Lamentation

My God

You have not forsaken me, but I have lost my way to Your Heart.

My soul has lost its refreshing dew and I thirst for Your Love and how I once knew it.

My body is weary and worn. It cries out daily for renewal and refreshment. My bones ache with the weight of sorrow and my despair only deepens.

My heart is shattered as a pane of glass. It is scattered by the winds of loss. My emptiness consumes like a moonless night.

“How long, oh Lord, how long?” is the echo of my lamentation. Hourly, the losses in my life mount higher. It seems as if they are as tall as the highest peak and as deep as a  fathomless ocean

I seem to labor to keep body and spirit together yet, I find no harvest…no reward. It is an internal battle that has a fierceness that desires to destroy me.

Relief is my physical cry. Refreshment, my soul’s plea.

I know that my heart’s lament is not lost in a sea of deafness. I know that my name is on Your lips. My life is seen by Your all-knowing Eyes.

It is my heart, oh Lord, that is shrivelling within my breast.

I cannot save myself.

It is You, my God, the Lover of my soul, it is to You whom I cry.

I surrender my life, my self , my all to You and Your will.

I shall be restored to Your Master Plan.

I shall look on my life and rejoice for I have seen Your abundant Grace, Your Unmerited Favor on my life in this land called Living.

I shall stand.

I shall stand on Your solid Rock.

It is the Rock called Hope.

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My Hope In Easter

Many years ago, I lost one of my best friends in a car/train wreck.

In so many areas of my life, this wonderful woman was my mentor  I was devastated when  another friend told me of my friend’s death. All who knew me realized that I would be deeply impacted by this loss.

After being told of this incredulous accident, I turned without saying a word and began walking in the gentle autumn rain.As I walked, I lost track of time.  On that evening, I couldn’t tell you  how far I walked. I was lost in the night.

I don’t remember when I finally decided to walk back to my home to care for my young son. I just walked and walked. I could not understand how God could take this mentor from me. I  believed that I was not ready to be without her wisdom or her kindness. She was a guidepost to a broken young mother in a bad marriage. I was undone from this lost. It was my first loss of a close friend to death.

I could not speak of my friend’s death. Months later, I finally gathered enough courage to visit her grave. I was unaware that it was Easter week. I drove over 50 miles to the cemetery where she was buried. When I finally found her grave, the flowers from the funeral were still on her grave. Dead and brown, they were a dismal reminder that death was real. Her grave served as a reminder that the earth had not awakened from its winter slumber. It was a cold and gray April day.

I didn’t know that the flowers and the grave were allowed to stay in this ugly state of affairs until the newly disturbed ground had settled. After this settling, the cemetery keepers would fill the it and plant grass over the site so that it wouldn’t look so bleak.

I was so young and death had no understanding in me, so I became enraged that her grave had been neglected. I went to a local store and bought trash bags and returned the her grave site.

In my business suit and heels, I knelt on the cold ground and began to take those awful ugly dead flowers and their cardboard vases and bag them.

As I pushed these  remembrances into the black bags, the tears flowed down my face. I cried, I prayed, I raged at this cloud covered sky…I didn’t understand.

When I quit, I had 5 trash bags full of the symbols of sorrow and loss. I was covered in mud and I had ruined my heels and suit. I didn’t care. I wanted my mentor, my friend. I wanted her back.

As I looked at the grave where the flowers disguised this scar, I saw with new understanding why the flowers were left on the grave.

They were covering a greater ugliness. They hid the sunken ground, the outline of a rectangle that signaled a new grave. It looked like my barren heart. Completely without color or signs of spring, it was hideous.

I couldn’t let it remain like an open wound. Mud and all, I went to a nearby nursery and bought an Easter Lily. I bought a small garden shovel and returned to the cemetery.

By my friend’s small metal grave marker, I dug a hole the size of the pot that housed the lily  and I planted this living plant. I planted it with the hope of Spring in mind. I needed to see the color of hope in this scar.

As I filled the new hole where the Lily was planted, I heard a song. At first, I couldn’t remember the name of the song. I knew that I had sung this song somewhere so I began humming the melody…then the words began to flood back into my mind…

“…I’ve just seen Jesus, He’s Alive, I’ve just seen Jesus, my precious Lord’s alive..And I knew that He saw me too as if ’till now, I never lived. All that I’d done before, didn’t matter anymore, I’ve just seen Jesus. And I’ll never be the same again.”

It was at that moment,  the season of Easter, Resurrection Sunday, came to life inside of me. Because of this, I would see my friend again.

It took the sweat and the toil of clearing the remains of death and planting a Lily that symbolized the Hope of Easter to bring a fresh and deeper understanding of Life and Death. But, most of all, I had a greater understanding of the  reason for that dark day 2000 years ago when Jesus hung on a Cross.

Through the hope of Jesus, I realized that the ugliness of death was just the prelude to the hope of eternal Spring.

The sting of my friend’s death began to give way to Hope and Spring with a new understanding of Eternity.

Now, more than ever, I hold to the Hope of this Season.

My days with Dan in eternity will outnumber any amount of days that I was with him in this life.

I am beginning to feel Spring in my soul again. I am seeing the sky grow brighter in the East. I find myself saying, ” In the summer, I will….” I am planning ahead instead of standing still in this journey.

