14 May 2017

On Mother's Day

Courtesy of Benson A
There is a saying about motherhood, and its originator is unknown, that goes like this:

A mother is always the beginning.
She is how things begin.

It's a simple truth. Who we are begins with our mothers and today, we celebrate mothers. 

Today, I celebrate and honor my mother who taught me to serve others, to work hard, and to, to what I am sure is her eternal regret, speak my mind. I celebrate the gajillion chances she given me to improve. I'm grateful for our phone conversations that we have several times a week, even if they sometimes end at loggerheads (thanks Obfuscation Fox News for absolutely nothing on that one). I'm proud of my mom for how she's lived her life since my dad has died. She continues to surprise me.

Today, I celebrate and honor my wife, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML. The lives of our three children began with her. Those three are who they are because of her. They got the best of her in every aspect of their lives. Arguably, they got the best of me, too, but their mother's best parts helps them shine in spite of my contributions. Each one of our children are making their worlds better because of the example of their mother. She's amazing and I'm just grateful that she still wants to hang out with me.

Today, I laugh with my oldest daughter as she mothers her two children. Earlier this week, she shared with us the Mothers Day questionnaire that our nearly four year old boss of a grandson completed at pre-school. It is everything. It is the classic thinking of a pre-schooler.

In his mind, his mother is 17, which must be like 40 in pre-school years, because they don't watch TV to speak of in their house so I know he's not been sneaking old episodes of "16 and Pregnant." Also, I fear that my being 50ish is something he can't even comprehend. He must think I'm as old as dirt.

That he is always being told to "clean up stuff" and that when he doesn't obey upsets her is proof positive that his mom and his grandmother are cut from the same cloth.

The he doesn't think she's not good at "going upstairs" is proof that his mom is also just like me, her father. She would be wise to also master going down the stairs, as we know I'm seriously challenged in this arena.

That "she puts food on (his) fork for (him)" and that he wants to give her magnets is proof that a child's love for his mother is simple, beautiful, and just a little mysterious. Magnets? I've got to get to the bottom of this.

One thing I know is this - whether a mother has mastered loading up a child's fork with food or has told her for the billionth time to clean up her room or reminds her middle-aged son to remember who he is and to drive carefully, in spite of the fact that he's been driving for nearly thirty five years, a mother's love knows no end. I'm grateful for it.

Happy Mothers Day to all those who have mothered me. I'm better for it.

07 May 2017

A Farewell

My father and my Aunt Robin during World War II
One week ago, an insidious disease that our family is all too familiar with, claimed our Aunt Robin. As my cousin Leigh wrote so beautifully of her mother's long fight against Alzheimer's, Robin's fight was dignified.

Dignified. Classy. Kind. Loving. Those are just some of the words that describe my father's sister. Loving is the one that frames my memories most of Robin.

From my earliest days, I can recall my father speaking in the most glowing of terms about his sister. He called her "Pud," (rhymes with 'good'), and to this day, I wish I knew the origin story of that name, but to him, that's who she was. Because we lived in Arizona and Robin's family was in North Carolina, we didn't see each other frequently. I do know, though, that when we did get together in their Durham home, we were never strangers. We were family and even in my peek dork years - 13 years of age - when we all gathered for Thanksgiving, that feeling of family that my aunt worked so hard to create was ever present. As I got a little older, I had the opportunity to visit North Carolina several times as my late grandmother, Grandmommy, was in Robin's care. I have fond memories of attending church with Robin on those trips. She loved music and she was in her element, singing in that stately choir loft in that Presbyterian church in Durham. I was unfamiliar with some of the Presbyterian traditions and she always so kind in explaining how it all worked. Kind, welcoming, warm. Shortly after the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I married, I was thrilled that we were able to travel to North Carolina to see our family there. Again, Robin welcomed my sweet wife into the family, as if she'd always been a part of it. I have never forgotten that.

