This is My Mema on the week she got engaged. This is my Grandpa Ray, I was never able to meet him.
He was killed in a plane crash when my Mom was 8! I would love to have known him. The way my family remembers him, talks about him, even sometimes says his name... I know I would have liked him! I imagine what it would have been like to hear his voice, to snuggle into his chest, and to listen to his stories. I don't have that privilege, but Mema tells them with such detail I feel like in some ways I do know him.
I loved reading all the posts on social media yesterday about Moms!
Mother's Day is a beautiful way to sweetly say Thank You, to the one that is constant for most of us... Our Moms! Behind the scenes, clothed in spit-up, crayon flecks, and the whirlwind of dinner, schedules, bandaids, and every phone call where the voice on the other end needs to be reassured life will go on.
I think of my Mema, Martha Andress, on Mother's Day. The only Grandma I have had the honor to know. My Dad's mom passed away before my parents were married. I might be biased, but I have the BEST Mom in the world, and in large part it is because of her Mom, My Mema!
Fiercly independent still at 83! Mema drives. Goes to the gym. Raised 4 kids. Worked. Has a yard that could literally be in "Better Homes and Garden"! She could still be an interior decorator, always put together even for a trip to the grocery store, and has a tiny bit of a sweet tooth that makes me giggle.
I spent some time in Idaho where my Mema lives this April. My sister and I were able to go for the weekend. You know it is a magical time when you lay awake at night laughing, talking, and of course getting sucked into another episode of the "Golden Girls!" Her house is a peaceful, beautiful place that begs you to come and rest for awhile! To be loved, to laugh, and to drink more coffee than I should. Time spent sitting on her back porch watching the ducks, and hearing her stories. I love listening to her stories. Stories of daily goings-on, neighbors, things that she says that always make me laugh, memories from some time ago with such detail I can see them happening, and always stories wrapped with more love than I think I will ever understand.
See my Mema is a fighter. But a fighter clothed in dignity, entangled in love, and in every sense of the word she lives with courage.
When I think of the call my Mema answered, I know what strength is. I can see it. It is written on her. The love of her lifetime, the pride of her 4 children and all they have done, and the way she is invested in the lives of all those she loves. Yes, she is a fighter, clothed in courage. But she fights with a heart of gold, a listening ear, and all the empathy one could muster up.
I can't imagine what it must have been like when she answered the phone that morning to learn that her husband had died. In that moment her everything had radically shifted. I think of the way she heard her husband had been killed in a plane crash, (My grandpa was a pilot, and a passenger committed suicide by killing the two pilots and crashing the plane in California). Knocking at the door, neighbors and family filling the house. Looking at her children not knowing exactly what to do next, but I can tell you when she talks about it there is strength in her voice. There is Courage. And there is deep love in the midst of loss.
I think of the way she realized her life had changed forever. She had 4 kids to raise. She could not drive a car, and did not have a job. Her high school sweetheart tragically killed, and now life without him.
She has loved my grandpa for the last 51 years after his death. Remembers him in the most beautiful way. If I am lucky enough to fall in love, I want someone to remember me the way she speaks about my Grandpa Ray. Almost like their love has grown over the years. And yes, even though he is gone she carries him. He is there. He is with her. And she continues to love him. You can tell that by the way she recalls stories and memories, with such detail as if he is in the room and could correct her at any moment. It is a tender thing to listen to her share.
Mema can recall noticing him in high school, he was the new student. She said, "He had clean elbows and clean socks." Haha, yes elbows and socks were a big deal to her. And that was it. She loved him. He moved away, and they stayed connected through letters until after college. I mean seriously, the BEST!
She combines strength and beauty, with a funny sense of humor and every extension of grace to those around her. Mema is witty, wise, and yes worries, but because she truly cares.
Mema knows what it means to love and to sacrifice!
I have thought a lot about that lately. What is strength?
The more I circle around that word, I keep thinking of my Mema's face. The picture of strength.
Strength is endurance yes, but I think it is endurance disguised as love and sacrifice. That is real strength to me. Strength is to love, and to give. The fight to love and the bravery to never give up. To never stop loving and giving even when the call does not make sense and you wish you could change it. THAT is strength. When it hurts, and when all you want to do is stop fighting. BUT real strength is enduring. Real strength is giving with your whole heart, and loving when you cannot see the bigger picture. When all hope is lost, in moments you wish you could change, and in situations you never could have imagined. Strength comes in a flood of love, mustered around the courage to keep at it with unwavering FAITH that God has us!
Through it all He is the one that is holding us.
Our God says He will give us strength. We can snuggle into His chest, and He will once again tell us who we are. He will remind us how treasured we are, how magnificent we are created, and how He is WITH us and will give us all we need. And on those days sitting in our Heavenly Father's lap, in His presence, our weakness, our fear fades into His strength and power. We can once again walk. That is how we can give, love, and have courage when it does not make sense. WE lean into the heart of the Father. We can endure because He has first loved and given to us.
I want to have strength nestled in faith like my Mema.
I want to live with joy, to know deepest love, and to continue to give when it hurts the most... That is strength I see in my Mema. I marvel at her.
Strength is my Mema.
She is beauty wrapped in perfect posture, unwavering faith, an incredible green thumb, and a deep love for those she calls hers!
She continues to run, and while the pace might be a bit slower these days, she does not grow weary.
Her strength has made her so very beautiful.
I know what strength is because I have watched her live strength. My hero, My Mema!
"God strengthens the weary
and gives vitality to those worn down by age and care.
Young people will get tired;
strapping young men will stumble and fall.
But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength.
They will soar on wings as eagles.
They will run—never winded, never weary.
They will walk—never tired, never faint."