Must Love Long Walks and God

As much as I absolutely hate saying goodbye to summer, I’m getting excited to welcome fall. I can hear it’s faint whisper just around the corner. It’s already preparing us for it’s arrival with it’s intermittent cool breezes and changing leaves. It’s only a matter of time, those autumn colours will speak, “Maestro, music please.”

Another summer has flown by. I predicted it back in June when coworkers were counting down the days to summer holidays. In my head I was thinking, “Please don’t.” As quickly as it comes, it goes. I am ultra aware of time’s ability to fly by, to pass even quicker than last year. So I try with all my might to embrace each day, every hour and minute for what it is—a gift!

Speaking of gifts and how time flies, my fiftieth birthday recently came and went … obviously, I survived! Letting go of my forties was like letting go of other things I’ve come to love; I grieved giving them up, but I happily keep marching on. It felt like a bit of an accomplishment actually, but more so, I was just so grateful and humbled to reach this milestone.

Among the many highlights of the summer, turning the big 5-0 was one and taking Leah horseback riding almost weekly was another. Then there’s this one—the one this blog post is based on: my aunt’s wedding. Ultimately, the highlight is the incredible love story. So, let me just go back to the beginning. Or at least back to when we first started noticing something was happening.

Auntie Marguerite is one of the most jovial people I know. Good cheer, laughter and smiling are her specialty. It kind of runs in the family. This is my mom’s younger sister and they are so similar in this way. Anyway, to see her typically large smile increase, gave us a clue something was up.

She shared with us that she had started walking on a regular basis. She actually found a walking partner; a nice man from her church. Over the course of about eight months, every time we saw her, there was something that indicated that maybe this male walking partner was becoming more than just a friend. After a visit with her, I’d say to my sister, “Did you see that ear to ear grin?” After another visit, Elanna would say, “Did you see her nails were done?” And of course she was looking extremely fit. The frequency and distance of their walks was increasing.

One day, Aunty M confessed that she had developed some romantic feelings for this lovely Frenchman, Jean-Marc (who she called John). She was concerned though, that the feelings weren’t mutual. She said that she was making her hand available for holding but he wasn’t noticing. She said he talked a lot about his late wife, which she really liked, but thought maybe he wasn’t ready yet.

Then, one day I got the long awaited call from my ecstatic Aunty Marguerite announcing that John had professed his love for her. She said, what he said was absolutely beautiful and took her by complete surprise. I think it was about the one year mark from when they started their walking partnership.

The details of course belong to them, so I’m going to skip right over to their wedding, which happened just a couple of weeks ago. It was an emotional occasion to say the least. Aunty Marguerite, who recently turned seventy, had been a widow for forty years. And Jean-Marc, seventy five, had been a widower for ten. I think these two probably never imagined that God had such extravagant plans for them at this stage of life. It’s a love story, I’m sure the Lord is using, to prove how He doesn’t stop moving mountains in our lives. Time doesn’t matter to Him. It doesn’t stop Him from renewing hope in a defeated soul, or providing a friend, husband or wife, or answering a prayer we’ve given up on, or shaping us into the glorious likeness of His Son.

Anyway, I don’t think I’ve missed my mom as much as I did the week of my aunt’s wedding. It’s funny because at the same time, I was writing chapter eleven in my next book, which is all about my mom. I was just telling how my mom would light up when she talked about how excited she got on payday to buy her brothers and sister new clothing; how she loved dressing her little sister up and doing her hair. Aunty M still talks about how my mom (eleven years older than her) doted on her and spoiled her and how it blessed her beyond measure.

The week leading up to the wedding, Elanna and I helped our aunt find the perfect white fascinator to wear and someone to do her hair. It wasn’t until after, I thought, wow, that’s what Mom would have done … she’d be so happy we helped take care of those details in particular.

Elanna and I went to Aunty M’s house early in the morning the day of the wedding. We wanted to be there when hairstylist and friend, Jackie arrived to make some introductions. Aunty Marguerite was as giddy as a school girl, she was on cloud nine … just so excited! I was sad in a way because my mom would have been there, having so much fun; but I was also as happy as I’ve ever been for anyone.

Our aunt and Jackie hit it off right away, like we knew they would. Auntie M proceeded to tell Jackie, through the permanent smile on her face, all about her wonderful fiance. I don’t think she could have stopped talking if she wanted to and Jackie happily listened as she blowdried and brushed, curled and sprayed.

