I'm Patty, and my husband and I are living with our adult son who has autism and epilepsy. I love sharing lessons learned from life around me, especially life with Aaron.
|John and Jeanie’s Quilt|
When Mom and Dad both retired, Mom only continued her sewing. She had sewn for her children, for grandchildren, for friends, for the Crisis Pregnancy Center, and who knows what else. Upon retirement, she decided to take up quilting. Of course, she was a natural at this skill. She practiced by making her and Dad a lovely quilt, and then took up the goal of making each of us five children and spouses a quilt. These gorgeous works of art were each sewn entirely by hand with no sewing machine used. She had us each pick our pattern and our colors – there I went again, having to make this difficult visual choice! Mom never wasted a minute in any day, and before long she was completing our individual, personal, gorgeous quilts. Dad took her to countless stores and quilt shops, patiently waiting over and over again as she selected just the right fabrics. Each stitch was a labor of love……….each completed quilt a perfect picture of her devotion to her children. I keep my quilt hanging in our kitchen area so that we can see it every day and enjoy its beauty, and bask in the warm memories that it evokes.
|Bob and Jan’s Quilt|
|Jimmy and Kathryn’s Quilt|
Mom has Alzheimer’s now and lives in an assisted living center. Tomorrow she will celebrate her 86th birthday. Dad knew that Mom was showing distressing signs of forgetfulness before he passed away nearly four years ago, and he worried so about her. He would be happy with her living arrangement now and with how well cared for she is. She doesn’t sew at all now. She’s even forgotten how to put her jigsaw puzzles together that she loved so much. Sometimes she doesn’t remember all of our names, and definitely not the names of all the grandchildren and great-grands. But she is sweet and she is happy and she still seeks to serve others.
|Bob and Mary Beth’s Quilt|
|Gary and Patty’s Quilt|
And just as our keepsake quilts will always be an heirloom to pass down to our children, even more so are the pieces of our lives that she shaped and fashioned together with her tireless love and effort. She took care of us, providing the atmosphere of a happy and warm home to treasure as she sewed and cooked and played and laughed. She made sure that we had family devotions every morning before school because Dad was at work and so it was up to her. She took us to church when Dad was working late, and didn’t just drop us off – she was there, too, worshipping and serving. She showed us how to love and how to work and how to pray and how to laugh and how to persevere through hard times. She exemplified great care in how she took care of her mother for 14 years, as well as her mother-in-law for part of that time. And she loved Dad, totally. She never left his side, especially for the eight years that he fought cancer. Even when they no longer could share their bed they had slept in together for 59 years, she slept right beside his hospital bed, her arm and hand resting on him between the bed rails.
These traits of our mother are the stitches that are sewn into our very being. The pieces of our lives were begun by her, thought-out and cut, measured and pieced, day by day. As the years marched on, the shapes of our lives began to unfold. The beauty of the various patterns began to be seen. These are the treasures that are eternal. These are the heirlooms that have more value than any quilt will ever possess. And while our mother may not remember much anymore about the details of the past or the present, we have the evidence in our lives of her love and her faith…………a beautiful quilt of a life well lived.
It’s been one of those mornings. You know……..one of THOSE mornings. I went to bed bothered by worrisome issues that I should not go to bed being bothered by……….those worrisome issues. Can’t end that sentence in a preposition. 🙂 I went to my new location in Andrea’s old room that I’ve set up for myself……..a new desk and an alone place to have my quiet time. The new location didn’t seem to help. I felt stifled and ineffective in my time with the Lord this morning. Distracted…….and thinking that I needed to dodge my prayers that were bouncing off the ceiling, going no where. Is Satan unhappy about my desire for a more intimate time with the Lord? Perhaps.
Later, I looked at the weather forecast and the upcoming week of temps above 100 and no rain only increased my weariness. Our scratchy dog with allergies; laundry waiting to be washed or put away; dishes to take care of; even a Supreme Court ruling and an election in Egypt that I don’t agree with were piling up in my mind. Talk about taking on the cares of the world. Come on, Patty. This is really ridiculous!
