She was born on a farm near Canton in the late 1800s and she lived to be 96. In those almost 100 years, so many aspects of life in the community changed. People moved from buggies to cars, streets were paved, electricity became the way of life, and everyone got a telephone.
By the time I was coming along, it was the 1960s and, for my grandmother, life had evolved.
After she married in 1910, she moved to Canton from the country. In those days she still kept a cow and some chickens behind her house on Main Street. Ice was delivered and the root cellar was a mysterious place.
Belle, my grandmother and her husband, Henry, made it through the First World War and the Great Depression. He died at age 55 of a heart attack in 1935, bringing even more change to my grandmother’s life.
But one thing remained the same for my grandmother. Her religion was always at the center of her life.
When she had first moved to town, she joined First Baptist Church in Canton. But as a child, she went to a different kind of church.
One of the stories she told me when I was a child was about the foot washing services at her little church. That my grandmother was religious was really an understatement. She went to church for every service and spent her mornings reading her Bible and listening to the religious programming on the local radio station.
Her faith was deep and her understanding of the Bible was deeper.
But while I went to church, too, and listened to the preacher and sang the hymns and even read my Bible, I didn’t always put the importance on it that perhaps I should have.
When Gran would tell me about how people washed each other’s feet at the church where she grew up, I thought that sounded distasteful.
And when she told me that Jesus had washed the feet of his disciples, I really couldn’t quite wrap my mind around why the Son of God would do such a thing.
In my ignorance, I also thought Jesus should have refused to get on a silly little donkey and He should have insisted instead on a big, magnificent horse, something that looked more like the ones ridden on “Bonanza.”
I didn’t like to think of Him as looking foolish. As an 8-year-old, I obviously didn’t really understand the true message of Christ.
Easter at First Baptist signified the attractive side of worship for me. Everyone would dress up in their absolute best, and I loved decking out in a frilly, fluffy dress with my hat and patent leather shoes and my little gloves and pocketbook.
I looked forward to getting lots of candy and a stuffed animal in my Easter basket, and having a family afternoon out in the front yard looking for eggs brought by a bunny.
As Easters through the years have fast-forwarded for me in a kaleidoscope of Technicolor, my perception has changed. I have learned to understand the true meaning of Easter and colors of the Holy season.
Each year, the significance deepens, the dark and somber days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Saturday before the day of Resurrection pressing on my soul.
The journey Jesus took, from Palm Sunday to the Last Supper to the Cross, unfolding and giving way to the hope and promise God gave us with of the rebirth of his Son.
This year I noticed that many area churches sent the newspaper notices that they were holding foot washing at services in the days before Easter.
I am sure they have always been held, and like a new word, I am just noticing them.
What I have learned is that, for many of us, being humble is much harder than going around puffed up with pride.
Being truly kind to others, even our enemies, is something that takes a lot more fortitude than being filled with hate and distrust.
My grandmother tried to teach me many life lessons, and I am afraid I was not always an apt pupil.
She tried to teach me not to lose my temper and get angry. I honestly never heard her raise her voice to anyone.
She lived a simple life, with modest means, counting every penny to make ends meet. But I never once heard her complain about anything.
In her later years, she was often in pain from what she called her rheumatism, but she didn’t let it slow her down.
I remember her working in her garden at age 88 and getting into a yellow jacket nest and being stung numerous times, but she didn’t make a big deal of it.
She was always loving and kind, and taught me by example. She would often take my hand and kiss my fingers, an act of true love.
Easter gives me the promise of seeing her again, because I know where she is and I hope I make it there, too. For some of us, the journey is harder than for others.
Rebecca Johnston is editor of The Cherokee Tribune.