What Would Virginia Do?

Do you remember those bracelets? You know the ones, WWJD? They were popular about 10 years ago, when the Jesus wave was reaching the dry shores of Greeley, Colorado. I mocked them then, thinking they were nothing more than a marketing scheme to get a young-fresh crowd of people into the pews. And they probably were. But the message they were meant to be spreading wasn’t too bad. And it finally reached me today.

Now don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not pondering what Jesus would do if his grandmother was dying because he likely would react the same way I am. No, what I mean is when I reflect on my short life and all that I’ve learned, I marvel at how much someone my grandmother’s age must know. In her lifetime, the United States of America lived through the Great Depression, helped win a world-war, put a man on the moon, produced one of the largest grossing electronic companies in the world, and elected a black president when only four years before her birth did women win the right to vote. It’s remarkable really, what can be measured in a lifetime.

My uncle alerted the family today that my grandmother, Virginia V. Johnston, isn’t doing so well. He is unsure of what the future holds for her and how much time she is choosing to stay on this Earth. So after my initial shock and a good cry, I focused my energy today on What Would Virginia Do?

When I rode past the chrysanthemum bush being carefully tended by its gardener this morning, I wondered WWVD? Would she wave hello? Stop and have a chat? Invite the gardner into her home for a spot of tea? Yes.

When I walked into my first period class with no motivation to interact with students due to some bad news I got earlier would she wallow and pout? No. Virginia would put on a smile, wrap them in a hug, and tell each and every one how special they are to her.

When I rode past the adorable school children huddled together bustling home from school would she snap a photo, or smile and say good afternoon? Yes.

I miss my grandmother. Every day. I miss the smell of her skin, and the softness of her touch. I miss how she opened her arms to every child she met as though it were her own. I miss how she stood up for herself when my grandfather was being unreasonable. I miss making strawberry jam on steamy North Carolina nights. I miss playing games in the living room by the fireplace that never hosted a fire. I miss the leather chair, still warm from her lap, that I curled up on as bed time approached. I miss the stories she would tell me about my dad as a little kid and the tiny treasures hidden around her house.

I miss her and I love her and I want to crawl into a hole and not come out for a long time. But that’s not what she would do. She would live. She would take a walk in the beautiful autumn weather. Or make some tea and read a book. She would go to her garden and tend to plants, or listen to the birds, or sing a song, or maybe all three of those things.

So that’s what I am going to do. Wipe the tears. Have a glass of beer, then tend to my garden with the care and love my grandmother would give her hydrangeas. I’ll listen to the crickets play their evening symphony and remember fondly the North Carolina nights I spent chasing fireflies with her. I’ll wave hello to the children passing by and give thanks to God for all he’s given me, because that’s What Virginia Would Do.

Love life. Be always grateful. Don’t waste time dwelling on things you cannot change. And live. That’s What Virginia Would Do.


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