Sunday, April 10, 2016
Sunday Afternoon Tea - These are the good ole' days
Recently the weather forecast was for a rare sunny morning. I decided to take advantage of dry weather to go for a mini-vacation at the Panera near campus. I had some credit left on a gift card from Christmas and cabin fever seems to come quickly when the calendar says it is suppose to be getting warmer... not reverting back to winter.
As I sipped good coffee and nibbled an orange scone, I tried to read but found myself looking out the window. Partly because I love to do some discreet people watching. Partly to gaze upon the new hotel being built across the road. This entire section of town used to be completely different and not that long ago. Where the Panera sits now is on sod where my mother and I shopped at Sears Roebuck and Co. Where each Holiday season I'd pick up the latest Sears Wishbook to memorize before Christmas.
Now there are dozens of stores and restaurants on that ground, where students and staff and locals mix together. Graduation is only weeks away at the University. As I was looking out the window, I thought about how most of the students will be leaving and how much nicer it is when the locals get the town back to themselves. Well, we do share summer with the graduate students, researchers, and undergrads needing that summer school credit.
But graduation is a big deal. It doesn't seem all that long ago when we sat in the auditorium watching the Humanities students graduate as our daughter received her BA or the School of Science graduation when our son-in-law received his Ph.D. Christopher's graduation was only a few years ago when he received his Bachelor of Science degree. However, my friends, it sometimes seems only yesterday that I was expecting Stephanie while my mom and stepfather sat next to me watching my husband receive his Master's of Science degree.
Times goes so fast or as my husband tells me, "Tempus is Fugiting". He will turn 69 in a couple of weeks. How can that be?
I think I always had a sense of the importance of living for each day as one who had lost a parent suddenly when I was a child. When you lose a parent or a sibling in childhood, there is a tearing away of innocence where one assumes nothing bad will happen to them. Usually we are at least in our teens before life hits us hard in the face.
Because of that, when my kids were very young I had an index card pinned to my bulletin board. On it I had written, "These are the good ole' days". This was wisdom that was God given after a time when I was frustrated about life and sometimes just wanted to give up and spend my time reading a book or watching TV. Just... escape.
However, God used a lot of sources to show me that Truth. This would be the only childhood either of my children would experience. These were their Good Ole' Days. I kept that index card there to constantly remind me that the days were indeed fleeting.
As I look back, there were few perfect days. It seems there is always something whether it is as small as burning the cookies or as huge as a job loss. As one of my very favorite book mentors always said, "If you expect perfection or nothing, you will always end up with nothing!". That being, of course, Edith Schaeffer.
So I put a lot of thought into making even the difficult times good. There were Saturdays in Saugatuck when Stephanie was very young and picnics in the park when we moved back "home". When we lived in Detroit, Christopher and I always walked to the diner for breakfast when Dad left yet again for another business trip.
There was music and favorite TV shows and videos and books and even some sports now and then. Since my daughter and I both love to cook and bake, there was time spent in the kitchen and good food at the dinner table. Even when the budget was tight.
There was the making of art and the writing of stories and studying Interior Design vicariously when my daughter was in college. There was a full cookie jar when Sheila's boys came over to play basketball with Christopher or Legos or Hot Wheel cars.
There was the Youth Symphony when my daughter played violin and Home School debate with Christopher and swimming lessons in Holland and fencing lessons across from the library near campus.
There were great church experiences and not so great. Friendships made with people we still care about and those faces for whom we try to remember their name. Especially as we get older.
There were wonderful days like Christmas and weddings and graduation mixed with sad days like the death of grandparents. There were days of loving kitties and the sad days when our two elderly kitties were buried under the dogwood tree out back.
Life lived. Every day having the capacity to be a real downer or... one of their good ole' days. A lot of it had to do with attitude, really.
For most of life is not spent on vacation or celebrating a Holiday. Most of our lives are the day to day routines that... when we look back years later... we don't recall at all. Unless. Unless there was someone who decided that there would be days worth remembering for good. Someone who keeps the vintage picnic basket handy, or the cookie jar full, or who stretches the budget so the family can attend a concert.
Perhaps deciding to pack sandwiches and chips, to drive to the lake and view the sun setting at the beach... even though one is tired from working all day. Perhaps picking up Kentucky Fried Chicken at the last minute and eating dinner at the park in summer or at a picnic table by the river.
These are their good ole' days... and they will fly by like the Biblical wisp of smoke... like the morning mist... babies today and having babies of their own tomorrow.
These are your days. In the present. Not perhaps days of youth but still days that breath is given and another day that is a gift. Is there anything you really want to do within your grasp of ability? Perhaps something big like visiting Paris or small.. like visiting Panera on a sunny morning. These are the only days we are given, there is no rewrite. This is it. Enjoy.
Artist: Arthur John Elsley