Gifts from Elizabeth 2
“Each of us carries in his heart an album of lovely pictures of the past: memories of event that brought gladness to us. I want you now to open this album and recall as many of these events as you can.” Anthony de Mello, “Exercise 18: The Joyful Mysteries of your Life,” p. 71, Sadhana, A Way to God, Christian Exercises in Eastern Form, Image 1978.
I am spending another morning feeling the presence of my husband’s mother, Elizabeth. She and Robert’s dad taught me how to love.
I look down as I write. I am wearing Elizabeth’s engagement ring and wedding band. They are bonded together. When Elizabeth started showing signs of Alzheimer’s, Bob gave her rings to my husband, Robert. He almost immediately forgot where he put it; in fact, we had decided that they were lost.
Then three years ago in Elizabeth’s 104th year, when Robert was looking for something in an old briefcase in his office, he found the rings. We talked about what do to with them, break down the diamonds and give to our grandchildren. Finally, he decided just to keep them as they are. Then the summer of Elizabeth’s 106th year, at Trio’s Restaurant on the patio, Robert got on his knee and asked if we could become engaged. He then gave me his mother’s beautiful rings that he had had sized for me at Sissy’s Log Cabin. I did not get an engagement ring when we decided to get married. So, now in the 49th year of our marriage, I now wear these beautiful rings that were worn for almost that amount of time by Elizabeth.
Did I remember to tell you that Bob and Elizabeth were married the same day, the same year as my parents?
So what does all this have to do with spiritual direction? I think it is important to remember those who mentored and loved us. De Mello tells us to keep these times in an album in our imagination to return to repeatedly. I think we can still feel that love even long after they have died. It is with us or beside us or in us. I do not know now exactly. These are the people who give us a little glimpse of the love of God. Often wearing a piece of their jewelry or having something that was precious to them nearby helps us connect to them. We remember and give thanks for them.