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May ending

May sang her song: “Rain, rain, go away. Come again some other day.” And then she broke into the chorus of: “The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun.”

So much rain in May caused the grass to grow as high as an elephant’s eye, almost. Flooding in parts of our country caused grief as we watched our own Salt River rise and ebb. Our yard, with its peaks and valleys, was water-logged, and days went by when it was simply too wet to mow. It got so bad that a lawn care company rep came by to give me his card.

The rain also brought flowers, and oh how I love the flowers. I like to cut them and put them in the old mason jar filled with water. Whatever is blooming becomes a serendipitous bouquet. Sometimes a tiny bug or spider has crawled out from the buds, so I have relegated the mason jar to the table on the deck.  In the morning when I sit there in the quiet of a new day, I enjoy the flowers in the outdoors. The creepy crawly things are at home out there.

There’s been lots of outdoor work, planting, pulling weeds and digging in the soil. The dirt under my fingernails continues to be an issue. The yard looks reasonably well kept this spring, though not perfect. My yard will never be perfect or perfectly groomed like yards I admire, all prim and proper. I’ve come to terms with it, because this is the way I garden. It’s slightly wild and slightly pruned, and I’m OK with that. It is ever changing, evolving, becoming something different and new.

The daily walks for Maisie and me down our lane rewarded me with the heavy fragrance of honeysuckle blooming at one corner of the yard. It’s uncultivated growth sprawling in the little woods brings back childhood memories of pulling the buds and sipping nectar.

I had two recitals this month, one at the Academy of Arts and one for my home students. I am always aglow at these events, so proud of my students’ hard work that produces music to my ears. Teaching piano came to me late in my career as the result of a job loss. At the time, I couldn’t have dreamed what grace would come from something so shocking and disturbing. It is the way of God, to bring life from what seems like death.

Mother’s Day came in the middle of the two recital. My own mother has been dead for over 30 years, and our one and only son is in another state celebrating his wife, as he should. What’s a daughter/mother like me to do but be good to myself? I called a friend who shares a similar situation and suggested we spend a few hours together before Mother’s Day, somewhat grieving our loss but more celebrating friendship, our sons, and the love of all things growing.  We spent a lovely morning and afternoon together, and our shared joy helped us ease into the weekend when pictures of gathered families would multiply on Facebook.

On Mother’s Day, I did what I wanted and treated myself with much kindness and grace. It was one of the best day I’ve had in a long time.

I’ve enjoyed watching the Canadian goslings growing daily, grey downy feathers giving in to the white and black distinctive color of their parents. They look like miniature versions of what they will eventually become. I spy the single mallard mamma and her little bitties occasionally. There are six of them left and still so small in comparison to the geese. Watching these babies grow has been life-giving this spring.

I resumed my task of going through the saved mementos from the box in the garage. I came to the cards, letters, notes from my years working at the YMCA. It was my first management positions, and some days I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Nostalgia took me on a journey of memories and faces, experiences and people who helped me grow. It’s been over 15 years since I worked at the Y. They were formative years for me when I learned so much from the staff whose names appear on those mementos.

yard sale signIt’s the season of the Yard Sale. Usually I am quite the sucker for a neon pink hand-lettered sign, but I’ve passed by more often this spring. As the wise Solomon said, there is a season for everything, a time to gather and a time to scatter, a time to keep and a time to throw away. I’ve had my season of gathering and keeping. It’s time to let go.

Rather suddenly at month’s end, we excitedly arranged for a visit from my daughter-in-love, eldest granddaughter and her friend.  I prepared the house, filled the fridge and pantry, and cleared my calendar. The few days would be open for whatever plans they had. I would be bed and breakfast for them and take whatever moments I could get with each one.

They came for a wedding, my granddaughter being a first-time bridesmaid of a childhood friend. My granddaughter is grown up in many ways, and yet I see the little girl who used to come spend the night, who sat at my piano and learned music with me, who sat on the stool at the kitchen counter and told me what was on her mind.

