Monday, 12 September 2011

a letter to Julia

On this day, 26 years ago, I said goodbye to a woman that I really didn't know very well, but her very existence has been extremely important to my life today.  She was Julia Ruth Adkins - my mother-in-law.  I knew her for 9 months.  She was my mother-in-law for only 12 days of those 9 months.  In that short time I discovered how remarkable she was.  This is my letter to her...

Dear Julia - Mom,

It kind of seems weird calling you "Mom".  The time that you were technically my mom was so very short and I think we only saw each other for 2 of those days.  It seems like so long ago that we stood beside your bed and released you into God's presence.  Those days were a surreal time for me - being a new bride of 12 days, it isn't the usual way to spend your first days in a new family.

Twenty six years have now passed, and your fingerprints are still all over this family.  I remember spending time with you when I worked at the hospital the summer before our wedding.  I would take my coffee breaks and lunch hours and find you in your hospital bed, huge smile on your face, even though I knew you  were in so much pain.  I remember talking about wedding plans - showing you pictures of the dresses I was making for the bridesmaids, working on the thousands of crepe paper flowers for the trellace, discussing the details of my wedding day.  I don't think I realized then how little time you had left.  I honestly believed that you would get better.  But now, those minutes are so treasured.

I remember you telling me during one of those visits, that you were so happy that Daniel had someone to look after him.  You told me that you believed that God had chosen me especially for him.  What an incredible gift you gave me in your affirmation of that.  Now that I am a mother of a son, I fully understand the depth of that confidence.  Thank you, first of all for believing it and secondly - for telling me.

I want to thank you for Daniel.  The results of your loving care are evident in him every day.  He is just like you.  He loves very deeply.  He shows affection without hesitation.  He is an amazing father to Alyssa and Riley.  He prays without ceasing.  He's a man of integrity.  He has hundreds of friends all over the world.  He is funny and goofy and people love to be around him.  He lives everyday to the fullest.  He is more concerned about what God thinks than what people do.  He is the greatest gift I have ever received.

I wish you could meet Alyssa and Riley.  Alyssa carries your name.  I know that you would have spent countless hours with them if God had chosen to let you stay with us.  They have been told many stories of  "Grandma Julia".    They have often said that they wished that they knew you in person.  One day they will.

Our family has changed so much in the past few years.  Both Alyssa and Riley are now married to two wonderful spouses that I too believe are God's chosen for them.  I had my 50th birthday a couple of months ago - the same age that you were when your cancer was found.  This has given me a small glimpse into how you might have felt in those last days.  All I can think of is that you were just too young.  I know that I am still very young and have many more adventures that I would like to experience...grandbabies, retirement, growing old gracefully...  I'm sure those things came into your mind when you were faced with the end of your life here on earth.  I'm sorry that you had to die.  I miss you.  I would have liked to have you live down the street and spend Christmases with you and Dad.

You live on in my family...the family that you gave to me.  For that I will be always grateful.

"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.  Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."  PROVERBS 31:29-31



just sayin' said...

This is beautiful. You are a wonderful woman,Sheila!!!!!

cm said...

Oh Sheila... beautifully, beautifully written. You remind me so much of Aunt Julia in so many ways. To me, she made the greatest impact on my life as I grew up... if I had a daughter I wanted to name her "Julia"; God gave me a step-daughter named Julie! When I was 6 years old, I would sell little stones from the street to her and she would pay a penny for each of them. Through all the years of growing up, I felt the happiest and the safest at the Atkins' home. When I was a teenager, and needing praise, unconditional love and care, it was her I would turn to. I felt truly loved by her.

Sheila, thank you for writing this tribute to Aunt Julia. xoxox

Grandma K said...

Thanks for honest, real writing. Thanks for honouring a woman that I know only by name but I feel as though you introduced me to a woman with whom I would like to chat.

Someday I shall......