Earlier, my aunt asked her daughter Colleen to fix up a bouquet of not-so-fresh flowers on her dining room table. Colleen and her sister-in-law, Shalin, were busy doing their daughter’s hair and Colleen told her mom that those flowers didn’t really matter right then and she’d do it later. So when I had a minute, I took the vase of flowers into the kitchen to clean them up and this is where everything kind of stopped for one very profound moment. Alone there, freshening up a week old bouquet of flowers, I could hear Auntie M say, “Have I told you about my husband who passed away?” Just typing this sentence opens up the flood gates.

I can’t stop thinking about this moment. It was almost like God was saying to me, “Nadine, you will never stop telling people about your husband who passed away either, and that’s okay. You will go on about Mike and love him for the rest of your life. At the same time, you will be on cloud nine for a long time about marrying Chris and you will continue to fall deeper and deeper in love with him.”

So, needless to say, the waterworks were just getting started and we hadn’t even gotten to the ceremony yet.

The ceremony was lovely and I pretty much held it together until the reception. We sat at, what I called, the “cool” table, with Auntie Vicki and cousins Shelley and Larry. We had lots of fun and I just kept thinking how brave Shelley was and how she must still be in shock having recently lost her husband Bruce so suddenly. At a celebration like this, I’m sure she’d feel so lost there without him. (I wrote about Bruce’s passing in my last post, Wednesdays With Leah)

After dinner and before the speeches, when I went over to the equally as “cool” table beside us (where auntie Gail, uncle Larry and cousins Julie and Chrissy were sitting) to say hello, Uncle Larry jokingly said to me (I think he was joking), “Our table took a vote and we nominate you to speak at the open mic on our behalf.” This started a little back and forth about why the other was the better choice to get up there and say something.

I really wish I could have rose to the occasion but I’m just not good on the spot. Plus, I was so emotional, had I taken that microphone, and opened my mouth, a bunch of blubbering would have come out and that wouldn’t have been “cool” at all.

Had I had more time to think about it and been able to keep my cool, I probably would have simply started by introducing us – the children of aunty Marguerite’s siblings (uncle Larry, and the two with the front row view in heaven – my mom and uncle Eugene). Without conferring with my cousins, I know I could have said, that to each of us, Auntie M simply represents LOVE. How even though, she raised four children of her own, and then had a bunch of grandchildren and great grandchildren and has many friends and family, when she is with any of us, we receive her undivided attention and buckets of love. She genuinely cares deeply for each of us and our children and grandchildren. It’s a selfless love that comes from above, that spreads beyond any limits. Her role modelling of love has been exquisite!

She loves God first, then the person right in front of her (regardless of who it is), and all the people around her. And now, Jean-Marc, this very blessed Frenchman, moves up the queue and gets the best view of this incredible love in action. The more I get to know him, the more I realize, it’s well deserved and Auntie M is also very blessed to get a similar, very special, exquisite love in return. And we all wish them many wonderful years of marital bliss, good health and happiness!

So, it’s taken me about a week to write this and we’re that much closer to fall. School starts tomorrow and that’s when I go back to work. I partly chose this career as an Education Assistant because of the awesome holidays, but as hard as it is to let go of the freedom of summer, I’m ready for routine and I’m ready to see those beautiful faces at Blue Mountain Elementary.

What I hope to take with me to work and everywhere I go, is more love – this exquisite love from above that spreads beyond limits – and greater expectations in God. Remembering that anything is possible with Him!

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory… Ephesians 3:20

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A huge thank you to Cindy from Once Upon a Tea Leaf (tea and gift shop) in Maple Ridge for allowing us to take all the white fascinators in stock to Auntie M’s house so she could select the perfect one. And a huge thank you to Jackie for fitting this beautiful bride in on short notice and doing a fantastic job on her hair.

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Aunty M and Uncle Larry coming down the isle.                                                                 Picture borrowed from cousin Chrissy.

All us girls gathered around Aunty and Jackie

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Me, Leah and Auntie M having lots of fun trying on fascinators a few days before the wedding.

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Back to turning the big 5-0, when Mike turned 50, he called it the big 5-OLD, you can read about it (and laugh about it) in his blog post Hawaii 5-Old from January 20/12. One of my most read blog posts!

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