Oct 3rd is the birthday of one very special lady, Willie Mae Woodard. In her honor I repost this tribute I wrote a couple of years ago: French Fry Faith
Grandmas are great. Really! Mine was amazing.
I lived with her in my early childhood years and she lived nearby until I was in the 5th grade. If I got sick at school, she got the phone call. I think I “got sick” occasionally so Grandma would get the call. When she picked me up, we would always go and get french fries (from McDonald’s of course) because they were my favorite. Till the day she died, if you called on Grandma, she answered. She was a servant leader before that was a thing. She knew how to pray and pray she did.
Grandma launched her very own Take Your Grandkids to Work Day in the 70s and it wasn’t annual. It was week-in and week-out. I went with her to visit shut-ins, people who couldn’t get out of the house due to limitations from age or illness. I went with her to funeral home visitations. I sat in her office while she cared for people. I attended her classes on hygiene and health for teenagers when I wasn’t yet a teen. Her title at the church we attended was Home Missionary, and it was School Nurse at the Christian School. I got to see her in action, caring for young and old. When I was older and we lived 3 states away, I spent a few weeks with her each summer. Then, I went with her to the nursing home from 3 PM to 11 PM where she served full-time as a nurse. She set me up to help by delivering fresh water and ice to the rooms and hanging out in the living area talking to patients. She would come home and nurse my Granddaddy who had cancer and fought it for a number of years.
Grandma didn’t have an easy life. But, I didn’t know that as a kid. She had a spirit of love, fun, and adventure. Her smile was beaming and contagious. She would give us (me and each of her grandchildren) her last dime, take us shopping, and totally get into the experience with us. She gave us driving lessons before we needed them and remained calm as we drove. She taught us to sew and make things out of “whatever you have handy.” She took us to the beach often and, when she could, she took us on road trips. She took us to church on Sunday and prayer meeting on Wednesday. And, she took me to get french fries when I was sick.
Today, when I am troubled over something in my life, I still want french fries and a talk with Grandma. She’s relocated to her heavenly home but when I need her, I can still feel her prayers at work in my life. The Bible talks a lot about prayer. Did you know it says that prayers are stored in heaven – in a bowl, in fact? Read Revelations 5:8 for more on that! That sounds funny! But, what a comfort it is to know there are many prayers at work for me today, because my Grandma served them up and into the bowl every day of her life. She lived to be 92. That’s a big bowl of prayer – enough to last a lifetime.
Thoughts of Grandma, faith and french fries (LOL) give me a feeling of security and strength. In a way, those child memories provide a benchmark – a reminder – to have faith. The Bible talks about putting up reminders in our households and around our necks to remember what God has done and who He is.
French fries with Grandma are my stake in the ground, plaque on the wall, necklace around my neck reminder that God meets me when I’m sick or sick at heart.
When I take my prayers to God like I took my problems to Grandma, He is faithful – like she was. When I am sick – at heart, He is faithful – like she was. When I pray, He answers like she did.
Thank you, Lord, for Grandma. Thank you for her life well lived. Help me to smile, serve, and sing like her. Help me to love, leap, and linger like her. Help me to teach, train, and tell like her.
May I give my grandchildren the physical representation of faith that she gave me and fill the heavenly bowl with prayers for them till the day I die – and take them to get french fries. 🙂