At the outset of this blog I decided that I wouldn’t just write book reviews but also explore books as objects. A few days ago a package arrived for me from my mother. She’d packed up a number things belonging to my grandmother, knick-knacks and dooeys, some kitchen items which included a knife which came close to impaling my hand (so thanks, mom, for almost stabbing me from six-hundred miles away), and these two books.

The Bible has an inscription from her confirmation sponsors with the date, occasion, her name and theirs. The hymnal has her simply has her name and appears to be in her handwriting.

It’s a hymnal and a Bible given to my grandmother on her confirmation day, June 26, 1949 and it seemed like a perfect time to write a blog post. I snapped a few quick photos of the books and sat down at my computer to write. Instead of words, what came out of me was tears. I had a good long cry like I haven’t had in years. In my lachrymose state I chalked it all up to being half exhausted and two-thirds drunk; I blamed it on heavyhearted music[1] and hormones; I made it about anything other than being in mourning.

“Grammie” is still alive but over the last few years we as a family have been helpless to do much more than watch with our hearts in our throats as her memory and cognitive function slip away.

Reading became impossible for her a while back and fairly soon language will be completely gone for her. At least her ability to comprehensibly produce it. I will still tell her stories and sing some of her favorite songs to her even when her eyes are the only way she can respond.

After a broken engagement she went on to marry a man who would later become a pastor due to her influence. He went to Sunday morning church service for the first time in years while they were honeymooning in Niagara Falls. He died of a heart attack while still quite young and she has been widowed longer than the two of them were married.

Grammie was my first Sunday school teacher and I actually rather enjoyed the versions of God, Jesus, and faith that she gave me. I often think I would have been quite content with the Christian faith if I had been able to hold on to the version I had as a three-year-old. My experiences with religion became exponentially more complicated as I grew up and my three-year-old’s faith became a memory.

I’ve owned a number of Bibles over the years – a Children’s Picture Bible; an Extreme Teen Bible; Bibles given to me by family, friends, and churches; Bibles of assorted ages and versions; Bibles that sat on the shelf and collected dust and Bibles I carried around with me; and even Bibles that I taught from.

This Bible has the kind of wear and tear of a well loved book – well cared for and often read. It contains a reading schedule for getting through the Bible in one year, reading Old Testament in the morning and New Testament at night.

That is followed by a list of where to find a passage or two on assorted topics in either the Old or New Testament. There’s a mark next to the topic “The one thing we should do” for which it lists the New Testament passage Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Oh, and the text across the top of the page sticking out of the Bible – it reads “THE HOUR OF PRAYER”. One of the prayers given on that page is “For Lengthening Years” and it reads:

O God, help us keep up our courage. May we never lose heart for the things that are eternal. May the lengthening years be kind to us. Strengthen us to go on with courage and hope. In Thy name. Amen.

Lord, hear her prayer.


[1] One of the most important life lessons my mother has taught me, aside from how to stab someone via the postal system, is the significance of selecting the right music to back up one’s drunken crying. She generally prefers the soundtrack to I Am Sam whereas my typical choice is more along the lines of Cat Power’s The Covers Record directly followed by You Are Free.