I’M REMEMBERING LOTS OF STUFF this month. I have to.
It’s because of my Bible study class, which meets in a trailer at church. Space is tight because our young adults keep making babies like it’s fun.
We have a four-week series this month that spins around the “Memorial” idea, getting us prepped for Memorial Day, when we’ll remember loved ones who have died.
Last week, on Mother’s Day, we talked about mothers we respect, and we compared stories. I brought in one son to give us a son’s-eye-view of a lady in our class who doesn’t talk much. We all cried a little.
A week before that, we shared stories about friends in our past who make us smile when we think about them.
Yesterday we reserved for kids we’ve known and loved.
For me, three came to mind: my two grown kids and a grown niece.
Rebecca is our oldest. She has always been the busy one. Even as a child.
When I got my first big break as a freelance writer, I went to Florida to meet the Reader’s Digest Books editor I’d be working with on a book about people in the Bible. I took my family along, and turned it into a vacation.
The editor, Joe, invited me and my family to his home to share a meal and to show me page proofs of the book we were working on.
Joe’s wife, from Japan, entertained the kids with origami. Afterward, Rebecca decided their house needed a little straightening. So she went from room to room, putting her touch on the décor.
Joe and his wife laughed.
They never forgot Rebecca. Some 20 years later, Joe and I still keep in touch.
Rebecca has always been “a busy little girl,” as my mom used to describe her when Rebecca was a toddler.
She grew up to become a busy young woman. She followed in her mom’s footsteps, and became a nurse at a children’s hospital. Then she went a big step further, becoming a nurse practitioner. She did that by going to graduate school while working fulltime.
Some of the stories she has been part of have melted my soul.
Rebecca took her lunch break to sit with a dying girl who was another nurse’s patient. Rebecca played music, whispered a prayer in her ear, and then told her it was okay to leave. A few minutes later, the little girl did just that.
Our son Brad is two years younger than his sis. If Rebecca’s intensity is New York City, our son’s temperament is Caribbean.
I would shovel dirt and carry rocks with him – just to be around him. He has his own life to live, but I find that a reversal has taken place in our relationship. When he was a little boy, he wanted nothing more than to be around me. Playing mostly. Now I enjoy nothing more than being around him – as well as his sis and his mom.
If I had a box of Favorite People, they would be there – with Rebecca straightening things up.
Brad did the same kind of thing his sis did. He graduated from college with a degree in marketing. Then he went on to get his master’s degree in business administration while working a fulltime job in his field.
Both kids finished grad school debt-free, paying their way as they went.
If I told you how much Brad and his wife budgeted for discretionary spending during those years in the master’s program, it would shock you – as it did me. Had I known, I’d have done something about it. But he didn’t tell me until after he finished his degree.
How many kids would have waited like that?
The niece I barely knew
I missed most of the growing-up years of my little sister’s daughter, Vicki. I lived 800 miles away.
She’s grown now. She graduated last year from college with a degree fit for a music teacher.
When I heard that she was thinking about taking a job 1200 miles away from her home, I felt instant empathy. Many years ago I had to make pretty much the same choice. Stay near home or go where I could get a challenging job in my field, 800 miles away.
Vicki would face culture shock with a rating on the Richter Scale a lot higher than mine. I traded Akron, Ohio for Kansas City. One city for another. She would trade Akron for Mobridge, South Dakota.
I went there on Google Earth.
How to describe it.
Vicki was a porcelain doll in Ohio. She’s now wearing cowgirl boots and jeans with rhinestones on the bootay; she says it hurts when she sits down. But if you’re wearing that outfit, I’d think you’d want to strut it.
I admire the clear-headedness she showed by recognizing a good job tailored for her when she saw it, and then the courage it took to leave everything and everyone familiar to chase that dream halfway across the country.
I’m hoping to see her sometime this summer. Either back in Ohio or here with us if we can talk her into an adventure south of South Dakota. (Boots optional, though they were invented here.)
Got any kids in your life who pop a smile on your face when you think of them?
Who wouldn’t want to hear that?