Rick and Monique

Saturday, August 15, 2009

One Faith, One Hope, One Baptism: A Marriage story

"Hi Grandpa!" said granddaughter Morgan and her husband Roger.

Grandpa's head turned lightly toward them.
A cloudy, dull day, but the small hospital room was painted yellow and stenciled with four leaf clovers. Happy enough.

Morgan and Roger had Sam with them. Their child was three weeks old; the child of two horny 19-year-olds...a sequence of events which birthed a shot-gun wedding six weeks ago, and then Samuel John three weeks later.

They were a Christian family. Nine-months ago grandpa couldn't understand where they had gone wrong. The old man had once been an executive, strong, stalwart and righteous. Nine months ago he couldn't understand weakness.

Sam was wrapped in a borrowed blankey.

A friend had loaned them all the baby stuff she and her husband had. There was no baby shower. It seemed for a time the family was even embarrassed to even admit the two had gotten "together."

Grandpa turned to them feebly. Seven months ago he'd almost disowned his granddaughter... turned his back on her. Six months and two weeks ago he'd discovered he was cancer-ridden. Six months ago his own son had reminded him why his own wife, their mother, had almost divorced him twenty-five years prior.
He'd had a lovely library and one of the most complete libraries amongst his friends and acquaintances. He'd spent hours and hours in the lovely place, studying, reading, practicing one of a thousand speeches. He'd garnered the love of the shareholders, but neglected to gather the hearts of his family.

"Ask your mother, I'm busy!," he'd say.  "And don't come in here while I'm working!"

Accept he was always working.  The church had him pegged as an excellent family man.  The kids hated that.  Everyone suffers from closet skeletons.

Today, yesterday and for six months Grandpa understood weakness, finally. The kind of 'weak' that needs help. He never needed help. The help wasn't all he'd learned.

He turned toward Morgan, Roger and Sam. There they were. They had been there every single day for the last ten days he'd been stuck in the hospital. So had his three children, but Morgan... Morgan lived "outside the box" so to speak. She'd neglected the idea of college to her work at a local floral shop. He'd called her when Morgan's parents mentioned that she was going to wait awhile before deciding about college.

"You're throwing your life away, I fear," he'd told her.

"Grandpa, stop it," was all she said. "You worry too much."

"You come from better stock than flower shop retail, Morgan."

"You delivered milk, Grandpa. You always tell us you began as the milkman."

 The "Milk man" story really took shape when his wife had their first child. Friends really thought it was funny to say, "He looks just like the milk man!"

Anyway, it happens, ya get stuck. Twenty-five years ago he'd realized how stuck he'd been.

He never did sign the divorce papers. He went to counseling instead. None of his friends ever knew he'd seen a shrink.
And his family did not leave him. None of them did.

He once told his pastor, "I never understood why kids who barely knew their father, and only ever heard their mother whine about him, would do so much to help me see the light!"

"Unconditional love doesn't look for reasons not to love," the pastor replied.

They all coaxed him into vast life changes. They endured. They prayed. Margie, his wife, died last year. She'd had a heart attack. They thought she might make it, actually. Four long days in the hospital and she seemed to perk up. But her heart failed her in the end...too damaged.

Before she died though, she took his hand and gave him a benediction. All those years and she was still blessing him. Every day she'd say, "I believe in you, Jack." Kinda pissed him off for years. He felt it put too much pressure on him.

"Yea, yea, great," he'd say, never giving her a thought. He now wished he'd blessed her more. But that was water under the bridge, bygones, history. He tried much harder the last couple years of her life. They talked a long time one night, a few years back. Talked till 4 a.m.

"I never understood where that came from," Jack said.

"I just believed in you so I told you so," Margie replied. "I could see the real you underneath the layers. I knew you were great, even in the beginning when your job title was "milkman.""

"I didn't see you that way though," said Jack. "I regret that every day."

"Can't cry over spilt milk, my dear Jack."

"Ha ha, very funny."

And then he'd almost disowned his granddaughter; couldn't believe his good name had been disparaged.

"Good name, yea right," he thought.

But here they were. Still smiling. He supposed they meant to encourage him; maybe encourage themselves. His hospital room was full of their flowers, their teddy bears.

"Maybe my name wasn't so bad after all?" he thought. "There you go again," again to himself, "It's not always about me for cryin-out-loud!"

These kids were his family.

"The body of Christ doesn't leave itself!" his granddaughter had told him amongst alligator tears on the fateful Tuesday evening seven months ago.

"Where'd you learn such wisdom?" he'd asked her a few weeks after that.

A few months ago had been rough. He'd been angry. But her words cut him through. Then he remembered his wife's benediction.
Most of them were with him today. They'd stayed with him and ten days slogged by. He felt odd. The kids simply watched, smiling...blue and sad and smiling all at once. Ironic. He was going to die. Sad. But they smiled.
"Hi, Grandpa," she said, "Lookin' good as usual." She always said that.

The body of Christ doesn't leave itself.

"Wanna hold him, Grandpa?"

He hadn't the strength to "hold" him. He understood weakness better today than ever before. He nodded. Morgan took four steps to his bedside, leaned over and laid Samuel in the crest of his arm. He didn't move. She kissed his forehead and then Sam lifted his hand in the air...a reaction to the movement or a dream, he didn't know. Didn't matter much.

A solitary tear left Jack's eyelid and crawled down his face. He was beautiful. He couldn't exactly turn completely to look at him, but felt Sam's quick even breaths.

Jack brought one hand over and touched Sam. Then he whispered. Morgan and Roger stepped closer to him to listen, and both of them began to cry. "My first great-grandson," he said.

"May the Lord bless you and keep you," he prayed. "May the Lord shine his face upon you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you his peace."

The body of Christ does not leave itself.

He closed his eyes. And while Sam breathed on, he breathed his last.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.


Joh said...

The Body of Christ cannot leave itself. It is perfected in the groom

Andrea said...

Thank you for visiting and reading arise 2 write. I am happy you chose to leave a comment and let me know. Blessings and prayers, andrea

Stephanie Faris said...

What an incredible story. WOW.

Jessica said...

I love it! Awesome post. :-)

Susan B. at warmchocmilk said...

Wow you have a talent! You are a great writer. I plan to follow. It was nice to "meet" you today. You must be a friend of heather's. She is my neighbor and blogging buddy. This rain sucks! Heather and I went to an indoor playland with the kids today, but it was a mad house!

GutsyWriter said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I see you like to write. Very moving story.

Katie Ganshert said...

Thanks for sharing this story. And thanks for visiting my blog today!

LYD said...

Lovely story. Beautifully written.

Thank you for visiting today, it is nice to meet you both!

Jody Hedlund said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Hope to see you around again!

Terri Tiffany said...

Boo hoo! This story brought tears to my eyes:) Very good!!!

Warren Baldwin said...

Good job. Scanned three generations in one short story with the view of seeing how God works in a family's life. Well done.

Brian Miller said...

wow. a stirring tale...thanks for stopping by so i could find you...it was worth this tale.