“Now I lay me down to sleep…” Many of us recited that prayer before bed at night as children. This year I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the “if I should die” part. I’m coming to the end of forty-one. Forty-one was a big deal in my family; a huge part of our pathology.
You see, my maternal grandmother died of cancer at forty-one. My paternal grandmother also died of cancer but at eighty-eight. So as family medical history goes, this could be the end for me or I could be almost halfway; or maybe somewhere in between.
Unfortunately, my daughter’s best friend lost her mom in January of this year. She was forty-one. That loss had her checking in on me a lot at night and when she was away calling me more often.
My mom, from my point of view, was afraid to leave her children as ill-equipped for life as she felt she was at sixteen when her mom passed. She often said, ‘I only knew how to clean bathrooms.’ So our chores included it all, except laundry. She wouldn’t let us do laundry. It was important to her that we know how to take care of ourselves.
Everything that I know of my maternal grandmother I learned from my mom and her sister. I always figured that if I know my mom, I know my grandmother whom I never met. My mom cares a lot for others, is very kind, hospitable, and selfless. She’s also very intelligent and a loyal wife. What I appreciated most about her was her presence.
I feel that my mother, my daughters and myself each have had a relationship that enabled us to become good women and good friends. – Charlotte Harris (my aunt) from the book Mothers and Daughters
My paternal grandmother…I remember and value her unconditional love and her godly devotion. Watching her commitment to personal Bible study, I feel has shaped my own. Also, I always knew she loved me, even when she was letting me know I’d disappointed her. She was still there for me.
I’ve thought about what I would want my daughter, DW, to have from me if I was gone? Hmmm… Things I’d hope to leave DW –
- Faith in God and spiritual discipline (regular worship, prayer, devotion and service)
- Good character – trustworthy, honest, reliable, loving, considerate, hardworking
- Life balance – self-love, love for family and friends, service to others, taking care of home, taking care of business
I had DW write down her dream life and what role she’d want me to play in it, what she’s learned from me thus far, and what she’d hope to learn. In true tween fashion, she was kind of vague at first but she got into it.
If my mother was gone, I would remember the smile on her face, the laughter of her happiness and the fun and love we had together!!! She taught me…how to pray when I needed help…I’m glad she told me how to take care of my body. I wish she had told me how to be a big girl…how to cook mac and cheese. – DW age 9
What I got from her was that MY PRESENCE is very important to her.
What she wants – For me to be a part of her life every step of the way.
Like my daughter, it’s always been important to me that the people I love are PRESENT, not just there, but have meaningful and purposeful PRESENCE in my life. Therefore, my highest scores out of the Five Love Languages are no surprise – Quality Time, Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service.
It’s not when or how I die that matters but how I live. So if it is God’s will, I will be celebrating forty-two this coming Tuesday. It’s a real milestone for the women in my family. My hope going forward is not only for what I leave behind, but to be PRESENT with much love coming in and given out.
Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13 ❤