Celebrating the Life of Bonise Smith Haltom

Minnie Bonise Smith Haltom was born May 14th, 1929.  She had five siblings named Ruby, Irene, Harold, Glenn, and Joe.  In her story during those precious days that we were privileged to live with her under one roof, she shared that they were descended from the blood line of William the Conqueror.  Bonise had 6 children named Pam, Kathy, Tammy, Steve, Jeff, and the 6th son, David, had passed-away as a baby.

The younger generations in the Haltom family called her grammy and even my husband, so I myself also called her Grammy.  I remember the first time I met her was through Yahoo Messenger.  Joshua back then was my fiance.  He introduced me to Grammy through a Yahoo chat with the aid of the camera.  She was warm and smiling even if I was a complete stranger to her.  I remembered, when I first came to the United States it was about to turn Spring season.  The weather was freezing cold for somebody like me who was coming from the tropics.  But when I stepped inside the Haltom’s ancestral house,   I didn’t have any awkward feeling with Grammy as we first saw each other face to face.  In fact when I first stepped inside Grammy’s old house, she gave me a very warm hug.  She was always smiling at me.

There were many wonderful, edifying talks I was privileged and blessed to have had with Grammy, a few of these are so-very remarkable to me that I will never forget.  When we were preparing for our wedding, Grammy said to me again, that “You don’t have to be crazy to join the family, but you will be.”  True enough, I can attest that now I am 101% crazy.

When we were still living with Grammy in her old house, at night we always had a favorite thing to do for entertainment.  We always spent time at the living room with Grammy just watching Joshua’s favorite comedy shows, Stephen Colbert and John Stewart.  Those times were fun to remember because Joshua and I always had this neat thing with Grammy, almost just teasing her.  She would be in the zone, watching TV, so focused, and then Joshua and I would count 1-2-3  in the same beat, and then called her name, “Grammy!” adding the gesture pointing our index fingers towards her, accompanied by the click of our tongue, and as simple as that she would just smile and chuckle each time.  It wasn’t hard for us to made her smile because she was naturally appreciative and jolly.

Grammy  was also a very observant of us, and that made Joshua and I accountable of our actions in front of her.  One night at the living room, she said she had never seen Joshua and I fighting, so she was wondering if we ever fight.  For us, it was statement that doesn’t require an answer but actually we had some couples of arguments inside our room (Haha).

For me, she was a very influential lady.  I started watching the Little House on the Prairie, because she constantly watched it.  To the point of me watching all the scenes, and even had a days marathon just for me to see all the taped scenes uploaded online.  Can you imagine that?  Her taste of movie was really good one of these was the The Waltons.  And, she liked several others too but those were the most frequent.

She valued her own mother’s story very much too.  Almost every time, she loved sharing about her remarkable moments had with her mother and siblings.

According to her, one time when they went to the Pentecostal church (on a lark), for they were much used to going to the Primitive Baptist Church.  Once, when they had gone into a Pentecostal service, everybody began shouting and speaking in tongues.  Her mom became astonished and overwhelmed of what was going on around her.  With a shout of her own, in shock, her mom instinctively threw her purse in the air, and all of her mom’s things inside things of the purse scattered all over the floor and even under the pews.  She related her having to pick up all the coins and stuff from her mom’s purse herself.  Grammy was usually laughing as she told this story, and she never got tired sharing this again and again to the point of Joshua’s memorizing it.

In our home, I make sure that the doors are locked, and remembering Grammy’s practice every night, before she went to sleep, she also made sure that the front door and kitchen door were locked.  The reasons she locks the doors is because she had seen a “hoodlum man” who had broken inside their kitchen.  She said that she told him to leave and he left.

She also loves Apple-sauce cobbler.   Here is why:  she shared the story of days that the local Primitive Baptists group she was used to going met on the first Sunday of every month–and everyone was asked to bring foods–a potluck.  She brought an apple sauce cobbler that her mother had taught her to make by accident.  They were used to eating a peach cobbler, but there were no peaches on the trees at this time.  However everyone loved it even more with Apple-sauce instead.  From then on, she brought it every first Sunday at to Primitive Baptist, and the pastor especially loved it.  This potluck idea was also an idea to attract the tired and hungry who would sometimes come just for the delicious foods.

I remembered when she was already experiencing Alzheimer, in one of her sundown syndromes, she became uneasy and moody.  I was reminding her about how Jesus was, and then she told me straight to my face that I’m not really so kind.  That I’m “not true.”  When I heard this from her, from an old soul who doesn’t have any reason to lie, nor to say good, sugar-coated words just to be liked… I was rebuked.  I was wondering she probably saw something bad in me that didn’t reflect God’s kindness.Grammy loved to tell stories. One time she mentioned about the story of her old house.  She said that her husband, Leland, who worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority, had paid to have it built.  The only request she made was that she would love to have a big front porch and the bathroom not being straight-across from the living room.  But the house was built with it having a small front porch and bathroom designed just right across the hall from the living room.

Our family, God willing is planning to be back in the US to spend time with Grammy and be rejoined with the family there by Thanksgiving this coming November.  That is the fourth Thursday.  Though no matter how we planned things and how good the intention is, its always God’s purpose that will prevail.

You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.- Proverbs 19:21
(New Living Translation)

We had learned that Grammy passed away during her sleep last night here, morning there.  At first glance, it wasn’t a good report for us to receive knowing my husband just had one near psychotic episode triggered by the stress in processing immigration papers and a trip through the emergency room.  I was more concerned of Joshua’s condition and his being diagnosed with Bipolar and how he would handle this news about his beloved Grammy. Just like before our assurance is not depending on each other, nor any human but God’s comforting words.

