I recently asked my ‘getting to know her better and better since Facebook’ friend, Susan, if she could be the very first person I interview for my new category–Plainly Remarkable People.
Here’s how that went . . .
Me: What’s a typical day in the life of Susan?
Susan: Nearly every morning at seven, Muffy wakes me up. I sit up and pat her and sing to her. I smile at myself in the mirror, and at God and at my new wrinkles and how much I like the grey in my hair, and start waking people up. I eat right away, because of low blood sugar and check my computer mail while I’m eating breakfast. I’m very food oriented, so I scan the refrigerator to see what I have on hand to cook with that day. We have a lovely Christian woman coming in tutoring Mel, which makes it my job to clean the house before 9:30. This is difficult. I realize how dirty my house is. Then the day really begins. I hug a sleepy girl, and smile at a grouchy boy. Somewhere between this time I am praying. The afternoon goes swiftly. Evenings are spent being an encouragement to my family.
Susan: One of the best days I’ve ever had in my entire life happened two weekends ago. I drove all the way to New Liskeard with my guys. We met up with a couple of friends from church. We laughed and talked all the way. I saw God’s hand in this adventure. I wasn’t tired, and no mishaps. I never got lost. The rain stopped when we went for a walk at the Provincial Park in Englehart. Mostly, I got to be with two very happy fellas and their friends. It was about being exactly where the Lord wanted me to be at the exact time. I will never forget that day.
Me: What is the most difficult thing in your life now?
Susan: Oh boy, it’s not a stretch to say the depression that my son is going through is huge for me to deal with. He’s wrestling with God and I see the darkness ensuing. It is like I’m standing in this gap and the burden to pray is mine. I look at my son in the morning and I ask, “Are you happy, yet?”
He says, “Do I look happy?” I ply him with Jelly bellies and smoothies. We walk and talk. I drive him to doctor’s appointments and work–hoping that, one day, I’ll look back on this time and say, “Hey, look at how the Lord got us through this,” and everything will be fine.
It’s a struggle. I am not quite convinced that the fault lies squarely on heredity or the lack of trying. Sometimes I see Satan’s hand in this and I get confused. What is spiritual? What is chemical? What is circumstance? I get depressed at times but have little time to wallow in it.
When someone you love is depressed and talking about dying and how hateful life is, well where do you go with that? On my knees, I suppose. I pray and pray. This too shall pass; the sun is just beyond the horizon waiting to rise.
Me: How does dealing with issues like Tourette’s affect your outlook on life?
Susan: Tourette’s is an ugly word. It makes someone do and say things that are so involuntary. It looks like demon possession at times. But it’s not. When we first suspected Mel of having Tourette’s, she was only seven. I put my head in the sand until she was about nine. Then we had her diagnosed. The diagnosis makes it real. I believe God allowed this to come about for a reason. It brought me out of my place of comfort and taught me acceptance. It causes me to pray and cry and care more. I think the best thing, though, is that it’s taught me that there is only one ‘normal,’ and that’s a setting on the drier. I’ve learned to look at others who have disabilities with more compassion. I always say to God, “You know I can’t handle this, don’t you?” And he always tells me that I can and that I will.
Me: Tell us about your faith in God.
Susan: Truthfully, he’s my best friend. The trials in my life seem only to draw me closer to him. I struggle with church–you know, the ‘institution.’ I go for the message but can hear it via the internet and sit comfortably on my little chair and sip on my hot water. I struggle with wearing appropriate clothing to church to please others. I sing and forget the one I’m singing to and look around at everyone else. I have C.A.D.D.: Church Attention Deficit Disorder. I smile and shake hands because we’re told to greet others around us. Do we all really care about each other? Church used to be the Pregnancy Care Centre; Meals on Wheels. Our friends and family were with us and we cared. Now, it’s just strangers shaking hands, worried about catching germs, careful not to share too much. But, God–he’s my rock and my strength.
Me: What was it like for you growing up?
Susan: The best part of growing up was where I grew up, on 100 acres of land so remote that the only sounds we heard were birds singing, wind rustling and the occasional wolf howling. I knew every inch of the property. When I was seven, I was off on my own, picking wild berries and visiting my favourite secret haunts. We had an apple orchard and my mom had this huge garden. The water we drank came out of a well and it was pristine. We had no running water and a wood stove to heat the house. God had His hand on me even then. When I first learned how to read (around six, I think), my dad brought home a box of donated books. I chose two that I still own. One was Little Pilgrims Progress and the other a book of children’s prayers and verses. As I got older I was very shy and quiet. Despite that I had eight brothers and sisters I felt alone, but I stopped feeling that way years ago when I realized I never really was–that Jesus was (and still is) with me.
Me: What’s it like being in a second marriage and having mixed relationships?
Susan: The Bible say’s that God hates divorce; I hate it, too. It’s a brokenness. I covet those marriages that have lasted forever. Where the children in the home have had the same two parents raise them up. My older kids have a fear of marriage and having children. In a perfect world we don’t make mistakes and we wait for God to bring us our perfect mate. I’m thinking that, no matter who you’re married to, there will always be struggle. I think it’s best to stay single and own a really loyal dog–isn’t that in the Bible somewhere?
Me: What are a few of your favourite things?
Susan: Brown paper packages tied up with string. Walking the dog to the pond. One-on-one time with my kids. Answers to prayers. Apple pie and chocolate (not necessarily together, but sometimes). A clean home–which is rare. Friends–I don’t have many, but those I have I treasure. I know that one day we will all be in Heaven together.
Me: Do you have any pet peeves?
Susan: Don’t get me started. The bathroom left in a mess. Running out of money in the grocery store and the cashier looking at me with daggers while we play Let’s Make a Deal. People constantly asking me where things are. Mel’s friends coming over and listening to rap–trying to understand the words– then having to Google the lyrics. Being sound asleep and someone knocking on my door asking me if I’m asleep. Peanut cans that have the warning “May contain nuts” on them. Googling a Grandma’s Never Fail – Best Ever in the whole wide world recipe, only to have it fail. Should I go on?
Me: If you could leave us with one word of wisdom, what would it be?
Thank you soooooo much, Susan. My life is much richer because you’re in it.