Thursday, November 7, 2013

Role Models

Millie is frustrated.
Wild animal tracks have been spotted near the school and she is afraid the little children are in harm's way. She also thinks her family isn't treating the situation with the seriousness it deserves. As part of that family, I'd say she's probably correct in that assessment: there is a deeply serious vein running through the family tree, but one has to dig through quite a bit you-know-what to get to the root of it.
But this is Millie. She's not wringing her hands dithering; nope, she's on the phone, calling on her network, and making something happen.
In my opinion, no sensible wild critter would DARE lurk near anyone's munchkins, knowing Millie is around. There's a force field, and being a great grandma has not diminished its clout.

Back in the day, I was a newly wed, rookie farm wife, with the willingness to help of a five year old and just about the same level of expertise. The learning curve was steep, and like Sisyphus, I felt I spent as much time going down as I did climbing up. Blessedly, there was a sympathetic soul nearby with seemingly endless time to drink coffee and help me settle in.....and it wasn't my husband! Nope, it was my mother in law, and I can't imagine any young wife joining a family/family business has ever enjoyed a more open armed, open door, open relationship with her husband's mom
She taught me to wallpaper, reupholstered my grandma's handmedown couch, coached me through chicken butchering, shared meals, and helped me find a home at church. I was invited to play bridge every once in a while, build floats for parades, and begin a decades long tour at vacation Bible school.
There have always been projects erupting in her house. Perhaps its a grandchild or great grand child's quilt. Perhaps a costume, or a dress for a wedding party, or a kennel of Pound Puppies, or a dozen pillow case dresses for missions. If there isn't a sewing machine on the table and a thicket of pins in the armrest of the couch, there's a stack of newspaper articles and photographs to testify to a love of family lore and community history. These works in progress are all the evidence I need of what it takes to continue a life well lived: service, work, and curiosity drive the engines of body and mind and keep the machinery well oiled.
An open door and open mind attracts all kinds of characters; itinerant sales folk find ham sandwiches if hunger pangs strike. Millie has more than one piece of ruined upholstery to show for her warm hospitality. There are lots of contestants, but only one winner in the 'favorite'aunt category (sorry, Aunt Debbie!) and this Grandma Millie is everyone's confidant. As each generation of babies becomes toddlers, then rambunctious grade schoolers, then uncertain junior high athletes, varsity cheerleaders, linemen, forwards, FFA presidents, leads in the school play, and graduates in robes and tassels, Grandma and Papa have worn their butts smooth on Tarkio High bleachers and their voices raw screaming 'Go Big Red' and offering helpful suggestions to the officials on the scene. It can be a full time job.
It isn't easy having a big heart; your family doesn't end with your kin. Loving all these years leaves scars only God knows and those who grieve along and share the burden willingly. Prayers are sent up and prayers are answered, not only in heaven, but even day by day in real time on earth. When that happy result occurs, I am convinced angels join in the on earth is not an equation, but we should embrace our gift horses whenever we can.....
And my mother in law takes her joys on a daily basis....her priorities are clear; life, love, and laughter trump order, and everything can wait for tomorrow if there are grandkids to cuddle. Just another lesson to live by: Appreciate the past, and deal with the present one layer at a time.
This is what I know, my kids know, and my grandkids will remember: "I love my rooster, My rooster loves me" , Kkkkkkk-Katy, beautiful Katy, you're the only ggggirl I adore.." , or, all together now, " I live in Montana; I wear a bandana! My spurs are of silver, my pony is gray..." These are the tunes my babies heard, bundled in blankets and encompassed, enfolded in generous, ever open, untiring and ever lovin' arms.
To offer unconditional love unto the third and fourth generation? Is that not Biblical in its scope? Are we not blessed, every one, to bask in that home spun glow for more than our allotted three score and ten?

Just what I am thankful for today ....and I am not alone.....


  1. You had me tearing up! What a wonderful post about what is indeed a wonderful soul.
    Laurie - Country Link