Marriage & Family
Heaven just got a little sweeter.
In the sacred, sober days leading up to Grandma’s passing, the veil between the present and eternity became very thin. Time stood still and we watched the things of earth grow dim as she was ushered into glory! Even through our tears, we celebrate that she has shed this shell of a body and has passed from glory to glory, being welcomed into the arms of her loving Lord who I know has now spoken, “well done my good and faithful servant!” Hers was a life well lived and well loved. The lifelong devotion of my sweet grandpa whom she’s known since childhood. 2 children. 11 grandchildren. 17 great grandchildren. What a legacy she has left!
“Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints. ” (Psalm 116:15)
What a woman. What a saint!
My own mother has often said that “sweet old ladies don’t come from crochety young women“. And its true. Our flaws are compounded as we age and our polished techniques of disguising our true colors become tarnished. The “real” us percolates to the top when our bodies grow tired or we face pain or heartache or loss. Grandma has had her share of each. Her life has been anything but easy and yet, none of us can remember Grandma with any expression other than a perpetual smile radiating on her face. Arthritis has wrought her hardworking hands for years, and still she’s served us pies and baked apples and homemade noodles every Christmas and Thanksgiving up to this, her 93rd holiday! Cancer has wracked her body in recent years, yet we’ve never heard her complain. Her fierce devotion for the lifetime of her disabled daughter set an amazing example to the rest of us. The mothering of my own daddy which contributed to the man of character that he is, shows some amazing parenting. And her loving marriage that has stood the test of time and weathered wartime separation, hard years of farming and raising two children goes down in my book as the greatest love story Ive ever personally witnessed. She has been well loved by this man who knew he’d found a remarkable woman when he married her 74 years ago.
Her happiness was not circumstantial. Her joy came from an internal beauty….the unfading beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit which is precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:4) Its an excuse to say that we are byproducts of our circumstances because she’s exemplified so much grace and poise in spite of life circumstances that have not been easy.
Even as cancer has taken its final toll on her body in the last days leading up to her death, she never lost her dignity. Her countenance and demeanor still possessed the grace, joy, peace and gentleness that we all love about her. As bodily functions began to shut down, her genuine sweet-to-the-bone temperament continued to seep out. I hear she was still thanking nurses and apologizing for troubling them up to the morning of her passing.
God was gentle in taking her….at peace, without a long struggle, in the company of those who love her, just as we had prayed. And as pained as we are to see one so loved taken from us, Evie said it best “Why are you crying mommy, she’s with Jesus and thats the best thing“.
And its true! Where oh death is your sting? Absence from the body is presence with Christ! For those in Christ, we have the assurance that this is not the end. Our lives here are temporal. Fleeting. This world is not our home. Because of the penalty for sin that Jesus paid on the cross, death does not have the final word. New life is ours in Christ. Our hope is secure. Our home is in heaven! Cant imagine facing death or witnessing the death of a loved one without that unshakable assurance.
Grieving hard here tonight in the quiet of my home. C is out of the country this week and the littles are sleeping. Feeling the distance acutely as extended family gathers and commemorates her life together this week and we are a world away with time marching on as usual. Aching for that closure of collective time to remember and reminisce and offer support to my siblings and parents and grandpa. But I smile through the tears as I imagine the reality that is hers. I had mother whisper to her yesterday that I have two babies in heaven waiting for her to hold them!
Perhaps we’ll have to do some commemorating of our own today and bake a pie in her honor!
“Her children arise and call her blessed. Her husband also and he praises her” (Proverbs 31:28)
So grateful for the gift of so many years we’ve been blessed with to love and be loved and learn from this beautiful godly woman!
Happy Homegoing sweet Grandma.
Im deeply and emotionally tied to them. For just about every holiday, there are things you can count on in our home. Dishes that will be prepared. Books that will be read. Aunt Marvels bread recipe will always be used to make a tea-ring to be served on Christmas morning. Just-so, with maraschino cherries decorating it looking like holly berries.
Our Advent Calendar will have a special activity we do as a family every day in December.
Each kid gets a breakfast date with daddy every birthday.
Jack-o-lantern cookies are decorated every October.
Everything from back-to-school shopping to vacation rituals to holiday habits to bedtime routines. We make a big fuss out of small stuff around here. Anticipation is half the fun and I love to play it up. My kids eagerly wake every Saturday knowing they can count on pancakes for breakfast. I have a childhood happily seeped in traditions as well. There was a beautiful security in memories that you know will resurface year-after-year. Season after season. Holiday after holiday. In fact, my big brawny daddy used to do a Fiddler on the Roof “Tradition” impersonation of Tevye. Mother worked hard to make insignificant days special and to celebrate the ordinary. Aside from the cheesy 1950’s Pat Boon Christmas album that would surface the first of December, we loved the rituals and sights and sounds of the season that we knew we could count on! And I embraced the notion that tradition meant I was offering my kids a stable, secure, happy childhood.
Which is all well and good until the tie to traditions interferes with harmony in the home. Im prone to measure my worth as a mom by my ability to create lasting memories out of every. single. event. And when I fail to pull off a tradition or miss an opportunity, I feel like a failure! And here’s the thing about traditions….the more of them you have, the more opportunity to break them and feel awful! Its a bit counter productive when tradition and perfectionism and my sin nature get muddled up and bring out the inner “Scrooge” or “Grinch” in me!
