Sitting here listening to the hum of the oxygen machine, I wonder at what age do we stop obeying our parents? She tells me to go, but I feel the need to stay ... .
Strange how a phone call can change plans and set priorities in a hurry. Supper was ready and hot out of the oven when my sister, Kelly, called and said mom's routine doctor's visit showed she had blood clots in both lungs. My sisters, Kathy and Kelly, and I drove to the hospital. Seeing mom in such a vulnerable way makes me feel 10 years old again, but at the same time, I keep thinking: What would dad do if he were here?
Family - we take them for granted from time to time and then crisis hits, and we pick up steam; but as the adrenaline wanes from the last crisis, we go about our day-to-day lives. We love them, fuss with them, keep in touch with them to one degree or the other, but when it's all said and done, life begins and ends with family. Mom joked with her nurses that she planned all this in order to get her three girls together. We don't do that much at this age.
In our month of thankfulness, we must never, ever, for heaven's sake (literally) forget family. We have family who are our "kin," to use a mountain term. We also have folks who have came into our lives as friends, but remain family til death do us part. That's the way God designed life. Family is a gift.
I love the little saying I see in catalogs embroidered on pillows: "I am smiling because I'm your sister," and "I'm laughing because there's nothing you can do about it." I keep meaning to buy it for my siblings.
It has been said, "everything rises and falls on leadership." Sad to say, often when a matriarch or patriarch dies, a family dissolves into "see you at the next funeral." Most families have a significant person who is the tie that binds. However, in Christ, he is the tie that binds, and family and friends are God's greatest gifts to us. We must never ever take them for granted.
May I say in the kindest way possible, and please do not allow this to cause unmerited paranoia, but parents: never take that child, grown or not, for granted. Never leave a child with a harsh word spoken, unresolved conflict, or allow anything to come between you and your child. The natural order of children burying their parents is not always going to happen. Love your kid like there's no tomorrow.
Spouses fall in love, get married and life marches on. We must never take our spouses for granted. I wrote an article right after my first husband died titled, "Happy Hellos and Loving Goodbyes." I was taught this notion in Bible College as a young woman and I'm so very glad I was because you just never know. As Kristin exited our home on the Fourth of July, I hugged her, urged her to keep in touch throughout her travels to Virginia, and told her I loved her. She did likewise. Last words are powerful and some days are etched into our minds forever. Make every day count and appreciate the moments, as it is the moments that we remember later.
Thankfulness for family and friends and the joy and support they bring us can never be overestimated or overly emphasized. If character is "who you are in the dark," then the kind of family member and friend we should be is who we are when the chips are down and someone else is hurting. Showing thankfulness with our words and deeds is a good goal for this week. Just being thankful is not enough. We need to show it, don't we?
Let petty differences fall by the way side and remember to have happy hellos and loving goodbyes. Enjoy loved ones today. Resolve conflict swiftly keeping in mind the bigger picture of the brevity of life and the uncertainty of tomorrow. "Live like your dying" is not played on the radio much, as I formerly heard it in stores all the time, but you got love the truth ... living like there's no tomorrow or at least lots of them and loving to the moon and back. I propose instead of living like we are dying and checking things off our bucket lists, that we "love like we are dying."
Mother Teresa said the following about love:
The success of love is in the loving - it is not in the result of loving.
Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the valueof what we have done- it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.
If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive.- We can do no great things; only small things with great love.
There is a terrible hunger for love.
We all experience that in our lives - the pain, the loneliness.
We must have the courage to recognize it.
The poor you may have right in your own family.
(Kimberly Morgan, MA, is a homeschool mom and wife living in Elkins. She also is a counselor and chaplain at Cornerstone Christian Counseling. Call her at 304-637-1109.)