Saturday, January 18, 2014

To a Few Lilley Women

This particular week in January is often a difficult one for me.  It marks the anniversary of my mother’s death.  It’s been 4 years now and I still miss her.  I think of something I want to tell her and start to reach for the phone only to realize she’s not there.  I had one of those moments this week as I cleaned a bathroom mirror – yes, a bathroom mirror.  My mom was a stickler for cleaning and very particular, so I learned to clean early and well – smooth, even, horizontal strokes from bottom to top so the cleaner didn’t have a chance to streak your fresh work!  I smiled as I saw the first sparkling swipes and thought about calling to tease her about the lessons in cleaning only to remember she was no longer there. 

My mind moved to some of the other things deeply ingrained by mamma: never call boys, always wear clean underwear, speak when spoken to, always be polite, be respectful to your elders, say please and thank you, to mention just a few (there are a LOT of rules in the South).

Then I thought of a conversation I’d just had with my daughter where she’d expressed gratitude for something I’d taught her.  We always tried to evaluate situations based on the principle, “does this matter in the face of eternity”. She was grateful for the truth, as she’d shared the principle with a friend who’d found it to be helpful as well.

As I cleaned, I wondered if there was anything of eternal significance in the lessons that I’d learned from my mother.  While those lessons are not insignificant, they represented Southern culture, not faith, and I walked away from the mirror sad.

But in God’s goodness, in the stillness of this snowy morning, He reminded me that He did use my mother’s family to provide some lessons of tremendous eternal significance for me.  While this is by no means an exhaustive family or thank you list, there are a few things that have helped form the good part of who I am today.  And for those things, I’d like to say a public thank you.   

Service is an excellent way to show love – thank you Aunt Lib, especially for sweet potato biscuits and taking care of me .

Art is worship and lifts the soul – thank you Aunt Margaret, especially for Polonaise and paint.

For showing me that love takes on many forms, all sacrificial (like the White House), that faithfulness stays put, that love encourages when you feel like the black sheep and are lost and not sure what to do – thank you Sarah!

Some people love so much, they worry about their dogs going heaven, and their cousins too, so they love and pray and they make time for you and your children, in their lives, even when they're at the end of theirs – thank you Ruthie!

And last, but far from least, some people are really good at loving unconditionally when you least deserve it, and making a place for you in their heart, home, prayers, and hugs.  They take you in when you have no real home and make you feel like it’s OK to just be you – thank you Margie!

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