Eldest Son

          It was the hottest day of the year.
         The Yoder sisters and some of their offspringin’s and some of their friends were doing corn.
         Eldest Son had been working in the scorching sun until he was almost wobbling, and had come home and gone to the shower and was now hanging around the action without getting his hands dirty.
          “Uh, Mama,” he said hesitantly. I looked in his direction, not really able to think much beyond what was at hand. (Namely an unnecessarily large amount of corn. Maybe he wanted to help.) (Ha, ha!!!)

         “Uh, Mama. I’ve been thinking. I just might do something life changing.”
          This was certainly a most fractious time to be talking about life changing events. Maybe he was trying to catch me off guard. “Oh, no.” I thought bleakly. ” Maybe –“
          “Son! Are you going to get an earring????”
          “No, Mama. More life changing than that!”
          “You’re not getting a tattoo are you?” (I had temporarily forgotten that he hates tattoos).
          There was an instant “No, Mama. Not an earring. Not a tattoo. More life changing than any of those.”

          I looked up momentarily at this tall son, and then back at the bowl in front of me. A big fan was moving the hot July air in patterns that weren’t helping much, and my hands were sticky. I was weary beyond all reason, and was really not having many original inspirations. I had not the slightest idea of what he was going to do. I didn’t know if I wanted to know what he was going to do. I hadn’t been hearing much about the motorcycle here of late, and he wasn’t dating anyone. He didn’t want to go to college. What was there left to do that would be life changing?

          He took advantage of my silence by saying, “I am thinking of going into REACH.”

          There was immediate response from various family members around the work site. Much affirmation, much joy. Much surprise. I could see that his eyes were searching my face for some clue as to what I was thinking. What was I thinking? I hardly knew myself. Mostly a sense of joy, though, was permeating my very soul. It has been my prayer for a good while now that this Eldest Son would find his “Life Passion” (as Youngest Son calls it). I was surprised, but not unduly. I knew that ever since his grandpa had died, his grandma had been filling in the gap with daily prayers for the future of her grandchildren, and that she had spent many a prayer and many a tear on this particular offspringin’.

          It is many papers, many letters, and many, many prayers later. But not nearly enough days.

          This morning he left for his three month training session in Columbus. Following that, if plans carry, he is going to Nepal for six months.

          This morning, several minutes after six o’clock, we stood in the kitchen. He hates good-byes almost as much as I do. He took me in his strong arms, and bent over just enough to kiss my forehead.

          “Good-bye, Mama.”

          “Good-bye, Son. Be a Man. Remember, we don’t know how soon The Morning.”

          He looked puzzled. “What do you mean?”

          “I mean that we do not know when we’re going to Heaven. We don’t know how soon The Morning. Be a Faithful disciple.”

          “You got it, Mama. I will!”

           And then, he was gone. How well will he remember? It is not for me to worry about, but his Daddy and I will pray that he will be strong, that he will be faithful, that he will live with a constant awareness of the Presence of Jesus, that he will show the way to Life by how he lives.

          He’s our Gentle Giant, and we shall miss him so very much, but it feels so right.

          Be strong, My Son. Be Faithful. We do not know how soon The Morning.

          I love you!


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17 responses to “Eldest Son

  1. Anonymous

    What a sweet story.  Thanks for sharing it.

  2. You have me in tears, dear friend. I wish I were there to give you a hug.

  3. Awwww I knew something was on your mind when I saw you this afternoon, but thank you so much for coming!

  4. Blessings to Eldest Son and to his parents. May he grow in spirit to become as tall as he is physically.

  5. Ah, yes.  That Raph of yours will be just fine !!!  He is in very good hands !!!  Now it’s up to Mama to trust those hands with her son ’cause the heart that belongs to those hands loves him even more than the Mama ever could … and that’s so hard to believe sometimes.  I know.  Love you.  Ethel

  6. Bittersweet moments for you as well as Polly.  He is in Good Hands, as Ethel says.

  7. Anonymous

    This post made me cry… I talked to Raph only a few minutes before he was to give up his phone, in a crowded restaurant with volleyball girls chatting and eating italian. Would it have been any other place I probably would have shed a few tears, but instead I was able to tell him bye, beg him to call once a month, and remind him I love him. I did not even realize how much I had grown to care about that big boy… now all I want is another big hug.Grace for the journey ahead, Mary Ann, I love you and am praying for you.

  8. our God is still at work.  May He be your shelter in the time of storm.  May He hold you and speak to your heart words of life.  I care.

  9. I must copy MaryKay_girl’s {{hugs}} I appreciate all the previous comments and could not say anything any better than has been said. How very blessed you are BEG! And also once again I thank you for your writing skill,I like how you express yourself. Take Care Dear Friend!

  10. “Life is a storm my friend. You will bask in the sunshine one moment, and be dashed against the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when those times come. You must stare into that storm and tell it to do it’s worst…and that you shall do yours. Then the world will know you as i know you…as a man.” -Count of Monte Cristo.  He’s gonna do some amzing things mama…amazing. He will bask in the sunlight…and be dashed on the rocks…and he will grow into an even more phenominal man of God. I love yah, great post-i swallowed the tears-Lem

  11. What a great post! I have been thinking about the times we have to tell our children goodbye and I say “I didn’t sign up for this part” My Josh & Julie are getting ready to move to Utah and I am missing them already. Then I remember that when I gave him back to God when he was just a baby and told God he was His, I meant it then and I mean it now. Your post was heart warming. Thank you

  12. I’m crying – and I only know you through Xanga – and him through your pictures.  You wrote that so well my friend.

  13. your story was touching, thanks for showing us how to be gracious in letting go of our dear children.I like the quote that Lem gave. true but scary…. We have a FAITHFUL God who loves us all.

  14. Thanks for sharing your husband’s candy story.  That is really neat.  And thanks for sharing about your eldest son. 

  15. Hello! i found you’re site.  we’ll be remembering you all as you adjust to life w/out Raph!  thanks again for the wonderful night we had at you’re place!  It was a good week, but we’re glad to be home!

  16. i love that man of your aunt mary…i’m soo proud of him and how much he lives his life for God. He will always be to me, a cousin who i will always look up to and always admire. thank you soo much for raising such an AMAZING cousin. thinking of you and the fam. love ya beyond words.

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