Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mother and Daughter before God

You are looking at a picture of the meaning of life. The person on the left raised 8 children, the first of whom is standing in a yellow t-shirt and blue apron. The old person in the lounging chair is approaching the time of her handshake with God. The younger person is the eldest child of the person in the chair. This picture was snapped at the occasion of an Independence Day barbecue party in San Diego. There was no way that Grandma was going to miss the festivities. Even though she had to eat processed food, her presence among her children and her grandchildren was not going to be "processed." This is a human being who is living life until the moment that she can no longer retract her hand from the outstretched hand of God Himself who is inviting her to join Him in heaven. It's not that she doesn't want to go, it's just that she has other things to do and she can't figute out why God doesn't want to give her the strength and the time to get them done here below.

At 4' 6" and 65 pounds she never gave in to anybody before, so why now? She got through the Japanese occupation, the death of her first husband to dysentery at age 32, the management of the family property while her second husband pursued his calling as a holistic healer. This is one tough human being.

She came to the United States 27 years ago. After some round trips and some negotiating, she and her husband stayed here to help us raise our two children. This is not considered to be a victory over government. It is a pure and simple gift of God. We found a way to be present to our children while the four of us worked. There was no way that this lady was going to be a stay-at-home-mom. There she and her husband were, at 67 plus, holding down solid part time jobs and helping us to raise our two boys while my wife and I were pursuing demanding full time senior management careers. My wife in the Catholic Church, my Mother-in-law in a non-profit soup kitchen proffering help to immigrants.

The gift has come full circle. "Lola" is now going on 88, still stating bravely that she is but 80. she has to be nursed carefully, carried here and there around the house, shown to the facilities, bathed and sometimes fed and always assured that the time has come for her favorite television show, "Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meal." The mystery of aging and suffering is making itself felt in the family. The Biblical assurance that suffering is not intended for the sufferer but for those who relate to the sufferer through love. The suffering of such a love-filled person draws the family closer to God. We had a pot-luck party for "Lola"last Sunday and it was a rather wonderful event. We were all outside, including "Lola" and she was not only the center of attraction but the center of instruction on how to hold a party according to Filipino culture. Everyone listened, believe me.

She tells God every day, you don't need me yet. These people need me. It is true. We need her because with her around we learn how to relate to God in ways that we would never have experienced without her. We owe Him a lot for giving her to us in health and in lack thereof. Thank you, Lord. This Grandmother of ours is teaching us what it takes to get to heaven. Because of this wonderful experience, among others, no one will have to cry at her funeral and certainly also, not at mine.
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