Lessons of Love

Oh, such lessons of love I see. Oh, dear sons and daughters, please pay attention.
As I prepare things for Mom’s bath, I hear Dad talking to Mom as they cuddle on the love seat. He says, “You’re my sweetheart and I love you big bunches!”
“Is that so?”
“We’ve been married for almost 59 years now. I met you just about this time, 59 years ago and you’ve been my sweetheart ever since!”
“Oh, my goodness!” Mom replies.
“And I love you big, big bunches!”
“I like you,” Mom answers.

Dad starts singing “Amazing Grace” as I finish getting things ready. I manage to get through The Battle of the Bath. It’s not pretty, but it never is. And then Mom, all clean and fresh in her flannel nightgown, finds Dad again. And after I clean things up I join them in the living room.

We watch the end of the news and chat a bit, and then Lawrence Welk comes on. It’s an old, black and white episode. And I sit there watching Dad concentrating on his beloved show, his arm lying across Mom’s lap, his hand near her knee. And I see Mom, leaning close up against him with her damp hair, as she strokes and pats his arm.

And it is such a picture of sweetness that my heart and eyes overflow.

And I think of one son, recently married. And of another son planning his wedding. And of sons and daughters yet to come to that point in life. And I want them to be with me right at this moment. I want them to look at their grandparents and see real love for what it is. I want them to “get it.”

I want them to understand that strength can falter, eyes may grow dim with age, and beauty will fade. But love keeps going. Love can keep growing even as legs get weak, and shoulders bow, and memories disappear.

Love can survive your spouse not knowing your name. Love can overcome dementia and Depends and the darkness of blindness.

And so I pray for my children. And I tell my daughters, when you look at a guy pay attention to how he treats his mom and sisters. That is a great indicator of how he will treat you. And I tell my sons, pay attention to how a girl treats her Dad and brothers.

And I tell them all—find someone who loves God. Who really, really loves God.

And now I want to tell each of them….look at your grand-parents. And if you are ever tempted to divorce, think about them and all they’ve been through. And know that marriage can get sweeter with time and grow more precious with history. And love can last through everything with Jesus.

And someday, if the Lord tarries long enough, I hope you will be cuddling on a love seat with your dear one, after 59 years of marriage, singing “Amazing Grace.”

(Watching Lawrence Welk is optional.)

You’re Better by Me

Mama and I had a long cuddle on the loveseat today. And the memories we made are honey to my soul…

I sit down next to Mom, and she folds her hands around my arm, and says, “You’re better by me.” And I smile.

Then she says, “Where’s your butter?” And I chuckle.

She lays her head on my shoulder for just a second, and then she picks her head up again and cheerfully says, “That was a lot of fun.” And I think—who could make this up? She’s so cute.

She taps my leg and says, “You’re nice.”
“Aw-w,” I say. “I love you, Mama.”
“I love you, too,” she answers.

She chatters nonsensical words and questions interspersed with real words. I sing some of our songs. She taps my arm and rests her head on my shoulder and then eventually gets very quiet and peaceful.

So I just relax and soak in the soft sweetness. And I know Mama’s right when she says, “You’re better by me.”

And it’s just where I want to be.

Sunny Days

I’ve been sick and haven’t been to see my folks for a week.  But I’ve had times in the week when I’ve felt well enough to scan some slides, and so memories of childhood have been peeking at me…making me smile…reminding me of sunny days…

I saw pictures of Mama laughing with her babies and cuddling them. I saw her at her sewing machine creating things. I saw her providing picnics and birthday parties. I saw her smiling and beautiful. I saw her alert and intelligent looking, loving and blessing her family.

Dad is blind and can’t see the pictures obviously, but he loves to hear about the slides and the memories. So I called him and tried to describe them to him. And while I was talking Mama was hollering near the phone on the other end.

She was sitting next to Dad and almost drowning me out, shouting, “Mama! I want Mama! Raymon, where are you?” And in-between shouts, she’d say quiet, irrelevant things like, “I guess so. Okay. Where is it?”

She kept repeating the irrational shouting and talking during our whole conversation. It doesn’t surprise me. It’s just the way she is now. We will check and make sure she’s dry. We’ll offer her a snack or drink, in case something is bothering her that she can’t communicate. But often, we never figure out why she’s agitated.

I’m used to her acting like this, but it stood out to me this week. It stood out to me in sharp contrast to the pictures I was looking at. The photos are a fresh reminder of the mama that was. And I’m struck by how blessed we were and how much I took for granted.

And I wish I could run back into one of those photos—like an “Our Town” moment—and give Mom a big hug. And I’d tell her how amazing and beautiful she is and how blessed I am to have her as my mom. I would thank her for sewing and cooking and caring and listening. I would tell her how sorry I was for all the times I didn’t appreciate her or was rude.

I would sit at dinner and relish every bite of her cooking. I would ask her to look in my eyes and say my name and I’d know that she knew me. And I’d know that she knew I was her daughter and she was my mom. I would ask her stories of her childhood and record them. I would ask her for stories of my childhood and do the same.

And I choke up thinking about this all. And then I think, I don’t need an “Our Town” moment. Because I will have heaven for eternity.  And all who know Jesus will be restored. And the glory of God will be our light and give us the sunniest days ever.