The Village It Took

In the spring of 1988, several weeks into our new normal, my class was working on an assignment, probably colouring a map of Canada or something.  One of the boys, let’s call him Johnny B. Jerkface, asked to borrow one of my pencil crayons.  For whatever reason (I guess I was a Jerkface that day too), I said no.  He proceeded to threaten to hurt my feelings if I didn’t.  Okay, go, I taunted back.

“At least I have a mother.”

Ooooh that pissed me right off.  I escalated this to my dad, and perhaps what followed resembled Schwartz getting licks from his mom on A Christmas Story, I don’t know.  Years later, our paths crossed again and when his memory was jogged, he apologized and I forgave him.

So it’s Mother’s Day, twenty-six years later, and this time I’m thinking about my village.  There were so many times when I wrongfully subscribed to Johnny’s cheap shot.  That I was motherless and alone.  But eventually, with each passing year, my surroundings came into focus and the blur sharpened into recognizable faces.  Even before Mom died, people were stepping in the gap of her absence at home, delivering hot meals to our house.  And in the many years after, an army formed to pick up where she left off in raising me.  My older sisters, my aunts, my grandmothers, and later my stepmother and my mother-in-law, they all had now-unmistakably active roles in shaping me into the woman, wife and mother I have become.  And the army continues to grow and nurture me, from my younger siblings (yes, lil’ bro, even you and Dad are my mother) to friends old and new.  It turns out, I never really lost her.

We orphans need never feel forgotten, because God has us on His heart.  He cares for us (Psalms 146:9)has always been there (John 14:18)and asks His people to follow suit (Isaiah 1:17).  I remember it and I recognize it.  So this year, I am celebrating the brilliance of His greater plan to assemble a tribe of men and women whose touch in my life personified both a mother’s and His outrageous love for me.


P.S. I still toast to all of you today too!


Too young, too old

An old friend from elementary and high school died unexpectedly last week, as most thirty-seven year-olds would. As I sat in the chapel for the funeral service, surrounded by his friends old and new, his family, and beloved colleagues from the job he held for his entire adult life, my mind was running overtime with questions. How will his parents and brothers adjust to this new normal? For which of these people has his death changed the trajectory of their lives? Are Hubby and I officially “that age” where we are only seeing friends at funerals? If I died today, have I created enough of the legacy I want to leave for my children? Am I the best wife/daughter/sister/friend that I can be?

The world will have to adjust to a much quieter version of itself; he was a walking exclamation mark. But I like to think that, as I recently discovered of my own mother’s seemingly-too-early passing, we planted a seed this afternoon rather than buried a man. A seed that, as long as we commit to it, will grow into a harvest of lives lived loudly and with love.

As the sun sets on this still-chilly spring day, this is the run-on sentence I’m taking to the bank: We are too old to be satisfied with a life running on auto-pilot, not seeking out and seizing purpose, meaning, joy and peace, not discovering the fulfillment found in encouraging others to do the same, allowing weak relationships to continue eroding, or be uninterested in leaving this world without having made a positive, lasting impression on those who have ever stepped into our 15-foot radius.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
– Matthew 25:13