Down Home: Grammar, Eleanor & the cycle of life

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Observing the cycle of life can take your breath away. I watched it revolve 360 degrees in less than 24 hours, and I know I’m blessed.

On April 16, three generations of my mother’s family, plus a few friends, gathered in the far northeast corner of the Texas Panhandle. We laid the earthly remains of my maternal grandmother—Helena Margaret Loewen Moore; we called her Grammar—to rest in a windswept cemetery just outside Higgins.

It would have been Grammar’s 104th birthday



My mother, Margaret, and my cousin Janell chose that date because it would have been Grammar’s 104th birthday. She died last November at the age of 103 years, six months and 21 days.

Grammar decided to be cremated, in large part because Higgins is so remote and some of the family struggle with poor health. She figured we could get around to her burial when the time was right for most of the family. And so we did.

Her remains rest beside those of my grandfather—Leonard Moore; we called him Popo—about five miles from the homesteaded farms where they grew up and where they eked out a living until the Great Depression drove them out. 



Fittingly, the rumble of trains interrupted Grammar’s memorial service at least three times. She and Popo worked for the Santa Fe Railway for several decades up to retirement. They both loved trains, and I’d imagine everyone in the family does, too, if only because they remind us of Grammar and Popo.

Grammar’s favorite chorus

My brother, Martin, and I recalled Grammar’s amazing long life. Our father, Marvin, preached a sermon from Psalm 23. We sang a couple of hymns and Grammar’s favorite chorus, “Every Day With Jesus.” Then we all reconvened in the community center to eat barbecue. Grammar would’ve loved it. She would’ve preferred a hamburger herself, but she would’ve loved it anyway.


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Almost exactly one spin of Earth later, Joanna and I walked off a plane in Nashville and held our new granddaughter, Eleanor, in our arms. She lives in Tennessee—11 hours from our North Texas home by car but not so far by plane—with her mama and our daughter, Molly, and her daddy, David. 

If Grammar had lived just two days shy of a month longer, she and Eleanor would have overlapped. And if Eleanor lives as long as Grammar—which, with the pace of medical technology doesn’t seem entirely far-fetched—their lives would span 207 years. 

But all that’s beside the point right now. We spent several days watching Eleanor demonstrate her new tricks—rolling from her back to her belly but not from her belly to her back; grabbing her toes; laughing as we acted silly; thoroughly enjoying the sound of her own voice.



Grammar and Eleanor

These two women bracket my life. I can’t remember not knowing and loving Grammar. I can’t imagine not knowing and loving Eleanor. 

Practically everyone who met Grammar knew she loved the Lord. She endured a long, long, long lifetime of hardship, but she truly believed every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before. Now, Eleanor’s life is just starting. She’ll live in a world vastly different than Grammar knew or could imagine. But I pray Eleanor will, in time, realize the sweetness of days spent loving Jesus and enjoying the love of her family.




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