Thursday, June 18, 2009

Father's Day 1972 Revisited, Part 16: Wrinkled Faces and Grandma Randall's Green Drink

Matilda Randall, my grandma, was a Baptist Mother Teresa. At least she shared a good many character traits with the little Albanian saint. She also had Mother Teresa's deeply wrinkled and leathery brown face. From both faces, with their shining deep-set dark eyes--radiated a deep goodness--a grace--a love which was both kind and gentle, but which was certainly not soft and marsh-mellowy. In contrast, this gracious loving radiance was solid, rock-like, even severe, if that term can be connected with the concept of love. This was a love that one sensed came from beyond the individual and her personal particular emotions. Instead, it emanated from, and was entwined with, her life's mission. Both these women of God were indeed on a mission: Saint Teresa to bring God's loving embrace those dying alone in the world's gutters, and Saint Matilda to bring that same embracing love to the little sphere of her family's world.

That's why Grandma Randall started Riverside Christian Day School in her own home for her first grandson and a few neighbor kids. She went on to Shepherd that school as it--and her grandson, Tony--grew. That is why she saw to it that us kids were enrolled in Vacation Bible School each summer. That is why she tried to get us to eat the good, wholesome, organic food which she grew in her very own garden where she spent a good deal of her time.

The food she fixed for us was one aspect of grandma's love we least appreciated at the time. We considered grandma a health-food nut. We loved Swanson's frozen dinners and Tater-Tots. We really did not care for chard or kale or wheat germ or millet. Topping our list of least appreciated health food was her infamous Green Drink. Grandma Randall's Green Drink was her own concoction of every healthy item known to humankind blended up all together in a big Hamilton Beech blender and served--not chilled with ice, no: cold drinks were not good for you--but at room temperature with a little green foam still bubbling on top of your glass. We hated that stuff. When we complained about the taste, she acted amazed: "Don't say that; why, it has chlorophyll--very good for your liver-- and wheat germ; which has lots of vitamins and fiber; and millet, and celery and..." she would go on to list a half-dozen of the who-knows-how-many ingredients, all found in her Green Drink--as if this somehow answered our complaint. In her fixation with health food grandma Randall was way ahead of her time!

Grandma Randall played a significant and unusual two-part role in my conversion. Part one was that she prayed for me, the black sheep of the family. Not so unusual, that. I suppose all grandmothers pray for their grandchildren--at least I know all Baptist grandmothers do. Come to think of it, praying grannies may be God's most effective below-the-radar force in his dogged and unrelenting campaign to draw a lost world back Home. The other part Grandma Randall played in my conversion was truly an unusual one. She died. Sort of...

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