On Wednesday, my family gathered to celebrate the life of my grandmother, Annis Elizabeth Hudson Hatcher. She turned 95 a week before she died; she lived a long and full life. Near the end, she couldn’t walk, could barely hear or see, and was in a lot of pain. Now she is walking with Jesus, she’s seeing and hearing clearly, and there is no more pain. I absolutely miss her, but I rejoice in knowing that she is in heaven today.
I had the privilege of sharing a eulogy for Nannie at her funeral, and I’d like to post it here because it gives a glimpse of who Nannie was to me.
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Annis was my grandmother, and we grandchildren called her Nannie.
I was with Nannie just a day before she died, and during those sweet hours when she recognized that I was there and the passing hours when she was no longer able to communicate with words, we spent a lot of time holding hands.
Nannie’s hands were hands that worked hard. During our visits to Nannie and Papa’s house when I was a child, Nannie cooked delicious meals (her homemade biscuits were my favorite), she scrubbed the dishes clean in the kitchen, and she tidied up after all of us grandchildren who were making messes all over. Nannie kept a clean and neat home. When my dad and his sisters were young, Nannie even re-painted the walls in the house about once a year just to keep them looking fresh. Nannie worked the garden alongside Papa, she canned fruits and veggies to fill her pantry, she decorated her home and kept her yard looking neat, and she raised three children while doing all the rest. Nannie was a hardworking woman.
Nannie’s hands were hands that disciplined. Now, I have to admit that *I* never really saw this side of Nannie because grandmothers get to return children to their parents when it’s time for discipline. (That’s how it works, right?) But my dad was a bit of an…ornery child (to which his sisters can attest, I’m sure), and I’ve heard plenty of stories about Nannie disciplining him…or trying to. I love to hear about Nannie chasing Dad around the house with a flyswatter, in an ineffective attempt at discipline. I wish I could have witnessed that. But I know that there were also effective times of discipline from this mother to her children. Nannie was a woman of discipline.
Nannie also had giving hands. I remember one vacation when my sisters and I were staying with Nannie and Papa without our mom and dad. In one evening, Nannie gave me popcorn, cookies, and ice cream just because I asked. I remember being shocked that she was saying yes to all of the goodies (my mom wouldn’t have!), but I certainly didn’t mind! If you knew Nannie well, you knew she LOVED her sweets, and I guess she didn’t want to deprive others of what she loved. Another example of Nannie’s giving spirit came in later years when she went regularly to the International Mission Board headquarters to volunteer her time and her hands. She and a group from Four Mile Creek Church stuffed envelopes for mailers for a couple of hours at a time. I had the privilege of going with them once, and I saw what joyful work they did with their hands. Nannie was a giving woman.
Nannie had gentle hands. My favorite memory of Nannie, and one that I reminded her of nearly every time I visited her in later years, is of when I was quite young, and Nannie would brush my hair after my bath. You see, my parents were utilitarian about after-bath hair brushing. They weren’t harsh, but their aim was to get the tangles out and that was it. Nannie lingered. She could brush my hair for half an hour, gently stroking each strand. It felt so good when Nannie brushed my hair, and I always chose her over anyone else for the job when we were at her house. In the past couple of years when I visited Nannie, I loved to stroke or comb her beautiful white hair and repay the gentleness that she showed me all those years ago. I’ve seen pictures of Nannie holding her grandbabies and great-grandbabies, and I know she employed that same gentleness with us all. Nannie was a gentle woman.
Nannie had praying hands. I have to admit that I can’t really remember hearing Nannie pray aloud, and my dad said he doesn’t remember it happening often either. But I think that is because Nannie wasn’t very confident and didn’t like to do things publically. My dad can tell you though, that when he was a somewhat wayward teenager, he knew that while he was out his mama was home praying for him. Dad tells me that when he was about 10 years old, he gave Nannie a card that had a picture of praying hands on it. She kept that card for years and told him that she loved the image of the praying hands. When he was in high school, dad made an image of praying hands in pressed copper in shop class. He gave that piece of art to Nannie, and she had it hanging in her room for many, many years. We know that Nannie treasured prayer. Some of my most precious times with Nannie were when we prayed together, often while holding hands. Nannie was a praying woman.
I don’t know who else might have noticed, but in my immediate family we always thought Nannie had the cutest wave. It was sort of like this: —–. I remember so many times pulling out of the driveway and seeing Nannie at the door or window, waving goodbye to us. Today we say goodbye to Nannie for a time. But I am so thankful that we will see her again someday in Heaven. And I am thankful for those giving, disciplining, hard-working, gentle, praying hands of Nannie’s.