By today I had thought that Paul was going to be okay if I went home. But he’s not. He’s a mess. He still needs someone to ‘spot’ for him.
He’s as grumpy as a teenager when it comes to the itches. The girls are – for the want of a better word – scratchy; and squabbling all the time. I spend most of my time as peacemaker because Paul has either been unduly abrupt with them or ignores the squabbling altogether until it escalates as though he hopes things will go away.
Jasmine spoke pitifully for all of us when she said very quietly into what became a sea of silence for what felt like hours afterwards, “I want Mummy”.
The girls and Paul have taken to slapping at the ‘spottos’ (Jazz’s term) – but every now and then I find someone looking at me with guilt and hand over spots … and then they slap. I figure everyone’s afraid that I’ll tape the oven mitts onto them.
I got some good reading in this afternoon while they were all asleep. One of Lisa and my favourite books – a very well thumbed edition. Emily is nearly old enough for it now.
Paul appeared, tired and rumpled after sleeping and headed straight for the pills and potions. He nodded to the book.
“Lisa loved that book.”
“I know. She wanted Emily to read it next year.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“When she was eleven. Same for Jasmine.”
“That’s how old we were when we bought it – our first brand new book.”
“You’ve got one too?” he smiled.
“No. We pooled our pocket money and bought this one together.” I smiled back, remembering.
Paul looked like he didn’t want to say what he was going to say next, and I knew already what it was.
“Don’t, Paul. We’d already agreed that it should stay here for Emily and Jasmine.”
“But … What if you …? You know … ”
“Paul there is nothing and no-one on the horizon at the moment and even if there were, I’m sure that they can let cousins read a book when they’re eleven if it comes to that. They’d be at least eight years older than them to start with if anything ever came to pass and hopefully more than that.”
“Eleven, hey … ” he nodded. “Anything else – rites of passage I need to know about now?”
“I don’t know. I suppose I’d better think about it. Some of them will need to stay secret womens’ business – and you won’t want to know; but you’re right … there might be other things. You should think about whether you’ll want my help with anything in particular or at particular times too – if you don’t remarry or anything”
“I should be okay. What would I want help with?”
“I don’t know. Some men are comfortable talking to their daughters about their period and sex and boyfriends and stuff and some go green at the gills, give the girl a pack of pads and run then stand at the door with a shotgun if anything male walks near; others like the girls to get both male and female perspective on the stuff (not the period – the other stuff). Things like dressing nicely, but appropriately; doing hair and make-up – but friends may do that; formal dresses, weddings … . The girls will decide lots with you as the time comes when they get older. Did you and Lisa have a plan about that kind of stuff?”
“Some of it. But you’re right, I’ll have to re-think it and get back to you. Some people would suggest that I get Karen to do things because she’s a mother – but I think you’re a better fit. You get the girls. Besides, she’s got boys anyway. If she had daughters, maybe I’d look at things differently and talk to both of you, but you and Lisa were close. You will think about what Lisa would have said and share stories about Lisa if I need you to do any of that stuff. I think the girls would like that too.”
Lord, reading your word today you say that we should be quick to listen and slow to anger. That’s really hard to do with a house full of whining sick people, whinging about being itchy and biting at each other, making complaints about each other’s words and actions. Especially when all of us are at our most vulnerable and missing someone for whom we are still grieving and would have normally been doing this job. Thanks for helping me keep my temper most of the time, but please forgive my attitude at times – for I too found myself became a whining complainer and was poor tempered for most of the morning.
Please help me to be humble so that I can live and serve in a manner that is righteous in accordance with the gospel by which I have been saved. Help me to remember this lesson tomorrow and to work towards change so that I will be someone who does not become caught up in whinging and ill temper when surrounded by it and that in this change I may humble myself to the gospel and so be blessed.