The other night I was at my friend’s place way too late. We were sitting on the couch talking about things and talking about nothing as it crept toward 2am when a wave of demanding exhaustion came over me. He was mid-story, and I remember thinking how I just wanted to fall asleep right then, as he was talking. Not because the story was boring or his voice was dull, but suddenly the idea of falling asleep to to someone’s voice seemed the idea of absolute comfort.
All throughout my childhood every time I slept over at my grandparents, when it was time for bed my grandma would sit with me and tell me the story of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. Now, you’d somewhat expect a woman who at that point had been preaching for over half her life to be more likely to read me a Psalm or tell me the story of Ruth and Boaz, but no, my grandma would always tell me the story of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears.
Every single time she told it it sounded the same, never missing a detail, never skipping a line. She had different voices for Goldie and each of the bears. And every time she would tell it I would get caught up in the sound of her voice and it was always the most comforting feeling.
My grandma passed away on January 2nd of this new year. And although I am thrilled she’s in heaven it’s been an odd experience going through the mourning and missing while on the other side of the country from everyone who knew her, being unable to attend her funeral.
Jean Tulip was a pastor for 50-some years. A wife for just over 60. She could give sermons and hugs that would change lives. She’d answer the phone at any hour of the night to help others. She exemplified Christ’s love to hundreds, more like thousands, through her life. I couldn’t go anywhere in the state of Michigan without someone recognizing my last name and asking if I was related to Jean.
About 6 months ago my grandma asked me if there was anything of hers I wanted when she passed away. I thought for a minute. Then I told her I would be honored to have her Bible. The Bible she had through 50 odd years of being a pastor. She lit up, telling me how much she would love for me to have it.
About 3 months ago as I was leaving Michigan to return to California my grandma told me that if she passed away while I was in California that I shouldn’t worry about trying to make it back for her funeral because I was with her while she was alive, and that mattered so much more.
She passed away 4 days after I left Michigan for a Christmas visit. And it was those words that brought me comfort in not being able to fly back out for the service.
She was so much to so many. But to me, she was grandma.
Of the women I’m related to, I am most like her. I have her strength (minus the ability to get dental work done without novocaine–not joking), her stubbornness (Lord have mercy, if you ever fought with Jean, you probably lost), and I like to think I have her insatiable love for others (I mean, I hope I do).
There’s really no other way to say it than to say she was one hell of a woman.
I’m thankful for her, I miss her, and I am so happy she’s in heaven because that was always where she belonged.