There were certain “rules” that had to be learned while growing up on the farm; rules that were necessary for safety and survival. Don’t ride bikes on the gravel road without first looking both directions. Don’t play in and around the farm machinery, especially if the tractor is running. Don’t shoot your brother with the BB-Gun. You know ... things like that. But the one rule that seemed to keep us in check the best was “never do anything naughty in front of Grandma’s picture window!”
Grandma was notorious for keeping an eagle eye on everything that took place in and around our farm. Their house, which was about 100 yards away from ours and separated by a mowed shelterbelt, often became the focus of attention at the most inopportune times. You see, Grandma had a pair of big black worn down to the metal binoculars. They were not worn from abuse but from constant use. When in close range Grandma’s eyes would pick out the slightest deviations from the “rules” of safety and quiet obedience and at the speed of sound would give Mom “the call” as fast as the old rotary phone could be dialed. It didn’t matter if we were 50 feet away or two miles down the road, somehow Grandma always new.
“Do you think Grandma can see us?” became the phrase of alert and if it was said after the fact the hair on my neck always seemed to stand on end! This fear of discovery often annoyed me, but as I grew older I came to appreciate the glint from that big window on the south side of the house that betrayed grandma’s watchful eyes. Before the days of two-way radios and cell phones, it was grandma who noticed the breakdown in the fields and sent for help. If you ran out of gas on the way to the elevator there was no worry. Grandma knew precisely the time you left and when you should return ... help was on the way.
We laid grandma to rest a number of years ago now. It was a strange feeling driving back to the farm after the funeral knowing that she wasn’t standing by the window looking for our arrival. Her death became real that night only one year after grandpa’s passing, yet I was reminded of a truth that had been learned many years before. I found security in the knowledge that there is still someone always watching. He doesn’t need a pair of binoculars or a big picture window to see my decisions both good and bad. When trouble comes he is ever faithful to send help and when I cross the line toward disobedience correction is not far off. In her own quirky way my dear grandma taught me that even when she couldn’t see me, my God could. God is always watching and for that I am eternally thankful.
Kevin Petersen is pastor at Glendive Assembly of God church. He may be reached at 377-5161.