I first heard about the passing of my dear friend and mentor, Annette Louise Grable, on November 13th. Both she and her husband, Kevin, meant so much to me as I entered college. She was a huge part of organizing so many of the fun and ministry events at the Valley Vineyard, our home church in Reseda, California while I was growing up. Looking back at the many times she touched me, there are two in particular that stand out.
The first is when I was looking for someone to help me with my writing. She introduced me to Jarre Fees, a woman at church. Jarre and I became fast friends. She saw potential in me and, with patience, helped me become a better writer. When Jarre passed away in May of 2014, Annette was one of few people I felt comfortable sharing a vision God gave me in the midst of my grief. I saw Jarre, the way I last remembered her: elderly, short gray hair, bent over and using a walker. Then she stood upright; her walker was gone, she grew younger, and her hair became blonde and long. This revelation fascinated Annette and, far from questioning the vision, she appreciated that I shared it with her.
My second precious memory occurred in 2019. I had been gone a year from California and was living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with no familiar faces to trust. Despite the fact I’d been living six months in a new city, I was still very lonely, overwhelmed, and frustrated with God’s plan for me.
To make things harder, a friend and neighbor I had known since childhood, my parents’ tenant, had just died. I was upset that I couldn’t do anything to help from so far away. I was bothered that he had been launched into an unknown Eternity of his choosing but felt some relief that Mama and Papa would finally be free to sell their house and move from California. I experienced a small amount of comfort that day from a sympathetic manager and wonderful Cracker Barrel guests who coaxed me to smile at my station as hostess.
The next day, Friday, was another work day. I did my best to hang in there and proceed with my job greeting Cracker Barrel guests and scheduling wait times for tables. Maybe Mama and I could talk afterwards, since she kept asking how long my shift was that day. Around mid-shift when fewer guests were few checking in, my co-hosts and I were feeling less stressed than usual.
I looked up and saw a man and a woman walking toward me. They were grinning ear to ear as if they recognized me. But it couldn’t be, as I still knew hardly anyone in town. The closer they approached the more familiar they became.
Perhaps they were regulars I had waited on before.
No, they seemed much more familiar that that.
There was a glint in their eyes that said WE KNOW YOU. AND YOU KNOW US!
Wait a minute!
Could it be?
“NO WAAAAY!” I shouted with joy.
Unbelievably, It was Annette and Kevin approaching the host podium. Annette was snapping away with her phone camera as I rushed into her arms and accidentally knocked her phone to the floor. Turns out my friends were on vacation from Los Angeles and traveled many miles out of their way just to surprise me.
I asked my manager for some time to say hi to them, since I hadn’t seen either in so long. He graciously agreed and we spent twenty minutes catching up, sharing back and forth about everything from grandkids to grand gestures like the one they had just pulled off. It was easily one of the best moments that happened to me in the whole month. At the end of the day, I found out Mama was in on the surprise and had been confirming the details of my work schedule to the Grables.
While this was not the last time I saw Annette in person, it was one of the most meaningful moments we shared together. We saw each other in church when I finally visited California in 2021, and she would often encourage me on Facebook. When Annette announced to her friends on Facebook she was putting a halt to her cancer treatments, I called her up to say hi and offered prayers to her and Kevin. Both of them appreciated it.
When she passed away, I was grateful that unlike several other friends who had died, I had the opportunity to talk with her one final time. Like with Jarre, I wanted God to share a vision of how Annette appears now in Glory and before Jesus—one to comfort me and others in this hard time. This time, however, the Lord did not grant me a picture, but imparted to me a sweet description of what it’s like to be in His Presence. It was so beautiful and glorious—the greatest assurance I had of what God has in store for we who are in Christ Jesus.
Annette is gone from us for a time, but the real Annette is alive because of our Savior, who redeemed her from sin. And the enemy of our souls cannot touch her ever again! On the one hand, it still hurts to think of our loss and how she suffered. On the other hand, I’m grateful Jesus shares in the sorrow.
He showed me that death and its impact hurts Him too, though He’s happy when His children are safe and at peace. I’m thankful I can now look forward with less fear when my time comes as well.
Most of all I am happy that Annette is safe in His arms. A longtime Dodgers fan, I think Annette Grable would enjoy the irony that she is now spending more time with that other Los Angeles baseball team—the Angels.
NOTE: If you knew Annette we’d love
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