Becoming a parent is to sign on for 20 years of intense, fatiguing work that ages a couple before their time. Why then do people say that having children “keeps you young?”
During these days at Afterglow, I’m observing this parental oxymoron up close, young parents in the throes of exhaustion while simultaneously gaining energy from their lively offspring. Children bring sparkle to life. God certainly knew what he was doing when he made babies so adorable. Dog-tired parents staggering toward the crib for the fifth time in one night melt when they see their little one, even when viewed through the fog of fatigue.
Watching all this baby-action at Afterglow, such a familiar location, brings back floods of happy memories of past vacations here when our children were young. They grew from babyhood to adulthood during our 25 years of visits to the Wisconsin Northwoods, and the photo albums bulge with proof of those joyful days together.
Last night as the 15 of us were finishing up a dinner of pork chops, baked potatoes, veggies, brownies and ice cream, Linnea disappeared and returned carrying a big gift-wrapped package, tied with a glittered bow. Skylar zeroed in on it right away. “Grandma Midgee! Open that blue present right now!”
She helped me unwrap one of the most precious gifts I’ve ever received, a scrapbook-sized, hard-bound book all about Nate. Beginning months ago, Linnea had gathered photos and texts from each of her siblings, including our daughter-and-son-in-law. Many of the pictures had been taken through our years at Afterglow, and the theme of the album was Nate’s love for his family.
I studied it carefully a second time after everyone was asleep, savoring the beauty of our family past and letting tears of gratitude come as I read again what each one had to say about their father and father-in-law. When I put my head on the pillow later, the thought resounded, “I have much to be thankful for with no cause for complaint.”
God wants us to have gratitude in all situations, throughout every day, and that’s all-inclusive. It includes the day we learn of cancer, the moment a husband/father dies, the hour of his funeral, the weeks of sadness that follow, and every circumstance we might encounter through the years. In recent months I’ve learned we can even be thankful while weeping. On its surface, this seems to be an oxymoron, but following these biblical instructions turns out to be the path of healing.
Although some things are harder than others to thank God for, I know one that’s always easy: my children/children-in-law. I’ve got the best kids in the world, despite every parent saying the same thing. Last night that truth was underscored when they presented me with their beautiful album.
Of course none of us will ever forget Nate, but now we have the treasure of this custom-made book chronicling his life in both words and photos to keep it all fresh… another reason for me to be grateful during this season of healing.
“Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God.” (Psalm 50:14a)