Thursday, March 05, 2015

Papa Don

Today is my Grandpa Don's 91st birthday. Last year we surprised him with a huge birthday to celebrate the big 9-0, because at his stage in life, we probably need to celebrate each year even moreso, right? Not many people make it to 91 or beyond, but I'm grateful God has given us Papa Don for this long and hopefully more years to come!

I was supposed to be driving home to Illinois for his birthday, my mom's birthday, and a couple other things happening this weekend, but because of the crazy snow in Louisville, I'm still here. Normally on snow days I veg out in my pj's and watch movies and whine a lot about how much I hate winter, but for some reason today I felt like moving. (Don't worry, I didn't get out of my bed until almost noon, so I laid around some!) Once I got moving I decided to shovel all the walkways around my house (which is way more exhausting than I thought) as well as shovel all the snow off of and around my car on the street. And then I thought, "hey, it's a great day to take a walk!" Because who takes walks in the snow? Apparently me. And apparently people who live in the Highlands, including a lady named Victoria, who I met as we both walked and talked down the middle of the street since no cars were out and about. The sun was shining and there were blue skies, and I was meeting a  neighbor (which I've been praying for to happen), and my heart was just at peace! Even in the snow!

Why do I share all of this? Because if you know me, you know that I hate winter and cold weather. I complain about it. A lot. I'm more than ready for spring, but even last night as it snowed buckets in the dark, I walked out into my street and stood there for a minute listening to nothing but the silence and the sound of snowfall. Right there I just decided to be thankful. It was peaceful. Too often I complain about life and circumstances and things like winter that are out of my control. But one thing that is in my control is the choice to be thankful.

I called my Papa Don tonight to wish him a happy birthday and he cried when I hung up the phone, as he often does when I say goodbye to him these days. My Grandpa has endured a lot of hardship. Being 91, he's lived through the Great Depression, war, the loss of his wife (my grandma), the loss of his middle son (my Dad), and the loss of his oldest son (my Uncle) just this past December. As he has aged he has also lost a bit of his hearing and some of his eyesight, taking away his ability to drive or read. And just after my uncle died, he had to move out of the very home that he built with his two hands and into an assisted living apartment so that they could help with daily things like medicines and laundry and things that are just too worrisome for him on his own. He has lost a lot, and he has so many reasons to complain, but he doesn't. He smiles, and he gives, and he loves.

Today I remembered that I have several videos and voice memos I recorded in December as we listened to him share stories about his childhood. I didn't want to forget what he has been through. He shared of growing up in a time when no one was jealous of anyone else because they were all in the same boat. No one had more than you. They had an outhouse for a bathroom that you had to go outside to use - even on snowy days like today! They didn't even have rolled toilet paper but they used old magazine pages. He talked about buying day old jelly donuts on his way to school as he walked every day for a couple miles to get there. You could get 3 for a nickel. He talked about the war and how he lost friends to the Japanese. He still has a hard time talking about that.

So I felt it necessary today to share words that honor my Papa Don and his 91 years of life and how I'm just learning to be thankful. While there are circumstances in my life I'd love to change, I will choose today to not let them take me down. Instead, I will choose to be grateful and make the most of the life God has given me like my Papa Don has.

Over the last few weeks I've fallen into the dreaded winter depression. A very "poor me" kind of attitude, wallowing in silly little things that should not steal even a second of my joy, but I have let them. Jen Hatmaker shared on her facebook status something similar today that I've been feeling:
Onward. Ain't nobody got time to get all squirrely over every little thing. WE GOT STUFF TO DO, right sisters? You squirrely over something? ONWARD I SAY. You're too awesome for nonsense. Drop it like its hot.
AMEN, right? I'm pretty sure I've never said Amen after saying/reading/writing "Drop it like it's hot" but I sure am. Thank you Jen, and Snoop, for those words today.

And thank you Grandpa for reminding me that there is joy in life even in the hard things, and that every life is valuable. 

And thank you Lord for teaching my heart to be at peace today. And I guess, for the snow. :)