Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Family Experiences - Grandma Mary

(Grandma & Gramps w. dad 3 months old - nice face dad!)

(Grandparents visiting Arizona)

*Since both of my grandmothers have always motivated & inspired me when it comes to the ministry and helping others, I wanted to post a little backround info about how they first became Jehovah's Witnesses and some experiences they had. I'm gonna start with my dad's mom, Mary, and then post about my other grandma in the next entry.
When you first hear this story its gonna make my Grandpa look like a 'bad guy' (which is not my intention) because there were times when I guess he had sort of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality type, where, although he was usually a nice and caring person, he did some irrational things when he lost his temper.

Both sides of my family are originally from Philadelphia, so during the 50's my mom's mother, Dora, came in contact with my dad's mother, Mary, and began studying the Bible with her when my dad was still pretty young. (My grandma said my dad would be running around all hyper and climbing up the bookcases while they were trying to study. lol) As far as I know my grandfather wasn't opposed to this, but for some reason he got very upset on one particular occasion. My grandmother was attending the congregation book study one night at someone's home in the congregation, when my grandfather showed up, put a gun to her head and threatened to shoot her if she didn't leave with him. My mom and uncle were also there that night and remember it happening, but they don't remember the details surrounding the situation because they were too young at the time. The brothers managed to calm him down and get the gun away from him without an incident.
I found out later that my grandfather kept lots of guns in the house because he was a sharp shooter (not as a profession, but my dad told me he won all kinds of contests for it, so it must have been a serious hobby of his), but can you imagine how nerve racking it must have been as a young mother with small children, knowing a situation like that might happen again? Fortunately, it never did. An incident that extreme would have made it very easy for her to convince herself to stop studying the Bible and to stop coming to congregation meetings. But she didn't give up, and eventually my grandfather began having a Bible study & attending congregation meetings himself.

She never lived in AZ, so I never got to know her any where near as much as my other grandmother, but what I do remember, I really admire her for. She was extremely enthusiastic in general but especially when it came to the pioneer ministry. She wasn't timid or hesistant to witness to whoever she met. But even though she was bold, at the same time, she also had a really pleasant, sweet demeanor, where you just felt good being around her. I also admire her teaching ability. She learned ASL in order to help teach the Bible to deaf students who wanted to learn. And she ended up becoming a Sign Language interpretor at the District Conventions and assemblies also. Even as an older adult she took up learning 2 new languages so that she could help out in the foreign language congregations. She learned French and Italian, and she would actually attend all 3 foreign language group meetings every week. She would go to the French, Italian, and ASL/English meetings every Sunday! I envy her energy!
Even now that she's developed dementia, and needs 24hr care at an assisted facility...when we went to visit her, although she can't remember our names or who we are anymore, the nursing staff asked us what profession she used to be in, and if she had ever been a teacher. Apparently, even after so many years, and such a severe loss of memory, they noticed her good teaching skills just by the way she interacts with others. I thought that was pretty amazing.