Dear Mama and Pops,
Honestly, I don’t think y’all check email or stare at social media from heaven. And I know writing this type of blog is therapeutic for me rather than informative to either of you.
But I’m writing it this way anyway.
And I’m imagining the two of you sitting together in some room in heaven reading it while eating the best food possible, singing along to your favorite songs of all time, and holding hands like you did on earth long ago. If you could read that sentence, Pops, you’d give that smile and offer that awkward giggle. Mama, you’d probably laugh out loud and give Billy Maxwell a kiss right then.
But I digress.
I’m writing this about two recent trips. Both of them made me miss both of you.
The first trip was when Debbie and I spent time with our sons Taylor, Aaron, and Graham, and their families. We were all together—a rare occurrence these days. Our eight grandchildren are growing up at a hurried pace. Your grandsons are fabulous dads and they all married wonderful ladies.
Pops, you’ve seen most of them. I just wish you could be near to see them again.
Mama, you’ve met none of our sons and I still struggle with that. Part of me feels like some of my weaknesses are caused by your absence from my life over so many decades.
But I know better, and I work through those initial ideas. I do, however, feel sad that you weren’t there to play basketball with us, eat meals with us, or ride the waves with us.
Y’all are far away, wherever heaven is. We can’t even FaceTime to bring you as close as possible. We can’t stare together at videos and pictures in one of the devices I’m writing on.
We were all together.
But y’all weren’t with us.
That’s why I’m writing this. Sadness walks inside our lives in both expected and unexpected times. Among all my laughter while with family in Florida, a few tears appeared wishing y’all were with us. Literally with us. Tasting the saltwater, feeling the breeze, counting the miles, loving the ice cream. Making eye contact with each person. Holding hands. Offering smiles.
That family vacation is the first trip.
The second trip wasn’t 450 miles one way. It was just 20.
The second trip didn’t last six days. It was just two hours.
The second trip was a ride to the town we lived in the first twelve years of my life. I was burdened about people I love, concerned about their futures, and praying for their needs. Since I was off work, I grabbed my keys and drove to Elberton.
Y’all might now know this, but I rarely visit cemeteries. My time remembering you two isn’t usually there. For me, it’s the pictures or our former houses—not the places of burial. For me, it’s writing about you—not reading the years of birth and death revealed on granite rocks. For me, it’s hearing all songs that remind me of us—not standing and staring on green grass around gray reminders.
But this time I went there. I slowly read your names. I slowly stated the dates of birth and death. I slowly slid the flower from her sideways leaning toward an upright stance. And I waited. Not for anyone or anything specific. I just waited.
Maybe I wanted you two to join me in prayer and agree with my petitions.
Maybe I wanted to be young again and let one of y’all drive me back home.
Then I left. To meet a friend, to drive a few more places, to see other memories, I left.
Neither of you rode back home with me.
None of my other family members rode back home with me.
But because of what y’all taught me, I knew I wasn’t alone. I knew I could talk to my Heavenly Father on the ride back home.
I’m glad I did.
So thanks. For loving me and teaching me, thanks. For daring me to dream and try, and when I fail, to try again, thanks.
Well, I guess that’s all for now.
Whatever y’all are eating and singing and enjoying there, know that I miss you both.
That was great! Many parents would love to hear some of those things while they are still on earth.
Thanks. You are right.
Always powerfully and humbly real, Brah…
That was a sweet letter to your parents and bothof my parents are up there with yours and someday I will get to see them again, and my husband who is there also. I so enjoyed seeing you and Debbie when you preached in my church, Greenway/ Orlando, as you said when you signed your new book for me, it has been a long time since we had seen each other. I did also get to see Taylor and his family,, he doesn’t remeber me as I told him I knew him when he was a teenager at Conway Assembly where you were my Pastor for almost 12 years. Oh the precious memories. Be safe and be well my friend. Linda Newberry
Thanks. It was great to see you in Orlando.
The screen became blurry half way through your post, but that’s okay, I have tissues for that. I love your honest reflections.