The Miracle of the Eight Dresses and Other Memories

prom goers showing off footwear - image by chelseighmillar from Pixabay

My “Grammie Margie” was like a butterfly that spreads joy throughout the garden. Her garden was the entire town, and she touched the lives of everyone in it. When she died, I dreamt of her smiling at me in front of her little heavenly English-cottage garden. She stood under an arched, white arbor covered in roses, holding a golden spade.

It was no surprise that these were the images of Margie that came to my mind. When I was in middle school, she noticed me admiring her garden. She said, “Oh, you like that?” And that was it. She grabbed her spade and started digging. I went home that day with dozens of rooted specimens. It felt like Christmas! I had enough to plant all around the perimeter of our home.

After she had given me every flower in her own garden, we would go driving—an action I have come to know as a distinctly “country” thing to do. By the standards of most city dwellers, there was nothing happening in that small town. But we found plenty! We noticed everything: the people, the homes, the changing seasons, the animals, and, on these particular drives, we would admire people’s gardens. When we would come across a home with flowers that we didn’t have, Margie would say, “Oh, look at those! Let’s go get some.”

Before I could unbuckle my seat belt, she’d be knocking at the door. She had the gift of gab and knew everyone in town—for, at least, the most recent four generations. She would chat and catch up for a while, and finally, she would say, “You know, my granddaughter and I have been admiring your garden.” (I was really only an honorary granddaughter.) “Would you mind if we took some slips from your beds?” She was never denied. Her garden spade was ever at-the-ready in her trunk.

In her retirement, Margie would spend her days going from house to house checking in on her loved ones. Some days she might stay for five minutes; other days it would be hours. When she was with a person, she was deeply present. She would rejoice in neighbors’ victories and accompany them in their challenges. And, when it came to challenges, she seemed to have an innate triage system. She had come to a point in life where she was unflappable. When she saw suffering, she was with that person, and if there was any way to lessen the suffering, she was on it.

Margie’s network was huge, and every day she would use her network to resolve someone’s needs—always without money. If one needed a physical item, she would identify someone from whom it could be borrowed. When I was a senior in high school, my mother shared with her that a prom dress was not in the budget. Two days later, Margie came over with eight dresses for me to try.

Despite the hardships she had lived and witnessed, Margie never grew jaded. She always found something for which to be grateful, and this gratitude oriented her view toward abundance. She saw everyone as having something to offer. If one didn’t have something needed, it just meant that one was supposed to be connected to someone who did. This viewpoint imparted a special way of communicating that was always merciful and gracious. When she would relay stories of need, it was always gently and in a way that called forth compassion. And when she connected people, both giver and receiver became part of her network of love.

Margie’s network of love was rooted in her relationship with Jesus. She knew Jesus. I once overheard her telling my mother that she imagined that Jesus was sitting next to her as she drove around town. She would talk with him about each person she saw. Wherever she went, she carried with her that “peace the world cannot give.” She never preached, but every day she worked to bring the kingdom to earth.


Help children learn to recognize hidden heroes like Margie with 10 Hidden Heroes and the book’s accompanying activities.

Image by chelseighmillar from Pixabay.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Rebecca, this was such a wonderful memory of your nan. I also love how you recalled the lovely memories you had with her in the countryside. I have nothing but lovely memories in the countryside and I wouldn’t trade it for the city vibe, haha.

    I also love how you mentioned her faith never dwindled and never felt jaded despite all the challenges or tribulations she might have encountered as her faith centred upon something much stronger than her trials.

    She has raised quite a lovely and thoughtful granddaughter in you. I’m sure she must be smiling over you right now 😉

  2. What a beautiful Grammie you had in Margie. May her memory live forever in your heart. I think she will live in my heart too. What a simple and fun way of living. I am sure she earned her eternal reward while enjoying herself. Thanks for sharing Grammie Margie with all of us.

  3. What a lovely Reflection, thank you. How lucky you were to such a beautiful Grannie Margie. Some of my granddaughters call me Nana Margie. Now they are older I rarely hear from them and two I cannot contact them at all. It makes me very sad. They are always in my prayers. I am grateful for the two who I am still in contact with. Shame about the other two; as I had a lot more to do with them when they were young. Beraks my heart. A Broken Marriage can do that sometimes I guess. A.M.D.G. I am still in contact sometimes with their Mother ; she rarely hears from them either!?? Life can be hard at times.

  4. “Appreciation, then, the first big step towards gratitude,/So little had, you wound up thanking for breath, and moon,/and stars.” From “Fraters” by Pier Giorgio Di Cicco

  5. When we moved west I missed my Grandmother the most. A retired couple lived next door. They were our family friends. She was like a grandmother to me. I could have a candy from her dish. When we had to move east for a few years she brought a cake and he sang the song the man on the tv sang. They helped me to figure out adults. They made me feel loved

    • Hi Cheryl,
      I’m so glad that you had family friends that made you feel loved when you moved away from your grandmother. Thank you for sharing.

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