Neglecting the practice of giving thanks has darkened their minds.
~ Sarah Young, Jesus Calling
This I know is true; focusing on the negative is blinding. Following the February death of our parents, I found myself in a blue funk, a gloomy place with little interest in what normally brought pleasure. Yet today, as soft fluffy clouds float across a baby blue sky, nearly naked trees stretch their arms heavenward, and the smell of Mom’s stuffing tickles the nose, I find myself excited with anticipation for the day’s traditions and the making of memories with family and friends.
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.
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)
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)
Well Devil Dog and Lovely, my orders are complete as you are in heaven sitting with Jesus and those who went before. Your journey of life has only just begun. So, the tears your family and friends shed are not for you but for those who remain. Will they all see you again one day? Oh, I hope so! What a never-ending family picnic that will be! (Isaiah 25:6, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, John 3:16)
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)
My thoughts written February 8th after saying goodbye to our Dad. We know he is in heaven sitting with his Lord and family who went before. His journey of life has only just begun.
There was a point in my younger years when I loved roller coasters. Anticipation swiftly changed to exhilaration after climbing the highest peak followed by a lightening speed journey through the disorienting twists and turns, ending with a shout, let’s do that again. Yet, this roller coaster our family is riding is not so amusing but exhausting, and will not end with the same exclamation. One minute we ride the high of laughter and giddiness, the next we circle the lows of approaching uncertainty. It is during those sharp low curves our petite mother shares her wisdom with quiet grace; our job is not to understand the whys of this ride but to sit back trusting God with the controls to know what is best for us all. (Proverbs 3:5-6)