19 May 2013
Good morning. I'd like to tell you about my Grama, Minnie Mae Hobgood.
Whether you called her Friend, Sister, Mother, Aunt Minnie, Grama Hobgood, or any of those things with a Great- (or Great-Great) in front of them, everyone here knows what a special lady she was in her lifetime.
To me, she was Grama. She brought me to church as far back as I can remember. She was an amazing combination of patience and urgency whenever Chuck and I would be talking during sermon and she'd look back at us. Even twenty pews away, she was NOT to be ignored. Like many of us cousins, I practically grew up in her back yard, and I actually believed in the much talked about 'ugly stick' until I was about fourteen. Not to say Grama was a mean lady--she just had so many of us lambs to mind. My most enduring memory of those days are of a woman feared as and rumored to be strict and stern, who did occasionally show it, but was never angry more than a moment, always forgiving, and constantly filled with the kind of love that still forms the core of my religious beliefs, and still cements my faith when it falters.
That's just been my own personal experience, and between 4 siblings, 1 spouse, 7 children, 26 grandchildren, and 65 great grandchildren, it represents literally less than 1% of what kind of person she actually was.
She meant something special to each of us. How many of us have slept in her house because we had nowhere safer to go? How many of us have eaten only because we knew she'd offer freely without judgment? How many of us found love and sanctuary in her care when they were needed most? And then, once we were helped gently back onto our feet, how many people in our own lives have benefited because we were nourished and comforted by her unprejudiced kindness?
She touched so many in such countless ways; the amount of Good she did in this world can never be measured, but I know if God is keeping score, He called home a winner this week.
What I ultimately learned from her is that life is an open system based on love, and it is not self-sustaining. We need to feed into it by taking care of each other, and being responsible for who and what we bring into this sometimes cruel world. Through her example, I learned that the greatest help we can sometimes offer another human being is remaining true to that person we've grown into ourselves, and directing our own lives not away from, but toward those we love. This is how she touched me; this was the gift I received.
What gifts did she give you?
Of course, after a while, I wasn't a very good grandchild. Like everyone eventually does, I became an adult focused on myself: my stuff, my work, and eventually my family. I formed my own bubble and floated away, seemingly having forgotten Grama's lessons. Now I do know that that's how it's supposed to work--of all people, Grama would know this after raising seven children. I know I'm not alone in having drifted away, and I doubt I'm alone in having been reminded by her declining health how important our family bonds are. As we slowly gathered at her bedside, or included her in our prayers, we tried to return the favors of love and kindness we'd all been given for so long. In this way, she gave us one more gift.
If you loved Minnie Mae Hobgood, honor her last gift by continuing her legacy. Continue her work to make the world better through unsolicited acts of kindness. Hold dear the connections you share with those who sit here today to remember her. Today it's easier than ever to send a message or text, or even a simple Facebook poke, just to let others know you're there, and you care about them. Whether blood kin or a friend, Minnie made us all Family through her love. Let's make sure she is always remembered by never letting that go.