Growing up in the shadow of her famous grandfather and dad, Cissie Graham Lynch heard the question often: “What’s it like to be a Graham?”
The 26-year old candidly admits the answer isn’t as easy as one might assume because she has never known anything else. “I lived life with a father who was gone quite a bit, but he also took me around the world with him,” says Cissie. “By the age of 18, I’d seen things most people only dream of seeing in a lifetime.”
What kept Cissie and her three brothers so grounded, she says, was having her mother at home: “We lived in a humble home in the mountains of North Carolina. My mom kept us on a regular routine. She drove us to school, went to sporting events—she didn’t miss anything. Her ‘no’ meant ‘no’ and her ‘yes’ meant ‘yes.’
“Most importantly,” she adds, “my mom made the Scriptures real. She would talk about real issues with us. She kept an open line of communication. She always wanted us to feel comfortable talking to her.”
According to Cissie, Jane Austin Cunningham Graham was the unofficial “town mom.”
“She was never afraid to discipline any kid that came into our house,” Cissie says. “Everyone loved my mom. People feel comfortable with her. People trust her. She’s very wise. She speaks truth into hurting people. She has a gift of people feeling comfortable around her.”
Ruth Bell Graham—Billy’s wife and Cissie’s grandmother—was her mom’s best friend. “She led mom to Christ,” Cissie explains. “It was through my grandmother’s love and grace that my mom came to know the Lord.”
In fact, Ruth Bell Graham and Jane are very similar in personality when it came to having fun, in their sweet sarcasm and quirks, and the fact that they were always up for adventure, says Cissie.
“Plus, their men were gone all the time. If there was a snake in the yard, they had to kill it. Fear never ran through them.”
Cissie feels the void that was created when Ruth Bell Graham went to heaven. She wishes she could ask her grandmother about being a wife and a mom, and about her ministry.
And now that her grandfather is 93 years old, she only gets a few minutes of time with him before he needs to rest.
But Cissie has cherished memories that will never fade—and they aren’t of huge Crusades with thousands of people. “We lived very close to my grandparents, only about an hour away, and were with them on holidays. I recall things like sitting in their home next to my grandmother’s fire. She always had a fire. I have a lot of memories of sitting in her bedroom talking. She always had a game going on. She often had a sparkle in eye from wit or sarcasm. Those are my precious memories.”
In addition to her grandmother and mother, God has put a handful of other women in Cissie’s life, including a couple of family friends she can always call.
“Everyone has taught me something different,” she says. “Each woman should have two or three women in their lives who will speak truth when it’s hard. These role models are godly ones who have humbly served the Lord, and I’m so grateful to have them in my life.”
Photo of Cissie Graham Lynch and Jane Austin Graham courtesy of Adam Barnes: www.adambarnesphoto.com.