The other day I was talking to a friend who had just lost her husband after a difficult illness. She commented to me that she continued to recall things her husband had said over the years so that, in a sense, she was still learning from him. I thought that was a neat concept, and even commented (more to myself than her) that it might make a good blog entry some day. Well, some day is here. I, too, have been taught many wonderful things by my husband, and still learn from him, even though he is not completely the same man I married. (But then, who among us is really the same person we were when we married?)
My husband is a lover of trees. Since being married to him, I have begun to notice trees – their leaves, their flowers, their fruit. We don’t love all trees, this man and I. We have a mutual dislike for cedars and junipers (although we kept a couple of really big, pretty ones when we cleared our property). We don’t like Mesquites, and have worked to keep them from taking over our little plot of land here. We have made a tradition of planting trees almost every year of our married life, looking through the catalog, discussing what we would like and where we would plant it. My favorite tree on our property is a red oak that I got for free at Mayfest the year we bought this plot of land. I actually made everyone stand in line and get their free tree, so there were 4 of them to start out with. But they were only little saplings, and we had no water lines at that point, so they were mostly on their own, and only one survived. I think that is why I like it so much – it’s a survivor. The year of the infamous stroke we had bought 10 walnut trees and several flowering plums. We lost all of the walnuts to the heat and dryness. Strokeman was the waterer of the trees, and he was otherwise occupied. I have promised that when he gets to where he can water them I will buy some more. Here’s hoping…
Any time I am tempted to answer my phone when in the presence of someone else I can hear Strokeman’s voice in my head saying, “The person in the room is more important than the person on the phone.” It is a good rule of thumb, I think. Sometimes you have to answer the phone, I get that. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could stop and consider if we really need to get that call right then? It wasn’t long ago that we didn’t even have the luxury of taking our phones everywhere we went, and we survived! So I always try to remember to make the person in the room feel more important than whatever is happening with my phone, whether it be text, email, Facebook message, wordpress alert, or an actual call. I think it has to do with being present in the moment you are given. I am thankful for that lesson in etiquette.
Strokeman gave me a love and an understanding of creation science that I would have never thought possible. I am not a big lover as science in general, so I had spent the first almost thirty years of my life not thinking about it any more than I had to. Not Strokeman. Soon after he became a Christian he began to study all he could find on this subject. He has books and dvd’s and magazines. He has scoured the web. His excitement is contagious. He taught our children much of it as well. As we would hike in canyons he would talk about the different theories for stratified rocks, and fossil records, and intelligent design. I remember us both chuckling to ourselves when our son at about 5 looked out the car window and exclaimed, “Just look at those layers of rocks!” echoing his father’s enthusiasm.
Strokeman is a strong believer in not discussing other people’s sins when giving your own testimony. When he told me that, it explained a lot about how vague his testimony was to me on our first date. You see, he came to Christ as an almost direct result of someone else’s sin. That person’s decisions left him broken and searching for something outside of himself. Yet he managed to tell me (a very short version of) his story without even mentioning this other person. That is one thing I respect in him very much! To be honest, this has given me a bit of a struggle in terms of this blog. I believe strongly in sharing honestly the struggles I have encountered and how God has grown me. I think sometimes I might have been too open with Strokeman’s struggles, as I have tried to share my own. It bothers me that others might think unkindly toward him when he is working so hard to be better. It is my prayer that you, my readers, will know that the difficulties have come not as a result of Strokeman’s character, but as a result of the brain damage. Forgive me, please, if I have painted him in a poor light.
One of the most valuable lessons Strokeman has taught me is the habit of beginning each meal with gratitude. As we sit down to eat, and before we pray, we go around the table and give each person an opportunity to mention something for which they are thankful. What a wonderful discipline! Honestly, there have been days when I have been so tired, and discouraged, and frustrated that the idea of being thankful is almost too much to contemplate. But as the mom, I had to give the example. So I would do the inward battle with my selfish, complaining spirit, and come up with something I could say. Some days the best I could do was say, “I am thankful that today is done and there are new mercies every morning.” Some days the discipline of having to come up with an answer helped me remember the blessings of the day that had gone unnoticed while I concentrated on the frustrations and disappointments. It has been such a wonderful lesson to have learned from him. I hope to never forget the importance of taking the time to stop and consider the goodness of God in my life.
This dear man that I have had the privilege to be married to for almost 23 years continues to teach me with his life even now as he battles to get his brain back. How grateful I am that my friend reminded me that I have much to still learn even if he isn’t in the mode to purposefully teach right now. I have all these teaching moments to remember!