Grandma Lola: The Social Hall
They say, “If you build it, they will come”. Such is the case with the First United Methodist Church in Okeechobee, Florida. My grandmother was a member of the First United Methodist Church since she moved to Okeechobee in the 1940’s from Miami. My mom and dad were married there and my brother and I were baptized and attended church there until we graduated and moved away. Grandma always made sure we were at Wednesday evening service, Sunday morning Sunday School and Sunday morning/evening services. We were also a part of the church youth group. The church basically had no social facilities and they made the decision to add an extension on to the existing building that would become the social hall where church gatherings would take place.
The church called on people with expertise in carpentry, electrical and construction to help erect this new wing. Can you guess who was the first one to raise her hand? Every day after work and on Saturday’s (my grandmother was a strict believer that you didn’t work on Sunday), my grandmother was there. She had a tool belt around her waist, a hammer in her hand and she was climbing the ladders with all the men who were working on the building. When they were tired at night and ready to quit for the day she would urge them to stay a little longer. When they were gone, you could go down to the building and find her there alone finishing up any last-minute tasks or cleaning up from the day’s work, using up her last bit of energy. She would then get up in the morning, go to her job managing the warehouse and was right back out there again in the evening.
Some women watched in awe and others were appalled that she would insert herself in “mans’ work”, but she didn’t care. Grandma never lived her life caring what others thought, she lived it knowing that she was secure in who she was and in her faith. The hall still stands today as a living testament to her and others who made it a reality.
Two years ago we used the hall for the repass after her funeral service. As I sat there having my meal I could still feel her presence and looked around in awe at what she had been a part of. Sometimes people try to put us in boxes where they think we should be. However, if we open those boxes and allow our true selves to come out, the things that we are able to accomplish in the world are amazing. Bring Smiles to Seniors was only possible because of the confidence my grandmother instilled in me early on in my life. It was way outside my comfort zone but the need was not something I could ignore.
The next time you are facing a challenge, think about Grandma Lola Mae on the ladder with her hammer. Dig deep and just maybe you will find the inner strength to accomplish what you thought was impossible.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.