I love fall. For so many reasons – the crisp air, the chilly weather, the pumpkin spice. The changing leaves brightening up the landscape and bringing beauty everywhere. It only lasts a short while, but it is so cherished when it is here. And right in the midst of our fall is Thanksgiving. How appropriate!
Just last week we celebrated here in Canada. For the first time in a long while, my husband (who is a nurse) had the weekend off. We took the kids apple picking and took lots of photos. The drive out of town to the apple orchard was beautiful, seeing all the trees. We even got to take a wagon ride through the orchard seeing all the surrounding trees exploding with colour and shining in the brilliant sun. It made me thankful.
But one thing I didn’t expect this Thanksgiving was to be sucker punched with memories of my grandmother. It still hurts, after her passing two years ago. She was so loved, and so important in my life. Since I don’t eat meat, I made some vegan pot pies. It’s not something I would normally make because it takes more effort than I like on a regular night. As we sat down to our Thanksgiving meal, and I took my first bite of pot pie I was flooded with the memory of sitting across from my Grandma at a special restaurant she would take us to where I always ordered the chicken pot pie. Each bite brought her closer and closer to me and it made me well up with emotion.
My Grandmother was like a second Mom to me. She was always around in our lives, in our childhood. She was often at our house and we were often at hers. As a child you take those moments for granted. A time when I thought she would always be there – and she was, until she wasn’t. But over the years she spoke volumes into my life.
She taught me how to be classy. She taught me lady-like behaviour, how to dress properly for a fancy event and how to set a table if you were hosting one. She taught me to respect my elders and my parents. She taught me everything my mother taught me, but for some reason it seemed to stick when it came from her. But of all the things that she taught me, one thing really stands out.
Love and respect your husband. Do as he says, go where he goes. And never stop praying.
I know a lot of people will think that is a bit antiquated. When my grandmother passed, she was 94 years old. So I suppose, the idea was a bit old fashioned. But it’s only old fashioned and antiquated if there is no one to model it. And model it she did.
My grandmother moved over 30 times in her lifetime. Most of those were during her marriage. My grandfather was a businessman, and he traveled and lived internationally. One of my favourite pictures of all time is my mother on a boat in 1954, headed to South America wearing an adult’s life jacket and crying her eyes out while her two older siblings and some other children looked on.
I am sure it wasn’t easy packing up a house and preparing for a cross continental move over and over again, but she did it. And she never complained.
She never complained when my grandfather brought colleagues home for a business dinner last minute. She just added extra plates to the table and modified her dinner plans. She never complained when he worked long hours, when she was expected to attend multiple dinner parties, or host parties of her own. She just did all of them out of love and respect for husband.
But let’s not get caught up in my grandmother’s 1950’s housewife life. Yes, she vacuumed in pearls. Yes, she had supper waiting when her husband came home. But there was more to her than that. She was just as intelligent as she was beautiful. And she was wise. She made excellent decisions. She was quick on her feet, and she was courageous. She once told me of a time where there was a large sewer rat the size of a house cat in her oven at their home in Mexico City. My grandmother beat it to death with a broom, cleaned up the mess and got on with making dinner. Grandma was a rockstar.
June 28, 1945 – Frank and Margaret
The point is, she learned how to love and respect her husband well. Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing the same. It’s easy to love your husband – but it’s what happens in those moments when you don’t like him that count. When you’re having a bad day, and you’re feeling flustered, do you still show your husband respect?
Where love comes from the heart, respect comes from your heart’s attitude. Remember how I said my Grandma never complained when she had to move across the continent? I probably wouldn’t have either. I might have felt stressed, but we would manage. But bringing someone home for a meal unannounced? I would complain, probably stress cry, and fly around like a crazy person trying to clean my imperfect house. While doing so, my attitude wouldn’t be so lovely.
Respect means submitting to your husband’s requests without the attitude. It means showing your husband that you trust and appreciate him. It means looking for opportunities to encourage him and build him up. It means controlling your tongue, and thinking before you speak. And it means speaking well if your husband and not dragging his name through the mud when you’re venting to your friends.
None of these things are easy, because none of them come from our natural inclinations to be strong, independent women. I once asked my grandmother how to show love and respect to my husband and not feel like his child rearing, worked to the bone housekeeper. I once asked my Mom how I could show respect and still keep some semblance of the confident, intelligent woman that I am. And she reminded me of something important. Always keep praying wasn’t just a reminder to pray for my husband, but to pray for myself. To pray for the right attitude, ESPECIALLY when I was feeling like an exhausted overworked mama. She told me to pray for myself as much as I prayed for him.
My mother’s advice was gold. Again, I it modeled by her, so it stuck. She prays for my father all the time. But she prayed for herself too. And she and my Dad modeled how love and respect creates unity.
April 21, 1979 – Peter and Janice
My parents became teachers of life. Together they made it through some hard moves, job changes, pregnancy loss, tragic car accidents and raising four disobedient kids. If I had to sum my parents up in one phrase, it would be “grace under fire.” But their graciousness comes from a unity that stands on love, respect and prayer.
These two women have deeply enriched and influenced my life. As a child, I didn’t always see it, but as an adult I’m so thankful for these two strong women and their strong marriages which stand as an example for me to follow. Sometimes people ask me how it is that my husband and I are still married after fourteen years, when so many of our friends and colleagues aren’t. The answer is simple – we don’t give up. When something is broken, you work on fixing it. But when you learn to love and respect your husband, things break a lot less easily.
October 9, 2004 – Steve and Jerusha
I will be the first to admit I’m not perfect. These women know me so well they knew this would be advice I would need. I still need reminders, and I don’t have it all figured out. But I have two wonderful examples to follow. I have a husband who both recognizes and forgives my mistakes. And I’ve got a God who loves me and wants our marriage to be strong, successful, enriched and glorifying to Him.
And that is something to be thankful for. ❤️
You are invited to follow this link to more from Telling Hearts, on this series:Best Advice from an Older Woman; collaborative series introduction