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