I’ve been thinking about Good-byes a lot recently. This weekend we said good-bye to our refrigerator, dated “1994” if I researched it correctly (it came with our house), the first major appliance Daniel and I had to replace since we got married. Three years ago at about this time I said good-bye to my sister-in-law.
This past weekend I said good-bye to one of my grandmothers. My grandmother’s seven children gathered with their sons and daughters and their sons and daughters to say good-bye to one of the most gracious and loving women I’ve known.
I was asked to share memories about my grandmother with the eldest grandchild who gave a tribute at the memorial service. It is much to my embarrassment that I have the memory of a goldfish. Generally speaking, if I don’t have a picture of an event, I’m likely not to remember it, especially not the nitty-gritty details. (Why do you think I have a blog? So I can remember the details of my life.)
And so my memories of Grandma blur together into a prolonged segment of eating ice cream and Lucky Charms (a forbidden food at home) at her kitchen counter, playing games (especially Uncle Wiggly), Sunday evening visits, several overnight stays, Christmas gatherings, and poolside treats – especially watermelon.
But what I don’t remember in details concerning dates and times and specific events, I do make up for in remembering through feelings. So while I can’t tell you that Grandma and I listened to a particular song on a particular date and that was very meaningful to me, what I can tell you about Grandma is that she was gracious.
Gracious…. one of the words I frequently heard used to describe Grandma last weekend. I don’t remember Grandma ever being in a bad mood; she was always quick to smile. Nor do I remember her being judgmental. Her words were filled with concern and care, not criticism and discouragement. Her love for Jesus was evident in everything she did, yet it was also humble and modest, never pushy. Generosity and hospitality flowed in her veins. You never went home hungry from Grandma’s, even if you just stopped in for a 15 minute visit.
And even though I don’t think she ever sat and made a craft with me or took me to a theme park, I was special and loved at Grandma’s house. I was cared and cooked for at Grandma’s house. I was welcomed and hugged at Grandma’s house.
As a mother, I spend lots of time wondering if I do enough with my kids. Do I play enough games, read enough books, make enough crafts, take them to the park/library/friends’ houses enough, make holidays/birthdays special enough? What will my kids remember from their childhood?
But maybe all that stuff isn’t as important as Pintrest and Parents magazine would like me to believe it is. Maybe the question shouldn’t be whether or not my kids will remember doing fun stuff with me. Maybe the real question is what do I want them to remember when they think of me?
If they don’t remember making cut-out cookies at Christmas, or trips to Chocolate World, or reading 20 books together on sick days, or playing Trouble/Sorry/Memory/The Ladybug Game after supper, that’s ok with me. (I have pictures of all that. I can remind them that I wasn’t a total slacker.)
But… when they do think of their childhood, I hope they are flooded with remembrances of my smile, my concern, and my generosity. I hope they remember a mother who told them regularly that nothing they could ever do would make me or Jesus love them less. I hope they remember a soft place to fall.
If that’s what they remember, I will be more than happy.
“One hundred years from now
It will not matter
What kind of car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
How much I had in my bank
Nor what my clothes looked like.
One hundred years from now
It will not matter
What kind of school I attended,
What kind of typewriter I used,
How large or small my church,
But the world may be…
a little better because…
I was important in the life of a child.”
― Forest Whitcraft