My grandmother never cared for my mother, and this tension was something our whole family felt keenly. She was even sometimes quite mean to my mother. The details are unimportant.
In truth, my grandma had a very difficult life. My grandfather died young, leaving my grandmother to raise six children under thirteen on her own. My father told me that to pay for his father’s funeral, they borrowed a neighbor’s pony and gave pony rides around the block—a nickel a piece.
It was a different—and very difficult world for my grandmother.
In her last years, her capacities began to dwindle, leaving her vulnerable, confused, and sometimes afraid.
One day, she called. My mother listened quietly a while and then said, “It’s okay, Grandma, we’ll be there as soon as we can.” The next thing I knew, we were making the trek to her home several hours away.
When we arrived, she was clearly in need of attention. She was sheepish and unsure. My mother spoke gently, reassuring her that everything would be okay.
Stepping into the living room we were met with a foul odor, the source of which we soon discovered was used diapers that had not been discarded properly and were strewn about, even on the kitchen counter.
My mother set me to cleaning up while she drew my grandmother a bath. I will never forget watching her help my grandmother step into the water and tenderly bathe the woman who had been so unkind, offering a holy, hidden anointing of forgiveness and charity. She would help her dress and comb her hair, and later we would take her to the grocery store where grandma would point to an item and meekly ask, “Could I have one of those?” and my mother would reach up and grab three from the shelf. “Of course, Grandma,” she would say, “we’ll get you anything you need.”
Even as a child, I was deeply moved. I couldn’t have articulated it then, but now I understand, I was seeing a kind of consecration in truth unfolding before me.
To consecrate means "to make holy, sacred." The word alights multiple times in our readings today. Jesus consecrated Himself for my mother that she might be consecrated in truth, even in a home that hated her. In return, she consecrated my grandmother. And all that had been lost to cruelty had been miraculously made sacred ground.
Grandma, requiescat in pace.
I was seeing a kind of consecration in truth unfolding before me. // Liz KellyClick to tweet
In your kindness, let us pray today for those who have been mistreated by family members.
Liz Kelly is a jazz singer who fell in love with Jesus. She writes, teaches, offers spiritual direction and retreats with a special interest in helping women to flourish in their faith. She’s written six books, including the award-winning Jesus Approaches, the Jesus Approaches Take Home Retreat, and the Your Heart, His Home Prayer Companion. And she still sings jazz, but mainly in the tub and while washing dishes. Find out more about her here.