After my shower, I heard good old Aaron in the hall. “Mom?” I told him that I would be out in a minute. I could tell that I would have very little patience with him today………shame on me. He thumped downstairs to take his pills and thumped back up to see if we could now talk. I again told him to wait……….and when I did open my door, he was in his room and promptly told me to come look at his finger. He held it up for me as I walked in, and there it was………….his index finger, all wrapped up in a bloody band-aid.
My patience was even less now. “Mom, last night I had some loose skin and so I used my knife to cut it off.” Oh Aaron. We’ve heard this story before and I knew what was coming………..and it did. He wanted to know if he should have used his little pocket knife to cut off the skin; why not?; what would I use?; that he couldn’t help it that the knife slipped, etc., and etc. I removed the band-aid and saw the raw wound where he had cut or pulled off his loose skin. I could feel my irritation increasing. I told him to go shower…………his whole body, by the way, not just his finger! I know how he thinks.
Aaron showered and then came to my bathroom, where I further cleaned and medicated and dressed his wound. He could sense my mood and so he scurried on downstairs, deciding to get his own coffee and carry it to his room himself without bothering his moody mom. Soon I heard, “Mom, I spilled some coffee but I’ll clean it up.” Oh goodness, Aaron! Where did you spill coffee? “On the stairs. I’ll clean it up!” No, Aaron…….I’ll get it. All the while, I was muttering under my breath about how this is the last thing I needed and why did he have to carry the coffee up himself when he’s so shaky and of all mornings…………
Then I saw the spill, which looked more like a gushing of coffee. It was splattered on several stairs, but one stair in particular was soaked with coffee. Oh Aaron! Look at this mess! Next I saw coffee on the living room floor, so got the Swiffer and mopped that section. I headed for the soppy stairs, with Aaron saying, “I’ll clean it up, Mom!” But I grabbed towels and began the clean-up, while Aaron then said, “Here, I’ll help.” He proceeded to carry a wad of paper towels from the kitchen into the living room and instead of heading for the stairs where I was, he started wiping off the piano. WHAT??!! Sure enough, some coffee had splattered onto the piano and Aaron was working to clean up the brown spots…………….while he stood on the still-wet floor. I went from unhappy to unhappier, all the while muttering about how my nerves couldn’t take much more and of all mornings and please, Aaron, don’t talk right now………..
I continued my shallow thinking as I realized that I would indeed have a bad hair day, no matter what I did to try to improve the mess on my head. The clothes I chose to wear today didn’t help any, nor did the sandals. No time to change all that now. Of all days for me to have a doctor appointment, I moaned to myself. Little annoyances for the remainder of the morning reminded me of my misery. Aaron and I hurried out the door, stopping at the grocery store on our way to meet his group. I had promised him a Cheddar Pasta Salad to take to his group. Of all mornings to need to leave early, I grumbled.
At the deli counter, as we waited to be served, Aaron began to notice all the dishes. He leaned over and oohed and aahed over the Deviled Egg Potato Salad, The Layered Salad, the Fruit Salad, the German sandwiches, the Spaghetti Salad…………and his joy over simple food began to silence my distasteful attitude. He had moved beyond spilled coffee, bad hair, wounded finger, scratchy dog, and hot temps. He noticed the good things before him. As we walked out with not only his Cheddar Pasta Salad, but also a bottle of flavored water and some Skittles, he chattered happily about anything and everything. If I wasn’t listening, I would have missed his observation that the entrance sidewalk at the Warren Theater is, in his words, “…….twinkle stone. Does it have jewelry in it, Mom?”
I had to pause in my heart and smile. As we drove to meet his group, I told him that I was sorry about my attitude that morning. He didn’t say a word, but I know he filed that apology in his mind. I needed to say it and he needed to hear it from his grouchy mother this morning. Later, at Sassy Nails, I sat across from a stranger – another mom – while our toes dried. We talked and she shared how her sister had died of cancer, and how through it all she had blessings to be thankful for. This woman, this mom, this sister, had no idea about how much I needed to hear those words. How easy it is to let the slight troubles of my life ruin my disposition and take my mind off the Lord!
