Tuesday, July 12, 2005

coming as a child

Henry surprised me this afternoon and came bouncing into the yard with pure joy on his face, his mom behind him with baby Jude in her arms in the sling. I was potting flowers and pulling off the dead heads of the geraniums, the glory of the flamingo pink blooms in recession for a week or so.

It was hot, 90-something, and I suggested that we put water in his wading pool. Mollie took Jude into the sanctuary of the air conditioned living room while I handed the hose to Henry and carefully positioned my chair so my toes could dangle in the water. He began to giggle and said, “Grandmama, your toes are pink,” my lovely Denise-pedicure now as faded as my flowers are, altogether wilting in the heat of a July afternoon.

Henry discovered the discarded white plastic containers from my plantings and took them into the pool, laughing as the water spilled from the holes in their bottoms. I took command of the garden hose, foolishly thinking that I could escape the idea of an impending water skirmish, a thought I could read in Henry’s eyes.

So we battled, Henry’s bucket brigade an even match for me with the hose artillery. We howled as he planned one surprise attack after another, me pretending each time that I was outraged as I sprayed him with the icy cold water from Canton Lake, water I imagine we are not supposed to be using with such frivolity in this drought. For a moment he forgot that I was the enemy and said “I love you, grandmama.”

Henry found one of the plastic tigers from his zoo animal collection in the yard and placed it at the top of the water slide. I kept shooting the water so fast that the tiger would literally fly down the slide, each time Henry squealing with the sort of delight only a 3 year old can squeal. We laughed and splashed until the pool was completely full and I turned the water off. Then we rested, Henry pretending to dive for the tiger who kept slipping to the bottom of the plastic lagoon while I wondered about this business of being three.

My earliest memories of life are from the time I was three. I can remember as if it were yesterday riding my tricycle around the bricked terrace on the side of my parent’s home. I remember my dad working in his garage, late into the night, building beautifully crafted cabinets, the smell of wood overcoming me as I drifted off to sleep in the make-shift cot he fashioned for me from an old cardboard box. He would carry me in to bed and I can remember waking in that pleasant sleep-fog, knowing how much he loved me that he let me stay with him when other little ones my age were in their own beds.

Like Henry, I was blessed with having two parents who loved me. I, too, had a grandma who played with me, who was available, who treasured me. Sometimes life was hard and difficult to understand but in the big picture of my being, I knew I was valued and loved.

Every once in a while, it hits me that I am now a grown-up. Should that really be the case, since I am on the other side of the half-century mark, the L’Oreal bottle one of my nearest and dearest friends? Should I ever feel small and insignificant and in need of the reassurance that comes with immaturity?

I felt small tonight as I read e-mail from the homeschool group in my town. I have a friend I have known for many years. She is an old-timer homeschooler, too, and her husband is dying of cancer. The recent update says that he has less than a couple weeks to live. I had that familiar wave hit me again, that I am now the grown-up, being forced to deal with those things that I cannot understand. I could not sleep tonight, praying for Joy and her girls still at home. I prayed for the boys, all with their own families, some living far away. As you read here, please pray for this dear family as well.

I learned a long time ago not to ask “why?” It is a question that cannot be answered this side of heaven. But I do know that God’s plans for us are never for evil but are for our good. I read this passage today by puritan pastor William Bridge:

“Sometimes God permits this cloud to arise upon the peace and comforts of His people, that He may train them up unto more perfection. Comfort is the children’s milk. You may observe, therefore, that the weaker Christian has sometimes more lively, sensible comforts than the stronger Christian has. Why? Because this inward joy and peace and comfort is that milk and sweet honey, whereby they are drawn off from the pleasures and sweetness of the world; and as these comforts do wean us from the world’s comforts, so we have need to be weaned again from these weaners. This God does sometimes by the restraining of them, and so we grow up unto more perfection.” from A Lifitng Up for the Downcast ~ Banner of Truth.


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