It has been nearly two years since Mom passed and nearly 30 since Dad passed. I took some flowers by their gravesites in Palisade, CO when we visited the Grand Junction area last week.
Mom and Dad are more than memories to me. They were both a force in my life during all those years that formed much about the way I see life and the values I hold to this day which is some 50 years after moving away from home. We were in Grand Junction, CO to see our new great-granddaughter, Madison Alan who was born just two weeks earlier. Her birth was a joy to me – her mother, Ashley had told us she was pregnant in July. She and the father, Matt had just bought a home in June. Maddie’s birth made us a four-generation family again. Her birth has made me reflect some on what it means to think about generations in a family.
You can see in the photo our granddaughter, Ashley and son, Matthew – grandpa holding the baby – and, of course, Darlene and I. We live varied lives from our son and granddaughter, and living 420 miles apart means we see each other only several times each year. Still I feel a strong bond with each of them. We keep up with much of what is going on in each other’s worlds. I sense a joy for us in them whenever we visit, and seeing and spending a little time certainly brings joy to me. It feels like family being with them which is such a blessing to me.
Ashley was born nine years or so after her great-grandfather (my Dad) passed away. She only knows him from a gravestone and from what is reflected of him in me. I held Ashley in my arms twenty years ago on the day she was born. I remember it well – she was tiny – about the same size as little Maddie. She was our second grandchild – I loved her with all my heart – the feeling was just the same a few days ago holding Maddie for the first time.
I wish I could see Maddie often and interact with her on a regular basis – I wish I could exert an influence in an ongoing way for everything that would be good in her life. Those wishes are unlikely to come true to a great extent – I’m too far away – and it is only right that Ashley and her Dad and her grandfather Matthew, in a lesser sense, be the ones who shape her life in the ways they see best. Still, I hope and pray things for her: that she will always be treated with respect – that she will know a sense of joy and a zest for life – that she will know who she is, and in that feel a confidence in her own abilities, mellowed by a humility of spirit – that she will be encouraged to make and live by a decision about faith in her Creator and in her Savior – that she will be blessed with all the necessities of life, but neither be too rich to forget the value of her daily bread or too poor to enjoy earth’s bounty – that she will learn that her security is not found in stored wealth, but rather is found in a certainty of eternity – that she will learn the richness of being a blessing to others – that she will shun cynicism, rather believing that good will overcome evil – that she will always feel loved and learn that out of love sacrifice is never in vain – that she will learn to serve others with the same zeal she feels in serving herself – that she will learn the wisdom of patience – that she will learn to accept responsibility for herself and those dependent upon her – that she will come to understand that only in action borne out of idealism anchored in good does mankind make things better for itself – that she will learn the value of knowledge and education, and yet understand their worthlessness unless connected with experience – and that she will be blessed in her old age with generations of family who love and honor and appreciate and care for her.
I saw Maddie quite a lot over the course of three days last week. I watched closely as Ashley and Matt reacted to her and cared for her. The love between them for Maddie was obvious and beautiful. Ashley and Matt want the best for her just like I do. They are blessed to have a child that will thrive from love – and Maddie is blessed to have a mom and a dad committed to provide that love. It’s a wonderful thing to know that another generation is in good hands – in just as good hands as I was so long ago in the hands of the mom and dad that on this earth are represented now only by gravestones and precious memories.
Generations – the faces continually change – old age replaced by new life – yet if generations embrace those things which are good, so much stays the same. The things I want for Maddie – the list that I made – is much the same as the list that grandfather, Matthew would make – is much the same as the list that Ashley and Matt would make – is much the same as the list that Maddie will make for her first child – a child that will be a new generation – a child that likely will never know a great-great-grandfather. Yet she can be a child shaped by an understanding of good that in its timelessness creates a destiny that isn’t much different than the one created for me, or the one that long ago was created for my great-grandfather. As much as the face of the world evolves and changes the tenets that mankind holds on to which are in their essence good are as timeless as eternity itself. There is peace for me thinking about Maddie’s future that such an understanding brings. As crazy as the history of the world has been and as crazy as it might become, the good have and always will thrive and survive – it is a timeless principle established and maintained by a creator who has a purpose for all generations. It is a principle worthy of reverence which leaves both me and a great-granddaughter secure in hope.