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Hmmm… Not Alone

The sinking sun’s rays filter through the wispy white profile with outstretched arm against a pale blue sky. The lone image exudes compassion as it beckons those who see it to come near. 

I love how nature reminds us we are not alone.

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Hmmm… Clear the Debris

Driving past the family home as gloomy grayish blue clouds dim the brilliance of the autumn leaves, I noticed a piece of garbage in one of the flowerbeds. Making a mental note to stop on my way from work to pick up the unsightly litter, a whispering voice floated through my brain.

What are you doing about the messy state you allowed yourself to be in the last few months? What are you doing about the scattered indifference to the enjoyed interests that once reminded you of Me? I know you are grieving. However, you allow circumstances around you to dictate how you feel and respond.  Wake up! Change your focus. I Am still here. Clear the debris and enjoy Me.

Hmmm… Tangible Reminders

With the popularity of social media and the lack of teaching the social graces, sending greeting cards through the postal service may become a lost art. Do not jump to any conclusions. I appreciate greetings sent electronically just as much. However, there is a different aspect to receiving a folded sheet of card stock with a pretty graphic and printed sentiment. It is a physical expression of one’s love and care.  So, today, this first birthday without a card from Mom and Dad, I will reminisce over my collection of cards received over the years and frequently read Isaiah 43:1-3; tangible reminders I am valuable and not forgotten.

Hmmm… Moment of Clarity

Despite the ugliness of Alzheimer’s with its thievery, the soul of the person remains. Thankfully, God does not forget and knows we need those brief reminders, those moments of clarity that give us a snippet of respite from an otherwise devastating thief. (Isaiah 42:16, Isaiah 43:1-3)

Hmmm… The Essence of Family

Iridescent glass, sparkling china and knickknacks, a drawer full of bread ties, kerosene lanterns, stove-pipe covers on display. The soft glow of converted gas lamps, clocks with silent faces staring back at you, a welcoming field stone fireplace, the creak of a staircase where each child learned to “alleybump”.  A gallery of family photos lining the walls waiting to tell the family history, the “circle” each child traveled on the first floor; all represent the unmistakable smell of stability, familiarity, and unselfish love. That is what envelopes me as I sit in the quietness of home; the house where our parents raised us and where our own children learned the essence of what it means to be family. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 1 Timothy 5:8, Proverbs 22:6)

Hmmm… Devil Dog, Lovely and Me: A Recap

Seventy-two years have gone by since I first met Devil Dog. He was a fresh-faced kid on that hot July day in 1942, and kind of a smart-aleck, too. So, when the drill instructor gave me orders to be this new US Marine recruit’s protection from Mother Nature’s sting, I knew I was in for a wild ride. The excitement began shortly after leaving Parris Island, SC for our assignment in Jacksonville, FL at Aviation Machinist Mate School. Yep, an olive drab scratchy wool blanket in Florida, but I had my orders. Devil Dog must have learned his way around F4U Corsairs quite well. You see, sometime later while stationed on Emirau Island in the south Pacific, he had the privilege of being Colonel Charles Lindbergh’s line mechanic. Oorah!

Now, a lot of globetrotting was done by land, air, and sea before arriving at that tropical land mass along the equator. Yes, I know, a wool blanket in the tropics, but I had my orders. Semper Fi!

We saw some interesting sights along the way, giving us pleasant and even humorous memories, and some haunting ones that continue to hang around to this day. But, it is the memory of coming home to Vestal Center, NY and meeting Lovely that is the most precious, and the beginning of the best ride of my life.

It was Christmas 1947 and Devil Dog decided to join the local church in Christmas Caroling through the neighborhood. After spending the last few years in warmer climates, he was more than happy I tagged along. You see, the temperature that evening was five degrees below zero and we were huddled in the back of a stake body truck with only loose hay to keep us warm. Wahoo! Finally, my chance to carry out my duties after six years had arrived and was kind of exciting. However, I didn’t know how exciting until I saw Lovely sitting across the way. Devil Dog was watching her; in fact, he had been keeping an eye on her throughout the entire frigid night. Realizing she must have been as cold as he was, Devil Dog worked up the nerve to ask Lovely, “Would you like to share my blanket?” Wow, what a line! I held my breath waiting for her answer. What if she refuses? Will he turn me over to her? I have my orders. But wait, she is kinda cute.

Well, Lovely’s answer led to a sixty-six year adventure involving six children, 12 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. You see, Devil Dog and Lovely were married on December 24, 1948.

Over the years, I have heard Devil Dog say, “To me a woman is someone special. This may sound corny, but after all my travels and having observed the beauty that is of God, nothing He has made is more beautiful than a woman. A woman can buy and use many things to make herself look beautiful, but to me that doesn’t make her look lovely. Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary describes lovely as beautiful, morally and spiritually attractive, and enjoyable.”

Yes, Devil Dog, you are right; Mrs. Devil Dog is Lovely.

Hmmm… Catching Up: Red Ferns

More thoughts written February 19th as our family sat at our Mother’s side while in hospital.

These days my thoughts often gravitate to the book, Where the Red Fern Grows, written by Wilson Rawls in 1961. This coming of age story first adapted to film in 1974 follows the adventures of a young boy and his two-coonhound pups who are inseparable and learn lessons of true friendship, loyalty, heroics, and integrity. In the book, we learn of an old Cherokee legend that tells of a sacred red fern that grows between their two graves that only an angel can plant. I can’t help but compare Mom and Dad to the two pups. After 66 years together, they follow the same journey to heaven in quick succession. Dad completed his journey last week, while Mom continues with hers today. Will a red fern grow between their two graves? Not sure if I believe the legend but the symbolism it holds is very powerful. We humans need something tangible when dealing with life’s tragedies. For the young boy grieving the loss of his beloved dogs, the red fern tells him he is not alone. We too are not alone as we face losing another pillar of our family. But, are we losing them or sending them forward to help prepare a better place for the rest of us? (John 14:1-3)