Sunday, May 1, 2016

Thanksgiving

Continued from Dreams


As we neared the end of November, in the sixth week of Roma's return home, I marveled that this approaching Thanksgiving represented even more reasons for gratitude, as my blessings magnified as all four of my children were adults and even the baby was suddenly acting like one.

I could had hardly grasp the abundance of the miracles. For example, Roma talked about his eagerness to find a church where he could learn more about God. He possessed a new hunger for God, this God who was not far away or silent,  who had relentlessly pursued him with an outrageous love that had worn my boy down. Suddenly Roma's eyes were wide open.

One morning on the way to work, he surprised me with a intimate confession. "Mom," he paused too long, probably wondering if he would regret sharing, in case he later lost this new conviction and feared I would be reminding him of it daily. But he continued, "I want to save myself for marriage." 

Riding in a car, with our eyes ahead and rarely making eye contact, made a safe place for honest talk. Sex had never been a taboo topic between Roma and me. But we were always on opposite sides of the debate. Roma considered my views that sex was not a casual matter as prehistoric. Now he seemed to understand the wisdom of my stance. Even if that proverbial bridge had been crossed in the past, he could see the wisdom in backtracking and waiting to cross again. 

What was happening in this boys heart? It appeared there was a transformation going on, at least for that moment. An hour later, the bridge might look inviting again. But as Saint Augustine had confessed at Roma's age, that although his lips were saying, "Lord make me chaste, his heart was adding, "but please don't do it just yet!"

I was thankful that Roma's "intent" was sincere and mature. And holy. One of Jesus' most repeated themes in the Bible is admonishing us to lose Ourselves to save ourselves. We have to give up what we most desire as a sacrifice to God, laying our "Isaac" down, and recognizing and "dying" to the idol of the almighty "Self." It is the hardest thing we will ever try to do, and it can't be achieved without the  indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Maybe that's why Jesus tells us it must be done. We know God's will is best for us, but we are always wondering how painful His plans for us will be. I have learned that we do well to follow Him. But, like Roma, I too often want my own way. 

Thanksgiving 2015
Thanksgiving brought the whole family home to Maryland for the first time in almost a year. I had decorated for Christmas early, since not all family members would be back for Christmas. 

Heather's family of four arrived from Pittsburgh, PA, four hours away,  and Kellie's family of seven drove half a day from Wisconsin. Taylor shared his apartment downstairs with the grandchildren's play times. Dolls and accessories were drug out from storage and dumped buckets of Legos made walking hazardous in Taylor's apartment, keeping upstairs floors traversable for seven children under the age of nine and eight adults.  

Roma spent more time than usual with us over the holidays, playing cards and other games, and generally enjoying being a loved member of the family.  I was  happy to have the whole family, fifteen family members sleeping under the same roof for almost a week, because I knew they all wouldn't be back for Christmas. Kellie's family would spend Christmas in Wisconsin with her in-laws.

My birthday fell in the Thanksgiving weekend. Roma wanted to buy me flowers. He asked where to buy them, and what to buy, still in need of his mother's help.

"Roma, please don't buy me flowers. I appreciate the sweet thought, but I do NOT want you to buy me anything. Really, just behaving yourself is present enough for me!" I teased. 

"Ha ha, Mom. Very funny."

I didn't want him to spend his limited funds on flowers for me. The only kind of flowers I really love are pink roses, and I had enough of them painted on furniture, on my dishes, sheets,  all over the house. Roma could spend his money on football and his entertainment, and throw a few cents into his car fund every now and then.

As everyone was packing up to leave after a week, Roma escorted everyone out to their cars, in his socks, and hugged everyone individually and said a personal goodbye, moving to every car window to wave and smile at strapped-in children, giving his sisters and brothers-in-law a final hug. Kellie mentioned weeks later, after the sorrow, that it was almost as if Roma knew it was his final farewell.

The next week,  Bruce and I were going to risk leaving Roma home with only Taylor as his supervisor.  We had not risked leaving Roma unattended since he arrived home on October 19.  After seven weeks, we had to make a trip to West Virginia to check on our lake house and visit Bruce's mother in the nursing home.

We appealed to Roma's sense of honor as we told him we were trusting him to make good decisions while we were away.  We learned his first football game was on Saturday afternoon. I was disappointed to miss it.  We rarely missed any of Roma's games since he started at age twelve. We had the pleasure of finishing his high school career, driving five hours to watch him play in the Virginia State Championship game at Liberty University in December, 2013.  

"Mom, it's just a charity game," he assured me.  "You can come next time." That would have to do, because we had never gone seven weeks without checking on Bruce's mom and the lake house.

He had his game, and because of rain in the middle of the week, he was going to have to work on Sunday to finally finish a job that had run much longer than expected. He usually came home tired after work. He would be occupied for at least two of the three days we would be away from home. We were going to have to trust that that he could be trusted. 

Continue with Ladders and Doors