“Sometimes I feel like a bluebird

while everyone else is a yellow bird.”

— Matthew Lessman, age 5

Have you ever loved someone who accepted you just as you are? You know, someone who would smile over your idiosyncrasies and failings instead of shake their head and roll their eyes?

Hopefully each of us has, but even in families, it can be a rare thing. Or at least it was for me. You see, I was one of those skinny, nervous, little kids who was SO darn easy to pick on because I was such a wired drama queen. My family used to call me “a walking nervous breakdown,” teasing unmercifully just to get a rise out of me, which, of course, they always did. I realize now that it was because I had so much energy and, well … passion. But I won’t lie to you—it hurts to be made fun of.

A lot. 

So years ago when my son came home from kindergarten crying, I was devastated. “Bud,” I said in a gentle tone, “what’s wrong?” 

“Nobody likes me, Mom,” he whispered, lower lip quivering and tears welling in his eyes. “I don’t have any friends.” 

Memories of my own grade-school experience stabbed, when I’d been ostracized and ridiculed for having psoriasis in the 2nd grade. “Are you sure it’s not leprosy?” the old nun had asked in front of my whole class, sealing my fate on the playground. “Oh, bud,” I said, scooping him up in my arms, “it just takes time to make friends, but it will happen, you’ll see.”

“No, mom,” he said in a broken, little voice, “nobody will play with me.” His little chest heaved with a sob as I held him in my arms. “Sometimes I feel like a bluebird,” he whispered, “while everyone else is a yellow bird.” 

I prayed with him that day, but my heart broke all the same, and you know what? So did God’s. Because we are the apple of His eye, the pulse of His heart, and His cherished creation. 

So when you meet someone in life who looks past all the weird things you do and smiles at your oddities with affection, it’s almost like a hug from God, as if His love and pride for you is being transmitted through this gift of a person who loves you …  just the way you are.

Truly I am a blessed woman because I have been gifted with a husband like that and doubly blessed with a mother-in-law who was the exact same way.  I say “was” because you, see, my sweet mother-in-law went home to be with Jesus yesterday morning at the age of 89, and not only have I lost a “mother,” but a beautiful person who embraced me as a daughter, making this bluebird feel loved and accepted no matter how quirky or crazy I might be. 

And not just me, but everyone in her family, as evidenced by the 3-day, around-the-clock bedside vigil in which her sons and sons-in-law, daughters and daughter-in-law, grandchildren and great grandchildren crowded into a small, little house for three days and nights, sleeping side-by-side on the living room floor, on couches, love seats and in rocker recliners. As my sister-in-law, Mary, so aptly put it, “It was the best worst week of my life.” We cried, we laughed, we prayed, and we ate. And ate. And ate. Someone was with my mother-in-law at all times and sometimes as many as 14 of us crammed into that tiny room all at the same time, showing our love and support for a woman who never ceased showing the same to us. 

Until now. And yet, somehow knowing the caliber of woman, wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother that Leona Lessman was, I suspect she is loving and supporting us still, only this time from above.

But I won’t lie to you—it hurts to lose her. 

A lot.

So, Leona, please know that you are deeply and powerfully loved and missed by all—bluebirds and yellow birds and family members big and small. Life will not be the same without you, but oh, our reunion in heaven will be a joy! As I’m sure your reunion with the love of your life is right now. Give Ray a hug for me and tell him Keith and “Judy” miss him a lot.



In Loving Memory:

Leona Lessman

October 2, 1923 – August 9, 2013

Till we can hug you again on streets of gold …