Family on Mother’s Day

We don’t all fit on one screen, and my family will know this isn’t our Mother’s Day screenshot, but it’s us the time before.

This has been such a strange day, happy in many ways, but with a pervasive sadness that feels almost like a home that I keep coming back to. In a way, I value the sadness too because it’s a precious emotion, indicating depth of feeling. I pretty much only get sad about things I really care about, and mostly those things are relationships.

We got word that my Aunt Irene (but we always said “Auntie Irene”) died today. She was 94. It was exactly two years ago on Mother’s Day that her husband, Uncle Bob, died and I think she has been trying to join him ever since. She was the last of my father’s siblings. One more generation of that family is now gone. They were all interesting, loved, important people to their children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews. At times I was very close to Auntie Irene and I wish now I had been more attentive to her in these last couple of years. Some things about being 94 are probably okay, but when you consider how many of your friends aren’t around any more at that age, it has to be lonely. I am sad thinking about the loneliness of old age.

One of my nieces who has miscarried and lost her unborn children was gifted, anonymously, a beautiful Mother’s Day orchid with a note attached. It reminded me of several women I know who grieve on this holiday. It reminded me that I used to feel that way, and I want to hug them and cry too. These things would not hurt if we did not love. But loving is worth hurting.

Lastly, nothing speaks depth of family relationship like a reunion, so we all braved technology and Zoomed together this afternoon. (Well, almost all of us – it’s bittersweet when some of our special adoptees can’t get on the internet highway and join us.) It’s always a wonder to me, to see the faces appear on my screen, one after another – the family matron (my mom), the elders (my generation), the next tier down (all the cousins), and the littlest kiddos who have no idea what they are part of. North to south, east to west, we are all over the country but together on the screen because something tells us it’s important. Our stories are not all perfectly happy, but we are together, trying to build depth into our relationships. I look at them all and want to tell them “Please, don’t ever let loneliness have the last word. You have a family. You belong and are loved.” But I might not have actually said that. I should have.

So I hope that this day so closely connected to family relationships was a good day for you. I hope you know that whether you are a single, or a couple, or a whole tribe, you are capable of family relationship because you were made to need something of what that offers. A good Creator would not have created us with desires that couldn’t be fulfilled. It wouldn’t make sense. Have hope and love those around you with all your strength. Make family a reality.

Life Up North: The Doll Collector

Some people think clowns are creepy, scary, sinister. I feel somewhat the same about dolls. I had a moment today that was steeped in “doll creepiness” as Mom and I were casing out the Salvation Army thrift store.

Salvation Army is a semi-regular stop for Mom because she is curious and always amazed at what she can find for a quarter, or a dollar – something she might have to pay a lot more for somewhere else, and so much more convenient than running all over the county to garage sales.  I find it amusing too, but also a little sad. There are so many things that are clearly in the last stages of their existence. It’s like a nursing home for household goods.

Occasionally there is something new or almost new, but that is also sad. Who would part with a perfectly good item unless there was trauma, duress or sadness involved? Maybe a death, or a downsizing move, or just the inability to maintain… all possible. I’m thinking something like that happened with the doll collector.

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I entered the store and within a few steps became aware of the dolls. I noticed them first in a bin, lying piled on top of each other. A few baby dolls, but most were collector items, perhaps like American girl. Some had exquisite faces and hair and all were in full costume. Little replicas of people with unseeing eyes staring around in all directions – some were watching me. I’m sure of it.

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And then I saw the shelves. Dolls lined up, standing at attention, oblivious to me as I examined their dresses and coats, straightened their hats and tucked their hair into place. Personally, I would not make a doll stand out in public with its hair frowzy and messed, and a big pink sticker on its face. They are/were someone’s little people who have been uprooted, left homeless and unwanted because of some dire circumstance. Surely, they are due some compassion and respect.

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Could this sticker not have been placed elsewhere? And that hair!

I can only imagine that it must have been a hard decision for someone to take them all to the thrift store, when they could possibly have been sold for more. Maybe there was no grandchild to give them to, or maybe there was no time to advertise and find new homes for them, or maybe they couldn’t stand reliving the memories. Have it over and done with.

I’ve just emptied a house and moved myself. I know the feeling.

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Poor, brave darlings!

Sad, and kind of creepy. Just sayin’…