If Tris had come for a visit last week, or - better yet - ten years ago, I'd have gotten it then. (a bit like best time to plant an oak tree - 20 years ago; second best time - today.) She's been a mentor and friend for over 30 years now. Every time we're together I tuck lessons under my belt that will serve me well for years to come. I can trust her track record.
There was the 'purple shoe money' lesson (finances); the 'view marriage as a calling' (husband's career years); the 'coming into MY office' (retirement); This visit we took a road trip, ate guacamole (me more than her), visited two of our kids who'd grown up and birthed 6 kids between them since she'd last seen them. Back at the lake, last night together, it was time for school.
We curled up in chairs, across the room from each other, orange ball of sun melting into earth across the lake. Our faces falling into the shadows. Words slow, voices quiet. Misty eyes and lumpy throats.
Aren't those the best conversations?
We talked about grown kids, living across town or the country, and ME trying to get them all together, for holidays and other occasions. Needing that family photo of everyone in blue jeans and white shirts, looking forward and smiling. ALL TOGETHER IN ONE PlACE, with matching reunion t-shirts, everyone's there. I come from a family of six kids, aunts and uncles and cousins galore - lots of people who never see each other. Not being that matching t-shirt family has left wounds that have scabbed over, but still ooze sometimes.
Our grown 'kids' have separate lives, as they should. I'm thankful nobody's living in the spare bedroom! They're all wonderful people we're crazy about. Independent, fully functioning families crazy-busy with kids, careers and laundry, teething and stretching budgets and stomach viruses now and then.
That dratted baggage keeps showing up on my doorstep.
Tris loved me enough, was wise enough, that she spoke the truth. She said, 'Bev, it isn't about YOUR family anymore. It's about them and theirs. They all turned out great. Be thankful for that. Enjoy it. Let them each have their own lives.'
It's spring in Texas. Our back yard is filled with cardinals and bluebirds and house finches, all busy with mating dances on the lawn and building nests. I don't expect a single one of them came back to the nest they were raised in hoping Dad, Mom and all their siblings would be there!
I had the head knowledge that our nest had emptied out, actually quite a few years ago. Each of our kids flew off into the world, starting a brand new family of their own. Their own nest. Some of them closer to our tree, some in a completely different place. It is as it should be.
I just never transferred it to my heart.
Today I'm feeling thankful for a dear, wise friend who continues to help me walk through the stages in life she's already faced, and a tender God who is teaching me through flirting mockingbirds, sticks and clumps of mud tucked together into the notch of a branch near the top of the live oak.
'For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.' Ephesians 5:31