Daddy and Mama bought the big yellow house when I was 13 months old. Surrounded by red barns, white board fences, chicken coops, and corn cribs, the house sat on 80 acres of fields, pastures, and woods, bordering a creek. They paid $10,000 for it. Grandpa Nutt said they’d never live to see it paid! But my Grandpa was wrong.
I was pleased that Kaylee was sound asleep. She had seen me cry enough this last year, each time, hugging me, “Are you missing Grandpa and Grandma Nutt?” she would ask.
“Yes, honey,” I’d answer, thankful to receive and return the hug, but forcing the smile. Her tenderness brought me back. Her smile always gave me focus. And strength.
But now, as I left her sleeping, I could feel the tears welling up. These tears – tears from missing someone so desperately, knowing you’ll never see her again in your life time – don’t well up in the eyes. They build in a pressure beginning at both sides of the top of your neck, spreading behind your ears, instantly to the sides of the bridge of your nose, then flooding your eyes and overflowing down your face.
“Nana, will you sing to me?” Kaylee had asked, just a few minutes earlier.
It had become our nightly ritual. Kneeling beside her bed, rubbing her back or stroking her cheek, singing her to sleep. My repertoire usually consisted of “Go Tell Aunt Tabby,” “Bye-Baby Bunting,” and my made up song for Kaylee:
Sweet dreams, my Kaylee Joy;
Sweet dreams to you.
Dream about butterflies,
Dream about baby dolls,
Dream about teddy bears too.
And each night, after several made up verses, my soft singing turned to quiet humming; and eventually diminished, as I left the room and walked down the hall. She was contented and asleep.
But this night, as I knelt by her bed and had sung several verses of Kaylee’s made up song, I quietly hummed two notes – the fifth and the third notes of a chord – and those two tones immediately took me back in time. . .
. . . to my mother’s arms.
She was holding me. I felt the warmth of her arms. I looked into her face. I could see my chubby little arm reaching up to her soft cheek. She was humming the song to me – the same two tones. I was tiny – perhaps a few months – perhaps a year. In all my memories, I’ve never felt so small. I remembered being a baby! It was so peaceful but oh so brief! Nearly as soon as the memory had come, it was gone! I was back in the present! Back in reality!
As I left Kaylee’s room that night, the other tones, the melody of the song, came to mind, and the words came a bit later. This time, I wasn’t taken back in time but I sat in the dimly lit living room, closed my eyes, and allowed myself to picture and hear my mother singing – the little chorus I hadn’t heard in years:
When you pray, will you pray for me
For I need His love and His care
When you pray, will you pray for me
Will you whisper my name in your prayer.
At the close of the day, when I kneel to pray
I will remember you
You need help every day, this is why I pray
And I will remember you.
When I pray, I will pray for you
For you need His love and His care
When I pray, I will pray for you
I will whisper your name in my prayer.
Tonight, Mama, when I pray, I will whisper your name in my prayer:
Thank you, Jesus, for my Mama, who held me and sang to me and prayed for me. And thank you, Jesus, for the wonderful memory .
Click here to listen to the Gaithers sing “When You Pray.” It’s not as sweet as my Mama’s voice, but you’ll get the idea! 🙂
Their wedding rings remain a symbol and a promise of their commitment to each other and of the fidelity they exhibited for 66 years.
I had observed those rings on their fingers, year after year. The fingers, once young and taut, became aged and thin, as did the gold bands around them. Both wedding bands and the diamond engagement ring are worn through from years of hard work, in the factory, the dirt, the water. From years of play and of cooking and baking and of praying together. And why wouldn’t they be worn? Sixty-six years as symbols and promises of commitment and fidelity.
Daddy and Mama have been gone now for some years. And I miss them. So, on occasion, I hold those rings in the palm of my hand and visualize their aged hands, wishing I could hold those beautiful old hands in mine once again. I occasionally slide the rings on my fingers, especially when I want to feel their presence. Having the rings near reminds me of how they prayed for me and my family.
They passed one spring, just one month apart. Early that fall, I slid the rings on my omega necklace chain, and wore them throughout a most difficult day, the day of our daughter, Amber’s, sentencing. The rings hung close to my heart, touching my skin. I sensed their presence with me in that courtroom, reminding me that their God was my God. – always faithful. On that taxing day, the rings, once a symbol and a promise in the marriage, became their symbol and promise of commitment and fidelity to us, the family resulting from the marriage. Our family continued to be one – in the Lord.
