It’s February 2021 and I find I’m following a recipe of sorts.
Take the fact that in our neck of the woods we’re caught in the throes of wintry weather – snow accumulations, icy conditions, and below freezing temperatures. Add to that we’re still locked in the grips of this never-ending pandemic. Then stir in a healthy dose of retirement. Keep warm, safe, and secure in a cozy house because there aren’t many other options.
What’s the end result? Not a yummy baked cake because Papa and I are trying to eat healthy and watch our carbs. Instead, if you follow this recipe, you wind up with a good bit of time on your hands.
I am not much of a television watcher because I find few programs worthwhile. But occasionally, Papa discovers something interesting on streaming apps that I will tune into with him. We’ve actually enjoyed a few programs on Brit Box, occasionally a good movie or two on Netflix or Amazon Prime. But mostly, watching TV is Papa’s thing, not mine.
So, what does this Mama do instead? I read a lot – either real books I can hold in my hands or eBooks I can access on my Kindle app. I try to keep my mind alert and train my brain by completing scads of crossword puzzles because I’ve reached an age where forgetfulness starts creeping in. I work on Bible studies in hopes that some day in the near future, the ladies group I lead can once again meet in person, face-to-face.
To top off my February recipe, I’ve also been sorting through old cards, letters, and just plain stuff in my overabundance of free time and organizing those things I choose to keep and purging unnecessary and unwanted items.
But sometimes when I have free time like this, I opt to just sit and think. And when I do, I tend to jump into the time machine of my mind and head backwards. And then I wonder, is that a sign of ‘getting old’? When you sit around and re-live the past in your mind?
When I was younger, I honestly spent very little time just sitting and thinking very often. Instead, I filled my days (and evenings too) with the next thing, the next project, the next event, whatever it was to be accomplished. Always something to do or someplace to be or something to take care of.
At some point along the way, my appointment planner, once filled to capacity on each day of the month, morphed into a simple paper desk calendar with more empty spaces than jam-packed ones. Whereas I used to awaken each morning with a plan in mind for the entire day, now I awaken and think, “Hmmm, what day IS it?”
So, my mostly empty desk calendar reminds me of a few noteworthy days this month. Two happy, one sad.
During the month of February my last child, our son, was born over 30 years ago. Happy thoughts.
During the month of February, our first grandchild was born six years ago. More happy thoughts.
And in the month of February, my mother, fighting the good fight yet struggling to win, lost her battle with an invasive and vicious (her doctor’s words) cancer over 20 years ago. That’s the one sad thought.
However, I endeavor not to dwell on the day my mother passed from this life to the next. Oh, I well remember it and the grief that engulfed me threatens to swell over me again when I think of it.
But I choose to remember my mother’s birthday, which will arrive in the glorious spring, instead of her death day. I make a concerted effort to remember the countless, joyous memories of my Mom and her many years of life instead of that last day of her life.
When we learned my mother was ill, I found it no coincidence that Papa and I had just cemented our decision to move cross country from the Pacific Northwest to this other side of the country where my hometown is located. After over 20 years living far away from ‘home,’ our family of five lived with my parents for the last eight months of my mother’s life.
Two thoughts are etched in my memory from the time shortly after Mom died and they come to mind as I write this.
Following my mother’s death, a family friend shared a conversation with me that she had during her last visit with my mother. The friend asked Mom if my family and I were having any luck finding a new home after moving back. My mother replied to her that she hoped we would not find one but continue living there with her and Dad. That revelation reassured me that having five extra people in the house including three noisy kids under the age of 17 wasn’t a burden to my ailing mother, but a blessing.
The second remembrance that I have never forgotten is a pertinent question a friend asked me shortly after my mother’s memorial service: “Don’t you feel bitter that your mom died so soon, and you didn’t get much time with her after you finally got the chance to move back home?”
My response then would be the same today: “No, I’m not bitter, I’m grateful and blessed that I had the opportunity to be with Mom – 24/7 – for the last eight months.”
Perspective. That’s what I tried to remember then and continue to do now. Some days we will have joy; and some will bring us sorrow. But it’s all about our perspective in life, our attitude towards our circumstances, as well as a faith that God will sustain us through those difficult times of life. Because He does, He will, and He always will do so.
That’s my February remembrance and a good recipe for life.
“Just knowing you don’t have the answers is a recipe for humility, openness, acceptance, forgiveness, and an eagerness to learn – and those are all good things.” ~ Dick Van Dyke