A few weeks ago I pulled up in front of our house and just sat there. What happened next was kind of different. It was a moment akin to when your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. No I am not dead. What went through my mind were pictures of the some of the 45 years this house has been a part of my life.
I remember spending a Thanksgiving here in 1971 with my then girlfriend’s family (she is now my wife). It was a wonderful meal and day full of becoming acquainted with the people who would be my in-laws. And my then girlfriend was correct she warned me that her father was a man of few words. He was friendly enough but what I remember the most was when he tried to teach me sheepshead. I was the dubious recipient of one his famous snake laughs, a subtle “SSSSSS” after I played a complete hand against him because I failed to realize I was actually his partner.
I remember my grandchildren being thrilled to go visit grandma in Milwaukee as we traveled there from Minnesota where my wife and I taught. I can see the picture of my wife carrying our newly adopted daughter into this house and the way my mother-in-law just hugged this very new addition to our family as though this little 4 month old was always there.
As I look how small this house actually is, I think back to when we moved in with three daughters, two sons and my wife and I all sharing one small bathroom! Talk about scheduling issues. There was the smallish kitchen with all seven of us sitting down for a meal. No one ever needed to get up to get anything from the counter or refrigerator. All we needed to do was reach.
It was at that table we gathered for one Mother’s Day. The meal was quiet and all 5 kids were there. My wife quietly got up and went out of the kitchen. The kids sort of looked at me and since I had no idea what was going on I sort of gave them that “I don’t know look” and we waited. In a few moments my wife came back into the kitchen, dumped a container of about 200 rubber bands on the table and a spirited rubber band event occurred. It left an impression and another memory.
I remember the Christmas seasons with the hours spent making pounds and pounds of turtles, peanut butter balls, peanut brittle and other candies. Then came Christmas with the house so full of family, presents, and food you could hardly move.
While many other warm, happy memories also fly by, there are also more somber recollections. We needed to deal with difficult and sometime heart-wrenching issues with our kids. There were those tense and sometimes verbally combative times between my wife and myself. And there was Mother’s Day 1988 when wife’s mother or “Lady” as she was referred to, died.
Her cancer had progressed to a point where pain management was the goal. A hospital bed was placed into the living room and my wife and her sisters spent time with their mother tending to her needs as they could. That lasted until Lady’s Savior, Jesus , escorted her to heaven on that Mother’s Day.
Now, as each Mother’s Day comes, I know it is a bittersweet time for my wife. She rejoices in the privilege of being a mother for the 5 children with which we have been blessed. My wife revels in the victory that is her mother’s of being safely in heaven. But her mother’s death still left a hole in her life. Not all of my wife’s Mother Day tears come from joy.
As I shake my head a little to come out of the memory loop in which I found myself, I realize despite all the memories, good, painful or forgettable, are really not a finished. The final “cut” is still in production.
My wife and I still live here – less five kids, along with our two dogs. Even though it feels as though we are alone in this house, and that it feels a lot bigger, I know that God will continue to watch over us as more memories are made. They may not be perfect but all will be blessings. How do I know that?
God loves us. I know this is true because as he tells us in 1 John 4:9, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” He took care of our biggest need for forgiveness by sending Jesus for us. If he was willing to do that, certainly blessing me with more wonderful memories is not beyond his love or power.
I know that the final cut is still in production because of the spinoffs that God is producing. What I did not previously mention was the memory of the countless devotions our family had while in this house. These were long and short, while all being seated or not, in the living room, kitchen, bedrooms or even in our van. But we were all gathered around God’s Word.
God worked through that word and created faith is our children’s hearts. Now I can see them passing that faith on to our grandchildren. And God has not stopped working as I see love for the Savior through their families. Ah, more memories.
I do know when the final production cut will be done, for me at least. Jesus said, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” My wife’s parents are already living that final cut in her life’s production. And some day I will too. What a wonderful “forward” memory.
Life both before and in recovery creates memories. As time passes these memories can be shaped by our relationships, life events and simply the passing of time. I am blessed with many good memories. In reality, they are clips of the way God has blessed me. Thank you God!
Want to share some of yours? Come on back. I will wait you.