“Age puzzles me. I thought it was a quiet time. My seventies were interesting and fairly serene, but my eighties are passionate. I grow more intense as I age.” Florida Scott-Maxwell
I remember it as plain as day – grandma’s rocking chair. It sat by the window, overlooking a line of regal pines, which stood as guardians along the path to the house. It was an old house, but it had seen the activity of farm hands, growing children, friends, illness and death. The chair is where my grandma found her peace when things were spinning out of control.
She was an amazing woman of strength and boundless love. As a young woman, she would scavenge the Montana prairie for buffalo chips, to create a fire in the old wood stove of her parent’s home. A true pioneer woman – with nerves of steel, yet an inner strength and outer beauty that outdid any other.
She married at 18 to a young man who inherited part of the family farm. Yet he was not farmer material. He grew up with a heart for adventure and desire to spread his wings. He kept the farm though and hired all the work out. Grandma would maintain the house, milk the cows, bake fresh bread each day and give birth to seven children – four would die before they reached their 40s. I imagine Grandma spent a lot of time in that rocking chair, contemplating what God was trying to tell her through this misery.
Still she persevered while her husband worked stringing electrical wire across the vast countryside. He’d often be gone for weeks. When day ended, Grandma would again sit in that chair, waiting for him to come home. Chores were done and at last she had a moment to herself.
Later in life, grandpa experienced a number of strokes which left him bedridden. The highlight of the day for him would be the ice cream shakes grandma diligently prepared and shared with him. Again the rocker became her solace as she moved it close to the bed which now filled their living space. She tenderly cared for this man whom she loved with all her heart, and watched him slowly drift to his eternal rest.
For years she selflessly endured a servant’s heart. Her love was evident in the clear blue eyes, set within a leathery, wrinkled face. Those wrinkles were a sign of all the struggles and loss she bore through her life, but the also held lines of laughter and joy, which she generously gave to all who knew her.
I think of that chair often, especially now that I’m about the age she was when she went to heaven to be with her Savior. When her husband died, the chair became her solace once more. She rarely moved from it. I can still imagine her holding her Bible, her lap covered with a patchwork afghan and her lovely blue eyes closing for the last time.
When we get to a certain point in life – when there is nothing left for us to do – we often sit and rock the rest of our lives away. Maybe it’s time for me to buy an old rocking chair.