Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Thursday, August 9, 2018


Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter: 

Jim and Jennie Kiefer are our most regular visitors, at least our most regular from a distance. Like San Francisco. They show up about once a year. Of course, since Jennie has family in Terre Haute…

The visit before this last one, they had their thirtyish daughter, Emily, with them. We all went out to eat and then retreated to our house for dessert. Emily was overwhelmed. She loves ice cream, and she had never seen an assortment like the one in our extra freezer, the one for the ice cream.

This visit, Jennie told us, “Every once in a while, Emily goes around the house shaking her head and saying, ‘Helen’s McFarland’s ice cream!’”

Helen is a grandma. She knows what young adults need—a chance to recapture the sense of childhood wonder that the world tries to steamroll out of us. That’s what grandmas are for.

[Below, Mike and Yancy and Kate and Clara are not their real names.]

When Mike told his mother that he was gay, she could not deal with it. But his grandma did. She never wavered in support of her grandson. That’s what grandmas are for. When Mike had children, he knew they had to have a grandma, and even though his mother was not willing, he knew his grandma was. He used to sneak them into the small town where his mother and grandmother lived so his sons could see their great-grandma. That’s what grandmas are for, to provide a sneaky place.

[It took a while, but Mike’s mother got over it. They are now great friends.]

When Yancy got divorced, he was confused. He went back to Mississippi to visit “Mammie.” He knew a talk with her would get him back onto track. That’s what grandmas are for, to be an anchor in the storm.

Kate is more like Memaw on “Young Sheldon” than like the traditional milk and cookies grandma. She is an excellent grandma, though, and recently while staying with Clara when her parents had to be away for a couple of days, Kate told Clara that she would make her cookies and provide milk with them. Clara looked astonished. “Don’t you want milk and cookies?” Kathy asked. “Oh, yes, but it just seems so unlikely,” Clara replied. That’s what grandmas are for—to astonish.

When Reds 3rd baseman Eugenio [pronounced A-You-HAY-Knee-Oh, but his nickname on the team is Geno] Suarez got injured early this season, they called up Alex Blandino from the minor leagues to replace him. He had a slow start but began to hit as he got more major league experience. Although a slightly-build middle-infielder type, he even hit a home run. The ball was caught in the stands by a young man who returned it to Alex. After all, the ball of your first home run is quite special. He was asked what he would do with it. “Give it to my grandma,” he said. “She’s always been my biggest fan.” That’s what grandmas are for—to support.

Old people need to clear stuff out and get rid of it. We have been going though old greeting cards—60 years worth of anniversary and birthday and Mothers Day and Fathers Day and… you-name-it cards. It’s time to look at them one more time and then put them in the recycling bin. I did that, with all of them, except for the ones from Grandma. I need to hang onto them a little longer. That’s what grandmas are for.

John Robert McFarland

BONUS QUOTE: “God becomes the most present when we become the most human.” Henri Nouwen

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