I’m number 11 of 13 cousins on my mother’s side. Number 12 arrived just 10 days after me. (Just an interesting fact I thought I’d share with you). On Easter the baby, number 13, sent a text message to the next 3 youngest (all well into our 50s now) reminiscing about an Easter in our childhood “I’m sitting here wishing we could have an Easter Egg hunt and play spoons (and monitor Carrie’s water intake)…”
I will never live it down. I haven’t played spoons in years but as I recall playing cards were involved and if you were the last to grab a spoon you had to down a glass of water (family version). I was a frequent loser. Suffice it to stay that copious amounts of chocolate Easter eggs followed by chugging water can cause a gal to not feel her best.
Except for the memory of one of the older cousins (who was way cool in my mind) rolling his eyes in disgust, I really have no desire to live down that family tale. Family memories bring a lot of laughter. Number 13’s Easter text ended with “Love you!” and was followed by responses from the others confirming we love and miss each other and that “we were always surrounded by love”.
Testament to my mom, dad, aunts and uncles. Surrounded by love. A treasure from a time past. But what do we do with our changed present? One thing I do is realize the gatherings are fewer and our numbers are fewer but the love – the love still surrounds us.
My mom’s 84th birthday was last week. I believe this was our first apart except for when I was away at college. I knew this would be tough for my mom because she loves above all else, being with her family. She has mourned, for some time now, the loss of holidays being spent together with extended family. Those loud, game playing, pie eating (we’re known for our pies), crowded, laughter filled, shared holidays still exist but they are far less frequent. And now, of the first generation we only have 4 of the 10 still with us.
So, I was praying very specifically as her birthday approached. She has life long friends who go out for lunch to celebrate each other’s birthdays. And she has newer friends (you know the type; they’ve only been friends for 30 or so years) who send cards and call each other on their special day. But this birthday, I’d be gone and I knew God knew that this would be tough on both of us. What did I specifically pray? “On her birthday Jesus. Not just leading up to. ON HER BIRTHDAY bring visitors and special attention to her. Help her to feel loved.” I went on, but you get the gist.
I believe the Bible teaches that when it comes to prayer you don’t always get what you want but be sure to ask, cause you’ll get what you need. There’s a rock song that teaches that too. (I know this is a really incomplete explanation of prayer. Roll with me here). Anyway, the truth is I really get a kick out of getting what I want!
Well, back to the 13. Of the 12 of us still living, only one lives in the town where my parents live. Number 10 lives about an hour away. She and her husband had my parents, along with cousin #1 (bragging rights) and her husband, over to her home 2 days before my mom’s birthday. The week before the cousin who still lives in town and her sister (who was visiting from her far away home) invited my parents over and played games with them. Did I mention games are a big deal in my family?
So try to keep up with my cousin numbering. We actually number 24 now including spouses. (I’ll spare you the count of the next generations). And if you asked my mom you’d know these spouses are her nieces and nephews too. (As much as they like to joke that they are the outlaws). Subtract my brother and I and our spouses and the total is 20. The week before her birthday she saw 6 of them. Highly unusual.
ON HER BIRTHDAY, she was surprised with visits from 5 more (#1 again & her 2 siblings and another cousin who lives out of state and his wife) and a call from 2 others! A few days later 2 more came into town and came over to visit. Don’t worry I’ll add it up for you: my mom was surrounded by love.
Some things never change. The love of my family and the love of my God.
And sometimes, I think Jesus just gets a kick out of blowing my mind.