Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Dusting of Sweet


The bathtub was a lovely dusty rose. I knelt by the side and sprinkled the cleaning powder liberally, then turned on the water and scrubbed. A bobby pin had to be inserted *just so* in order for the drain to stay open. I thought, How is it that I have so many memories of using this bathtub, when the only shower we had was downstairs? Well...

Two little boys splash merrily in the water, using bubbles to make beards just like Daddy. Mama leans over and steadies the two-year-old as he slips backwards in the wake of his brothers movement, and they all giggle together. Their hair is washed, and she wraps them, one at a time, in soft, fluffy towels and they stand on the bath mat shivering and smiling, their blond cowlicks standing straight up.

I smiled as the last of the dirty, dusty water circled the drain and disappeared. It mattered not the color, nor the location. The memory was sweet.

We spent Memorial Day weekend at our home in Boise, preparing it for sale. We painted, vacuumed, washed windows and scrubbed all surfaces that were dusty from lack of use. And with each swipe of the sponge and sweep of the vacuum, memories assailed me with a sweet, sweet fragrance.

I used the hose attachments to clean our unfinished furnace room. I thought of the women who would walk through the home, imagining themselves and their families dwelling in it, and I thought that maybe we should rid the room of the thousands of cobwebs dangling from the rafters. As I moved carefully around the concrete floor, being most diligent about not vacuuming directly above my face, in case something with eight legs wasn't too happy about my destruction of their home, I remembered the many times my husband had done the same thing... for me.

"Honey, I need to work in the furnace room...could you...I mean, do you mind if... well, would you have any time to clean the cobwebs down for me first?" He smiles, and kisses her on the forehead, moving to the closet to remove the vacuum. Fifteen minutes later another kiss, and the room is ready for a jittery wife to work in without nervously casting glances at the ceiling for any movement. And he never complains. Never rolls his eyes. Just loves. Such a man.

As I wound the cord and looked around the clean room with satisfaction, my heart swelled with love and memory for the space, pest-ridden though it was. For with love it was given to me by a hard-working husband, and with care it was prepared for me by the same.

I pushed the vacuum back and forth on the green shag carpet. Not my favorite room. Using the brush roller to pull the strands upright, leaving a pattern that shouted "I'm clean!" I felt the hard ground beneath my feet and remembered that there is no pad down there, only concrete.

"You need to meet me at the hospital. Now. Micah has broken his arm." She gasps and runs for the door of her friend's house, already weeping and shaking. Upon arrival at the emergency room, she stammers to the nurse, "He's two years old today, and he broke his arm. My husband is with him - please, may I go back?" And as she rounds the corner, the toddler body of her boy comes into view, surrounded by two doctors and four nurses. He weeps piteously, and her eyes search for her husband. His anguished face catches her breath, and she goes to him, encircling him with her arms. "He broke it in the bedroom that has concrete underneath the carpet - I don't know what happened!" And for the first time, she sets aside her tendency to place blame, choosing not to ask anything more. Just comforts him with her love and silence.

As I eyed the freshly striped pattern in the carpet and turned to go, I thanked God for the gift of that moment; realizing, without words, that my husband was afraid of my reaction. And choosing to stifle blame and simply move forward. It was a hard, lovely lesson I will never, never forget.

One side of the backyard was a chain link fence, looking directly into the rental yard next door. An unkept rental yard. But my children leaned on that fence and befriended the lonely children who lived there, and I grew to love and appreciate them as well.

The dining room was very small, and actually a deterrent for me when it was time to make an offer on the house. But we squeezed my husband's parents and grandparents in there for a Thanksgiving meal. Our last one all together.

An enormous pine tree dropped sappy needles in our backyard, bringing little boy feet to the back door for a scrubbing upon entering. But bouquets of pine cones were brought to Mama daily, in sticky hands.

I began homeschooling in that house. With more space, we were able to have our first real Christmas tree. Teenagers filled the basement on Wednesday nights, and the back yard in the summer. We conceived Eliana there.

For several years now, I have practiced the art of memory making. Not with scrapbooks. Not with stamps. Not even with journaling. Merely stepping back in a potentially frustrating moment and thinking, "Someday, something will make this moment special, and I refuse to let it be stolen." Moving forward in the moment with determination, to remember the good with the bad. For time has a way of making even bad memories glow with a dusting of sweetness.

So many minor irritations pale in the light of the lessons I learned. And as I leave this home behind, moving on to the next one, I am thrilled to have these precious words whispered to me...

Beloved, abide in Me, and I will abide in you. I Am home.

30 fellow travelers shared:

katie eagy said...

Elise, you are a blessing!

Thank you for reminding me to stop - look around my home, and realize how much I'm thankful for! Also, to remember how my hard-working husband has given me this sweet space to cultivate a home in. We've made countless memories here (and 3 babies!), more every day. As we are rapidly outgrowing our home and will be moving in about a year, your post has reminded me of the bountiful blessings and memories my home carries for me. Thank you!

Stacey said...

This was beautiful. But, um, I can't help it, I want details!! You are moving? Anything drastic? Do tell.

Praying for you in the transition!

Ann V.@HolyExperience said...

So true, wise Elise: Tis an art to make memories in each moment. And I've been thinking that to do less is to profane the moment---to treat common what is hallowed. *All* is gift and grace from His hand--He who is our dwelling place, wherever we go.

I send love,
Ann

Beverly said...

Elise, beautiful. This post took me so long to read because it made me think about our first home together. As I read about your memories, mine kept flooding back. I have so many remembrances of our little place ... so many joys. I am glad you got a chance last weekend to relive some of the moments you had at your old house. I so enjoyed hearing about them!

