A rooster is crowing in the distance. Soft light dances through the trees as the morning breeze rustles the leaves. Birds are in full song, up for their busy day. The spring greens are full and intense after a long barren winter. I sit in my favorite place on my back porch and it feels as if I am in a tree house. The quiet morning is a balm to my soul.
The past weeks have been full of trips back and forth to Atlanta, to place my aunt’s treasured items in the hands of those who will appreciate them. I am unearthing history, and it feels like a museum of the past to go through all the memorabilia and determine what is of value and what is trash. It is physically and emotionally exhausting, yet, it is fun at the same time to relive the past and to meet her lovely friends. My sister Melinda has been helping me, but her father in law was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer so she headed right back into end-of-life care. He passed in just two short weeks, but the back to back deaths have taken their toll on Melinda. I am praying she can have some rest and recover from being the medical-go-to-person for the last days of life for two people she loved. Grief is hanging over us all at the moment. Betty would have been 85 years old today.
Last week, Ray’s dog, Mango, was violently killed as he stood by and watched two big dogs tear him apart. He tried to beat them off with his cane to no avail. It is a miracle they didn’t turn on him. Mango was his source of purpose and caring for him was what got Ray up in the morning. It has been a hard thing for him to bear, and we have been popping in on him more than usual to be sure he is okay.
At the same time, we have had the joy of watching Peter graduate from Berry. He is moving to his own place this week and we couldn’t be prouder of his new season of life. All the moving of furniture and rearranging of things has got me wanting to purge the house. I don’t want my kids to have to figure out what to do with all this stuff someday! It is not a good time to begin this task until we get all the other moving completed, then, watch out, because I am going on a cleaning frenzy!
I leave for a trip to Uganda next week. It is an honor to be invited to a teacher’s conference. I am always excited for any chance to encourage teachers, especially these who have experienced so much loss, and still go into classrooms to teach the future generation. It inspires me. I pray my friend Karin and I can bring some practical knowledge that will help them to help the children. We will be taking some supplies for them as well as purchasing some supplies when we arrive based on how much money we raise to do so. Hopefully, we will be able to supply some books, puppets, art supplies, and maybe some chalkboard paint and chalk. I am looking forward to this trip to see what God does among these amazing teachers.
As I read back over this, I can tell I haven’t been to my computer in a bit! I am dumping out all my stuff. Thanks for listening. It is a good feeling to sit and soak in the peace and quiet, if only for a moment. I had to get all that out of me before I can even start the piece I sat down to write. Please pardon my rambling and disconnected thoughts. It is where I have been living as of late, and it does seem that grief causes my thoughts to be more fragmented than usual.
Let me see if I can get back on track with my original intent. As I sit here on this glorious morning and listen to the symphony of the wind, I think over the list of the days I posted above. So much gut-wrenching activity that could not be approached without a support system of family. We are all leaning on one another these days. It is a beautiful thing to have each other in seasons of change.
Mother’s Day is Sunday and all the latest events in our family have given me new eyes. In reflection of how time marches forward, I have come to see clearly how my mom has been the backbone of our family. She has been our rock. My whole life she has supported my endeavors, even when she didn’t always agree with them. She has been there for the good and the bad years, and has always had words of encouragement or wisdom. Not just for me, but for my siblings and her grandkids as well. She is one who contemplates her words carefully before she shares them with those who seek her out.
I have watched her seek the Lord my whole life. I have seen her wrestle with her own changing beliefs and have seen her step into herself more fully as she has aged. Her home is her heart. She has been a nurturer and her hospitality is welcoming. She is a strong woman, who comes from a long line of strong women. She has passed that family trait down to us, the women whom she bore, and we in turn, have raised our own girls to follow the pattern.
She has been an example of how to love ALL my kids and to trust God to take them where he will. I don’t think I fully appreciated my mom until my own kids began to leave the nest. Watching your offspring struggle is one of the hardest things to witness as a parent. You want to jump in and rescue, but that would circumvent their growth, and so you learn to keep your mouth shut and pray more. I am sure that my mom’s white hair is due in part to my choices and struggles. I also know that her strong prayer life is due to the fact she has a connection to God that only a mom on her knees can cultivate.
Mom has been dealing with memory issues, as of late. It is difficult to watch her struggle to find words. She has always been a communicator and I can see the frustration on her face when she cannot say what she wants to. She has always been the glue and taken care of all of us. Now, Dad is returning the favor. Caregiver is not his most familiar role, but his deep love for Mom is teaching him how. They are adorable…always have been. That kind of love is rare these days, and I have had the privilege of being an up-close witness to it my whole life. The way he helps her, and the way that she lets him help her is a beautiful thing.
This Mother’s Day comes on the heels of a very difficult year. It is taking its toll on us all, but we are all in it together. Our mom taught us how that works. Loving your people and being there for them. It is what we do, thanks to Mom and her example of how family works.
Happy Mother’s Day!