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She and her friend had their own agenda, attending wedding festivities, visiting friends, and staying out later than my bedtime. And we who waited for the sound of them slept lightly as we prayed for their safe return. Her mother and I shared the mutual feeling of wanting to know all the chicks are home, safe in the nest, before we can settle down for deep sleep.

One has to experience it to understand. Parenting cannot be easily explained or described. The bond between mother and child is something unique and beautiful and lasting.

I enjoyed hours of conversation with my daughter-in-love as we sat at the kitchen table and drank sweet tea. For me it was like old times when she lived in the house next door. We laughed and remembered and talked about so many things. It was a balm for my soul.

I made strawberry shortcake for breakfast on the day before they left for home. It was well received and may become a tradition whenever my dear ones come for a visit.

I’ve missed my family in the years they have been living away. The few days with my girls were a jewel in the month of May, memories to record in my journal and on my heart.

Too quickly the days passed and  we said tearful good-byes, unsure when we would be together again, face to face.  And the house that sang with voices familiar is quiet once more, remnants of breakfast and cold coffee all that is left behind.

May has been delicious in lots of ways and difficult in others. And this life I live is very much like the garden surrounding me. Days are spent pulling up the weeds and clearing away the mess of a long winter. Other days I dig in the dirt and plant with hope for something bright and beautiful. Flowers bloom and fade, while others bud with promise. One morning is cloudy, rain falling; the threat of storms makes me run for cover. And then the sun emerges and water droplets glisten like diamonds. A rainbow appears in the sky and I stand in awe.

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There is a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance

May brought different times for me.  I live with fervor some days. I taste the bitter and the sweet. I sing songs and cry tears.

It is all part of this wild, wonderful life I’ve been given. It is mine to live. And I shall live it.

 

 

 

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Dealing with Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is complicated. At least it is for me.

I’ve celebrated it in sundry ways.

There were many years when I celebrated my own dear mother.

I suppose words of affirmation are my love language because I wrote a lot of notes and letters to express my devotion.  Often there was a handwritten note to the woman I considered to be the very best, and I was thankful she was my mom. I told her so, setting words to the page on Mother’s Day.

In 1983, my mother died. My grief seemed unbearable. Mother’s Day that year filled me with deepest sorrow and loneliness. I no longer had a mother to celebrate. It changed the day forever. And it changed me.

There were the years when my son was young and learning what it meant to celebrate his mother.

It was a Sunday evening of Mother’s Day, and this little lad of mine wanted to “take me out” to MacDonald’s® for an ice cream cone. You see, there was a give-away of free cones to any mother who came, and it was what my son could afford.

I was weary and worn. Problems don’t take a holiday, and I didn’t really want to go. My mother took my aside me and helped me understand that this was important to my son. This was his gift and I needed to receive it.

So I drove the two of us the few miles to the fast food restaurant, and we enjoyed the taste of cold sweetness together. It is a memory I hold dear.

When that one sweet boy grew tall and whiskered, there was that one year he let me know I was to be a mother-in-law. I was so excited and felt like I had been to a big reveal party where someone proclaimed, “It’s a girl!”  The one daughter-in-love became another reason to celebrate being a mother in a completely new and different way.

 

There were the years when I should have been holding another baby on Mother’s Day, but I was not. Two miscarriages in two different years left me bereft. I saw other young women cuddling babies in blankets, full of life and happiness. It was hard. I clung to my one small boy, thankful for the gift he was to me.

There were years I worked myself silly on Mother’s Day.

I was a Mom and a Grammy. I invited my family – son, daughter-in-love, three grandchildren, dad, and step-mother – and cooked up a storm. I wanted them here, not spread out at a restaurant that would be overly crowded with families trying to bless their mothers, waiting for us to give up our table.

This was my way of celebrating. And it was a blessing to me. Nothing is sweeter than having the house burst with noise as dear ones come through the door, They spread out through the rooms, then we wound our way in a circle before the meal, holding hands for a prayer of grace and thanksgiving. We gathered at the table, and this was sharing life together. The laughter, the stories, the children in dress up clothes, the making of memories were worth every bit of effort.

When the youngest grandchild and the only boy was quite young, I planned for him to sit next to me. He was the non-stop talker, and I was especially patient with this little guy who had my heart.

I recall those years fondly and would do it all again in a heartbeat.

And now I am in a different season. Our family dynamics have changed.  Time, death and life stages have altered the holiday. Family units evolve; they cannot stay the same.

So the second Sunday in May is complicated for me. I know I am not the only one.

In the way of the Lord’s giving and taking away, I recognize the blessing of others who entered my life as changes were dramatic. Older women became my mentors after my mother’s death. Friends of all ages have loved me, touched my heart on any given day.  My life is full and rich in relationships.

Though it may be complicated, we should celebrate. Mothers are a breed of their own. Their hearts demonstrate God’s own love in a way no other can. They are tireless, loyal, selfless, committed to their children, and will never, ever stop loving them, even when they are the prodigal.

Where would I be without the godly influence of my mother who loved me without conditions? What other experience can be likened to being mother to a son and then getting to love his wife? And who can even describe the joy of being a grandmother? It is compensation for growing older and a do-over for parents who become wiser with the years.

Mothers are grand, they are amazing, they are something so special, no way around it. Celebrate them. Give them their due reward and praise.

No matter how complicated Mother’s Day is, it marks a day to cherish the women who shaped us and loved us, who influenced us and guided us, who shine as heroes and warriors.

I’m thankful for my own precious mother, for the experience of being a mother and grandmother, and for women who have enriched my life in ways I can never fully express.

Happy Mother’s Day to them all.

 

 

Sunday grace

Thank You God for our mothers.  mother3

Becoming a mother is an extraordinary experience.  It is the best of jobs and the hardest of jobs.  And sometimes it is the most heart-wrenching.

Motherhood is a life sentence. You never get over it and you don’t get a parole. Heart strings are permanently attached to the child no matter how old she gets or how far away he roams.

Mothers bend over to wipe snotty noses. They stand up and cheer at every achievement. They kneel to pray on the first day of school, over a new drivers’ licenses, at the first date, and when the prodigal is far from the fold.

Mothers never give up. They keep fighting for the needs their children. They keep loving. They keep believing for the best. They keep praying.

Mothering takes on different roles and comes in a variety of shapes. Aunt, neighbor, step-parent, friend, teacher, mentor.  God made women to be nurturers to show the world what He is like. His tender devotion, His patience, His faithfulness.

Mothers work long and hard.  They get tired. But they never tire of hearing, “I love you.”

Someone is waiting to hear those words today.

Sunday grace.

THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE IS
    THE HAND THAT RULES THE WORLD.

      Blessings on the hand of women!
        Angels guard its strength and grace.
      In the palace, cottage, hovel,
          Oh, no matter where the place;
      Would that never storms assailed it,
          Rainbows ever gently curled,
      For the hand that rocks the cradle
          Is the hand that rules the world.

William Ross Wallace (1819-1881)

Sunday Grace for the mothers

For the mothers who labor in pain to birth a child, no matter if it comes through a birthing room or an adoption proceeding.

For the mothers who lose sleep and lose car keys and lose themselves sometimes because of their children.

For the mothers who change diapers, change dirty clothes, change schedules, change their lives to do what’s best for the babies.

For the mothers who fix the same cereal, who read the same story every night, and who pick up the same toys at end of day.

For the mothers who tuck in sleep heads and kneel to pray with tears of joy and intercession for the children who grow taller each day.

For the mothers who attend soccer games, boy scout events, recitals, school plays, graduations, and weddings.

For the mothers who open their hearts to children by law and call them their own.

To the mothers who welcome the lonely, the misunderstood, the broken, and the sinners like them.

For the mothers who give time to their grandchildren, their second generation and second chance at love.

For the mothers who never stop praying, never stop hoping, never stop believing, who never, ever give up.

For the mothers who care for their own mothers as they age and grow feeble.

For the mothers, God’s gift to children.  And the world.  We love you.

Sunday grace, friends.

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Bill and me, pregnant 1973

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