So I have counted my blessings for the rest of the day:
1. The spilled coffee matches the carpet, especially in the dim light.
2. A coffee smell on the stairs beats a dog smell any day.
3. The living room needed to be mopped anyway.
4. My new pink toes hopefully took the doctor’s eyes away from my bad hair.
5. I do have hair.
6. It may be 107 degrees outside, but we have working AC inside.
7. It may be 107 degrees outside, but I don’t have to be outside working.
8. It may be 107 degrees outside, but we have water for our thirsty garden.
9. Our neighbors have to move for various hard reasons, and the man taking pics of their house this morning wasn’t taking pics of our house.
10. I have a faithful God; loving husband and children; and Aaron to remind me of what’s important.
And I have forgiveness – God’s forgiveness – and even Aaron’s forgiveness……..unspoken but there none the less.
Gary and I appreciate how our neighborhood association has a designated clean-up weekend twice a year. The association rents a huge dumpster and puts it in a field that’s just around our circle from us. It’s the perfect time for us to unload any large unwanted items that are allowed in the dumpster. Our big goal, though, is to cut and trim many of our branches, bushes, and trees that have gotten out-of-hand or have died. This last clean-up time a couple weekends ago was no exception. The weather was perfect in every way for Gary and I to head outside and begin our chopping and sawing. It wasn’t long before the piles were growing all over our couple acres. It was time for the dying cherry tree to go, as well as an old long-dead spruce. Our huge Crepe Myrtles needed to be cut down low, and the violet bush badly needed some work. Off came the bottom branches of our evergreen that we lovingly call our Gumdrop Tree as we try to save it for one more year of Christmas lights. And there were many, many other branches and limbs and parts of trees that needed to be sawed down and disposed of.
We used to use Andrew’s old truck for these days but now that he’s off to college we pile the mounds into Gary’s truck. What a blessing to have this means of hauling all that mess down to the dumpster! We drag and lift and load over and over again. It’s amazing how many loads we haul away! The truck is filled as full as it can be with each trip, that’s for sure. Gary has it down to a fine art of how to load the truck and it works very well. We pile it high, and then Gary uses a rope to tie it down before he drives off around the circle to unload. I either ride down with him to help unload, or I stay back at the house to do other things until he returns. One thing I’ve never done is to run along behind him, yelling for him to stop so that I can take some of the load off and carry it myself; or telling him that I need to rearrange the load; or offering to ride on top of the load to help hold it down. No, that would be silly! The truck is able to carry the load perfectly and the rope holds it secure. I have every confidence in the ability of Gary’s truck to do the job and do it well.
As we loaded Gary’s truck, I was reminded of what I had read in Isaiah 46 recently. God began that chapter by talking about how the Babylonians would load their false gods onto donkeys when they were being attacked. However, soon both the donkeys and the false gods were taken into captivity. Neither was able to help the other. Then in verses 3 and 4 God reminded Israel: “…….you have been borne by me from birth and have been carried from the womb; Even to your old age I shall be the same, and even to your graying years I shall bear you! I have done it, and I shall carry you! And I shall bear you and I shall deliver you!” What an amazing promise that is true for believers today as well! It’s true for me and for you! God will be the same for our entire lives, from birth til death. He desires to bear me and to deliver me! He wants to carry my loads and bear my burdens! Just as I could trust Gary’s truck to carry the weight and the amount of our limbs and branches, so I can trust God to carry all the weight and the amount of my troubles and my burdens.
Peter said in I Peter 5:7: “Casting all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.” This carries the idea of throwing my cares upon God. Just as I threw those branches and limbs on the truck, so I can throw my cares upon God. And just as silly as it would be for me to chase Gary around the circle and try to carry the limbs myself, so it’s silly for me to throw my cares upon God but then try to take them back. Yet that’s exactly what I’m doing every time I pray but still worry and stew over my problems. Why is it so hard to just leave my burdens on the God Who WANTS to bear them for me? Why do I think that by losing sleep, or talking and talking about my issues, or continuing to try to solve my problems myself, or reading the next self-help book – that I can in any way accomplish any more than the donkeys and the false gods did in Isaiah’s time? Oh God, may I throw my worries and hurts and fears and pain upon You, fully upon You, and allow You to bear them and to carry me and deliver me!
Just like Gary’s good old truck!