Mike Cope's blog

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

A dad's reflections. Matt's been blessed with some nice honors. (To fast forward past parental bragging, go to next paragraph.) This weekend he received the ACU "honor man" award, and the Lemoine Lewis Alpha Chi award (for a 4.0 average). But much of his character was molded by a frail younger sister who never spoke a full sentence. In his first years, he often waited for his turn while we cared for Megan. He dealt with the embarrassment of being at restaurants when she was loud--to say nothing of her propensity for throwing food that she didn't want. And yet in her life and death, he experienced what we did: a profound sense of the meaning of the kingdom. As we count down to the wedding (one month and one day), of all the things I could say about my future daughter-in-law, this is perhaps the most insightful: Megan would have absolutely loved her! In Christopher De Vinck's incredible book The Power of the Powerless, he writes about his mentally-handicapped brother, Oliver. He tells about two girls he brought home with him. (Trust me, had Megan lived longer, Jenna would have been just like the second girl in the story.) When I was in my early twenties I met a girl and I fell in love. After a few months I brought her home for dinner to meet my family. After the introductions, the small talk, my mother went to the kitchen to check the meal, and I asked the girl, "Would you like to see Oliver?" for I had, of course, told her about my brother. "No," she answered. She did not want to see him. It was as if she slapped me in the face, yet I just said something polite and walked to the dining room. Soon after, I met Roe, Rosemary, a dark-haired, dark-eyed, lovely girl. She asked me the names of my brothers and sisters. She bought me a copy of The Little Prince. She loved children. I thought she was wonderful. I brought her home after a few months to meet my family. The introductions. The small talk. We ate dinner; then it was time for me to feed Oliver. I walked into the kitchen, reached for the red bowl and the egg and the cereal and the milk and the banana and prepared Oliver's meal. Then, I remember, I sheepishly asked Roe if she'd like to come upstairs and see Oliver. "Sure," she said, and up the stairs we went. I sat at Oliver's bedside as Roe stood and watched over my shoulder. I gave him his first spoonful, his second. "Can I do that?" Roe asked. "Can I do that?" she asked with ease, with freedom, with compassion, so I gave her the bowl, and she fed Oliver one spoonful at a time. The power of the powerless. Which girl would you marry? Today Roe and I have three children. The post is already long today. So why quit now? . . . This story makes me really thankful today, on my 26th anniversary, for the love of my life. When I first saw her in the fall of 1976, I melted before that beautiful face, those Caribbean-blue eyes, the Farrah Fawcett hair, and a smile that made you glad you're alive just to see it. But who knows what lurks behind such a beautiful exterior? In this case, time has proven that behind all that beauty is a woman of great strength, great courage, and great faith. I just came across something I wrote from Africa a year or two ago. (Stop reading here if your tolerance for middle-schoolish romance prose is low today.) I sit here at an isolated balcony table at Gately of Jinja, surrounded by African beauty: Lake Victoria, surging trees, secretary birds, full-bloomed flowers, an azure sky, and colorful bushes. Plus, there is an easy wind off the lake. The moment is nearly perfect, as I prepare for the East Africa Men's Retreat. But not quite perfect. For I'm nine time zones away from Diane. Humor is only half funny if she isn't there to laugh. Beauty is a bit unformed if she isn't around to enjoy it. Her blue eyes are the prism through which all beauty and joy come fully alive for me. Tomorrow, I promise to return to my normal mindless observations about world issues like guacamole and little league baseball.

3 Comments:

  • Mike-

    Long time no see, no speak, etc. Long enough that you may not even remember a former college student named Chris Smith who used to discuss life with you and Max Chance over pizza. Ran across your blog and it conjured up a memory of my sister (bound to make someone a great wife someday herself) when she was little and I taught her Sunday school class. We were talking about friendship and influences, good friends and bad friends; looking back my goody-two-shoes 15 year old theology wasn't as Christlike as it should have been. Hers was though. I remember asking the kids in class what criteria they seek after in friends. I was looking for answers like "they are nice" or "they don't say bad words" and so on. She raised her hand and presented a very simple criteria that she carries with her to this day. "I'm friends with people who need friends." I don't know why your praises made me think of that, but it did and I had to share. Hope all is well with you. God bless.

    -Chris

    By Blogger chrismith, at 5/12/2004 02:08:00 PM  

  • I wanted to say how much I appreciated this post. Actually, I don't have the right words to say it, but I'm glad you shared it.

    By Blogger Q, at 5/19/2004 11:30:00 AM  

  • Chris - Good to hear from you. Thanks for sharing that memory with your spiritually precocious sister!

    By Blogger Mike, at 5/19/2004 04:36:00 PM  

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