A Promise Made
I woke up this morning and had absolutely no idea of what to write about. Therefore I read my morning verse, the news, watched a few movie trailers, surfed FaceBook, then opened my Bible app to read Proverbs once again. Still struggling, I began to focus in on several of the verses within Proverbs that speak about the consumption of wine. Oddly enough, since I choose not to drink, I didn’t understand WHY my mind was focusing on verses that spoke about the over consumption of alcohol. As with all of my posts, I didn’t question it I just got my butt out of bed, at 4:28 A.M on a Saturday I might add, and got to work writing this post. Honestly, I can’t wait to see what comes out!
If you read Proverbs there are quite a few verses about over indulging on wine or beer. As I sit in my office, a room full of things that remind me of my Grandparents, I can’t help but think back to a moment in my life when I unknowingly made a decision that would forever shape my life. It was October of 1985 and Gram had just passed away. I remember it was a cool but sunny autumn day. As my aunt, uncle, Mom, Dad and other family members gathered in her old farm house to discuss funeral arrangements, grieve and share stories about her life, I remember eating the last of the stale chocolate chip cookies that sat untouched in her refrigerator. As I circled the yard on the old Craftsman garden tractor, I watched the grass fly as I recalled all the wonderful and not so wonderful moments (like the time my cousin Gary ran me over on my cousin Craig’s go kart) spent with Gram on her farm.
As the youngest Messerschmidt, the farm was a magical place for me. There was always something to do. Haymows to explore, creeks to wade through and trees to climb. There were also buildings full of old junk, antiques and hidden treasures. The farm hadn’t been in operation for many years, so instead of cows standing in stalls, you would find everything from my uncle’s old Harley Davidson “popper” to a worn out set of wooden skis. The milk house no longer produced anything to drink, rather it produced creations of metal directly from my cousin Craig’s creative and sometimes diabolical mind. Behind the barn where cows used to graze, now rested modified cars with the roofs cut off, and axels welded together. Welding the rear axel allowed both wheels to turn at once. This allowed my cousin to leave epic “burnouts” on the road in front of Gram’s house that lasted years after her passing. It also allowed for these old abandoned cars to be used off road. Some of my favorite memories were hanging out with my cousin, riding on the back of the car (he cut the roofs off and replaced back seats with a truck style flatbed) and ripping up the lane as we made our way to the creek.
Gram was a very good sport. I have to believe that my cousins and I drove her crazy but regardless, I think she enjoyed having us around. I was lucky to have Gram. She lived just down the road from the house my parents built on what used to be part of the family farm, my cousins lived across the road. Because we all had dirt bikes, bicycles and numerous other fun creations that allowed us to go faster than a kid should, much of our summer was spent riding up and down the sleepy country road with one of the four dogs of my childhood chasing behind. We all had so much freedom, even the dogs!
When night would come, often times my cousin (when I was younger) and I would stay overnight at Gram’s house. It was during these sleepovers that Gram’s patience would be tested. I remember one night, Craig decided that it would be a good idea to place old Sears and JcPenny catalogues on a chair, tape a paper target to them and practice our sharp shooting skills. As you can imagine, this idea didn’t go over very well with Gram. After several heated exchanges between my older cousin and Gram, Craig and I stood in the living room with his BB gun, firing away. I laugh at this now but looking back I can only imagine what was going through Gram’s mind that night.
One of my favorite parts about the sleep over was when Gram tucked me into bed. In the corner of the dining room where we would spend time together playing “kings on the corner”, bingo, eating her incredible homemade molasses cookies and lemon meringue pies, sat an old daybed. Around 9:30 when the house got quiet, Gram and I would convert the old daybed into a bed made for a king. We would remove all the cushions and replace them with several down filled pillows. Next we would steal the old oak chairs that surrounded her massive round oak table and place them next to the daybed. Once in place, she would ensure my safety by placing the massive cushions from the daybed onto the chairs. It was awesome, absolutely awesome! Since the daybed’s mattress was down filled, I was literally laying on a bed of feathers! Because the old farm house cooled down significantly at night, it was common that Gram would place multiple quilts over me to keep me warm. There would be so many of them that I could feel the weight of them as the surrounded me. It was very comforting and made me feel safe and secure. By 10:30, right after the evening news, it was lights out. Like clockwork, at 7:15 the next morning we would wake up and eat Frosted Flakes and toast covered with butter. (just make sure you take the butter from the end of the stick though because Gram would “loose it” if you scrapped it off the top. Just ask my cousin Gary!)
