Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hands of Time

Art Linkletter always said, "Kids say the darnedest things." He was right, too. Perhaps that's because they are so observant of their physical world, but blind to the subtleties of mature egos. That certainly describes my niece Megan Lane in those precious years when she grew from a toddler to a little girl.

I remember a day when my mother was sitting in her favorite leather chair watching the Astros play baseball on television, and Megan approached her and gazing down at her hands, asked, "What's wrong with your hands?"

Puzzled, my mother answered, "Nothing's wrong with them, sweetheart. Why?" Megan didn't say anything, but placed her tiny plump hand next to Mother's hand. Megan's milky, almost translucent skin looked like smooth alabaster next to the lined, freckled with age spots hand of her grandmother.

Mother chuckled with understanding. "Oh, sweetheart, Grandmother's hand is just old." She lovingly stroked the back of Megan's hand. "And your hand is young."

Later that evening Megan was romping with my dad--her grandfather. He tickled her tummy and gave her butterfly kisses until she got hiccups from laughing. Exhausted, she crawled up in his  lap and grasped his hands. "Look!" she squealed in sudden discovery. "You have hands like Grandma Lane's."

He grinned. "How's that, baby? You think they're pretty?"

She touched the back of one hand and played connect-the-dots with the liver spots that age had tattooed on him. "Pretty old," she murmured.

Ha! No doubt about it, with that innocent quip, Megan should have been the headliner in Art Linkletter's next television special. The memory still stirs laughter in my heart.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My maternal grandmother

I was cleaning out a box this morning and found the bulletin from my grandmother's home church in Sudan, TX, dated Oct. 7, 1956. The bulletin is yellowed with age, and most certainly a manual typewriter was used to type the information about services, including the fact that "139 were present in classes last Lord's Day to study the Will of the Lord," and that "Granny Hanson seems to be getting along very nicely now. She is 96 years young this month."

Within the Church of Christ folded bulletin, I found these words:

Funeral services for Sister E.J.* [Elise Porter] Stone were conducted in the church last Wednesday afternoon by Brother Blake. She passed away Monday morning in the West Texas Plains Hospital, Muleshoe. Much could be written and spoken concerning the life and deeds of this fine woman, but space and feeble words cannot convey the fullness of life as she lived it. When we think of her life, above all we think of her as a faithful, devoted Christian, an untiring worker in the Lord's Kingdom, a loyal companion, mother, citizen, and builder of this community, state, and nation. 

She loved all people---little children, middle-aged, and elders, and they all in turn loved and respected her. She was a continual source of inspiration and encouragement to all who were doing anything worthwhile. She loved that which was good, high, holy, wholesome, and pure, and abhorred that which was base, evil, and ungodly.

She was an outstanding scholar of the Bible, having spent many long hours in its study, in preparation for teaching classes, in preparing for living life, and especially in preparation for life eternal. She possessed a broad knowledge on many subjects, and was a good conversationalist. Her mind was keen and had been developed to a high degree.

There will always be that vacant seat in the church, in her home, in the community, and everywhere she went. Even though she is not present in body, we know that in spirit and that her good works and deeds will last throughout this present world & extend into eternity.

Let us each be courageous and fight the good fight as she fought it, and lay up treasures in heaven as she did. May God's richest blessing abide with [husband] Sib and his children as they go through the period of readjustment.

As I finish reading, I think about how my grandmother cashed in her Texas teacher retirement (she had taught 3rd grade) so that my mother could complete her senior year at Texas Tech and become a teacher. My mother went on to be hired as the founding superintendent of the Windham Schools, within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Mother and my daddy paid my tuition through Sam Houston State Teachers College so I could become a teacher, and I paid my son's way through University of Texas so he could be a teacher, too. Yes, my grandmother was a source of inspiration and encouragement, but her vacant seat has been filled with three generations (and counting) of believers in God's Word and Texas educators.

Her legacy lives on.

*  Eusebius Jefferson Stone was my grandfather's name. He went by "Sib."

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Violence in America

A 26-year-old student armed himself with two handguns and an assault rife last Thursday morning and headed for his Oregon community college on a killing spree. The Umpqua Community College is closed until tomorrow. Counting its dead, comforting its survivors.

With the 10 casualties in Oregon, the total deaths in the U.S. by mass shootings this year is 380.  We are 274 days into the year; another 90 days to go. A brutal future that replicates the past is likely.

I get it, the NRA will make sure guns are not banned in this country. Gun ownership is in the Constitution--a second amendment right. But precious, innocent human beings are being sacrificed. Gun safety needs to be examined, analyzed, and made public law. As journalist Nicholas Kristof writes: We need an evidence-based public health approach so we can learn to coexist with guns in our society.

Otherwise, doing the same thing over and over again will get the same results--as the statistics are showing.

But they are more than numbers; they are human beings.