Sunday, December 13, 2009
Last Wednesday, December 9, was my 59th birthday. Birthdays are less of a big deal for me but I DO have several friends who insisted that I celebrate so they took me to lunch. Nice. And the hub and I had a sweet, quiet evening at home, on a cold and wintry night. Yet another celebration in this momentous year.
This photo is about 56 years old. Mom included it in a personalized birthday card, along with some other photos. Funny, it got me flipping through an album she made for me when I got married. I've looked at these photos before, some with my siblings, but this time, I honed in on one feature that shows up in all of them. I'm always looking squarely into the camera and there's a glint in the eye. There's the smile, sure, as someone (Dad, usually) directed us to SMILE. But there's a mischievous sparkle that belies the ornery little critter behind those orbs.
I was (am?) the challenging child, that one who claims the most parental gray hairs. Mom still likes to tell people (and the hub parrots this on relevant occasions) that
'when Lynne asked for permission, she wasn't asking whether or not she was going to DO something, just if she was going to have permission."
The significance of this pose is that when Mom would get us ready for church, we were to fold our hands to keep them clean. Often, we had little white gloves on those hands. Even as a preschooler, I enjoyed walking out to the car, hands folded, and then swiping a finger over the fender just before I got into the back seat. Yes, that was ME.
Really? Well, yes, although if I were a child today, I'd built a case for "NOT MY FAULT" as is the fashion.
After all, I came on the heels of the perfect child. Older sister Janis was (is) smart and kind, and walked the chalk when it came to parental rules. I was that second child, you know, so I pushed the limits and dared to challenge. Younger sister Kris, the cute one, the sweet one, told me that she looked up to me; she also told me that she worked really hard at being good to make up for....me.
All three of us were supposed to be Patrick Hayes in those simpler days when parents awaited birth to confirm the baby's gender. But then the youngest (Ken is firm that, although he was the youngest, KRIS was the baby)came along, and he was named after my dad.
We four shared a pretty good upbringing that we can now idealize as we and the memories grow fuzzier. But I have clear recollections of some of my more infamous challenges to the rules. And so do my sibs so I'll leave that for THEIR autobiographies..I'm sure they'll include me because it can only serve to shine their own halos.
So why was I such a stinker? My pastor has reminded me, on quite a few occasions, (as I have a short attention span and forget IMPORTANT things) that God has gifted all of His children in unique ways. Pastor's context is usually when I fret about my own children or some other kid in my sphere of influence. We parents (and teachers) can do what we can to train them up, to mentor, to guide, and to pray. And then we have to hand them over to the Father who sees the big picture.
Mom and Dad raised their Baby Boomin' Brood in suburban Detroit, took us to church, prayed for us and, I'm sure, paced the floor over at least ONE offspring. "It's Tuesday. Time to Worry about Lynne...." And the product has to step back and admire their faithfulness to their God and to their responsibility.
Like many teenagers, when I pushed the most, I simmered in my room and listed all the things I'D NEVER SAY or DO to MY CHILDREN when I grew up. And like many who have survived their teens and have raised their own, I've found their words coming easily out of my mouth as they make such good sense.
As for personal gifting, I doubt that 'rule pusher' appears among the SPIRITUAL GIFTS in Galatians. Mom and Dad did not read books. They modeled their own parents. And in the case of the second child, they fell back on their WWII military training and always always presented a united front and always always stuck to their word when it came to, um, punishment. "Grounded for six weeks" meant grounded for six weeks. That one was brutal and they only had to do that once. However, had they relented or eased up, they would have bought themselves more trouble from ME.
It's too late for me to thank my dad, although I'm sure he knows. But hey, Mom, thanks for guiding this second child, and all of your children, to adulthood and beyond. I know you pray for us.
God's blessings continue to flow for us in Kokomo. My family has grown even more dear. And I'm ok, all.