Life Lessons I Learned From my Grandma: The Greatest Gift (Part One)

We have all received gifts in our lives.  The gifts we receive make us happy, and we hold onto those gifts and often tell the story of how we came to receive the gift with others.  When we tell the story of how we received the gift, we bless others and encourage them to keep going in hopes that they will receive the gifts for which they are longing.  Many times the gifts that we receive are tangible items that we display in our homes or store in a drawer and only bring out on special occasions.  Some gifts are intangible, but those gifts are the most precious.  The intangible gifts are the ones that we can always carry with us.  We carry them in our minds and more importantly in our hearts.  Over the next few days I am going to share with all of you the greatest gift that I have ever received.  

The greatest gift that I ever received will not make me a rich man.  The greatest gift I ever received will not be proudly displayed in my home or sold for a higher price.  However, the gift I received will be ever present in my life, and it will continue to bless me and shape me into the person that God wants me to be.  The gift I received will always be part of my story, and it is my sincere desire to pass that gift down to everyone I come into contact with during my life.  The greatest gift I ever received was wrapped in love and tied together by strength.  I hope that you will enjoy reading about the greatest gift that I ever received, and I hope that it will remind you of the greatest gift that you ever received and that my story will encourage you to share your story with others.  When we tell the story of how we received our greatest gifts, it causes the gifts to grow, and as they grow, the powerfulness of the gifts touches others and changes their lives.  That is the thing about the intangible gifts that we receive; they can and will change our lives and the lives of everyone with whom we come into contact.  

If someone had ever told me what the greatest gift I would ever receive would be, I would have never believed him.  I would have never thought in a million years that the greatest gift of my life would be what I am about to tell you.  You see, the greatest gift I ever received to some would be a terrible event.  It would be a tragedy or a horribly sad thing to endure.  That is the thing about the greatest gifts that we receive; they often seem like a bad thing at first, but after we step back and look at the gift in a different way, it becomes the best gift that we could ever receive.  

The greatest gift I ever received came slowly to me, and I had no idea that it was coming.  However, it was indeed coming, and God was preparing me to receive it.  The greatest gift I ever received began coming to me at noon on Thursday, May 19, 2016 when I texted my mom to check on my grandma.  This was an almost daily ritual that I had participated in for almost two months.  I started not to text my mom that day, but something told me to text her, so I did.  My mom replied quickly and asked me if I could talk.  I told her I could and waited for the phone to ring, not knowing what the news would be.  When my mom called, she told me that my grandma was not doing well.  She said that she was in a lot of pain and that she had been coughing a lot and when she did black mucus was coming up.  She said that they had tried everything to get the pain under control but nothing was working.  She said my grandma was begging them to knock her out, but they couldn’t.  She told me that the hospice nurse had been there and that she was on her way to the pharmacy to get liquid Oxycontin for my grandma.  I asked my mom if I needed to come but she said no.  I hung up the phone and immediately called Jeff and told him what was going on.  I told him I did not know what to do.  He said he would pray about it and we would decide after that.  In the meantime, my mom called me back to let me know that the medicine had arrived and that it had already worked and my grandma was resting comfortably.  Jeff texted me and told me that we should go and see my grandma.  He told me to stay at school until around 2:00 and then when I got home we would go and see her.  

When we arrived at my grandma’s house, I expected to find my grandma sleeping, but she was awake.  She was groggy and her speech was a little slurred, but she said that she was not in pain.  We talked for a while and I could tell that she was struggling, but she was still smiling and had her sense of humor.  She said that she hated that we had left school early but that she was glad to see us.  My brother, Andrew, had also left work early to come and see her, and she was happy to see him too.  We talked to my grandma just as we always would, and she cracked a few jokes like she always did.  The thing that struck me the most about that day was the burning in my heart.  As I stood by her bed, I felt this burning in my chest and I was reminded that it had started the Monday before when I was on my way home from school.  It lasted a while and then went away, and each time I thought about my grandma or talked about her the burning sensation would return.  It returned that Thursday as I stood by her bed.  The sensation did not alarm me, but I knew that it meant something.

We stayed with my grandma for a while and then decided to go home.  Each of us told her good-bye separately and when it was my turn to tell her good-bye, I leaned down and kissed her just like I had for forty plus years and said, “I’ll see you later.”  Over the years, I do not believe I ever said “Good-bye” to my grandma. It was always, “I’ll see you later.”  As I was kissing her she grabbed me and began praying for me.  I remember thinking, “This is so typical of grandma.  She is the one who is sick, but she is praying for me.”  I can remember every word of her prayer.  She said, “Wrap Dan in peace.  Give him a peace that goes far beyond his understanding.”  She then looked me directly in the eyes and said, “Peace is so important.”  I cannot tell you what hearing those words come out of her mouth meant to me.  My grandma never understood computers, the Internet, or blogs.  She knew that I was writing things for a blog and she had read some of the entries that I had printed out for her, but she did not know what the blog was called or what the underlying message of the blog was.  For her to say to me, “Peace is so important” was a gift from her and from God.  I truly believe it was God’s way of letting me know that my grandma understood what I was doing with my blog and that she agreed with my belief that peace matters.  I knew when she said those words to me that they would be the last real words that my grandma would ever speak to me.  I do not know how I knew, but I knew and I was right.  

After my mom said good-bye to my grandma and as she was leaving the room, my brother later told me that grandma called out to my mom, “Tell Dan not to worry.”  Again, my grandma was not concerned about herself; she was concerned about me and all the other people whom she loved.  To have someone in our lives that truly loves like that is a very special gift from God, and I am so thankful that I had someone in my life who loved me like that. 

That evening when Jeff and I got home from my grandma’s, we decided that I should stay home from school the next day, which was Friday, May 20, 2016. From the moment that grandma had been diagnosed with cancer on March 20th, I felt this urgency to be with her as much as I could.  When I was with her, I felt like I could not get close enough to her.  I even thought from time to time, “If I knew I would not hurt her, I would sit on her lap.”  It sounds funny saying that now, but that is how I felt.  I also had been searching for a recording of a song since we were given my grandma’s diagnosis, but I could not find a version of the song that I liked.  That song was “It is Well With my Soul.”  However, that night after Jeff and I discussed the song and my inability to find a version that I liked, I went to YouTube and the first version of the song that came up was perfect.  Why it had not come up before is a mystery to me.  I will just say that it was not in God’s timing until then.  I posted that version of the song on my Facebook page that night, and I listened to it repeatedly throughout the night. 

This ends part one of The Greatest Gift.  I hope you will come back tomorrow to read part two.  When I think about all the gifts that my grandma gave to me during her life, I feel so much peace and PEACE MATTERS!  


In loving tribute:

Ruth Cutsinger


The battle has been won!