Summer is winding down and for a lot of us, our vacations are behind us. For most of us, they’re probably fading fast in the rear-view mirror as we get everyone geared up for the fall and all that goes along with it.
The interesting thing about vacations is even though most of us are having a good time when we’re on them, there are those moments when everyone’s had too little sleep or too much together time and it gets a little crazy for a little bit before it all rights itself and goes back to normal. This is especially so when you are traveling with two generations of parents, with most of them being in the grandparent range.
My son and I went to the South this year (for those of you who are curious this reads as Georgia with a foray into North Carolina & when my mom saw that we were only 100 miles from Nashville, we almost ended up in Tennessee). All of my sons surviving grandparents were with us, which comes up to a grand total of three. All of them were in some configuration directly related to me. I’ll just let you ponder those connections for a while, but the relatively newly coined “blended” is an integral part of it all.
There are pluses and minuses to seeing your parents get older, but the one thing that always makes me laugh is their fearless attitude, especially how it lives and grows in my mother as the years pass by.
Although my mother is an English immigrant, she has been in the United States for well over 40-years and has adopted the express yourself motto that America is known for with gusto. And somewhere after she turned 60, expressing herself went up a couple more notches, which basically means you find out what she’s thinking whether you want to or not and sometimes other people do too.
This was made so clear to me when we visited the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. Coca-Cola being what it is, and meaning what it means in the world at large, there were a huge amount of people visiting the working museum that gave you not only a lot of cool history about the product, but also let you taste the different beverage flavors the company ships throughout the world.
But, it wasn’t the cool flavors from Africa, South America and Asia that rests at the top of my memory heap, it is the encounter that three self-absorbed, to the point of bordering on rude, kids had with my mom who is at that age where she’s going to let anyone know just how she feels.
We were going up one of the large staircases, with my son in front of me and parents behind me, I was trying to keep track of both, which meant I was a little further up the stairs than my mom. If you’ve ever been in the “sandwich generation” you know just where I was, with one eye up the stairs trying to keep track of my son and an ear down the stairs trying to keep track of my parents, it’s an interesting experience in multi-tasking.
So, I noticed the three kids who were going against the tide of the staircase first. Pretty much because I could feel the breeze as the pushed past me expecting everyone to step out of their way as they pushed downwards. Just as the last one passed me, I had less than a quarter of a second to realize that they were heading straight for my mom before I heard her voice behind me.
“Listen kid,” she said, her accent ringing out loud and clear. “I’m not moving!”
And it was in that tone, you know the one because you’ve heard it. It’s built into every mother who’s ever lived if they just choose to use it. It’s the tone that says, “you’d better not mess with me because you will be very sorry.”
I could feel the kids stop short behind me. They didn’t quite know what to do so they apologized, stepped aside and proceeded down the stairs a little bit more slowly and a lot more aware.
I’m sure the kids thought she was going to move out of their way like everyone else was doing. This is especially in light of the fact that she looks, well, like she’s a little older, very non-threatening and easily moved. But, they got a little more than they bargained for when they tried to get into her space.
The memory brings a smile to my face, and it brings more than a little reality with it too.
How many times does the enemy, knowing our weaknesses, come at us and instead of just telling him ‘no way, you will not pass’ we just step aside, let him in and then can’t figure out why everything’s a wreck?
How many times does God have to tell us that He is our strength and our shield so we can stand firm no matter what comes at us?
It seems to me, if we’d just allow God to be God, believe what He says and when something comes at us, we pluck up the courage from God to just say, “Listen kid, I’m not moving!” we’d be a lot better off.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith….”
1 Peter 5:8-9a