Earthquakes and Shifting Sands

Posted by on Jan 14, 2019 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Earthquakes and Shifting Sands

Over the past few years I’ve experienced an uncomfortable shift. It started when several of my friend’s dads/husbands graduated to heaven. These were men who had a great impact on my life. They were faithful men who loved their families and their God.

In the past two years, just among my Jones cousins, we lost three of our parents. Three people who have ALWAYS been in our lives. Just a couple of weeks ago, a cousin’s husband lost his epic battle with MS and last year another cousin’s 9 year old daughter lost her battle with DIPG.

Every day I see it on Facebook and in the news. Parents, siblings, grandparents, children. .  . On and on it goes. I know this is life. After all, I am in that uncomfortable middle age where the parents are leaving us and we are left with the realization that the generation between us and death is shrinking.

Of course, for me, like a tectonic plate shifting underground leaving big cracks in the earth, the earthquake of my own father’s death on August 30th changed my life forever.And now, I face a question many others before me have asked. We know we must go on. But how? How do we live in a world without them? How is that even possible?

One of the difficult things for me is the realization that the future generations of my family will never know my dad. Much like the dismay I often feel when I realize that my husband never met any of my grandparents except Grandma Jones and Grandma Elizabeth, it makes me so sad. Even my youngest niece and nephew won’t have the memories of Daddy that the older ones have. The majority of their memories are of a grandpa unable to talk, struggling to stand, tucked into bed where they would climb up and hug him goodnight. But the Grandpa who at 75 raced his grandson across the picnic ground. . . they don’t remember that.

I remember Grandpa McKnight expressing these same feelings. “Susie,” he said to me one day, a wistful tone in his voice. “I sure wish you could have known your Grandma McKnight’s Grandpa Stover. He was a wonderful man.” Then he brightened and said, “But someday in heaven you will!” Then he pumped his fist in the air and shook with unshed tears. I guess this sadness is normal, or at least hereditary.

Something happened with my husband and my grandparents, though, that encourages me. It is no secret that I am a storyteller. A talker. A reminiscer. (Yes, I just made up a word.) Bruce has heard me tell the same stories over so many times, and my family has talked about being Grandpa McKnight’s “favorite oldest South Dakota granddaughter” and other Grandpa-isms that Bruce has internalized it. He will say, “Grandpa McKnight would have liked that.” And he is right. I could share similar stories about the things he has learned about my other grandparents.

We can keep them alive in the minds of those that come behind with the stories, the memories, their quirks, their strengths, and maybe even their weaknesses. As I was thinking about this today I pulled out an old journal book to use for another purpose. I read the last thing written in it. There was no date, but it was written after we put the addition on the house Bruce grew up in.

This is the prayer I wrote:

Thank you LORD for our home.

For this house, the old part and the new.

Thank you for the couple who built this house to be their home.

For the young soldier who stretched the distance his leave allowed in order to make their home livable for his bride while he was gone to war.

Thank you for the love that sustained them through the separation that war brings.

Thank you for the care with which they raised their four boys, sacrificing many of their own dreams and possibilities to provide all the boys needed.

Thank you that they chose to be better parents even than theirs were, and in so doing raised four men of solid, honest character.

Thank you for all of the treasures they saved, the big and the small.

The lifetime of joys and sorrows written in the things left behind.

Thank you that I have the privilege of learning who these precious people truly were, bit by bit, through the things and people left behind.

I don’t have a tidy, clever ending for this. I’m still muddling through the shifted earth, trying not to fall into cracks that weren’t there before. But this I know. There is solid rock on which to stand and that is Christ.

“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. . . “

So, I’ll stand on that rock instead of the shifting sands of my emotions.

Thank you Lord for elders who taught me this truth. Help me to be one who helps those who follow to understand just who it was that came before them, and the wonderful gift that is their legacy.