Thursday, January 30, 2014

About My Family...

When I was in seminary every student had to take the MMPI (the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) and then have the results evaluated by a student in the counseling department. I remember one particular agree or disagree statement (“I have black, tarry stool”) came up several times.

The woman who evaluated my results I hope went on to greater things, but didn’t seem stellar in the evaluation department. She said, “I see that taking care of your health is a high priority for you.” Since at the time I rarely exercised and made myself a peanut butter, Cap’t Crunch, marshmallow chocolate ice cream sundae most days, I’d say that perhaps this was not the case.

But she was really off when she said this. “You seem to idealize your family. Do you think you have built a fantasy about them to deal with some kind of personal pain?” I had to explain, no, in fact, my family is really great. At least, as far as my siblings and parents go, greatness is readily apparent.

And in the last couple of months, since my mom’s death, I’ve been reminded of what great brothers and sisters I have.
My Mom died at my sister Gwynne's house. Mom had gone to Southern California for a visit and her heath took a sudden dive and in a month she was gone. And during that time, my sister cushioned my mother’s fall toward death with amazing amounts of care and grace. Gwynne and her husband, Steve, provided all that could be asked to make my mom’s last days comfortable and filled with reminders of God’s presence.

Somehow my brother, Daryl, though halfway across the country, suffering the brutal Minnesota winter, remains a rock of consistency and stability for the rest of the family in California. He is a source of wisdom and calm (with the bonus of his wife, Carol’s, unparalleled sweetness.)

My sister, Lola was given the thankless job of executer of the will and has taken on a myriad of other responsibilities with fortitude and unflagging energy (even though faced with other major life challenges.) With her husband, Dave, she has worked hard with a kind and sacrificial spirit.

My brother, Dale, has had to take on the blows of losing a second parent without the support those of us with spouses and children enjoy. (Though I’m sure the cats are giving all the support they can mustard.) And he continues on with a cheerful and encouraging spirit.

Through the years, I’m observed what families can go through with the death of their parents, particularly when dealing with an inheritance. I’ve seen even good families sever and bicker over not just money, but over who should get that painting or the microwave. Fortunately, I’ve seen my family graciously looking out for each other, being careful to fight those greedy instincts we all have.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve done some pretty stupid things. (Posting a memorial to Mom on Facebook when not everyone in the family had been personally notified, for example.) But the foolish things I’ve done have been met with grace, forgiveness and understanding by Gwynne and Steve, Daryl and Carol, Lola and Dave and Dale. And I’m pretty sure I’ll continue to give them opportunities to respond graciously to more of my idiocy in the future.

At the memorial for my mom, as is always the case, it was said, “If only your mom could hear all the wonderful things said about her.” So I wanted to take an opportunity to send well deserved praise to my dear sisters and brothers.

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