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,

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.