Sunday, July 5, 2009

Quiet Things

Love is in the quiet things. A gentle kiss good morning, a whispered "I love you" from a child's voice, a clean kitchen when you didn't have to ask for it ...

His name was Theodore Hugh Fleming. Hugh (or Hughie) to all of his friends. By the time my sister and I came into his world, Hugh's hair was already graying and his face showed a good measure of wisdom in wrinkles. My sister, Mary, and I were lucky to grow up right across the yard from our Grandpa. He lived in a large two story yellow house. To be honest, as much time as I spent in his home, I can't tell you much about anything outside of the kitchen. You see, my Grandpa was a professional chef and anything Mary and I wanted could be found in that kitchen. My favorite was Chop Suey. This was his specialty and we loved Friday nights when he would make up a big pot. Mary and I would wheel our little red wagon across the yard and pull the pot back home.

I have lots of memories but what I remember the most is the way he loved Mary and me.
Love can be measured by huge bouquets of flowers, expensive jewelry or other flashy gifts. But, those are all loud things. My grandpa loved us with quiet things.

Grandpa didn't have alot of money but he saved up his dimes all year and then put them in coin wrappers for our Christmas gift. He showed up to all our ballgames (Mary and I were cheerleaders in high school). All our friends loved Grandpa. You could pick him out of the crowd in a heartbeat. He was the one in the plaid pants and striped shirt. I guess some kids would've been embarrassed for their Grandpa to show up in that outfit. Not me and not Mary. We loved it. That was Grandpa. Most kids might tell you that their Grandpa smelled like cigar smoke, pipe tobacco or after shave. Not my Grandpa, he always smelled of something cooking. Another thing that I loved.

He'd show up on our doorstep early summer mornings with fresh picked cherries from the tree in his front yard. Most times there were fresh caramel rolls or funnel cakes to go along with the fruit. Corn cakes were another favorite.

Grandpa always had a big garden. I remember his knobby fingers and the way they looked when he snapped green beans from the garden. He picked all the green beans and left the buckets on our doorstep for my mom to can. I think that was his quiet way of loving my parents. They didn't have to pick all the beans. He did it for them.

Just a year after I was married and had moved to Nebraska, my Grandpa's house burned to the ground. Thankfully, he wasn't home when it happened. But, when he found out that his home was gone ... he cried and said he could never go home again. Grandpa didn't cry often, so this was huge for all of us. We saw a side of him that rarely came through.

The night he passed away, we all gathered around his hospital bed. We prayed and sang a hymn. Mary and I told him we'd be back the next morning. Grandpa couldn't talk, his voice was gone. Gently, he shook his head "no." It only took a few moments for us to understand that Grandpa knew he wouldn't be there the next day. He lifted my hand to his lips and kissed it.

That was the final quiet way he showed me his love.

In remembering Grandpa's life, I realized that our society has pushed quiet love into the background. Society has decided that love must be measured by the flashy things. But that's all wrong ... real love is quiet and not boastful. It's gentle and doesn't require any acknowledgement.

My husband and I moved home from Nebraska and built our house on the very spot where my Grandpa's house stood. The view from my bedroom window is the one my Grandpa enjoyed from his back door. I watch the sunrise from my front porch and know that I am looking over the very field my Grandpa saw each day.

This morning, I sat on my front porch and had a cup of coffee. It was early, a thin layer of fog blanketed the field across the road. I sat there for a long time, enjoying the morning and missing the quiet man that I was blessed to call Grandpa.

1st Peter 3:4 "Rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God."

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