The value of someone’s life cannot be adequately measured in the individual moments. A more accurate value is obtained by looking back over that life as a whole.
This could not be more true of anyone than my Grandma Keltie.
My Grandma was born in Essex, Missouri on September 22, 1924 and went to be with her Lord this morning at 4:05 AM.
But in between those two dates was a life that impacted thousands of people for good.
If I have my information correct, she grew up in southestern Missouri and then married my Grandpa at the age of 19. They were married on Friday, May 19, 1944.
Upon marrying my Grandpa, she moved to California. He was in the military and the world was at war against Hitler and the Axis of evil. In the month that my grandparents married, some of Hitler’s aids attempted to assassinate him. It was also in this month that General Eisenhower set D-Day for June 5th.
The world was dangerous and my Grandma did her part as her husband fought in the war. If we have the facts straight, she worked in a government plant making shirts for soldiers. Then, she was transferred to a department that made tents for the soldiers (I think she did so in a supervisory position).
While there is so much history and so many stories that family could share regarding everything from Grandma’s childhood and teenage years, to the time she spent in California, to the years she spent in Alton, Illinois as my Grandpa served as a pastor, my endless list of precious memories of Grandma started in the 1970’s when I was born.
As I reflect back on her life, here are some of the things that I will remember about her in the years to come.
As I look back on my childhood, I would be lying if I said that I always enjoyed going to Grandpa and Grandma Keltie’s home. Why? Because they didn’t like to watch television. They didn’t have a closet full of games. They didn’t fill their pantry with sugary cereals or treats. Instead, they created a healthy environment where we were able to enjoy relationships and the simple things of life.
Now, I look back and remember with such fondness how Grandpa constructed homemade go-carts for us to ride; or how he tied rocks to a handkerchief with dental floss and then toss them in the air as we watched them slowly fall back to earth like paratroopers; or how Grandma invited me into the kitchen to help her make a delicious meal for supper; or how she invited me outside to help her work in her garden.
As I look back now, I realize how financially strapped they were and yet how they refused to let that get them down. They created an environment of happiness that originated from simple pleasures. I will cherish many of those memories until the day I die. As an adult, I now realize how blessed I was to have grandparents that created such an environment that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time.
I also remember that my Grandma always took her walk with Jesus seriously. Following Jesus wasn’t an activity relegated to Sundays. It was who my grandparents were. They loved the Lord, enjoyed spending time in His Word, served Him by selflessly serving others, and being careful to pursue holiness. I believe that those who claim to be Christians on Sundays and yet fail to let it impact the rest of their week do more harm than good. But, those folks like my Grandparents who are serious about following Jesus, shouldn’t be surprised when their children and their children’s children follow in their steps. I cannot possibly express the extent of my gratitude for how my Grandma and Grandpa took their walk with Jesus seriously.
My Grandma had an incredible work ethic. In fact, I cannot remember but a very few times that I ever saw her sitting down to relax unless she was engaged in conversation with someone. She was always busy. Whether she was running the bookstore at Bible Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, or preparing supper, or cleaning their home, or working in the garden, or any number of other activities, she was always busy. Life was too short to be lived sitting aimlessly as the days passed by. I learned that if you were to make the most of the day, be busy as it goes by.
And speaking of Grandma’s garden, it was her pride and joy. As I reflect on the hours she would spend growing things in her backyard, I believe it was therapy for her. It was her way of unwinding after a long day at work. It was also a way that she could put food on the table for much less than it would cost to purchase it at the grocery story. Plus, it must have given her a great sense of satisfaction at being able to work with God in His creation.
Honestly, as I think back on the environment that my Grandma and Grandpa created in their home, I can’t help but realize that it was a place that was wired for happiness, health, and growth. You could grow spiritually, socially, emotionally, physically, and mentally. While I didn’t fully appreciate that environment as a young child, I would absolutely love it if I could step back in time to be with my Grandparents in their home again.
But, there was one thing that, aside for my Grandparents’ love for the Lord, made their home a wonderful, happy, safe place. It was their love for each other. My Grandparents never lost their love for each other. They were always careful to make sure that their romance before others was appropriate but Grandpa would often whistle at Grandma or give her a kiss when he got home from his janitorial work at Bible Baptist Church. It was obvious from the girlish smile on Grandma’s face that she really enjoyed their love relationship.
My Grandpa passed away on January 30, 1991 but my Grandma never stopped loving him. Over and over, she vocalized that she wanted to be with her “Johnny.” As I lived in the shadows of the love that they had for each other, I vowed to love my wife like my Grandpa loved his. I can only hope that my boys and future grandchildren will find Kim’s and my relationship as much of a blessing to them as my Grandparent’s marriage has been a blessing to me and the rest of the Keltie klan.
As I look back over what I have written in this post, I can’t help but realize that this post has turned out to be more about both of my Grandparents than it was about my Grandma. That’s because their marriage was a union made in Heaven. And now she has arrived in the place where her marriage was made. She has been reunited with her long-lost husband and many others as they worship the Lord who they have loved and served for most of their life.
So, while we mourn the loss of such an incredible woman, we wouldn’t bring her back if we could. She is now enjoying her eternal reward. The greatest joy she could now have is for those she has left behind to be sure that they are in right standing with the Lord so that we can all enjoy being together again one day before the Throne.