Angela writes: "I'm the granddaughter of Mabel Fleetwood, who we just lost on June 16th of this year. We felt it was appropriate that she was united with her Heavenly Father on Sunday, Father's Day, but weren't ready for her to go. I miss her and wanted to pay tribute to her. I felt this would be a good outlet."
Grandma's Golden Heart
What a blessing my grandmother, Mabel Fleetwood, was to so many people, including and most especially, her family. Grandma had a zest for life, but her zeal for the Lord and others was incomparable, and never ending. She was a Christian woman of deep faith who lived it and shared her love of the Lord in all she did. One phrase she often said to me and was known for was, "God's been so good to me." My response was always, "He's been good to all of us."
Her family was important to her and secondary only to her commitment to Christ. She was married to my grandfather, Elmo, for nearly 60 years. They had five children, two of whom died in infancy; two who are still living; and one who was born with cerebral palsy and not expected to live past childhood. He lived to be 54, though he never walked, due to Grandma and Grandpa's care of him and the enabling of the Lord.
She enjoyed family gatherings and the annual Weininger reunion. Grandma would keep in touch by writing letters until it became too difficult, and then she started making phone calls, always checking up on family, friends, neighbors and others. She never knew a stranger.
My grandmother was a unique individual with diversified interests throughout her life. She loved to travel. In her early adult years, she took her disabled son, Gerald, to see sights around the country while Grandpa stayed home and worked. In fact, Gerald was her inspiration for helping others because she said, "God was always so good to help me when I was caring for Gerald and Elmo."
She also went on trips with the Jackson County Extension Homemakers Club. In her later years, she traveled with seniors on bus trips, and then enjoyed food and fellowship at the Freetown Community Center and other county Senior Centers.
She loved to wear hats and jewelry. I'll bet she had over 100 hats in a variety of colors, styles, and shapes. Grandma never wore pants, and how she loved to "dress to the nines," as I call it, when she was getting ready to go somewhere. A typical outfit would include a necklace or beads, earrings, and a brooch topped off with one of her hats.
Grandmother had an avid interest of sports and followed basketball, football and baseball, particularly. She was always writing down the names of players, teams, and scores. She was delighted when my oldest nephew and his wife, Cody and Emily, took her to see an Indiana Pacers game where she was introduced at center court.
She had a green thumb and was always growing and tending flowers. Her yard was full of blooms which she took care of until she was no longer able. There were many times she would pick flowers and dig up some to take to someone else to brighten up their day or bring a smile to their face. This beautiful person, inside and out, surrounded herself with the beauty of the Lord and His creation. She loved to be outside working in her flower beds, as she called them, and enjoying God's handiwork.
Grandma always loved music and both played instruments (mostly accordion and piano, though also the organ and guitar) and sang worship songs. It brought her joy to attend local Hymn Sings and worship her Savior through singing. Of course, she also sang songs to and about Him in her home and at church.
My grandmother was a selfless giver. She served the public while working alongside my grandfather at both the Freetown Hardware Store and Surprise Grocery. She also cooked and waited tables in local restaurants for 30 years. Grandma had a following as the Acme-Surprise Community News correspondent for the Brownstown Banner for years. She was always asking for prayer for folks, quoting scripture, and talking about God and her faith in those articles.
She served others in private as well. She would take flowers, food, or whatever the need might be, to those who were sick or shut in. She visited those in the hospital and was a caregiver to several folks in their homes. Her philosophy was, "If you're really close to God, you'll be compassionate to the person who needs you." What an example of being a servant she was.
Grandma was a lifelong member of Surprise Christian Church (IN). Her devotion to God and others is a testament to her longevity (98). As her minister said of her before the public visitation, "She may have been small in stature, but she was a giant in her faith."
Though we weren't ready for her to go, she was, and I believe felt the calling of the Lord. A couple of weeks before she went to be with Him, she was singing to one of my nieces words that were in her thoughts, which later proved prophetic. Then, about a week before she passed, upon awakening, she told my Dad to write those same words down, that she had just dreamed of. I think it can be made into a song, which Dad titled, "Tell the angels I'm coming home," because it was a repeating phrase.
My grandmother had a heart of gold and I believe she was one of God's angels here on earth. She spent her life helping and doing for others because she felt it was what God wanted her to do. Simply stated, "I'm not finished until God's finished with me." Apparently He felt she had done enough, and it was time for others to carry on, as she went on to receive her reward.
Her physical heart may have stopped beating, but her giving heart never quit. She had a nurturing spirit that never ceased, and once said, "If I quit working, I'd quit walking. And I don't want to do that." Well, now you're walking on the streets of gold, to match your golden heart, where no cane is needed.
What a legacy that we, as her family, have to continue in honor and memory of her life well lived. The final refrain in a poem by an unknown author aptly describes her and is an appropriate tribute: "A golden heart stopped beating, Hard working hands to rest, God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best."
Grandma, I love you, and I'll do my best, with God's help, to continue the work you started and have left to us. Thank you for always being there for us and now you're with us always in memory and spirit. Your loving granddaughter, Angela.
(© July 19, 2013 Angela Fleetwood – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)