Monday, September 12, 2011

"oh dear, now what?"

Our 27 trunks arrived two weeks ago from Congo (finally!).  There were some really practical reasons why I was happy they arrived.  One of the big reasons was financing three children in disposable diapers was about to become impossible, and I had about 100 cloth diapers in those trunks.  (Yes, we are cloth diapering three kids, it's not that hard really.)  The other big reason was that our double BOB stroller was shipped along with everything else, and I've been itching to take it out and explore.  In Congo, I would walk Natalie to school every morning, with the other kids in the BOB or on my back; it was my life, if at times a bit surreal.  It was also good exercise and a favorite part of my day really.  I've really missed walking with the kids.  We live on a really busy road that is also a truck route, so it isn't feasible to walk with all four (without the stroller).  So, today we set out.  We live in a very hilly and beautiful town.  It's hard to go anywhere without driving (or walking) up or down a hill (often steep).  It is green, woody, and there are gorges and waterfalls to make it a lovely location.  So, we set out today.  Natalie walking, two in the BOB and one on my back.  I decided to let Natalie choose the way.  Off we headed.  We started out strong, well, because it wasn't that steep.  We decided we wanted to go visit Mrs. M, a new friend and neighbor.  Except I forgot her street address, but I figured we would work that out.  Natalie picked a good route and then we hit her street and it was straight up.  Natalie, being her sweet self, decided she would help me push that stroller up the hill.  So she starts running and pushing, and I am heaving and huffing.  We didn't make it very far before I'm wheezing and out of breath.  Obviously, I am pitifully out of shape.  She looks at me and says, "oh dear, now what?"  I couldn't help but burst out laughing and so did she.

The fact is, it sort of sums me up right now, "Oh dear, now what?".   I find myself a bit lost and bewildered still.  The tears and sadness come at the strangest moments.  Yesterday, remembering the pain of 10 years ago, tears were close.  Remembering that pain, brought back other pain, other hurt.  Pain that is often, quick, and close for the people in the country we left behind three months ago, and for others around the world.  I looked at my little girls yesterday and tonight, and the pain comes again.  The loss they have experienced already, the sudden and harsh death of their mother while giving birth, giving life to them.  Preventable, unnecessary, severe death and pain.  The story of all the children at the orphanage.  Losing their mothers.  Would that my arms around them be enough, would that my love would erase the pain and ease the hurt.  Can I too carry this pain, this sadness?  Can I share with the suffering of others?  And what would be the cost of refusing?

My grandfather is still alive.  The rest of that generation of my grandparents have died.  He is an amazing, unforgettable man.  Not only because of the wisdom that he loves to give us all and laughter he creates with his stories, jokes, and crazy stubbornness, but most of all because of his love.  His love for us and for his wife of long ago (which he still talks about often).  He has suffered much.  He buried his wife and first love, when she was in her 30s after she struggled long and hard from cancer.  He was left with five little girls.  He lost two of those five girls, years later.  The suffering, the pain, is not far from all of us really.  He has seen much, suffered through much.  Yet.  He chooses life.  You hear it in his stories of those that went on before him, you see it in his attention to us his grandchildren and children, and you feel it in his love and concern for us.  Many years ago, when I was going through a hard time in life, he saw my heart.  He held me close, he offered me a safe haven.  When I went off to college, he sent me a large box.  When I opened it, I laughed.  It was full of crackers, cheese-its and wheat thins.  And a short note, telling me he had been worried I didn't have enough to eat.  

I think sometimes, I forget this small and hidden lesson.  I get overwhelmed and I start to worry and fret, and say, "oh dear, now what?"  When I think of my grandfather, I am reminded of what I want to be.  A person who forgives, who remembers, who works hard, who suffers, who perseveres, who listens and gives dignity to others by hearing their stories, who loves others simply and well.  A humble, simple man, that is not well known, but who is well loved by all who are privileged to know him.

What would my grandpa say, in the midst of the impossible and daunting that looms ahead?  
I think perhaps it would be "love well".  


Shauna said...

This is wonderful! Natalie is such a sweet girl. And from the moment I met him, I have been so amazed by Grandpa's love and attention to each of his family members. I see his courage, his strength, and his loving heart in you. An amazing legacy he has passed on to his daughters and to his grandchildren.

Katie Glows said...

Love, love, love you!