Sunday Post 57: Gourds in the Glad bag

Posted by Danny

I occasionally teach my adult Sunday School class.  We study the bible trying to understand the historical times as well as trying to figure out what it can mean for us today.  By far, my favorite verse to teach was written by the apostle Paul and is in the book of Colossians:  “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

When that verse would appear in a lesson, I would read it slowly, awaiting my wife’s reaction.  She’d grab the sides of her skirt, cross her arms and shift in her chair.  I knew I was treading on thin ice.

Some of the men in class might have wanted to believe this verse was the true desire of God, but our wives wouldn’t let us.  Lisa had a great many talents but submission was not one of them.

As much as I enjoyed sparring back and forth with the women in the class about God wanting them to submit to their husbands, I did not want that in a wife and that is not what I want for my girls. 

Perhaps it’s because I have never seen that exemplified in my family.

We called one of my grandmothers Idee (her name was Ivy).  She did not submit!

One day she came home from work and my grandfather had her housekeeper, Ophelia, out hoeing in his garden.  Idee was not happy.

“Spurgeon!  If you ever come in my house and tell Ophelia to dig in that damn garden, I’ll have your head.  You need a farm hand?  You go find your own!”

The next day he dropped off a crop of squash on Idee’s kitchen counter which he’d grown himself (well, with a little help from Ophelia).  Idee opened the lid of the trashcan and with one swoop of her arm across the formica counter deposited the 12 yellow gourds into the Glad bag.

“Take my maid outside to hoe and then drop these damn dirty vegetables on my counter.  You bring any more of this %$&# in here and I’ll…”  She finished the sentence under her breath.  I intently looked down at The Florence Morning News as if I didn’t hear.

Papa didn’t get mad.  He just laughed it off.  Plus, I think he was scared of her.

Someone recently told me, “Your mother is the sweetest lady.”

Well, she’s sweet, but she’s not the sweetest.  Let’s just say she sometimes has opinions and obviously her mother, Ivy, didn’t set a great example of demure.

Yes – my girls are surrounded by strong women.  Lisa’s sister has a PhD from John’s Hopkins and a MD from Harvard.  She’s going to save the continent of Africa from AIDS.  And the only thing my mother-in-law has ever submitted to was a mandatory drug test upon hire in the local school system (she passed).

My dream for my girls is not for them to submit, in marriage or career, but rather to be confident and sure of what they want and need.  And if any guy thinks he’s gonna come in and find a Tanner girl willing to cater to his every whim, he might get a rude awakening.  Thus far, I see glimpses of thoughtfulness but not a lot of surrender.

Good luck fellas.

Moms, how do they do all that?

This is just the beginning...

Posted by Danny

Last Monday morning I nearly went into a panic.  I received four emails from other moms (when I’m in this mode I consider myself one of them) about signing kids up for summer camp.  I’m not sure why all of them emailed on the same morning.  Is there a national Begin to Think About What You’re Doing with Your Kids All Summer day that I had missed?  Do all mom’s just intrinsically know that the third Monday in January is THE kickoff for beginning your summer plans?  Was there a mailing that I missed?  Is it genetic?  I don’t know.  But I entered that date in my outlook calendar with an annual reminder.  Next year I’m going to email them first.

I will say that without these four women and my other “girlfriends” my kids would be sitting in front of the television with their older sister eleven weeks in a row, June to August.  They have saved my tail numerous times over the past 18 months.

Three days before Lisa died, we were sitting in our hospital room at Duke.  I had written her a letter that I later read at her inurnment.  In the letter, I had worked to capture the essence of Lisa and the essence of our relationship.  I wanted to be sure that she understood how much I loved and admired her.

I had mentioned the letter multiple times that day.  I knew she was very sick and although I had not accepted her fate, something inside was preparing me for the worst.  I desperately wanted to share my thoughts with her.  When she woke after a mid day nap, both of us in tears, I hung a handwritten “Do Not Disturb” sign on our door and crawled in the bed with her.  I read the letter – it was difficult to get through. 

She said, “Honey, that was beautiful.  Put it in the bag with the notes I’ve written to the girls.  Now, get out a piece of paper and a pen and come back over here.”

This was it.  Lisa was going to share something incredible with me.  Perhaps she was going to give me insights into what she thought about death.  Maybe she was going to tell me how much I meant to her (later I discovered she had already written that – she left nothing to chance).  Instead, she said, “List the children’s names down the left side of the paper.  Now, get your calendar and list the weeks of the summer across the top of the page.  Let’s go through the girls’ camp schedule – you’ll  be able to use this as a guide for the next few years.”

With significant painkillers in her system and with a body being overtaken by cancer, my wife was not concerned with her fears.  She wasn’t concerned with moving to ICU later that afternoon.  No, she wanted to make sure that DJ, Stephanie and Michelle would be taken care of last summer and that they would be with their friends.  And with me as her husband, she had right to be concerned.

“Week one the girls are going to the lake.  You need to register for dance camp the next two weeks – tryouts are in March but Kirstie has assured me they’ll make it.  You have Bible School for Annie T. the next week and Catherine can help with the carpool – y’all might share a sitter those afternoons.  I have nothing for weeks 8 or 9 for Michelle but call Maura, she’ll find something for you.”  She proceeded to tell me which friends would be with each girl for each week.  The only thing we didn’t cover was the cost – which I later discovered would be the most painful part of the process.

I really don’t understand how women do it.  My wife worked full-time and brought home a decent salary.  She drove our kids all around the world from 3 – 6 pm and often had our plan for dinner at 7.  She never missed a registration.  She never missed a dance recital or signing up for a tryout.  The camera bag was always packed and the battery charged.  She kept snacks and bottles of water in her car in the event there was hunger, a hurricane or a bomb threat.  In May, there were new bathing suits in the upstairs laundry basket; the beach towels were out and cleaned and the sunscreen packed in the pool bag.  And, she looked like a million bucks whenever she climbed out of that minivan.

Lisa was a swan:  beautiful on the top – no one exactly sure what was going on with those paddling feet underneath.  I look like a whale that never learned how to swim.  How’d she do all that?

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