In her last few months, my sister and I had some pretty deep conversations. We talked quite a lot about the state of the world, the insanity that seems to be spreading much worse than a virus. We often reminisced about our history, our childhoods and the different perspectives we had of our mother. Jo, being twelve years older than I, and since she was the first born, had to deal with a younger, less experienced mother than I did.
Jo, born in 1935, spent her tender formative years as World War 2 was raging and doing without and rationing was the norm. Life was much different for her as a child than it was for me, as I was born two years after the war was over and life was in the surge of high hopes recovery mode. Thus Jo, even though she was one who always considered the glass to be half full, right to the end, still fretted over the cost of things.
On our weekly shopping days, she would stop and compare the price of different brands of chicken breast. If one brand was ten cents cheaper per pound, that’s the one she would pick. In reality, she didn’t have to care about the cost of her groceries but she did because it was ingrained in her. It was part of who she was. She loved a bargain more than anything. Getting something BOGO made her day.
She also liked things tidy. Even when she hurt everywhere and could hardly walk, she made her bed and cleaned up her little kitchen after every meal. She would not think of leaving the house, even a quick trip to the grocery store, without makeup or hair done or her outfit matching her shoes and purse. Even when she was days away from being bed bound she insisted on getting her hair cut and permed. Then, even after she was bed bound, she insisted that her chin hairs be shaved.
To her last day she represented her generation with best effort.
Above all else, she was a good mother who loved her family. One of the more difficult topics we broached was the tough reality of having to leave our loved ones as we move on from this fleshly plane. Even as she fretted over the cost of things, she stressed over any and all life difficulties her offspring might be dealing with.
I tried to reassure her that, not only is it impossible to shuffle off this mortal coil with everything tidied up, we aren’t assigned to manage the lives of our children or devise their destinies. We are each and everyone, responsible for our own choices. Our progeny reap the rewards or consequences of their actions just as we have in our lives. All we can hope is that, somewhere along the way, we taught them how to discern what a good choice is.
Ultimately, we grow up, in our own eras, to be the people we are, highly influenced by our collective experiences, wisdom, joy, grief, regrets, all pulled together to be the sum of us.
As Jo and I discussed this, I had little hope that she would be comforted by anything I could say. Fretting was also one of those ingrained habits. I concluded that, truly our only option is just to pray for those we love. Pray that they are open to want God’s will more than they are determined to have their own way or that they can see the difference between choices made with emotion and those made with spiritual awareness.
… That they recognize their own strengths as well as shortcomings.
… That they learn from their wise choices as well as their unwise ones and resist repeating those.
… That they choose God’s righteousness over self-righteousness, even if it means being at odds with the world.
And above all else that they willingly desire to have a personal relationship with Christ that is theirs alone so they can stay on the best path possible, regardless what others do.
So we prayed.
Deliver us from evil, shield us from tragedy, and open our eyes, Lord.