the bitter & the sweet

six months ago, almost to the day, my dad came home to find my mom wasn’t well. she wasn’t well at all. after a quick call to her doctor, he phoned me from the car to let me know he was taking her to the hospital.

she stayed there for 6 weeks.

she was given a devastating & heartbreaking diagnosis.

those 6 weeks were especially frightening & very confusing for all of us.  during that time we (we, as in my dad, me & my brother corey) made painful “grown-up” decisions. we had hard talks.  many nights we had my dad over for dinner or took him with us to grab a bite. we all live within a few minutes of each other so rallying together has been easy logistically. we have the same heart & desires so rallying for each other mentally & emotionally has gone smooth as well. we’ve all been basically on the same page with each other & offering each other continual grace as we maneuver through this new chapter in life. i love my dad & my brother, they’re good men who both have tender, gentle hearts & laid back spirits. and we all love my mom.

my mom & dad are high school sweethearts. they married 52 years ago despite the fact that when they used to play tennis together, my dad never laced up his shoes. this of course gave the vibe that his ‘cool jock’ self wasn’t taking this particular competition too seriously. they’ve been together ever since.

my brother & i grew up in what i’d call a basic middle class all-American family in a two story colonial in the suburbs just outside of atlanta. i was three years older & probably not very nice to him most of the time. thankfully we love each dearly now. i was always a happy kid growing up, mom will back me up on that. i loved high school & my college days and felt like 8 hours of sleep was too much when there was so much fun to be had.

my fondest memory of growing up in our home was waking up, what seems like every day, to find my mom downstairs surrounded by her bible & journals. before the sun would come up, she spent time reading scripture and spending time getting her heart right with jesus. she spent a lot of time outdoors in the yard & we ate home cooked meals every night, the kind with a meat, more than one veggie and a starch…and sweet tea. probably helps explain why my love tank was pretty much always on full. my dad’s an entrepreneur & owned his business since i was a little girl. he & brother worked together in the “computer industry” before pc’s & apple were household words.  at 73, my dad is still working with no plans on retiring any time soon.

when my husband of five years was diagnosed & quickly passed away from cancer, it seemed as if my mom’s heart was completely broken. in retrospect, it seemed to me as if her heart broke in more pieces than mine. perhaps she carried the weight of that grief as a surrogate for me…i had three babies & diapers to change, and didn’t allow myself the proper time to stop and grieve. i realized years later that maybe she did what we mamas do for our littles, we hurt when they hurt. you’ve heard a mama of a sick one say something like “i wish it were me”…i wonder if my mom felt this in some surreal way for me as a young widow & single mom.

she buried her own dad, my precious granddaddy ( emily carries his name as her middle name) during the middle of gregg’s sickness. soon after that she cared for my grandmother in her home for years & years. i watched her literally lay down her life during that time. she wanted to bless her folks…& i know she surely did. proverbs thirty one in real time.

today we ate lunch outside with the sun warming our faces. she loves the outdoors & a cherry coke, so i knew it’d be good for her soul…and mine.  it’s a good thing i had my sunglasses on as so many times the bittersweetness of our time caught me off guard and i could feel my eyes water. she has many heavy things on her heart & on her mind, literally, yet she wanted to know all about me and what’s new this week. i brought her back home & we sat in her dining room as i gave her few gifts, a book that i thought she’d enjoy as well as some chamomile tea. we could use some good sleep these days.  i glanced over & on her dining room table were journals & her open bible…naturally.

the bitter & the sweet, the raw & the beautiful, seemingly never too far apart from each other.

that heart that i grew up with, the one with the love tank always on full, it’s served me well over the last 21 years. it helps draw me back & remind me that having parents that have loved each other loyally through the bitter & the sweet is a priceless gift i’ll treasure forever. it reminds me that this sweet woman who asks about my day over cherry coke,  still remembers she forgot film in the camera when i was on homecoming court-which incidentally is no big deal in the light of eternity.

yet probably doesn’t realize that her legacy of love for others & for her heavenly father has made a mark on my heart for a lifetime -which incidentally is everything in the light of eternity.

i’ve not known how to start writing about my mom until today. i’ve kept waiting for some epiphany, some song title who’s lyrics simply represent this chapter in our lives, as if a pretty bow on top will make it all better.  but nothing “just right” has come along. as i got ready to leave today, she gathered some flowers from her yard to send home with me. she’s always has something blooming, always. i brought them into my studio & thought maybe today i could share my heart & a little bit of our story. i sat them down along with the styrofoam cup from lunch today and i began to write. in this world we live in, with styled photos & proper lighting, something so plain and ordinary & something so lovely (the bitter & the sweet) side by side is clearly much more representational of my reality.

