A grandmother’s faith
Patrick Novecosky honors his grandmother, who lived her faith by serving others . . .
When I was 13 years old, my brother and I caught a ride home from summer camp with another family from my hometown. My parents were busy that afternoon, so we were dropped off at my maternal grandmother’s house.
We had spent 10 days in the wilderness camping with a dozen other boys. We walked in the door and within 30 seconds, Grandma sent me to the bathroom for a shower while my brother was instructed to wait on the front step until it was his turn. We smelled that bad.
I was 23 when she passed away, and my aunts and uncles granted me the honor of delivering the eulogy at her funeral. My grandmother was a woman of deep faith. She was no scholar or theologian, but her faith was an integral part of her life. She had pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary on her living room wall, and she was a solid prayer warrior.
More visibly though, Grandma lived her faith by serving others. When I was eight years old, my mother had twins. My parents already had four children between the ages of nine and two, so needless to say they were overwhelmed. My grandmother, who was nearly 69 years old at the time, came to live with us for nearly a month. My dad worked, my mother looked after the babies, and my grandmother did everything else.
In the eulogy, I paid tribute to her loving dedication. Grandma modeled Christ for us in an extraordinary way. As scripture says, Jesus came to serve, not to be served. When we live lives of joyful service to others, the rewards are immense. The early Christians knew it. Pagans converted because they saw how counter-cultural Jesus’ followers were. They gave without expecting anything in return, and they loved each other selflessly.
In our secular, post-Christian culture where young people value wealth, power and popularity over most anything else, joyful, selfless service is a rarity outside of faith-filled Christian communities. When we live our faith in a way that radiates Christ’s selfless love, we might be ignored or taken for granted. But on this side of heaven we’ll never know our example is changing the hearts and minds of others.
Grandparents have an extraordinary opportunity to shape the faith of the next generation. I’m not sure I ever thanked my grandmother for her Christ-like example, but it has remained with me. Even when I fall short on serving joyfully, it only takes a moment for me to recall her shining example. Thanks Grandma!
PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.