Day 2 of the 11 question challenge and I fear that I’m already stumped. [smile] Read this question and tell me it doesn’t give you pause.
2. Who inspires me the most? Think about the one person you most want to emulate. Who is it? Now what is it about their story or character that draws you to them? …The person you want to be like the most tells you a lot about who you hope to become.
I mean really one person. Just one person who inspires me. I am overly blessed and like the gift of great friends, I am fortunate to have many people who inspire me. Rounding out the top of the list are my grandparents, parents, and in-laws. Each of these incredibly special people have taught me so much simply by being their authentic selves. From them I have learned that it is better to give than receive. I have seen them open their homes to the world. I have heard the stories of their perseverance to work to provide for their families and the stories of the stances they took against injustice. I could do little better than channel a bit of their work ethic, love for family, faith, and passion to help others.
Last week on a quick trip to Lowes for some sandpaper for a project I’m working on, I picked up a hanging basket of zinnas for half off. The bright yellow-orange blooms were irresistible and I knew they’d add a pop of color to our still in progress front porch and lawn. We decided to hang them just outside the window above the kitchen sink which makes cleaning up after our meals a lot more fun. [smile]
I love zinnas. They are bright happy flowers and they remind me of my grandmother Bertha Nell, who I’ve always called “Mom.” Mom and Pop were my birding and gardening grandparents. Each summer without fail their mostly vegetable garden was decorated with several rows of zinnas, which my Mom called “zine-urs.” [smile] A tour of the garden plot was never complete without a walk around/thru the zine-urs that I remember being as tall and taller than me by the end of the summer. Mom always spoke with such pride about her zine-urs and rightly so her patch of the flowers rivaled any late summer garden spread in Southern Living Magazine.
When it was time for us to leave, Mom would always insist that we take a rainbow colored bouquet home along with as many ripe tomatoes as we could carry. Inspired by the bouquet whose stems were wrapped in wet paper towel and tin foil, Sarah, Rachel, and I would giggle about Mom’s extra syrupy Southern pronunciation of the colorful blooms for at least half the ride home. [smile]
Mom and Pop are still living but haven’t planted zine-urs for several years. They are now living in a graduated residential care community where they don’t have a garden plot. But even though I’ve not actually heard her say zine-urs in years Mom’s is the voice I hear in my head each time I look out my kitchen window at the basket of yellow-orange flowers greeting me.
“Fine Food Flavored with Fabulous Fellowship”
Yesterday we had the great privilege to enjoy each of our meals with both sets of my grandparents. We lunched in Macon with my father’s parents, Mom and Pop, at their retirement care village and dined in Broxton around the family table with Grammy and Granddaddy. Both experiences of table fellowship were indeed a joy. As always seems the case with meals with my grandparents our bodies and souls were nourished. While sharing with us a story of some pastor he once worked with, Pop told us what this pastor always said was the recipe for a good meal: “fine food flavored with fabulous fellowship.” Our two meals could not have been any more different, but both were definitely good meals.
I feel so very blessed to have 4 living grandparents and even more blessed to have close relationships with each of them. They are all now in their mid to late 80s and are aging. From watching them age, I have learned that growing old is unique to each individual. Sometimes aging is most evident in the physical changes to the body and other times it is apparent in the mind. My Grammy is preparing for a knee replacement in the next few months. Her walking and sitting have become painful, but that did not stop her from dancing in celebration of our wedding. My Mom is in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Conversation with her is disjointed and difficult to follow. Sometimes she may not remember completely who I am, but her smile shows that she remembers that she loves me.
Despite the individuality with which they are aging, each of my grandparents are teaching me how to grow old gracefully. Their spirits of love and service to their community are still very much alive. They are adapting to the changes they are encountering in their physical and mental faculties with the assurance that these do not in essence change who they are. In fact they seem to grow more fully into their authentic self with every passing day. They are teaching me that becoming fully Margaret will be a lifelong process of daily discovery and really the grandest adventure of them all.