Carrie, Braden, Elizabeth, and Emma

With every goodbye, there’s the promise of another hello. Of course, it’s also true that with each hello, there’s the shadow of goodbye. I don’t want to think about that right now though. I want to concentrate on the promise part. It was hard saying farewell to my children and grandchildren in the church parking lot in Rincon, GA earlier today, but knowing that I’ll see them again soon makes the time apart a little more doable.

And my goodness, the memories are so special. I know that’s an overworked word, probably trite too, but it’s the best one I can think of to describe my recollections. For starters, at church today Emma probably told me she loved me five or six times and gave me at least that many kisses. She also sweetly asked me, “Why can’t you stop crying?” and then looked at me with great concern. I told her I was happy. She doesn’t understand about hearts being so full that a person’s emotions spill out …but she’s learning.

Then there was little Braden who turned 8 nearly two weeks ago. His father baptized him yesterday, and family and friends from as far away as California came to witness the event and be a part of his special day. Mrs. Crolley and I think it was the sweetest, most spiritual baptismal service we’ve ever attended. Brooke and Emma, Braden’s sisters, said the opening and closing prayers, and I especially loved it when Brooke asked that Braden always be guided to “choose the right.” Amanda, my daughter-in-law, played the piano while Paul minded their darling Olivia. At the moment, I’m recalling how Braden sat swinging his legs while looking up at his dad and doing his best to answer Rich’s questions.

After the service, a crowd gathered at Carrie and Rich’s home for a fun celebration. Braden’s had chosen a Mexican theme, so from the music to the Chicken Enchilada Casserole, his parents granted his wish. Four jumbo sized crockpots simmered with the yummy casseroles, and we had chips and mucho Mexican rice as sides. My niece Katherine helped with the kitchen duty, and without her sweet assistance, the Masedas might have been cleaning up until midnight! A giant piñata filled with candy topped off the evening’s fun, and although all the kids had a chance to whack it, Braden was the one who was successful in knocking it down to reveal the sugary treats.

Did I mention that my daughter and her mother-in-law, Linda, made huge colorful flowers out of tissue? I loved them! They hung from the back porch and sprang from the shrubs in the back yard. Tables were set up in the backyard, and it was cool to see my son and his father seated together at one of them dining and talking with the other men.  Linda also made three delicious strawberry pies, and since I had a challenge deciding between pie and cake, I had both…so did several others. I watched Otis and Fred, Rich’s father, chow down on a sample of each as they discussed golf, golf, and more golf.

This morning, I was in heaven. It’s been a while since I had the good fortune to be with all of my children and grandchildren at the same time in church. It’s not that I’m envious of people who have that experience every week. It’s just that, well, I miss it. It was awesome to watch Olivia stare at the strangers (to her) in the congregation and to see Emma share her My Pretty Pony with her. Olivia had never seen a purple horse with pink hair. Before Colton moved to my row, I watched his tiny fingers rub Linda’s neck. Sweet sweet sweet. Carrie bore her testimony and so did little Brooke and her grandfather Fred.

Rich’s parents will be in Rincon until Tuesday when they fly back to Atlanta.  Everyone else has scattered to their respective homes in GA and SC.  I’ll get to see them all again soon, but in the meantime, I’m thinking of Braden’s big weekend and how his decision brought us all together for a few brief shining hours.