Sandra, a fellow teacher and friend of mine lost her mom last year to a heart attack. It was a sudden tragedy, one for which the family was not prepared...but then we never are.
Jeanie was an artist, whose life in a small college town included helping the students in her clay studio. Every year they made dozens of clay projects--dishes, dolls, canisters, baskets, and ceramic statues. These were then sold at a yearly auction to benefit the college.
Yesterday, Claye and I took a trip to Kansas to purchase some of the glazes. Our trip up there and back took all day, but the weather was pleasant. We saw a tidal wave of dark clouds approaching from the east, and were soon overtaken by gentle rains.
We met Sandra's father, the builder of the shop, an industrious man, who was kind enough to show us around and fit us into his work schedule for the day. The shop had been sold, but everything in it still needed to be moved into storage or bought by people like us.
We could tell how much he had loved her by the pride in his voice and the obvious labor he had invested. There was a kiln room, spinning area, office, bathroom, painting table, and shelves everywhere. They were all full.
He looked serious. I thought, "Maybe I should offer more. Even if some of the glazes are ruined, the ones that work will be worth it, and I can manage."
Sometimes a thank-you isn't enough.
I was overcome with gratitude.
Here was a man with cause to be bitter, to be self-absorbed in sorrow, loathe to part with shreds of memories. But he smiled. He carried on. Courageous, that's what he was, and pleasant on a stormy, rainy day.
On the way home, I took a picture of this little tree, just standing, feet planted into the green, bathed in daylight...a daylight that finally comes after the dark cloud has passed. It reminded me of the gracious gentleman we had just left, standing in the door of his little shop with misty, new sunbeams on his bowed head.