I will never forget 40 years ago today. It was a Friday in 1976.
First off, the night of May 7th, 1976 I had a much-anticipated first date with my now-husband Dw. He was finishing his junior year of college and I was a senior in high school. He thought I was 18. I didn’t tell him I had just turned 17.
Our first date was probably not really quite as fairy-taleish as some might wish for – ha! But I was intrigued and he did have blonde hair – and that in itself was a billion extra points!!
The next night I already actually had a date scheduled with a boy from high school, although that boy was very sweet, on our date, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking about that big blonde guy who had taken me on a first date the night before. I know, I know, “Shame on me!”
Sunday Dw and I hung out again after church and Monday my mom allowed me to skip school to spend the day with Dw! ((She was the best mom!!)) Dw had already scheduled to head to his hometown that day, about an hour and a half from Buffalo and so as we were hanging around on Sunday the 9th, he asked me to go with him to the old homestead to meet his parents. That Monday was completely dreamy and the rest is history. We’ve been together ever since…which makes today the 40th anniversary of our first date.
But let me back-up to earlier in the day that May 7th, 1976 – before our first date.
My mom’s mom, my Grandma, lived with us from time to time, for weeks or even months at a time. She was a sweet little lady and I adored her.
Almost every day when she was with us she would say, “I do think I might need a new housecoat.” She would then ask me to walk with her a mile to the Northtown Plaza where she would slowly look at the housecoats that were available at WT Grants. I cherished those walks – just my sweet little grandma and me. We lost our pictures in the fire, but thankfully, the Lord has given me a few and this one is from about 1966 and it’s a photocopy of the original. So grateful for it!!
After taking her time looking at every one of the housecoats available and trying a few on, she would say, “I don’t think there are any that are just right!” and we would turn and head home. Grandma was pretty stooped over and it was a slow walk. Just holding my grandma’s hand and talking.
This grandma is the one who had bought me my black doll for my birthday when I turned two years old! I often think about what Grandma would say if she knew I had this pile of treasures. I just have to think that she would be thrilled.
She had a nickname for me and would often say, “You’re my little monkey!” I guess it probably came from the fact that I would place my feet on the two walls in a doorway and climb up many times a day.
My grandma slept with me and almost every night I would question, “Grandma, my feet are cold, could I warm them up?” And I would slide my feet under her and she would squeal from how freezing they were (my feet are rarely cold in Phoenix – ha!) and we would talk for what seemed to be hours.
Anyway, my mom was from a big family and her mom, my Grandma, had had a very painful life (as had my mom). In her later years, my Grandma never really had a home of her own (which makes me grieve) but instead would travel between her kids. And whenever I heard she was coming, I would be overjoyed, hoping she would stay permanently. But clearly, Grandma was a nomad and off she would go!
I just realized as I am typing this (with tears dripping) that my all-time favorite cookie is a Peanut Butter one. That’s what Grandma loved and it was what she made when she was with us. She trembled 24/7 and so I can picture her bending over, gripping the fork with both hands and ever-so-slowly pressing her fork into her almost-ready-for-the-oven Peanut Butter cookies. What memories!
So with that as a backdrop. it was early May 1976 and suddenly I felt an urge to take Grandma out on a date with just me. I had finally gotten my license and so I asked if we could celebrate “Grandma’s Day” – just her and I. She was so tickled beyond words!! (At the time there was no “Grandparents Day” as it actually started in 1978.)
Grandma and I both dressed up and I drove us to a little restaurant on Niagara Falls Boulevard. She ordered a Reuben and some french fries and we ate together. I ordered a Rueben too (cause of course, they were Grandma’s!). She ordered a milkshake too. I can’t remember, but I think it was vanilla as that was her favorite flavor. I asked her questions. We laughed. We talked. We really loved each other. .
Little did I know, but the Lord did, that just weeks later my precious Grandma would be diagnosed with late stage colon cancer and be gone in early September.
So why tell you that tender story?? (Guaranteed it’s not to make myself sob today!)
Because tomorrow is Mother’s Day. It’s a day to honor the mom(s) and grandmas in your life.
Life is short, friends.
It can actually be much, much, much shorter than anyone plans for.
My mom reading to Ruby and Jubilee. I totally wish she lived closer!!
In our hurry-hurry-hurry society, few make the time to spend large amounts of time with their moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas. (And that’s a whole other blog post for another time! I’ve dripped enough tears already to last this year writing this!)
If you have kids, make the time for your mom to love on your kids. We highly underestimate the influence a good grandma can have on our treasures. I believe with all my heart is was my grandma who instilled my love for a large multi-cultural family with my black doll.
And if you live far away, set up Skype dates. Seriously. STOP and take the time!!!!
Lastly, if your mom (or dad or brother or sister or in-law or grandma or grandpa) has done something that you are having a hard time forgiving – today’s the day girlfriend!
GET. IT. RIGHT.!!
Meet with or call her/him/them and ask them to forgive you for anything you may have done to hurt them (even if you can’t think of anything). Ask specifically, “Will you forgive me?” That puts the burden of forgiveness on them. Then ask her what you have done and get it right!! Speak the words, “I forgive you!”
Scripture is clear in Matthew 18 and sadly there are whole lot of offended people walking around miserable because holding a grudge sounds so much more fun!!
Once you’ve met, lay it at the foot of the cross once and for-all. Nail a giant stake in the ground outside your window and anytime the offense comes back to torment you, look at that stake and say, “Nope. I’m not going back to holding un-forgiveness.”
Someone once said, “Holding un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die!”
And honestly friends, if you think, “Well you have no idea what my mom or my dad or my family has done to me…” Through tears, yes, I get that. But I had to come to a place of honest-to-goodness forgiveness for heartache and abuse. Holding on to un-forgiveness would have only caused me to become bitter and angry…and that’s just not Christ-like and could cost any of us eternity.
I have first hand experience with choosing forgiveness for things that many would say, “You can’t forgive that!”. And for the record, it does not mean that you let someone who abused you watch your children. Many, many years have passed since I spoke forgiveness and there is not one regret in my life for doing so!!
So even if there is horrific abuse in your past, we must speak forgiveness and realize that we are all sinners and there is not one exemption.
Friends, the older I get in life, the more I’ve realize that there are just some people who have a regular diet of saying hurtful (and sometimes unkind) things. It’s not about you.
Ignore it. Life is still too short. Don’t let un-forgiveness rule your heart, not even a sliver.
Talk to your mom or your mom-in-law or your sister or your dad or brother or whoever and whether she/he wants reconciliation or not, get it right to the best of your ability…and then pound the biggest stake you can find in!! And next time they hurt you, look at that stake and remind yourself that you are just as imperfect as they are!! (Yes – you really are!)
And for the record, I have been blessed, my entire life, even during the many years of yuk(!) far more than I’ve ever, ever, ever deserved.