The dreaded day had finally arrived.
It had already been agony leading up to that moment, but she prayed at least some justice would be served. But when the official reached into his pocket and placed the items on the table, she couldn’t believe her eyes.
Daniella knew without a shred of doubt, she wouldn’t have turned into the woman she was today without her grandmother, Edith.
She had practically raised her. From compassion to generosity, the old woman was the poster girl for a beautiful soul. However, there was one vital difference – one that showed itself over and over.
Granny E’s concept of love and devotion wasn’t exactly a healthy one.
This quality had, more than once, run the poor woman ragged. She might not have ended up in the hospital because of it, but Daniella waited with dread for the day that all would change. It all boiled down to one word … boundaries. She had them. Granny E didn’t.
Daniella didn’t go to the same church as her grandmother, but that didn’t mean she was oblivious to what was going on under the Evangelical roof on the other side of town.
For almost 50 years, the dear old woman had been utterly devoted to her congregation. You name it, she did it – cooking, Sunday school, babysitting, breakfast hosting, soup kitchens, retreats, and more. But it was this very generosity that was the problem.
More than once, Daniella had raged as she saw people take her grandmother’s charity for granted.
One event had irked Danielle so much, she nearly drove to the church to cuss out Pastor McConnell and yell at the entire congregation. If it had been her, she would have set clear boundaries and refused the crazy request. But her grandmother didn’t even bat an eye. But what exactly what the triggering event?
At a youth retreat in a rural church camp, Granny E was ordered to drive back to town to fetch a box of equipment that Pastor McConnell had forgotten.
She drove most of the night to make it back in time for the morning program the next day. But it was up her return that the true insult came.
She didn’t even get so much as a thank-you – just the pastor snatching up the materials and leaving.
It only got worse when Pastor James, Pastor McConnel’s superior, never found out that Grandma Edith had been the one to fix Pastor McConnel’s mistake. His subordinate took all the praise for himself. Daniella watched as, over the years, the same thing happened again and again.
But Grandma Edith didn’t seem to mind. Always looking on the bright side, she told Danielle that her reward would be that those teaching materials would “help children find Jesus.”
For years, Grandma Edith was present at every service and every event until she was 73 years old. Until suddenly, everything changed.
When a broken back from an accident confined her to home rest and her old age brought on several health issues, Daniella watched her grandmother’s world and social circle slowly shrink.
For the last ten years of Grandma Edith’s life, she was bedbound and couldn’t attend her beloved church anymore. And during those ten years, she made many efforts to reach out. The result was heartbreaking.
Daniella secretly cried as she watched every invitation denied or just ignored.
Even though Granny E was ailing, her mind was still as sharp as a whip. At least the family did everything they could to be present in their grandmother’s live, but they could all tell there was an underlying sadness since the church seemed to have forgotten her.
Then she went into a hospice.
She knew the end was drawing near, so Grandma Edith called the church to arrange her funeral service. Unfortunately, that was when her pastors’ true colors came out.
Daniella steamed with anger when Pastor James said he was too busy … and sent his second in command instead. And three days later!
It might not have seemed like much time to anyone else, but when someone is laying on their deathbed, every moment counts – and they were wasting it!
Pastor McConnel finally arrived and chatted with Grandma Edith about how she was feeling for a few minutes, and then hurriedly went over what she wanted in her service.
Then, the pastor steered the conversation to something wholly in appropriate – money.
There had been rumors that her grandma was sitting on a sizable lump of savings.
Apparently, the church had heard the same rumor as well. The next sentence made Daniella stop breathing. “Lay up your treasure in Heaven” by, “Remembering your church in your will,” Pastor McConnel pressed.
Danielle clenched her fists and tried to stay calm.
She explained that this was not the appropriate time to be talking about money. The pastor nodded in agreement, talked for a few more minutes about the service, and then steered the conversation back to what he really wanted to discuss again. Suddenly, something terrifying happened.
It was something Daniella had never seen before. Her grandma cried.
Over the years, her family had come to appreciate that she wasn’t a “Steel Magnolia,” she was “Titanium coated with diamonds and wrapped in Kevlar.” She would shed tears for others, but NEVER for herself.
Now, this frail woman was bawling her eyes out.
Danielle couldn’t take it anymore. She grabbed the pastor by the arm and forcibly escorted him out, ignoring his indignant response. However, it would be six more months before they would see the final results of the conversation.
The family was heartbroken when Grandma Edith finally passed.
