Friday, July 8, 2016

Life, Death and the Smell of Cinnamon Rolls

It is summer time and I am sitting in a Lazy Boy chair in the sunroom. It is almost 4:00pm and I have yet to go to work, but I am exhausted. For a teacher, summer means time off, second jobs and selling everything you own to pay the bills during the long hot months. For me it means working on the house and babysitting. Though I love this special time with my boys, something about it just wears me out. I find myself grouchy and a bit unkind at times and more often than not, I find myself in a situation that warrants a heart-felt apology and a plea for forgiveness. Especially today.

My grandmother died the day before yesterday. My mom, dad, and my wife Laura, all spent the day at her bedside listening to her labored breathing for many hours before we finally kissed her goodnight and headed home. We weren't sure if she knew we were there or not, but we really didn't care, we just wanted to be with her as she threw off her rusty, yellowed earth stuff and headed to heaven. In the end, we all missed her final trip, but I think she wanted it that way. She never wanted to get in the way, always sweet... too sweet to let us see her take her final breath.

Today my mom, the boys, and I began going through her stuff. Six years ago she downsized to a one bedroom assisted living apartment, so there really wasn't that much to go through, but it still felt painstakingly difficult. Boxes full of pictures, Bibles stuffed with tissues, notes and newspaper clippings, and a desk crammed with stuff that hadn't been looked at since my grandfather died fourteen years ago were just a few of the things that made up her meager belongings. Grammie was a quiet person, who spent most of her life taking care of my larger-than-life diabetic grandfather. When he died, she spent the better part of most days watching old movies and eating Cheatos, and spent the night hours in a recliner, even though the bed was just steps away. The thing about her was that it wasn't about her. Everyone knew that Bobbie's heart lay with the people she loved, and every visitor was greeted with a wide-eyed, false toothed smile. She was Bobby Klaus. WWII Veteran and mother of three. Her in-laws called her "The Klaus Angel," and I am certain that Jesus is hugging his angel right now. Just having Grammie's smile in a room, just seeing her hands formed in the "I love you," fingers let you know you were special. Grammie was the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls waking you up in the morning. Right away you knew you were loved, and were about to experience something sweet.

So here we are. 4:17pm. My oldest son playing with his Kindle in a bean bag chair and me typing on my laptop. I am tired. Sad. Happy. Strange. When someone dies, it's like the earth is breathing differently, trying to get accustomed to the missing soul. We divide the dusty and the forgotten, and we go on; not like nothing has happened, but more like something incomprehensable has occurred and we are just not sure what to do with it. A mortal who knows Jesus dies, and immortality is reality. At death, the eternal is finally recognized as truth, and lived as real. Maybe that is the heart of all of this. Something has happened. Something extraordinary, and we all are getting used to the change.

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