Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
……..bring sunshine into every room, pass out smiles like peppermints.
What tricks you must have played, having an identical twin sister, so alike that even your father had to tickle you both and watch for Paula’s dimple to say, “Oh, that one’s Ali!”
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs
……..twice each Sunday, filling two pews at the Gereformeerde Kerk.
What was it like, the first time you met Dirk, the tall, square-jawed man you would marry? Did you talk about his trip to Berlin for the ’37 World Fair, where he caught the scent of war?
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his.
……..By December 1944, food rations were useless. What kind of wedding would this be?
You never talked much, Oma, about the war, and though you did joke about a pea soup wedding feast so much was left unsaid, the details of survival and resistance lost mostly to time or hopelessly muddled in the minds of your grandchildren, mixed in with all the World War II novels we’ve read, though maybe a few facts remain in old letters.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture
……..from Zaandam to Newcastle to Nelson.
A decade later, there you are in faded photos, behind an adorable row of stocky children gazing solemnly at the camera in suspenders and wool while you’re in bright, flowery dresses, beaming, the wide horizons of a new country in the background.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving.
……..Peel potatoes. Buy land. Put down roots.
What was it like in the 60s and 70s, Oma, as your 10 children grew up and moved out, as the business got busier along with the never-ending committee work and building projects of new churches and Christian schools, and the phone in the kitchen never stopped ringing?
Enter his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
……..Play one hundred games of UNO with your grandchildren.
After our six-person family moved upstairs from you when I was six, I’d race to your living room every evening, where we would watch Wheel of Fortune and do the daily Jumble in the paper, usually solving just one, sometimes two, of the four scrambled words between us. Once we spent weeks on an Anne of Green Gables puzzle, a huge photo of Megan Follows’ smiling face, placing the free poster underneath, and even after my sister said that was cheating, we were unrepentant.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever
……..even as gaps form in your memory like dropped puzzle pieces, lost underfoot.
Two years ago, you came to my daughter’s Grade 8 graduation, waving to the crowd when the principal introduced you in the same school your 10 children, seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren attended. How many graduations had you already been to, if not in that gym, then in ones smelling just like it? Small wonder, then, if the years fell into each other like dominoes, so that, when your eyes scanned the row of graduates, you picked out my daughter (three generations of curly hair later) and whispered, “I think that’s Angela.”
His faithfulness continues through all generations
……..to the newest member, your first great-great-grandchild, baptized last week.
In your one hundredth year of life, Oma, COVID placed a chokehold on the world. To keep you safe, we could not visit like we used to. When I was allowed to see you, outside, I slid over closer than six feet when the nurse wasn’t looking, illegally pulling my mask down to smile, to show my face, because too much time had passed, you didn’t recognize me – you thought I was a stranger and I felt like one, not able to hug or even sit beside you.
Did you hear me at your window, Oma, when I climbed a ladder to say good-bye through the screen? Could you hear me say, “I love you”?
Could you hear our voices raised, at the graveside, when we sang – in person and over Zoom – your favourite song?
Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
Like pulling a row of stitches tight at the end, we sang of God’s faithfulness, woven throughout your life.
It was one of the hymns you never forgot.