Life is busy. Demands are many. Time is short. Which in some ways has driven me even further into my compulsion to cling to those traditions that give me a sense of accomplishment that at least Im getting something right. But our life now is not the secure, stable, suburbia family I was raised in. Our crazy, traveling, gypsies, unconventional, lifestyle as a family of 8 living in big-city Bangkok is going to be characterized by some chaos and creativity will be necessary to create lasting memories. The memories my children have of their childhood may look very different from year-to-year. When traditions stress your husband out and when you’re not fully present as a wife and mom because you’re gritting your teeth and white-knuckling it so hard to make things “memorable” (goshdarnit!) , then perhaps…..just maybe….things are out of balance. When tradition sabotages my stability and threatens my joy, its time to reevaluate. Ive been guilty so many times of ruining perfectly fun moments because I want to capture a PICTURE of the fun. What usually results? An image of unhappy kiddos who have been interrupted…..a mom who is cross that no one is smiling…..and usually a cooking project gone wrong because Ive brought progress to a screeching halt for that perfect picture.
C is often the voice of reason in my head reminding me that its ok to take an occasional short cut if it means keeping my sanity intact. Im finding its ok to strive for traditions as long as Im not going to come unraveled if it doesn’t work out. People, not polished perfection is what I want memories to revolve around.
My blogging strike as of late has been in part because Ive had nothing terribly newsworthy to share. Ive been trying to be more present, more engaged, and more fun and less fuss! Im breaking tradition:
~This year, the tree was up before Thanksgiving (gasp!) because we had time…..and why not?
~We didnt prepare turkey at home for Thanksgiving, but ordered one, pre-made. (for one thing, turkeys are few and far between to be found here…..but Im not regretting for a moment the time and mess it saved to just be able to go pick it up piping hot and ready to eat!)
~We’re not making a homemade gingerbread village like we have in past years, we’re cheating and creating graham cracker “gingerbread” houses. There will be other years for intricate 3 story gingerbread houses with melted lollipop stained glass windows…..but not this year. I want to enjoy the scads of sprinkles and royal icing-royal mess!
~We have no family Christmas picture and are not sending out a Christmas card this year. This kills me people, but getting everyone in coordinating clothes and to a location that doesn’t have a city-scape construction site in the background would take a Christmas miracle!
~ Our decorations this year are homespun. No fancy complicated craft projects or elaborate centerpieces. Nothing the kids can’t help create. Nothing Im going to get upset over if they flop.
There’s no shame in taking shortcuts. Making memories and having fun is still the end result, but you can shave off a lot of stress and time when things are perhaps not quite Pinterest-worthy. Some of my expectations are being revised to make room for a little more margin in our life. I want to say “yes” when Gigi wants to read the same Christmas book for the 10th time that day!
Ecclesiastes 7:10 – “Do not say “Why were the old days better than these” for it is not wise to ask such questions.”
Im aiming to live in the moment. To set aside my expectations and rituals that will interfere with just be-ing together. I love that my kids embrace traditions, but I also value that they are adaptable and flexible. Things their mommy is trying to learn to be.
And with that said, here are some very unpolished, mostly phone-snapped-photos of our holiday thus far.
Finding time for the things that matter….kids Skyping their 94 year old grandparents – priceless!
Its my least favorite of all holidays.
Halloween ushers in fall. This southern girl hates cold weather. I utterly loathe being scared. I don’t particularly appreciate the ramifications of limitless sugar in the house. And, I despise the color orange! So every year, it pretty much boils down to us rummage through the dress up drawer and piecing together a costume. There is no shortage of tutus and tiaras at our house, so theres always something to choose from.
Here even more so…. In an Asian community apartment complex, there’s not a lot of neighborly trick-or-treating going on. Pumpkin carving is out because the only pumpkins we’ve located here had a heavy price tag of 2,500 baht on it (about $75!!). But, as this years holiday drew close, the kids had grandiose expectations about their disguise with Halloween events scheduled at school.
Slightly begrudgingly, I went out on October 30th to the only costume store I knew of….an overpriced hole-in-the-wall with a 50% off price tag on an Elsa dress. With the discount, the imported gown would have “only” been $65!! (Sorry Evie….not gonna happen!)
I texted Tristan to talk him through the pre-teen boy options.
“No, I was that 2 years ago”
“Nah….thats ok mom”
(…….want to guess who woke up Halloween morning and decided they didnt want to dress up?)
Abi on the other hand didnt plan to dress up. That is until about 9:00 the night before Halloween.
“I know what I want to be! Lets make a Maleficent costume!”
(Sure Abi, let me just wave my fairy-godmother magic wand and that’ll materialize right away) 🙂
Oh, she is SO my daughter. Lets wait until the last minute and then not only do it, but do it big!! (Bless her future husband!)
And being the
sensible mother that I am, I totally thought it was a brilliant idea 🙂 . Im not going to lie, I didnt really mind. Because honestly, how many more years is this sweet girl going to let me make her halloween costume? I know my days are numbered!
A headband, two styrofoam cups, aluminum foil, wire coat hanger, an old ratty black Tshirt, a glue gun (3 burned, blistered fingers) and 2 hours later, we had our finished product. I think she nailed it!
And then there is Gigi’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impersonation…..
A Cherubic Angel on Friday…
And a little devil on Saturday….pretty much sums up Gigi at a glance 🙂
This girl. My Evie….the child who spent her toddlerhood terrified of anyone who came at her in scrubs! My baby who celebrated her first birthday in the hospital and has had more blood draws than I can count.
Evie salutes the wonderful nurses and caretakers who loved on her those first tumultuous years. We thank God for the sweet nurses at Lexington, Richland and MUSC that she now adores!! Evie won a costume contest wearing this little number and landed herself a nice gift certificate to sports camp! Woop woop.
Britain as a witch and Izzy as an Indian princess. How I love the diversity among these sweet sisters. Lucky girls to have each other and to share life together!
And now………let the negotiations begin!