My little Anna has a new favorite practice. She likes to pat the floor next to where she is sitting to indicate she would like you to sit by her. She will keep her face completely serious as she slaps the floor repeatedly until someone answers her patting call to sit with her. I am often too lazy to bring my body all the way down on the kitchen floor to sit, but her siblings are much more willing. I get a big kick out of when her older brothers of fifteen and eighteen snuggle up next to her on the floor to enjoy an ice cream cone together or to have a little chat about our cows and chickens. She just adores farm animals. If she wants me to sit with her she is quite smart and will point to the couch instead of the floor.
She seems to say with the pitter-patter of her small hand: Come sit with me and let’s enjoy life together. I feel happy to be with you. You are special to me and I am happy just to be with you.
As a mother I am called so often to sit. Sitting to nurse. Sitting to keep a child asleep. Sitting to comfort a sick or crying child. Sitting to lighten the load of a heavy child. Sitting to be close to more than one child. Sitting to read books with children. I sit, and then I sit some more. At times I am nothing but relieved to sit all the while fulfilling my mothering duties, other times I am just biting at the opportunity to flee.
I knew a woman who knew how to sit well. She sat as well as a stoic on a tree stump fasting. She sat at her station like a loyal soldier. It was a leather chair gifted to her from one of her sixteen children after her last chair grew too worn. She had maybe three chairs during the twenty years I knew her. It was a throne that even after she died last spring, I still do not feel worthy to sit upon. It had held such grace and wisdom, gentle patience, and then pain followed by unshakable peace. I still feel her presence just looking at that chair.
She welcomed people as unassumingly as a small child like Anna. I had met her when I was seventeen and was a bit of a mess. I had started dating her son which I imagine would have worried someone like herself. I most likely had fragments of pink Manic Panic in my hair and wore clothes that went against her modest sensibilities, though never did she indicate anything but acceptance and kindness toward me. I can still remember when I heard through other family members that she liked me. It was settled. I was welcome.
The truth is, she liked everyone and welcomed them. Her house was always full of those that wanted to be near her. She knew what most people only say: People matter more than things. People should love their neighbors, not gossip about them. People should be there for one another. Being present is important.
Her life was not glamorous. Her life was riddled with bodily pains that she barely mentioned and sacrifices innumerable. Her life was often messy and loud, not because of her doing but because of those that loved her and needed her. I do not think I could have handled her life, and I am sure she heard that from others more times than she needed to, but she did not focus on that sort of thing.
Though her chair is now empty and people are becoming more comfortable filling it, she has left much to ponder. I feel I can now talk to her anytime. I know what she would say to me. I know what she would say to you. I know what she said was true.
Come, sit with me. You are enough.
In Honor of Carol Pearson
Carol said love is like a nuclear bomb. Thank you, Carol, for igniting it and sharing it with me. We will always miss you but you have left us with so much love and the bomb is spreading its splendid plume. Bernie just had twins!