Her Name Was Myrtle Rose

HER NAME WAS

We spent the day with family friends who had come all the way from North Carolina to visit. Our agenda that day included going Gatorland and watching the Jumparoo, taking funny pictures, and enjoying the company of our friends. It was just an all-around great day, and I remember it particularly well, because I didn’t have a lot of those growing up.

There wasn’t any fighting: everyone got along, and thankfully, no one got mad at anyone, which was almost unheard of in my family. When we got home that day, we immediately started making plans for the next day. While we were trying to figure out something to eat for dinner and relaxing from our very long and adventurous day, we noticed that the answering machine was blinking full of messages, so my mother hit the bright red light to listen to them.

I listened along as they played out loud.

The first message was from my aunt. She was telling us that my grandmother had been into a car crash, and she was heading to the hospital.

The second was my uncle, asking for my mother to call him as soon as she got in.

The third message was from my brother in North Carolina saying that grandma had been in a car crash, but they didn’t know how bad it was.

And the fourth was my brother again. He didn’t speak right away, but when he did you could hear in the tone of his voice that he had been crying.

“Mom. She didn’t make it.”

That’s all the message said. The words hadn’t even made their way fully out of the machine when I collapsed on the ground. I instantly fell to my knees in the kitchen and started crying. It hadn’t even been a whole month since I lost my grandfather, and now I was losing my grandmother too.

It didn’t seem real, it was all so dramatic, like a scene from a movie. My mother came to take care of me; my twin brother sat on the sofa in shock; and my dad was in the other room. Our friends stood and watched us all as we tried to understand what had happened, and my mother started to make phone calls.


Her name was Myrtle Rose. She died on June 28th, 2005. She was 81 years old.

My grandmother was a godly woman — strong, giving, and lovingly blunt. In fact, one of the last things she ever told me was that I was naïve, and that I needed to grow up. She, of course, wasn’t wrong; I just didn’t believe her at the time. I appreciate her honesty all these years later, because I now see that she longed for me to grow up and so that I could see the potential she saw within me all along.

She went on trips all over the world, even into her 80’s. She traveled to Native American reservations, went on woman’s retreats across the United States, and visited Ireland to get in touch with her family roots. Her entire life was dedicated to bettering the lives of those less fortunate. At home in New Jersey, she was a seamstress.

When I was a child, my grandmother would send me endless amounts of these poofy dresses that made me look like Shirley Temple. They were stunning creations covered in lace and pastel colors that danced around you when you spun.

What I didn’t know was that she ALSO sent her homemade clothes to the Native American reservations she visited, because they didn’t have enough money to buy new clothes for themselves.

She was also a knitter. She made beautiful blankets and even started a knitting group to make hats for premature babies all over America. I grew up playing in her sewing room and making dresses for all of my dolls, never even realizing the amount of servanthood that was done in that room. All I knew was that she taught me how to sew in that room, and she never once cared about the horrid mess I always left behind.

I didn’t get to see her often because she lived so far away, but getting to visit her was always the thing I looked forward to most as a child. I loved my grandma more than probably anyone else in this world, and losing her was one of the hardest things I have EVER gone through.

Even now — thinking about it eleven years later — I am brought to tears. Thinking about her doesn’t just bring me sorrow, but it also brings me overwhelming joy. You see, while she may be gone now, my grandmother left behind this amazing legacy. She was someone not only I, but everyone she came into contact with, was affected by. To this day, there is still a weekly Bible study at her local church named after her. Even all these years later!

But it wasn’t just the women’s groups that appreciated my grandmother’s servanthood. She was heavily involved with the middle school and high school ministry at her church as well. So much so, that when she passed away, the students asked my family for a portrait of her so they could put it up in the youth room. It amazes me that, even at 81 years old, she was STILL connecting with middle and high schoolers.

She wasn’t a pastor or a pastor’s wife. She wasn’t a deacon and she didn’t have some high position in the church. She was just a woman of God who served as such. She was a woman who gave her time to the people around her.

  • A woman who spent her money investing in others.
  • A woman who loved.
  • A woman who served.
  • And a woman who genuinely cared for others.

She wasn’t just MY grandmother, but she was the church’s grandmother too.

The car accident that caused my grandmother’s death occurred as she was pulling out of a neighborhood after bringing somebody a birthday cake. She KNEW they would have been alone otherwise and she wanted to bring joy to someone on their special day. Her LAST ACT in this world was of kindness. She loved God more than ANYTHING in the world, and she didn’t just tell people she loved Him, she SHOWED them.

She is a woman that, to this day, I will forever look up to.

She is a woman I will tell my children about.

She is a woman I am so proud to call my grandmother.

I will continue to live my life, to not only serve my God, but also to carry on my grandmother’s love. To show her kindness, her strength, and to walk each day with purpose. When I think about the person my grandmother was, I can frankly say that this verse perfectly describes her, and it’s a verse I, myself, try to live by every single day.

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”
-Philippians 2:3-5

That morning, when we woke up, we had no clue that my grandmother would no longer be with us by the end of the day. We didn’t wake up prepared to say goodbye. It didn’t matter that we had one of the best days of my childhood. It didn’t matter that she was completely healthy.

It wasn’t just my grandmother’s life that taught me how to live; her death did too.

It taught me to…

  • love the people around me as if I’m never going to see them again,
  • to walk each day serving my God,
  • and to serve His people too.

Her name was Myrtle Rose. She died on June 28th, 2005. She was 81 years old.

… But her legacy lives on forever.


MEET THE AUTHOR

Kelly Jarvis
Kelly Jarvis is 26-years-old. She was born in New Jersey but raised half her life in North Carolina and half her life in Florida. Home-schooled her whole life, Kelly has three older brothers, one of which is her twin. She loves cleaning, reading, writing, and college football. (Go Gators!) Kelly attends a college-age ministry called The Voice, where she is on the Pastoring Team and leads a weekly interest-based small group called a Cadence.

 

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