Monday, December 28, 2009

What's shiny and red?

7:16 p.m. Today's project was to enjoy a fun day with Steve, so we slept rather late, and then had a nice breakfast after our Bible study and devotion time. Steve watered the garden, and then we left, supposedly to get some grass seed and garden soil at Home Depot on Madison.

Daughter Heather and I had arranged for us to come by and pick up Steve's big Christmas gift which Nick hid in their garage. I had not arranged for in a timely fashion, obviously! It would not be easy to hide his gift, even in the morass of the garage. (Wasn't it just July when we had our $1 garage sale, organized by Mike and Shea?) And when Nick and Heather came over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, they came in one of their cars. My final excuse is that even though I could easily put the gift in my Jeep, I couldn't have easily sneaked out of the house on either of those busy days.
We got our garden soil, and headed over to Heather's. Steve walked behind us into the garage, and voila! Decorated with a big gold ribbon, was his brand new, shiny red wheelbarrow! He was delighted, and surprised by a gift that is sorely needed with all our garden work, as well as for reseeding the front lawn next March. Jesus said in Matthew 16:3, rebuking his listeners for spiritual blindness, "You know how to discern the face of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times." Do we think of the spiritual times we are living in, along with the practical knowledge of planting seasons? Not as much as we should! Nothing much has changed, has it?
I realize now the significance of the wheelbarrow for being so different from Steve's other gifts. It represents action and activity, reminiscent of his career in maintenance! Consider his other gifts: I gave him a digital scrapbook I'd made of our travels to stir up his good memories; Heidi gave him 2 wood construction kits, a car and a ship; he received some Thomas Kincaide jigsaw puzzles, a beautiful puzzle of Da Vinci's Last Supper; and a wooden Tangram set that can make 14 different puzzles.
Do you see a well-meaning, but not-that-fun pattern? Our children, their spouses, my dad and I are all trying so hard to help Steve maintain his cognitive function, from hearts of love and belief in the power of prayer and helpfulness. Are we fighting the inevitable? Are these efforts too pointed? Steve was grateful but looked a bit doubtful, if not overwhelmed, over by the tree on Christmas Day. He hasn't opened even one of the packages, other than looking through the scrapbook. Does he doubt he can finish the kits? Or the puzzles? Does he even think these things are fun?
We all love Steve so much, but there is a temptation to focus on curing or alleviating his condition rather than allowing him to enjoy these years while he can. As a teacher, and more importantly, his helpmeet, I do help him with his learning and memory skills, so he can feel comfortable and appropriate, but I don't want it to turn into "drills for daily living." Lord, show me the way I should go, and our friends and family also!!
Steve and I just got back from watching the fantastic 3-D movie AVATAR, even splurging on popcorn and nachos. It was fun, simply fun--and that's all right, because God, "who gives us all things richly to enjoy," (I Timothy 6:17) made a place in our lives for enjoyment of many kinds.
Even a red wheelbarrow!

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