Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Things of a life... (SOLS)

Things are mostly moved now, from the big one-bedroom apartment to the small one-bedroom apartment.  The things that make a life, like pictures and furniture, cookware and curio cabinets, piled up and divvied out to new homes. 
The woven photo albums in splashy 70s shades, like avocado and harvest gold, are open again -- their contents like a life movie with each page turn.  There's the old two-story house that came before me, with its summer kitchen, on East Main Street...and the summer trips to 'the lakes' (which, where I live, 'the lakes' refers to a region in the northern part of the state that is polka-dotted with bodies of water remainded from a glacier -- nobody is really particular about which one, Wawassee or Big Turkey -- as long as it's a lake).  There are weddings, and anniversary celebrations.  There are Christmas gatherings, and annual cousin pictures in front of the tree.  I used to spend hours looking through these during visits to Grandma's house.   
The furniture, like the upholstered chair made in my grandfather's factory so long ago, sit waiting for a new nest.  The furniture, made by the hands of men drinking coffee at the Palmer House, worshipping at the Mennonite church, standing at the gas station; the furniture, as strong as the local artisans who crafted it, will stay in the family.  Two wingback chairs to Dick, the kitchen set to Barb, the curio cabinet to Janet...
For weeks now, this move has been in the front of her children's thoughts.  "It's time now, Mom," their minds, and hearts, and hands would say.  Somewhere behind those wonderings hid their darker counterparts...the ones, they hoped, would never see today's light -- "What if she forgets where she parked the car while running an errand?" ...  "What if she forgets how to get home?" ...  "What if something happens to her and we can't get there in time?" ...  "What if she doesn't remember us?"...  "She needs more support than her place offers," they conclude. 
"Mom, we think..." 
The bedroom suite gets divided.  The dressers, both bachelor and tall boy, head to assisted living down the hall; the bed moves to Barb's because the new space is equipped with a hospital-style bed.  Just in case.  Which, by now, the 'just in case' scenario is the stuff of Grandma's dreams.  It's been 17 years now without him.  17 years in her own apartment.  17 years to gradually lose heart and health, family members, and track of what was once so natural.  
"I'll live where you want me to," she resigns.
My mom, third in birth order and elder daughter, is blessed with reconciling Grandma's old apartment kitchen because the new one is a slim reminder of independent cooking.  She finds the dull, metal colander that would emerge each fall for homemade applesauce; the time-worn candy thermometer that would help create the Christmas candy my little chubby fingers loved to reach onto the buffet and grab; the stout stockpot where I once saw a cow tongue boiling.  (I mention this now because I'm pretty sure I will never forget the sight...)  A guilty thought takes root...and grows between the piles of Pyrex, melamine, and relics from a number of auctions and family hand-me-downs: "My mom never had anything nice," she muses while considering the shiny All-Clad cookware tucked into her own kitchen cabinets.
These things are just things, nice or otherwise...the thermometer, the pots and pans, the furniture, the tchotchkes...the ones I remember from their three-bedroom ranch, and then the one-bedroom apartment, now moved and boxed and piled.  They are the things of life, but mostly they are reminders of the person whose hands first held them...and who first held us. 
My grandmother, Lorraine.

Write on,

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My One Little Word 2013

Last year, I sat at this very laptop creating an image that would remind me of my goal to savor.  To take the time to relish.  To enjoy unhurriedly the moments that make my life.  And, three areas planted themselves in the fore of my vision...  

In many ways, I feel like I did savor -- I slowed down {sometimes}.  I splurged by choosing the 'more fun' option over the 'responsible' option {sometimes}.  I opted for the 'junk food' over the 'healthy' treat {most times -- who am I kidding?}.  In many ways, though, I feel like savoring challenged the whole of my task-oriented being.  Over the course of last year, I realized savoring is much bigger than me.  

It requires me to allow God to reorient my life and its responsibilities.  
It requires my willingness to grow out of myself to rely on Him, 
even if I really want my way.  
It requires a mindshift: it's Him, not me, who inspires lasting life changes.   

I can see it clearly now -- I need to be refined.

In reading a bit on how gold is refined {through my non-metallurgist perspective}, the very process of its refinement impacted me most.  Yielding pure gold requires many steps to remove impurities, which, of course, involve time, energy, and method.  Not only does this sound familiar, but it's also highly applicable to this year's OLW.

As 2013 begins and my focus deepens from savoring life on the surface to undergoing lasting change, questions dart through my mind like errant pinballs bumping into lighted frames inside a game table. Will I make the time?  Will I choose God's method over my own?  Will I accept the steps by expending the necessary (and worthwhile) energy to be refined?    

This isn't the first time I've stared down a new year in similar pursuit.  This year, however, feels different.  There's impetus; I guess a bigger WHY that feeds my longing for change.  I know it won't be easy.  There are no short-cuts.  It will get ugly.  It will take discipline.   But, just as smelted gold shines radiantly in the end, so my life will grow richer, sweeter, and more inviting to bask beneath (read: savor) in years to come.  

Write on,