Opinion

Penning a letter to Lisa

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Time to travel back in time.

We raised our children long before the advent of the Internet and e-mail, back in the days when long distance also was prohibitively expensive. Therefore it wasn't unusual for the children to see me at the kitchen table with pen and paper in hand. They would often join me there with crayons and paper, asking how to spell this or that.

Letter writing. A dying art, I fear. It was the only writing I did for years. It was the only writing I had time to do for years.

My parents lived 1,200 miles away in the Texas Rio Grande Valley. Mom was a frequent recipient of the many letters I penned at that kitchen table.

While I was in Texas attending my mother during her last days, the children and Danny were back home in Brighton. It was the winter of '86. Ben would turn 11 that year, Lisa, 7, and Patrick, 6.

It would be years before I would learn the full impact of Mom's passing and the influence all that letter writing had had, particularly on Lisa.

When word came that their grandmother had died, Lisa withdrew to a quiet place to cry. Years later, she finally shared some of her thoughts at that time.

It seems that she was indeed old enough, mature enough, to draw the connection between my mother's death and the potential for her own mother's death. Ever the planner (so like her mother) she applied her six-going-on-seven logic to the problem and decided that she would simply send paper and pen with me to heaven by placing it in the casket. Then I could write to her, just as she'd watched me write to family and friends at the kitchen table. This solution gave her great comfort at the time. I have to admit, it was clever, and altogether charming.

It is also thought provoking.

I wonder, what would I have written, were it possible to write? I wonder, what would I write today, with her now a grown woman, a wife, with a daughter of her own?

"Dear Lisa.

"These things I have learned.

"Today is sufficient. It has sufficient opportunity for joy. It has sufficient opportunity for tears. Celebrate both.

"It has sufficient and abundant opportunity to love, to forgive, to serve. Do so.

"It also has sufficient and abundant opportunity to wound, to grasp, to hoard. Don't.

"You can do anything, for one day. Therefore do all you can each day. And I don't mean work hard to make more and more money. I mean love all you can every day.

"At every opportunity, wherever possible, say yes to your husband. Fix his favorite meal. Watch his favorite television program with him. Let him have the remote. (Children have to learn to 'take no' graciously. Husbands generally don't. In fact, the world will tell your husband 'no'"a thousand times a day. You be the one to tell him 'yes' every chance you get.)

"Quiet yourself enough to listen, every day. If God wakes you in the middle of the night, perhaps that's because its the only time he can get through. Listen early, listen often, and acknowledge him. Let him know you've heard him. Let him know you've seen him. God-sightings are a daily experience. Celebrate them and celebrate him.

"Share. Share love. Share joys. Share tears. But most of all, in large and small ways, share Jesus.

"Finally, love as you have been loved, and know that you are ever-loved.

"See ya' soon,

Mom"

"But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you," I Samuel 12:20.

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