Ruby lay still upon her bed, afraid to take even a deep breath for fear it would awaken the enemy and her mission would be blown. Silently, deep into the night, she waited until she knew the others had fallen asleep. She slid one foot carefully from her lower bunk, as she prayed there’d be no tell-tale squeak or creak to give her away. With relief, she slowly released her held breath and lowered her other foot, rising gently from the bed, watching warily for any signs of movement from the others around her.
With tender steps, Ruby worked her way to the hall entrance. She knew this would be her greatest challenge. She must pass by the door to the enemies’ headquarters to reach the stairs and make her escape. It would be no easy task, but it must be done! She must not fail! She must get her message to the allies on the other side! It was her only hope! With measured strides she moved cautiously down the seemingly endless hallway. Oh how she wished she could flick on a light to keep from stumbling in the dark, but she dare not risk alerting anyone to her presence. As she reached the door to the enemy headquarters she stopped, paused and listened carefully. All was quiet. Could their leader have retired for the night? Ruby hoped this was true, but to be safe she dropped to the ground and belly crawled past the door, so quietly she couldn’t even hear her own breathing.
Finally she reached the top of the stairway. Escape seemed so near, but she knew that one false move – one cough, one wheeze – could awaken the others and all would be lost. Slowly, quietly, cautiously she crept her way down the steps, allowing herself just a little more air with each intake of breath. As she rounded the bend she could hear their voices as they spoke to one another. Just the distant sound and Ruby could feel her heart begin to calm and she began to smile. The smells from their encampment drifted up to her on the air – coffee, eggs, bacon… oatmeal?
“I think I hear footsteps again. Ruby? Is that you?” The leader of the allies voice drifted on the air – more pleasant and soothing to Ruby than the smell of that bacon or eggs had been.
Ruby worked her way down the final stairs and peaked around the corner.
“Yeah, Grammy, it’s me. Don’t tell mommy I’m up. Can I eat with you and Grampy? I’m just a little bit hungry.”
The story you have just read is true – mostly. One name has been changed to protect no one – just because I wanted to! Ruby, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, is me. I was about 4 years old and we were living with my grandparents while my dad, who was in the Air Force, was stationed overseas temporarily.
The scenario here is one that actually happened, maybe not every night, but pretty frequently. My grandfather worked the night shift and so, of course, my Grammy would be up with him at night making him “breakfast” long after my sisters (the enemy), brother and I were to be in bed. But, that didn’t stop me from sneaking out most nights past the “evil leader’s” (my mom) headquarters, down the stairs to share breakfast with my two favorite people! And they were! (BTW – I was fooling no one – my mom knew exactly what I was up to, as moms usually do!)
Though I loved my Grampy dearly, as well, this story, for me, is all about my Gram. Though I can’t say categorically for sure this is true, I’d lay bets she’s the one who fought for my right to be allowed to sneak down those stairs at night at the tender age of four years old. My Gram, for as long as I can remember was my best friend, my champion… my soul mate. I didn’t realize that last one until many years later when she was dying of cancer. Most of the family was gathered in the home where she was being cared for and one of my favorite aunts (a dear, beautiful, Godly woman) had just come out of her room with me and we were standing in the hall together talking. She looked seriously at me and said, “You know, we always just thought you were Gram’s favorite, but that’s not it. You’re soul mates. The two of you are soul mates. You have a special connection deep within your soul. I can see it now when you’re together.” When she told me that, especially coming from her, it touched me so deeply because I knew it was true. I knew I wasn’t Gram’s “favorite”, I’d always known that. She loved all her grandchildren so very much. I knew there was something else with us, and that was it. We were soul mates. We understood each other on a level that others just didn’t understand. In a family where sometimes neither of us felt we fit in, we fit with each other, we accepted each other – always.
Even though she’s gone, there are still little bits of Gram in me that I see all the time:
My love for shoes! – My mom use to tease my Gram that she was competing with Imelda Marcos with her number of shoes! (if you don’t know who that is – you’re probably much younger than me – just Google her – trust me she had A LOT of shoes!)
And purses! Mr. T is learning that you can’t have too many shoes or purses – I learned THAT from my Gram!
My love of sparkly jewelry – also from my Gram!
And finally, my “gift of gab” – my Gram was known for her ability to talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime. I once saw her get a wrong number at her house and end up on the phone for an hour! True Story! But, it wasn’t just that she was a “talker”, which she was, it was also that she was a kind, approachable person who was willing to listen! Mr. T often teases me because I’m constantly getting held up in stores etc., because someone, a perfect stranger, will just stop me and I’ll get caught in some big conversation. This has always happened to me. My best friend in college became my best friend because he just came up to me one day when he needed some information for a class. I later asked him why he came up to me. He said, “There’s just something so approachable about you and easy to talk to about you.” I liked that. I still do. I’m glad people feel comfortable talking to me – even strangers. Just like my Gram. But, ok, I’m a “talker” too. – In 4th Grade, out of desperation, after being completely unable to find a place in the room where I couldn’t find someone to talk to, my teacher finally put a sign on my desk “Beware of Jaws” – that’s me AND Gram!
I have such wonderful memories of my Gram – “sneaking” into her jewelry box to play with her sparklies (of course, she knew!) The plastic container of sandwich cookies that was ALWAYS under the center kitchen cabinet on the left side. The apple shaped jar filled with buttons. (It sits on the top of my kitchen cabinet now.) How she saved plastic ware from restaurants and washed them for reuse! (Now I reuse red Solo cups!) How she let me have my 16th birthday slumber party at her house and she stayed in her bedroom the whole time! (Was she insane?!) No, she was just Gram!
So, many wonderful memories, but the best memories I have from my Gram are in lessons she taught me when she wasn’t even trying – my Gram was where I learned unconditional love. My life, especially in the early years, could often be titled, “What NOT to Do…”, but when others turned their backs, wagged their fingers or wagged their tongues, Gram never did! Gram never excused wrong, but she loved in spite of it. She just helped me moved on to the next step. Gram was the picture of God’s grace before I really ever knew what that was. She believed in God’s sovereignty and that, no matter the circumstances, He was in control. And she didn’t just speak the words to me, she lived it out for me.
Now, believe it or not, I’m the Gram, or Gigi in this house! I have four amazing little ones who call me that, and one more on the way. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my Gram, how much I miss her and the impact she had on my life. When I look in the sweet faces of my own grandchildren I can only pray that I will be half the gram to them that my grandmother was to me. That in me they will see God’s sovereignty, His Grace, His unconditional love for them – and that they will know, any time, day or night, they can slip down my stairs and say, “Gigi, I’m a little bit hungry.”