I have had a saying that I have sometimes been very good at following and at other times pretty lousy at living. It is, “Grow where you’re planted, bear fruit where you grow.” Having just visited my family in Illinois for some reason this saying has been brought to the forefront of my mind. My sister is a late riser in the morning. She always has been. Nine thirty is about right for her most days. Years of being the ministers daughter and then the ministers wife has instilled in her a habit of late to bed then late to rise. Her husband, in contrast is one of those classic type A personalities that seems to function at his best on about five to six hours of sleep at night and, although he is often up late, it is rare that he is not out of the house by eight in the morning. I, like John, have a tendency to get up early. I love those early morning hours when the dew is still on the grass and the birds are just waking up. I love that even in the hottest climates on the hottest days the morning feels fresh and the air is clear with a hint of coolness.
No where was that more true this past week than in Illinois. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting on my sisters back porch with my coffee in one hand and a book in the other for that couple of hours that she was still catching her beauty sleep. It was uncharacteristically perfect Seattle or San Diego weather the whole week I was there. Perfectly clear, no mugginess, cool nights and crisp mornings. Not at all how I remembered Illinois in August. The thing that impressed me the most about her home and her yard while I was there were her hostas. They were HUGE and full and perfectly lovely, about three feet in diameter, all along her brick pathway through her yard. I asked her about them and she said they just grow like weeds and each year they divide them and they just flourish. These hostas truly exemplified to me those words I have tried diligently to live by.
With these hostas in the back of my mind I made the rounds, visiting with each of my nieces and my nephew, and their spouses. We celebrated my sister’s birthday joking once again that we are the only family we know who sings “Happy Birthday” in six part harmony. That meshing of voices on a well-known song always brings me joy as I dutifully find my second soprano line to blend with my sisters alto, her daughter Debbie’s clear soprano, and her daughter Rachel’s well-trained mezzo soprano. We even called my nephew Joel on speaker phone who was out of town on business to insure we had the base line. This miracle of music is the fruit of my mother’s natural gift for music and love for it.
I looked around at my nieces children and saw these little babies coming into their teens years, much like my two boys, and marveled at the miracle of that fruit in our lives. Despite whatever our personal challenges and short comings we are all raising some pretty amazing kids. Sixty-six years ago my handsome father and my beautiful mother got married and had three pretty amazing daughters, who have raised seven pretty amazing kids. Other than my two young men, these amazing kids are now raising even more amazing kids. I hope and pray that God gives me the strength and wisdom to insure that my two also go on to raising amazing kids.
I have spent the greater part of the last six months just plodding forward, often torn by sadness and regret. I have looked at my life and wondered where it all went so wrong. Sitting around that table looking at just one segment of what has become a very fruitful family I recognized that I come from a legacy of strength and faith that just seems to survive no matter how hard the struggle. I found hope. I am not as messed up as I have been thinking I was and I have a wealth of gifts to give to the world. More importantly, I have a history of faith, love, and family as well as my own talents to pass on to my sons. I truly am blessed and my years of struggle have not been fruitless.
I have two great kids who have a great legacy and destiny ahead of them. I did that. I have good friends who love me and tolerate me with grace and wisdom, to include my ex-husband (or soon to be ex). I have never had a day without food or a night without a roof over my head. The greatest thing I have is a deep abiding faith in the mercy, love and goodness of my creator. This faith has been fought for, cried over, questioned and defined – then redefined. It challenges me daily in my actions, my choices, my past and my future. It comforts my heart, emboldens my spirit, and engages my mind. I am who I am today because of my parents, my sisters, my nieces, my nephew, their children and even my husband, and I am at peace with the person I am. I will grow where I am planted and bear fruit where I grow. Sometimes it requires a clear view of the present to move on from the past.
That and some beautifully fruitful hostas in the morning dew.