If you want to know the truth, this looked pretty good for the way it looked a great deal of the time. We worked hard, and got it done, though. In this picture, in the foreground, is Daniel’s oldest sister, Lena. She is the boss of us all, and we love her intensely. This week would not have happened without her. In the background, on the right, is Daniel’s sister, Rachel. She will hate me for putting this picture on, but the truth is, I took all of five pictures, all on the first morning, and this is the only one I have of her. She hates to be away from home, and it was a supreme sacrifice for her to come to Ohio and stay for a whole week. And we needed her!!! She was so very, very needed, we couldn’t have made it without her – at least not nearly as well. On the left is Rachel’s daughter in law, Virginia, married to Rachel’s second son, Philip. They came down with Andrew and Ruth on Sunday night and left again on Monday morning. Philip bought his grandpa’s mini-van, and they packed it with things that were ready to go, and left immediately for New York.
This is my sister in law, Ruby. She came to spend the week with us, help us and HONESTLY!!! I don’t think we would ever have made it without her, either. She brought optimism, energy, food and incredible good sense to a situation that was lacking in all four areas. She was totally God’s gift to this family for this time and in this place.
This is Rachel’s husband, Ivan, being his usual crazy self. We found this hat, cobwebs and all, and when he proceeded to put it on, it made us all laugh. He wasn’t caught unawares by the camera, though. I didn’t get around in time to snap the picture before he took it off, and he, in an unusual show of compliancy, put it back on so I could take the picture. He and his brother Andrew (married to Daniel’s sister, Ruth) were the hands and feet and strong arms that Daniel and his sisters needed to get furniture moved, shoved and loaded. They got the boxes out of the attic, took down Martin Bird houses, carried, lugged heavy stuff, and helped and helped and helped. We couldn’t have made it without Ivan and Andrew, either. They were a most welcome and necessary part of our cleaning out week.
Ruby and Ivan have always had a somewhat adversarial relationship. One afternoon, after donning Grandpa’s night cap and grabbing Grandma’s oven mitts, she decided to pick a fight. It was obvious that Ivan didn’t know quite what to do with her, and she finally had mercy on him and quit picking on him. For a little bit.
I didn’t get any pictures of Ruth and Andrew. Ruthie struggles with crippling Rheumatoid Arthritis, and she also made a great sacrifice to be with us for the week. It was an incredibly hard struggle for her, and I am so proud of her for making the effort to be with us. I was also so touched and encouraged by an exchange that she had with Daniel’s father while at the nursing home one afternoon. Grandpa was interested in how things were being divided up. There wasn’t much that he responded to, or that he said that was lucid, but on that afternoon, he questioned Ruth closely as to who got what.
Suddenly he said, “Well, what do Mom and I get???”
Ruth was taken aback for a minute, but then she said, “Well, Daddy, we brought you each your chairs — Mom’s glider, your lift chair, we brought you lamps and a magazine rack . . . “
He dropped his head and said in a small and sad voice, “We’re as poor as church mice!”
Ruthie, thinking quick, and by God’s grace said gently, “Daddy, you have a roof over your head, food to eat and everything you need to live. You have people to wait on you hand and foot and to take care of you. You have it pretty good!” And that made him chuckle a little and he was over that particular pity-party.
Some of you have heard me say this, and I don’t mean to belabor a point, but as I was going through the desk that was given to Daniel, I had to clean out the many, many records of the enterprises that Daniel’s father has been in over the years. He farmed, he raised Chinchillas for their fur, he had an egg production enterprise (that he hated), was Business Manager at Rosedale Bible Institute, dealt with Hilcoa and Herbal Life products, he sold Magic Mills and hard red wheat and Bosch Kitchen machines, he bought into the phone booth scam and there were papers for another enterprise that I had never heard about, but something about some sort of Spa Resort. I suspect that there were far more things that I (and the rest of the family) will never know about.
But the thing that impressed me most in my week there was this: Daniel’s father never meant for things to end this way.
He wanted to provide for his sunset years in ways that would mean that he and his wife would have nothing to worry about. He planned to have resources and safety nets and that things would be comfortable for them. I believe that he truly hoped that he would have substantial amounts to leave to his children. Instead, what they took home from the divided furniture and possessions at the end of last week is the probable sum total of their material inheritance. I looked at him, asleep in the bed at the nursing home and wept for the things that have gone so terribly wrong, not only in his finances, but also in his relationships and sense of self worth. He never indicated that he knew that Daniel and I were there the last time we stopped in, and Daniel’s step-mother did not want us to waken him. I felt such a sense of something that was hard for me to put my finger on until I talked to my sister in law, Ruby, who was then on her way home to Virginia.
“As I went on down the interstate,” she said in her straightforward way, “I had myself a time of hard grieving. But I’m better now. I’m going to be alright. It’s been a good week, but it’s been hard. It’s the closing of a chapter.”
And that is what it really is — the closing of a chapter. There is no longer a “home” to go home to when the family goes back to Plain City. The home as they knew it is no longer there, and their parents are in such different surroundings. The nursing home is a good place, and we have some family connection on staff there, but it is, after all, a totally different living situation than what they and we’ve been accustomed to, and it will take some real getting used to on all our parts. Daniel’s stepmother is determined to adjust and be happy, and we think she will be just fine. It is still to early to tell about his father. Both of them need your prayers, as do we all.