Saturday, April 20, 2013

How much can a heart take?

The youngest son growing up on a Texas farm.

He serves with three of his brothers in the military.  One does not come home.

He meets a senior, who is 16, at the bus stop in west Texas.  He drives her heart straight to the church.  They're married.

They're the first to leave the farm for the big city - Kansas City with 2 children in tow.

Their third is born there.

He does the unthinkable for the times - cooks dinner and grocery shops.  If times are good, he brings home a Mr. Goodbar.

His wife is ambitious.  She wants to sell real estate.  He doesn't say no or tells her that women don't own their own businesses.  He does what it takes.

He is a man of few words. But when he speaks, everyone listens.

He lets his oldest granddaughter believe he moonlights as Jim Davis, Garfield author.  She tells her whole third grade class that she's related to Garfield.

A smoker since the military.  He quits cold turkey.  The youngest granddaughter finally did what the others could not - convince him to quit.

He is told to get his house in order.  He has cancer.  26 years later, he laughs.

The family has never seen him cry until his first great granddaughter dies.

His wife loses her memory.  He spends every day telling her how to do the simplest things and answers her questions over and over...

Now, he tells his stories all the time...Get comfortable.  You will be listening for a while.

So when the VA doctor tells my parents that he doesn't know how much a heart can hold, I know he speaks the truth.  He just doesn't know the size of my Pa's heart. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Half Way There

Nine years ago, I never pictured this sweet little baby having an attitude or always trying to become a third person in a grown-up conversation.  God is smart that way.

Now, I want to remember year 8 for a lot of reasons.  

Sadly, this is the first year that a peer has said something ugly to him. Most moms would want to forget that, but I want to remember his shock that ugliness exists.  And I'm grateful that he made it this far before he realized ugliness could be aimed at him. 

I want to remember stopping at Wendy's after Macy's dance class, I am finishing getting the order and Parker volunteered to get the table.  With all of four customers there, I was amazed at the urgency he had.  He picks a table next to a grandma and her daughter.  I hear him greet them and carry on a whole conversation.  I am worried that he might be intruding on their privacy and a little concerned that he doesn't have any fear talking to strangers.  When I come over, the lady compliments me on what a nice son I have - how nice to see a young man who so friendly and polite, she says.

I also want to remember that this is the first year Parker played basketball.  My favorite game was not Parker's last game when he scored his first points.  It's two games before that when Parker was defending a boy who made him look small.  Parker is in the 85th percentile for his height so you can imagine how big that boy was.  But Parker didn't act intimidated - he stayed on him with his arms high and the big boy never scored. After the game, Parker revealed that when they lined up, the big boy told him he might as well quit.  Parker replied "Never!"  Tony and I high- fived him and told him he was exactly right.  He never gives up even when facing a Goliath.  

I want to remember that this is the year that Parker started talking about wanting to be baptized.  The best conversation we had was when we were driving home from school and Parker wanted to know why we didn't observe Lent.  I was explaining (to the best of my humble ability) that the Bible doesn't command us to celebrate Lent and how it is a tradition for several faiths.  He then jokingly listed things he would be happy to give up - homework, brushing his teeth, and so forth.  I then told him for people who believe, Lent is every day.  "We give up we want and try to do what God wants.  Getting baptized means that you are making a public commitment that you love God and will live a unselfish life.  At 8, you haven't had many opportunities to be selfish, but as you get older, there will be plenty."  Parker came up with a few examples and then I pointed out that when he's in high school at a party, someone will offer him a beer.  "The selfish thing would be to take it so you can fit in.  You might even get in a car later - another selfish act that could hurt you and someone else.  Being unselfish is never easy.  But the Bible tells us it is better to never have made the commitment than to make the commitment and return to being selfish.  Do Daddy and I sometimes  do the selfish thing? Yes, but it makes us sick instead of happy.  So we have to ask for forgiveness and try to do better."  By then, we were home and Parker was happy to come inside and veg out for a little while.  A few days later, we are driving home from school again and Parker tells me, "Mom, I did an unselfish thing today."  "Really?  What was it?"  In my mind, I'm trying to guess at what small thing he did.  "I left the cool table at lunch and I went to the uncool table.  I sat next to _________ who no one likes and everyone makes fun of and he is always sitting by himself at lunch."  Simultaneously, I am thinking that since when did third grade have cool tables/uncool tables?  He was really listening!!!! What happened then?  The last question I asked.  "A couple of boys started yelling at me and asking what was I doing setting next to ___________.  I told them he was my friend too." "Then what?"  A couple of the other kids got up and sat down next to me. So Mom, that's what I am giving up - the cool table."  Blinking back tears, I told him, "I am so proud of you!"

After watching a Duck Dynasty episode, where Si finds "the sweet spot" at the pizza place, Parker picks to go to Chucky Cheese with his grandparents for his family fun birthday activity.  He quickly finds his own "sweet spot" and with laser-like focus amasses a ton of of tickets - over a thousand.  He goes to the prize counter while the rest of us help Macy spend her tokens. I keep glancing up to check up on him and think we could be here forever before he spends all those.  A couple of minutes later, he walks up to me with one item in his hand.  "Whatcha get?"  He flashes me a girls' set of play jewelry and a headband.  "I got this for Macy.  She doesn't have a prayer of getting 1,000 tickets."  Then he walks over to her, and I hear Macy say " YOU got this for ME?  Thank you, Parker!  You're the best brother ever!" I always want to remember how he surprises me with his unselfishness and the joy I heard in Macy's voice.

Nine years of hearing the sound of thunder as he comes down the stairs, stepping on Lego pieces, asking him if he brushed his teeth.  All these things that we may get frustrated by, I know we will be wishing for when he is grown.