One of the most wonderful things about having Mother here with us since her stroke in mid-June is the sparkle we see when she is watching or interacting with her great-grandchildren. On Wednesday afternoon, our son John, his wife Audra, and their son Henry arrived for an extra-long Labor Day weekend. We spent our first few hours enjoying simple pleasures: holding and playing with Henry, going out to eat at the new restaurant on our town square (We have eaten there already with the other children and grandchildren, but this was our first opportunity with John and his family. We can hardly believe that we have this delicious restaurant with its very own Irish chef–like from Ireland–in a beautifully restored historic building in our sleepy little town of 962. Can you tell I’m excited?), going to church, and then coming back home to relax.
After church Mother and Henry played with blocks. When she and I sat down for our nightly ritual of two episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, Henry joined us in the little rocking chair that my parents gave our daughter Mary Evelyn when she was a baby.
Mary Evelyn, her husband Nate, and their daughter Clara are at our house from a few minutes to several hours just about every day, since we work together (and play together and are part of the same church). Every minute is a joy. Our daughter Bethany, her husband Gregory, and their daughter Eva recently moved to northern Georgia, so we’ve gotten to enjoy their company much more this summer. They’ve been here to stay with us twice and, earlier this week, Mother, Ray, and I went to their house for a couple of days of unpacking. I’m thankful that Mother gets to experience our family in this new way.
I am blessed that Mother can do all of her own personal care. Sure, there are things that take time–doctor appointments and therapy, for example. Ray and I can’t hop in the car together and run to the store or even take a walk away from the house (we’ve learned to get our exercise on the driveway, which works just fine). Challenging times in the past have given me perspective which has made this easier. When Ray’s dad lived with us for his last seven years on earth we were still homeschooling, and his needs increased over time until he could do very little without assistance. The stress was heavy, and I let it get to me; I would handle it very differently if I could do it over again. However, even with the challenges, the inter-generational joys were many. I’m thankful I got to know Ray’s dad in a way that can only happen when you live together day after day.
The important thing right now is that four generations are enjoying those simple pleasures. I enjoy the two generation times, too, like when Mother and I are in front of the television with Andy and Barney. I normally don’t watch TV, but I’m enjoying the Mayberry antics with Mother. I’m even sewing on the Christmas quilt that I started, oh, probably eight or nine years ago, while we watch. My to-do list is as long as it has ever been, maybe longer, and I have writing projects I’m aching to spend more time on, but these are the days I’m living, and I’ve got to live them right now.
Grandchildren are the crown of old men,
And the glory of sons is their fathers.
Proverbs 17:6, NASB