we sit on the edge of our seats, dressed in our finery, hearts beating fast as we wait for our name to be called. 'in recognition of 25 years service in missions...' is the phrase we want to hear, the award we have come to receive, the piece of paper that says we have survived being missionaries in a far-away land, under the auspices of this organization, for two and a half decades.
through coup d'etats attempts, bombings, civil unrest, poverty, raising our kids in a foreign place, struggling to make ends meet, traveling back and forth to the homeland, we have persevered. we have not quit. we have survived, and flourished. we are established now as career missionaries, and we wait for the recognition of that.
names are called.
people go forward.
our name is not on the list.
we slump back in our seats, look at each other in silent wonderment, and the wave of disappointment slams our hearts like a tsunami.
what happened? they knew we were coming! they knew we've been on the list! what happened?
in those silent, breathless moments of shock and betrayal, we sit, dressed in our finery, feeling invisible and obscure and worthless.
we whisperingly decide to leave the hall, separately so as not to make a scene...our tears just beneath the surface.
and we realize we've been overlooked...not for the first time...and it hurts.
in the morning, we feel somewhat better.
and i can't speak for my love, but i decide that this does not affect my life one bit. my sense of entitlement reveals a very human desire for admiration and recognition, a wish to hear "you are special and valued".
which, after all, does not need to come from an organization.
because i know who values me, who sees all the years of hard work and struggle and faithfulness.
he sees, he knows, and he cares.
and i don't have to get dressed up, either.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
we sit out on the balcony with them, in the long northern twilight, talking and laughing and letting the heat of the day dissipate into memory. dad has just fallen and scraped his elbow, startling mom who found him on the floor...she called for dennis just as he was walking in the door. the shock of it still trembles in the air.
yesterday we drove out to the senior's center where they are on the list of 'next admissions'...the cold granite fact is that when someone dies, a room will become available for them. we walked through the home with mom- dad did not want to come. she was so pitifully cheerful and positive...thankful that we would take the time to see where they are probably going to be living short months from now.
we planned furniture layouts, measured the rooms, peeked and nodded and smiled and shook hands with staff...we tried so hard. we succeeded in being happy and positive and decisive. this is where they will go. this is where they will live.
and in the aftermath of that hour, i watched mom walk back into her own little apartment on her arthritic crippled feet and i looked at her eyes...and i saw her gather her strength and bear up under it all like a warrior and i was in awe. her blue eyes took in her home...the lovely things she has, the beautiful furniture and the simple treasures, and i saw her box them up in her mind and put them away and lay it all aside for the future that she can no longer handle.
old age is not for the faint of heart.
it takes dignity and courage and determination...the tantrums come of course, mostly from dad...but the difficult choice of giving up all independence, even temporarily in mom's case, is hard. just hard.
when it's my turn i hope i am graceful and gentle and accepting. i am learning. but it's hard.