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We fall down,
we lay our crowns
at the feet of Jesus.

This was the music playing to call our prayer group to worship. Suddenly came a strong vision of my grandmother kneeling before Jesus with her gaze fixed solidly on Him. She saw only the One she had loved all her life and it was if she were the only one in His presence when she placed her crown before His feet. Tears filled my eyes.

It was fitting that during this sacred moment such a strong vision of my grandmother would come. Seeing her with the Lord, giving back to Him the crown He had given her. While on this earth, she lived daily in His presence. She was constant in prayer and song was one of her ways of praying. 

papa, mama, mother, me 1943

With Papa and Mama and my mother. The little quilted-brim sunbonnet would have been made by Mama or my mother.

My earliest memory of my grandmother, Dulcie Cotton Spencer, is of her kneeling beside her bed at bedtime in a white homemade nightgown. Her long braids that she wore wound around her head during the day were loosened to fall down her back at night. Mama prayed aloud. Maybe that was her way of including Papa in the nighttime prayers.

While too many of us have concern for our worldly possessions, how ours are stacking up against others, Mama’s concern was gathering up treasures for the king of Kings. She was instructing us in the word of God, sheltering us in His and her love, providing for the sick and grieving with pots of her famous Chicken and Dumplings, welcoming all into her home without regard for what she had to show. Mama and Papa lived a frugal life, but they always had money to help others — and they helped many. They had their priorities in order.  

Copy of spencer family about 1951


Both of my grandparents had an intimate, abiding relationship with the Lord, but it was Mama who kept a song in her heart and on her lips. Every day, all day, Mama sang about the Jesus she loved. Ephesians 5:19 says speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and Mama did that. When she cooked, she sang. When she cleaned house, she sang. And when Mama ironed, she sang again. 

Mama Dulcie especially loved songs about heaven. Two of the hymns I remember her singing a lot were When the Roll is Called Up Yonder and Ring the Bells of Heaven. If I close my eyes and sit very still, I can hear her sweet, joyful voice.

Ring the bells of Heaven! There is joy today,
For a soul, returning from the wild!
See, the Father meets him out upon the way,
Welcoming His weary, wandering child.

Glory! Glory! How the angels sing:
Glory! Glory! How the loud harps ring!
‘Tis the ransomed army, like a mighty sea,
Pealing forth the anthem of the free.

Thank you, Mama, for loving Jesus so much and teaching your children and grandchildren to love Him, too. Thank you that you never stopped singing about Jesus. You sang with strong and confident assurance because you knew Him so well. I look forward to being with you again and seeing the mansion Jesus prepared just for you, but for now I sing the song that you sang:

When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.


I cherish letters from my grandmother. I was not able to be at the family gathering on Christmas of 1986, so she wrote to tell me about it. She closed out her letter with these words: I thank God every day for all my blessings. I know he hears me. I know He heard you, too, Mama, and I’m grateful for every prayer you offered with my name on it. I feel certain I’m still reaping the rewards.

My treasured picture with Mama, 1982, was made by The Jackson Sun when they published an article I wrote about Christmases at my grandparents’ house. Papa had died a few months before.