A Woman Named Grace

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.  -William Morris

“It’s time to let it go.” 

We were cleaning out the garage a few years ago—a long-overdue chore, apparent by the fact that making our way into the car each morning had begun to resemble a track team running hurdles. And not successfully. 

The double stroller had served us well. We had needed functional, and it was: cushy, reclining seats that allowed our weary ones to doze; an oversized basket underneath to accommodate both a diaper bag and the ever-critical snack stash; massive wheels with treads deep enough to navigate both beaches and springtime slush; cup holders.

But we had come to accept it: our youngest two were well past the point of being buckled in, much to our sentimental dismay, and, reluctantly, we recognized we’d entered a different phase of life. So down to the curb went the stroller to await a new home.

This week, my 11-year-old daughter’s classmate lost her father. He suffered a massive heart attack while gardening. He was just 46. After the funeral, hundreds showed up at the house to support his family: a mother and her three young children moving out of one chapter and into another, both unimaginable just days before.

But it was time to let him go. 

And somehow, they got that. Instead of black, they donned vivid summertime colors. Pop music blared. Caterers served mounds of food. Friends celebrated the wonderful guy they all agreed they’d been fortunate to know.  

There in the yard at sunset, I ran into an older woman I’ve long admired. I’d met her back in the preschool days, when she and her husband, well into their 60s at the time, were met with the challenge of raising their grandson. In the past couple years, they have, in one of the most authentic displays of “love in action” I have ever observed, welcomed two more grandchildren into their care. One of the pigtailed toddlers zipped by as the woman and I chatted; her husband quickly followed, slowing only long enough to adjust his hearing aid. 

We both grinned at the scene. “How’s it going?” I asked her. “They’re wonderful,” she said of the grandkids. “I mean, it’s been hard.” She paused and confided, “I didn’t expect to start over again at this point in my life. I thought we’d be taking it easy. I want to do things. I want to see Italy.” 

Then, returning to her characteristically shining optimism, she smiled and said, “But I just have to thank you for getting rid of that double stroller a while back. You can’t imagine how often it’s come in handy.”

In that moment, amidst the grieving family and this selfless grandmother, I recognized the guest named Grace.

Human nature opposes acceptance. We’ve managed to evolve by willfully resisting perceived obstacles and forging self-directed paths. I’d rather do things my way, thank you very much. I’ll take that unanticipated road when I’m good and ready. 

But weeks like this one remind me that sustained resistance to “the plan” is like a garage with too much stuff; it hinders forward momentum. Acceptance often hurts. But it’s what I must at least aim for. I just hope I can pull it off with the kind of grace others display.  

Acceptance is a familiar concept to pro-lifers. We tend to preach it quite a bit, in fact. Here’s to being capable of gracefully embracing it ourselves, when the time comes—keeping it in our house, so to speak, as it is both useful and beautiful. 

Enjoy your weekend.

Myrna Maloney Flynn