Recently our friends Ian and Jenny were back in the States, visiting from Swaziland where they serve HIV positive women and children. Out of all the facts and figures and personal stories that they shared the one that planted it's roots way down deep in my heart, was the one about how kids as young as 5 years old look after their own medical care, and often their own meals and laundry. If they are thirsty they have to go down to the predator infested river to fill a bucket. If they need a clean shirt they have to wash it in that same river, risking a limb or their life. And when it is time to go to the clinic or the hospital for new meds or a shot, they are responsible to get Ian and Jen when it is time to go. No one reminds them. Their parents don't ride the van to the hospital with them, holding their hands, saying prayers for healing, kissing their foreheads, wiping away the worry.
I am 37 years old and my mother will come nurse me if I am sick and I ask for her. She prays for my healing. She will hold my hand if I am scared or nervous. She helps wipe away my worry.
How spoiled I am. How privileged. How blessed. How unfair this seems to me, that this is my life and not theirs. How grateful I am for Ian and Jenny and the work they are doing. How grateful I am for a mother who cares, still.
How grateful I am for my whole nutty family. The kind of family who will stand around and oohh and ahhh over a porch floor.
On Saturday my sister Judea, my brother Joshua and my grandparents joined us for the day and the first order of business was to check out how my mother -with help from my artist and mathematically minded brother- had stained the floor of her front porch.
The weather was amazing. Cool-ish (for August in Arkansas,) with a perfectly lovely breeze blowing, which meant we were all able to pay proper homage to this work of art without melting into puddles.
I love this picture because it captures multiple interactions and personalities so well. Such a fly-on-the-wall moment of my family.
Josh had to inspect his work of course. It really is impressive. And perfectly symmetrical. He and my mother did such a great job. I am pretty sure if I had tackled something like this it would have ended in tears, chocolate and painting the whole thing a solid color.
I guess I should have swept the porch for perfect pictures. But it was the weekend. Who needs perfect?
Let me just give kuddos to my sisters, Jemimah and Judea, who can take pictures of people and make them look so good. I snapped two dozen pictures of my Maw and Paw, and in almost everyone someone is making some weird face or moving too much or the photographer can't get things in focus.
I don't like to lay blame, but it was mostly Maw making the funny faces. .
See what I mean?
Paw on the other hand grinned ear to ear almost the entire time I had the camera out. This man has never met a stranger and there is not self-conscious bone in his body. Before he retired, back in the Mad- Men days of yore, he was an award winning salesman of playground equipment. Let me tell you, there are much worse things than having a grandfather who sells playground equipment. It elevates the "take your grandkid to work day" to a new high.
Crazy beautiful tenacity.
Tenderness. Endurance. Laughter.
Coffee time. This family cannot function without coffee.
The artist striking a pose.
I bet you can't guess who he takes after in personality & looks can you?
So there you have it - my momma's new porch floor and a glimpse of our morning on it.