Tuesday, August 23, 2011

These Sunset Years...

My parents on their wedding day - August 24, 1941

They were 20 and 24, starry-eyed,
moving into unknown territory.
Neither of them came from great marriages,
though mom's home was warm and loving
between my grandfather's alcoholic binges.
Dad's family? 
Driven, controlling mother,
distant, emotionally volatile father,
parents who tolerated each other 
just enough to form three children.

They had a lot to learn, this bright-hearted pair,
a lot to learn -
about each other, about life,
about creating something new out of the 
beat-up bricks of the past.
And they learned it together,
creating a circle of love, laughter and music,
punctuated at points by whispers of their own hard journeys.

But oh, how they loved each other.

Six years ago, dad died.
A hard death in some ways,
a long dying.
He was 87, she was 84.
This year, mom turned 90.
And still, she misses him so. 
Sometimes it is painful to see, to hear.

Yesterday, she received some hard news,
some deeply sad news,
another reminder that only a feeble few
remain from the old gang.
Martha was a tiny thing,
gracious and loving.
She carried sadness in her bones, however.
Her oldest son walked out of their lives 
over 40 years ago, never to be heard from again.
She carried that pain deep within,
sometimes following it right into
the blackness of depression.
When her Benjy died, the light went out of her life,
just like it did for my mom when her Ben died.
Martha's short husband was my tall father's best man,
and he went to Jesus first, a few years before my dad.

Each of these valiant women lost most of their eyesight 
in the years following their husband's deaths.
They commiserated together by phone,
one in southern California,
one in eastern Pennsylvania.
And they held each other up in those phone calls.
Yes, they did. They held each other up.
They loved the Lord, but they wondered -
why must it be so hard?
Why must there be so much loss in this life
How long will be be here without them? 

"I just feel so, so sad," she sobbed into the phone last night.
"I can see her still, standing in the garden,
singing for our wedding.
I can hear her sweet soprano in my ear. 
Did you know that we sang in a quartet at Trinity? 
Oh, I cannot even find the words to tell you how
terrible this feels."
And then a brief confession:
"And, to tell you the truth, I am more than a little bit jealous."
"Jealous, Mom?" I asked.
"Yes, jealous. You know I'd much rather be with your dad
than here, honey."
"I know, Mom. I know."
What else can be said at such a time?
There are no words
on the eve of what would have been anniversary #70,
there are no words.
Hanging onto hope, that's what we're doing.
Hanging onto hope of the resurrection.
Hanging onto hope of reunion.
Hanging onto hope in Jesus,
that's what we're doing.
And we're missing those we loved and lost.
We're doing that, too.

Not sure this fits the memes entirely, but I am joining with Michelle at Graceful for her "Hear it on Sunday, Use It on Monday" invitation and with Jen at FindingHeaven's soli deo gloria sisterhood: