Sunday, February 19, 2012

Snowy Memories

It's snowing. That's not too unusual this time of year in Virginia. In fact, it is possible to get snow here any time between October and March. It doesn't usually amount to much; just a pretty show, a little slush, then muddy yards. But today it's snowing a good amount. The yard is turning white, the cars are covered, and even the street is disappearing.
I don't know why, but snow makes me restless.
I'm more of an indoor than an outdoor person; always more content to curl up in a comfy chair with a good book than to run around outside. But when it's snowing, I want to be out in it. Maybe it's because the world looks so clean with all the Virginia red clay buried under a field of soft white. Maybe it's because the air is crisp and sharp. Or maybe it's because days like this remind me of my Grandma Asher.
When I was a kid, we traveled from Tennessee to Idaho for Christmas twice. I don't know whether our home state was trying to show us what we were missing by living so far south, or if we were just lucky, but it snowed to beat the band both times. My 3 siblings, our cousins and I would bundle up and go play in the yard for what seemed like hours: making snow angels, having snowball fights, and just running through the snow. We would run between and under the lilac bushes that graced the yard when I was small, marvelling at the grass still untouched by white under the biggest bushes. Eventually, we would get tuckered out, and Grandma (being as psychic as all grandmothers are) would call us in for hot cocoa.
We would all run around to the back so we could take off all our wet things on the much easier-to-clean linoleum floor in the rear hallway. Then we would pile into the kitchen and have a short scuffle over who got to sit on the coveted barstools, and who got consigned to the table. Being the oldest (and the meanest, according to my siblings), I always got 1 of the 3 seats at the bar. Then Grandma would bring us our hot cocoa, loaded up with extra marshmallows. Sometimes we would have cookies too, or toast to dip into the cocoa. Always, we had the comraderie of cousins and siblings, the warmth from the kitchen, and the love of our Grandma.  
After I graduated from high school, I went to Idaho and spent 5 1/2 months living with my grandparents. My favorite memories from that time are of sitting down with my Grandma Asher after she got home from working the swing shift at Hewlett Packard. Getting home at 11:30pm, she didn't want a traditional heavy dinner. So I would have cocoa (with marshmallows!) and toast ready for us to consume while we talked or just sat in companionable silence. Since I was engaged to be married, she almost always had some good advice or a funny marital story of her own to pass along. I got to know her then as I had never known her before, and I loved her all the more for her treatment of me as not just a grandchild, but a fellow woman. I have often put her advice to good use in my marriage.
So when it snows, I want to go outside and throw snowballs, and make snow angels, and build a snowman of epic proportions. And when I come inside, there is always a small part of my child-within that hopes Grandma will be standing at the stove making cocoa and admonishing me and my children to take off our wet things before they drip all over the house. Of course, she never is, nor will be again. So I fire up the kettle, admonish my children myself, and then sit and laugh and pass on a tradition to a new generation in honor of one of the sweetest women this world ever knew.
Grandma and Grandpa Asher

Saturday, February 18, 2012

In Memoriam, and In Celebration

Dan and Terry

        It has been over a year since we lost Dan White on January 26, 2011. I've tried to think about what to say to convey what I, and many others, feel about his loss. I simply can't find the words. He was a great man, but you wouldn't have known it to look at him. He looked pretty average. He was a pleasant looking man, who often wore a baseball cap to cover his receding hairline. He was almost always smiling, and he was always ready to listen. He was a carpet layer, but most people didn't know that. After meeting him and talking to him, most people assumed he was a pastor. And he was, in the truest sense of the word. He didn't have a framed diploma on his wall from any seminary, but he helped God's family grow, and was always doing whatever he could to tend to the Flock. I have known many pastors in my time, but I have only known a few through whom Christ was clearly seen. In everything that Dan did, you could see a reflection of Jesus and his teachings.
        His loss at such a young age- 47- was devastating. I lived in fear of losing my own husband for a few months afterwards. There were no indications of any kind of health problem until he died, very suddenly, and with no fanfare. He was talking on the phone and just fell out of his chair, his heart having quit working. I guess that God blessed him in death as he did in life, by saving him the agony of a long drawn-out death. I have often said that I want to go that way. Just quietly pass away with no deathbed confessions, no pain, or tears.
        Dan and Terry had a beautiful marriage that resulted in 3 wonderful children. Terry told me that she and Dan had talked often about what the other should do if one of them die. Each wanted the other to find someone to love again, to not live in mourning for the rest of their lives. A few months after Dan died, Terry began praying that God would send her a man who would love her and her children, who loved God, and would love her friends. About 6 months after Dan died, God answered her prayers by sending Greg Lawson into her life. Then she prayed, "Lord, really? Now? Isn't it too soon?" She prayed for guidance in these uncharted waters of being a recent widow with 3 children still at home. And God kept pointing her back to Greg, the handsome man she had noticed across a crowded church sanctuary. They began dating in August and became engaged a couple of months later.
        Then she had new challenges to face. Many of her friends were angry and hurt that she dared to fall in love so soon after Dan died. Was she just so ready to forget? Did she not ever truly love Dan? How dare she not wait the proscribed 12 months before putting away her widow's weeds?! Her children were confused, but honestly handled it better than most of the adults in her life did. The kids liked Greg, and he liked them. Finally everyone realized it was going to happen, there was nothing they could do but be happy for the blushing couple, and it wasn't really any of their business anyway. Then the planning began!
        A wedding was planned for December 31, 2012. What started out as a small church wedding with only their closest and dearest, turned into 250 people being invited to share their joy. There was going to be flowers, a huge cake, and a church full of people to celebrate their union. And that's how it went. The weather was fairly nice, the church was full, and there was laughter and joy. A year of so much heartache, pain, and soul-searching ended on a very upbeat note as the happy couple drove away to spend a week in Tennessee.
        At the reception, the pastor of Terry's church stood up to say a few words before the cake was cut. He said that after Terry and Greg walked back down the aisle as husband and wife, he heard Dan's voice in his ear saying, "Thank you, brother". And I think that is the greatest blessing of all.

Dan and Terry

Mr. and Mrs. Greg Lawson

Greg and Terry feeding each other cake