if you’re a praying person, i’d love to ask you to remember my mom in your prayers. her name is june. i think if you met her, you’d really like her. some of the adults i love in my life & have held as mentors, she & my dad actually mentored years ago. i love that fun fact about them.

i’m not sure what the future holds for her, for us as a family…but i know He will be faithful and that He loves her. i know He’ll honor her prayers.  i know He is close to the broken hearted. i know He is a good, good father. i know He is a God who restores the years the locusts have eaten. i know He is a tender, gentle, loving God. and i know she is seen and that He holds her close. i know He’ll uphold she & my dad with His righteous right hand. i know He could remove this with just one word from His mouth, but if He chooses not to, even if He chooses not to, He is still good.

thank you for listening my friend.

“I hope that I see the world as you did cause I know
A life with love is a life that’s been lived” ed sheeran

November 1, 2017 - 4:38 pm

Angela Conklin - Jesus be near. Prayed as I read and will continue to do so.

November 1, 2017 - 4:40 pm

Rebecca - My sweet friend, I lost my Mom so many years ago, when you, and I, were much younger. So, reading your post was hard, and sweet. Please know that I’ll pray for your mom, and for you, and hold it as an honor and privilege to do so. Much love….

November 1, 2017 - 4:40 pm

Amy Deas - Sweet Paige,
I am so sorry. I will pray for June and for you. I am not sure if your mom is needing help physically or emotionally but I do know that both pains are real and emotional pain is so hard to understand…even for the person that is sick. The love your mom has given you shines bright through you. Thinking of you…❤️
Amy

November 1, 2017 - 4:46 pm

Constance - I know this was a very hard one to share. Thank u for allowing us to read her story and updates.

November 1, 2017 - 5:23 pm

Paige - I am praying for your sweet mother and the rest of your family. Your words about her are beautiful. I hope to be thought of by my children in such a loving way, as mom’s we are always beating ourselves up for not getting it right like film in a camera, she makes me feel human that it still bothers her…just love that so much. I too felt like my mother’s heart broke for me when I lost my husband…her pain for me and her loss of her son in law was so apparent yet she helped me through her pain. I will be praying for you as you navigate this difficult time. Hugs to you and praying for your sweet mother’s health!

November 1, 2017 - 5:24 pm

lisa sweeney - prayers lifted for june, your dad, your brother …and you. I’m so sorry…

November 1, 2017 - 5:28 pm

Wendy Greenway - Hi Paige- I have seen your sweet parents love for each other first hand and it’s truly beautiful. In my profession I get to see a lot of families in their day to day lives and since I’ve been in the same place for 18 years I have literally seen kids grow up and couples like your parents grow old together. They come in “off guard” and I see little bits of their lives. It’s so interesting to see how people treat each other when they think no one is watching. Your mom and dad have always been kind and loving to each other. It’s different than a lot of couples who just seem to tolerate each other at best. I am always blessed by them and I can see why you have such an incredible heart. They are laying down quite a legacy of love for you and your family. I will continue praying for them and your whole family. Love, Wendy

November 1, 2017 - 7:46 pm

chrissi - paige, we would be honored to pray for your sweet mom as well as each of you. june sounds like a lovely woman. i know where you are. i have walked those steps too and i know the strength that comes from the goodness of the lord. ♥

November 1, 2017 - 8:43 pm

Suzanne - Bitter and sweet, indeed.
Love infused in every word.
Thank you for sharing your
heart. The sweetness shared
Is doubled, and I hope that the
bitterness shared is at least
halved, so you may only taste
the sweet. Hugs and prayers
flying down to you on snowy
winds from Minnesota. God
bless Momma June and all
who love her 💗 xo Suzanne

November 1, 2017 - 9:53 pm

SarahL - First, I’m so sorry for whatever this current journey is for your family. But yes, He is a good, good father.
Second, thank you for trusting us with this, since in reality most of us are strangers. We’ve learned about one another and have many things in common, and in the scheme of things are almost neighbors, but if not for the internet, we’d be completely unknown to one another.
And last but not least, of course we’ll pray, for your mom, dad, and your whole family as y’all navigate this time together.
Blessings to & for you all!

November 1, 2017 - 10:02 pm

Jennifer - Paige, your sweet family are in my prayers❤️

November 1, 2017 - 11:22 pm

Lisa Mothersead - I love reading about families that are close and are there for each other. She sure sounds sweet and I’m glad she was there for you. My mom wasn’t interested in my high school and college homecoming queen nominations and didn’t attend, though, she was there for other things. Your faith will make a big difference in how you process this. It is a gift to be near loved ones when they’re dying.

