Dearest Rachel –
You might’ve been aware of it back in the day, but as it wasn’t necessarily a concern of yours, it was never really discussed, but I always would – and still do – call the folks when I’m on my way to the ‘office.’ It’s not a necessary thing – I have keys to the house, so I could let myself in whenever I showed up – but it shows a courtesy to them, that they know that I’m going to be there, as my hours (and even days) there are unpredictably irregular.
Essentially, I seek their approval for anything in my life that touches them.
So last night, when Daniel and I were over there for dinner (it’s almost become a Thursday ritual these days), I found myself needing to talk to them about certain future plans. Dad, in particular, may be less of a money manager than I am by trade and profession, but he has a wisdom about knowing the right thing to do that very few people have, and I trust his opinion on this, because I don’t always trust mine.
You already know that I continue to assist Twofeathers and Stan as they continue to struggle with both of their health issues (which prevent them from working, and keeping up with expenses), and quite honestly, the folks are concerned that I’ll never be off the hook when it comes to doing so. Personally, I feel that this is something that you would continue to do:
A ·wise [insightful] servant… will even ·inherit a share of what the master leaves his children [L divide an inheritance with the brothers/relatives].from Proverbs 17:2, Expanded Bible
Since I still consider this legacy to be yours, I don’t have a problem spending money that you would’ve spent if you were still here. But I have concerns about other things that have come up since your departure.
When we went to the Des Plaines campus a few weeks ago, to hear about the church’s travel plans to Israel, we ran into Kersten on her way out. It seems she still hasn’t gotten over losing you either (indeed, the tree in front of her house still has a purple ribbon on it). Not only has she lost a friend, but she doesn’t know how to organize her house without you – or without someone. She did have someone come into her life to continue the work the two of you had started, but evidently she passed from a stroke not too long ago. Now it’s almost as if she’s afraid to ask for help with the mess in her house, lest something else happen. Well, since she does this on a professional basis, and did such a good job with our place, I thought of enlisting Jan. But as she doesn’t come cheap, I figured I’d pay her on Kersten’s behalf. And while it isn’t a big deal for me, I want to make sure that I’m not being irresponsible. So I went to the folks with this idea.
They responded with a question that I don’t know how to answer: do I feel led by the Lord to do this? Now, I might say I felt led to it; even as she was explaining her situation, I found myself thinking, ‘Kerstin needs help, and we know where she could get that help, and we could provide it for her.’ But whether that was the Lord speaking, or just my own idea, I don’t know. I kind of expect that if an idea comes from Him, it would be a little more obvious. Some booming voice from the heavens rattling around in my skull or something like that. I get that He’s been known to use a still, small voice, but at that level of volume, I can’t tell His apart from my own. And I don’t necessarily wanna be following my own voice thinking it’s God’s.
However, they seem to be approving enough, recommending that there be an endpoint to the process, so that I’m not on the hook indefinitely. It’s one thing to clean up after you now that you’re gone, since you aren’t going to add to the mess that we’ve gotten rid of. It’s another if, once we clean her house, Kersten starts all over again. Personally, I think Jan can teach her new habits like she’s done for me. But I guess we’ll see on Sunday. At any rate, Mom and Dad have given their tentative approval to this venture. And I kind of hope that you would approve of my plan as well.
On to the next thing, which is a little less altruistic, and a little more self-indulgent, so I’m a little more hesitant about it. But just as working on Kirsten’s house will take me away from any duties that I might have at the ‘office,‘ so too will this take me away from there as well: travel. I mentioned to them about my plans to take a snap cruise right after Thanksgiving, to which they respond with surprising enthusiasm. Not that I’m surprised that they’re enthusiastic about a cruise, but that they’re encouraging me to just get up and go, even as I feel I have responsibilities to the house, to them, to the community and to Daniel that I can’t just abandon like that. But no, they’re wholeheartedly supportive, insisting that I need to get out there while I can.
Believe it or not, it’s a weight off my shoulders. I feel guilty enough doing this without you – and I know it’s going to seem very strange no matter what, because of that. If nothing else, it feels unfair that you never got to enjoy what your parents (and their parents) saved up for. On the other hand, it seems unfair that they didn’t get to enjoy it to the fullest, so there’s that.
It also feels unfair to leave Daniel behind. But that’s how things are these days, and he is unwilling to ‘bow the knee,’ especially since he’s convinced that everything will change by the end of the year, while no one else in the family believes it. To a certain extent, I wish I had the courage of his convictions, strong enough that he feels no need for approval from anyone for his position on this matter. From a different perspective, however, I’m almost ashamed when Dad tries to talk to him about ‘honoring his parents,’ and the fact that by refusing either shot or mask, he is defying that commandment. I wish I knew what I did wrong in raising him, but I know somehow it’s my fault that I’ve let him become like this, when even my Dad can’t reason with him.
In order to deflect from the subject, and bring the tenor of the conversation down to a more manageable level, I also mention the thought of the Grand Tour, and direct dad’s attention to the website. Again, I find myself amazed at their enthusiasm, and while they agree with me that nine months at sea is utterly impractical, any one of the legs of the journey would be a chance of a lifetime, and I should work with Michelle to make the appropriate arrangements. If the opportunity is within my reach, they see nothing wrong with my attempt to grasp it.
And so, with the wind of their approval at my back, I find myself resolved to cheerfully make all these preparations for the future. I’ll keep you up-to-date of everything as it happens, but until then, take care of yourself.
My love goes with you.