Sunday, May 19, 2013

It is Good

I love Sunday mornings.  I work Tuesday through Saturday, so,  it's the beginning of my weekend.  We go to church on Friday nights, so,  Sunday mornings are pretty luxurious here at Mandish Manor.

I get to sleep in and wake up, usually to birds singing, the tree outside my window swaying and sunshine pouring through my window.  The coffee is ready, thanks to my faithful husband, and I pour it in to one of my favorite cups (I love cups).  I carry a steaming cup upstairs, to nestle back in bed with coffee, lap top, journal and books surrounding me.

And it is good. 

I love to think about the week before...all that has transpired and I give thanks.  For those who have come across my path, for the good words I have heard, for the opportunities to keep silent when it was wise to do so and when I responded appropriately and  for the failures when I didn't, because they remind me that I am but dust and haven't quite arrived.

That, too, is good.

For the sweet children I held and spoke to and heard from.  For a call from a friend just to catch up and share with, for the families I helped while at work and the note of thanks from one of them, reminding me that mine is not a mere job, but a high calling.  For those who are sick and who I get to lift in prayer and encourage in small ways. For reminders that we are in this together.

Yes. It's good.

For friendships forged, for friendships maintained and for friendships still growing.  For so many beautiful women in my life...quirky ones, thoughtful ones, deep thinkers, big laughers, generous hearts and kindness personified...I love them all so much.  Putting faces with names, names with faces and brand new faces and names.  We are a garden blooming together.

So good. 
Just a little botox party among  friends!

For secrets shared and fears exposed and trust given.  For feeling at home in a home that is mine but that was given by Him. For ministry that happens when the doors are flung open and people walk in.  That we can walk out changed, because even in the midst of the laughter and  the conversation and good food and beautiful flowers and, yes,  a little bit of chaos- somehow, He comes and dwells among us.

Oh. It is good. 

For sorrows and set backs and trials and infirmity, for they remind me to cast all my cares upon Him and to trust in the Everlasting Arms.  Sometimes this is very hard, but, you guessed it-

Very good. 

Not always easy, not always sweet. Not always pleasant.

But always good. 

Because He is. 


Very good.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2012-She took her last breath on earth and her first in heaven.   And for a moment, it took our breath away. We did not expect this loss so soon.
Marjorie Ann Herndon Matthis

She was not June Cleaver.  But, I've come to realize that none of us are.  June Cleaver is a myth.  Only the Beaver and Wally had a mother like that. And that, after all, was  on television.  Marjorie Ann Herndon Matthis was, well--a handful. And she was my mother. And she loved her children very much.

She did some goofy things.  She said some goofy things.  She struggled to believe she had enough, that she was enough. She was largely unfiltered. We, who loved her  often uttered  the words, "I can't believe she said that."  Yes, she was a handful. But she was our handful.  She was not a perfect mother, nor was I a perfect daughter. Not even close.

                                                                Even so,

She loved us the best she could. And it was enough.
She made us laugh with her stories of her youth.
She drove us all over creation when we were kids.
She defended us when we were in trouble.
She was president of the PTA.
She taught us to love and care for babies and
how to clean a house.
She welcomed friends and family to our home.
She shopped like there was no tomorrow.
She loved children and they her.
She loved drop in dinner guests.
She was a rabid Lakers fan.
She found countless people jobs.
She was the original neighborhood networker.
She was far better informed on world news than I will ever be.
She sang silly songs and came bearing quirky  gifts.
She had a gift for staying in touch and spent hours on the phone with those she cared for.
She knew all her neighbors and all their kids.

She was, in retrospect, a bit of a neighborhood legend.
Marge was my mom.

A year later, her first great grandchild still mourns her...still has moments where she tears up because she misses her Nanny.  There are moments when I think to call her and then I realize she is no longer a phone call away.  And, I miss that. I miss her.  She was a handful.  No denying that.  But now that she's gone, it is sweet comfort to remember all the good, all the laughter, all the love and all the joy.

 It is now so easy to let go of all the things that seemed to loom so big back then.  It is now so easy for me to let go of the sorrow and so sweet to hold to the good.  So, today, I honor my Mom. I thank God for her because she gave me the opportunity to live this beautiful life.  I am thankful for every gift she gave and  every challenge she presented me with.  But, most of all,  I am thankful that she is finally at home and in perfect peace, celebrating this Mother's Day with the Mother she so loved, as well as with my Dad and with her sisters and friends who went before her.  It is a grand celebration in Heaven today and that brings nothing but joy to my heart.
Mom and I
I am not sad today.  I am not grieving.  There has been a long year of doing that.  Truthfully, there is a kind of peace knowing she is finally home, with my Dad, in the presence of the One who gave His life so that we could have this life eternal.  And there is a certain symmetry in losing her to Heaven on Mother's Day, when just hours earlier all four of her children had gathered around her bed.  I am eternally grateful for our final moments together on earth...for the chance to say "I love you" one more time on earth, and to whisper in her ear,  " I know you loved us the best you could. It was enough."



