Looking for the lovely can sometimes be very hard. Difficult even. And sometimes, feel utterly hopeless. But, there is beauty even in the midst of the ashes. That’s what makes His love and grace so profound to someone like me.
A little over a year ago, I lost my first grandparent. A Nana. And she was remarkable, vivacious, full-of-life and laughter,and anything but a shrinking violet.
Nana fought Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s for 8 long years before losing the battle in July of 2015. It is, in my opinion, the most cruel and vicious death that a person can experience because it strips you of you long before you have exited this world.
Nana started slipping my Senior year of High School and the changes were slight and went almost unnoticed at first, but she noticed them. She would write notes to herself in the corner of her day planner that would remind her to take medications she hoped no to forget and sometimes would write phrases like, “keep walking to the left” or “missed a step today”. Looking back at all of it, we were all in different stages of denial. But life, and the progression of this debilitating disease is unkind and it didn’t give us very long to wise-up and clue-in.
Denial flowed quickly into acceptance.
In her latter years, Nana became increasingly quiet and painfully distant. Again, incredibly unlike her. Mom, me, or DatDat would beg her to pipe up and join in the conversations happening around her and offer us anything, anything at all. We just couldn’t bear the absence of her voice. But, she would just smile or shrug or reply simply with, “Just listening.” You could visibly see the resignation on my DatDat or Mom’s face.
This was our new normal. This distance. A heinous interlude between mother and daughter, between husband and wife, between Nana and only granddaughter.
But, one day, we were all piled on the back bench seat DatDat’s SUV enroute to one of our favorite weekend lunch spots, and without any introduction or preamble Nana pipes up, in a strong (uncharacteristic at this time since her voice had become very weak and cracking) voice as a blue truck whizzes by to our left, “That’s a pretty truck.”
I look to my left and to my right, registering the facial expressions of those around me. Looks of disbelief, confusion, and most often, humor. I can remember, at the time, we all thought it was the most absurd comment.
Nana had never been a lover of cars or knowledgeable of automobiles and she certainly didn’t often look at trucks and assess their beauty or aesthetic qualities.
I remember DatDat looking to his right and affirming her with, “Yes honey, it is.” All the while, he too was probably imagining that to be an odd topic of conversation as well, but it was participation at the very least. Participation is what we so desperately needed. And that floating comment referencing a truck was like a life raft.
This disease will take everything from you, even when you feel you have nothing left to give, it will take a bit more. So, you have to find those light-hearted and even laughable moments in it all to keep yourself from crying.
This moment was a moment for all of us.
I cannot tell you how many times since that day we have seen a blue truck on the road and one of us will pipe up with “That’s a pretty truck.” We smile, we remember, we giggle, but mostly, we choose to see the lovely in that moment. That simple, everyday, seemingly insignificant moment, but now, so many years later, I still remember that tiny glimpse at lovely in a dark time in the life of my family.
His faithfulness and loving-kindness towards us is oh so sweet, if we just make sure and look for it. I don’t want to miss a minute of it.
There really is lovely in everything.
Even in the gleam from chrome glistening off an old Chevy truck.
I would encourage you to look for it.