(expanded from the recent blog post good attentions)
We planned a phone date for the afternoon.
Even after all these years time hasn’t changed the strange phenomena of The Phone Call. I’m convinced there’s a special place in hell for the demons who sit around waiting for the phone to touch my ear. It doesn’t seem to matter when the call happens or how much you anticipate it: as surely as an infant knows the second your body relaxes into the bed, the children become intensely aware of their own acute need for adult interaction as soon as mom is on the phone. You have this happen enough times and I’m sure the whole thing becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Many-a-phone-call has never happened simply because I knew the certain demise of the phone call’s future.
This time, though, I was determined not to let The Phone Call phenomenon deter me. The kids and I had a small talk about how I was going to talk with my grandma for a little bit and that I needed them to play or work on something quietly while I was on the phone. They scattered about the house and joined up with books and Legos while I snatched a moment to myself to finish getting ready. I heard my husband calling for me then. Floorboards creaked out my name as he walked from his office down the hallway to find me. “I’m in here,” I said, trying not to shout. He was on the phone. “Oh, can she call you back in a few minutes?” he asked the person on the other end of the line. It was my date. Grandma called while I was in the bathroom.
I called her back as soon as I could. She answered right away, like she’d been expecting me. It was good to hear her voice. God only knows how many times we’ve crossed invisible paths on social media and never said a word. Every time we talk it’s like time has never passed and we pick up right where we left off. I told her all about the recent rainy day and I heard how she and Grandpa were feeling better and she’d been cleaning in the basement. She had found an old Bible story flannel graph and wondered if I wanted it. I imagined the felt of my past being handled with care to tell the stories of Jesus. I told her of course I wanted it, that I’d love to use it with the kids, as she had done with me. She said she’d get it in the mail real soon.
Generational relationships take time and time is moving us along. The tides have turned my attention even more to the generation ahead of me. But even now, though I am no longer a child, Grandma takes the time to give. I want to say I’ve always appreciated this, but the truth is, I haven’t. I appreciated how she always had rolls for Thanksgiving. I appreciated her teaching me how cinnamon and sugar makes the perfect French toast and how a simple sticker on the envelope when you send a letter adds a special touch of warmth and color. I appreciated her 25 cents for every bucket of dandelions I picked from the four acres of green yard. I appreciated her listening ear and the hymns of faith she still knew from her own childhood. More and more as I get older I see all the beautiful ways her gifts blessed my life.
I can’t tell you how long we talked. Time well spent had slipped away from us again. The kids were getting louder and our connection was breaking up. “Well”, she said, “it sounds like you’ve got some little ones needing your attention.” I could have talked a few more hours but I knew she was right. It was time for me to get back to the children, and time for her afternoon rest, the natural result and reward for years of giving. I came away energized by her tidbit of solicited meal plate advice: a pretty plate includes a healthy spread of texture, temperature, and color. And rolls. Surely she’d told me this before in another life, probably multiple upon multiple times in word and in deed, but here she was giving to me again. For this I will give thanks. I’m convinced these are the encouraging surprises God purposely saves for adulthood.
From age to age He never ceases to delight in giving gifts to His children.