Nearly eighteen months ago our family did something crazy.


It was crazy if you asked anyone but the four of us living in this home. We invited my Mom, our kids Mimi, to come and stay with us. She is a retired teacher who has given her life serving others, not the least of which are her three sons, three daughter-in-laws, and five grandchildren. Nearly two years ago it became apparent that her apartment would no longer be sustainable. The rent in her area was skyrocketing. A teacher’s pension just could not keep up. So, she swallowed her pride, we moved into the guest room, and she set up home in our master bedroom: Mimi’s Suite.

As this unfolded we had many people who worried. They were afraid that this would ruin our relationship.

We weren’t. Not even a little bit.

Growing up, my mom taught us that when people you love were in need you helped them. You helped them in any way that you could. Her mom, my Mimi, taught her that. When I was in high school we had to move out of our house due to a major water leak. Where did we move? We moved our four person family into my Mimi’s two bedroom apartment.

Surely we could move one person into a four bedroom home.

She has now moved out. Mom bought a beautiful little condo and is happy as can be.

Our family? We have a Mimi shaped hole in our lives now. While most feared that this would ruin relationships, this time did the opposite. It deepened them in ways that we would have never expected. There was much laughter. There were amazing evening conversations. My mom got to see and experience first hand The Antioch Movement, our church plant in Ypsilanti. Libby and Mimi would sew, cook, and cuddle. She passed on much to her granddaughter that she will never forget. Ethan and Mimi laughed and played and Ethan ATE well. He got those special moments with her that most grandsons never get and wish they could have had. Amy and Mimi developed an ever deeper mutual respect as two strong women who know their hearts and minds. They taught one another and challenged each other to be a little better.

Me and mom? We discovered that we were both adults. We learned how to speak truth in love to one another. I watched as she helped run kids and never complained. She embraced her role as Mimi in a totally new way. There were days when we ran her ragged, yet she kept smiling and laughing. I realized that there is great power in a generous smile and a gentle ear. These are two qualities that she has in spades. I knew that, but seeing it up close and personal was remarkable.

Our Mimi shaped hole will be filled with brief moments in the days to come. But they will be just that, moments.

from The Subversive Journey