Monday, June 22, 2009

Grateful Hearts

On Sunday we attended the dedication of a Habitat for Humanity home. The house had been donated and moved to a new location in May of 2007. Through the process of renewal, I had taken photographs, documenting the changes. On Friday, I'd made a trip to the house, hoping to find the house completely ready for its new owner.

I was fortunate. Not only did my camera find the home finished, but I was able to meet and photograph the young woman who would be the new owner. She was cleaning up a small amount of debris left in the driveway area before she attended to the closing that afternoon. I introduced myself to Gloria and explained my interest in the place. I am the sister of the original owner.

Gloria's gratitude was so obvious, as I spoke with her on Friday. She smiled from ear to ear as she told me how blessed she was to have been chosen for the renewed house. On Sunday, as the

forman of the work crew spoke, he reinforced for me that the right person had been chosen. He explained that Gloria was the most involved worker he'd ever seen. He said that they'd make a big mess, and leave for the day. When he arrived the next morning, Gloria had cleaned everything up, leaving the work area 'spic and span'. This told me that she'd take care of her little home.

When a soloist at the dedication service began to sing, "Thank You Lord", Gloria sobbed her gratitude. She later spoke of how good her God had been to bless her with her goal in owning her own home someday. She was so sincere, I had no doubt. As I listened to her speaking through her tears, my own heart swelled with gratitude that the Lord had blessed us all with her gift, and I, too found myself weeping with joy.

A Special Man

When I was dating Mike, he was fun and funny, polite and courteous. He was neatly kept and hard working. What I also noticed was, he loved animals and children. He hasn't changed a bit in any of those things during the thirteen years we've been married.

Over the years, I think he's proved himself many times over. Not only is he a husband who aims to please his wife, he cares for my mother and sees to her needs for small maintenance repairs, yardwork, and has even taken her grocery shopping at times. This can be an exercise in patience because she needs help reading labels and as she ages, is growing slower. Mike helps in whatever way he can.

He is as concerned for my children as he is his own and is as loving to my grandchildren as he can be. He's met the challenges of step-fatherhood with love and with care. My children say he's the best second Dad they could ask for. As for the grandchildren, he's believes that adults need to get down on their level when playing or speaking to them, so that we aren't so 'overwhelming'. In fact, I have a photo of him at the EH Fire Dept. Christmas party where he was playing the role of Santa. There he was, down on his hands and knees, playing with a baby who was crawling on the floor! As the kids grow, he teaches them in fun ways, believing that they don't listen when it's a serious droning that sounds like school. They sit on his lap and he shows them pictures in the National Geographic magazine, they talk about them, and even 3 year olds learn new vocabulary words such as 'nocturnal', 'marsupial' and ' reptiles.' One day last summer, Becca sat on his lap, and he was playing with her long hair. He divided her hair into 3 sections, and then asked me, "How do you start a braid? I used to know..." I told him to place one piece over the top, and then bring the other side over. Without another cue, he went forward, creating a braid...not as neat as a Grandma's, but definitely a good tight braid! He dances with a child's feet on top of his own, busting the moves as only he can, making them burst into giggles! He bakes cookies with them. They all have been born since Mike and I were dating, and though they are not connected by blood lines, he is truly their "Papa."

My Mom used to kiddingly say, "Find me an older version of Mike" and before my girls married, they would say, "Find me a younger version!" I honestly believe that he's one of a kind, and that I am extremely blessed to be able to call him my best friend, my husband and my beloved.