Monthly Archives: April 2023

A Pleasant Cove

There is a house, back a long lane, that is full of memories and love and peace.

I have often said that when I am homesick for my Daddy and my Mama, my husband will take me the thirty some miles to this house and we are received with enthusiasm and joy and love and an acceptance that gives me so much comfort. Infrequently, I will go with my daughters or my sisters, and they are never slighted in the same sort of welcome that gladdens my heart.

Uncle Jesse and Aunt Gladys are the closest people I have to Daddy and Mama. Daddy’s brother married to Mama’s sister. Their personalities are so different from my parents, but the genes are “synced” and the moral fiber is indelibly stamped and my extended family’s memories are intrinsically woven into theirs in ways that have become more meaningful as the years have passed. As in all families, the memories are interpreted through the eyes and hearts of those who live them, so we don’t see everything the same, but there is something so familial about time spent around the table in their home, sharing memories and heartache and laughter and God-thoughts together in ways that, in all honesty, I cannot even completely share with my own offspringin’s. The older I get, the more comfortable I get with the values of the even older generation.

Last week was an unusual week for me. I actually visited with Uncle Jesse and Aunt Gladys four times! Usually I don’t get there more than once a month or even two, but I think my soul needed it. Certain Man and I were up on Palm Sunday because their daughter (and one of my favorite cousins) Shirley Miller and her husband, Maynard, were in for the weekend, and it suited them and us for an afternoon visit. It was one of those soul-satisfying times when pictures and memories and laughter and stories flowed. Uncle Jesse did identification work on an old picture which stirred anecdotes and conjecture and questions that never did have answers.

On Monday and Wednesday and Friday, the opportunities to visit were presented, and at the risk of being a pest, I grabbed the chance to stop. Each time, the welcome was the same. Smiles, hugs, and a joyful reception that warmed my heart that has been inexplicably homesick for Daddy and Mama.

But it was Friday that has been in a holding pattern over my heart. Good Friday. We had worshipped in the darkness of Tenebrae at our church on Thursday evening, and though we had thought to attend the Good Friday service at Greenwood Mennonite Church, we realized we had a conflict. We had scheduled our usual 2-month blood donation for Friday morning at 10:30. We had already delayed it due to a number of reasons, and since there is a current shortage, we opted to keep the appointment. The days we give blood have developed a sort of pattern. We do the blood bank, stop out at Uncle Jesse’s, have lunch somewhere, and we will stop to do a quick shop at Sam’s before heading home. Usually, but not always, in that order. And this day held to its schedule quite well.

After getting done at the blood bank, we headed out to Pleasant Cove to Uncle Jesse’s house. There were no other cars parked outside the house except theirs, indicating that there were no visitors. We walked up the steps into the house and Daniel rang the bell. From inside we heard the cheerful, “Come on in!” that is typical of any arrival at their house. We came into the kitchen, carrying a quart of soup and some custard, and the two of them were sitting at the table. Daniel found a place in the fridge for the things we brought and then we meandered over to the dining room. Usually Aunt Gladys is sitting in her chair at the table and Uncle Jesse sits in his recliner across the room, but on this day, they were both sitting close together at the table. Between them on the table was a devotional book, and on top of it was Uncle Jesse’s magnifying glass. I realized that we had interrupted their morning worship, and I felt immediately like I was on Holy Ground. I thought about the two of them, now both 91. Their years have been full of triumph and joy and adventure and righteous living It has also been full of reversal and loss and disappointment and pain. They know how to forgive and redeem and hope and believe. They know how to love. They know that faith is not the absence of doubt but a choice to trust a God who has promised to never leave them or forsake them.

And so, they still invest in knowing Him better. They choose to sit together and read and listen to words about Him and His Way. They are not “cramming for their finals,” but rather, they are living with the light of Heaven in their eyes, looking for the morning that they know cannot be far away. There is a sudden catch in my throat when I think about them being THERE and me being here. I know there is much to draw them there, and that they want to go. Their bodies are letting them down; there are inconveniences and pain and confinement and even confusion at times. So many things to anticipate about eternal life and Heaven.

But I’m not ready. Yet. I probably never will be. I realize that none of us are here to stay, and the impacting losses will naturally increase as we age, but I don’t really like to think about it. So maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll think about this moment I have to savor. I’ll think about example and lives well lived and take courage for my own journey. I will hold the memories and the people close in my heart and trust that the journey I’m on will also prove the faithfulness of a God who is to be trusted.

For this, and so much more, #MyHeartGivesGratefulPraise.

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