I remembered the passage from the book of John, when Jesus Brings Lazarus Back to Life.

Lazarus was a close friend of Jesus Christ.  Actually the passage tells that when Jesus was informed about Lazarus sickness, his importance to Jesus Christ as his friend was described as, the one you love“.

3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for Godʼs glory so that Godʼs Son may be glorified through it. -John 11:3-4

Hearing these words from the Son of God and not being moved of what he heard,  Joshua instead proclaimed a glorious good news that the sickness of Lazarus will not end to death but for the glory of God.  It made our hearts become still, and we received the message of eternal assurance that Grammy  is not just in much better place now, but she is in the glorious presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s amazing how the Lord Jesus handled the news of Lazarus sickness.  For the second time, in this writing (John chapter 11) it described the love that Jesus has for these siblings.   John 11: 5 says, Yeshua loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus.  Even when he was told about Lazarus’ condition, he remained still.   John 11:  Yet, when Yeshua heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days.  This made me think what kind of strength Jesus had, and his important reasons not to be with the one he loved.  What amazed me more was right after two days, he told his disciples to be back in Judea.

John 11:7 Then, after the two days, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”  8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, not long ago the Jews wanted to stone you to death. Do you really want to go back there?” 9 Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day don’t stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10 However, those who walk at night stumble because they have no light in themselves.”11 After Jesus said this, he told his disciples, “Our friend Lazarus is sleeping, and I’m going to Bethany to wake him.”12 His disciples said to him, “Lord, if he’s sleeping, he’ll get well.”13 Jesus meant that Lazarus was dead, but the disciples thought Jesus meant that Lazarus was only sleeping. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 but I’m glad that I wasn’t there so that you can grow in faith. Let’s go to Lazarus.”16 Thomas, who was called Didymus, said to the rest of the disciples, “Let’s go so that we, too, can die with Jesus.”11 After Jesus said this, he told his disciples, “Our friend Lazarus is sleeping, and I’m going to Bethany to wake him.” 12 His disciples said to him, “Lord, if he’s sleeping, he’ll get well.”13 Jesus meant that Lazarus was dead, but the disciples thought Jesus meant that Lazarus was only sleeping. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 but I’m glad that I wasn’t there so that you can grow in faith. Let’s go to Lazarus.”16 Thomas, who was called Didymus, said to the rest of the disciples, “Let’s go so that we, too, can die with Jesus.”

In this passage I realized how great Jesus love for Lazarus was.  He knows what kind of threat he might be facing once he go back again to Judea, and even confirmed by one of his disciples but instead of being overcome by fear, his desired to pass through the shadow of death just to bring life to Lazarus was more profound and overflowing.

John 11:17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. 18 (Bethany was near Jerusalem, not quite two miles away.) 19 Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother.
20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. Mary stayed at home. 21 Martha told Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask him.”
23 Jesus told Martha, “Your brother will come back to life.”
24 Martha answered Jesus, “I know that he’ll come back to life on the last day, when everyone will come back to life.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the one who brings people back to life, and I am life itself. Those who believe in me will live even if they die. 26 Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe that?”
Today, I will remember again the words I described when I saw my husband, Joshua when  we found about our daughter’s gender,  the time when smiles and tears kissed his hazel colored eyes.  I once heard an old woman from the Pentecostal Church where we were married saying that a couple of things can move a man’s heart, they are the death of nearest kin or a birth of new baby.”
With all of the intense storms God victoriously rescues us from, and tears He wipes from our eyes, knowing the pain of my husband missing his Grammy, and the fact that we can’t be there to give comfort is a painful truth we will have to bare.  But in all of this mourning and great distress we confidently believed that the great comforter is ever present both here and there.  Miles away, He is ever present in so many ways.  Jesus will never leave us without a comforter.
 

John 11:33 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Jesus. 30 (Jesus had not yet come into the village but was still where Martha had met him.) 31 The Jews who were comforting Mary in the house saw her get up quickly and leave. So they followed her. They thought that she was going to the tomb to cry. 32 When Mary arrived where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who were crying with her, he was deeply moved and troubled. 34 So Jesus asked, “Where did you put Lazarus?” They answered him, “Lord, come and see.”35 Jesus cried. 36 The Jews said, “See how much Jesus loved him.” 37 But some of the Jews asked, “Couldn’t this man who gave a blind man sight keep Lazarus from dying?”38 Deeply moved again, Jesus went to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone covering the entrance. 39 Jesus said, “Take the stone away.”Martha, the dead man’s sister, told Jesus, “Lord, there must already be a stench. He’s been dead for four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see God’s glory?” 41 So the stone was moved away from the entrance of the tomb. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. 42 I’ve known that you always hear me. However, I’ve said this so that the crowd standing around me will believe that you sent me.” 43 After Jesus had said this, he shouted as loudly as he could, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out. Strips of cloth were wound around his feet and hands, and his face was wrapped with a handkerchief. Jesus told them, “Free Lazarus, and let him go.”

As mamma Tammy (Joshua’s mom) related, “No one can ever really tell everything there is to say about Grammy.”

Revelation 21:4
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 

Finally, to end this brief online-devotion to Grammy, we want to remember how Grammy until her last days would relate and recite the 23rd Psalm, that she and all her class were required to memorize in the 6th grade.

PSALM 23
1 (A Psalm of David.) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

grammy-plus

Tammy Leigh Askew — Grammy is a fighter. Still a lot more…here..than a lot of people give her credit for that’s Grammy,always surprising us !!!

 

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