Yesterday afternoon, I spoke at length with a friend in California. It’s been almost 30 years since I worked for her husband, George.
Two months ago, George stumbled while mowing the yard and subsequent check-ups found him suffering due to an inoperable tumor, brain cancer. He’s not likely to make it through the week. But for a little while, we laughed and I shared stories of what a bear he was to work for at first. How could he have known he had met his match when he hired me, that his gruff exterior would be worn away by a girl with different beliefs and hand-me-down boots?
It seemed to fit. This past week has been a time of extreme tenderness for me. My father was moved to a hospital near to my house, where he stayed for more than a week as doctors worked to rid him of an infection that was not only hindering his healing, but negating his ability to communicate effectively about what was hurting. Whispers couldn’t be interpreted and many a tear was shed over something that might have been nothing – words no one could understand.
And there was laughter as well – an evening when my father recognized neither me or my sister, and surely fell in love with both of us as we cared for his aches and washed his tired eyes.
Writing has been something on my mind, but left to the margin of most of my days.
Early one morning, I scribbled on my hand as I sat upright beside my daddy’s bed, listening to his breathing, my breathing….the same. But by the time I got home, the words were gone – worn to grey, and lost to the illusion of sleep.
Yet, I knew what I wanted to say, what I knew was mine to tell….that this is our treasure. These moments, regardless of how fragile they might seem, are the very threads that sew us together.
A well-meaning friend recently commented that when his father was ill, he had to ‘limit’ the time spent with him, and I wondered how in the world that was possible, and why in the world it would ever be a consideration. What blessings are negated for the comfort of a tv and a remote control……
Surely, we are always wishing for better days, for healing and hope and longevity. But at the heart of living is something deeper than what we know – that this one shining (glimmering) moment is divine, and all we have assurance of. We cannot expect even one more day or one more morning when the fish are biting and the air is cool, when the mourning doves scuttle across rusty tile, and truth shines through our window as bright as the day we were born.
So, when it comes, in clothes we do not recognize and eyes deeper than the sun is blue, let us not look away for even a moment. Let us never be fooled into believing that tears are anything less than glory, reminders of love we cannot lose, joys we have held closer than the stars.
This is our story, our forever, our inheritance. When all is gone, this is what we have. Time when nothing else mattered but the warmth of a hand in ours, lips that whispered our name, and the quiet still just before dawn.
the aging wheat
and lay the seed aside
so that the sun
these tears again
tend our hearts
within the joy
we knew would come this way
mornings left us
side by side
how could we then
have known of this –
of other blessings come
of stories yet untold
I listen now
to hear them mend
a tired soul
reminders of the road
miles before and someday
here I’ll be
bless these willing hands
let me take of all
. . .