Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Doing Hard Things - Aaron sharing from his heart

My feet and those of my boy - both of us getting 
ready for the service. I love how our feet 
are touching, I didn't realize it until now 
when I posted the pic. 
My middle OS Aaron entered the world with great gusto on August 30,1996. Almost exactly 17 years later, on a beautiful summer’s day in the Chicagoland area, that same precious child approached a microphone and through words, gave a final gift to the grandma he loved dearly.
Pretty sure I used that entire box of Kleenex!
My grandma’s memorial service brought forth countless blessings. On every level, from the music selected, the pictures featured, the location of the service to the tender common spirit filling the morning, it was obvious that the Lord had given us a day to reflect and celebrate a remarkable person. 
Aaron was the first family member to speak.This wasn’t his choice and he fretted about the pressure and enormity of the task. Not a lot of teenage guys would relish his position. From the perspective of a great-grandchild, my OS desired to recognize and share a central message about someone we all adored. Prone to migraines, we had been praying against him having one during the service and praise the Lord, he was fine. But think of how many adults cower in front of a microphone, let alone how many grown ups willingly speak at a memorial service about someone they love... Ok, now you have a slight understanding of the pride I had in my OS. 

Aaron spoke from this podium (so did everyone else).
You can see a funny picture of Nathan 

and Grandma in the background. 
We always had so much fun with her.  
My boy had worked so hard on his message. He sought counsel from teachers, asked for prayers, listened to our advice, changed a few words and added others. He considered his outfit, his hair (it really is that important!) and his shoes. But the foremost thing Aaron desired was to fittingly articulate the impact Grandma had on his life and on the lives of all the great grandkids. 
At the beginning of his message, Aaron accidentally omitted the name of his big brother, Nathan when he was recalling all of the great-grandchildren. True to form, Aaron gracefully recovered and it gave us all a moment to chuckle when he humorously, begrudgingly inserted Nathan’s name in the list. :)

Grandma and her boys at The Sound of Music.
As a music lover, Aaron equated Grandma’s life to a soundtrack. He told of the time we took her to see The Sound of Music. Grandma seemed less interested in the actual performance but more focused on the time with us as a family. Grandma closed her eyes, still fully awake and hummed away at familiar songs. Aaron recalled how he looked over at her during the musical and observed such joy on her face. My OS said that the soundtrack of Grandma's life was one with strong notes and crescendoes, beautiful and melodious. It was a moving and fitting analogy.
He continued and the tears in Aaron’s eyes and voice mirrored everyone else’s as we wept during his message. My ever growing pile of Kleenex only increased when Aaron spoke of Jesus and His love for all of us. While we were there to mark Grandma's passing, we celebrated the depth of happiness she gave to us all. Aaron acknowledged the Source of that love, Christ our Lord. I sat there draped in the arms of my other two OS and the Hubs never more thankful for this family I’ve been given. 
I like to imagine that my grandma is in heaven and that she could see us on August 27, 2011. Since there is no sadness or pain in heaven, in my heart I envision her utterly resplendent and I wonder if tears streamed from her sweet face. Not from sadness or cancer or dementia but from joy. I picture her absolutely overwhelmed being in the presence of the Lord, worshipping Him forever and for this one shining moment, seeing her handsome teenage great grandson confidently speaking of her and standing near her portrait. Oh how that picture in my heart brings me peace. If only everyone could be loved like this on earth and then to have that love exceeded in heaven, I want to live that kind of life now and eternally.   
Thank you Aaron. Thank you Grandma. 
Thanksgiving is mixed with sorrow, tears erupt with little warning and that’s the way I process grief. I realize that it’s going to be like this for a while as I have mourned other loved ones in the past. It is possible to be simultaneously sad, proud, grateful...after all that’s just what happens when you are Aaron’s mom and Grandma’s grand-daughter. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Doing Hard Things - moving forward

I wrote this post while traveling to Chicago to attend my grandma's memorial service. I am now back home and reconciling myself to a different life without someone I loved very much...

My feet at my grandma's service
It’s not that my feet have failed me. It’s not their fault, I can’t blame them. They have moved forward. They will be walking into a church tomorrow and at the appointed time, they will walk up to the podium.Though my heart is breaking, my feet will be sturdy forces even in mid-size heels. My feet will propel me into places I know bring sorrow and there’s nothing I can do about it. They are doing the right thing.
Ok, so the folks in West Virginia might NOT be
moving forward if they are bringing bologna biscuits back!
As we have journeyed from North Carolina, through the voluptuous hills of West Virginia and then through the flatter plains of Ohio, I note that everyone is moving forward. When we arrive in Chicago, it will be apparent EVERYONE is moving forward at breakneck speed. 
The windmills in Ohio moved slowly forward.
They were beautiful.
This week during my water aerobics class (another tribute to my grandma), I considered all the people in the pool. We vary in size, color, age and athleticism. Ashamedly I admit that it’s been a long time since I have really pondered this but as I stood in the water awaiting instruction, I thought to myself, everyone in this pool has lost someone. Everyone in this water knows grief. We have all cried pools of tears. Possibly some are as fresh as mine. 
We are all moving forward in some capacity. Sometimes I look at the ladies in the pool and see wisps of my own grandma. It might be in their carriage or bathing suit styles. I observe their little chicken legs, a charmed feature of my grandma’s and my own feet resist the temptation to run up to them. It would just make them feel awkward and I would cry. Not too many people cry during water aerobics~

Writing is cathartic for me and these fingers push words forward which spring from an aching grand-daughter’s heart. My fingers are blessed to tell you about the tender caresses from my OS and the Hubs as I grieve. They have loved me, allowed ME to lean on them and I’m comforted by their gentleness. My middle OS has told me that he is old enough to handle my pain. My oldest bairn at West Point sets aside his own worries and concerns to listen. The orange-haired, freckle face Isaac grants more hugs than usual without getting annoyed. Their Hanes cotton t-shirts have deposited many of my tears, their rugged hands envelope mine reassuringly.
Perhaps I have shared this previously but I did not grow up in a family with an emotionally accessible father. We were well acquainted with his angry side but vulnerability was rarely shown. Until I met the Hubs, I didn’t realize men were capable of sweet and tender feelings. This, along with my total lack of being able to discuss the merits of menstruation (!), have led me to believe that the Lord gave me three sons to heal a woundedness in my heart.
Going forward while Doing Hard Things
In my next post, I will share things I’m learning while Doing Hard Things and some of the dearest moments at my grandma’s service. Thanks for listening.