Monday, November 7, 2016

Day Seven: The Conversation

Day 7: Select two ancestors who lived in different centuries, and describe a scene of the two interacting with each other. What do they talk about? How are they different from one another?

People: Elizabeth Louise Hunter McMeekin (1835-1921)
             Martha Elizabeth ("Betty") Isbell Steele (1923-2008)

Place: The Hallowed Halls of Heaven

She had left her earthly home just a short time least she thought it was a short time ago. This was beautiful, glorious heaven. There was no sense of time in eternity, and Betty was joyfully happy about that. She had sat at the feet of Jesus and experienced the glory of the Lord, shining all around her. She had been reunited with her dear husband, her parents, sister, grandparents and even her own sweet granddaughter, Frances, who had died at birth. But there was one person Betty had yet to meet and she was excited, because she knew that it was time. And there she was...her great-grandmother, Elizabeth, the "first Elizabeth" in a line of many. Betty's mother was Elizabeth, her own name was the same (although she went by her nickname), her daughter was called Elizabeth until her classmates dubbed her "Liz" in high school, and Liz's own daughter was Elizabeth. Now that Elizabeth was married. Who knew if the name/line would continue?

As her great-grandmother moved closer to her, Betty could see that she had "the family eyes"...the same eyes that Betty's grandmother, Minnie McMeekin Ragsdale had, as did countless others. It was fascinating to see how genetics showed up in prominent physical features. Great-grandmother Elizabeth had kind eyes, too, and they shone with love. Betty moved towards her great-grandmother, who embraced her warmly. It was surprising but very pleasing to Betty that certain earthly feelings she had known were just the same in heaven. The loving, protective hug of a mother-figure felt just as it had when she was a toddler and her own mother had held her and comforted her.

One of the differences in heaven was that communication was seemless and that words were not  necessary to share thoughts. Betty knew from her great-grandmother's embrace that she loved her completely and that her love had passed down through the generations. Betty knew, too, that Elizabeth's life had not been easy. Three of her eleven children had predeceased her and she had suffered other hardships in life as the years passed. But Betty somehow knew that those thing only expanded Elizabeth's penchant for caring for others and that her great-grandmother had been there to receive Betty's own granddaughter into heaven with an equally warm embrace when she died at birth. The two Elizabeth's themselves barely missed each other on this earthly plain. Elizabeth McMeekin died on Christmas Eve 1921 and Betty Isbell was born December 12, 1923. A tiny two year gap was all that separated their lives. But their lives also held vast differences.

As Elizabeth looked into her great-granddaughter's eyes, she could see the world that Betty had seen. It was a world that had started with Elizabeth's own life, for Betty's first memories held the stories told to her as a little girl by her grandmother, Elizabeth's middle daughter, Minnie. Stories of the War Between the States and its aftermath were relayed to the wide-eyed Betty during her multitude of overnight stays with her grandmother. "Telling stories" was their special activity and Betty loved listening to Minnie's memories.  Although Minnie was only a little girl when war broke out, her childhood and young adulthood were lived in a world of reconstruction and her tales of those times were vivid. The family had their world turned upside down, but they stayed together and they stayed strong. It was not just their immediate family that stayed together, either. After the war, many of those who had been freed stayed on and worked for the family. Betty grew up knowing wonderful African-American caregivers and friends, whose own people had been (and it had pained her to think of it) "owned" by Betty's people. Betty took great comfort in the fact that the family had an ongoing relationship of love and respect with these friends, but how she wished that she could turn back time and eradicate the past of human ownership. As that thought passed between the two, the warmth of Elizabeth's embrace intensified and Betty realized that Elizabeth, too, had seen things that were sad, but that she had purposed to look for the light at the end of the tunnel and had kept her focus there. Elizabeth let Betty know that she had seen the world that had existed after her time through Betty's eyes, and Betty could feel her deep joy. Elizabeth had seen freedom come to people in Betty's time that she could never have imagined in her own and she, without saying a word, let Betty know that the rejoicing in heaven had been great indeed.

It would be impossible to measure the time that Elizabeth and Betty spent together, or to know all that they shared. What we can assume is this: the understanding between the two was limitless and their time together was eternal.

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