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Grandma Tripp
Kindness is a gift that some people share so easily, and in so doing they warm up people's hearts, families, space, and time.

I was three or four years old when I first met Grandma Tripp. She lived with her son Robert, his wife Edith, and their nine kids in a house that almost no one in the world would say was big enough for 12 people. But it was never considered that Grandma should be living somewhere else. Grandma helped around the house, she was another mom as it were, an appreciated "taken for granted" caregiver who lent stability, compassion, and discipline to the Tripp household.

… I remember becoming intrigued by what this wonderfully friendly little old lady … was doing.

I don't know why we were at the Tripps the day in question, but we, my mom and I, were there. The Tripp kitchen uniquely blended the smells of cigarette smoke, barn odours, and food cooking on the wood stove. The usual gaggle of Tripp kids must have been away because I remember becoming intrigued by what this wonderfully friendly little old lady with the white hair, the longish dress, and the little furry slippers was doing.

She was sitting in a high-backed rocking chair with a basket of different coloured string balls at her feet whose single strands led up to her lap, where her hands and the two long needles in them worked back and forth like the pumping machine I always watched and heard in the grain elevator.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm knitting," Grandma Tripp answered.

"What's that?"

"It's making things like mittens out of balls of string," she smiled. "I make all my grandchildren mittens every year."

"Will you make me mittens?" I asked. "My mom doesn't know how to knit."

Grandma Tripp smiled and glanced at my mother, but said nothing.

On my next birthday some months later, Robert dropped off a soft package wrapped in tissue paper for me. A little card fell out of the package as I tore the paper off and Mom said, "You got a birthday present from Grandma Tripp. She's knitted you some mittens."

Every year on my birthday, in a size slightly bigger and in colours different than last year's, until my 18th birthday, Grandma Tripp made sure I got the mittens she had knitted me for the next year. I wonder if I ever told her how much they meant to me. Grandma Tripp died a long time ago. The warmth of her giving is still here.

Why some people have the resources to be kind while others persist in cruelty and meanness can be partially explained by circumstances, history, psychology, personality, character, and family system patterns, but not completely. Kindness is a gift that some people share so easily, and in so doing they warm up people's hearts, families, space, and time.

Forty-something years after Grandma Tripp started knitting me mitts I am still overwhelmed by the memory of a busy grandmother, with more than enough mitts to knit every year, knitting another pair for someone who would pull them on and run out into the snow without even thinking of saying "Thank you!"

God gave us more than mitts: He gave us His son, and meaning, purpose, and undreamed-of personal fulfillment. When Grandma Tripp gave me mitts, she touched forever in my psyche the awe of receiving something wonderful. Grandma Tripp introduced me to the experience of being at the receiving end of a giving God being kind every day.

Dan Unrau is pastor of Fraserview MB Church, Richmond, B.C. He is the author of Rogues, Rascals & Rare Gems, and Saints, Sinners & Angels, published by Kindred Productions, 1997.

Originally published in Dan Unrau's book, Rogues, Rascals, and Rare Gems (Kindred, 1999), reprinted in the Mennonite Brethren Herald, December 15, 2006.

 

 
 
 
 

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