by Theresa (VanderPutten) Byrne
Yesterday is gone; Tomorrow may never come; Today is a gift; that is why we call it “The Present.”
Kneeling in front of my little Grandma VanderPutten’s casket, this past week, a flood of good memories fill my mind…
Grandma told us tales of adventure about her childhood. I especially remember the story of the time in the war when her family found refuge in a tiny chicken coop. They lived there for a time, surviving on animal feed that they had picked the mouse droppings out of.
I recollect the times Grandma and I would go out early with our buckets and harvest blueberries. While we worked she told me tales of being a young girl and when she fell in love with my Grandpa.
When I was younger I recall Grandma as a tough woman not prone to emotions or softness. As time passed she mellowed and I remember her often getting teary at another person’s sufferings.
Grandpa and Grandma were blessed with many years together and with thirteen children. Nineteen years ago Grandpa passed away, after a long battle with cancer. Part of Grandma died that day but this feisty little Dutch woman lived on for many years.
In recent years Grandma got to were she loved to visit with the grandchildren and talk of the past and of God.
I remember it was her that got us started saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet every day.
In 2013 when I was struggling with mono, she would sit and cry with me over my sufferings but also because she was experiencing the onset of dementia…
She told me how scary it felt not to remember things and although she was offering it up, she felt very alone. She suffered much and was blessed much.
I felt a sense of peace kneeling there at her coffin. On a a bouquet of white roses read “Death is not the last sleep, but the final awakening”.
Life is short. We only have our loved ones here for a little while.
I know if I keep this thought ever present in my mind, I would be a much better wife, mother and friend.
It makes me think of a dear friend who always takes time for his nieces….not because they are the prettiest or smartest, simply because they are family and that makes them special to him.
He has inspired me and at the same time made me aware of what I would like to be to my nieces and nephews.
It seems the days fly by and I am so wrapped up in my own immediate duties, that often I don’t even take the time to let my nieces and nephews know I love them and that they are special.
With these thoughts in mind, I planned a TEA PARTY!!
My three nieces were cordially invited, by my daughter Sienna, to a cousin’s Tea Party. We told them to wear their prettiest frocks and to come ready to be served by “Butler Brendan” (my six-year-old son).
It just so happened that my husband was home that day. Being of the same mind… to make lasting memories…. and also being the great guy he is, he dug out his own suit, tie and church shoes! Voila! We had “Butler Devin!”
As the girls started to arrive, our butlers escorted them from their carriages (dusty vans), addressing them as, “Princess Emma, Princess Grace and Princess Agnes.”
A couple of the girls looked rather shy but delighted! It was really fun to see the moms’ surprised faces at seeing hubby, dressed up, welcoming the girls to, “Rose Wood Cottage.” 😀
Butlers Devin and Brendan poured tea and served the princesses scones, muffins, sandwiches and plenty of fresh berries. The girls were thrilled and made quite a pretty picture against our white lace tablecloth with a sprinkling of fresh rose petals.
Once our ‘plump princesses’ had their fill of crumpets and tea, they gathered round for story time with “Grammy Rosalie” (a dear and special friend). I cleared and got the table ready for cookie decorating!
We had made each princess a platter of sugar cookies. They each had their own butter cream frosting and sprinkles. We set to decorating… One or two did more eating than decorating, but we all had fun!
To end the outing we put on fun music and ‘Butler Brendan’ retired his tux and headed up the dancing.
The tired but happy princesses were taken home, with platters of cookies for their families and good memories dancing in their heads.
Doing this for the girls made me happy and also makes me want to invest more time in making lasting memories.
I had never heard of someone, at the closing of life, wish they had made more money or spent more time at the office. What I have heard is regrets… sorrow for not spending more time with God and with the people they love.
As the days fly by, I try to remember…..
Yesterday is gone; Tomorrow may never come; Today is a gift, that is why we call it ‘The Present.’
NOW is where memories start!
“Let us run to Mary, and as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence.” – St. Francis de Sales
Happy Feast of the Assumption!
Linda LeClair said:
This is just so precious! Thank you for this!
I love your story. Family and special memories are such an important part of our lives! May God bless us all!!
Very wonderful, very nice, very special, a lovely lovely time!!!!!! God bless!
May your grandparents rest in peace in Our Lord and Our Lady too especially on this beautiful feast!!!
Elizabeth VanderPutten said:
All so so true. Every day is a blessing and should be lived as an Alleluia to our dear Lord. The tea party was so precious to all of our little girls and will be a cherished memory… for us mothers as well. It made such a profound impression on me. I actually get teary-eyed looking at pictures and thinking back on it. Devin and Theresa are amazing spouses, parents and friends who live their Faith simply yet passionately. ~ You are both so dear to my heart. Thank you both for everything you do for our family and all the love you give us. God love you.
Theresa Byrne said:
To have family who live near you and share your Faith is one of the most important blessings anyone can have. God bless you and yours.
Theresa Byrne said:
I agree! We started our married life in Maine but once the kids came along we wanted to be back, close to good family and Faith!
Wonderful memories made…Thank you for the inspiration you and Devin are to us.
colleen strand said:
How very lovely! You are right about the memories you are making. What a good Auntie you are. I have only sons and one time a very long time ago, one of my sons who was a pre teen, decided to give me a surprise tea party. We had no family near, but we did belong to a large Catholic Homeschooling group. He invited about half a doz. little girls and planned the whole thing and served it. He knew how I longed for a daughter to do these things with and it is one of my fondest memories. Those little girls will remember your tea party with warm thoughts in the years to come.
That was so thoughtful of your son, Colleen! Thank you for sharing! ❤️
Theresa Byrne said:
It sounds like you have some great boys, Colleen!