Her smile’s grown slightly shy because of her teeth, the only thing not real about my Norwegian grandmother. I love the picture so much, it’s tucked inside my small New Testament, a reminder of what love and faithfulness look like.
The angle’s odd, as if the photographer sat on the floor, focused on her knees, as much as her sweet face. Then again, maybe it was deliberate. It’s part of why I keep the cropped photo, a visual reminder of what those knees bore for more than eighty years.
Across her lap rests her open Bible. Looks like she’s into the Psalms. Again. Worn pages bear witness to her love for God’s words. The camera’s flash reflects off her glasses, starring her eyes. Grandma’s hair, soft and gray as a dove’s feather, stays put behind a hairnet. Nothing wayward about her.
This simple photo conjures other images. Grandma never went to a gym to workout, or did yoga to stretch. She scrubbed floors on her knees, for others and her own. Bestemor knelt by her bed or beside a chair to pray, more often than daily. When a child needed her, she bowed down to their level or lifted them to sit on her knees. Most of her life she walked to wherever she needed to get, then took a bus, streetcar or subway.
She’s gone now, at home in heaven, where floors need no scrubbing but one whiff of Fels Naptha or Ivory soap and grandma’s back. Each day when I come to her face in my small bible, I ask her to pray for me, our family. I’ve got one new knee but neither do justice to my heritage.
One day “every knee shall bow” (Romans 14:11 NLT) Some, like my Bestemor, will bow with ease and joy, then get back up with Grace.
And here I sit.
Lord, have mercy.
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