We were divinely brought together and I’m so glad about it.
You look just him, ya know…. the warmth in your eyes and the high-rise of your cheeks when you smile… and your laughter lights up my planet, Big Sis. On top of all of that, you and Pop are so similar in spirit. The parallel is uncanny both inside and out.
What I appreciate about you is that you instantly treated me like family. Your loving arms wrapped about my teenage self and said “Hey, Lil Sister!” The sentiment was foreign and I loved it. I could tell you meant those words with every fiber of your being. Age wasn’t a factor. Distance wasn’t a distraction. Bloodline couldn’t block it. You loved me and I could feel the warmth of your heart.
Thank you so much for being my sister. I didn’t see you coming! Sound wisdom via God’s Word always drips from your words. Delicious food is always on the stove. Hugs are always available. I couldn’t ask for a better compilation.
Hannah, you are such a blessing to the world. The kindness you show me is your normal setting for everyone. You mind your business and mind the needs of others simultaneously. You have stern direction and a quick sense of humor. You’re easy like Sunday morning and any time I’m in your presence, I’m at home.
My prayer for you is that you continue to overflow in peace and joy for the rest of your years… that Fruit from the Spirit will overtake you and it will make your heart leap at any moment. I pray that you will continue to reap every beautiful seed you sown; they are many.
I love you so much and I look forward to seeing you soon.
After raising children on your own, you decided to accept a single mother as your wife and a bitter pre-teen as your daughter. I couldn’t be more grateful for you.
I’m so glad that I was able to tell you everything I wanted to while you were here. I have absolutely no regrets in our relationship. My love for you grew into a beautiful tree that I still pick from well after you’re gone. The fruit of our memories are so sweet.
One day, I watched you walk down into the dog lot and I said to myself — “They’re Friends.” You walked with God daily. I could hear you praying through my bedroom wall every morning. I saw you bless those that outwardly cursed you. You didn’t just pastor a church; you lifted the Word from the pages and let them saturate your life. You helped widows. You kept deacons out of trouble. You sat at the dining room table with at least 5 books open as you combed the Scriptures (Internet who?). You gave vegetables from your garden to anyone who wanted them. You mentored other ministers. Even when rif rafs broke into our home more than once, you said “Let it go.” I simply remember your kindness toward people and toward my mean self too. It wasn’t you. It was my fear leaking into my actions. I was scared that my mother wouldn’t have enough space in her heart to love us both — after all, it had just been the two of us for all of my life at least. It’s so ludicrous to say aloud, but it was definitely how I felt back then. I’m glad we ended up talking about that too and hugging it out. Your arms were wide enough to handle anything I brought to the table.
I remember the time the school office called you because I needed to be checked out. Mommy was at work and you were at home being amazing as usual with home-cooked meals, clean laundry on the clothes lines, and a freshly mowed lawn. After your stroke, you couldn’t go back to work, so you took care of our home lives without a shred of complaint. That day, severe menstrual cramps caused me to vomit and shiver. I was doubled over on that carpeted floor in anguish. I couldn’t sit up let alone stand up. Trying to hold on to my perfect attendance, I held on until after lunch then I caved and agreed to let them call as I rolled over to my side. With no cell phone in our worlds, you came to the rescue in that old pickup truck with the dog pen in the back like real Marvel Comic hero. The limp from your stroke couldn’t stop you. Your swollen hand couldn’t prevent you from steering to me. It never did. You were the cavalry that day and all the others thereafter.
What about when you washed my clothes and the whole load turned pink… *giggle* I was so mad as I pulled my shirts and underwear out of the washer like they were sprayed by a skunk. Then, I heard the Holy Spirit say “At least they’re clean.” *laugh* I couldn’t debate that. Then came Mommy’s wisdom about you being man enough to do my laundry while I was at school and how I should be grateful. Needless to say, I didn’t complain again.
I sure do miss you. The snowy white strands of hair on your head. Your quick wit. The multiple pair of overalls. I can still hear your voice clearly giving sound counsel when I want to go off on someone. You had so much trust in me… that I would make wise decisions. You even helped my mother to trust me too. As I write this letter, I am smiling so wide because I had the best experience as your daughter. I was in good hands. You told my mother that you wanted me to feel a father’s love. Well, congratulations Pop, I did.
Hello, Sweethearts! I hope you’ve had good days between last Wednesday and this one.
My late father’s birthday was this week and instead of writing a lamenting post, I want to share three lessons Pop taught me in word and in deed.
– LESSON #1 –
You are not responsible for how people treat you, but you areresponsible for how you treat them.
My father was a pastor and before that, he was a deacon. For the majority of his life, he was in a position of servitude. I watched him load his pickup truck with lawn tools to cut the grass of those who couldn’t do it themselves. I heard him pray for people who cursed him. I saw him use kind words as weapons. He would share vegetables from his garden. He would always tell me “You don’t have to give an account for how folks treat you. You got to give an account of how you treat them.” And you know what? He was so right. Every time I wanted to say something hurtful to someone that hurt me, I remembered Pop’s words. To this day, his voice resides in my ears and acts as a stop sign. A gentle reminder that I am only responsible for myself. Someone can treat me horribly, but I don’t have to accept her/his behavior on my plate. I do, however, have to take responsibility for how I respond. That is the only thing that will require an answer from my Creator. (Sidebar: Pop loved to cook and was excellent at it.)
– LESSON #2 –
Say what you mean; mean what you say.
When he married my mother and we became a blended family, he made a point to show me that he was trustworthy. This meant having my mother’s meal ready when she came home for lunch. He also picked me up from school when I was on the floor debilitated from extreme menstrual cramps. With a limp from a stroke, he still rushed to the door of restaurants to open it for me. When my mother and I were mistreated, he was our defender. Immorality was not his cup of tea and spoke up when necessary. Pop’s lesson took root into my spirit because his word was everything. Whatever he said was authentic and solid whether it was encouraging or corrective. The more birthdays I have, the more I absorb this quality.
– LESSON #3 –
Preserve your name.
I have a fond memory of Pop sending me to the local feed store to pick up food for the 20+ hunting beagles in our backyard. I didn’t need money. I didn’t need a note. I just needed his name. My dad had a tab that he settled every month with the owner. They had an understanding that only worked because Pop displayed good character. How simple, yet priceless that is. He was that way about everything though. If something did not align with his moral compass, he did not engage in it for the sake of his reputation. If he was wrong, he admitted it and asked for forgiveness. I try my best to maintain the same decorum. He taught me that your name is the only thing you truly own. Everything attached to it determines your altitude, connectivity, and longevity. I can only hope that when I die, my name is preserved in the heart of those I served just like Pop.
Sweethearts, I pray that you are hugged by loving memories if you’re missing someone right now. I want to also give you permission to miss her voice, his smile, her laugh, his snore… everything. It doesn’t mean you’re weak in your spiritual beliefs; it means you’re a spiritual being in a human body that longs for another spiritual being outside of her/his earthly frame. That’s all. This week, I heard my dad’s chuckle and felt his love all around. I cried a little and let myself marinate in his sweetness. It was a beautifully intimate moment. So, the next time you’re experiencing a memory of your loved one or you miss them so much that your heart aches, just close your eyes and say “I feel you.” Once for your loved one and once for the God who allowed you two to merge moments in time.