Time Well Spent

16 02 2014

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I am listening to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. It is an old record that I have which I have been able to lately listen to again thanks to Timberley’s Uncle Butch giving Sam an old portable phonograph. I guess that I never listened to any of my vinyl albums while Anna was alive. But I suspect she would have liked this album. The music is beautiful (if you like Russian Romantic era music–I have friends who don’t). Anna liked beautiful things. The music is big. It has a sense of adventure in it. But mostly she would have liked it because it was about Scheherazade. Anna knew the story of Scheherazade in the form of a book called Shadow Spinner. That book tells the story of Shahrazad, a young girl who creates new stories every morning. It is the story of a strong girl who becomes the heroine through her bravery and creativity. Anna probably never thought of herself as particularly brave, but she loved stories of heroines.

As I was listening to Rimsky-Korsakov, I thought I would peek into Anna’s room (our guest room where we keep many of Anna’s old things–Anna never lived in this house) and see if I could find the Shahrazad book. I couldn’t remember the title or what it looked like, so I was having to search through all of the titles on the shelf–and there are many. I finally saw Shadow Spinner written in a mildly Arabic-looking script and knew that I had it. I opened the well-worn pages. Anna was certainly not hard on books, but she read books many, many times. Hearing the story long ago of Shahrazad (Timberley and the kids used to read stories out loud) made me think of Anna. When I hear the music of Scheherazade now I am reminded of Anna.

Anna has been on our minds much lately. Today perhaps more so because of an unrelated milestone. We are celebrating Timberley’s 50th birthday today. As I searched Anna’s bookcase looking for that book, I had to look through many titles. Mixed into the shelf were some books that belong to Timberley about homeschooling and such. I saw the Children’s Herodotus (what is homeschool without reading Herodotus?). I began thinking of the long hours that Timberley spent on teaching the children. The books on this shelf represented an enormous investment that she made in the lives of our kids.

With our loss of Anna at such a young age, one might be tempted to say that Timberley had wasted those hours in school, preparing Anna for a future that never came to pass. Of course that is not true. I have heard of and know parents who have lost children at a point in life where the child is ready to move into adulthood and sprout their own wings. They are graduating from high school or college, or just getting married. The questions about what might have been, I’m sure, are devastating and would continue long in the parents’ minds. But that is not so much the case with Anna. Anna was meant to be a child. Not really that. It was almost as if she were already fully grown, or fully mature as a nine-year old. She was aware of the physical change that would begin to take place in her body as a teen-ager and she was terrified of it. She liked her physical age, but her mind had already far surpassed it. (Anna would be approaching her 15th birthday were she still with us. I cannot imagine her at that age. I have tried. I failed.)

So what did Timberley do in school with Anna? She prepared her to be a fully mature nine-year old girl. She built into her a godly character. She encouraged a love of reading and a love of God that created a thirst for God’s word and a passionate desire to be with the Lord. She now has her greatest desire.

So, Timberley, as you look back at your first fifty years and remember the things you have done and where you invested your life, I want you to remember the call that God placed on you to make disciples of your children. I want you to know that you prepared one of them very well, and she graduated at the top of her class. You have done well.


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6 responses

16 02 2014
Tamera Joy Duncan

Thank you for sharing about your precious Anna. One of the most comforting things spoken by a friend after our infant son’s passing was that my time carrying him and caring for him (six weeks) was not wasted. Seven years later, I see more and more how God has used our son’s life. How six weeks was long enough to make an impact in many hearts and lives.🙂

17 02 2014
Isti Wulandari

Dear Mr. Tod…
saya Isti Wulandari, anak nya Pak Bejo penjual soto di depan rumah dinas anda di kota Semarang. kami ingin bisa berkomonikasi dengan kalian via email…
kami sekeluarga terkesan dan rindu kalian semua, salam dari kami di Semarang, Indonesia
thanks, We love you all

17 02 2014
Shawn C. Madden

Very nice dad.

17 02 2014
Shawn C. Madden

Tod and Timberly, as I read the post above I was struck by the “truth” of the reality of Anna’s real job – that is she was to be a child. Wow! She was given a gift – to always be young, to always be faithful – because the belief of a child is so pure with fewer doubts, and she was always full of “wonder.” I read a book just after the loss of our Michael called Lay Up Your Treasures about a family that lost three of their four children in one car accident and as the mother was packing each of her children’s rooms she realized that these three children were not pack rats – they did not really keep or store anything – almost as if they knew their time was temporary. I have come to the realization that my boys were here to ground both Shawn and I, to bond us together, make us hold tight – and to influence others by our reaction to those two children. One Sunday, while Shawn was at Texas A&M our plumbing broke and we had to call a plumber – the cost was truly a concern – Sunday hours and overtime etc. Shawn called a Marine buddy to come and help with the water and mud in the front yard, Michael had just had surgery and was on a mattress in the front room – he was in a cast from the waist down. As the men worked and I took care of Mike and newborn Nathan – the Marine buddy said “why are you both happy – these kids, the plumbing, the cost – how can you be happy? We replied that God provides two choices – be happy and follow him or be angry – the second choice did not appeal to either of us. A special child can have an effect without speaking a word. Anna will always with those who knew her and now because of the blog – those who didn’t – thank you for sharing her with me and others – I need to be reminded that pure faith and joy are important – even as we face challenges. As Christians we are suppose to Lay Up Your Treasures in Heaven where they can be properly protected by God Matthew 6.19. My Michael and Nathan or in Heaven with your Anna. Glory be to God in the highest!
Love and Blessings to you both,
Cathy Madden

17 02 2014
joann Hennessy

Beautiful story

17 02 2014
toddborger

Cathy,
Jerry Sitser in his book on grief said something to the effect that all loss produces grief and loss-induced grief has a sameness to it. It’s only the particulars of the loss that vary. Your experience with loss I am sure is helping you deal with another kind of loss now. Know that God is still working a plan in and through you.

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