I remember it was an unseasonably cold day in Michigan in the early summer. We drove Up North to see grandma and grandpa. I am pretty sure that Rene and Jack and Colson were with us. My grandparents were staying in an itty-bitty motel room, the kind you find along the main stretches in the small towns Up North. Grandma looked quite awful. I remember it took me a bit to get over it. She had to have the oxygen tank on and it was kind of loud. The room was small, the boys were antsy, and it was chilly out. The circumstances were not ideal for a meaningful visit. Brad took the boys outside to run around a bit.
Grandma told me she liked my shirt. I still have it. And I smile every time I wear it and think about the fact that she liked it. I remember telling her how easy it was to pack because it never wrinkled. She smiled, she was no stranger to packing for trips. I am sure she and grandpa offered me some coffee and some candy and any other sweets they had piled up around their tiny room. They were straying in the little motel room while the flooring was replaced in their house. My aunt was there too, but I think she ran out for a bit while I chatted with grandpa and grandma and Rene.
There was more quiet than conversation. It has always been OK to just be with each other. For reasons I can't quite explain, I am a terrible phone person and I was horrible about calling grandma and worse about writing. So I did always want to go be with her when we were in Michigan, this visit was no exception. I think she must have known. I think she knew it was the last time we would sit in a room together, and she wanted to make sure I heard this Truth from her. She told me I was doing a good job with the boys. I think at first I just nodded. But then she sounded a little stern and elaborated a little more about how well they listened and how much it mattered. I can't remember all the words she said, but I can remember how I felt when I heard them. Seen and loved and secure.
Looking back, I don't think she intended this to be a compliment so much as she meant it to be something for me to hold on to; to grab a hold of on the hard days when I wasn't so sure about it. It was a gift that I have pulled out and mulled over in the years since. She gave me a light to hold on during the dark days, and I think she gave it to me because she had her share of dark days too. Rather than chat me up about how to parent and tell me what she wished she would have done differently, she just encouraged me with a few words about my boys.
When we hugged, she whispered her love into my ear and I whispered mine back. I was bawling when I buckled my seat belt and told Brad I would never see her again. Of course, I meant I would never see her again on earth. And I was right.
I hold on to that gift she gave me though. Those words that encouraged my heart on a day when she was so weary and weak. She gave those words to me because she knew I had more life to live. Its like she planted a little seed that day, like she knew at just the right time it would take root and sprout. Combined with God's word and the Spirit in me, her words give me hope on hard days. Stubborn hope that keeps bursting forth when my parenting seems questionable at best. And although she had no idea I would have twins one day, God knew it and I believe He gave her those words to share with me for such a time as this. :)