Anyone who saw us together would never guess we aren't related.
I first met my adopted grandma when my family moved across the street from her house. She was a recent widow--tired, withdrawn, lonely and without grandkids. We were a large, noisy family new to the area. The path between our houses was not often used except for the occasional delivery of misplaced mail or the neighborly gesture of an extra plate of brownies. I think my boisterous siblings and I overwhelmed Grandma's quiet way of life. But somehow, she began to warm up to my zany family. By the holiday season, she was a frequent guest at our house.
My siblings and I took turns walking Grandma back across the country road after a visit. Sometimes we were awarded a cookie or piece of chocolate for our company. It was on one of those walks that we decided to call her Grandma, and she then began to call us her grandchildren. She taught us many games and won almost every time. She played basketball with my brother after church in her high heels. She stood as our Grandma for my sisters' weddings. It became expected to celebrate Mother's Day plus one at my house. A special gift was planned for her and a special place in all our hearts was reserved for Grandma. No one would have guessed we aren't related.
I learned many pieces of wisdom from Grandma, but one lesson she helped me experience is the value of being sensitive to others outside my immediate social sphere. It would have been easy to leave the path between our houses unused. But my relationship with Grandma enabled me to notice those people that I could include into my family, despite relation.
I often hear sermons, speeches and stories about those less fortunate than myself. I respond with the proper amount of guilt, but I'm so lost to any practical ways to make a difference. Is it even realistic that I, one young person, try? Yet one person made a difference in my life, and I have made a difference in hers. I bet you could name a few people who have played important roles in your life.
This Sunday, I challenge you to celebrate Mothers' Day plus one. Think of that older woman without grandchildren, the young widow, the mother whose son is serving in the military, the mother of kids too young to make her a card or that person who has played a motherly role in our own life. A card, a rose or a simple gesture will warm her heart and bring hope.
Today, Grandma lives in an assisted living home and is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. But my siblings and I still remember her on Mothers' Day, and she still remembers us as her adopted grandchildren.