Emergency sunsets

She tells me Grandma kept a lawn chair in her trunk at all times in case of an emergency sunset she needed to watch from the side of the road. 

She tells me this as we’re standing by the casket. It’s a new piece of information, but it fits like a quilt piece. 

It fits my memory of her sitting quietly in the passenger seat as we listen to the live music across the water.

It fits like her hand over mine as she shows me the first three chords to “Little Brown Jug” on the banjo. And we jam away the hours.

It fits like my head in the pillows on the spare bed in her purple room as I read. Purple walls, purple lamps, purple just because she can. 

Among the adults who taught us to read, taught us to work, taught us to plan, she taught me to play.

She taught me that there is purpose in doing things just to do them, even if you have nothing to show for it but flushed faces and happy hearts. 

There is purpose in doing things that make you truly happy to be living at that particular moment in time, even if you never write it in your memoir. 

“In an ideal world, we only have four thousand weeks to live,” I tell her about the book I’m reading. Four thousand weeks worth of time to spend. 

She taught me to spend it on contentment. Because contentment is the best return on investment. It doubles what you already have. Triples it.  

“We really don’t know just how amazing she was,” she says as we listen to the old tapes Grandma recorded with her bluegrass band of thirty years. 

How can you really know the quiet impact her contentment had on the people around her? 

“She was the best person I knew,” she tells me. We’re just two of her granddaughters, leaning against the fence in the barn beside the house where she raised six children. I’m thinking of the way she played the banjo in nursing homes, at plowing matches and in churches. She’s thinking of weekly pizza nights. I’m thinking of the way she let us enjoy our childhood for as long as possible. 

And the way we prayed together, the way she talked about her faith–the simple, genuine, love-your-neighbour kind. 

Of how she was still the person everyone wanted to be around well past turning 90 because of the way she made you feel

She tells me Grandma left a plate of half-eaten dinner on the table to hop in the car and run an errand with them–and it fits like a quilt piece. She left her dinner to get cold to spend time with the people she loved. 

Isn’t that a way to live? The way her Saviour lived. Isn’t that the stuff that lasts long, long after. 

“But godliness with contentment is great gain…” 1 Timothy 6:6

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