I have my Grandma's neck. There. I said it. I've probably had it for a while now but just didn't know it. And no wonder. With my lanky 5'9" frame, I bear little resemblance to her. My Grandma, or Maw-Maw as I called her, was a petite Cajun French beauty, born, raised, and lived all of her 91 years in a suburb of New Orleans, Louisiana. Although she was only 4'10" tall (especially after teasing her hair, which she did, daily), she had a capacity to love that bespoke of an extra-large heart.
Living in one of the poorer suburbs of the city during the Great Depression and losing her first child, a little girl, to pneumonia at the age of 2, Maw-Maw raised 5 kids, much of it on her own. As a young man, my Grandpa, or Paw-Paw, contracted tuberculosis. In those days, when someone had a confirmed case of the dreaded sickness, they were whisked away to a sanitarium where they were quarantined for a short period. In my Paw-Paw's case, that "short period" lasted for close to three years.
It was during those difficult years that Maw-Maw attended a tent meeting and had a personal encounter with Jesus. And this changed everything. No longer content in her previous traditional church experience, Maw-Maw began bringing the whole family to the small Assemblies of God church in town. Paw-Paw, too, met Jesus in a personal way and eventually became an elder in the church. God's Holy Spirit totally transformed the family and generations later are still walking in the blessings that resulted.
But I digress. Maw-Maw's neck. That's what we were talking about. As I think about it, in my mind's eye I see more than gently folded skin, slightly darkened with age. More than a sagging chin, tired from years of supporting a warm and tender smile. I even see more than those pesky neck-whiskers (you know what I'm talking about!) - or stray eyebrows as I've heard one comedian call them - that daily brought out the tweezers. No. When I think of Maw-Maw's neck, I think of something entirely different. I think of the courage it took to hold her head high when money was scarce and the family's sole provider wasn't around. I think of the humility it took to bow her head low in the newfound realization of invited intimacy with a Holy God. I think of the loving and encouraging words spoken to a discouraged husband stripped of his manly ability to provide for his family. And, yes, I think of the flowery fragrant hugs I enjoyed countless times from this petite giant of a woman.
I have my Grandma's neck. Now, before you think I'm elevating myself a little too high with that statement, you need to know something. I mean it literally. I have her neck... complete with folded skin and pesky neck-whiskers! But, oh, how I'd love to have her neck in those other ways too. May I always speak words of love and encouragement to my husband. May I daily bow my head in humble prayer to my precious God. And even when my life doesn't go the way I'd hoped it would, or thought it should, may I courageously hold my head high, confident that the One who loves me most does indeed know best... and will hold me close as He sees me through whatever lies ahead. And now that I'm a Grandma myself (!!!), it is my fervent prayer that one day, my sweet granddaughter, Jadice, will look at me, at the life I've lived, the courage I've shown, the love I've given, and say with all of her heart, "I want my Grandma's neck."