As I went down to the river (No 6)
If you missed it here is where Mr W asked me on a [I didnt realize it was a date] date.
We spent the afternoon kayaking down the river. Sometimes paddling through the shallow sections but mostly we were carried downstream by the lazy current. The sky was clear, the sun was out and it was warm. The rare trifecta of Spring Time in Michigan.
Our adventure lasted over 3 hours. We talked the entire time. Josh told me about his childhood. How much of a hand full he was (my words). His word choice was more four lettered than mine. He told me when he reached 5th grade, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The news broke his world. He began acting out even more, enraged that his mother was sick. His parents sent him to Spring Hill summer camp. It was there that he found Jesus and experienced the power of His Love. He was changed. His parents noticed how different their boy is. His mom promised to send him back to camp every summer if he wanted. He even went back to be a counselor. He told me about his high school years and the group of friends who accepted him as their own. How he watched crappy daytime television and shows like The OC with his mom when she battled round 2 of cancer. He would host OC watching parties and his mom would make desserts. It was during these nights where the entire female population of Midland High would show up to watch the show at his house. [What a stud]. In Mr W's words It was a one two punch get Josh a lady friend combo. He talked about her sense of humor. She gave him space to make mistakes but showed up quickly to console him. He learned his passion for snow skiing, boating and water skiing from her. She would say life is a bowl of cherries and I want to eat every last one.
Josh paused his story telling as we approached where the river had churned out a cove in it's bank. He pulled our kayaks in where the current could no longer tow us downstream. I did not want him to say out loud what I knew in my heart he would tell me next. I had only met his father and sister. In his childhood home, there were books kept on the coffee table with her name as the author. Those walls held pictures of this woman I would never get to meet. His mother had lost her battle with cancer. She died his freshman year of college.
He continued to tell me about his time in school but I don't remember all of those details. What I recall hearing was a boy who was changed by the love of Christ. A boy who deeply loves his mother. A man who tightly embraces family. Man o man do I admire how much he loves his family. And that is what I thought about through the rest of kayaking, driving back to his aunt's and stopping for milkshakes on the way home.
Mr W has given me permission to tell his story. Which, is a big deal because everyone knows how much he loves to tell stories. But he let me have this one. It is one I've been wanting to write since that day back in June of 2009. I realize how precious it has been to get to know my mother-in-law through all of these stories. The stories told to me by her son Mr. W, her daughter, her husband and the entire population of Midland who know she is pretty special. Someone, whom the Lord has taken from us but still remains so alive in people's stories makes her an inspiring woman indeed.
For my mother-in-law, Darlene.
I am so jealous of the time Josh and Jessica had you all to themselves.