What I liked most about living in our little brown house was that we were near my Grandpa Willie’s family and near my great-grandma Ellen White. If I walked out our front gate and turned to the right, it took about five minutes to walk up the hill to Grandpa Willie’s big white house. But if I went out the gate and turned left, I could walk across the wooden bridge over the creek, past the big barn, and in only three or four minutes, I could be at Grandma Ellen’s house. She named it Elmshaven.
One morning, my mother helped me pick a handful of our prettiest pansies from our flower garden. Then she let me take them to Grandma Ellen and visit her all by myself. I felt very grown up. Auntie Sara, who lived with Grandma Ellen and helped take care of her, opened the door for me. Sara McEnterfer wasn’t really our aunt, but that’s what we all called her. She let me go through the front room and up the beautiful red-carpeted stairs. At the top of the stairs, I ran down the long hall and into Grandma’s writing room.
When Grandma Ellen saw me, her face turned into one big smile. She pushed her flat writing board to the side of her chair and held out her arms. I ran straight into them.
Grandma Ellen spent time every day writing down the things God showed her and told her. She was a messenger for God. He gave her wonderful dreams called visions. Sometimes, angels came and spoke to her.
This morning, she hugged me tightly and thanked me as she took the flowers from my grimy little hand. She smiled like I had given her the biggest bouquet of flowers from a real flower shop!
“Look at all these smiling pansy faces!” Grandma Ellen said with a laugh. “That’s why pansies are one of my favorite flowers. They make me happy. Look, Mabel! Every pansy is smiling at you.”
I had never thought of pansies having faces. Suddenly, I could see their faces too!
“Mabel,” Grandma Ellen said, “point to a pansy face that looks sad or mean.”
I looked carefully at each flower. “Grandma, there are no sad faces. Every pansy is smiling.”
Grandma Ellen smiled. “That’s why I like pansies. They make me happy, because they are happy.” She pulled me closer. “Jesus wants us to be like pansies. He wants us to bring happiness to everyone around us.”
I liked talking with my Grandma Ellen. “Mabel,” she asked, “do you know what pansies do the very first thing in the morning?”
I shook my head. “No. What do they do?”
“The first thing a pansy does in the morning is turn its face toward the sun,” she said. “It needs light and warmth to make it grow. All day long, that pansy keeps its face toward the sun as the sun slowly crosses the sky. Then when the sun sets and it gets dark, the pansy rests all night, trusting that the sun will wake it up again the next morning.”
“Mabel, Jesus wants us to be like pansies,” she said. “He keeps us safe all night and wakes us up in the morning. Jesus is our bright, warm, loving Sun. ‘Thank You, dear Jesus,’ we say when we wake up and think about Him. ‘Thank You for Your love and care. I give myself to You this morning. Help me be happy and obedient all day.’ ”
Grandma squeezed my hand. “All your life, Mabel, remember to talk with Jesus the moment you wake up and start a new day. Ask Jesus to be with you all that day. He loves you so much that He will never leave you. If you’re tempted to do something wrong, remember that He is only a whisper away. You can say, ‘Dear Jesus, please help me to be true and loyal to You.’ Never forget, Mabel, that He can even hear the prayers you whisper in your own mind.”
And I have remembered what my Grandma Ellen told me that day. It was more than eighty years ago now, but whenever I see a pansy, I remember to smile. And I have learned that during the years of my life what Grandma Ellen said is true. If I talk to my Heavenly Father when I first wake up, and ask Him to help me do the right things through the day, He always does. He helps me grow more and more like Jesus.
Grandma Ellen and Me, Mabel R. Miller, 13–17.