November 2, 2017 - 2:48 am

Cathy Penton - So beautifully written my sweet friend.
Much love to you always xxx

November 2, 2017 - 6:51 am

Amy Avery - Dear sweet Paige,
I will certainly be praying for your mother and for your daddy and you and your brother as well as everyone in your family. These precious words you shared about your mom are so touching and full of love. I feel as if through your words I have met her. Whatever it is that she is facing right now I pray for her. I know that our Heavenly Father is with her in every single moment, holding her close, loving her and breathing every ounce of his strength into her being and all of yours. I have cried for you all in reading this post, Paige, because you, sweet friend are such a blessing to all who know you. I know that is because of your faith in God and I see now that it because of your own mother’s love and example to you that you too give so much love to your own family as well as to those of us who are blessed to know you as a friend. Sending prayers, love and hugs.
Much love, Amy Avery

November 2, 2017 - 9:32 am

Lori H - I will pray for all of you as you go through this very tough time. I have no doubt that I would love your mama – just reading your words made me tear up. How fortunate to have a mother who set a loving example in following Jesus and sharing His love. And then you have done the same for your girls, and all of us readers as well. I know she must be so proud of you! Take care of yourself too as watching our parents hurt really takes it out of us. xoxo

November 2, 2017 - 3:38 pm

JuliaW - Dear Paige, so sorry your sweet mom and you all must travel a difficult journey. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing your heart.

November 2, 2017 - 8:29 pm

Vickie White - I’ve added Ms. June and your family to my prayer list. I hope it will help lighten the load knowing that we are praying for your sweet family.

November 3, 2017 - 12:13 pm

Jessica - Hope, I don’t have the right words here, and I so wish I did. I do have prayers, and so I am going to pray right now and keep on praying for you and yours.

Abba Father, you hold June more tightly than we ever could. I pray that right now she would feel the strength of your grip on her life and on the days to come. I pray for perseverance and peace and clarity and kindness to be infused into the marrow of her bones through these precious and beautiful and profoundly difficult days.

Abba, be the source of everything Paige needs, and her family also. Shower them with goodness in the midst of tragedy, so that even as life brings them to their knees they have a sense of you working these moments into a legacy that preaches your Love more eloquently than any sermon ever could. Knit them together even more deeply, their hearts woven into a tapestry of Your faithfulness.

Abba, let us be people who respect the sacredness of the space they need right now. Instruct us in how to love them well. I pray you would send them people of strength, wisdom and grace to walk with them. I pray they they, and we, would be instruments of your peace.

Thank you for June. Thank you for knitting her together in her mother’s womb. Thank you for drawing her to you and to a husband who has loved her so well and for so long. Be a balm to both of their souls. Give them courage for the days ahead.

We trust you with them, Lord. Be good, as only you know how, to your people. Amen.

November 3, 2017 - 3:11 pm

sandy jacobson - God’s got this one Paige and yes he will make the right decision. Blessing and prayer sent your way.

November 3, 2017 - 10:09 pm

Kellie - I know you know grief. How it comes and goes, how it grabs you when you least expect it. I lost my dad 3 years ago and it is so tough to lose a parent…after all we’ve never lived on this earth without them. I will definitely be praying for your mom and your family.

November 4, 2017 - 8:40 am

Jen@thecottagenest - Oh, dear lady. I’m so sorry. How blessed your family is to have a wonderful woman like that to cherish and be cherished by. Sending you and yours hugs and prayers.

November 4, 2017 - 10:42 pm

Destiny - Her legacy lovingly continues and carries on through you, and how blessed, how sweet, that she is getting to witness that.

Praying beloved…

November 7, 2017 - 8:03 am

Linda Mangelsdorf-Oshel - Lisa Mothersead please contact me! I’m trying to get a Mothersead – Scammell family tree (and how the Paap’s or Gress’s are related. Contact me in FB with my name please !

November 8, 2017 - 12:29 am

Brenda - Praying for your sweet family and especially for your mom June.

November 9, 2017 - 12:11 pm

cynthia - My heart breaks for you, as I have walked your walk. I learned so many lessons of love and grace. I will pray in my faith, for you, and your Mother, and your family.
Your writing of such an emotional subject, was beautiful. Much love and many hugs. c

November 10, 2017 - 1:07 pm

marshab - I’ve read your blog for several years and have really enjoyed it. Glad to see more posts by you lately.

I will pray for your Mama June and you. I am fortunate enough to still have my mom, and your wonderful post inspired me to take a little more time to enjoy her company.

Thank you for sharing with us.