As Thanksgiving drew near and the numbers coming for dinner kept increasing, my sister-in-law told me she was planning to use paper plates, even though her mother never approved of using paper plates for special dinners. I laughed as I heard this, because I, too, hear my mother-in-law's voice in my heart whenever I prepare for a family dinner. As I set the table, I still think of how much she loved a beautiful table. She has been gone now for a year, but her voice lives on in all of our hearts.
It is like this with all the loved ones who have been an important part of our lives. I am the only one left of my original family of six, yet I carry them in my heart every day of my life, and their voices are part of me. I hear my grandfather teasing my cousin and me and making us laugh. My grandmother's rules of "ladylike" behavior still linger with me. My father's strong voice reassured me through thunder storms and the various fears of childhood. My mother's gentle voice has guided me through my own years of mothering. And, I will always hear my sister's laughter as we helped each other through tough times with humor and caring. There are so many times when I want to call her up to share something funny, and then sadly realize that she is gone.
At lunch yesterday with an old school chum, I listened as he talked about the loving influences of his father and grandfather. In perfect German, he repeated a phrase his grandfather had often used as they sat at the dinner table -- this phrase lives on in his heart.
While I am fortunate that most of the voices I hear are encouraging and loving, there are some who are not so fortunate. The voices they hear may be critical or cruel -- these "not-so-good" voices also linger with us. It is important to remember as we go through life that our words carry tremendous power over our loved ones. We should strive to be sure the voices our children and grandchildren hear will be uplifting and loving.
I have a strong faith that assures me I will one day be reunited with those I have loved and lost, but in the meantime, these voices in my heart keep them close, perhaps even more so during the holidays when we miss them so much. As we gathered around the table on Thanksgiving I could hear my mother-in-law's laughter echoing through our conversations. I could picture her sitting there making sure everything was passed around the table promptly and making sure everyone had second helpings. And, even as I missed her, I felt her spirit with us on this special day. I only wish we could have had her delicious stuffing -- no one will ever make stuffing as good as Mom's.