We went over to visit them yesterday for lunch. Many of the shelves have been stripped of family photos to stage for their open house. Anita told me how sad it was to take down all the photographs from the wall space that held so many children's school pictures, family pictures, even pictures of pets. Still, the place looked beautiful.
I felt embraced by the light that floods their home. Every room full of natural light and a beautiful woodland view, golden and crimson in a fall season. And even though our faces were no longer part of an interior scape, I felt the love of years and memories surrounding us like silent guests. Bar mitzvahs, swim parties, holidays, festive meals, birthdays, football games, and even humble Sunday afternoons.
We sat, just the few of us, around their kitchen table to a feast a mama prepared: chicken tenders, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips and pickles, potato salad, and a gazpacho soup. I haven't had a mama fix me a PB&J since I was a kid. I reached for a half and took a bite. Why does food taste better when someone else fixes it? I took another half.
"I used cherry jelly," she told me.
Shane and David sat and talked in the great room, and Anita took me and the girls down to David's studio to see his paintings. He's painting again, after a very long break. I wished I'd had my camera to photograph his palette and easel, the fat tubes of vibrant colors, squeezed and bent and mangled. All around the walls he'd hung his work from years--like a timeline.
Upstairs, we talked some more about the move and how much life had been lived in their home in just five years. Shane remembered how they announced that move at my 40th birthday party. Shane and I didn't even have a thought at the time that we would move too. And funny (and precious and pure grace) that one of the three houses Shane showed me the day he came home and asked, "What do you think of these?", one was the house we're in now ... just minutes from David and Anita. How did we find ourselves in the same zip code after all the years? How thankful I am.
Anita told me how she drove her grandson out to a bus terminal to ride to New York to meet his new love, and when he heard she'd be driving him out instead of his mom, he called Anita and asked, "Can we have breakfast out together first?"
"Of course!" she said, wholeheartedly.
Their other grandson wants them close by so he could walk to their house, and Anita told me how fast the years go, and soon they'll be men and this time will be over. And crier that I am, I fell into her arms and held her close, so crazy grateful for the years they've celebrated my children and my life. If anyone has taught me how to live, and how to live wholeheartedly, it is Anita.
We left after some time to hugs at the door and goodbyes. Bellies and hearts full.
On the drive home, we talked about the timing of it all--and God's grace and provision to move us here so that we could know them better, our lives deeply and forever influenced by them. The difference here makes. We've seen them more in these three years we've lived here than we had in the many preceding, and still I find I could never get enough.
What treasure it truly is to find and know people who make a lasting impression that has the power to affect generations for good, whose memory always brings a smile and gratitude, and whose legacy bleeds wholehearted.