Saturday, August 14, 2010

Grammie's 100th

My Grammie, if she were alive today, would have been 100 years old today. She was born on August 14th, 1910. She lived through the roaring twenties, the Great Depression, the 2nd World War, the Lunar Landings, and of course all the of the mundane day to day stuff that we call, "life." 

What's cool about her '100th' to me is that she and I shared the same birthday, August 14th. Yep, it's my birthday and I must say it has been different to celebrate it without her all these years since 1999. We all loved her so much and I don't know if I can express how great it was that she lived with our family during my entire childhood. 

I had the great privilege of speaking at her Memorial Service. Here's what I said.........

Good Morning. My name is Chris Booth, grandson of 'Grammie' and son of Gram's eldest child, Nancy.

As a child I had always felt extra special on my birthday because, as maybe some of you know, it is August 14th, the very same day as Grammie's. (I later learned it is also the birthday of Gary Larson, creator of the Far Side cartoons. Now as cool as that may be, sharing birthdays with my Grammie is way cooler!)

So I feel especially honored to share a 'few' memories and thoughts with you today. Though we all have so many stories, there is one that I'd really like to share because it reveals, I think, two of Grammie's finest traits: her devotion and her faithfulness.

Growing up, we were taught to respect our elders. One reason for doing so became very clear to me one summer day when I was eight or nine years old. Grammie was living with us on Cape Cod at the time and was weeding one of the flower beds as she was wont to do (and make us 'wont' to do as well!). I was playing in the back yard when I heard a blood-curdling scream from across the yard. Grammie & I ran across the yard to find my little sister Carol had stepped on a GIANT 12-inch garter snake and was shaken to the core.

Of course Grammie leaped into action, comforting Carol and ordering me to fetch the axe! And don't you know she raised that axe and brought it down through that snake's evil little neck and embedded it in the earth, right there before our eyes, and with such power, vengeance and wrath that I knew....I should NEVER CROSS GRAMMIE!

Indeed, that day brought for me a healthy new respect for my elder! And although I feel a little sorry for the poor, helpless little snake, I think this one little episode shows what a passion Grammie had for her family. She made a choice to take that little snake's life for the sake of her frightened little grandchild's emotional welfare.

Now, by 1999's materialistic standards, signifigance is determined by having acquired alot of the right 'stuff' and the attainment of a certain status. And it may appear to some that by this standard, Grammie didn't get too far in her life.

-she never made a large amount of money
-she didn't have a lot of expensive jewelery or fancy cars or own a big house in the 'right' neighborhood
-she didn't travel around the world, was never on tv or in a movie
-she never invented anything and as far as I know she was never published
-and technology? Heck, if you asked her what a gigabyte is, she would've asked you if it was anything like the jitterbug!

Grammie lived a simple, long and full life, though, and besides, does the lack of any of those things make her 30,709 days on this earth somehow lacking in meaning? Of course not. Most certainly not.

Grammie saw the emptiness of the trappings that this world has to offer. She raised her sights to the two things that mattered most to her: her loved ones and over and above that, her savior Jesus Christ.


I love it that today we sang, "For all the saints, who from their labors rest..." Do you know what Grammie's labor was? I can tell you with full confidence that her labor was prayer. Did you know that she prayed for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and other loved ones by name, every day?


I had the privilege of driving with Grammie for three or four hours coming home from Carter and David's wedding in Maine a few years back. Let me tell you, she was one sharp lady. Our conversation ranged all the way from evolution to current events to the core of the Gospel message. It is this last thing, the Gospel, that I would like to focus on just for a moment, because it is so much at the heart of who Grammie was.

Grammie was not just a little old lady who needed religion as some kind of crutch or because it made her feel nice. She was a person who was convicted of the reality of God and of the truth of the Gospel, and is now experiencing firsthand the glorious hope of her salvation. I am sure that she would want nothing more this day than for God to be glorified by having you understand what she was so convinced is true.

I don't know what Grammie's theology was, I don't know if she was Arminian or Calvinist, pre-mil or post-mil, immerse or sprinkle. But this, in four verses from the book of Romans, is the heart of the Gospel that Grammie believed:

Romans 3:23 "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." God is infinitely holy, perfect and pure, and we are not because of sin.

Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death." Death. Eternal separation from God and his goodness. Punishment for sin.

-That's the bad news.
-The good news is that it doesn't end there.

Romans 5:8 "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!" That's the good news of the Gospel: God in Jesus became man to take away the sins of sinners.

-God saves man from God!
-Who benefits from this? All? No, not all.

Romans 10:9 "If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Amen.

I felt strongly that I should include this in my message to you today, because you know what Gram is like. She would be horrified at the attention so necessary today and would rather that God receive the praise. Isn't that so? So praise God for his Gospel.


However, before I sit down I'd like to embarrass Grammie just a bit more. (I suspect she's probably busy telling some angels to get busy cleaning the dishes or something, so maybe she won't notice...). I'd like to share a short list, and I'm sure you all have your own, of some things that go along with Grammie. Many of these memories came from the 5 or so years that Grammie lived with our family in the 70's. Since I was a kid at the time, these are a kid's eye view of Grammie.

