The Acorn to the Oak

13 06 2011

“There’s something I want to talk to you about at some point while you’re here.”

I was brushing my teeth, getting ready for bed, but one look at my father’s face changed my course.

“We can talk now,” I said.

He retrieved a thick file from the file cabinet and we sat at the kitchen table. There were some important documents in the front and he briefly mentioned their contents, but he was mostly looking for a separate manila folder inside. “Your mom wrote these obituaries for us years ago, but I want you to rewrite them when the time comes.”

“Okay. I can do that for you.” I scanned the detailed documents, filled with dates and events, hobbies and travels, college degrees and career moves.

“This is too much,” he said. “I don’t want all this. For mine, just say, ‘Family was everything to him.'”

I smiled. Because I probably won’t just say that. And because it’s true.

We continued to flip through the folder’s contents until we came to a yellowed clipping of his father’s obituary. Poppy died when I was only three years old. There was also a letter. As soon as Dad opened it, I recognized his mother’s handwriting. My Mimi. Four handwritten pages penned fifty years ago by a young widow to her son and his wife.

Dear Patsy and Jim, How can I ever express to you how much I love you and how much you mean to me! You have been so wonderful at a time I have leaned so heavily on you and such a comfort to me. The days must look very dark to those who have no Faith when they lose a loved one. Dad has always had such deep faith and I’m sure he’d have us say, “Thy will be done” . . .

We both leaned in close. It was almost as if Mimi were there with us, speaking the words in her soft Southern tones. When we reached the middle of the second page, I felt like I was tiptoeing on holy ground — sneaking a glimpse into God’s ways.

Jim, you have such a wonderful wife and three lovely intelligent children — they show that they are loved and will grow into useful and happy young ladies with well rounded lives not omitting their spiritual side of it —

And suddenly I’m sixteen again with a newborn faith, bowed before the One who made me and then made me His, and I know that someone has prayed me here, but who? And the Spirit whispers her name. Mimi.

The letter goes on, pouring grace words on my young parents, words of gratitude and love, her heart so freshly broken yet full of them. Full for them.

Kiss each other and all the children for me, she writes at the end, and then I love you. And we feel it, Dad and I, his words catching in his throat.

He closes the folder. We’ve been facing finalities and now he turns to look at me, and he wants to know. What do I think about the scriptures that say there is no marriage in heaven? My sweet father who loves with his whole being. He doesn’t say it with words, but he doesn’t have to. I know his heart. Family is everything to him. The bride of his youth, she defines him, and he can’t fathom a good heaven that would take that bond away.

We talk. Of acorns and oak trees. Of a drop compared to the ocean. Of love made Love, and how can we imagine it when we have no context? And no, I can’t promise the partial won’t be swallowed in the Whole, but I can promise that we won’t miss the good when the Perfect comes.

Words seem so inadequate. I want to believe for him. To be sure for him.

The days must look very dark to those who have no Faith when they lose a loved one. 

She whispers it again, and I ask. For him, faith, and heart soil to receive it, and the miracle of new creation. I ask with joy and gratitude. I ask with hope. Because I know His heart.

Family is everything to Him.

* * *

Giving thanks in community for:

#129 Mimi’s faith and prayers
#130 my father’s beautiful heart and example
#131 delicious meals provided the past week by Luke and Sarah’s friends
#132 Naomi’s soft hair and sweet squeaky sounds
#133 Grace and Harper arriving tonight
#134 Heaven


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5 responses

13 06 2011
Diana Trautwein

BIG sigh. Just delightful and so sweet, in the very best sense of that word. You know, when I was younger (and not so thoroughly ‘mature’ as I am now), I used to think being raised in a Christian home, coming to faith at an early age and never facing into things like drug addiction, promiscuity, alcoholism in my home – well, it just made for a really boring testimony. Ah, no. NOT TRUE. As I moved into young adulthood and began having children, my point of view shifted dramatically and I became increasingly grateful for the story that is mine – and it is not boring in the least. You tell a very similar one, so as I read I am reminded again of the grace to be found in two parents who loved each other deeply, who loved the Lord and the church and their children, and who prayed for us as we grew. Thank you so much for sharing this story of deep generational ties – this, THIS is the goal for followers of Jesus – that their children and their children’s children, on down the line would come to a place of faith and live a life of gospel being and doing.

14 06 2011
George

I thank God for the gift He’s given you in depicting life in aptly constructed words… like gold filigree, fresh fruit in its season! Even though I’m married to you and share many word-rich conversations with you, these penned words still make me weep!

Oh Lord God have mercy on us as we feel the hot winds of the curse with each fleeting day and week. Let every joy be returned to You in clarion praise! Hosea 6:1-3

14 06 2011
Linda

My Dad is 91; my Mom 87. We have had similar talks, my Mom and I. It pierces the heart. My Dad begins to ask these sorts of questions too. They both wonder more about what heaven will be. How precious to know that it really will all be Perfect – even when we can’t imagine anything dearer than this.

15 06 2011
chris

hi Jeanne,

reading your post, and in particular the part in which you ask for faith for your Dad, I’m put in my mind of John 14, 21: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” it looks to me as tho’, in this context, Jesus has in mind those who already have faith. but it also seems to me that, in His generosity, Jesus will make Himself manifest to those who do not yet have faith, or have only a partial faith, as long as they are genuinely trying, with all their heart and all their strength, to keep His commandments, whatever doubts or perplexities they might have at an intellectual level.
For Jesus to make Himself known to someone who loves Him and His law, what is required of the mind is not total intellectual committment, but at most genuine openness: if there is committment of heart, and openness of mind, Jesus will turn that openness of mind into committment, enabling someone to love God with all his mind, as well as all his heart, and soul, and strength. From your description, your father certainly seems open to faith. As for trying to keep God’s commandments, someone who, as you put it, “loves with his whole being” is not just trying, but having the kind of success I pray i’ll someday have..

hope this is encouraging. i know i’ve said this before, but i am SO blessed by your posts!

–chris

12 07 2011
LLH Designs

Another treasure if a post. I rarely click on “random” names anymore because it leads me into too much time spent away from my family, but at this late hour when all is quiet, I’m glad I took the time to read these words. God was good to lead me here tonight.

Blessings,
Linsey

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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