A Tribute to MeeMaw (Joan Whitener Andrews b: March 7, 1920 d: August 20, 2018)

August 22, 2018 by George Fritts


My MeeMaw passed away peacefully Tuesday afternoon, letting go of her last breath while holding the hands of her children.  She was ready.  Sharp witted until the end, but robbed of speech, she nevertheless communicated that she was satisfied with her life.  As much as I would love to recount all that this woman accomplished in her 98+ years (read more here), it suffices to say that she lived and died largely on her own terms.  In her own words: “I haven’t had a good life; I’ve had a WONDERFUL life.”

Not a year ago, if she met you in a restaurant, she would stop to tell you—likely down to the minute—how old she was.  When asked her secret to longevity, she would focus her piercing blue eyes on yours, smile lines deeply etched at the corners and say, “The secret of life is just to wake up every morning,” followed by an infectious cackle.  If you needed more detail about her life, she would gladly tell you about her recent accomplishments—she was a highly decorated competitor in the Senior Games; the running and corn hole events were her jam.  If you got separated from the rest of your group during that exchange, she would very helpfully put two fingers in the corners of her mouth and let out a shrill whistle to get their attention.  That’s my MeeMaw.

I don’t claim to know a lot about heaven, but based on what I know of God’s character, I’ve always told my kids when they asked (so much so that it is a phrase guaranteed to generate eye rolls from them) that everything we need to be truly happy will be there for us.  Based solely on that belief, I am convinced that when she got there, Granddaddy was waiting on the front porch of their home overlooking the crystal lake, sitting in one of a row of rocking chairs.  Freshly sliced cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes (pollinated by Granddaddy’s own bees, of course) were sitting on a plate waiting to be shared, and the smell of a perfectly cooled bowl of his homemade soup just barely overcame the honeysuckle.  As she sat down beside him and put her hand in his, the first of a steady stream of visitors came to sit in one of the empty chairs. 

I feel confident the sharing of old stories, new stories, and gratuitous advice has continued from that moment until now.  And with the sounds of Granddaddy’s belly laugh and MeeMaw’s cackle carrying across the water to the throne of God, I see a smile on Jesus’ face as He closes His eyes and whispers, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.  Well done.”

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