-Coffee (coo-aw-fee)
-Weeding the garden
-Pulling rocks in the garden
-Going to Friendly's after pulling weeds and rocks in the garden
-Lawrence Welk
-Her glasses
-Her bunions
-The green Rambler
-The marble in the door of the green Rambler that would roll every time you turned a corner
-Her dresser
-Her desk with the secret compartments on either side of the middle door
-I remember Grammie writing letters at her desk
-The wooden black dancer guy in the top of her mirror
-8mm movies
-Her disc camera
-Did you ever see her do the Charleston? She was smokin'!
-Tomatoes did she bend over like that? I didn't get that gene!
-The fishbowl of shells from Florida
-Her outrageous tan from Florida!
-Did you ever see her peel a raw onion and eat it like an apple?
-Elderberry jelly
-Strawberry jelly
-Raspberry jelly...can you smell them?
-Parafin wax
-Rhubarb pie
-Porches: solitaire...I remember how she taught me to cheat in Solitaire. She just recently denied having taught me to cheat at Solitaire.
-The smell of geraniums
-That little pull-the-string music box
-The little candy dish with the green ding-a-ling lid
-That dish was never empty!
-Oh, her singing! (The Billboard song; I-Don't-Want-Her-You-Can-Have-Her-She's-Too-Fat-For-Me; Surely Goodness and Mercy)
-She always had gum in her purse- but did she chew it?
-The glass of water by her bed (I just recently found out what that was one told me. That explains the gum).
-Stories of the chatterbox
-Stories of the Depression
-So many other stories
-Harlequin romances (can I mention those in church?)
-Kleenex up her sleeve
-Snapping beans
-Shucking peas
-The praying hands lamp
-George Beverly Shea
-Billy Graham on TV
-Her Bible by her bedside
-Eating pizza while watching Disney on Sundays in her room
-Her frequent road trips which were evidence of her devotion to her family
-The latest stories about the other grandchildren
-Did I mention coffee?
-Bet you thought I'd forget...Grammie's chocolate CAKE!

-And lastly, I remember...Grammie's hands. They were narrower than Aunt Eleanor's hands, and certainly smaller than Uncle Eddie's, but I almost cried yesterday when I saw both of you because of those hands!


Grammie loved God. Maybe one of you could tell me how much of the Bible she had memorized.

I'd like to end my time by reading Psalm 121, a Psalm she had in her memory because it was in her heart.

Psalm 121

 1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
       where does my help come from?
 2 My help comes from the LORD,
       the Maker of heaven and earth.

 3 He will not let your foot slip—
       he who watches over you will not slumber;

 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
       will neither slumber nor sleep.

 5 The LORD watches over you—
       the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

 6 the sun will not harm you by day,
       nor the moon by night.

 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
       he will watch over your life;

 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
       both now and forevermore.


  1. Well, it's your little sister, Carol, here. My 2 cents: the snake had a FROG in it's mouth, head first, with the long legs dangling out!! And I had a major thing for frogs at that stage, with even my bedroom decorated with them. Heck, I even had a frog-shaped mirror!! So, it wasn't just that the snake was "scary" - I may have even held it!-- it was the fact that it was eating a sweet, innocent, cute froggie that horrified me. And, still your point is well made that Grammie was willing to go to any length to rescue her grandchild, or that which her grandchild adored....
    Thanks for this today, Chris. Perfect timing for a post I know you've been wanting to share for awhile. She was and still is a blessing to us all, in her funny, hard-working, high-energy, high-expectations kind of way. I know the tears still come whenever I hear and sing along with "I'd Rather Have Jesus". We have a rich heritage of God-fearing family. May it continue through us.

  2. hey it's cousin jenny...where did you get that picture?? because i have a print of it in my house but i can't find the original to scan it and mine is fading.... can you send it to me? i love that photo.

    i still think of Grammie's silly songs every time one of my kids is sick and I am rocking her. Oh and I think I remember you and your brothers had a song about Grammie's flab!!

  3. Hello again... it's Debbie (grandaughter of Eleanor)... What fun memories of Aunt Florence (Aunt Flarncy)! I remember most of that and other goodies too, mostly from her later years. I enjoyed living several years with her at Aunt Barb's house, although I was in Brazil when she passed away. I did not remember it was her birthday but just yesterday I was showing pictures of her to some friends! i love telling "Aunt Florence stories"! One picture is Aunt Florence in a crazy get up for a tea party we had one day when the older ladies had been "snowed in" for too long... the other was a saucy look she gave me when I told her she was supposed to have her feet up (whereby she swung them up in the air and onto a chair in one easy motion). I'd love to share them if you have an email address.

  4. Hi Chris, I remember virtually everything on your list about the Gram ... with just a few to add:
    -Sledding with her (she was an awesome belly-whopper)
    -How she always came to visit me when I was sick (when we lived in PA)
    -Singing the prayer as a family before a big holiday meal (I can still sing it: "We thank thee Lord for this our food, for life and health and every good. Let manna to our souls be given, the bread of life sent down from heaven. Amen.")
    -Hand washing the dishes because she distrusted the dishwasher.
    -The birthday cards that came with cash (and then didn't, but always had a warm note inside ... just as good!)

    I could go on and on ... take care dear cousin.

  5. Scott, thanks so much for sharing more memories. I think I'd like to collect more Grammie memories and keep adding them here in the comments to this post. I'll try to start with that great Facebook chat thread from the cousins......