Roses and Noxzema - Here's To You, Verna Lee Storm

Traveler’s Tip #336
“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now...Come further up, come further in!”
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Verna Lee Storm was a fluffy woman. Soft in body, clothes and temperament. She loved to laugh. She was the smell of cold cream and roses. She was a jar of Noxzema for sunburn and maker of home-made ice cream.
She was the spoiler of grandkids. I know because I was her oldest. To me she was the embodiment love.
I spent my fifth grade year living with my grandma and grandpa. Hey, it was the seventies—that’s what kids did. A hard time, needless to say. Ten years old—the age when boys contemplate things. Faith, divorce, baseball… A spinning vortex of all the joy and unbearable sadness of life.  Like most, I struggled to understand.
I met Jesus that year. Not my parent's Jesus, nor my grandparent’s. Not even the flannel graph Jesus in the Arlington Church of Christ basement. When I met the real God there was no doubt. I needed Him and He knew it. We’ve been together ever since. I’m so glad.
Through that turbulent year my grandma was His angel. She made everything bright and sugary and sheltered me from some of the hardness and pain of life. Maybe not the most healthy approach but looking back, there’s no doubt in my mind that I needed it at the time. Everything hurt too much.
Faith, divorce, baseball… I thought and contemplated. Death, too. I remember vividly talking to Jesus—telling him that the one thing I knew I’d never be able to bear on this earth was the death of Grandma Storm. It was something unimaginable. An event that would plunge the world into shadow and cold with no hope of sun. I prayed I would die first.
Isn’t it the way with Jesus? We grow with Him and He stretches us. We learn to lean on Him more and more all time. Eventually he peels away the layers of people and things we surround ourselves with to protect us from the harsh reality of this world. He alone becomes our harbor and shelter. Our all in all. He is everything we need.
And that is how I bear the fact that at 4am on July 27th my fluffy grandma slipped the chains of this earth and stepped into that Better Country. Into the arms of my grandpa and the presence of God. I’m glad I can know it’s true.
We all knew her--or someone like her. It hurts when they leave, doesn’t it? We know it’s good, but it hurts. Thank you Jesus for the joy of the eternal. Thank you for grace. Thank you for hope!
Wilbur and Lee Storm never had two dimes to rub together. Never wrote great spiritual books or had international ministries. They simply loved Jesus and everyone He put in their path. They struggled along through this world with faith, family, and laughter and it was enough.
Theirs might not be the biggest mansion in Heaven but I’d bet the moon it’s the happiest. Stop by when you get there. The joint will be full, believe me. Tacos on Fridays. Muffins on Sunday mornings. It’ll smell like roses and cold cream.
And so, next week, somewhere in Southern California, the Storm clan will gather. We’ll tip a glass and we’ll celebrate a life well lived. We’ll tell stories and laugh about the things she said and did because that’s our way. We’ll talk about the sound of her laugh--one none of us will ever forget. And most of all we’ll talk about that great reunion we’ll have up there soon. You’re all invited.
We’ll be happy—and our hearts are broken.
Goodbye for now Grandma Storm. I love you. I’ll see you again when the stars fall from the sky…
Fair winds,