This very morning (12-18-17) I got a note from our older son, Jim. It speaks for itself and says lovely things. His wife is Val.

“Well,  Val is out delivering last minute presents to various people….. when she’s here I watch TV or stay on the computer but when she’s not here in the house I can’t even enjoy a cup of tea by myself. Even the dogs mope around when she’s away somewhere. Oh well.  
God knew what he was doing when he looked at Adam and decided he needed someone else. 

Anyhoo, she just came home…. YIPPEE. “

I wrote him back just now. It’s difficult to express how happy I am for them. So many poor souls have never been so blessed.
That’s a great feeling! His note triggered a memory that fairly often rises to my mind unbidden. I mention it in the note.
          I’m so glad you experience it and I’m glad you mention it to me. Being alone has a few advantages but they’re few and they’re minuscule in size compared with the massive benefits of feeling wanted, contented, loved, looked after by each other.
          Your mother wasn’t the best cook in the world but she made the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten. Occasionally I’d enjoy watching her doing it when I pretended I wasn’t. Now and then she’d look round and I pretended I was looking elsewhere and she’d ask me to get her something [salt or paper napkin or such] and then she’d go back to the big pan and work away. When it was all done and the big plate had loads on it she’d take paper napkins and dab off some of the oil. “This is ready,” she’d say, and wheel her chair over to the table with it. Nice and hot and plenty of it. I’d tuck in and maybe most of the time I would immediately make a big deal out of the first bite. It was always genuine. I don’t know how she did it but she got it right every time. Once in a while I’d eat a couple of pieces and say nothing and I’d see her glancing at me. Finally she’d say something like, “Too dry? Did I fry it too much?” And I’d put my fork down and while still chewing I’d say something in this neighbor-hood,”Ethel you’re not going to believe me but I’ve eaten chicken all over the world, in houses and pot-luck church dinners and restaurants and I’ve never tasted anything nearly as good as this!” The great thing was that it was true! She’d try to hide her pleasure but there it was. No smile, mind you, but a satisfied look on her face that said she knew she had “done it again.” Then once in a while I’d ask her in various ways, “What is it you do?” and she’d say, “I don’t know I just….” And then when she had explained once more (as if I hadn’t heard it before) how she went about it she would add, “Some people don’t….” and would give an explanation why hers turned out best. She’d never never say  hers was best, don’t you know–she left that to me. I take great pleasure in remembering moments like these and it makes me happy that you and Val are creating and experiencing pleasures like that in your relationship.
          Ethel was just a wee girl from the Shankill Road, not well-educated due to prolonged childhood illness and other things but she was strong and yet in many ways remained childlike (not childish!) and was marvelously pleased with simple and basic things.
          She didn’t get a great husband—that I know—but he too was limited and maybe he did the best he could. Maybe.
          In any case, now and then I miss her terribly, more rarely these days since I’ll soon be meeting her again and I know she is well with the Lord Jesus. I wouldn’t want her back and have her go through what she went through, especially in the later twenty-three years of paraplegia, and more, when sometimes I’d hear her pray for God to help her. (Those were the last words I heard her say that night in the house before I had to call the paramedics. Perhaps He thought she had had enough.) Even more rarely, and for a little while, I feel the excitement of that meeting and I imagine how it will all happen and what we will say to each other. It’s supremely wonderful to know that the best and loveliest things in our lives never die and that all the failures and debilitating regret and remorse passes away forever. Our hope is a living hope. It’s more than a hope that doesn’t die; it’s a hope in which we live, a hope that enables us to live even while we wait.
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About Jim McGuiggan

Jim McGuiggan was Ethel's husband for fifty-three years. They have three children and eight grandchildren. Ethel went to be with Christ on Easter Sunday, 2009 at the close of a gallant life. He has written some books including: Celebrating the Wrath of God; Heading Home with God; Life on the Ash Heap; Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul; The God of the Towel, The Scarlet Letter; and The Dragon Slayer.

8 thoughts on “JIM, VALERIE & ETHEL

  1. Samuelmeneely38@gmail.com meneely

    Sometimes Ethel is remember by me also. She alway had a good word for me even when I fell she always helped me get up never held it over me I think that’s Paul means about what true is its what we Christians need more of love


  2. Brenda Birckholtz

    Dear Jim,

    Lovely, lovely!! I’m forwarding it to several friends who will relive what you and your son have lived and enjoyed.

    Your sister,

    Brenda Birckholtz


  3. Joyce Jenkins

    That was lovely and totally within my hope of understanding being right there myself.
    For the truly first time, a few weeks ago, thinking of leaving this ole world , I had a shiver of excitement and anticipation. (Is that a run on sentence or what)🤗


  4. Tim masterson

    Jim, I could smell the chicken. Love is such a soft fabric that we all need to wear close. What a wonderful Lord to help dress us with it.
    The Lord blessed me today Through Ethel’s chicken.


  5. Kenny

    There are some writings where about all you can do is remove your shoes, for you’re standing on holy ground. This is such a writing.


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