Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fifty-One and a Drop in the Bucket, Part 1

23 October 2012

I turned 51 yesterday. Not magically actually. I mean, I didn’t just make it to 3:30 p.m. (or thereabouts) and say, “I’ve been on this earth for 51 years.” No, I have been becoming 51 every since I turned 50 a year ago.
I feel like I have lived an entire lifetime of unfulfilled dreams. That’s not quite right either, I suppose. The things that I have wanted most in life have all happened and are still happening. More than anything, I wanted to be a mother; I have to admit that that desire was stronger than being a wife. Yet I knew that the horse really should come before the cart. And I have always been a romantic. I believe that when I was young, I was more in love with the idea of being in love than with love itself.

Anyhow, I have been blessed to be both a wife and a mother. The awesome thing is that the Lord guided me to marry someone truly tailored to me and my needs. Bob is gentle, soft-spoken, thoughtful, and caring. I would have wilted, shriveled, and died if it had been otherwise. And so I am blessed to have Bob. I’ve got to tell you this secret. I married Bob because of his spirituality. That’s right. Why would a 20-year-old marry someone because they’d read an entire book of scripture at 9-years-old? There is an easy answer to that. I’ll give it in the next question. Why would someone marry anyone else where they were constantly put in the position of being the leader or the stronger partner? I couldn’t do that. I’d already experienced too many friendships where I was the one who had to be the strong one, the one who carried the weight. I knew that Bob and I could be strong together and share the load; and you know what, I was right.

So I’m glad that the Lord led me to Bob. Bob is the most kind, forgiving man I know. That’s the other thing I love about Bob. He has truly loved me unconditionally. I’m trying to learn that skill with him, with my children, and with others still. I’ve got to tell you also that I am not a consistent person. There are times when I am “practically perfect in every way,” but not quite like Mary Poppins. And there are the other times when I am only minimally functional. I also have to let you know that I am an extremely passionate person about some things, and when I have a passionate flare-up, those things get all of my attention at the expense of other things, even basic things. And so there have been years when I have kept a nearly perfect house and yard, and then there have been years when I have supervised our daughter’s schooling. There have been times when I have studied and read, when I have worked on goals and kept great journals; and there have been other times when I have cross-stitched or crocheted for months on end. But it all of it, Bob has offered praise, and he’s told me what a great job I am doing.

I think that in painting this picture of Bob, I need to tell you about his mother, just a little. She offers praise and encouragement over so many things that I’d consider simple or insignificant. But they aren’t. Because she always built up her children, they have the esteem to do so many things that go unnoticed; probably because they hear the constant echo of her praise and they feel good about what they are doing. In any case, I am thankful for the times of praise and quiet encouragement, because I have needed the reassurance.

And my children. Oh, my goodness. Please, I know that young parents would rather not hear that the years go by so fast; but please, recognize that they will. We were blessed with the best and the brightest children ever. Go ahead and say I’m prejudiced; I really don’t care what you think, because I know that I am right. They only problem with that is that there were many times that we forgot that they were just little children. It doesn’t matter if you know that they really are smarter than you from the time they are 4-years-old; they still have to experience the growth of each stage of life, and you still have to allow them that. You can’t expect them to reason and be accountable like an adult (at least not before they are twenty-five), even though they will act like adults a great majority of the time. I certainly am glad that the Lord hasn’t held me to the same accountability that I have sometimes expected of my children.

My children are grown now. The oldest one is 29! I have no idea how that happened. They were all just playing in the backyard last week. And they couldn’t stay outside alone, without me there, for more than five or ten minutes at a time. But most of them are grown and gone. Cathy has done tremendously well. We always knew that she would. I just hope that she can have her fondest dreams come true in this life and the next. I don’t know of anyone more deserving of every happiness there is.

John got married this past June. He’s 27. I remember when he was looking forward to his “big birthday.” That was when he turned three.  He’s even more passionate about life than I am. I’m proud of how he has learned to channel all of his energy and make life happen for him his way. He’s always been a great conversationalist. Good thing he found Megan. She is the perfect fit.

Eliza and Alex got married June 2011. Eliza is our quiet one. Gentle, sweet, and Daddy’s Dolly. She is someone who could always do well in pulling out “organized” from utter chaos. She’d read into the wee hours of the morning as a little girl. (How was I to know; I was sleeping.) And she’d write “A” papers the night before they were due. Once that Alex and she set their sights on each other, there was no turning back. So they encouraged each other to serve a mission, and now they are coaching each other through graduated school.

Oh my Tommy. How can I tell you how proud I am of him? He has the most loving and compassionate heart  ever. And he cleans the house! Tom came back from his mission and married Whitney. He became an instant father, and he has been so responsible and reliable, putting his family first. Jacob is a delight to our whole family; and Amanda will be joining us all soon. I have to say, Tom is a grown man (and he’s nowhere near 25-years-old yet).

Then there is Robby. In many ways, we can say “Hosanna,” or “Lord, grant salvation,” when we talk about Robby, because in many ways the experience that we all had in Robby’s short visit to our family helped to bring the Lord’s salvation to us. He is very much an active part of our family, even though we can’t see him at this time.

Then there is Christine. She is awesome. She is honest. She is a true friend. My life has been so wrapped up in her because we have been schooling together for so many years. I am thankful for her wit, her candor, and for the example of forgiveness and tolerance that she extends to others. I have learned so many lessons in being her mother and being her teacher. And I believe that I have been a better parent in my older years, but definitely not a better housekeeper.

So, tonight, is only a short snippet of my adult years. But to come back to the beginning—I said something about unfulfilled dreams. Maybe I just had the wrong dream. Maybe because I have lived such a good dream that is now reaching into a new chapter, I need to develop a new dream. Maybe I need to implement my bucket list. But, in any case, I am extremely thankful to be Mrs. Robert D. Stevenson, better known as Heidi, and we are blessed beyond compare and beyond ways to truly expressed gratitude or ever repay for the spirits that the Lord has sent to be members of our family.

Now that I am on the downward stretch of life, I hope that I will remember to “smell the roses” every day and be a person who offers praise and encouragement each and every day. I’m glad to be the recipient of such gifts myself.

More to follow!

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