The truth as I know it:

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands. ~~~ Kristi Larson

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Circle of Life

Today my new little nephew came home from the hospital, and my beloved Grandmother got her first hug from Jesus. About 9:00 this morning my grandmother, Mary Reuel Hemphill, drew her last breath on earth and took her next one in heaven. She was 99 years old, shy of 100 by only about 90 days. She lived an amazing life and by all accounts was the holder of the most sure ticket into heaven anyone who knew her can imagine.

She is the Mary in Mary Margaret. She was my rock. She led me to Christ as a young child. She prayed for me every day of my life since before I was even known. She influenced me and led me in every way. I am full of words, but they are all inadequate to tell you what this amazing woman meant to me, what she meant to the small town where she lived and I grew up; what kind of woman she was; and how sorely her passing will be felt by a great deal of very "good folks".

My "Granma" as she was known to me, practically raised me in alot of ways. She picked me up from school every day and kept me until my mom got off work. I never once had a babysitter other than her or my dad's parents when they would go out, which was alot when I was young because they had me young. She was always there for me, always there for First Baptist Church members and many many others throughout her 99 years.

My brother and I drove home together today and we had a great drive reminiscing about things and talking about her life. We realized that she has lived through seven wars in her lifetime. The Great Depression. The Cuban Missile Crisis. The assassination of JFK. The fall of the Berlin wall and the rise and fall of Communism in Russia. She saw the rise of Communism in China. She has seen untold number of US Presidents. There was alot of living and alot of knowing that passed with her today. I'm sorry that you never got the chance to know her.

But in the midst of all that was happening to get ready to come home for her funeral, I went to my sister-in-law's house and decorated the door and mailbox so that she would feel celebrated when she arrived home from the hospital with my new nephew, Brody. I did this and it was so fitting, that I would be celebrating life on the day that I was mourning my precious grandmother. Life goes on. The world mourns it's losses and every mourner immortalizes the deceased by mourning and remembering. And sad though I am for the passing of an entire generation of my family (she was the last living grandparent), I am NOT sad for her. She was reunited today with my Granddaddy, her husband of 57 years before his death. She saw Jesus' face and I bet, no I KNOW, that it was better than anything she or I have ever imagined it would be. She saw her mother and father, her sister, her cousins, and her daughter (my mom's twin) who are all whole and well and happy to see her. There was rejoicing in heaven today, for one of their own has returned home.

I would welcome and ask for all of your prayers over the next couple of days. Not for me as much as for my mom. Even though my Granma was my sweet angel, she was something altogether more for my mom. My mom saw her mother almost every day of her life. She was and is her identity in many ways... my mom is "Reuel's daughter" and that is a huge part of who she is and what drives her in the things she does. And beyond that, my mom has cared for my grandmother for the past 13 years. When she went to live in a nursing home, my mom visited her EVERY day without fail. I grew up in Fulton, KY, and word in a small town spreads quickly. The house has been a revolving door of visitors and devoted church ladies dropping off more food than we could eat in a week. But when all the preparation is done and they lay my grandmother to rest, it's going to be a tremendous loss for my mom.

I want to tell you all that my lunch on Tuesday with Katie Davis is still on. I am looking forward to some good fellowship and just being in the presence of God and my dear friends. Until then, I will most likely be absent from blog world as Fulton, KY, is not the hub of world wide connection and getting onto the internet is somewhat akin to a remote region of Russia. I will update you all when I return to civilization on Monday.

Thanks again for your continued prayers. I leave you with Granma's favorite verse:

Proverbs 3:5-6
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path."


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. Thinking of you...

Amy said...

Ondrea - for someone who inspires me on a regular basis to say someone inspired their life... your Granma must have been a magnificent woman! How amazing the world is for you to celebrate such loss and new hope at the same time. Thinking of you,


Amy said...

Ondrea - for someone who inspires me on a regular basis to say someone inspired their life... your Granma must have been a magnificent woman! How amazing the world is for you to celebrate such loss and new hope at the same time. Thinking of you,


Ron and Dinia said...

Beautiful words for what I know was an amazing woman of God. So sorry for your loss. In the few minutes I was priviledged to visit with your mom the connection between the two was clear.

May knowing others care and are praying for you at this time be some comfort to you.

Carolynn and Steve said...


I don't have words to express how moving your post was. May God hold you and your family close during this time, and know that you are in my heart and my prayers.

Barb said...

That was a really beautiful post and tribute to your Granma. I wish I could have known her. As Amy said, you are an inspiration to so many of us, so it was a delight to read about someone who inspires you. You and your family are in our prayers,

Tiger & Kar said...

Oh, Ondrea, what a beautiful tribute to your Granma. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your entire family.

Settle Family said...

O ,
I am so sorry for your loss. I will pray that God blesses your family with comfort knowing that she is finally home. It is always so difficult for the ones left behind. Take comfort in knowing that she has been reunited with everyone that has gone before her.It sounds like God got a very special angel on Friday.

Lindsay said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Grandma. She sounds like a wonderful and amazing woman.

Prayers for all your family, especially your mom; that your pain may be eased by the knowledge that your Grandma truly is with those she loves, watching over you all.

Best wishes to you all.

Becky and Keith said...

You have such a way with words! I've been thinking about your family and hope you all are doing well. I'm sure, having you there, makes things so much better for your mom. If I can do anything for you - just holler! Hugs!!

Kim Abraham said...


Becky's right, you have a wonderful way with words. I am so sorry for your family's loss. My grandmother and I were VERY close and it hurt terribly when she passed. The thought of her not being sick and weak anymore and walking down streets of gold holding hands with my grandfather and their daughter (who died in a car accident in college) made it so much easier.

When my dad went home three years ago last month, his pastor said "if there are cows in heaven, [he was a farmer] then your dad is already herding them."

It was these thoughts and similar happy ones that got us through. I'll be praying for you and your family to find comforting thoughts during this difficult time.