Skip to main content

lost in transition?

note: this article recently appeared in the cedar hill/duncanville/desoto neighbors section of the dallas morning news.

i am not originally from north texas; i was “born and bred” in bay city, south of houston, in matagorda county. aside from my wife and kids and a couple of cousins and their families, most of the original clan still lives within the same 30-mile radius they always have. the undisputed heads of the family, our patriarch and matriarch, are my grandparents, mema and papa (you understand those are not their real names!). they have been married nearly 60 years, have four children, ten grandchildren, and lots of great-grandchildren. at Christmas this year, the family presented mema and papa with a calendar with all sorts of pictures displayed on it: kids, grandkids, great-grandkids of all ages, shapes and sizes. it was a history of the family in pictures.

i have always thought of my grandparents as unique gifts to me. for 35 years, i have played, ate, laughed, cried, told stories and heard stories, dreamed and remembered history with them. from them I learned my love of baseball, how to play spades (never quite good enough to win), and to never take anything for granted. much of who i am was and continues to be shaped by them, not only directly, but also transmitted through their first daughter and others. they have given advice (whether asked for or not) on just about any subject that we needed help on: financial, spiritual, familial… you name it. the bible speaks of the spiritual gift of wisdom (see 1 corinthians 12:4-11). it fits mema and papa.

recently mema and papa made a decision we knew was coming at some point, but not so soon: they are going to downsize, moving from their home to a retirement home. and it’s not going to be in bay city. they will probably still be within that vaunted 30-mile radius, but not the normal five-minute drive away. they want to make this decision while they still can, not leaving it for the future and their children. they want to go somewhere without cleaning or lawnwork, maintenance and the typical headaches of taking care of a house. they have talked about it for a couple of years, and now it appears they are going through with it. honestly I never thought it would happen.

writing about this new chapter in my family’s history is not easy; nor was discussing it with mom last week, between the tears. mom spoke of her resistance to change. of course we want the best for mema and papa, and we do not want to be selfish. as much as we love them, respect them, support them, we want them with us, where they belong. because their lives are not just their own; theirs is our life too. transitions of life can be wonderful or painful. they are hardly ever easy.

then again, maybe we should think about the transitions mema and papa have made in their lifetimes: depression, war, advances in technology, watching children become adults, losing loved ones, struggling with their own health issues. through it all their faith has continued to inspire them. when we are resistant to change, God’s promises can help us adjust to an unknown future. long ago, God promised abraham, the original patriarch of God’s people, that he would never be alone, even after leaving his home (genesis 15). that covenant is still with us, kept alive through our faith. God has been with mema and papa through it all, and that, if nothing else, will never change.

peace and joy,
frank


postscript: mema and papa recently changed their minds! they went to the place, put down a deposit, ate lunch. upon returning home, they realized how much that familiar place IS home.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Reflecting Upon Newtown

Note: I offered these words during the prayer section of worship Sunday, December 16.

Last Friday was a day full of surprising ministry. After I wrote my usual Friday email devotion to the church, I received a call from Byron Proutt, our missions coordinator. He and others had recently partnered with Park Cities Presbyterian on a project, and their missions director called Byron to say another ministry was unable to pick up several boxes of food for their pantry—could we use it? Of course we could! So Pastor Gregg, Mr Johnny, and I rolled out to the warehouse and hauled back 80 boxes of food. Praise God! After we unloaded it Gregg and I went to Kroger to give them a letter of appreciation for making our Thanksgiving baskets for hungry families a priority. After I dropped Gregg off at home, I turned on my radio for the first time that day and heard the reports of the shootings in Newtown, Conn. I could not believe what I heard, especially as a father of young children.

I came back to m…

The Famous Black Cat Band

This week my former high school band director, Mr Reinke, died. Mr Reinke is a legend in my hometown of Bay City. He was the leader of our Black Cat Band for many years. He was a fiery man, a perfectionist with extremely high standards. He was a gifted musician. He and I both played the trombone; one of us sounded like a goose being strangled. The other sounded like... well I can't think of a metaphor to properly describe Mr Reinke's horn. It was amazing. He would pull that thing out occasionally to show us how to properly play a part of a song and the sound was spellbinding. 
Mr Reinke was very innovative in his music selections. He had us playing the most random music, from popular stuff of the day by Michael Jackson to Also Sprach Zarathustra (popularly known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. This song in particular was a great choice-- it's amazing, complicated; however, this was the late 1980s. The song was originally released…

a response to gideons international

last sunday prosper united methodist church welcomed representatives of the gideons to share about their ministry. how many times have you stayed in a hotel or visited someone in the hospital and found a gideons Bible there? and while no one can argue that reading the Bible is a bad thing, or that distributing Bibles to others in native languages is inherently harmful, i would like to offer some thoughts on the practices of the gideons, as they were described at church.

1. bravo to the gideons for distributing 73 million Bibles last year. however, most of the Bibles they sent were tiny new testaments with psalms. i am a Christian, and i love the words of the new testament. but those words have their foundation in the old testament, and to remove thousands of years of traditions and stories of God's powerful love and acts of salvation diminishes the power of the whole Bible. we must never forget that the old testament (or "first" testament or "hebrew Bible"…