Originally uploaded by M e l o d y
It was Christmas eve. The kids and I spent the day making and decorating sugar cookies. The kids had so much fun. (Of course we told them to slow down with the candies on top, or no-one would want to eat them!) Emma and I took a few cookies over to “Uncle” Pete, our neighbor. He’s a widower and lives on one side of a duplex next door, his daughter and her family on the other. They were traveling and it had been “pretty quiet” he said. We rang his bell and as we handed over the plate Pete said, “Oh that will brighten up my table! …. We’re still on for pie tonight?” He was coming over that evening, after Christmas Eve church service, for pie.
That was one of my last conversations with Pete. He did indeed come over later that night, and enjoyed “cheesecake with the drippings!” as he called it. He laughed with my kids, asked questions about our traditions, and shared some of his own like the opening of the presents. He talked about a friendly squirrel that visits outside his porch, which his daughter Layne has named. He seemed kind of down, or quiet, or extremely tired. But I was so glad that he came. My mom was there as well and we had nice dessert tastings.
While he was here, I invited him to eat Christmas dinner with us the next day. He wasn’t sure, as he was trying to finish up a project for Layne & Andrew. He called the next day around 1:00 to say that he was actively working on the project for his kids and wanted to finish it. Later that night, around 6:00 (I don’t exactly remember?) pm I called over to see if he wanted a plate of Christmas turkey, stuffing, etc and/or to come over for more pie. He declined as he was tired, happily full from where ever he had just been. He mentioned he was weary from waking at 4:00 am and he had to get up early for his conference. He had spent the morning writing, he was happiest when he was writing. He sounded exhausted, but at the time I wasn’t concerned in any way, just disappointed that he didn’t come on over.
I had woken Christmas morning with the flu, and had a whole day on the 26th of more preparations and the Hanson Christmas celebration. I wonder if I would have gone to check on him if I hadn’t been so distracted by things. But really, Pete travels all the time and if he’s gone or here, his car is in the garage. There is no way that I could have known. I snow blowed their driveway on Sunday, but nothing seemed amiss.
The next day, I ate that plate of food I had made up for Pete. By that time, I think he had passed away. Sometime that morning.
My friend, “Uncle” Pete, passed on to be with the Lord (likely) Friday, Dec. 26th, in the morning in his home.
Around 11:00 this morning, an InterVarsity staff person came by a bit alarmed by the fact that Pete hadn’t shown up at a conference on the 26th. (The one he was packing for.) I found him.
I still can’t believe it. Sometime soon, I will write my thoughts about Pete. Right now I am in shock, just stunned and shocked that he is gone. I’m writing all this down, because Pete often reprimanded me about not writing more. After my father died, I did not write things down and I have forgotten a lot of the detail.
Goodbye Pete. I miss you already.
At church our kids were asked to bring in something for an offering which will dig wells for the poor. Later that day, as my boys were counting their money (to spend on a toy) I said I wanted them to think about what water means to you in your life and let me know how much you might give in the offering. After consulting one another they decided … they’d give $1. (They have $16)
To say the least I was disappointed! And barely containing it, I asked them to rethink their amount. They came back upstairs to say, “It’s still $1. Everyone else is going to give Mom, why should we?”
(another pregnant pause) — which does come in handy as a Mom, to collect your thoughts. I knew that it was a perfect time for an object lesson. Think fast!
At dinner, I put a large glass of water in the middle of the kitchen table along with post-its, a pencil, and we were off naming all the ways that water is important to us. As the days went on our list grew (from serious to silly) and I hope that their awareness of and appreciation for good, clean water has grown.
I haven’t had the courage to ask them if their donation is going to change.
Here’s the list developed by my 11, 9 and 7 year old kids:
washing your hands
coffee (okay that’s mine)
p o o l
brushing your teeth
putting out fires (they are aware of the news)
the drinking fountain at school
water is good for you (the 7 year old)