Tuesday, November 25, 2014


My siblings and I have had three grandmothers: Nanny, Nana, and Twila. Nanny was our mom’s mom; she died in 2012. Nana was our dad’s mom; she died in 1989. Twila was neither our dad’s mom nor our mom’s mom. She was our grandfather’s second wife. And she was amazing.

Actually, she was my "grandmother" longer than Nana was my grandmother. Nana was amazing, too. And so was Nanny. Three amazing women that I am so happy to have had in my life.

In 1992, three years after Nana died, my Grandfather, “Daddy Monk” Bryan married Twila Stowe, who has been my grandmother since then. 18 years with one grandmother; 22 years with another. I’m a pretty lucky guy.

Twila died this morning.

I called her daughter and she said, “Mom adored you and your family. You brought her so much joy. She was proud of you.”

Daddy Monk and Twila used to love it when I would sit down at the piano and play hymns. I would jazz them up and ad lib here and there and they would be in the kitchen cleaning up after supper or something, listening, singing along. It brought me joy to bring them joy.

But then, ever so sneakily, I would start up with the verse of “Victory in Jesus.” Before I could even get to the chorus, here Twila would come storming out of the kitchen wielding a wooden spoon or some such utensil, an expression of utter disgust on her face, often accompanied by an inarticulate growl of rage. If I had given her time, I’m not sure but she would have thumped me on the head.

However, I would just give her a grin and shift quickly to “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” or some other Charles Wesley hymn.

Oo, did she ever hate “Victory in Jesus.”

Daddy Monk and Nana used to hang out with Twila and her husband, Mac. The two couples were dear friends. Monk and Mac (that would be Alonzo Monk and William McFerrin) were both bishops in the United Methodist Church. Mac died in 1988, and my grandparents (of course) stayed friends with Twila.

So when my grandmother died one year later, Monk and Twila stayed in touch. Over time their friendship deepened. When he was visiting our family he would go into the bedroom to call her and tell her goodnight. I used to do that in high school with the girls I was dating!

And then there were a few months there during which Monk and Twila AND Erin and I were engaged to be married at the same time! (Yep, both Jim’s dad and son were engaged at the same time. That must have been weird.) It was fun to share that time with them, both of us planning for weddings.

Twila was gracious. Classy. Gentle. Strong. Beautiful. Passionate. She had to be some special kind of woman, to be married to not just one but TWO United Methodist bishops in her life!

She was amazing.

We were hoping to stop in Dallas to see her tomorrow on our way to Austin for Thanksgiving. But she was ready to go. She said so. Her body was failing, and she was in pain. She let God know that she was pretty much done living this part of life, and God said, “Well okay then, come on.” And she left.

I just hope someone warns the angel choir not to sing “Victory in Jesus” any time soon, or maybe ever again!

No comments: