Sunday, April 16, 2017

Unpacking gifts...




As they were gathering[f] in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men,  and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.
Matthew 17:22-23

I woke up this Easter morning grumbling "it's only 3:30 & I was so comfortable in my bed next to my hubby..." to not only myself, but my Poppa God. See being over the half a century mark, I wake up at least a couple times a night because suddenly I have the bladder the size of a peanut apparently. So most nights I just lay back down, unless it's when my sweet hubby is up getting ready to leave for work & I am blessed enough to share a few quiet moments while he gets his thermos filled & lunchbox ready...those moments I treasure. But this morning I knew that I wasn't going back to sleep as I headed down the stairs I was complaining about this...as usual. 

Yesterday I was blessed to go to a baby shower of my sister's daughter. I say sister because we have known each other since we were 15 years old & the first time we met at a video arcade in a tiny town in Arizona...that night we both looked each other up & down with the judgement of a teenage girl wondering what this girl is doing here...funny I thought she didn't like me that night...now over 36 years later we have loved each other as sisters & watched each other walk tough roads, bad choices & celebrated some wonderful blessings. Though sometimes due to circumstances we may go months, or even at times we have gone several years without even talking to each other, but when we do it's like we never missed a moment. She is my sister, truly God created her so perfectly. 

I hadn't seen her mom for a long, long time. I am thinking about 8 years or so. Her mom is an amazing woman. She's now 85 years old & she lives in her own personal place...mostly her memories of growing up & how wonderful her mama, papa & big brothers & sister are...she is suffering from dementia. This beautiful soul goes back & forth between remembering how amazing this world used to be & how horrible it can be. She shared with me yesterday, many times, how Hitler was a reality of her childhood...not from America far away from the reality of true FEAR, but from Austria where EVERY age understood the true meaning of FEAR. She shared that when she was growing up she was warned constantly "be careful who you talk to, there are very bad people out there." Her beautiful blue eyes teared up a bit each time she talked about how Hitler came & her mama was killed when she was only a girl of 13. She was the baby of 2 boys & 2 girls & she was very close with her mama...she explained that life was very hard after her mama died. Her mama always taught her that "it is good to show others you love them. We all need each other. So if you have something & someone else has a need you help them you don't keep it for yourself. If you see someone you know you hug them & it's ok to kiss you kids & let them know that they are loved & important" ...those same beautiful blue eyes. Those blue eyes that I remember always smiling & always having time to be there to take in all the struggles of a teenager, then a 20 & 30 something...all the way to 51. Many times I would run to her house to cry over my own struggles with my mom...from the teens to the 40's she would say "I can tell you she loves you or she would not be making you so good."  She would explain from the eyes of someone who knew how to be completely honest with out any kind of worry of offending. She only knows how to say it like it is, she wasn't raised with "little white lies" being ok...only total honesty. She would always finish with "I think she's trying to help you. She loves you." I always felt better after sitting at her kitchen table as she made "oxtail soup" & chamomile tea with honey for me & my sweet sister...as she listened to my complaints & then set a bowl & cup in front of me, my sister & she would sit down with hers for a moment & tell me what she thought. But a moment later she would be up running to the sink, grabbing the dishes & washing, drying & putting them away. 

Her blue eyes are now wrapped with creases & confusion, but they are just a clear & beautiful as they ever were. I am so grateful to have gotten to spend time listening & loving on this beautiful "mom" to so many, including me...I have always loved her & I will always love her. 

My own beautiful mom is about 15 years younger than sweet mama & though she has lapses in memory & may repeat herself, she doesn't have dementia so I had no understanding of the struggle the entire family walks...until yesterday. 

I have talked to my sweet sister about this many times on the phone over the last many years as her sweet mama has drifted farther into her own place. I know she loves her sweet mama dearly & I know that each day is exhausting for her. But seeing her with her sweet mama as she helps her get around, reminds her of important things, making sure she has what she needs & loving her...I see the gift God has given her. See I know that at times this might not seem like a gift to many people. 

I have watched her sweet mama love & care for so many people in her life...especially her girl, my sweet sister. She never had to go with out anything...including knowing she was loved. Her sweet mama has told me since the first time I met her over 36 years ago  "I just put her on my back & went to clean, cook & do wash for people." She didn't have anyone else to help her. She came to America from Austria without anything, or anyone. For as long as I can remember she was in housekeeping at the tiny towns hospital. She used to tell me how much it meant to her to "bless others with a nice clean space"...that sentence is the definition of who sweet mama has always been & though she gets lost in her own place today & she lives with her memories running over & over...it still defines her. The way she blesses may have changed a bit...but she still blesses. 

I believe that's where my sweet sister learned to be the amazing woman she is. I think I should call her Wonder Woman with all the titles I would have to put in front of woman. I am not saying that this is not hard for her. She has her moments of hiding in the quiet to cry, pray & breathe...I'm sure. But trust me when I say they are few & far between. 

Her sweet mama lives with her & her hubby, so she lives this every day. She works so God sent angel to sit with her sweet mama for 8 hours 5 days a week. I know God sent her because she is just what sweet mama needs, she speaks her native language & enjoys spending time with her. But pretty much every other minute, she is with her sweet mama. I love my mom, but I am not sure that would work for me.

She also has 5 girls & 4 grandkids, with another on the way. Only 3 of the girls were there yesterday for the baby shower. But as I watched each of them running around to help get stuff set up, I saw my sweet sister in each of them in a different way...one thing I saw in EVERY one of the girls was their mama's heart...sweet mama's heart passed onto another generation. 

Each one of them took sweet mama outside to enjoy the day & hang out with everyone. They each got her a plate & helped her with anything she needed. They sat & talked with her & smiled at her & showed her they loved her. They took pictures with her & told her how beautiful she looked...the entire time she just glowed, her blue eyes twinkled as she repeated over & over about making sure to "show everyone you love that you love them" & how "she is so blessed to have so many beautiful new clothes for the baby we had only a few things & kept them very clean, took care of them like they were new always." 

They know the struggle of seeing someone stuck in history...someone they love dearly. They also know the meaning of "Ohana...Family" in a very deep meaning of the word. No one left behind. They get stressed yet they take a breather while another one steps up to make sure no one is left behind.


When we got back to her house after the shower, she said dont leave yet I have your bag of gifts...we do that, get stuff for holidays, birthdays, etc. for when we see each other...It was so full it was ripping on the side, she said sorry but "I shoved one more thing in and it ripped", knowing I didn't mind at all. "Open it when you get home"...then she walked me out to my car. I looked at my sweet sister & thanked her for everything & assured her I would be praying for her. Then I looked into her blue eyes & realized they were the same sweet twinkling blue eyes as her sweet mama..."I'm so sorry my friend...you are amazing!!!" 

When I got home I unpacked the gifts she had filled the gift bag with, one at a time...each one made me realize just how wonderful she really is...how in the midst of everything she has been walking through, she still cared enough about me & knows me well enough that she can hand pick perfect gifts...gifts that take more than a quick run to the store...gifts that take a knowing & caring eye to spot & pick up because it looks like something I would like. Gifts like pictures in the beautiful frames...pictures of those I love most in each one...not just the frames. That's when you know someone really cares about you...they love you.

And the gift she's getting & will one day understand is just that...learning to live the definition of "ohana"...her sweet mama has made sure of that before she made her way to her own little place...the place she sees the twinkle in her own mama's eyes still & remembers how to love others the way she learned from her papa & family...by doing, not saying... 

I love you sweet mama & thank you for everything...I pray that I may bless you as you have blessed me for all these years...even if it's just listening & holding your hand...