How quickly time has flown. The yesterdays now far out-measure the tomorrows. But please don’t look at me with pity.
Inside me there is a little girl swinging in the sunshine, running through the fields and playing dolls in a make-believe playhouse on the dusty earth beneath a live oak in the yard. There is a happy teenager, giggling and sharing secrets with my best friend. Sometimes there emerges the memory of a new bride who has chosen to make her home with a special young man. They clasp hands and exchange knowing glances. The twinkle in his eye tells me I am still special.
“Precious memories flood my soul” of the children with whom I shared life. The joy and pain of giving birth was my special blessing from God. A large portion of my life is labeled “mama”.
Now the sands of time have shifted and the sand is nearly run out. The hourglass is turned upside down and once again I am become that helpless little child, vulnerable and trapped in this tired, used-up, adult body.
I know, my child, you grieve for me. It is hard for you to assume your new role as caretaker. I too, wish it did not have to be so. But the cycle-of-life dictates it to happen just this way.
When you were a babe I rejoiced when you were first put into my arms. My heart expressed wonder in my breast as I examined every tiny finger and toe. I marveled as you began to crawl and laughed out loud at your first word! There were times of great pain as I rocked you through the night with high fever, unable to administer the healing I wanted for you so desperately. I nursed you, nurtured you, loved you and enjoyed you. You were one of my special gifts from God. You are “mama” now. I’m sorry it must be so, for it takes a special grace for both of us to surrender our roles. But His Grace is sufficient.
Know that sometimes I am afraid. This is an unfamiliar path I walk. I have shown you how to walk many paths in life. I shall try to show you how to tread this one with faith and dignity. There are may old people who have to life this time of their lives alone. Thank God I do not walk alone, He is here and so are you! Do not try to be Him and take responsibility for making me whole and pain free. Do as I once did in that rocking chair so many years ago…acknowledge that He is in charge. Whatever transpires here is for just a little while and has great purpose in His plan for our lives.
When you come, bring gifts. Bring the gift of your smile and of loving arms to “hold me”. Bring the gift of reassurance that I am loved and I am hot a burden (for I fear that I am). Let us share meaningful words for time is too short now for trivia.
And when the Father calls me home, grieve for a little while. You will be lonely for a part of you will be gone. Mama and Daddy will both be away. (But you are not alone or comfortless, my child. You have family to whom you have given life) Grieve the loss. Talk about it. Then you can begin to remember the good times and the good things we shared in life. Those precious memories will far out-weigh the grief…in due time. Then your healing can occur.
There came a time, my child, when you wanted to leave home and fly on your own. I had to release you…thought it made me lonely. Release me, my child, and let me go home. I’ll wait for you there and the light will be on.
What memories trigger thoughts of your father? We cannot measure the influence dads have on their children; it helps to remind us of the responsibility and privilege we now hold as parents and grandparents. In ways our dads blessed us we give our heavenly Father thanksgiving. We release our fathers from their failings and receive peace and healing.
My Dad, Franklin F. Ford touched my life in so many ways. I remember sitting in his lap when a very young girl and feeling his whiskers rub against my cheek. Dad showed his kids and grandkids how to tie our shoes, using the two loops, bunny ears method. He taught me how to ride a bike, and along with Mom tried to teach me to swim. He also served as my driving instructor, but that job needed the extra patience of my husband several years later.
Dad gave me the example of hard work rewards. (2 Thessalonians 3:10) He often worked two jobs, yet kept up our house repairs, did yard work, and helped Mom with chores. No job was ever beneath him. He gave me great appreciation for wood items, because he put finishing touches on crafted items at Stickley Furniture Company.
I often think of my Dad when I view rolling hills, trees, streams, or animals, big or small. Dad thrived when he could be outdoors, gardening, cutting grass, taking long walks, or in later years enjoying his wooden swing. Even in dangerously high temperatures he would be outside every chance he got.
Dad lived a troubled life, but in his happy moments, sounds of his laughter filled our house and our memories. He laughed in pure simple pleasure! I guess Dad’s biggest life lesson was to love and show concern for family. We never got too old or too far away to be on Dad’s mind. He waited for letters and phone calls to learn the latest news about our families and looked forward to visits.
Reading books as he worked long hours as a plant security guard for General Electric now holds special meaning. I can see all those paper back westerns tucked in his lunch box, and know he would be proud of my writing. If Dad still lived I would be calling soon to share the latest family happenings; instead I’ll curl up in his lap in my memories and feel his whiskers against my cheek…