ďDavid, Iím not calling him, no matter what you say. He makes me so mad, bragging and being such a know-it-all. Besides, I called him last. Why should I make all the effort?
My husband looked intently at me, then said a shocking thing.
ďKate, youíre repeating history here. The Carlson family stand-offs have caused too many rifts already. You, of all people, should know the damage they can do.Ē
David was right, I knew, but I was battling with anger. My brother Will and I seemed to be having silent disagreements, and getting more disconnected with every passing year. Did I care? Of course I did, but why must I always be the one to make contact? It was getting easier to push it back and shut him out of my thoughts.
Then, with Davidís remark, a recollection of my two grandmothers came to me. My heritage was a series of strong contrasts in my growing-up years.
My Dadís mother, Grandma Carlson, was widowed before my birth. She was perhaps a victim of depression before there was much recognition or treatment for it. In my memory, her strongest trait was this very thing: being at odds with people close to her, and never resolving the conflicts. Instead, she had a way of cutting people out of her life, not by open confrontation, but simply ceasing to communicate and letting relationships die. I had observed her with her five children and numerous grandchildren, as she alienated them, one after another. She had been angry with Uncle Nate, her oldest son, before his sudden death, and didnít shed a tear at his funeral, sitting stone-faced, seeming so uncaring . At the end of her life, the only people around her were those who felt duty bound to care for her.
Grandma Carlsonís children, who loved her and loved each other, were nevertheless affected by this angry, distant outlook. My own Dad, a victim of its heaviness, had great difficulty expressing love and reaching out to others.
Mom was the balance needed in our home. She understood Dad, and taught him a great deal about compassion, and going the second mile with folks when they required it. That was largely due to her mother, my Grandma Melton.
ďGranny Mel,Ē as we called her, was an absolute opposite from Grandma Carlson. She had a smile on her face, whatever came or went. She loved the Lord, and loved people, especially her people. She helped us over our problems, our sad times, even our downright disagreeable stages. She opened her heart to her neighbors and friends, as well as her family.
What, what, was the difference here? What are you trying to show me, Lord?
Duh..., Lord, You painted me a picture. What more could you do? You gave me two examples, and I must make a choice.
Grandma Carlson had an empty life, because she had chosen to shut out people, one by one. I think Iím understanding that better right now. Itís easier, safer, a shield from hurt. Besides, getting along with difficult people takes resolve and patience.
On the other hand, Granny Mel had the fullest kind of life. She attracted and drew people into her world.. She gave them joy, and received it in return. She, too, had to deal with unpleasant circumstances and folks, but refused to quit. She filled her life with people and just loved them anyway.
I remembered going to her once, deeply hurt, and unforgiving toward someone. Her response had surprised me.
"Honey, give it up, let it go, and move on. Somebody will be needing to do that for you one day.Ē That was Granny Melís only comment.
Kate snapped back to the present.
ďOkay, David, you win. Iím calling Will. Iím going to make him laugh at some silly things we used to do, and find out how Sherry and the kids are doing. Okay? And I might even call Aunt Lilla, just to say hello.Ē
No answer. Looking around, she realized that David had already left for work, and she hadnít known when he'd gone.
David knew that God would take care of it, and let His love overflow and fill all the empty places.
ďMy command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.Ē John 15:12 (NIV)
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