Monday, May 26, 2014

WITH SOME WE ARE BORN WITH SOME WE ARE BLESSED Many people come into our lives at birth – whether ours or theirs. Most of these people are very cherished and enjoyed for our whole lives. It obviously starts with our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, etc. As we grow, we gather others along the way and our circle of loved ones and acquaintances is larger than we could ever imagine. As the circle widens, we invariably gather those we just tolerate for any number of reasons. We either keep them or put them out of our lives. One of the most difficult or blessed large gathering of new people is when we marry. Our relationship with our spouse and our children should be the biggest blessing of our lives. We choose the spouse, hopefully with prayer and much care, and we nurture and guide the children. If God is the center of our lives, we have chosen well and we will bring up our children in His ways. Sometimes we have disappointments, but we usually sort those out with God’s direction. The difficult part can come with the parents, siblings and extended family of our spouses. Those of us who have been married more than once may have experienced enough difficulty with these people that it greatly contributed to the end of that marriage. Through history “in-laws and out-laws” have been the building blocks for comedy routines and many complaining conversations with friends. Is the comedy funny? Yes, most of the time it is quite funny. Is the complaining constructive? Very seldom unless there is abuse involved and we need to be led to help. Through my long life experience, some of my closest and most rewarding relationships have been with my three aunts, three great-aunts, their spouses and my cousins. I was not blessed to grow up with my cousins on my dad’s side, but have been reunited and some of us are growing quite close. These people are important to me and they will always be important. They have contributed greatly to the richness of my life and the wonderful memories will remain with me to my death if I am blessed to keep a sound mind. Are there disagreements and the occasional spat? Most certainly there are. But we love each other through them. Twenty two years ago I met a wonderful man, his two precious daughters, his parents and extended family. We fell in love, married and I helped to bring up the girls. They now have blessed all of the family with three precious grandsons that are the light of my life. We lost my father-in-law soon after we met and I miss his presence in our lives. Bill’s mother calls me her “daughter-in-love.” We are very close and I love her so much, as she loves me. I wouldn’t trade her for the world and I am so thankful for her and for our relationship. As we know, most women do not share this kind of love with the mother of their husbands. Glenis is one of seven children – three girls and four boys. One sister and three brothers remain. Two siblings were lost at birth which would have made a total of nine. Her mother was so busy having babies and trying to recover that a lot of the mothering fell to the oldest daughter, our Aunt Vaudell. This dear woman is the one behind this thesis. My earliest and most vivid memory of Aunt Vaudell is the first Halloween after Bill and I met. We took the girls to her house to trick-or-treat. Who opens the door but UNCLE Vaudell and AUNT Lyman! They had changed places. I was utterly enchanted and laughed so hard it hurt. They were so funny and happy. I was instantly accepted and brought into the fold. I cannot say enough about Aunt Vaudell or express my joy that she entered my life. She is one of those people you instantly love. I could spend hours telling what I know of her life from her early childhood, but I will try to sum it up. I have already said that much of the mothering of her siblings fell to her. She was also the chief cook trying to feed the large family who lived on a farm and grew most of their own food. She is in her 93rd year. Need I describe the kitchen and what it took to put a meal on the table? No modern appliances, no indoor plumbing, no electricity for many years. It was hard work to feed a hard working family who had to milk cows and care for other stock before the sun came up and before they ate breakfast. By the time breakfast was finished, dinner had to be started, and the same for their supper. Her work was not confined to the kitchen, or even to the house. When she was needed in the fields, to the fields she went. When WWII started, the boys went to war except the baby. Baby Roger had Polio at the age of 18 months. His high fever burned a part of his brain and left him with some paralysis and mentally challenged. Though he was, and continues to be, a blessing, he was also more work added onto the almost unmanageable list of chores. One girl worked at a “Five and Dime” to bring in money, Glenis was left to help her daddy in the fields and her mother in the house. Where was Aunt Vaudell? She was doing her part for the war effort as “Rosy the Riveter.” How many of us have a “Rosy” in our family? She married and raised a son and daughter with much love and always with God’s direction. They grew up in the Baptist church. She enjoyed two grandchildren and helped to care for them with much love. Several years ago she developed Alzheimer’s Disease, or dementia, and eventually moved into the home of her daughter and son-in-law where they could care for her - at first on their own, and then with the help of care-givers. When they could no longer give her the care she needed, she moved into an assisted living and recently into a nursing home. Through all of this, she has remained the same loving, giving, smiling Aunt Vaudell with whom I fell in love. She has the sweetest smile, most precious kisses and the biggest hugs with pats on the back you have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. She most likely doesn’t know who you are, but it doesn’t matter. She loves you anyway and makes sure that you know it. With the nature of this dreadful disease, it wipes out memory of the most important ones in your life. The ones you chose, the ones you birthed, the ones who love you so dearly cannot be called by name. She knows they belong and she loves them, but that is about it. She only remembers those she knew so very long ago. When her sister and baby brother Roger go see her, she calls them by name and tells everyone who they are. She fusses at Roger for smoking, swats at him playfully and they laugh together. It is so very special. Now, Aunt Vaudell is not doing well. Last week she became unresponsive and the doctor called in hospice. Hospice thought within five days she would be gone. My husband and I had to tell “our” mom and uncle and let them decide if they wanted to go see her in this state. Yesterday morning, her daughter Jan called me and said, “Mother is awake! She is drinking sips of fluids and eating small bites of strawberry yogurt.” I picked up Mom and we went to see her precious. It was such a sweet, special day. We shared so much love between the four of us and from, and for, God. We helped care for her and make her more comfortable. We gave her drink and nourishment when she wanted it. We prayed, sang lullabies and hymns, shared scripture, and “went to church.” At first she was resistant to the singing. Her daughter said she never will let her sing, but she changed her mind. She wanted to go to church so we had church right there. How blessed and wonderful our God is that we can gather together in His name and He is there – no matter where we are. If we call on His name, HE IS THERE! I left that room in the nursing home knowing we had been in the presence of God and we had been blessed! Sometimes we forget, no matter how close our walk with God that only He knows our appointed time. We listen to the doctors and rely on past experiences, or just plainly make assumptions. None of us know when our time will come. We must be prepared at all times and do as God charges us – help others to be ready. I know Aunt Vaudell is ready. Do I know when it will be? No, I don’t. Yesterday I might have said as much as two weeks. This morning after talking with our cousin, I might say a few days. She is asking for her mama and daddy and Aunt Cassie. She is starting to remember her dear Lyman of whom she hasn’t spoken for years. From my vast experience in these situations, it will be soon unless God is not ready and heals her to a degree. We never know why “bad things happen to good people.” We never know why some people die instantly and some linger for a seemingly endless time. But God knows and that is all that is important. He has a purpose. He is our loving Father and that purpose will always be for our good even though we may not understand it in this lifetime. If we are living according to His will and His teachings, all will be for the good of His Kingdom and thus for us. If you take only one thing from this, I pray it will be that through God all things are possible. Through God our lives are enriched and blessed. Only through God and His Son Jesus Christ are we saved and brought through to heaven therein to dwell with Him and our loved ones forever! Laura Blanton October 22, 2013

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