Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Psalm 36:5
On St. Patrick’s Day, I can’t help but think of my beloved Grandma who traveled here, a young girl, barely 20, to the United States from Ireland 90+ years ago.
I wish I could talk to her today, but she is long gone. She died in 1972. There is so much I’d like to know more about.
What was it like for her to leave her mother and father in one country to join brothers and sisters in a new land that lay across the sea? To go to an unknown city, leaving behind the stone farmhouse in the country hills of Fermanagh, the only home she had ever known?
Was she scared? Excited? Did she feel courageous and brave…she surely was!
There are things I know about Grandma, but so much more I wish I knew.
When Grandma arrived here in the U.S., about 1920, she went to live with her sister in New York. I recall Grandma telling me she met her husband, Grandpa Daly, a.k.a. Charlie Daly, through her brother Patrick, who used to drive an ice truck back in the day when there were ice boxes.
I don’t know what Grandpa did for a living. I only know that he had difficulty keeping a job during the Great Depression. And, in fact, grew quite literally depressed from lack of work. Grandpa fell ill, was hospitalized, and never returned home. He died when my dad was 13.
Around this time, Grandma started working as, basically, an “Irish washerwoman” or “domestic” for wealthy doctors. Once Grandpa died, Grandma couldn’t keep her home and she and Dad moved in with one of the doctor’s families…living in the back rooms of the doctor’s office.
Dad was a good boy, but the class clown. He was being educated for free at St. Peter’s Prep School as a poor student of promise. Because of his antics, Grandma had to cry to the dean of students more than once, begging Dad back into the dean’s good graces…and allowing Dad to graduate by the skin of his teeth.
Dad went to St. Peter’s College at night, so he could earn money during the day. Eventually, he did not fall short of Grandma’s high expectations and belief that the only way up out of poverty was through education. Dad had a very successful publishing career and was most assuredly the apple of his mother’s eye.
Meanwhile, Grandma went from washerwoman to nanny of another doctor’s family. She worked hard, scraped by many times, and when she was too old to work anymore, at the age of 65, Grandma came to live with us. She walked with a cane due to a leg that had broken in two places and never healed quite right. Her hands were gnarled with arthritis and her back bowed in pain much of the time. She could barely see from the effects of macular degeneration.
BUT Grandma was the most thankful person I have ever met.
She was positive and encouraging. She was an advocate for…everyone. She prayed wholeheartedly for all she knew. In fact, when she could no longer do much besides help care for the crazy brood of five children that were the Daly Kids, prayer became her life’s work.
Whenever I picture Grandma, I see her in her big plaid buffalo chair in her corner of the sun porch in heaven. There is a line of people waiting just to share their prayer requests with her, knowing she is a constant, consistent, powerful prayer warrior.
Grandma had nothing of material worth…yet for many years she was everything to me. In the midst of my parents’ messed up marriage, Grandma was an anchor in the storm. In the midst of middle school insecurity, she was blessed assurance that I was loved. In the midst of my growing need for something bigger, surer, more certain, she was a glimpse of the Jesus she so loved, the God I have come to know.
Grandma never preached. She just lived…quiet, prayerful, sure, faithful. And she passed this legacy on to me.
I wish I knew when and how Grandma came to such strong faith. I will never know this side of heaven.
But I am thankful every day for her gift of faith that keeps on giving to me.
Is there someone who left you a legacy of faith? Someone who was a beacon of Light in your life, whose faith drew you to faith? Tell us HERE
Elise has been married for 28 years and is mom to four mostly grown girls. She is a writer, editor, writing coach, and blogger. She believes we all have stories that matter--big life bios and small meaningful moments. Elise believes our stories are a reflection of God’s glory and are meant to be shared. They have the power to inform, reform, and transform. She loves God, familly, friends...and really likes travel!