My grandmother is on my mind. Friday she had surgery to remove a tumor on her colon. It turns out that the growth was close to a large vein. Because the tumor blocked the flow of blood through the vein, a network of little veins bloomed around it to compensate, making the tumor inoperable.
My grandmother loves Sir Francis Bacon–“Some of his philosophies . . . rang such a bell.” My mother tells this fact about her mother with pride and reverence, and this bit of information has shaped how I view my grandmother and myself as her granddaughter.
Long before she joined the church, my grandmother swore to herself that she would never smoke. She went to college when she was just sixteen and became a teacher. When she was a young mother living in Midland, Texas, during the fifties, her neighbors warned her not to let the Mormon missionaries in her house. Two young men came by on a hot summer day, and she invited them inside.
My grandmother took the discussions and believed. But she did not feel she could be baptized. She learned that not all men could hold the priesthood, and she found that unconscionable. One night while she was praying she had an experience that has become part of my family’s sacred history. She believed and was baptized.
My grandmother, who reads the words of the father of empiricism, has faith that has sustained generations. For her, faith and reason coexist. And now she pushes me to the boundaries of reason into faithful territory, a place where God beckons beyond death.