Lessons in Grace: Part II

We arrived in Victoria nearly a month ago. My mother picked us up from the airport and drove us directly to my sister’s new house. She had just moved in a few weeks before our visit and has a suite in her basement with three bedrooms, which she kindly consented to let us live there rent free for a month.

I am sitting in the bright and airy kitchen now, looking out into the lush backyard. The apple tree is clustered with small, green apples. The roses are blooming. Jeremy’s water feature for the pond stands sentry in the back. The morning sunlight is streaking the linoleum. I know my sister is awake, but she is two floors up, enjoying her own space. J is sleeping. The kids are at my mom’s.

Jeremy’s Pan Tree water feature for my sister’s pond

I have my sister to thank for this precious moment of peace in my day. And not just for providing the space for us, though that is huge deal. In fact, when I asked her if we could stay in her apartment, I was expecting her to throw down an inflatable mattress for us and provide us with a blanket or two.

I would have been happy with that. A room. A door that closes. Luxury.

But no. I should have known. When we got to her place, her partner Josh (who helped with the magic) gave us the tour. My sister was at work, so she didn’t even get to see our faces when we saw what she had done. Our bedrooms were all furnished with proper beds. New sheets, new covers, new pillows and, in some cases, even new mattresses. In our room she had placed my old chest of drawers so we would feel more comfortable. She provided my with a clock radio as she knows I like to get up early. There was a chest of drawers for Jeremy. Hangers in the closet. A book shelf. Reading lamps. The kids’ room were the same. Single beds, drawers. Lamps for reading. New sheets, new covers (all colour coordinated I might add). She had washed the carpet before we came, to make sure no cat hair had escaped her very thorough cleaning.

She even put chocolate mints on our pillows, an homage to when we were kids and took a cruise to Mexico with our mom. Every night we would get a chocolate mint on our pillow. I suspect that was one of the most memorable parts of the trip.

In the kitchen she bought us a coffee maker like the one we have in Montreal. Bought us organic, dark coffee beans and our own grinder so we didn’t have to go upstairs. She also furnished me with the tea I like. Nutella for the girls. Cream for the coffee. The shower was equipped with shampoo, soap. Even extra toothbrushes just in case someone forgot theirs (J did, of course.)

It was like going to a hotel where the service was psychic. I was very moved. Am still very moved at all the work she had to do to get ready for us to invade her house.

But this is just a manifestation of her grace, which resides in her generosity of spirit and her nurturing nature. She takes care of people. This is why she is such a good naturopath, why my daughters flock to her whenever they need comfort or are feeling bad (I, on the other hand, simply ask what they expect me to do about their head/stomach/oozing wound).

I love her dearly. I know that she had fun getting the place ready for us, that she wanted to do it. But that is what makes it so moving- that she enjoys going out of her way to make someone happy.

So more grace in my life: the grace of thoughtfulness. Of listening when someone tells you they are not feeling well. Of trying to determine what their needs are. Of giving.

My sister and I having a fancy dinner

 One more note about grace. My sister’s partner is a wonderful man, though grace might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of him. He is boisterous, fun, happy and loving (sorry Josh. I just made you sound like a little puppy). Yet grace resides in him in abundance.

 I found early on in the visit that his grace is in knowing how to be with people. How to treat everyone the same. He jokes with everyone, gently laughs at their pretensions (we all have them, me more than most) without making anyone feel bad. Despite his joking around, he never says anything negative about anyone. Always has a positive spin on the moment. He also has the grace to retreat when he needs space and does so without his absence being noticeable or weird (still haven’t managed that one).

Thank you Josh and Katie. It has been a wonderful trip.

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