When my father died almost eight years ago, Robin was already fighting the monster that would one day take her life but she was able to travel to Phoenix for his funeral. I will never forget seeing her and my mom, sitting on the couch, holding each other by the hand and reliving memories of my father. The bond my aunt shared with my dad, even though he was now gone, was evident and clearly unbreakable. Family chains don't break and now they are celebrating their reunion, along with their parents who had gone on before them. Their family is together again.

In the coming weeks, we will gather to celebrate her life and to honor the legacy Robin has left in my cousins and their children. We will love, honor, and celebrate a woman who left a positive impact on every person she met.

I'm forever grateful for my Aunt Robin and the life she led. Would that we could all live in such a way that every one you met felt better for it. That's an incredible way to live.

Our family - the last time we were all together. Sweet memories.

Alzheimer's is a horrendous disease. If you'd like to donate to the fight to find a cure, go here.

16 April 2017

Prince of Peace

@barabbas.com
As this Sunday morning dawns, the sun lights the sky from the east in brilliant alternating hues of yellow, orange, white, and blue. Its warming rays slice their way through the trees that are our makeshift fence. As the sun enlivens those trees from their dormant winter sleep, there is hope that leaves will soon burst forth.

Nearly two millennia ago, when a woman returned to the tomb of a man she deeply loved and discovered that the stone sealing his resting place had been rolled back, it was not hope that she felt. Mary felt sheer terror and wanted desperately to know where Jesus's body had gone. When asked by a man whom she supposed to be the gardener why she was weeping, Mary said, "Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away." The man, in response, uttered her name, "Mary," and in that instant she knew it was him. It was Rabboni, Jesus himself. The stone sealing shut his tomb had been rightfully rolled back for he had conquered death.

For Christendom, this Sunday morning, Easter is joyously celebrated. It is a day of hope and renewal. It is a celebration of life conquering death. It is honoring the Son of God and His atoning sacrifice. It is remembering the Savior, the Prince of Peace.

I am grateful to be a part of this Easter celebration. I am grateful to know that He has atoned for me, a broken and occasionally rebellious and difficult soul. I am grateful to know that His empty tomb signified that He conquered death. I know that He lives.

He is the Prince of Peace.

14 April 2017

On Good Friday

@mbhohio.org
The sun is shining brightly today.

Warmth is enveloping the air, reminding us that spring is finally here.

The tulips in our front yard have emerged triumphantly from their frozen winter prison and their brilliant yellow color enlivens our home.

There is, at least for me, a sense of hopefulness in the air. That's not been easy for me to recognize, if I'm honest. Look no further than my Twitter feed and you'll know that it's not been a walk in the park to find all things hopeful of late.

Today, though, I woke up with a sense of hope and I've pondered a bit as to the reasons why. My wife, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML, and I are enjoying this "empty nest" phase of our life. As we reshape ourselves in this new chapter of our lives, it's been a lot of fun to progress together. Our children are in good, good places. The Awesomes have given us two of the greatest grandchildren on the planet and our lives are better for it. CAL is challenging herself in her career and is enjoying her Spring Break on the East Coast right now. The RM is, at heart, still The Boy and we wouldn't have it any other way. So I look around at my life and there is reason to be hopeful, even if our world is beginning to look like it may become the dystopian world we saw in "The Hunger Games" (#thanksforthatFuhrerTrump). Even in the dark, violent world she created, author Suzanne Collins wrote this about hope:

Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.

Hope consoles us. Hope strengthen us. Hope guides us. Hope can be found in the most difficult of circumstances. Difficult circumstances abounded nearly two millennia ago when the Son of God was crucified. Today, Good Friday, is the day that the Christian world remembers that day. It's a day of enormous import in Christendom, as the events of that day initiated a hope of redemption that burns brightly to this day.

I am grateful for this day and for He who, as I believe, died on this day. I am grateful that there is still a measure of good in this world. I am grateful for hope.