Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Mildred Myers's Mantle Falls On Me
Many years ago, a year or so after Paul was ordained to the ministry, we persuaded our four young children into the van and went to visit old people for the evening.
Without the ordaining, I don't think we would have done this, so maybe it's a good thing, but I have become quite disapproving about putting this sort of obligation on ministers with young families.
What matters is what happened that one evening.
First we went to see "Melvin" and "Hazel."
Melvin took Paul into his study and they discussed books.
The children and I sat in the living room with Hazel, who sat hunched over with a scowl on her face. I tried to make conversation, which was a losing proposition. Any time one of the children made a move toward any of her many objects, Hazel pointed a bony finger at them and snarled, NO!!"
At one point she wanted to show me an old newspaper found in a basket on a nearby shelf. She pointed at Matt. "You! Get me that!"
He reached, tentatively, not sure what she meant.
"NO!! Not that!! Under it!"
The children sat there, wide-eyed and curious and bored. I was nervous and anxious, leaping after any child who reached for any possible thing, hoping to ward off that terrible, angry NO!
Finally, Paul mercifully appeared and with great relief we went to visit the next old couple.
I'll use their real names: Ralph and Mildred.
Ralph hugged us, Mildred hugged us, they smiled and acted just delighted to see us.
One of the children plopped into a rocking chair and promptly rocked it back so hard it hit the wall. Still nervous from the ordeal at Hazel's, I leaped over to slow him down.
Mildred laughed, "Oh, he's fine! He's not hurting anything!"
And that's how the whole evening went. They thought we were wonderful and our children were even wonderfuller. The children played with toys and had fun, but if they touched other things or made too much noise, Ralph and Mildred were still perfectly contented and calm.
After we left, Paul and I looked at each other and said, "Let's be like Ralph and Mildred when we get old."
We've had guests a lot recently, including a lot of children. Monday night it was two little brothers who ran around the couches and hit each other with that weird reaching mechanical hand that my brother Fred gave the kids. Last night it was a toddler who kept trying to go outside to see the cats. And this evening it was a bunch of little people who spilled popcorn and cried and wrote on my prayer list and poked people with Tinkertoys.
It was a great feeling to realize there is nothing especially valuable in my living room and it's perfectly fine if little people bump and rearrange a few things.
We haven't had a toddler living here for a long time and it's been fun to have so many here in a short time.
The best feeling of all was enjoying the little great-nephews and their high-energy ways, and just having this sense of Mildred Myers's spirit resting on me and her words coming out of my mouth--not in any creepy way, but in that very satisfying sense of finding that all these years later, my wish came true and I was given the grace to be like her.
I just hope I can continue to be like her even if I live to be almost 100 like she did.
Quote of the Day:
Facebook ad: "What weird rules did YOUR parents have?"
Jenny: "Don't pick the tulips!!"