When I was seven years old, my grandma became very frail. Mom and Dad worried that Grandma couldn’t cook for herself. They worried that she would fall down the steps of her porch and not be able to get up. Dad said, “When people get old, sometimes their bones break easily.” Grandma was very old. That was why Mom and Dad worried about her.
One night they talked about Grandma. They talked way past my bedtime and thought that I was asleep. I couldn’t sleep because I was worried about Grandma, too. I didn’t want her to get hurt. I wanted to play old maid (a matching game played with special cards) with her as we always did.
She was the best old maid player ever. She nearly always won—except when she let me win. I knew she let me win, because she’d always say, “Everyone needs to be a winner.” One time I think I really beat her in a game of old maid. When she got the “old maid,” she squealed and laughed so hard, and she called me a “little stinker.” I laughed because it made her laugh more. I loved to hear her laugh.
“We’re moving to Grandma’s house,” Dad told me the next morning.
“Grandma’s house?” I asked.
“That’s right. We’re moving in two weeks.”
“Hurray—we’re going to Grandma’s house!” I shouted. I ran into the bedroom where my two younger brothers were still sleeping. I pulled their covers off and yelled at the top of my lungs. “We’re going to move to Grandma’s house!”
They woke up and rubbed their eyes. “Huh?” was all they said.
I hurried off to tell my baby sister. She gooed and made funny gurgling sounds. Then she squealed really loud and threw her pink piggy rattle out of the crib so that I would fetch it for her. I picked up the rattle and put it in her hand. She said “Gram-ma.” No one believed that she said it, but I know what I heard.
Grandma’s house was big enough for her and my whole family to live in. We pulled into her driveway and unloaded all our stuff. I went running into the kitchen, where she nearly always was cooking something good to eat. She wasn’t there. I ran into the living room that had Grandpa’s picture hanging above the fireplace. She wasn’t there, either. I ran out of the living room and right into Daddy’s legs.
“Hold on, sweetheart,” he said. “Where are you going so fast?”
“I’m looking for Grandma. I can’t find her.”
“Come with me, sweetheart. I’ll show you where she is.”
Dad took me to Grandma’s bedroom. She was asleep in her big shiny brass bed. I started to talk to her. “Grand—”
“Shhhh,” Daddy whispered. “Grandma needs her rest.”
“Will she be able to play old maid with me, Daddy?” I asked in my softest voice.
“I think she would like that, sweetheart. I think she would like that a whole lot.”
And that’s what we did, Grandma and I. She couldn’t get out of bed much, so I brought the old maid cards to her. I’d climb up the post of her big brass bed. Then I’d smooth out the quilt that she said was made from pieces of Grandpa’s old wool plaid shirts. Then we played old maid until we both fell asleep.
On the very last game I was ever to play with Grandma, she squealed really loud and laughed because she got the “old maid.” She called me a “little stinker.” Then she gave me a big hug and said, “You’re the winner, my little darling. You’re the winner.”
“My grandmother … loved her grandchildren and was always happy to see me and make me feel important. When I was nine years old, she came to live with my family. … She talked to us about choosing the right and about eternal life. I learned that life is more than this life. … She wrote this poem called ‘Recompense’ … :
Have you sat at the bedside
Of some loved one, your best friend?
Hoping, praying, watching, waiting.
Then been told, “It is the end.”
If you have, then don’t feel bitter.
Learn to say “Thy will be done.
Help me, Father, in my sorrow,
Help me till new faith I’ve won.”
Then you’ll feel the soothing influence
Of His Spirit from above,
Know that He is watching o’er you,
Know His heart is filled with love.”
Elder Neil L. Andersen
Of the Seventy
(Friend, November 1994, page 7.)