left: me, pregnant with Jameson; right: my mother in law, Jeannie, pregnant with Ryan
I’ve been giving this day, November 18, 2014, a lot of thought. Today, my very dear mother in law turns 70. Isn’t that wonderful? That nice round number represents an awful lot of days — lots of alarms set, lots of lunches packed, lots of activities attended, lots of exhausted evenings, lots of charts read, lots of smiles given, lots of tense days, happy days, just plain-Jane days. And, because it’s her, lots of sparkling eyes and throw-your-head-back laughter. Lots of, “I’m going to invent that!” ideas, and lots of dinners with friends. Lots of books read, lots of prayers prayed, lots of hugs and kisses given, lots of tears and fears, lots of doctor’s appointments, lots of lawns mowed and DIY projects.
Just lots. Lots!
But when I think of this special woman, it doesn’t occur to me that she’s already seen 70 years’ worth of sunrises, because her smile greets each one as if it were the first. Every days is new, and life is worth being expectant and hopeful. There is no cynicism. No weariness. She thrills at my fourth baby standing independently — her seventh grandchild, not to mention three of her own children she’s watched, and an office-full of OB patients who’ve brought their kids in — as if it were the first baby on earth to discover their balance. There is spring in her step. I used to think that expression simply meant “youthful energy,” but watching her, I realize it’s so much more. It’s thankfulness and hope and not growing stale in one’s appreciation of life.
That was a really long intro, and not even what I intended to write, but worth praising.
Having Jeannie in the back of my mind these past few months, contemplating the gift that she is to us, a sermon I recently heard made me sit up straight and say to myself, “That’s her! That’s what she does!”
Mike Cavanaugh was visiting our church in October. He preached about loving people — not just having love in your heart, but actually communicating that love to another’s heart. The entire message was wonderful and practical, but that last point put tears in my eyes. He spoke of giving legacy, meaning, to someone’s life: viewing them with a hope-filled lens and then saying it, repeating it, until it’s “their story.”
And I thought of Jeannie. She has given that gift to Ryan, and by extension, to the children and me. She took an energetic, spontaneous, strong-willed boy and saw leadership, strength, and creativity. I know full well the seasons of heartache and nagging doubts that were part of being his mom, but she spoke future and hope and carried them in her heart when it seemed to be lost. And somehow, the man of stature and conscience and ideas that her son has become isn’t a surprise or a relief, but is exactly what she has always seen and believed him to be — even when he was just a lemonade-selling freckled little boy. I love that. All of the events of his life were woven into a legacy of strength passed on from previous generations, redemption through Jesus, and personal destiny.
Isn’t that just part of being a good mother? Isn’t it about “hiding all these things” in your heart, carrying them through the highs and lows, seeing past runny noses and nighttime fevers and grade school problems and even devastating phone calls and knowing that God gave me this child, and there is a future for him? Seeing strength and unique abilities where selfishness would see inconvenience and trouble?
So, today I’m thankful for the gift of “Your father was always [fill in the blank with some shining quality].” My children receive a gift of legacy every time they hear their father spoken of in such a way. And I receive the gift of a wonderful example.
Happy birthday to a truly wonderful (in this and so many other ways) woman. We bless you!