended. Afterwards we would have lunch and then start out for the "country" church she loved. Getting there would require two cabs and a long walk down a country road. During all of this, I would ask her, "Are we there yet"? The country church was in a "shotgun" type of building that Louisiana is famous for, and with  no air conditioning. On the hottest days of summer all of the kids would sit in the back of the church, where the windows were opened .


Sister Julie B Beck courtesy of lds.org

My grandma was a member of the Women's Auxiliary Board, so on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month, she wore either a white dress with white gloves and shoes, or she wore a navy blue dress with black shoes. Her role was to help people find their seats, or help moms with crying babies, or discretely remove small children who were in the throes of an uncontrollable  tantrum. As for me, I had the honor of sitting with her in the back, and of course the switch was there with us too.     

When I was in high school my grandmother had a stroke, she recovered but had to live in a nursing home. My dad would visit her at least 3-4 times a week and my brother and I would come . I don't remember having a lot of meaningful conversations with her. But I remember on one occasion I came to visit her, I was suffering from a broken heart. I wasn't talking to her because her speech and cognitive skills had deteriorated, so we just looked at each other. Then something happened, she spoke to me in a clear strong voice. She asked me why I was so sad and I told her. She gave me the best advice that only a loving grandma could give. Then we hugged and she told me that she loved me, she had never told me that before. Then she lapsed back into her incoherent babbling. Wow, what a gift, and I am thankful that I  was able to appreciate it then and even more now. I have often wondered what was the legacy that she left? What was her sphere of influence on me? Over the past few years I have been working on her Family History. The little bits and pieces of info I have found are hard won. I discovered that she was married to only one man, my Grandpa Will, but it seems they did not have a happy marriage. It was so unhappy that two of her sons changed their names in protest. She lived with her mother for a time;she was a share cropper, a domestic and other odd jobs. She raised 5 boys alone and they were fiercely loyal to her. Sort of like the "Sons of Katie Elder". I realize now that it was her strong testimony of faith that helped her to survive and live as long as she did. She never ceased to praise God, or testify of his good works in her life. She did her very best to instill this in me. The best thing she did for me was to teach me to read the Bible and then enjoy it. I feel like she is my guardian angel and I am forever grateful for her.   
Who is that "Most Influential" person in your life? Are you able to thank them. Here is some new music; an new take on an old song. It's called "Grandma's Hand's", originally sung by Bill Withers, but now by Tony Lucca.
  

This weekend all the "Sisters in Zion" of all ages will be gathered together for a wonderful time, to share a meal, to share thoughts and love. All ages will be represented and that is how it should be. See you all at the Womens Conference!!




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