"...I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
This morning the boys and I took a few minutes to watch some family videos on the computer. One of my favorites is a short little video of Calvin holding Miles in the hospital for the first time. In the clip Calvin notices different things about his new brother. He comments that Miles is "neat", he tickles his toes, he pokes his cheeks. My favorite moment, though, is one where newly made big brother Calvin puts his little hand over the blankets, cradles Miles head in his arm, and says "I got'cha."
Memorial Day weekend we spent at Great Grandma Chalmers house. It was not our usual visit with everything in place as we've always known it. Cinnamon toast in the mornings, cookies at tea time, a game of cards before bed. Every piece of furniture in it's place. Do you want the green and yellow guest room, or the brown?
It felt like the time my parents sold our family home, furniture and all, and retired to a different state. If there was any doubt childhood was over, that event drew the line in the sand. Home is not 'a place' any longer. It's a community.
Listen. I know it is just 'stuff'--and Grandma knows it, too. But oh the memories that are built around the stuff. The home in which for 24 years was a center point for our extended family to meet. "If the walls could talk," they say.
We were happy to visit Grandma Phyllis. She is settling in to an apartment where she is able to have people around to help, meals cooked, her space cleaned. All helpful and needed when you are 86.
It was good to see her, to talk with her, bring the boys. I know it was a difficult weekend for her. It has been a difficult process to finally decide it's time to let go of the house. I always say my plan is to pass from this life peacefully in the night the same hour as Raymond, when we are both very old. I wish it could happen that way. I can't imagine being on my own for the first time in my 80's. Grandpa made it possible to keep up the house on Torry Pines Drive. Without him, it's just too big of a job. As Grandma said, "I miss him. He made the world go 'round."
Grandma told me when she and Grandpa were praying about buying a home in Auburn, they prayed for four specific things: A big living room for lots of company, a hostess' kitchen, a large bathroom, and a view of a sunset. "Well, we didn't get the sunset, but we knew the minute we walked into that house that it was the one for us," she told me.
It's hard to let it go.
But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
Now, pieces of Torrey Pine House are scattered throughout Auburn, California and beyond. The Conn Organ that went to a 13 year old boy dressed in skater fashion, who begged his parents for the chance to have it. He writes his own music. Has taught himself to play. I don't know if that boy knows Jesus, but he took a box of organ music with him that included hymns my Grandma used to play from memory. The master bedroom set went to the neighbors who have helped Grandma out in so many ways these past few years. Boxes of books went to a new church in town. The craft supplies earmarked for children's Sunday school classes.
As for us, the clock Grandpa built now stands in my living room. Miles stops what he is doing and looks over at it quizzically every time it chimes. We brought home a couple old chests filled to the brim with memories. Some beautiful old depression glass dishes. A candy jar that Grandma tells me her mother kept filled with hard candies all the year round. Other odds and ends. May we be blessed to take the lessons we learned in hospitality from Torry Pines Drive and open our home and our lives in the same welcoming fashion.
And Grandma? Can you imagine beginning a new chapter of life at age 86? It seems that at that age things should just be settled in for the last haul. But Grandma is adjusting to a new home, a new routine, a new place. Even in her small apartment her gift of hospitality is felt in the careful way in which she decorated, her warm welcome and good conversation (the ice cream stash in the freezer). But I sense it has been hard. There has been so much loss and letting go. In many ways. So many ways about life that will just never be quite the same.
No more large living room full of guests. No more hostess' kitchen bubbling with delicious home cooking, fresh salads, the strawberries Grandpa used to grow. The large master bathroom now a very modest size.
But there is something. There is, finally, a sunset. A sunset over a field Grandma watches from her rocker every evening. An unmistakable I got'cha.
Be strong and of good courage...
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
You know, Grandpa Paul and Grandma Phyllis have been faithful ministers of the gospel their lives long. Grandma was involved in a wonderful effort to reach out to women with the Gospel, and traveled the country and the world with Enriched Living workshops. During those years Grandpa toted along the projectors and equipment in a support role for her. Richly gifted in hospitality, and dedicated to the uncomplicated love of Jesus, I can only think Grandma simply has more work for the gospel ahead of her. That sunset outside the window, it's a daily I got'cha. It's a grand finale. It's the last push.
You are the light of the world.
A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.