February 29

February has me thinking of many things and it has flown by so fast.  The thing that stands out to me the most is that this year is a Leap Year. Why is that?  You might say to keep our calendar in sync with the solar cycle.  Hmm.  You would be right and all but all I can think about was that one of the most spectacular people ever created was born on this very day.

According to her, she only added one year to her age every four:) It’s true if you think about it. Her real birthday only came every four years. This of course meant that she was really only around 15 when she went home to be with Jesus.  The last time I remember seeing her was at the Fair on the Square in Collierville.  She and my Grandpa came out to support my Mom as she was selling her stained glass work at one of the vendor booths on the square.  I faintly remember seeing them and then saying goodbye.  That was the last time I saw her.  She went into the hospital the next week and we lost her.  When I say, we lost her; I don’t mean just my family.  She touched so many lives in her time here that I could never include them all here.  I was only 8 years old and these are just my memories.

Alma Mae

If ever there was an angel sent down to this earth it would be Alma Mae.  There was nothing she couldn’t do in my eyes.  She noticed all the little things that others may have just passed by.  Sitting outside, watching the birds, drinking coffee, and reading her Bible – that was how she started her day.  Always walking Grandpa to the door and giving him a kiss on his way to work. When we came to visit the first place we would go was Grandma’s candy dish.  After we gave her hugs and kisses of course.  There were orange slices, butterscotch candies, or circus peanuts.  It was always full when we came over.

The book drawer was another favorite.  It was full of books she picked up for us and she always had time to sit and read to us.  A box full of toys in her front closet was another constant and something we so looked forward to. My brother and I loved being pulled in her little wagon.  She took us on long walks and we usually ended up at a little store.  We were allowed to pick out little candies and gum and the store clerk gave us tiny brown paper sacks.  Then we got to enjoy our treats on the ride back to her house.

My Grandma was quite the homemaker, seamstress, and cook.  She actually made my mother’s wedding dress which was very intricate and beautiful.  She made Easter dresses each year.  The kind made for spinning.  Beautiful details and love were sewn into each outfit that she made for us.  Rolling out the cookie dough out while standing on my little stool in my apron she made was the best.  I think they were usually peanut butter and I loved making the little fork marks on top.

Summertime meant that my cousins would come to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a week or maybe two.  I know they loved her so much and enjoyed their time with her.  My Mom said that after she passed my Grandpa who loved her dearly said, “Well you know she wasn’t perfect.”  This was because everyone said she was such a saint. Well she was perfect in our eyes.  I’m sure she must have had a few faults as we all do.  She was human after all but I just remember her being full of love and kindness even when I got in trouble;)

The backyard contained her beautiful garden and a little swing under a shade tree.  Grandpa took care of their little yard and I remember lots of trees.  One in particular was turned into a tree house for my older cousins.  There were Easter egg hunts at that house that we will never forget.  We have watched them on home movies so many times.  That is what I love.  What memories we all had together at that little house on Tuggle Drive.

Brushing her long gray hair which was longer than her back side… only a few of us knew just how long it was as she always kept it up in a bun.  Kneeling with her, praying beside her bed, and knowing that the Lord was listening to her every word – I believe her prayer and heart’s desire was for others to come to know Jesus in an intimate relationship the way she had.

She cared so much for others and always was ready to lend a hand.  She used her gifts and skills and never called out for attention for it.  I think I remember Mom saying she sewed all the choir robes for our church and that she had such a heart for families in the church.  There were precious times standing down at the alter with her at church.  She was definitely a Pentecostal and not ashamed of it.  I thank God for my rich heritage.  On Sundays, we usually came over to her house after church.  I remember ham or roast and slaw on the table and some sort of yummy dessert.

I remember her singing There’s Something About That Name

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

There’s just something about that name

Master, Savior, Jesus

Like the fragrance after the rain

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

Let all heaven and earth proclaim

Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away

But there’s something about that name.

I could write so many things about Grandma Harper.  The thing that stands out the most is one day when she was watching me while Mom went to the store.  Mom said when she got back Grandma said “Angie, tell Mama what you just did.”  I told Mom that I had asked Jesus to come into my heart.  I was around 5 years old and I remember kneeling down at my little table and chairs with her.  I miss her so much.  After she went home, I had a dream and we were in heaven together.  Everything was white but strangely enough, I just remember it looking like my elementary school cafeteria.  She walked me around holding my hand and introduced me to people.  I just remember having such peace after that.  How is it that 32 years later the tears still come so easily?  Her upcoming birthday just seemed like the perfect time to honor and remember this special woman in my life and so many others.  She will forever be in my heart.

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3 Responses to February 29

  1. Mary says:

    Beautiful Tribute. You were very blessed to have such a woman to guide you and form the concrete parts of your own character. If only there were more grandma Harpers. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Amy Button says:

    Angie, this is such a beautiful story, touching and sweet. Love you.

  3. Kathryn says:

    Wow. I want to be just like Alma Mae when I grow up!! Preicous sweet lady. I am not surprised you have such a lovely heritage, as YOU are a rare jewel indeed. Thank you for sharing with me. Love ya, K

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