Recently, one of cousins posted some old family pictures on Facebook, including one of my great-grandmother, who died when I was about 12 years old. Seeing the picture brought back a flood of memories.
During her lifetime, my great-grandmother was one of my favorite people and I loved visiting my grandmother’s house so I could walk the several blocks from there to the house where my great-grandmother lived, along with one of my great-uncles. (I’d say he took care of her, but until only a year or so before she died, she did the cooking, tended the garden and a whole lot more than she probably should have been doing.) I would happily sit there for as long as possible, talking with her, with her broken English. (She emigrated to the United States from Italy as a young bride.) I still remember how sad I was when she died. She was 93 or 94 at the time, but I was still surprised; I suppose I thought, in the way only children can, that she would always be there.
One of the amazing things about my great-grandmother is that she really believed the old adage, “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything.” She also believed you could find something good to say about everyone, no matter how bad they seemed. If you pushed hard and said, “Well, grandma, what about Hitler,” she’d pause and say, “He had a mother.”
Most of us could learn a lot from my great-grandmother. We are often quick to criticize others, to share some negative thought about someone with another. And we don’t always look very hard to find the good in those people we have difficulty with. It is easy to find the good in those we love. But, as Jesus reminded his followers, even the pagans and tax collectors love those who love them. Seeing my great-grandmother’s picture is a good reminder to try a little harder to see the good in those whose goodness is not immediately apparent to me.