Sunday, June 12, 2011

Luscious Legacy - Father's Day Tribute

I wrote this years ago. Just this week, I was asked to share a favorite childhood memory to introduce myself to a Rest Ministries summer study group. Of course, this came immediately to mind. I love berries, both for their flavor (not to mention their vibrant colors and fruity fragrances) and for the family legacy and memories that burst into the present when I bite into their juiciness.


“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation:
seed-bearing plants and trees on the land
that bear fruit with seed in it,
according to their various kinds.’
And it was so… And God saw that it was good.”
Genesis 1:11-12

One hot, summer day, when I was a little girl, my daddy introduced me to the delicious hunt for strawberries. We were visiting Grandma and Grandpa Reuman, my mother’s parents, in Attica, New York. Their large home—hand built by Grandpa—overlooked a picturesque valley. I doubt that Dad and I talked much out there in the field behind the house, but just being with him and having him all to myself was a real treat. I couldn’t resist popping a few of the reddest and juiciest sun-warmed treasures into my mouth right there in the field.

Suddenly, the muted, country quiet was broken by an alarm sounding from Attica State Prison, far off in the valley, alerting the community that a prisoner had escaped. The harsh sound scared me to death, and I just knew that the escapee would come get me! Dad tried to allay my fears, explaining that the occasional escapee was usually a “trustee,” a prisoner who was trusted enough to work outside the wall. Such prisoners were typically due to get out of prison soon, but the security of what was familiar was more appealing than freedom, so they’d head downtown to a bar and wait to be captured, successfully extending their tenure. My fears were soothed and we enjoyed our berries with Grandma’s homemade shortcake.

Strawberries have always been a vital part of my summers, even when I did not have easy access to a strawberry field. During the summer, our neighborhood was frequented several times a week by a truck laden with berries. I got just as excited when I heard this truck coming as I did for the ice cream truck (well, almost). These luscious, locally grown berries sold for the tempting price of four quarts for a dollar. Mom would make shortcake and we’d top it all off with a generous spritz of Reddi-Wip. Dad registered his appreciation with groans of delight and lots of lip-smacking.

Before moving to Anderson, my husband and I lived in Northern Michigan where I went berry picking around the 4th of July. When we returned to Indiana, I couldn’t wait for July to come around, only to discover that I was a month late! You can bet I didn’t make that mistake twice.When my parents retired and moved to Anderson to be near my family, Dad and I took up pickin’ once again. For several years, we went to a local fruit and vegetable farm, oftentimes accompanied by my kids, Matt and Beth, who were as young as I was when I picked my first berry. Later, Dad put in a big garden next to his condo, a generous portion of it dedicated to strawberries.

Bethie and Grandpa loved to trek out to the strawberry patch where Beth would load up her t- shirt with berries and bring them in, thrilled with her payload. It was a special time between little Beth and Grandpa, reminiscent of my own special times with my strawberry-loving papa. I plan to take my own grandkids pickin’ someday!

Exodus 20:5-6 tells us that God promises his love “to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Just think: when we receive God’s love and respond with obedience, we pass God’s love on to the next one thousand generations! Is “a thousand generations” simply a metaphor to emphasize the abundance and availability of God’s love? I don’t know. But if the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Indiana can impact the ecosystem in China, then I certainly think God’s love has its own eternal “butterfly effect.”

Just as we receive a legacy from our Heavenly Father, our own family legacies are also passed on. Enjoying strawberries together is a love-filled legacy, a crimson thread in the enduring weaving that is my family. Such a simple act of grace! Every Father’s Day—appropriately celebrated during strawberry season—I fondly remember my strawberry-loving father, Frank Elmore. Thanks for the legacy, Dad!

No comments: