Friday, May 08, 2009

Tender Emotions

My feelings have felt like tidal waves lately.

I have been facing the struggles that come with despair. I tell you the last few weeks of Kyle's unemployment were especially difficult.  You know I have/am wrestling with the idea of returning to work.  I don't think I am going to. I have read, and re-read this: To the Mothers in Zion 

Trying to make a big decision means you think a lot. And for me I replay history. My personal history and decisions I have made - decisions I have made that were good and ones that were bad, and ones that were so right for me they had to be directly by divine intervention.

And while doing this thinking on the past, memories come that I often push down and let get drowned by the hum of my busy life.  Like I said in the title they are tender emotions that could be summed up but mean so, so much more.

I am so grateful for my mom. She has gone through hell and always fights the best fight.

I miss my Dad, he suffered from many problems that mostly originated in his own mind. He broke my heart, but before that he loved me like I will never understand and I grew up one of a privileged few who are truly worshipped by their daddy!

I miss my brother Tommy, and that is actually what I sat here to write about.

This morning I left for a few shopping errands - I went to my stomping ground, the shady side of 380 - not the best part of town but they have what I need: a thrift store, a bread store, and sams club.  As I rounded the corner by goodwill I saw a man at the bus stop looking like he was having heart attack. Literally he scared me so much I was pulled up to the stop with my window down in no time. I asked if he was ok right when I realized he was fine - he just has cerebral palsy. He said I've been here at this bus stop forever could you give me a ride? Now remember this was actually very hard for me to decipher due to his speech but I figured it out and said "of course". I moved stuff and the seat back so it was easier for him to get in and off we went after introducing ourselves. He introduced himself as Jamie. I had a moment of "I am a crazy lady - giving a guy I don't know a ride - having a disability doesn't automatically make you a nice person" but I didn't care - because he was so, so grateful. 

 Then Maiya told him he looked crazy and I got embarrassed, 

but he immediately forgave her.  

He was so much like my brother it was scary.

My brother - Tommy had severe learning disabilities and behavior problems that made life constantly interesting.  He loved to fiddle and never put up with being bored. He loved to fix things and if that meant breaking something first than so be it!
I have to admit that even though I always loved him I did wish he wasn't around a lot and I had my share of fights with him.  But despite his issues one thing he did better than anyone I have ever known or will know was forgive. As this guy immediately forgave Maiya - I felt like I was sitting next to Tommy.

One example: 
My brother got his drivers licence against every one's best interests and wishes. And despite all odds he managed to get a car - to call it a car is a stretch but it did have wheels and it moved with the help of gas. One weekend he decided he would come from Richmond to Virginia Beach to see the kids. (about a 1.5 hour drive). He had to leave late and I went to bed after giving him directions. Now Tommy could not read so all he had to go on was my verbal directions. I fell asleep and didn't wake up until 2 am when I saw that he had called fourteen + times. I have no idea to this day why the phone didn't wake me or Kyle (who is a lighter sleeper than me) up! The ringer was on and the phone what right on my nightstand. I called Tommy right away. He had just gotten back home to Richmond after driving four hours straight, lost the majority of the time with me never answering the phone. I FELT TERRIBLE. I said I was soooooo sorry over and over again. But before I even finished my first "I am sorry" he said "oh its ok, don't worry about it - maybe next weekend" And you know how you can tell from someone's voice how mad they really are. Well I could tell from his that he was not mad at all.

Since my brother died I have felt the pain of that "lost" weekend every time I think about it. Benjamin and Ella loved him like crazy and he loved them even more than that.  

That was the thing with my brother - nothing slowed him down and very little made him sad. Despite dealing with many, many more setbacks and mental limitations he always found a way to be happy.  If forgiving someone faster made you and him happy than he was the first to do it. Time was not worth wasting on being mad when there were cakes to bake and things to fix.

When he died he was living in a roadside motel managing a little thrift shop in a store they had facing the road. He was in heaven. He could tinker with people's trash and make it something valuable to someone else. Have I told you this before? He had a box that he was putting stuff in to give to the kids for Christmas. He died in July and he already had a box of toys for them. He also had a snow globe for my mom because he knew she collects them.

Back to me today - 
Jamie told me during our little drive that he has worked at Old Navy for 8 years. And he volunteers at this thrift store on his days off because he "hates being bored" - He asked about me and I said I lived near 380 and Custer and I was married with four children.
He said "Wow I know that is a really nice area, and I don' t have any kids" There was a little bit of sadness in his voice It made me feel a odd to be one the other side of the tracks in a way. 

I felt like a human fortune cookie in a way - inside of me a message was being printed directly on my heart from the Spirit:

JANIE --You have everything to be grateful for!!!!!!! 

I have let my trials get too much of me lately.  As he shook my hand and got out of the car I thought here he is a guy longing to live in the "better" part of town, wishing he could drive and one day have kids. And on his day off he was going to volunteer to help other people. 

We may never have everything we want in this lifetime. In fact we won't/shouldn't have everything we want in this life. BUT we do have blessings and we can always forgive!!

I have nothing to complain about, nothing to moan and groan about. 

I know I am not good at writing so this post won't even scratch the surface of what my morning favor for Jamie did for me. But it was profound. I pulled around the corner and had a good cry before heading back to Sams club.

And back to my mom. I am so, so grateful for the example she has always been to me about random acts of kindness. She has never let fear, or pomp and circumstance stop her from helping someone.  Even adopting my brother was a challenge she opened her heart to. I know all mother's of children with disabilities face heartache. Mothers who adopt children with disabilities deserve unending respect, my mom included - she wanted for Tommy what he may have never had otherwise - love and safety.  

My mom is always the first to talk to anyone who looks like they might need help.  She says people always seem to tell her their life story, secrets, problems and concerns. I think that is because God knows she maybe the most likely to help them!
She hired many people down on their luck for odd jobs around our house. She has given rides to ladies carrying groceries in the rain. Now I am crying again. Even when she was in the most pain of her life with third degree burns from radiation she thought of others. In the waiting room of the oncology clinic deep in a medicated haze she noticed an older lady had been waiting for a long time for the Medical transport to take her home. My mom told me "Go tell her that if she is still here when I am done we will take her home"  

I love you Mom.


Meredith said...

Is it cheesy to say "love you!"?
You're awesome Janie.
That's all I have to say.

Lisa said...

Oh my. My heart breaks to read this yet feels good. I secretly want to yell at you for picking up a stranger, but the Spirit led you and it turned out for the better.

Ryann said...

Janie, that was beautiful. Thank you.

Erin said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. You brought out some tender emotions in me, too. And really, you could also call it a "tender mercy". It's nice to know that someone up above knows just what we need and when we need it to get us through our trials and help us have the right perspective.

Amanda said...

What a nice post for anytime....especially Mother's Day. Even though I read it with 2 children pulling on me---I think that might have taken the emotion out of me:)

nanao said...

You said what you said just beautifully!! I want to thank your Mom too -- she gave you the basis for who you are and in turn, gave me a fantastic, beautiful, precious "daughter" whom I love very much. I am so glad Kyle chose you to be his wife and the mother of my "babies". HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!

My name is Andrea said...

No wonder you are such a woderful person, you had a great example.

Thank you for the wonderful reminder to be grateful!

Tony said...

You're actually an excellent writer, Janie. Thank you for sharing that personal story.

Happy Mother's Day!

"Uncle" Tony

Jessica said...

I haven't been on here in awhile but I was checking up on you guys. Man, you sure know how to get my waterworks going... I miss you guys. I'm glad that I have had the chance to know the people in your life that you reference in this post because just like you, they are amazing people. Say hello to everyone from me.