There are days when Meems is alert and chatty. There are days when her eyelids are so heavy she cannot lift them for more than a few seconds. She actually fell asleep one morning while she was drinking coffee. The Sleepy Coffee Spill story is now a part of her limited catalog of "And To Think" stories. "And to think, I fell asleep while I was drinking hot coffee at breakfast!"
We call these days Sleepy Days. They are becoming more and more frequent.
During my Sleepy Day visits, I enjoy sitting quietly by her side drinking in her sweet softness and the peace that surrounds her. My heart almost bursts with love for this woman. My mother. Momma. Mimi. Meems. During those moments of stillness, I slip down a rabbit hole of fascination. What is it about this tiny sleeping woman with Kleenex billowing from her left sleeve? Why am I so attached to this particular human being out of all the human beings on Planet Earth? Shared genetics do not necessarily produce the deep feeling of love that I feel as I watch her slow, deep breaths.
During one recent Sleepy Day visit, I had an epiphany.
my mother showed up.
She was the little church lady that attended Sunday School and sang in the choir every Sunday. She never taught a single Sunday School lesson. She never sang an offertory solo. She was just THERE.
band concerts, drill team performances, piano recitals, dance recitals, PTA programs, parades.
She wasn't just THERE. She was THERE taking pictures.
funerals, weddings, Methodist Missions banquets, pot luck dinners, ice cream socials.
She was THERE.
If Helen Kinzbach ever brought you a warm loaf of Mimi Bread (so named by my sons) when you were ill or sad or appreciated or just because you always bragged on her bread, please step forward and place a dollar on the table. Let's see...how many dollars are piled up there? Tens of tens of tens. Her love of Jesus was deeply kneaded by her tiny hands into the individual yeasty fibers of each loaf.
She was THERE with crusty, tender, warm, sweet bread.
I was pregnant with our second child when our firstborn was a just learning to walk. Morning sickness turned into bouts of nausea throughout the day. The mere mention of vomit would send me running in search of my little plastic trash can. On one particular day as I was piddling around in the kitchen while Jonathan was sitting in his high chair playing with his food, I thought I heard the sound of water hitting the floor. I turned towards the sound. My eyes opened wide and my jaw dropped in disbelief. It wasn't a leaking pipe. It was a leaking diaper. My precious son smiling with a circle of Cheerio balanced between his front teeth had exploded. I can hardly type the words to tell you about the volume and odor of... Ugh. I'm making myself gag right now. Mothers of the World, you get the idea.
I raced to the bathroom and ran warm water into the tub. Then, I gulped in a deep breath and held it as I ran to the kitchen to extricate Jonathan from the obliterated high chair. Tears were running down my cheeks. Oh, misery, thy name is Diarrhea! I held Jonathan away from my body like a dead cat as I ran towards the bathroom. I stripped off his clothes and diaper and rolled them up into a bath towel gagging and crying all the while.
Once I got him bathed, powdered and in fresh clothes, I carried him to my bedroom. I placed him on the bed and crawled up next to him crying. I felt so overwhelmed. I could not face the mess in the kitchen nor the bathroom. Life was just too much for me all in the span of about 10 minutes of one day with one poopy toddler. So, what did I do? I picked up the phone and called Mom.
She came. The journey from Waco to my house in Mesquite took about 2 hours. She arrived with a packed bag in 2 hours and 15 minutes. I was still crying and gagging. And, kinda hungry. Mom took charge. She cleaned up every glop of poop and washed the poopy clothes. Soon the piney freshness of clean floated throughout my tiny house. Then, she brought me a sandwich and a glass of sweet tea on a tray with a carefully folded napkin and a bloom of azalea plucked from my flowerbed and tucked into a tiny vase.
On that Sleepy Day sitting there gazing at my mother, I felt a huge lump rise up in my throat. That petite, wrinkled bundle of slumber seems like no one special to the casual observer.
Oh, she's special, my friend. She lived a lifetime of showing up. She honored people and God by showing up. And, I had the privilege of watching her legacy of showing up unfold.
Thanks, Sleepy One, for being there for me and mine, your church family, and your friends. Your warm loaves of bread, your willingness to serve, and your STRONG STOMACH will be my beacons as I journey forward in life. Well, not so much the strong stomach.
Look at the picture above. See the 5 plates on the wall? If you're thinking that there must have been 6 plates hanging there, you would be right. Last fall, one of the plates fell and broke into several pieces. A caregiver gave my mother the cross for Christmas and placed it where the plate once hung. A younger me would have twitched at the mere site of the skewed symmetry. Today's me kinda loves it. Everything on that wall screams "Helen Kinzbach!" Gardening. Fine china. Jesus.
Remind me someday to tell you about the framed embroidery in the picture that reads, "I'd rather be in my garden." It's a sweet, sweet story.