Weekends are hard. On one hand, we've looked forward to them all week long because that is when Henry David is home with energy to play and Grasshopper and I miss that part of him all week. On the other hand, it's hard because the days of Friday night to Sunday only highlight the loss of what we once had in terms of close community and serve as reminders of an ugly conflict with someone who has given into evil and refuses to show any grace to a body of believers who just long for peace. So Saturdays are at once a welcome gift of a Sabbath and a hard struggle with melancholy.
But the past two days, there have been brief moments of respite from that hard struggle. Today one of them came during the rare bit of alone time I get on the weekends, a gift from my husband who knows that sanity is maintained when one has a break from the toddler crowd.
I was thinking about some times in my childhood when women who were either single or without children poured into my life and blessed me with some really special memories. For a brief moment, the sadness fled and smiles filled its place. This is what made me smile.....
~ Lenny, a single woman from church, let me stay with her for a weekend in her mobile home. I had never known anyone who lived in one of those before, and it was quite the novelty to see how a long home on wheels parked permanently on a concrete pad was organized into a cozy home. It was also a unique experience because I'd had sleepovers with kids before, but never a grown woman who had no kids and was interested in reaching out to one. We made hard candy, boiling sugar and other ingredients and pouring it out on cookie sheets, waiting until just the perfect time when we broke it with a hammer and sampled the variety of flavors. We cross country skied from her doorway through a field, if I remember correctly. It was gloriously fun to be a kid cross country skiing under the moonlight when I would normally have been in bed.
We've lost touch in the intervening years, but today I thought of Lenny and was grateful for the time she took to invest in a little girl. That weekend was so fun.
~ Miss Jones was my fifth grade teacher. Back in those days I was at the top of my class and routinely got my work done early. She let me paint a whole set for a play the younger kids were doing. I got to do that again later on, but she was the one who did it first. She taught us the most fun crafts too. And for reading, once we achieved a certain number of pages, she would take us out to lunch to our favorite fast food restaurant. (Those were the days before uber strict policies between students and teachers.) She paid for more chicken sandwiches from Wendy's than I can count. I was a motivated reader who probably drained her bank account.
She's also the teacher who knew of two little girls who had been badly burned in separate accidents, and she had us all make special cards to send to brighten their days. She had us memorize the Sermon the Mount. Her teacher's aide wasn't the best (to put it mildly) and some of the kids remain in my memory as bullies, but some of my favorite school memories still took place under her tutelage.
~ My Aunt Anita used to live in a yellow house in the middle of what was basically a forest, at least to my memory. People would park their RV's there to store in the off season. I remember there were train tracks nearby too. She and my uncle didn't have any kids yet, and I loved to go spend the night at their house. She would take me for ice cream near where my uncle worked, and she read the Boxcar Children to me. She had a huge stuffed animal bear that was big enough to sit on. I loved playing with it, though I'm probably largely at fault for its broken back. She let me bake with her and help her with various projects, and when she had her two boys, she was among the first mamas to let me help.
I loved my time at her house. And she's the reason I herded all the neighborhood kids into a group and contrived a way to act out the Boxcar Children. I'm not sure we ever quite achieved acting it out, but setting it up was sure fun.
I'm sure there were other people who invested time and love into me, but these three are the ones I thought of today. It's funny how their investment in a little girl not only made that little girl's day, but it shaped future choices. Many of the things I did as a teacher and the ways I poured my life into other people's children back in my single days can be traced back to these three women and the memories they made with me.
Several amazing women, both young and not so young, come to mind today. Former students, a relative, some friends - all incredible women with lots to offer - are waiting. They are waiting for what they dream to be reality. I hope that as they wait, they can find opportunities like these to make indelible memories with kiddos in their realm of influence. One never knows the fruit that can grow from one little seed of time planted with love and care.
For me, it grew lots of good things that shaped who I became. And today, it grew gratitude that is strong enough to bring in light on what could otherwise be a rather gloomy day. I needed that light today, and I'm grateful that God decided to bring those three women to mind. They sure have brought a smile to my heart.