2 March, 2024

Oh, for Five More Minutes with Grandma Pat

by | 5 December, 2023 | 11 comments

CALEB AND ELIZABETH MEROLD WITH THEIR GREAT-GRANDPARENTS, BEN AND PAT MEROLD.

Patricia Merold, widow of Christian minister Ben Merold, died six months ago, on June 5, 2023. This remembrance by her great-granddaughter, Elizabeth, was originally a blog post. 

_ _ _ 

By Elizabeth Merold  

“She’s gone, chief,” my family and I lovingly admonished several times a day in the weeks following my great-grandmother’s departure from this earth. An ode to a David Letterman skit, the one-liner has been a go-to tagline for our family concerning the death of my great-grandmother, Pat.  

She’s gone, indeed. And I find I am frequently reminded how much I cherished, admired, and appreciated my great-grandmother for who she was.  

My great-grandmother could’ve brought empires to their knees.  

A completely unique individual, Grandma Pat inspired me for many years and will continue to inspire me on into my adult journey.  

After Grandma Pat traded in her troubles for a crown, family members traveled back to her home just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. It was odd to wander through her house knowing she wasn’t there. It felt as though she were merely around the corner, taking a nap in her room, simply present but outside of our eye line and earshot; the light on in her guest bedroom window tricking you into believing that she was home, yet when you came inside, the atmosphere was hollow and silent; the light merely a deterrent from detecting the house to be void and vulnerable. The useless grandfather clock with his hands frozen in time, dead and no longer functioning, losing all sense of purpose, sat broken, as it had done for many years, in the dining room. The dreadfully out-of-tune piano with the forever-present carved wooden Nativity scene depicting a lovely Mary and Joseph cradling and coddling a newborn baby Jesus sitting atop it, displayed sheet music with the title, “Leaving on My Mind,” in bold black letters; a memento to her abrupt departure.  

Certain things came to my mind following her death; that mischievous twinkle in her eye; our shared love of root beer soda; how, if we were sitting beside each other, her hand would fumble blindly for mine, merely wishing to hold it, lovingly stroking the back of my hand with her thumb; the way she would lean in as if to share a secret, only to whisper the most hilarious one-liner; the old beater car she drove with the missing hubcap and the license plate all wonky. (Seriously, it was missing the top right screw, and hung at a diagonal.) Not to mention, the bumper sticker slapped on the back reading, “Next mood swing in 60 seconds!” The way she always had the oddest assortment of things for me to take home—such as a pair of XXL pajama pants and a receipt from 1987, and how she wanted to have you over for dinner, always, even if it was just to have Subway sandwiches on a China plate.  

I have two handwritten notes from my great-grandma that I have kept for many years. Her sprawling handwriting gracing the space for personal annotations and notes.  

One, a Christmas card, reads, 

Dear Elizabeth,  
We hope your college classes don’t keep you so busy you don’t have time to dream. We think you’ll do BIG things in your time here on earth,  
Loads of love and prayer,  
Grandma Pat & Grandpa Ben 

So simple, yet that line, “so busy you don’t have time to dream,” pierced the romantic in me, the sappy part of me that nobody ever really sees. It’s like she could see right into my soul from thousands of miles away, how growing up and leaving childhood behind and facing the daunting adult world was a lot harder at the beginning of college than I thought it would be.  

Of course, adult life is great, now, but there was a loss of self, in some ways, at the beginning. And somehow, she knew that.  

The other card was for my 15th birthday.  

For perspective, I turn 23 in two weeks.  

I’ve hung onto this birthday card with a cat riding a bicycle for eight years and probably will have it until I see her again one day.  

It reads,  

Dear Elizabeth,  
Fifteen! You’re all we hoped for and a whole lot more. Elizabeth, we pray God gives you just what you need, and that what you need is what you want. We pray for your education and your mate. We pray for your children whom we might not meet. But we do know that we want to be in heaven with you and yours. We wish we could see you more and know all the wonderful things we just have to hear about. We trust you’ll have a really great birthday—one to remember all your life.  
Loads of love,  
Grandpa Ben & Grandma Pat  

I couldn’t fathom it.  

