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Grandmother taught me how love always wins

Currently, at least 3 million grandparents in the United States take care of their grandchildren. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have one grandmother with whom I was very close. The other three grandparents in my life were deceased by the time I came along. How very much I was influenced by my grandmother when I was a young child. 

I thought it was a very innocent question when I asked my grandmother how she fell in love with my grandfather. She sat me down and said “first of all I will tell you about your great-grandfather. Your great-grandfather was a member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), not only a member, but an elder. When I met his son I asked that in order for us to continue our relationship his father had to leave the Klan for good. And he did.” Many years later when her father-in-law died, the Klan showed up in her front yard to pay their respects. She stood there on her front porch with her arms folded and said “over my dead body will you enter this house” … they all walked away.

Hopefully we all know something about our grandparents. All we know of Saint Mother Theodore‘s grandparents are their names and one tiny bit of information: we know a grandfather was a sailor. I’m grateful that Saint Mother Theodore was not alive when the KKK was established in 1865. Established or not, she was quite aware of what they stood for in her own lifetime. America’s oldest hate group is very much alive, sad to say, in 2017. Let us not forget that love is stronger than hate. Let us be people of the light!

This article was first posted in the February edition of the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin e-newsletter. If you would like to subscribe please click here

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Sister Jan Craven

Sister Jan Craven

Sister Jan is a Sister of Providence. Currently she ministers as co-director of Providence Spirituality and Conference Center and as director of shrines at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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  1. Avatar S. Rita Clare on February 21, 2017 at 8:15 am

    Jan, this is a beautiful and powerful reflection on what one learns from elders. Thanks for sharing this story. On my walk this a.m., I was reflecting on my maternal grandparents, the only ones alive when I was born. My grandmother was not well, so we were not too close to her. However, I truly loved my grandfather, and he was a daily presence in our lives. He died on Christmas Eve and that was a sad day for our family. However, we all opened a gift from him the next day.

  2. Avatar Carolyn Kessler, SP on February 21, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Thanks, Jan, for your beautiful post about how much we are blessed by grandparents in our lives. Reading your account triggered some very dear memories of my maternal grandparents. (I never knew my paternal grandparents, both immigrants from Germany to Evansville, Indiana, though I learned wonderful things about them from my father. My grandfather brought his building skills to Evansville and today’s west side there still marks his hand in building beautiful churches and the city’s landmark courthouse.)

    Growing up, my sister and I spent summers on our grandparents’ farm about 20 miles east of Evansville. We lived in Erie, Pennsylvania, due to my father’s transfer during the depression, but my mother took us for this annual visit where we learned the wonders of farm life – and getting to know an extended side of the family. We loved going to the farm where there was no electricity, no indoor plumbing, where the ice man came for weekly deliveries and the peddler with foods and always a candy bar. Going with my grandmother each day to collect eggs from under the hens, learning to churn butter, walking with her to the creek to harvest berries along the edge, sitting with my grandfather as he whittled a piece of wood or read to me by the kerosene lamp in the evening, walking with him through the tomato fields while sampling a tomato pulled from a vine, learning to drive the tractor and later a car with my aunt as teacher, playing cowboys and indians with a bevy of boy cousins, caring for baby chicks and ducks are memories that mesh into a mosaic deeply cherished in shaping my life. Touching nature with its vast spaces; distinct sounds from winds, owls, birds; magnificent sunrises and sunsets and pure silence affected me for life in ways that impacted a later grasp of how profoundly Providence is the unseen, integral Source of who we are in seeking Love, Mercy, Justice. I am left with an awe that tries to express a depth of gratitude that is inexpressible.

  3. Avatar Paula Modaff, S.P. on February 23, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Jan, you have revived my deep feelings of gratitude for my maternal grandmother who taught me to make yeast bread and left our family with a recipe for a Slovenian coffeecake that I still make each year for my siblings and the sisters with whom I live. She also was a woman of peace and inclusiveness.

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