A Tribute to My 100 Year-Old Grandmother; What She Saw and What She Sees
Yesterday I had the privilege of giving the eulogy/sermon for Hattie Bell Seabolt. She lived 100 years on planet earth (September 15, 1911 to March 4, 2012). I’ve never personally known someone who lived to see 100 so in my mind my grandmother was somewhat of a celebrity.
Soon after I learned of her death on Sunday Night I began to think about what she must have witnessed and known about from 100 years of life. She saw and experienced a lot of good and a lot of bad. Here are some memorable historical moments she lived through:
What She Saw
- 1917 – The Panama Canal opens and the U.S. enters WWI.
- 1920 – Prohibition begins and women receive the right to vote.
- 1927 – The TV was invented and Lindberg crossed the Atlantic.
- 1929 – The stock market crashed and the Great Depression ensues. My grandmother actually lived the Grapes of Wrath, traveling from Oklahoma to California with her family to escape the dust-bowl.
- 1933 – Prohibition is repealed.
- 1940s – WWII and the atomic bomb is used on Japan.
- 1948 – The U.S. recognizes Israel.
- 1951 – The First Electric Computer is made.
- 1959 – Alaska and Hawaii become states.
- 1960s – The Civil Rights Movement becomes prominent.
- 1963 – JFK is assassinated.
- 1969 – The U.S. puts a man on the moon.
- 1991 – The U.S.S.R. is formally dissolved.
- 1990s to present – The rise of the Internet and the proliferation of technology and information.
- 2001 – 911.
- She outlived three of her own children.
My grandmother had seen and witnessed much and she had experienced a lot of change. This gives some perspective on why she was the person I knew.
What I Saw In My Grandmother
I knew this woman well for many years and I realize now that she was a gift to me and those who knew her. As I looked at her face one last time all I could do was say to my Lord, “Thank you for the life of my grandmother.”
I have several fond memories of my time with her but several things stood out to me about her life.
- She was a tough Woman. This is evident by the long life she lived. For the last several years it seemed as though there were several times she would die, but she just kept on living. She was probably resilient because she lived through tough times like the Great Depression. I, as do many others, whine about how hard it is now, but most of us know nothing of hardship compared to what she lived through.
- She was a caring and sensitive Woman.She loved her children and grandchildren and spoke of them affectionately. She always wanted to be fair and swore me to secrecy if she gave me something she didn’t give everyone else. One time I went to visit her in the nursing home and she tried to convince me to load her stuff in my car and take her home. She was adamant and she pulled out all the stops. She told me that if I didn’t take her home she wouldn’t like me anymore. I couldn’t help it, I started to laugh at her because I knew this wasn’t the woman she was. After a second or two she started laughing with me. She knew she couldn’t mean it, even if she did really want to go home.
- She was a loyal Woman.Even when I was very young, I would spend the night with her and she would start crying when she would think about her husband, who she married in 1926. On one occasion she took me fishing to a pond that was known to have a lot of big fish in it. I asked her to take me there a second time but she refused. When I asked why she told me that she was concerned that the man who owned it would think she was looking for a husband. She was true to the covenant she made to her husband.
- She was a woman who was committed to King Jesus. She was a faithful member of Enterprise Baptist Church. When I would go to her house she would always have her big black KJV Bible out. Many times I would come in when she was reading it. She talked about Jesus and the Bible. She was unashamed to do so. My mother said to me that there was “no doubt about her salvation.” My Nanny trusted and lived for her Lord as best she knew how.
I’m not saying she was perfect. I do recall her spanking me a time or two so that settles that, but she knew the scriptures and she knew she needed a righteousness that she could not provide. She knew she was not perfect but she knew the one who was and she trusted Him as her Lord and Savior.
This was her ultimate hope in a world that she saw change so very much. This is the bedrock of what made her the woman I saw.
She had seen so much and I had seen a tough, sensitive and loyal woman who loved King Jesus.
What She Sees Now
John records the words of Jesus in John 3:36: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life….”
My grandmother is now seeing eternal life. In Christ, our loss is her gain (Phil. 1:20-21).
Revelation 21:1-7 gives us a glimpse of what my grandmother now knows and sees in a way that we can only imagine. She sees her Lord and knows no more pain, tears, sorrow, murder, oppression, decay, etc. She sees the Lion and the Lamb, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega.
She saw so much on planet earth, I saw her life and now she sees the Creator of the heavens and the earth and everything in them.
What Would She Want For Us?
What is my grandmother saying to us with the legacy of her life. What would she say to us now? What would she want us to see and do?
I think she would say: “Meet me here by running to the mercy seat of God and surrender all of your life to King Jesus. Believe in Jesus and obey Him for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).”
I think she would plead with us like the apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 5:20: “I beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
With the little we know from Revelation 21 and 22 how could we imagine she would say anything else?
If we believe and obey Jesus we will see my grandmother and heaven, but without radical abandonment to Jesus, we will see or have neither.
I have written this with the hope that my grandmother’s life will be a testimony that seeing and savoring Christ is everything. Her life continues to teach me as much.
“Only one life, it will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”