The Matriarch

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The Matriarch

Family Thanksgiving dinner at our house tonight.  First time I used Mama’s linens, china, and gold flatware since I inherited them.  I opened her antique china cabinet and could smell her – a fragile scent among fragile things – and without wanting to, I felt like a matriarch.  Yes, I’m the only daughter amidst a trio of sons, and the traditional “female things” were entrusted to me.  And yet…… I feel SO not ready for this responsibility.

To this table and these precious things gathered four grown children and their children and spouses for many years.  My brothers and their tribes won’t ever gather at my house for a family holiday, but I have the “stuff” — the evidence of “To grandmother’s house we go.”

In one week, my 92-year-old daddy will have open heart surgery to replace a seriously leaking mitral valve and an artery by-pass graft circumventing a partially blocked artery.  I have Power of Attorney, am on his bank accounts, and have the flexible schedule to be able to care for him in any practical way he needs for the rest of his life.

Yes, there is a huge risk with this surgery at his age for stroke, heart attack, fill-in-the-blank life-threatening situations, and we are facing it with determination and courage.  And yet…..I’m not as worried about daddy’s survival as I am my own.  I know this may sound ridiculous, but when I fall into fear, my first thoughts are, “When he dies, who will pray for me? (The fact that many other people pray for me is irrelevant).  Who will be my financial back-up?  Who will be my source of practical wisdom and support?”

The answer is the last thing I want to hear:  ME.

Yes, I’ve been an adult for almost forty years, but in relationship to my parents, I’m their child.  My little brother, who is 54, will always be my Little Brother.  My children are grown and gone, and yet facing the absence of my parents, I’m having trouble feeling like a grown-up.

Is it reticence to take ultimate responsibility for myself?  Yes, partially.  But I think the heaviest weight is facing the final absence of two spiritual giants, leaving my teeny feet to stand in their size ten shoes.  I feel SO not ready for this responsibility.

But we don’t get to pick God’s timing.  His grace isn’t provided until it’s needed.  And the Ultimate Parent lives within me, promising to meet all my needs – even when it comes down to setting the table for Thanksgiving with china that no longer is Mama’s, but belongs to me.


About the Author:

I never have found a box that fits me, so I follow Jesus into the wild. My husband, Bud, and I are two life-long hippies, parents of four grown children, and live in Bartlett, TN, with six cats, two dogs, and no TV. I am a voracious reader and am passionate about prison ministry. I am also an advocate for middle-aged and senior women, and anyone who suffers from depression.

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