Daytime at Gram’s consisted of walks down the road, swatting mosquitos, baking pies, picking raspberries, pulling weeds from the garden, playing games and looking for 4 leaf clovers in her back yard behind the outhouse under a huge tree.
It was during our walks that I learned the way to a woman’s heart is through flowers, or in Gram’s case, cow slips” and Johnny Jump Ups.
Though the ditches of the marsh between our house and hers were full of cow slips, she would act so excited each time I would arrive to her house with a handful of them to place on the old oak table where she would spend many hours writing in her diary and playing solitaire.
I share these memories with you because I wanted to paint you a picture of the love, respect and gratitude that I have towards her. Without this background, I’m not sure that the decision I made that day, as a 14 year old on a garden tractor, would make much sense.
To be honest, I’m not sure where I heard it. In fact, I’m not even sure why I thought that it mattered in the first place. But on that autumn day in October 1985, I decide to honor Gram’s memory by doing something that, as rumor had it, she had requested of the older grandkids as they became old enough to drive. To my knowledge, no one in my family had a drinking problem but for whatever reason, Gram did not drink. Since I knew that sobriety was important to her, I made a decision that day to honor her memory by not drinking alcohol.
What’s strange to me is that looking back, I don’t even know why I made this decision. If she had lived until my 16th birthday, I’m not even sure that she would have made this request of me in the first place. Looking back today, over 30 years later, my decision not to drink has impacted my life in many ways. Some good and some, well, not so good.
I honestly believe that most people accept someone who drinks to excess more than they can accept someone who chooses not to drink at all. I have no issues with drinking, You be you and I’ll be me. But for whatever reason, not drinking has caused issues in friendships, my career, and even my failed marriage. There have been people that have rumored me to be a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. There have been friend’s that don’t invite me to parties and women that didn’t “swipe right”, simply because I don’t drink.
What is most interesting to me about my decision that day is that, though I’ll never know for sure, choosing not to drink as a 14 year old, may have saved me from a life of alcohol abuse and drugs. Proverbs 23:20 says, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat.” Though this verse mentions wine, what it is really referring to is gluttony. Gluttony, in simple terms, is the act over doing it, having too much of a good thing. And while I am not an alcoholic, there are certainly areas of my life where I am gluttonous, especially when it comes to baked goods. Cookies, cakes, brownies, pie and ice cream, you name it, I love it! Other than tiramisu, (or as I call it, “terriblesu”) that stuff is awful! Coffee in a cake? Seriously, who thought up such a stupid idea!?! Anyway, I love sweets so much that if there were a local support group for sugar anonymous, I would be the president.
Many days I wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t made the decision to avoid alcohol. Since I’ve never had more than a taste, I don’t feel as though I am missing out on anything. But when I compare it to my addiction to sweets, something I have tried to kick for years, there is no doubt in my mind that had I began enjoying a drink now and then, today I would be fighting as hard to change that habit as I am today trying to remove my addiction to sugar. Since I’m not even sure where I heard the story in the first place, it’s entirely possible that my decision that day was the result of a new angel’s whisper as she was looking out for her grandson.
When reading Proverbs, it is so easy to skip past the parts that seem not to apply to you or are difficult to understand. That’s why it is so important to not just read Proverbs but also seek their hidden meaning and as my wisdom coach told me, LIVE THEM!
I hope that you have a great day!
PS- As I reflect on this post, I am really grateful that I didn’t decide to honor her memory by not cursing. (Something else she greatly disliked) If I had, some of my best adjectives, nouns and verbs would be off limits! (I really dodged a bullet there!)