True love. What image comes to mind?
Is it a great romance? A husband and wife, married for fifty years, have survived the plagues of living in a fallen world. She stood by him when he was unemployed and his job took him a thousand miles away from what she considered home. He provided for their children and took care of her when cancer came to call.
Since this is a “religious” blog, some readers are thinking of God’s unconditional love for us. After all, he sent his one and only son to live a perfect life and die a horrible death to open the way for eternal life.
When I think about an image of true love, the face that pops into my head is my maternal grandmother. Her name was Marjorie. We called her Gram. She was my first pen pal and one of few adults who weathered my teenage rebellion without judgment.
The picture that comes to mind:
A narrow kitchen smells of vanilla. Her gnarled hands (later I would learn they suffered from psoriatic arthritis) gripped the mixer while my sister turned the bowl. My stare never moves from the pale batter that miraculously appears when oil, water and eggs are mixed into a dry, unappetizing clump of flour.
When the mixer stops whirring, I shove the greased and floured cake tins closer. My tongue dabs against my chronically chapped lips, anticipating what comes next.
My sister wedges herself between me and the bowl of sugary goodness. I want to elbow her out of the way, but a gentle look from Gram’s pale blue-gray eyes stops me in my tracks.
Gram scrapes the batter into the tins. My eyes bulge at the river flowing equally into the pans.
After shaking the pans lightly, she turns, one in each hand.
I scramble to open the oven door, moving to the side so it will swing to its fullest.
While our backs are turned, my sister picks up the spatula. Her tongue is nearly touching the treat when Gram’s hand settles on her shoulder.
As if we’re playing tag, everyone freezes at that touch.
“Didn’t you lick the bowl last time?” Gram’s question is kind but knowing.
Yes, I want to scream. But my faith in Gram is absolute. She is fair and will make sure I get what’s mine.
My sister lowers the spatula back to the bowl. I can hardly reach it since it’s pushed back, but that doesn’t matter either. Not with Gram there.
She releases the beaters from the mixer. I always thought it was magic until I got old enough to see the red button above the power switch.
After she sets the mixer aside, she hands both beaters to my sister who snatches them.
Next, she carries the bowl to the table. I follow, eager to savor every lick of the lion’s portion of remaining batter.
I remember this scene from nearly fifty years ago in full color, the scents as real as the joy in my heart. It really is the small things that make a difference.
Gram loved her girls (and I guess my boy cousins, too) and we never doubted it.
She demonstrated it through actions.
I might not remember talking about Jesus with my grandmother, but I remember seeing him in her smile. Feeling him in her hugs. Knowing his heart because I was showered with true love from my grandmother.
I hope I will be the sort of grandmother who embodies true love, too.
What is your “picture” of true love?