*beauty and example*
so, in "sionara 2006" i neglected to mention a few things that have happened in the past week (sleep deprivation will do that to you). first, my mom came to visit for about 10 days which was wonderful. we are building a friendship which i did not know was possible to have with your mom. i look forward to talking to her on the phone and look forward to her visiting. this is new for me and it is a beautiful thing. while she was here this time she purchased a grill for Rich for christmas, and a food processor for me. she has such a giving heart. i remember one time, before she was a christian, she was driving in the mountains on some back roads and found a family with one or two small children living out of their car. she was so moved with compassion for them, she came back in to town (a couple hours drive), grabbed me, we went and bought hundreds of dollars of groceries and drove back up to the mountains to find them. we drove around for hours until it was dark, but never found them. she cried. not because she'd put forth all that effort and felt like it was wasted. she cried because she truly cared for this family. that was the first time i'd ever seen that part of my mom's heart.
anyway, while she was here, she spent more money that she had originally planned but she did it lovingly and with true joy just from giving to someone else. when she got home, there was a check from the IRS for an old tax return that was almost dollar for dollar the amount she'd spent on us while she was here (groceries, gifts, etc.). she also received a large christmas bonus plus vacation time, which she didn't expect, in her paycheck when she returned, that was about as much as she'd spent here, probably a little more. i just don't know how to say how awesome it is that God returned double what she willingly gave. she also made a point of offering a simple thing to a friend of mine that i was unwilling to do, because this friend was fairly rude about the same thing in our house a few nights before, and i didn't feel like doing the kind, right thing, but my mom knew exactly what to do and for that, i am so impressed by her example. she is a beautiful woman and i am so glad she's my mom. when we dropped her off at the airport she said the best christmas present she could ever have was getting to know me better and become better friends with me. i couldn't agree more.
april 14, 2006, my grandma passed away. i loved her. so much. she was my dad's mom and one of the best memories i have of my childhood and of my family history. when i was a young kid, i asked her one time "grandma, i'm not trying to hurt your feelings but, when you die, can i have your house?" of course, that was pretty unreasonable. she had six kids and i was certainly not first in line for the house. but every corner of that house has memories for me. the walls with pictures of my dad flying planes, the old piano we used to sit around every visit and sing songs while my step mom played, my dad played guitar and inevitably someone got out a harmonica or another guitar to join in, every inch of the creaky wood floor of the hallway that used to be the front of the house decades ago before they added on, the bathroom with the old jadeite sink and the red macreme fish with google eyes and long black eyelashes on the wall above the shower, the back bedroom with the bed that had a door for a headboard where my dad and stepmom and i used to sleep when we visited and the stockpile of family toys that had been passed down from previous generations, the book shelves packed from side to side with national geographic magazines dating back to the 40s, and high school yearbooks almost as old, the hide away bed we'd open up out in the living room to sleep on in front of the old warm, brown living room furnace, my grandma's bedroom with the old chest of drawers and the jewelry box on top with mints, lemon heads, lipstick samples and strands of pearls, the kitchen with the creaking wood cabinets that hid the speckled vintage bowls and plates and aluminum tumblers that we always drank iced tea from, the smell of toast and coffee in the morning, the vintage fan on the counter with her bell collection, her plate collection and the placard that read "the cows may come and the cows may go but the bull goes on forever", a saying that i was told my grandad, who i never met, hated and i didn't really understand "until i was older", the heavy black 1940s wall phone, the freezer always stocked with ice cream, the gun cabinet with rifles for shooting coyotes, the back porch with the deep freeze where we used to crack wheat when it came in from harvest, the view of the yard from the windows, the root cellar that i was terrified of and prayed there would never be any tornados because i did not want to go down there, the old tire swing and tree house that all my cousins and i grew up playing on, the silos that stored the harvested wheat, the horse barn and workshop....
my grandma who always wore fashionable dr. scholl's shoes, tan polyester pants and white polyester shirts with polka dots or pretty patterns, her soft white hair, her cushiony and welcoming chest, her strong arms that hugged you like it was the last time she'd ever see you, her sweet smelling delicate skin and her weathered smile that revealed the wisdom and experience of a hard life...
an entire lifetime of memories that belong to me and are part of what makes me who i am.
my grandma was a wise woman and always knew when someone was doing something they shouldn't, and she knew how to handle her affairs. after she passed away, my uncle settled her estate and its value came to more than $300,000 dollars. she left it all to her children, to be divided evenly between all six of them. my dad passed away years ago and his share was divided evenly between the five of us kids. we received the check in the mail last week and, i hate to be lame but it has me thinking about our eternal inheritance. if my family can evoke such strong memories and desires to remember and know, and if my grandma's wisdom and forethought and planning can provide such a blessing - how much more the forethought of God the father who planned to put on flesh and become the first born from all creation, and include us in the inheritance he so richly and rightly deserves... when my uncle called months ago and said they were settling and dividing up the estate, i just thought it meant her physical belongings. i had no idea what was in store, how much more with our inheriting the kingdom of God!
the other night Rich and i (and Maisie, of course) went to Borders to buy a book for some friends. Borders has a decently large CD section which Rich almost immediately gravitates towards when we go there. i tend to stay away from it because there are SO many CDs to sort through, and i would love to look over every single one, the enormity of it all overwhelms me so i just stick to the books. anyway he said he was going to buy a CD but it was a surprise. i had my ideas about what it might be. i took Maisie to the car to feed her while he bought our books and his "surprise". after getting in the car, he put his surprise in the CD player and after a moment, i heard the sweet, relaxing and nostalgic sounds of vincent girabaldi and the classic "peanuts christmas" songs. this is one of my all-time favorite albums. it never crossed my mind when i was trying to figure out which album Rich might be trying to surprise me with. i have to say, it made me cry. i have such a thoughtful husband, who pays attention to the things i'm interested in, remembers them and thoughtfully considers me and my interests when he buys things. i love him. so much. it was a wonderful surprise and christmas present.