Chasing Contentment

Friday, December 3

On Wednesday evening, we took the boys and girls missions classes from church to one of the local nursing homes for caroling. As the choir leaders got the children settled in the front of the gathering room, most of the adult chaperones stood at the back of the room, giving the residents plenty of space to assemble. I noticed a nurse accompanying an eldery couple to the caroling. The little man, a tiny little whisp of a man, was leaning on his wife's electric wheelchair as if he was pushing her. He took a seat next to her wheelchair, and they held hands. And I was taken by that simple gesture. And I thought about how I hope Mike and I have the priviledge of being old together.

And I thought of my Bud and Gran, of how I'd expected them to be that way. And without any warning, I had tears in my eyes. I literally thought I would have to leave the room. I had always expected them to be together forever. When I was a child, I assumed they were already old, and I didn't have any comprehension of the fact that they would continue to get older. Or that one or both of them would die. When I got older and understood those facts, I certainly never expected it would be my Gran who went to be with her Lord first.

They were different from my parents and my other set of grandparents. They were less indulgent of John and me in some ways and yet gave us far more freedom in other ways. I remember summers down at their A-frame house near the lake. We slept without air conditioning, listening to the drone of the huge attic fan above us. We got up each morning and put on clean swimsuits, fresh from the clothesline out back. I can't recall a summer where I wore anything but a swimsuit at their house. Gran let me pick fresh veggies from her garden down the hill, and I spent endless hours lying on an inflatable raft on the lake. I can remember eating an apple on that raft so I could say I had lunch but didn't have to leave the water.

It was fresh and lazy and perfect. And the two of them always treated us as if we were intelligent little people. And they never hid their obvious affection for one another. They laughed and joke and teased and touched, and I can always remember wanting a love like that.

Now, they both had flaws that I didn't see as a child. But I always adored them, even today. And it surprises me at the times when I miss my Gran, like the other evening. I was thinking how she would have loved an event like that. She bought herself an organ when she retired - for the second time - and took lessons for as long as I could remember. She would have loved caroling.

And as I thought about her, I thought about how she never met our Eliza and how she would have loved that slip of a baby. And I think about how Eliza is going to miss out on knowing her great-grandmother (and her paternal grandmother, for that matter), and I feel sad for Eliza because she's not getting the opportunity to know these amazing women who helped to shape her mother and father's lives. And I think about my ailing grandfather, and I am even sadder at the notion that he is still alive and with us in body but not in mind or spirit. And I feel sad for Eliza because she won't have the opportunity to him the way I did either. And when I think of him ... in the way I see him in my mind... strong, masculine, funny ... I smile. And I wish she had the opportunity to smile at the notion of him, too.

And so the other evening, as I got into my car to go home, I drove through our little town with all of the angels lighting Main Street between the church and our house, and I cried all the way home.

[  posted by Chel on Friday, December 03, 2004  ]


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