When my grandfather, Elmer Due (Grampus) died in the spring of 1987, I was 16 years old, and probably not the most observant person in town. At that time, if you had asked me if my Granny was a “strong” person, I probably would have said no. I would have seen her as caring, loving, kind, but dependent on my grandfather. My Grampus passed away, unexpectedly, one day while the rest of us carried on our normal routines. I got out of school, and because baseball season was over, I went to my part time job at the trophy shop. When I got off of work at 5:00, I went back to the high school to lift weights. In the days before cell phones, I finished my workout and headed home, which was east of Duncan, on Tucker road. When I got home, there was no one there and a note on the bar. “Come to the hospital……..GRAMPUS!” My Grampus had survived a bypass surgery, the year prior, that we were concerned that he might not make it through, so I was thinking he might be having heart trouble. I raced to Duncan Regional Hospital and asked the kind lady at the desk where I could find the room for Elmer Due. She told me to find my family. When I told her that my family told me to come here, she kindly broke her rules and informed me that my Grampus had “expired”. I headed, with tears in my eyes (much like currently) to my grandparents’ house on Drexal. There were many people there, including my parents, but as I walked in, I only noticed one person. My eyes met with Granny’s and she met me in the middle of their living room in a long compassionate hug. Her words to me, “We lost a good one today”. That was a moment I should have noticed her strength. She was the one providing comfort.
Over the next few weeks and months, I am sure that Granny didn’t feel strong, as she was trying to figure out life without her husband. I am sure there were times of crying, sobbing, and self-pity. But I know that there were times of singing, praising and praying. In a moment in her life when many of us would have hit back at God, hit the trail, hit the bottle, hit the prescription medications, or hit the fetal position, Granny hit her knees. Looking back, that should have been the biggest evidence of her strength. She had the wisdom to know where to get her strength. My mom found a poem this week, while going through my Granny’s things.
The Lord My Source
He is my Savior, Comforter, and Friend
He gives me the courage to start life again.
He’s ever beside me, through the lonely nights and days,
He guides every footstep and shows me the way.
(Written after my husband died – Toady Due) 5/14/87
Over the next 10 years, I got married, attended college, graduated medical school and had a child.
Most of that time, I was busy with those things and didn’t check on my Granny as much as I should have. Meanwhile, she was mowing the yard, providing loving child care for a great granddaughter, keeping a garden, balancing a check book, cooking for one and serving at her church. Oh yeah, and one other thing, she was praying for me. Yes, for me specifically, but not only me. She had a list of everyone in the family and she would spend hours praying for each person individually and specifically. I am pretty sure that her prayers had a lot to do with the list of things that I took on from age 16-26. Her strength is obvious in this list. I am sure that she had help from people at her church. I know that she had help from my parents, Aunt Marsha and Uncle Joe Sam. But probably more than the help she got from them, she gave out to others. She was forever taking friends to doctor’s appointments, volunteering at the hospital and cooking lunch for grand kids and their friends every week.
Over the last couple of years, Granny had to move from her home on Drexal, where she had been for 30 years, by herself. Initially to an assisted living and then to a nursing home. As we would visit Granny, she would sometimes come back to the same conversations. One of the things that she would usually say, at least once every time we visited, was how blessed she was. Granny would talk about how she had so many family and friends that loved her. In fact, when I visited Granny in mid-February, her mind was starting to fade but we still had this conversation. Granny was easy to love.
Since my visit with her in February, she had a significant drop off in her physical status and her mentation. She started to have trouble swallowing and had a fall, resulting in an ER visit and staples. Our family had to make some difficult decisions, but Granny was placed on Hospice last Saturday. My mom and I have discussed verses that might be used in her memorial service. I thought of a couple, and I am sure that if you knew her, either as Toady or Granny, you could come up with some too.
John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
According to this, Granny was easy to spot as a disciple. She had pretty much mastered the "love one another" thing.
Phillipians 4:6-7 “Don’t worry about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Pray without ceasing was pretty much her specialty.
It’s 5:00am on April 3, 2019. I am working a night shift in the ER currently. I got the phone call at 2:43am from my mom telling me that Granny had died. Fewer than 4 days after we put her on Hospice, her strength left her earthly body and she went to heaven. I don’t think my heart could handle witnessing the sweet reunions there today. Flora/Toady/Granny Due was one of the strongest, most loving and gracious women that I will ever know. I already regret not learning more from her but feeling blessed that I knew her for 48 years. “We lost a good one today”.