Ever seen these blocks before? There used to be more. There still are, somewhere, but my children have scattered them all over our house right now.
When I first played with these, they were kept in a cabinet in my grandparents' RV, specifically for the grandchildren to enjoy whenever they traveled to our houses. Along with these was a Mr. Potato Head and an Etch-a-sketch, along with probably one or two other things. I have such fond memories of these.
As we were going through things at my grandparents' house, each claiming a few items that meant something to us or that we had always loved, I was having trouble deciding what I wanted. After all, how does a person go about picking which item says "Grandma and Grandpa" to her? I got a beautiful painting that was on the living room wall, a few of Grandma's tea cups, one of the old army cots we used to sleep on when all there together, and these blocks. It almost seems silly, but I have so many memories of playing with things like this only with them.
As my children started to get restless on the 10 hour trip home a couple weeks ago, I passed these back to them. My daughter was seriously occupied for almost an hour! There's nothing really special about them. They're just pieces of plastic that fit together in a myriad of ways. But something that is over 20 years old (I won't think about it being probably even older than that because then I'd feel old, too) was suddenly like new again.
Just like the one who used to own these is also "new" again, enjoying her eternal reward. Huh. Maybe it wasn't that silly of me to grab these blocks.
The grandmother I just lost was basically who I want to be like "when I grow up." She had a strong faith in God, taught Bible classes from cradle roll all the way up to the ladies, helped with PTO and led girl scouts, raised four children, loved her husband longer than the 66 years they were married, took care of people in just about every way possible, from cooking to sewing to taking them into her home and treating them like family. She was an amazing cook, a phenomenal seamstress, crafty, frugal, and had a green thumb I will always be jealous of. Most of all, she LOVED. Family, friends, or strangers -- if you met Reba, you were pretty much immediately loved.
As several of my cousins were speaking at her funeral the other day, they listed several things she had taught them (add yeast to the roll recipe, keep your wife happy, "if the dust bothers you, here's a rag and you can take care of it," "no cookies before dinner," dress nicely for worship and you better behave or her pinch would make sure you did, if it's important to you it was important to her). We always ended up in the kitchen because we knew there was a good likelihood of snitching a bite of something as she cooked. Or we would sit and play with scraps of fabric in the sewing room floor while she worked on whatever project she had going at the time. Grandpa would come in with some cut or scrape from whatever he'd been doing and she'd patch him up so he could go do again. And she missed him like crazy these last almost five years. Her favorite grandchild was whichever was in her lap at the moment. She loved us all and had the pictures to show anyone who might ask.
My dad, in his words at the funeral, described her as being like Tabitha in the Bible. Acts 9:36 says, "Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity." And in verse 39, after she had died, it says "And when he [Peter] arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them." My Grandma definitely was known for her sewing (in fact, we all displayed quilts she had made us at the funeral). She could look at pictures in a magazine of what her daughters wanted, and pull together several different patterns to make something that looked about the same. She quilted, knit, crocheted, and dabbled in several other crafty things. She taught me to crochet in high school (hold the hook like a pencil), and in college taught me to hide my knots and take tiny stitches in a quilt. It's hard for me to imagine not quilting by hand because of her.
There were times we would visit and find someone else living in the house because she needed a place to stay so my grandparents took her in. My oldest cousin said she taught him, "We have to love them even when they sin." Yes.
She's gone now. But she's not. Because she left so much of her with us. As I have been piecing a quilt this week for my son's big boy bed (he'll probably move to it next year, ready or not), she's been on my mind. Hopefully, I can keep all these little pieces of her tucked away inside me to help me grow into someone who other people will one day was like Tabitha -- "full of good works and acts of charity." Sounds like a good Proverbs 31 woman to me.
My Grandma Reba passed away last Friday. She died peacefully in her sleep at the ripe age of 88. She left behind 4 children, 4 children-in-law, 13 grandchildren, 10 grandchildren-in-law, and 19 great-grandchildren with another on the way. Her legacy is rich indeed. She was my last living grandparent. Now, they are all waiting for me in Heaven. I will see them again someday, but that doesn't keep it from hurting some now.
Sunday, we started our long trek to Oklahoma for one last time. The town she lived in for the last 60 or so years is one of the few places on earth that I have considered Home. Moving around so many times during my growing up years, it was a constant in my life. We visited there at least once or twice a year. It was definitely a bittersweet trip. And I know that really no place on earth should hold us so much that we would rather be there than in Heaven someday, but it was nice to feel like I had at least shallow roots somewhere. It was also one of the last times I'll probably see that many of my cousins again -- all but one of us made it with our families. People everywhere! But it was so nice because several of them I hadn't seen since my Grandpa's funeral almost five years before. Now, without our grandparents to be the magnet to draw us back, we'll have to work even harder to get together again.
Another day, maybe next week, I'm going to tell you more about my amazing grandmother. Today, I just wanted to let you know that my heart is fighting through the sadness, remembering the happiness, and looking forward to the next time I can see my loved ones again.
This rainbow showed up in front of us as we left my "hometown" Wednesday. I had been starting to cry as the reality of everything sank in even further. And God reminded me. If He can keep His promise to never flood the earth again. He can keep His promise that we'll all be together again, too. It doesn't keep us from missing those already there. But it gives us something to look forward to.
I catch myself taking a lot of things for granted. I take it for granted that my parents are around to ask advice or talk things through. I take it for granted that I have two beautiful children who are in really good health (something I never thought I would do considering how long it took us to have them). I take it for granted that my husband will kiss me good-bye every morning and good-night every evening. I take it for granted that we have electricity and water and shelter and food. Do you?
My husband and I will celebrate fourteen years of marriage this June. It's not that many, really. My maternal grandparents were married 66 years before my grandfather passed away. My parents hit 37 in March. My in-laws would have celebrated 40 years last January. And yet, I have so many friends and people I know who haven't even made it to fourteen years. Some of them didn't make it five or ten.
I read a story online about a couple who decided they were going to get a divorce and all of their friends and family told them, "no" and made them work it out. And they are stronger and better now because of it. It made me want to write a novel about a similar situation. I think I may title it "For better or worse or granted." Because every time I hear of another couple divorcing, it makes me aware of just how blessed I am that my husband and I made a pact before marriage that divorce wasn't ever going to be an option. And I don't need to take that or him for granted. Don't get me wrong. My marriage isn't perfect. Whatever perfect means. But, I am blessed indeed.
Do you take things for granted? Want to join me in being more aware of it and NOT taking things, especially our spouse, for granted as much? Let's all remember how blessed we are.
This is a place for me to share thoughts and ideas not just related to writing. Thoughts about what's going on in my life, about an idea I got that I thought shareworthy, or just a funny anecdote.