I could go on and on about the wonderful memories I have of her. What I want to talk about tonight, though, is the amazing legacy that she left with me: the way she loved people until the very end.
My Grandma struggled with diabetes for a long time. I don't know how long exactly, but for as long as I can remember. She struggled a lot and was pretty sick for a number of years.
A while before she died, we knew that her kidneys were failing, as often happens with diabetes. When you're kidneys fail, you have to go on dialysis if you want to stay alive. Dialysis is when they hook you up to a machine a few times a week that does what you're kidneys are supposed to, which is to clean the toxins out of your body. I remember we were out visiting them while they were going through the process of making some of these big decisions about dialysis. We got to be with them at doctors offices and a part of many conversations about this process. (my grandparents live on a Whidbey Island, an island in Puget Sound, in Washington State. And one of the most beautiful places in the world, in my opinion, but that's getting off topic.)
My Grandma didn't want to go on dialysis. The doctors couldn't understand that - the alternative to dialysis is just dying. But I get it. For my grandma, dying was a blessing - she knew that the best is yet to come for Believers. Dying meant going to heaven, being in the presence of God, having a perfect body and being able to walk again, and worshiping God for eternity.
It meant that the pain and suffering of this world would be over. I get it.
In the end though she decided to do it, to go through dialysis. Not for herself, but for others. See, being on dialysis means spending a lot of time in a little room with the same people for hours at a time several days a week. She saw that time as being an opportunity for ministry. My Grandma had a way with people like I don't think I've ever seen before. She was so good at forming relationships quickly, at conversation that was meaningful.
And she saw dialysis as a chance to talk to people and share about God in that time spent in that little room.
So ultimately, she decided to go on dialysis, purely for that reason. It is one of the most selfless and Godly decisions I have ever seen someone make and I think about her example often as I live my life.
She didn't get to do that, as God took her from this world before she started dialysis when her body rejected the dialysis on the day she was supposed to start it.
But it was the willingness that counts. And I'll never forget it.
I want to live that way - in a way that puts God's desires above my own selfish ones.
The scripture that she turned to in her last months was from James 1:2-4:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
I'll never forget the way my Grandma loved with His love.
"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." John 13:34-35