Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why I Never Needed to be Empowered.

My Papa did slip away yesterday.  But not before my mama read my letter to him.  In the state he received it, did he hear it?  I'm not really sure.  I like to think so. 

Which brings me to today.  Why do we often wait until it's too late to realize that we should have said the things we wanted to?

I've decided to take that challenge today.  This letter is to my Anna.  My grandmother that is the match to my Papa I wrote to on Tuesday.

To My Dear Anna~

Let's start there, shall we?

My Anna (pronounced 'Ah-nah') chose her own grandmother name WAY before it was cool.  Now everybody is doing it.  And that is an excellent segway into her essence...

My Anna was an empowered woman before it was cool.  She was a missionary to Africa, she carried spears.  She had a baby in the middle of nowhere by the headlights of a car.  She knew insanely long patriotic poems by heart...and didn't just recite them by memory, she spoke them with passion and fire!

It never occurred to me that I couldn't do anything I wanted to do with my life, because she could do anything.  She was strong.  Physically, emotionally, and mentally.  She could manage any crisis.

If my Papa was the peaceful, cool waters of life, my Anna was the fire and passion in life.  They were a truly matched set.  They were the perfect balance.  My Papa knew what to say to soothe your soul.  My Anna always knows what to do to smooth your path.  She has the organization and the charisma to get ANYTHING done.  Her personality has always been an all encompassing force of nature. 

She knows how to appreciate the quality of something fine.  And yet, that woman knows how to find a deal.  She has always decorated a beautiful home, she plans a gorgeous gardens, she sets an amazing table.  She cooks beautifully and deliciously.  Her bread is still what I aspire to.

She taught a special needs, self-contained classroom for years, almost 40.  (Before everything was considered a syndrome.)  She expected...No...She DEMANDED their best.  She demanded that they perform past their disabilities.  There were no excuses.  They were NOT allowed to use their disabilities as an excuse to dodge out of anything.  They were expected to fight and use their abilities to show the world that they were the quality people she knew they were.

My Anna has always been a prolific letter writer.  She has a brilliant command of the English language.  She uses words like instruments to construct truly complex thoughts.  She uses words to their fullest capacity.  She loves them...and has passed that love affair with the words themselves to multiple generations.  My mother.  Myself.  My children.

My Anna is a beautiful musician.  She can make the music say things to your heart.  She showed me though her own passion that classical music could speak every language...and had the deepest of souls...  And the hymns....she always added depth to their music!  It wasn't until I was older that I appreciated how much musical orchestration she adds to their simple structures.

She does not sit by and allow life to happen.  She has always been involved and educated in politics.  She types with mind-numbing speed.  She joined the technological age with enthusiasm.  Unlike many of her peers, she embraced the internet for its information and its social opportunities.  She taught herself, she tutored her friends, she utilizes it for all its strengths...

Anna walked with gusto and power every night for years.  Even Hurricane Gloria wouldn't dare to stop her.  And even when it broke her arm, it certainly proved that it couldn't slow her down.

She has always taken it upon herself to make everyone the best they could be.  She expected, demanded, and encouraged everyone's best.  She has worked so hard for so long... 

I find myself hoping that now that she doesn't need to care for Papa that she will take a little bit of time to care for herself.  To smoothe out her own corners and needs. To maybe go back to writing, and books... To sit and talk to Jesus. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

to ticking clocks

My Papa is slipping away...we don't know how long...but he is going to successfully escape to his beloved Jesus...soon...

Dear Papa~

You come to mind every, every time I see the play, Our Town, by Thornton Wilder...there are so many phrases that speak to my memories of you...

“We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.

-stage manager, in the play OUR TOWN”
Thornton Wilder, Our Town

"Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover's Corners... Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking... and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths...and sleeping and waking up..."
-Emily, Our Town

When I was little, you somehow had charge of me when we went to your house, and when we met at the Clossers...I always somehow assumed that we fell in together because neither of us had any overwhelming purpose in the kitchen or preparing the house for visitors...but I LOVED the took me me on walks where plant names were like the names of friends I was introduced to...we would go berry picking for hours...we came back with less than half of what we helped me find all the pretty weeds for my "flower" bouquets...

You shared books...OH, THE BOOKS!!!  You read to me in your lilting voice for even more hours than I could say...  They smelled of adventure and rejoicing and simple years gone by!  They were full of stories of the same...maybe that is why that's how they smell to me.  I was fascinated by the fact that you wrote not only your name on the fly leaves of your books, but the dates on which you completed reading them...each time...who gave them to you was always also inscribed...

You made poetry beautiful and natural to was never stilted when you read it to made it soothing and a natural outpouring of your heart.  It was as beautiful as if you set your pen to paper and wrote it yourself.

Your clocks were beautiful.  You thrilled me with all the minuscule pieces that you magically crafted into technical works of art.  The hundreds of cubbies of ridiculously confusing, fairy wrought, and ultimately useful tools made time somehow more precious.  More mysterious.  More of a treasure.  We slept in your clock room whenever we came to your house...and the ticking became poetry and music in it's own right.  I still cannot hear a clock that actually ticks without being transported back to street-lights pouring through the stained glass and the thunderous sound of TIME...and how very fast it seemed to go...

You lived simply.  You lived appreciatively.  You lived peacefully.  You gave all of your attention to me whether I was 3 or 30.  You treated me no differently.  And I know this is why you were a good pastor.  You allowed God to flow through you simply.  It was never more complex than it needed to be.  You went to seminary and allowed it to color the reverence of the words you used to speak to the God of the Universe, but you believed like a child.  You treasured it like a child.  You shared it just as simply.  Full of wonder and questions.  And peace.

I am a blessed woman that I knew you and loved you.  That I have have your books, your clocks, and your peace with questions.  That I have the memories I do.

I assure you that if you knew it was me, nothing could keep me from coming to pet your hand, and stroke your forehead...but I feel that I said good-by back before you fell into the back of your mind...when I saw that was what had happened, my only comfort was that I knew you were in good company...between Jesus and the poetry...I knew that there would be no dark or fear, only peace...

I love you so very much.  And may your passing be just as simple and full of peace.

And may the ticking of your clocks remind me that the moments that are the treasures...until the end of time...