Monday, May 6, 2013

There's A New Girl in Town!

5:55 AM
My girl was out of bed before the bathroom...not normal operating procedure.
The door to my room opens and she's standing there, a look of distress on her morning face.
"I don't feel good. I think it might be today.  I wish Danny were here." Again, labor arrives early in the morning.

I spring out of bed. "What can I do?"

Again, "I wish Danny was here."

She decides to take a shower. She just wants to shower, put a little make-up on, feel human, be ready for the photo opp' that is surely ahead.  But then, she's overcome by pain and collapses to the bathroom floor in a fetal heap.  The wave passes and she's up, into the shower. But there will be no shampoo. There's no time. And all the while, our little Ru sleeps, blissfully unaware of what is happening outside her bedroom door.  I text Ommie Sandy:


I gather  clothes,  load the car.  Did yesterday have to be the day the city dug up the driveway to replace it with smooth new concrete? Drat. I back the car into the next door neighbor's  driveway.
I gingerly help my girl get dressed.  She winces, "Where is Sandy?"

"'On her way" And knowing that's true, but hoping she's going to drive up any second.

She stands by Ru's door.  "I have to tell her we're going." She opens it quietly and walks to her bed and little eyes flutter open.   She crawls into the bed and little girl reaches to her Momma's belly-"oh! don't touch baby, momma's tummy is sore." She pulls back her hand and  they lie face to face. Amanda says that baby sister is probably coming today and Momma has to go to the hospital...and Ruby bursts into a flood of tears.

"But Daddy isn't home. We prayed for Daddy to be here."

And Momma soothes her little chick..."I know...I wanted him to be here, too, but it will be okay."

Ommie Sandy arrives and takes charge of our little Ru as  we make our exit.  The 6 mile drive begins and time is of the essence.  We traverse the streets of Long Beach and I am grateful it is still  early and there is little traffic. It is just after 7 am. I am urged to drive faster and I respond accordingly- we are nearly there. Flashback- the urgency of her pleas remind me of another drive to the hospital, 33 years earlier, when I implored her father to drive faster, and to avoid any bumps in the road.  Deja-vu.

She repeatedly voices, "I wish Danny were here."  And I know he wishes the same. He has been in Texas for over a week, getting crucial training to fly a new plane so that he can provide for his growing family. We had prayed that he would return in time to share in the birth of their new girl, but clearly this was not to be.  This is hard for all of them, I know, but I pause to be  thankful for this man who loves this little family so much and who is a faithful husband, father and provider to his precious girls. At this point all he knows is that we are en route to the hospital. I have been entrusted with this sacred responsibility and  am honored to take it on.

I pull into the hospital drive and up to the curb and she is suddenly frantic-she cannot wait.  I jump out, run in and tell the guard I need a wheel chair "right now!"-that my daughter is ready to give birth.  He looks for a chair and there is none. I go back to the car and the urgency has intensified. I return to the guard..."I need help, NOW!"

I return to the car and assure my girl that help is on the way. And within seconds, two beautiful nurses were there with a chair-and summoning a doctor. A birth is imminent.  A cursory exam is done curbside and the decision is made to transport her immediately upstairs. There is time.

Sweet nurses assist her out of the car and I jump back in to park the car.   I turn into an ER-ONLY lot, I ask for permission-"this is a bit of an emergency" and permission is granted. It is 7:15 AM.   Within 5 minutes I have parked,  gathered a mountain of belongings and arrive on the second floor where I am instantly  directed to a room where my only child is about to deliver her second baby girl.

An IV is being inserted and the words "10 centimeters" are voiced.  There is no time for an epidural. It is time.  An unknown doctor enters the room, young and fresh out of med school no doubt. But, she is up for the task and the work begins. Precious nurses encourage Amanda to breathe through the pain. Cameras are in hand  and the hard work begins.

At one point, Amanda prays aloud, through the pain, and one of the nurses does something so remarkable and so brave and so good. She asks Amanda, "Are we praying to Jesus?"

"oh, yes, we are."

And she proceeds with, "then, let's pray.  All activity ceased and  everyone in the room closed eyes and dropped their heads while this precious and courageous young woman petitioned heaven for the safe arrival of,  and blessing on our sweet baby girl.  It was a moment of awe that I will never forget.

And moments later, and I do mean moments, our little Minnie Eloise, was born at 7:34 AM-nineteen minutes from the time we pulled up to the curb at the hospital! And she is perfect!  They immediately placed her on Amanda's chest and left them to bond together.  I cut the cord!
                                         And then I held her as her
Momma slept briefly.  What a privilege and what bliss!

I think she's pretty spectacular. And I'm not the only one.  I'm thinkin' we're gonna  keep her.
Ru meets Minnie for the first time!

Grateful and blessed.