What does it take to live a life well? Especially in the face of tragedy at a young age? How do people overcome the handicaps they encounter early in life?
Here's one friend's story.
Why are some people able to push through tragedy, or trials, or even simple challenges to become better, while others are overcome by them, living their lives out as victims rather than victors?
I know this is the stuff of much psychological research and, in this brief article we will, admittedly, only skim the surface. Still, these questions are ones most people have asked at times. And they are important. So let’s explore them here as we unfold a distinctive example of one who is in her victory lap of life.
The story of a legend
Nana Sue. That is our name for my 86 year-old mentor and sweet friend, Sue Wulfmeyer. She and her husband Jack, who recently passed from Parkinson’s Disease, became Nana Sue and Grandpa Jack to our three children – now 24, 22 and 18.
When they were quite young, Nana Sue held the keys to a world of fascination in her exquisite garden. She grew (and still does) a vast array of trees, flowers and shrubbery in her inviting front yard.
Living across the street from the elementary school my children attended, we would often make stops at Nana Sue’s to enjoy and play in the garden. But also, Nana Sue enchanted the children with her overall warmth, her love of Jesus and her bowls of ice cream.
“Jesus loves you,” she would tell each little one, and she meant it.
What could have happened
But Nana Sue might not have been full of this much warmth, love and hospitality if she hadn’t grasped the love of God in her own life at a very young age – after her father’s untimely death when she was only four years old.
She admits her heart grew hard in the wake of that sudden loss. But God, rich in mercy, put grandparents in her life who poured out God-love upon her little hurting heart, filling her days with songs of praise and her arms with fragrant flowers.
Sue recounts this story and so much more in her soon-to-be-released book, Roots & Petals. This memoir is the story of Sue’s life – one of discovery, adventure, challenge and the continuous life-affirming love of Jesus.
Roots & Petals introduces the reader not only to Sue’s extraordinary life – one marked by blessings and hardships – but also helps younger readers (which most are, since Sue’s 86 now!) connect with a bygone era, making it come alive.
“People need to better understand how America was, to better navigate how America is right now,” Sue notes.
Indeed. Roots & Petals takes the reader on a journey through history as well as across continents. It helps the reader better understand how faith is made real through tragedy and triumph.
And it breathes life into the aging process as well, helping us better understand how to age with skill and vigor.
For, at 86, Nana Sue suddenly finds herself a widow (for the second time), and still very much present and capable. She looks at what lies ahead and realizes she may have yet another season on this earth to develop her love of sharing ideas through her writing. There is a fresh wind in her sails with the completion and publication of this book.
So, go get yourself a copy and delight in the journey of a life well-lived. Be inspired. Be changed.
• • •
Roots & Petals is newly available for purchase on Amazon, both in paperback and Kindle.