One morning, shortly thereafter, I placed the rings, along with my birthstone, on the necklace. and headed out the door for Mott’s Children’s Hospital at U of M in Ann Arbor, where our baby grandson, Luke, was to undergo open-heart surgery. Throughout the long day and the trying days ahead, I often touched the rings, fidgeting with them, remembering Daddy and Mama’s faithful prayers for me and my family – prayers that are still held in a bowl, each prayer like incense going up before the Lord God (1). At times, I raised my hand to my breast and clutched the rings ever so snugly within my grasp for quite some time, picturing the Father holding my little Luke in His hand, never letting him go. As I did so, I prayed. And prayed. And prayed.
On the trying days of Baby Luke’s surgery and recovery, the rings symbolized even more. Suddenly, they were reminders of Daddy and Mama’s commitment and fidelity to the Lord Jesus, which is the heritage they have passed on to us, their children, and to our children, and to our children’s children.
That heritage, in turn, reveals the greatest promise of commitment and fidelity – that of the Lord Jesus to me, and to my children, and to their children . . . “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” He says (*2). And I have found that promise to be true.
Just days later, I again wore the rings on the necklace to await and then to celebrate the birth of our grandson, Jack, the newest life born into our family. Memories flooded my mind of Baby Jack’s Daddy, our firstborn, Matt. Matt was Daddy and Mom’s first grandson, Matt. On that day years ago, the rings were on their own fingers – now I wore them near my heart. The rings connected us from the past to the present and in some way, to the eternal future we will all have together. And as we all praised and thanked God for this new gift of life in our family, I wrapped my fingers around those rings and whispered, “Thank you, Daddy and Mama, for your example of commitment and fidelity – to each other – to us, your family – and to the Lord Jesus.”
(1) Revelation 5:8
(2) Hebrews 13:5b
Daddy and Mama bought the big yellow house when I was 13 months old. Surrounded by red barns, white board fences, chicken coops, and corn cribs, the house sat on 80 acres of fields, pastures, and woods, bordering a creek. They paid $10,000 for it. Grandpa Nutt said they’d never live to see it paid! But he was wrong.
It doesn’t look like much. And to most, it probably isn’t much. Just a soap dish, from K-Mart, one might assume. Probably purchased in the 50’s. Pink plastic with removable drainer. The gold trim of its crown nearly worn from years of scouring with Comet Cleanser. At first glance, one might easily overlook the esteemed position it held through the years.
The years passed; the children grew and left the big yellow house; and the soap dish with the Dove bar was removed from its guest sink location, being replaced by liquid soap in a sterile, aloof, pump dispenser.
More years passed until the old man and the old woman sadly left the big yellow house. The old pink, plastic, soap dish rested alone and nearly empty, filled with but a sliver of a coarse bar of soap and covered with dried pumice. The dish was nothing but a simple, quiet remembrance of the old man, the old woman, and the family who had once inhabited the royal surroundings.
By the time the Friday night program took place, all the children knew who had the most points – who would win the plaque. Her name was Linda Crum, and she was a “whiz” with Bible verses. She had a “gift of gab” and could recite those verses better than anyone I’d ever heard! We also knew who came in second place–me! Although I didn’t come close to Linda Crum’s colossal number of points, I was a strong second. I’d worked throughout the week, inviting many children and learning many Bible verses, and I looked forward to the second choice of the prizes – the fishing pole. I knew Linda well enough to know that she had no interest in the fishing pole. She was sure to pick the plaque. And she did! The Friday evening program ended. Linda Crum had been announced as the winner; she had her plaque in hand, but nothing had been said about a second place. The fishing pole was still in place at the front of the church. Of course, I was heartbroken. I shared my disappointment with my mother who explained to me that Rev. Lindner had never announced there would be a second place. He had simply offered two choices for the top place winner. As we turned to leave the church, Rev. Lindner called me up front. He offered me the fishing pole as the second place prize. I was elated!
Evidently someone had let Rev. Lindner know that I had been working all week for the fishing pole, and he was compassionate enough to care about a little girl’s desires. Looking back on that summer Bible School, I find his compassion to be similar to the compassion the Lord has shown me: a compassion that offers me the “desires of my heart.”
Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (NIV)