Saturday, February 18, 2012

What I learned from Madeleine

It's been a treat to know that this is a day that God has chosen to bless Tom's family.  Last spring, Tom's mom, Madeleine, died at the age of 82.  Today is her birthday.  Tom's dad, Bob, had been in the hospital earlier this week with a recurrent health problem.  He was released on Friday, and didn't know that Tom was planning to take the train to visit him for the weekend.  So, he surprised Bob by showing up at his house.  They were both surprised a short time later when Tom's sister, Heather, also showed up from North Carolina to be there for the long weekend.  So, it was surprises all around!

Madeleine was a wonderful, caring mother-in-law to me.  She was also a woman of strong, quiet faith.  Despite life's inevitable ups and downs, joys and challenges, she knew to turn to the Lord in prayer.  She had been in poor health for a number of years, and when she died it was comforting to know that she was restored in body and spirit in Heaven, free of the aches and heartaches of this world.

She also loved her family with a deep and abiding finality.  Finality might seem like a strange choice of words.  What I mean is that her love was just there, whatever happened, it was there.  None of us are perfect people, and none of us live, love or relate perfectly to each other.  But if we would just decide to love with finality, so much of this world's struggles, in the end, would just fall away.  When all was said and done, Madeleine loved her family fiercely.

Madeleine was a faithful sender of cards (something that I am not).  Every major holiday or birthday would ensure that a card would be in our mailbox.  I think her cards were an act of love -- a way to demonstrate love through a small act of remembrance and kindness, a way to put words to thoughts and feelings that might otherwise go unsaid.

Madeleine's tangible acts of service spoke a language of love all their own.  We're about half-way through our own act of love -- going through our closets and drawers to find the things we are preparing to gift to others.  It was a bittersweet moment for me to go through some of our girls' things with them today.  It's funny how clothes can evoke certain memories.  When those memories make me say, "Oh, remember when…" (rather than, "What the heck was I thinking buying this?"), it feels like we are bequeathing the possibility of new treasured memories to someone else. 

So, as I close out this day remembering my one-of-a-kind mother-in-law, Madeleine, I am blessed to have known her.  I am blessed that part of her lives on in my husband and in our girls.  I believe that somehow she knows that Bob, Tom and Heather are together, remembering, honoring and sharing the unexpected pleasure of being together on her birthday.

May you pause today to remember those who have imbued your days and your soul with their own, special way of loving you.

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