But the funeral was filled with happy stories and plenty of laughter. Upon request, the pastors were not invited. However, they were asked to come to the reading of the will. Even where they would sit was dictated in Granny E’s final details.
It turned out that Grandma had a surprise up her sleeve. The reading of the will was held in a conference room at the lawyer’s office, which was packed to the rafters with aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles, and many of the grandchildren… and the two pastors.
They were placed at the front of the room, facing the entire family.
The air was abuzz with a mixture of grief and curiosity.
The will was read, and it was clear their grandma’s generosity stayed well past her passing. Everyone received mementos and significant gifts of money. Finally, it came to the church and the pastors
The two men were already looking ravenous for their share of the estate – to the point Danielle wouldn’t have been surprised if cartoon dollar signs popped out of their eyes. The lawyer pulled out a letter that Grandma Edith had personally drafted, just for them.
She stood near the back, trying hard to contain her smile.
The letter went on to expose all the greed and poor behavior from the pastors.
She described how they had never come to visit in ten years and had only shown interest that one last time to try and take her money. She even noted the time she had driven all night to pick up the youth camp materials – which made Danielle internally jump with joy.
“I realized that I had allowed my church to break my heart for one last time. But that was the last time. The VERY last time.” The next paragraph was the first strike of payback.
“Pastor McConnel did not know it when he visited me, but I had already prepared my will, long before the visit, which did include a double tithe – twenty percent – of my ENTIRE ESTATE.”
The lawyer continued.
“I got to feeling so badly that we had not personally remembered such nice people as Pastor James and Pastor McConnel. So, I changed my will to include them by name. While I was at it, I changed the amount of money that I left to the church.”
“I’ve included money to reflect the love they, and the church haven’t given me over the last ten years,” the letter continued.
“I give you each one cent.” Father instructions must have been in the will, because the lawyer reached into his pocket, pulled out two old, grubby pennies and slid them across the table toward the pastors.
The pastors, sitting conspicuously in front of the entire family, looked as if someone had injected a gallon of novocaine into their jaws.
The family tried to contain their smiles, but more than a few snickers still escaped – along with plenty of loathing glares, but there was still one more strike to come. Grandma Edith wasn’t finished yet.
“There is one last bequest,” the lawyer continued, pausing for dramatic effect.
Every eye in the room was now fixed on the two pastors, who were trying to compose themselves after the diabolical comeuppance that Grandma Edith had just served from the grave.
Daniella and her family suppressed their laughter — but only because they knew that Grandma Edith was simply setting the greedy pastors up for a one-two punch.
As soon as the words came out of the layer’s mouth, she nearly fell out of her chair. Granny E was indeed leaving a huge pile of money to a church … but one that they never saw coming.
She listened in awe as the lawyer named a different congregation.
It was a competing church with a larger population of African Americans. That’s when the pastors’ eyes widened, and their faces changed from a look of incredulity to pure horror. But why?
It had slipped a few times that the pastors, despite preaching tolerance, were quite the opposite.
They had their flock remain mostly Caucasian for very questionable reasons. Grandma Edith had battled against it for years and had even considered leaving her church because of it. So, in the end, she reached out with one final lesson that had the entire family nodding in agreement.
Even if Granny E wasn’t a part of the church, she had given the money to, she made a point of writing that people from that congregation had reached out a couple times – wanting to make sure she was okay and if she needed help with anything at all.
But why would they do this?
That church had a reach out program to the elderly of the area.
They made a point to pop in during special times of the year or at random for a chat over a cup of tea – nothing much, but the handful of visits had meant the world to Edith. They showed more kindness to a stranger than her own church at to her in all those years. But that was the end of what the pastor’s would listen to.
The stood up, pursed their lips in insult and departed as if the fires of hell were on their heels.
Danielle stood against the back wall, brimming with a huge smile. Finally, her grandmother had set some boundaries. Even if it had been at the end of her life. There was, however, the matter of the other church. What was their reaction?
The old pastor ran his fingers through his greying hair and tried to hold back the tears.
He revealed he knew of Edith over the years, not only because she had been giving small, secret tithes over the years, but simply because of her beautiful soul. However, it would de Danielle’s turn to cry when she found out his plans for the money.
Every last penny would go towards the elderly program that Edith had benefited from.
They would use it to make sure that people like her grandmother weren’t alone as they got older. It was the perfect ending to someone who had spread joy and love for so long.