She and Grandpa prayed for things they would never see come to fruition. And they never did. Both have gone home to the Lord, but they prayed for my future husband, my future children, and the education they never saw me fully complete, having left this world a few months shy of me graduating with my bachelor’s degree.  

She wanted things for her family . . . she was so selfless in that way.  

It reminds me of that Elevation Worship song, “The Blessing,” based on Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”  

What I wouldn’t do for five more minutes with that woman.  

The woman who sat and had tea parties with me, decadently served with Oreos and milk; the woman who always knew what to say and when to say it; the woman who wasn’t afraid to go head-to-head with the best of them.  

Can’t you give me five more minutes? 

Elizabeth Merold, a recent college graduate, lives in Orange County, California, where she is currently pursuing a career in writing. She is also the creator and author of The Joy Well Studio, a blog catering to young women that explores the Christian faith. 

11 Comments

  1. Josh Merold

    Well written, Elizabeth. Your grandma loved you so much!

  2. Patricia Ann Boswell

    Such a fitting tribute to your dear great-grandmother. I could sense the love, admiration, enjoyment and respect in your words. You were blessed to share her life and she yours.

  3. Colleen Hoffman

    So we’ll written! Your great grandparents made eternal impacts in so many lives! What a privilege you had to know them both well. How special to have the notes and know they prayed special blessings over your life. May God continue to bless you and your writing.

  4. Makenzie Hill

    So beautifully written, Elizabeth! I can’t wait to see all the ways the Lord blesses you through these writings.

  5. Janet Green

    This is so beautiful, Elizabeth.

  6. Sophie Axie Mae

    The last girls night we had with Pat, we sat in her living room and talked about her dream of supporting Christian writers and publishing houses with the time she had left. “And I do have something left in me!” — and of course, “my Elizabeth” was mentioned as a writer she was especially proud of . . . how she would have delighted in this being picked up, by one of the publishers she mentioned no less.

    So well written, Elizabeth!

  7. Sherry Bollinger

    Thanks for sharing your unique perspective on your Great-Grandma Pat. What a blessing to be able to call her that. She was so loved by many. We all have such wonderful memories of her and Ben. She set such a wonderful example for us to follow. She definitely set the bar high and was a force to be reckoned with.

  8. Brenda Kaatman

    Wellwritten article!

    I, too, treasure all the hand written notes of encouragement I received from your great-grandma Pat!!! She had a way with words that did indeed encourage you!

    Everyone who knew her was indeed blessed!!!

  9. Ryan Riggins

    So well written, Elizabeth! She sounds wonderful, and I feel like I know her having read your article. All the best with your podcast and in your future endeavors.

  10. Steve North

    I met your grandparents just a few years ago. Bob Russell invites groups of preachers to a retreat several times a year. Your grandparents served as hosts. I remember one meal where your grandmother sat with several of us and we had a GREAT conversation about life and ministry.

    One of us preacher-types made a comment about Joel Osteen. Your grandmother said something like, “I enjoy watching his sermons. I don’t always agree with him, but he’s always encouraging! I think Christians need to be more upbeat.”

    Considering what a great preacher Ben Merold was, I know she heard lots of great sermons in her lifetime, but I appreciated how she refused to be critical toward another preacher. She was a joy to be around and it was so obvious that she loved the Lord and loved serving Him daily.

    Thanks for sharing about her impact on your life. As a grandparent, I need to be reminded that I need to pray beyond my mortality and trust that God will answer those prayers long after I’m gone.

  11. Vic Miller

    Thank you for sharing this about your great grandparents and especially Great Grandma Pat. We moved to Harvester 6 months after Ben and Pat moved there. I always loved the story about a family that had attended Eastside for the first time. The family stated that they didn’t like the preaching of their other pastor. When asked who it was, they stated that it was Chuck Swindoll. I believe both of your great grandparents rolled their eyes in disbelief and stated that you just can’t please everyone.

    As a grandparent I have been challenged by God to pursue my kids and grandkids as God pursues me. The writings of your great grandmother brought tears to my eyes and also challenged me that our words matter.
    God Bless!

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