Joel and Jaime said...

Very special post, Elise. If we could only live each moment like that--making the most of it, because it will someday be a memory! What a sweet way to look at life!

busybusymomma said...

Wow, so well written.

And I needed that reminder not to cast blame, I'm so bad at casting it at myself- and others.

Best wishes with the move.

Jen said...

sounds like youve had a busy weekend fulled with lovely memories

I love the way you write Elise

Sarah said...

Bittersweet it is to move on in life. I was just looking at my youngest Chloe tonight and thinking, "do I really remember what Emma looked like at this age without pictures?" So I tried to make a permanent imprint of my baby girls in the bath tub tonight, but oh thankgoodness for pictures and video cameras. Thanks for another beautifully written picture of your heart!
Love, Sarah

EEEEMommy said...

Incredible!
You have an incredible gift for seeing, and for expressing. I am once again blessed!
Prayers for you and the next house which will become your home and soon be filled with a sweetness of its own.

Jill said...

WOW! Incredible, beautiful writing! You are very talented. Glad I have come across you and your blog. Your story and your memories written here are very moving and inspiring. I pray that I can have this same outlook on the trials and blessings of my life. So, thank you!
Also, thank you for the book recommendations. I didn't get much time to look into it today...but I glanced at the links. Thanks!

Cindee said...

A fellow Idahoan? How fun! I love reading you blog. It's such a treat to read your wonderful writing. Thank-you for sharing yourself in this way.

Alycia said...

So sweet and beautiful Elise. I enjoyed reading it very much. Being a military family, we are always on the move and I try very hard to remember my memories before we move on. Each home has special signifigance and meaning to me. I loved reading this and especially... "Someday, something will make this moment special, and I refuse to let it be stolen." This reminded me to rethink those hard times and to cherish them for what they were and what they taught me.

Thank you for sharing this with me.

Staci said...

As always, a beautiful post. You always make me appreciate my beautiful family even more.

Audrey said...

;-) Smile

Maxine said...

I know what it means to relive the memories that are in a particular place, Elise. This was so touching for me to read. Treasure these memories, such as the one when you squeezed your husband's parents and grandparents in the little dining room that Thanksgiving.
Our days in homes like this, your first one together, are the treasures of this life. We have better treasures awaiting us in the next, but the remembrances of the love of family and our precious moments together are the rare jewels of our sojourning here.
Thanks for painting this beautiful picture for us here.

Lizard Princess said...

You have such a richm full way of description it places right in the moment with you.

I can't help but think of Mary, "And Mary cherished all these things and hid them in her heart."
Isn't that the heart of a mother? We know we only get a few short years with our precious ones, and ultimately the belong to God.
Like you, I am so thankful for the time I do get to spend with him (I have one).

Julie said...

Just beautiful! I visit your blog and read your words.... and I am somehow always changed by the experience! Thank you for sharing your life and love of God with us!

Grafted Branch said...

Yes...don't let the moments be stolen away for the future sweetness that they will be. Something I am learning, and in so doing, He brings your blog to mind often.

Blessings on your day, Friend...

Jason & Tanya said...

Very well put!!! Thank you for that today. :) God Bless you in your new home.

Munchkin Land said...

Oh, what a beautiful way to remember your home. Moving on is so bittersweet; especially when there are so many sweet memories there. I'll be praying for a smooth move and transition. =)

Kendra said...

Oh, there are sooo many memories, aren't there? What a sweet time for you to reflect on them. We couldn't quite do it. After reflecting upon all of our memories, we took down the for sale sign and added on instead!
Blessings to you as you move on to a new adventure.

Danielle said...

How beautiful Elise! I am inspired to slow down and appreciate our moments. We just returned from vacationing in Iowa (we were able to watch the cicadas burrowing out of the ground and moulting on the tree right by us - it was soooo cool!) and our moments were slow and sweet there. Now that we are back I am finding myself once again barreling through each moment. I really need to slow down...

Blessings on you and yours as you move into a new home. I can't help but wonder and pray - a homeschool room for Elise? Looking forward to hearing more...

Love,
Danielle

Beka said...

Such beautiful memories. You have painted such a lovely picture here. I loved "time has a way of making even bad memories glow with a dusting of sweetness."

And yes, abiding in Him... truly He IS our home.

Christine said...

i am typing one handed with a baby nestled in one arm and hearing your call to cherish and not take our moments for granted. this is beautiful, my friend.

Miriam said...

"A dusting of sweetness..." I love that, Elise. Looking for it in the good and the bad - that speaks so well of God's awesome redemptive power. And that art of memory making...more evidence of a life wisely and graciously lived. :) Thank you for sharing your precious memories with us. I hope all is going well with your moving plans.

TaunaLen said...

"Someday, something will make this moment special, and I refuse to let it be stolen."

Elise, thank you for this.

~TaunaLen

Rachel said...

What a beautiful post, and what a good reminder. Sometimes, in the moment, it's hard to see things clearly. Thanks for the reminder that we need to try.

~~Rachel
www.nothinggold.net

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Rehearsing the memories of those special places for your kids makes those memories become "theirs," too. I don't envy the work of moving, but there are few times in life quite as exciting! Blessings!

Mommy Dearest said...

Oh, Elise, that's just beautiful. I have such a hard time with moving, too, and I always think of the children who were conceived and born there.

Sandy said...

Beautiful post! We lived in one house for 10 years, where our kids were babies, and no one can take away my precious memories :)
Thank you for sharing!
Sandy
For Reluctant Entertainers

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