Tomorrow, Sidney and I get on an airplane and leave my husband and 3 other children behind. We will land in Memphis and live at St. Judes for the summer.
This trip was sudden, and I spent the past 2 days searching for something to leave to behind. Instructions? Grocery lists? Is there nothing more?
Are there words meaningful enough to replace my hands and feet, words to sustain them while Sidney and I are gone?
I almost gave up. Then I remembered words my husband has spoken. Over the years, when Sidney has lacked motivation, been irresponsible, shown unkindness to a sibling or let his focus wander where it should not go, Sid has counseled our eldest, “Remember who you are, Sidney.”
So I revive my wise husband’s words because I believe they are truth and truth will sustain my family through this separation.
“My husband, my children, remember who you are.”
Sidney, Lincoln, Rachel and Prairie — all four of you belong to the Heavenly Father, just as your earthly father and mother do.
Remember who you came from and how you have been raised. God has given you a legacy and with that comes responsibility as well as blessings. This cancer has made that more clear to Sidney than ever before. Often, in the nights following his brain surgery, nurses would do neuro-checks, asking him “What is your name and your date of birth?” This became a source of pride and strength for Sidney who says, “I would always answer ‘My name is Sidney Louis Gaskins III’ and” – with his fist thumping his chest over his heart — “I always felt pride because I was named after my Grandpa who was a great man and my dad who is an awesome man. And I hope to be the kind of men they are.”
My children, you are the great-grandchildren of Grandma Louise who lived humbly, courageously and always with kindness. You are the grandchildren of Grandpa Louis who lived life “wide open” as one friend said and whose driving desire was to love and serve. You are descended from Grandma Sandy who is a rock — she will not be moved in any storm. You have another grandmother — a small, gentle woman who overcame much and was bold enough to chase away a drunken male neighbor with a brick. That is a good story for another day.
You never met him, but your Great-Grandpa Adam refused to step foot inside a church for many years, though he knew large chunks of the Bible by heart. She died before you were born, but your Great-Grandma Dollie lived the last 20 years of her life in a nursing home, most of that bedridden and blind, but praising Jesus and singing every single day.
You are the children of Sid, a man who believes it is his privilege to work hard for you, provide for you, love you. Who always sees the blessings, loves to tell a story, loves to make you laugh, even if he has to work twice as hard to do it with bad puns.
You are my children, and I have tried to be quick to apologize when I’m wrong and to tell you the truth, without sugar-coating, even when it hurts or is uncomfortable for me or you.
You come from a long line of flawed people, faithful people, happy people — it is in your blood. You have been loved a whole lot. Remember these things. It will sustain you.
Your father and I do not look forward to this separation of our family. We dread it terribly. But with God’s grace and a determination to remember who we are separately as God’s own and who we are together, we can come through this loving each other more than we did before.
My sweet children — be kind, be patient and quick to apologize. Laugh. When you lose your way or are uncertain, look to each other to remind yourselves who you are. Help each other to be your best.
And remind your father of his promise to me — to take care to eat well and to NOT BUY SPAGHETTIOS.
Or any variation there of.
Because I am reminding him WHO he is — Sid, you are the husband of Tina and she expects you to take care of yourself while she is away.