Today I’m looking for pearls. Not the fresh water, cultured or Mabe variety. I’m not that crazy about shellfish but if that’s the only way to obtain the pearls, then let’s get to it!
Pearls of wisdom…wouldn’t it be fabulous if you could find them in an oyster. Some days I’d be willing to dig through some pretty bad trash if I knew I’d find a few pearls. Ah, well, it’s just not that easy. Or is it? When was the last time you spoke to your grandparents, if you’re lucky enough to still have the darlings around? They’ve forgotten more than we know.
Grandmother (my spouse’s Grandmother) used to tell me about her family coming to this country (She meant southern Arkansas) from Kentucky in a covered wagon. They logged, planted, laid railroad ties, raised livestock, made quilts – these were people who knew the meaning of hard work. They were too tired for mischief at the end of the day. Grandmother married at 14 and by the time she was 32 she was a widow with 8 children. In 1950 the opportunities for women were scarce. Grandmother became a migrant farm worker. She and her children traveled via pick up truck from Florida to Michigan following crops and harvesting along the way. She put all 8 kids through school this way! When her children were grown she remarried and enjoyed several years with Grandpa Mac. She bequeathed many pearls of wisdom – work like there’s no tomorrow because there isn’t; handle your responsibilities with determination; life has a way of teaching humility – learn it quickly with grace and humor.
Not too long ago, I was fortunate enough to break my foot. It was literally a lucky break! For a few weeks sweet ladies from our church stopped by regularly to provide dinner for my husband and me. Nothing is better than dinner prepared by the hands of the faithful! Even better than dinner, these ladies would sometimes visit for just a moment or so when dropping off food. Their combined years of experience must have totaled 500 or more. It’s amazing how church members communicate differently outside of church. I’m not saying they’re not real in either place…we just seem a bit more solemn in God’s house. Back to my point, one of these kind souls has been married for over 50 years. Her beloved husband has been bedridden for 22 of those years. Imagine the patience and loving care she has provided during that time. My kind church sister showed me the value of compassion, long-suffering, and devotion during a very brief visit. Crazy thing is, I had always considered myself a kind and loving spouse…how foolish, arrogant and prideful.
I was 27 when my Mother died. She was only 46. Her death came quickly one summer afternoon with no warning, no last chance to say I’m sorry, I love you, thank you. Our relationship was frequently rocky, composed of long stretches of silence punctuated with moments of love and flashes of understanding. Life’s lessons are sometimes breathtakingly painful. Today is all we have. Hold it tightly, wring each moment dry, filled with memories to carry you through the occasional stretches of sadness, despair, loneliness . Allow the good times to outweigh the bad. Love with your whole heart. These are just a few of the things I learned from Mother’s death.
Don’t contemplate the past to the extent that this moment, the ‘now’, slips through your fingertips. There’s a lot of life to live but it takes effort. Get off the couch. Turn off the TV and the computer (ouch). Walk the dog, weed the garden, let the sun shine on your face. Feel God’s hand through the joy of His creation. Be ready to grab any pearl you happen across. Your priest, minister, parents, spouse, children, neighbors…they are sharing pearls of wisdom with you constantly. Pay attention. Life is flying by.