The girltalk blog is featuring tributes to grandmothers this week. I’d encourage everyone to drop by and read some of the lovely things written about some wonderful grandmas. Bring your Kleenex! It inspired me to write a tribute about my own grandmother.
My mom’s mother’s name was Matie Basler Huebscher (she was 100% Swiss). When you think of a grandma, maybe you think of someone who dispenses lots of hugs and kisses, calls you “honey,” always has the smell of something baking in her house, can stretch a dollar ten ways, that kind of thing. My grandmother never actually got to be a “grandma.” She died in 1940 when her youngest child, my aunt Marie, was still an infant. In fact, she was probably only slightly older than I am now when she died.
In all honesty, I think I can count on one hand the things I actually know about my grandmother and those, of course, are through hearsay. I don’t know where she was born or what year. I don’t know who else was in her family. I don't know what her favorite flower was, what she liked to eat, what things she thought were funny. I know she married my grandfather when she was young, just a teenager, and he was maybe 21. They lived in the wilderness of upper Wisconsin in the early 20th century and carved out a life for themselves there. They had twelve children—the fourth from the bottom (that’s how you have to describe it when you have so many!) is my mom.
My mom was six years old when her mother died. She remembers that she was a gentle woman. She would never defy my grandfather, but when he insisted that my mother eat even the fat of the meat on her plate (nothing went to waste) Mom remembers my grandmother giving her a soft, sympathetic look. Another of my aunts remembered peeking down from the loft at Christmas Eve, trying to see what her parents were doing and if there were any presents. The Kiwanis Club had donated some presents to their family since my grandparents couldn’t afford to buy them. Part of the present for each child was a silver dollar, and my aunt got tears in her eyes as she talked about her mother going through and removing the coins—money was too scarce to be given as gifts to the children.
After my grandmother’s twelfth child was born, she developed cancer and died. No one is even sure what kind of cancer it was, though they think it might have been uterine. My mom says that after she died, none of them ever talked about her again. They knew that if they talked about her they would cry, and none of them wanted to do that.
That’s about it—the sum total of what I know about Matie Basler Huebscher. She was born, she lived a relatively short life, and she died. Except for one more thing. She had an elementary school education, but she did know how to read. One day, she picked up a Bible. She didn’t know that if you want to hear the good news, you should start at the book of John—no one ever told her that. So, she started in Genesis, at “In the beginning.” She read about creation and the fall. She read about how sin requires a sacrifice, so she had my grandpa go out to the barn and kill some chickens to pay for their sins. She read and read.
Then she got to the New Testament.
And met Jesus.
When my grandmother died, she was the only Christian in her whole family. She died not being able to train up her children in the way they should go. She died probably wondering whether many of them would even remember her. She died not knowing whether she would see any of them in heaven.
I’m guessing that at some point she read these verses in Isaiah 55: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
I don’t know whether or not my grandmother held on to the promise in those verses, but she definitely could have, for since her death ten of her twelve children have accepted Christ. I have no idea how many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren she has now (but there are MANY of us!)—and among Matie Basler Huebscher’s descendants are numerous Christ-followers who are pastors; teachers; musicians; college professors, including a New Testament Greek professor; business owners; builders; nurses; missionaries; a soldier in the Air Force; college students; stay-at-home moms; an editor (!); and many I know I’ve missed.
Though she never got to see the fate of her children or meet her grandchildren, her godly influence has trickled down to her future generations. God’s Word did not return empty for her family. She was faithful to Him, and He has been faithful to her. I’m proud to have the blood of this gentle lady who read her Bible and believed it running through me and my two daughters. I’m excited to meet Matie some day in heaven, to throw my arms around her, and call her “Grandma.”