And then I heard her shrieks of glee and looked up from my reverie to catch a glimpse of her, those wild blonde curls bouncing and blowing in the wind as she appeared, skipping around a rich green, grassy corner toward me. In that instant her face absolutely radiated happiness and belonging - her beautiful smile lighting up every corner of her, and every corner of me, too. I looked at her, paused a moment, and turned and walked back to the party. I just couldn't be the one to make her leave, this time.
So I sent her father.
He sauntered off and returned minutes later with his daughter in his arms. I looked into Bean's eyes, searching to find out how this abrupt end to the fun time with friends made her feel. She wasn't grinning anymore, but as she lowered her head to her father's shoulder and relaxed into the safety and comfort of his strong embrace, I knew she felt as joyful as she had just minutes before, perhaps more so. And peaceful. She had the peace of knowing she was with her Daddy, who would safely and gently carry her tired little body home.
Al's mother, Carrie Bell, for whom our Bean is named, passed away this morning. She was 90 years old. I know that although she'd grown frail and feeble and worn down, her Father found her with a happy, full heart and swept her tired body up in his strong arms to carry her home, just as her precious eighth child did her twenty-something-eth grandchild less than twelve hours before. I know her face is peaceful, her soul full of joy to be snug in the arms of her Father, whom she has loved and trusted and believed in her whole life long.
Praise God and thank You for Grandma Carrie Bell. Thank you for her strength, which came from You, for her love and faith and joy and wisdom born of sitting at Your feet all through her long and sometimes difficult life. A wonderful mother and wife, she gave her children and husband and extended family and community every ounce of herself, and will forever be one of the standards I'll hold myself to as I continue to care for her son and grandchildren, of whom she was so proud. Hold her tightly, God, and please be with her family, those who will go on for a while without her and miss her every day, but in whom she still lives on because of her love for You, and for them. Amen.