Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Price Above Rubies

Rainy Pensacola
Another thing that happened last month while I was not here blogging was that I made a fast trip down to Pensacola, just me. My dear old friend Houston's mother died, suddenly. I've been his friend, and loved his family, since I was Laura's age. I called Betty to come to my house, then I put a dress, a raincoat, and a bottle of wine in my car and went.

It was a very compressed visit, but I got to see them all and be with them a little bit. Back at the house after the visitation, I told them how Houston's mom, Jeanette, had called me one day the summer after I graduated from high school. Houston was gone on to college by then, but she wanted to pick me up and have a girls' day out. She was a proper Southern lady, the real deal, so I knew this called for dressing up, like nearly white-glove level.

So out we went. She took me to lunch and shopping, and bought me a school bag to take to college in the fall. I remember, even with my seventeen year-old sensibilities, feeling special and grateful that she wanted to spend time with me. When she dropped me off that day, she said, "Do me a favor. Do not write me a thank-you note." So I didn't, I took her at her word. But then, when I would look back on that day later, I would think, "Aw, man! I should have written her a thank-you note! It was a test and I failed!" I thought this from about the ages of 22 to 39.

Then, just the other week, but before she died, I was doing something for somebody and I thought something like, "I hope they don't feel like they have to thank me," and I flashed back to that unwritten thank-you note, and I realized that Jeanette really didn't want me to write her a thank-you note. She didn't do it because she wanted to be thanked, she just wanted to do it.

At her funeral, her husband of nearly fifty years read the part of Proverbs about the virtuous woman, and then her children did rise up and call her blessed, and let me tell you, there was not a dry eye in the house.

Houston and both of his sisters spoke about their mom, and something his sister Betsy said has stayed with me. Betsy said that, as a parent, her mother was "easy to please, and hard to disappoint."

As the church people say, when I heard that, I felt convicted. "Hard to disappoint." I'm grappling with what that means. I don't think it means that you don't have expectations, or that you don't discipline and correct, but it seems like something bigger, something more expansive and gracious, something to strive for. To be hard to disappoint. I am thinking on it.

Chime in if that chimes with you.


Amy said...

Beautiful. She really was full of grace and charm. And as I told Bets, she fully enjoyed her family and the people around her; she relished life. If that's not "running a good race" (as we church people say) then I don't know what is.

And yes...hard to disappoint. Something to think about...I'm not sure my kids could say this about me yet. Let's keep thinking on it.

Erika W said...

That really is big. And such a perfect post for me today. . . it was one of those days when every little thing I asked for was met initially with refusal that turned into a negotiation. I was annoyed and exhausted; I had to be stern, which I don't like and luckily don't have to be all that often. But, yeah, disappointment is a different thing altogether--I remember my parents saying, "We aren't mad, just disappointed." It was effective, but I also didn't really believe them. Like, disappointment is so deep that I know what they meant, but I don't think they really meant what it implies--"failure to fulfill hopes and expectations, preventing hopes from being realized" (according to online dictionary wisdom). I think it's the "hope" part that really speaks to me . . . definitely something to think about. Thanks for a touching post. I'm so sorry for your friend's loss, and your loss.

Star said...

Beautiful and thoughtful post. Thank you for sharing the inspiring life of this woman with us.

Camp Papa said...

It seems to me that Jeanette was such a force, a center of gravity, that it would have been hard to be in her presence for very ling and continue to disappoint her. She was a sort of regulating and norming mechanism that drew you back to civility and into relationship.

M said...

Touching tribute on all counts. Perfect fit for Good Friday. Thanks so much for this message as it is resonating deep within me.

Kate said...

Oh yes it does. It suggests a heart that is full of forgiveness, acceptance and unconditional love. Something to think about, indeed.

Pam said...

What a nice remembrance. Your writing gave me a chill. Really. Something to think about as we go along being moms. People like Jeanette are the high bench mark that keep the rest of us inspired and trying to be better. Thanks!

delaine said...

Jeanette was a truly lovely person. And your remembrance of her is lovely. Thank you for sharing that special time with everybody.

Veronica said...

This is a lovely memory and tribute. I'm sorry for your/Houston's/Houston's family's loss.

I've been thinking about the disappointment thing since I read this last night. I think there's a real difference between being disappointed by (and thus correcting) a behavior and being disappointed in a person, does that make sense? Like, I've always admired my Grandma's ability to make every one of us feel like what we are doing and who we are becoming is the most wonderful thing possible -- even though we are all so different. And yes, to be able to do that, genuinely, with your children and grandchildren and friends, is "expansive and gracious, something to strive for."

Elle said...

I think I've read this about 7 or 10 times. I dunno, Becky. Insofar as I predict my own mother's funeral, I don't expect to show, unless to confirm the poisonous old witch is really dead, so I always feel like I'm starting from zero where there are things like goals & satisfaction in relating. I don't know. My kids will probably say something like, "If she was upset, it was never a mystery!" Perhaps I should aim higher, lol. But, well, idk.

Becky said...

You know, I could def see that not making a mystery of your feelings represents a huge advance over where it all began.

Elizabeth said...

That does resonate with me, and it also makes me wince.

Thank you sharing it, though, as wincing could be followed by a check, and all my children would benefit from a check.

Hootie said...


Amy said...

You just write the best dang posts, Beck.

That is a wonderful thing for a daughter to say, and truly bears chewing 'pon.

Hard to disappoint. It does seem to reach deeper, to that level of knowing that the person continues to believe in your best self, sees your best self in fact... maybe even when you don't. It resonates with some parenting advice I believe in (and occasionally remember to apply) : to be a repository for your child's best moments, so you can hold up that mirror to them when they are disappointed in themself. Hugs, A

Janice Adcock said...

Wonderful post and tribute. Sounds like a mother that lived and breathed her faith.