“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own.” ~ Dan Zandra
I had a wonderful long visit with Aunt Janet today. We played with new clothes and new shoes, and then we had cheeseburgers for supper. She even got up and ran the halls, quite literally in some instances. Everyone knows her. There wasn’t a single hall we cruised that a half dozen people didn’t speak to her. After we stopped to smell the roses in the beautiful gardens, I bid her goodbye while she was on her second call of the day. Aunt Janet is a much beloved, popular woman. Rightfully so. Not a mean bone in her body and I love her
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell
I had the best visit with Aunt Janet yesterday. We talked for a very, very long time. In our conversation where I pointed out that we both have hair that parts on the left, which is slightly unusual for women, I discovered that she’s also left handed. Though I’m somewhat ambidextrous, I am a definite righty by nature. She was denied her natural side. I never before noticed that Janet is a lefty because, like thousands of other lefties her age, she was prevented from using her left hand to write as a child. So, she grew up faking her way through life as a righty. Turns out that my great-grandmother Adams was also a leftie as were two of her kids, my grandfather’s siblings. These are the kinds of things we learn from our elders despite having spent decades with them. Those 20, 30, or more years they lived before we got here have a lifetime of experience packed into them. Never take it for granted. I’m so grateful to Janet for sharing her life with me. I hope we’re able to find a good long time to visit with one another again very soon.
“There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, everyone of them sufficient”
~ Marilynne Robinson
You first met Darrell Conley in the November 3, 2015 post. As you might recall, Darrell grew up with mom and Aunt Janet. Yesterday’s baptism wasn’t just mom’s, but Darrell and Janet’s as well. Three friends sharing a sacred moment together. It was reminiscent of my own baptism in December 1979 with Mark Collinsworth. I was 14. Mark was 12.
I don’t know who took the picture of Mark and I but I’m awfully thankful for it. We were baptized during a revival, and we insisted we be baptized together. Everyone knew we were like siblings, so it made sense. The preacher with me is Rev. Eugene Haney who is married to my mother’s first cousin, Velma. The preacher with Mark was the pastor of the church, Brother Rudasill. I don’t remember his first name. This is the same baptismal where mom, Janet, and Darrell were baptized yesterday. No doubt you see the differences. The original baptismal was basically a huge tank that could hold numerous people. Over the years, it began to leak, and eventually couldn’t be repaired. The church went with a more portable, one-person model that I’d never seen until yesterday.
Mamaw lead me to believe that Janet had been baptized. I think even mom thought she’d been baptized as she framed Janet’s baptism as “rededicating her life.” This is not an altogether uncommon practice for those who feel they need a clean start, either because they feel like they backslid or maybe they changed churches or even faiths. There could be a host of reasons why someone might want to be baptized twice. But in Janet’s case, she, like mom, had never been baptized. She has now!
Darrell, as you might recall, is the last of the three Conley boys. Like mom and Janet, Darrell’s a private, low-key kind of person. A production baptism didn’t really suit him. Yet, he was totally comfortable being baptized with mom and Janet. His wife, Barbara, plus her two sisters, Rebecca and Rita, and brother-in-law (whose name I don’t remember) were with us, and that was all that attended. Perfect. It was a heart-warming event in that sweet little church. Although it was very different from the way Mark and I were baptized, the sentiment of a spiritual bond with God and family was exactly the same. It matters that we have loved ones walk this journey with us. We don’t have to see one another every day, but the memories we make can be a powerful force that help us through our lives. I’m grateful to have had that with Mark, and I’m especially grateful that mom, Janet, and Darrell have each other.
“Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
DAD: You need to color your hair.
ME: I’ll have you know I earned every one of these gray hairs! You sound like Mamaw when she told me to start wearing a girdle. I was only 28.