Thoughts on Life, Death, Legacy and My Grandmother’s Passing

My grandmother, Shirlene Genevieve Turner, whom I affectionately called Memaw, has passed away at the age of 87.

I was fortunate to share a lifetime of memories alongside of Memaw and to have had some time with her a few days before she went home to heaven.

Shirlene Genevieve Turner

Shirlene Genevieve Turner was born October 12th, 1927 to Grady and Mildred Weir in Abilene, Texas. She was one of five children. In 1948, she met, fell in love and married my grandfather, Ben Turner. They lived in Sweetwater, Texas and raised five West Texas strong children (and for those of you who know my mom – West Texas strong is a good description of her!) She was also a great grandma to 7 great grandchildren, Davy girl being the last before she passed.

Memaw was beautiful, witty and wickedly smart. She was a voracious reader, a Jeopardy faithful, had a strong sweet tooth and thought Greg Norman and Tom Landry were the greatest men to walk God’s green earth. She once wrote a Greg Norman a letter when he lost the Master’s because she thought he handled it with such character, grace and humility. That’s what my grandmother cared about – it wasn’t about flash, but about something deeper.

One of the most prevalent memories I have of my grandmother is of her scaring me! How messed up and awesome is that? Maybe, now you all understand why I have issues! Ha! When I was young there was a terrifyingly scary mask that was in her closest that just freaked me out. One day, Memaw thought it would be funny to put on this said mask and chase me down the hallway! In my description earlier I should have added, “beautiful, witty, wickedly smart and a trickster!”

Her Last Days

Memaw’s body started to experience the fullness of Ecclesiastes 12, where the body begins to say of the days of life, “I have no pleasure in them”. She was bedridden and had to have a tracheotomy tube to breath.

When I went to go see her in the medical facility her body had badly deteriorated and she couldn’t speak. However, when she woke up from her sleep there was a sparkle in her eye when she saw me. We shared a few beautiful moments where I showed her pictures of Davy girl and caught her up about our lives. As I stated, she couldn’t really talk because of the tracheotomy tube, but she kept mouthing the words “so cute…so so cute” as we scrolled through the pictures.

Before I left, knowing that it was probably the last moments we would have together – we simply told each other that we loved each other and held hands. It was a special gift from the Lord and a moment I will always cherish.

Life, Death & Legacy

Death is sad and unnatural. It was never meant to be that way. Death itself is a result of the fall of man that we see in Genesis 3. One of the curses found in Genesis 3:19 is “for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The curse is that we will all experience death. We were formed out of the dust and to dust we all now will return.

However, for Christians, death is the final step of sanctification, or becoming like Jesus, because we finally make it to heaven where God glorifies our broken bodies. Even though I’m extremely sad that my Memaw has passed away, I’m also celebratory that she no longer is feeling any pain, has been given a new body and is sharing in fellowship with Jesus. That’s worthy of celebration!

Memaw’s death has reminded me that life is a vapor (James 4:14), it must be cherished, and that we will all leave a legacy to those that follow. My grandmother left a legacy of faithfulness to one man for over 60 years, raised 5 strong children and blessed her grandchildren with her passion.

Death is inevitable and life is short, so let’s stop wasting it pursuing the fleeting pleasures of the world, consumed with selfishness and comparing ourselves to others. Let’s fight to live for God’s glory and for the joy of all peoples. That is a life worth living and a legacy worth leaving.

Memaw, I love you and will miss you. Thank you for the life you lived and the legacy you left. Keep a seat warm for me in heaven and just remember that when you challenge God to a game of Jeopardy, he has a slight advantage because he knows everything!



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