Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Remembering Grandparents

Although my life for the last 20 years or so has been dramatically different from my first 20 years, I sometime marvel at the ways that God was preparing me for this culture and ministry, without being aware of the preparation process at the time. In certain ways, my family was more “Mexican” than I realized. Both extended families were, well, not so extended after all. I could ride bike to both sets of grandparents and to almost all my uncles’, aunts’ and cousins’ houses. In an American society of ever-increasing distance between family members, mine was surely the exception rather than the rule.

One of the aspects of Mexican culture that I most enjoy is what I can best describe as “warmth.” One of the most well known phrases here, a sentence even a “gringo” can understand, is, “mi casa es tu casa.” My house is your house. When you come through these doors, you are accepted, welcomed, loved.

An open, non-judgmental, friendly atmosphere attracts people. It attracted me. I remember wanting to be with my grandparents Aungst, simply to be there, to take in the conversation. People I didn’t know or barely knew seemed to always be passing through. Food was always plentiful, too. My grandma was always there, like a colorful bantam rooster, directing traffic and encouraging people to take corn, potatoes, strawberries and whatever else was in the garden. “We got more than we can eat.” “You take some. Take some now.” “Oh my!,” she would say at the end of the day. “I’m exhausted!” “It was like Grand Central Station here today.”

Inclusiveness is perhaps the word that best described their house. Inclusiveness means embracing rather than maintaining at arms length. It requires giving up control, instead of up-keeping a certain image. Being inclusive implies being vulnerable. Something that I was unaware of growing up, but now can reflect upon, was the total lack of pretense or concern for appearances with my grandparents, and particularly with grandma. “Hey, what you see is what you get.” I can remember her saying. There is something to be said for a simple life, simply lived.

Grandma Aungst wasn’t perfect. In her later years, she became increasingly forgetful. But when I greeted her Thursday, August 20, with her head under a hair dryer, she looked and me with a big smile and weakly said, “That’s my grandson, Rodney. He lives in Mexico.” It reminded me of better days. As my grandpa used to say about her… “she’s a good woman.”

Now, grandma is at home again. Jesus has welcomed her home. She is, perhaps, still reflecting on her life, in light of eternity. But maybe God in His grace has allowed her to continue to do what she so enjoyed. Under a big tree, next to a mountain of freshly pulled sweet corn, she is sitting with grandpa, and he is asking her, “What took you so long, ‘ol girl?

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