46

Bailey Ham 3

Lisa would have turned 46 on Monday.  The girls and I have chosen not to spend a ton of time remembering mom on the anniversary of her death, but rather to more officially celebrate her life on her birthday.  The casual remembrance typically includes Diet Dr. Pepper, Kanki Japanese Steak House and happy memories.  I don’t love Dr. Pepper, but on April 18, I drink.  I don’t love the Skanky Kanki (my nickname for the establishment), but on April 18, I eat.

We laugh and talk about her on a regular basis, so this isn’t a particularly difficult or odd time for us.  It is, however, a time to stop and reflect.  To answer questions.  For me, a responsibility to ensure her legacy lives on.

On Sunday I was invited to speak to an adult Sunday School class at my church on how to support those dealing with difficult situations.  Prepping to teach, I pulled out a stack of cards I received when Lisa died.  Although cathartic, and perhaps important at times, not necessarily a happy way to begin a fresh weekend.  Looking back, it is sort of amazing how you tend to forget the intensity of the pain experienced during that time.  It’s also shocking how quickly you can revisit the emotions with a small reminder.

One friend wrote this quote in the card she sent two months after Lisa died:

“The fullness of a person’s life is measured not in years, but in how he lived … there are rare people in this world who engage life at a different level – a deeper level than the rest of us.”

Although I’m sure that quote gets tossed around at many funerals for folks who die before 60, and although I believe it to be true, I wonder what really constitutes engaging in life at a different and deeper level.  As I poured through the notes near the top of my stack, there were a few that struck me.

“It sounds trite to say she was ‘unique,’ but she really was.  She was driven but not overbearing; she was kind but not patronizing; she was firm but compassionate.”

“(Lisa) has inspired me to be a better mom, friend, volunteer, Christian and worker because of how she lived her life.”

“Was there anyone in Raleigh she didn’t know?”

“One of my favorite memories of you and Lisa was when I visited the Y on one of my days off.  I will never forget walking up and seeing you and Lisa on the roof … I still wonder how the two camp directors were able to pull off tanning for an entire day and still get paid for it.  Who was in charge of camp?  You and Lisa were a great team!”

“She was such a force of nature.”

“I was a friend of your mom’s in college.  She was one of the first smiling faces I saw at our sorority.  From that moment on, she made me feel welcome and included.  As you know, that’s just how she was with everyone… making you feel comfortable.”

“My lasting image of her is seated on the Capon Springs stage, surrounded by all of the Capon kids, leading them in song.”

“She was an extraordinary person – someone who I remember trying to emulate as a teenager.”

“She was such a natural leader and full of such positive energy!!”

I believe that Lisa did engage life at a different level.  I don’t think she tried, I just think it was natural for her.

It doesn’t come as easily for me.  But I do think that her death has pushed me to intentionally and strategically work to live more boldly.

I do not want someone to spout out some quote at my funeral simply to fill up a 15 minute homily.  With Lisa, the remembrances were true, sincere; all who knew her could nod enthusiastically.  I’m learning later in life, but I think that losing Lisa has given my daughters the gift of living at a deeper level much earlier.  To watch them is as their mom is a beautiful thing.

Sunday Post 173: A Little White Lie

The other day in the car, Stephanie turned to me with a very serious look on her face and asked, “Have you ever told a lie?”

That’s a loaded question, especially with her eleven year old sister in the back seat.

“Mmmm.”  I needed to buy some time.

“Yeah. I’m sure I have.” The fact of the matter was I knew I had but I didn’t want to be that confident, like I’d done it that morning. Wanted it to seem like I couldn’t really pinpoint anything specific any time in the recent past.

I thought my guilty plea would end the conversation – I was wrong.

“When?”

She acted like it was once. Sort of like when I got my appendix removed.

I honestly couldn’t think of a recent fib so I had to reach back to come up with something. The one that popped into my head was one I was sure they could relate to.

Well, you see, in high school I hated PE class. I hated changing clothes in front of the other guys, and I particularly hated the weeks we spent doing gymnastics. We were required to walk on the balance beam, and I could not. We had to jump the horse and my legs did not split in a horizontal fashion.

But what was even worse was climbing the rope in the gym. It was hanging from a rafter and we had to shimmy up the thing like Tarzan.

Joey Brenier could do it. Hank Downing could do it. Sam McNally could do it. I could not.

One February morning, I happened to walk by the gym early during first period. I’d been anticipating Rope Day for a few weeks, but I glanced in the gym and there was our 95 year old gym teacher, Miss Cherry, holding the bottom of the rope while the fellas were doing all they could to hoist themselves up the fibrous vine.

When I hit the gym third period, I skipped the locker room and headed straight to the bleachers. Miss Cherry was pacing the gym floor, waiting for her plebes.

“Tanner,” she always called us by our last names with her deep southern drawl, “why aren’t you dressed out?”

I couldn’t tell the truth – well Miss Cherry, I hate climbing the rope so I’m taking the day off. No.  I instead I lied. Without flinching and without explanation, I reported: “I forgot my gym clothes. Just give me a zero for today.”

“Tanner.”

“Yes m’am?”

“Let’s go check your locker.”

Oh snap.

I knew if I opened my locker it was likely that I hadn’t forgotten my PE clothes at all. It was quite likely they were on the top shelf, and I had simply overlooked them.

I don’t know why I didn’t just confess that I’d lied while we were still in the gym. I guess I’d hoped that perhaps a hoodlum had broken into my locker and stolen my t-shirt and shorts between my arrival at school that morning and third period. Unfortunately for me, that was not the case.

I opened the door.

“Just like I thought Tanner. Get dressed. We have a rope to climb.”

The girls enjoyed my story, and I explained that lying sometimes did not pay off. Then I asked them if they had ever lied.

Without missing a beat, Michelle lit up, “Well, I did tell you I loved you.”

She giggled.

Stephanie tossed her thoughts in, “Awwwkward.”

I hope they learn from my mistakes. But it is likely they’ll have to go through their own Miss Cherry debacle to truly learn their lesson.

If I had to do it again, I wish I hadn’t lied. I wish I would have just left the gym shorts at home that day.

  • Tanner Tweets

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 11,940 other followers
  • Past Posts

  • Contact Us