My grandma was a tall, thin woman who looked a lot like Princess Diana. Her father, a large Welchman, died when she was just five years old. He was well monied and enjoyed a good position in the community, being involved in local politics. Foul play was suspected in his death, as his petite, sickly wife and his head ranch hand seemed to have much to gain from his untimely death. Unfortunately, they lacked his wisdom, and the family quickly fell into poverty. This had a profound impact on my grandmother. She idolized her father and benefited from his brief influence on her life. Grandma was a little hardened by it all, but she also became very determined in her own pursuit of righteous living. She worked her way through school and graduated from college with a nursing degree in 1932. Other family members told stories about a neighbor woman whose husband beat her, and my grandparents gave her a safe haven in their home while Grandma tended the woman’s wounds. Another neighbor woman was very, very poor and had one baby after another. She finally had a nervous breakdown, but my grandma had taken her meals and tried to help out where she could. There were many stories like that about Grandma and Grandpa’s kind actions. My own parents were both very selfish, and my grandparents quietly and lovingly stepped in and took care of us whenever my mother allowed it. Grandma and Grandpa were a bright spot on a troubled childhood.
Grandma loved nursing, and she loved taking care of other people, but that hardness from her childhood experiences stuck out like a sore thumb on her personality when it came to right and wrong! It seemed like she had an adage for every circumstance.
I remember galloping into her old, white kitchen where she stood canning and very proudly announcing that someone had told me I sure was a pretty little girl. My pride must have looked very ugly to her though because she didn’t even look at me. She continued about her work and simply said, “Pretty is as pretty does.”
Grandma didn’t care for excuse making either. I frequently tried to camouflage my bad behavior by saying something like, “But, I was trying to do a good thing!” She always responded to that with, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
My brother and I fought a lot when we were growing up, and I had a horribly bitter tongue. I could be brutally honest about other people’s imperfections. I said some really hurtful things to my brother. Grandma always admonished me with, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.”
I sure wish everyone had the benefit of being raised by a woman like my grandma. Just today I asked for prayer on Facebook. My husband is still playing games and trying to find new and creative ways to hurt me using the legal system. I just needed some prayer support and a little emotional encouragement to get through the day. However, a local pastor’s wife, who I don’t even communicate with very often, interjected among my friends’ comments, “That’s why God hates divorce.” She knows my situation and still chose to publicly judge me for something I resisted for 16 years. I tell ya, I wish her grandma had known what my grandma knew. And, I wish that her grandma had taught her, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”