On the other end of the phone, I could barely contain my laughter. And then it got better.
“I explained to your niece that there are bad people in the world. I told her that those bad people read the obituaries and then, knowing that the whole family will be out of the house at the funeral, they break in.” Even she was giggling a bit by now.
“Of course,” she went on, “if I’m dead, who cares if they’ve broken into my house.”
I was doubled over by this time, holding my side because the laughter came so hard it actually hurt.
This whole ridiculous conversation was born out of a wonderful gesture that was supposed to be thrilling for my parents. Instead, it sent my mother to her awkward, uncomfortable place.
Several months ago, the county that my parents live in put out a call requesting nominations for outstanding volunteerism. My sister, heeding the call and believing that my parents would be flattered and overjoyed by the simple nomination, stepped up and shared my parents’ story.
They recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and have been living in the same home, where they raised four children, for the last 47 years. They have been involved in their church, in their schools, in 4-H and the Boy Scouts, in the town historical society, and so on and so on. They have become entrenched in their community because it is their home. It is where they raised their family, where their grandchildren still come to visit, where their friends live and where they have watched neighbors come and go. It is where they watched each of their children get married and where some of their grandchildren were even baptized. It is where they established solid roots for their family. Being an active member in this community came naturally for them.
In recent years, my mom has helped out at the toddler playgroup at her church. While visiting my parents one weekend, we ran into the woman who runs the program.
“Oh my goodness,” she said to me, “your mother is such a blessing. I don’t know how this program would run without her. We are so lucky to have her….” she continued gushing while I smiled and my mother grimaced, obviously desperate to get away.
“I don’t know what she’s talking about,” my mother mumbled as we walked away. “I don’t do anything other than show up and catch a ball when the kids throw it my way.” I laughed at her and how quick she was to dismiss the compliment. Working in non-profit, I know how valuable a reliable volunteer can be. I didn’t attempt to convince my mother of that.
Fast forward to last night. My parents, along with a handful of other people, were recognized and awarded for their outstanding commitment to their community. There was a write-up in the newspaper. I’m fairly certain my mother spent the entire ceremony worrying that someone was breaking into her house. The rest of us spent some time feeling incredibly blessed and especially proud.