This morning I took a shower in my Mema’s house, probably for the last time. It’s funny how things hit you sometimes. For the last couple of weekends, we have been working to clean out Mema’s house since she doesn’t need any of this stuff in heaven. 🙂 The 9 months since her death have been eventful, to be sure. My Mom has the most stories to tell. This season has been a most difficult one in her life. She has been an absolute ROCK star! She takes after her mother.
Mema was practical, seemingly unbreakable. She took the crap that life handed her and dealt with it head on. She was tough, but gentle. She ALWAYS took care of the people around her. She never stopped. She worked, and worked, and worked, and loved and loved and loved. She was a phenomenal care-giver. She loved fully. She gave completely. We saw her generosity to us, but now realize we have seen only a glimpse of the far-reaching extent of her generosity. In fact, there were a lot of things about her we are discovering the depth of only now.
“Generous,” “loving,” “practical,” “long-suffering,” “wise,” “dependable,” “strong,” “private,” “discerning,” “hard-working,” “persevering,”– all words that describe Mema. In fact, as I type these words, I can’t help but think of the “Love Chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13. She embodied that passage like no one else I’ve ever known.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
So here I sit. After a lifetime of visiting Mema’s house, we are down to the last time: the last time I sat at her table to eat with extended family, the last time of sitting in her den reading one of her books, the last time taking a shower at her house. It hurts my heart. We often don’t know when something is happening for the last time until we look back. In the last weeks of her life, every time we left her, we wondered if it was the last time. And then it was. A diagnosis of cancer or other disease makes you aware that each life event, each holiday, each good-bye may be the last time with a loved one. Yet oftentimes, we experience last events without that awareness. This is probably a good thing. Would we fully embrace the joy of the moment if there was grief hanging over it?
No. We don’t need to borrow tomorrow’s grief in today’s celebration. Mema wouldn’t want that.
Even in this last time, Mema’s practicality helps to bring laughter through the tears. As the sadness washed over me with the water this morning, the shower curtain rings caught my eye. I couldn’t help but giggle. What would you do if the best placement of the shower curtain rod caused too big of a gap at the bottom of the curtain? Mema just added another row of curtain rings to the existing curtain rings. Fixed for less than a dollar. I swear that woman could have been the original author of all the “life-hack” videos and lists we’ve seen on social media.
God, please give me just a portion of her spirit and wisdom. I KNOW it came from YOU. Amen!