I am watching the ugliness that a hard winter brought to my soul being gathered like I gathered those dead flowers.  I am feeling the renewing of hope like I planted that beautiful Lily. My heart is coming out of its barrenness and looking ahead and all that is waiting there.

My hope is  in the Shadow of a Cross in-the-shadow-of-the-crossand nothing below or above can keep me from knowing the Hope that this Season brings…

One of Dan’s favorite quotes from Scripture was,…” I would see Jesus.”  With Hope  slowingly restoring my broken heart,I am grateful  that I, too, can say with Dan…” I would see Jesus..” Now Dan does……

Darkest Before The Dawn…

astronightIf there is any truth to this old adage, then the faint rays of dawn should be on the horizon. The past few weeks have been terribly dark for me. Even in my dreams, troubling imagines and circumstances are indications that I am not coping with my life.

Several nights ago, I dreamed that my family doctor told me that the results of my tests were not good and that I, too, would be leaving this earthly life. My response was not one of fear or dread, but rather, I asked if the doctor could orchestrate my leaving to be at the same time as Dan’s.

In light of my families’ tendency to have prophetic dreams, at first, I was alarmed. But, on further reflection, I realized that my inner person was telling me that my desire to live this life was not strong and that I needed to be proactive about my physical and mental health.

When I began to contemplate all that was in the dream, I recalled the statistics regarding caregivers and depression. Depression is very common in those who have loved and cared for someone until they died. In fact, I don’t know how you can not become depressed as you watch someone who has become a part of you suffer and loose their battle to live.

The article that I read noted that caregivers and spouses of the terminally ill often develop terminal illnesses or develop chronic conditions frequently after the death of their loved one.

I became aware of this while I was caring for Dan. and I began a routine of  walking regularly. I knew that physical exercise helps to balance anxiety of the mind and it releases helpful hormones to the brain.

After Dan died, I would walk Mozie twice a day. Once before I left for work and then on my arrival home. I kept to this routine until on one of these walks, one of my cats was hit by a passing car.

I  realized that this accidental death could have been me or Mozie. Most times, it was dark when I would walk. Even though I had a flashlight with me, I know that I was not easily seen by the motorist. I decided that it was too risky to continue to walk the dog in the dark and I stopped.

Then the cold weather hit. jack-frost-nipping-at-your-nose1

It seems that I have become quite a wimp when it comes to cold weather. I really didn’t want to walk in the cold. It seemed that it took  hours for me to feel my extremities again, so I talked myself out of walking in the cold. 

Now, I am out of the habit and I find all manner of excuses to not do what I know will help my mental and physical health. Inertia has definitely set in. The longer inertia is allowed to stay, the more resistence there is to any kind of movement.

There is one activity that I have not quit doing. It is somewhat  an unconventional  but I believe that it has helped me both physically and emotionally deal with grief.  I attend Sweat Lodges.

I can’t remember if I posted about this on the blog, but attending sweat lodge was a major part of Dan’s inner healing. It put him  in touch with his Native American roots.

Our family doctor suggested that Dan to this and the first sweat that Dan attended, he was not able to complete all of the rounds. I took his place as  his proxy.

It was not an easy sweat because this was the first sweat of the new season and the round that expressed thanksgiving for the new willow saplings for the lodge was quite intense. sweat-lodgeIt was also very warm outside, so this round was not easy for the seasoned veteran of attendants. But, for Dan’s sake, there was nothing that could have prevented me from enduring the heat. After that experience, I knew that I could endure the sweat and I seemed to find a peace during the ceremony.

Since the time of our first sweat, our family doctor completed his study with an elder and he is now able to hold sweats. The elder under which the doctor studied  has taken the elements of the sweat and modified the ceremony to be less specific to the tribe and more universal. Everyone is accepted. The is no restriction or  requirements to observe. You are asked to pray.

After Dan died, our doctor invited me to one of his sweats. I was thankful for the invitation. As I was thinking about attending a sweat on my own, I remembered what my friend, the hospice chaplain, told me about the physical composition of the tears of grief.

She explained that I tears of grief are of a different chemical composistion. She explained that the tears carry away the residue that grief leaves behind in the body.  She wanted to explain this to me because shecould sense that I was refusing to cry. She wanted me to know that tears of grief were made to be released and should I not do this, I was holding within myself toxins that needed to be cleaned from my body.

As I recalled her explaination for tears, I reasoned that the sweat would further help my body by release the toxins that stress and grief manufactured. I also was needing a place where I could moan, lament and cry without worrying about others trying to “fix” me. I need autonomy.

In the hallowed darkness inside the lodge, I am free to allow my grief and pain flow from me. In the midst of  endless tears and drops of sweat, I can feel the toxins and residue of this kind of living are wash from me. In many respects, I as I did when I was baptized.

When the sweat is completed, I feel refreshed and regenerated. Physically, I feel lighter and emotionally, I feel peace. For the short time afterwards, I feel  happiness return and I also enjoy the feast and fellowship that follows the sweat. I feel clean and restored.

For a time after the sweat, I have increased energy and I feel like doing things that I have recently lost interest. The effects of the sweat can last a few weeks before I feel the strain of bereavement return. Then, I begin counting the days until the next sweat.

I attended a sweat this past weekend. Instead of the effects lasting a few weeks, I was returning to the strain after a few short days. I have a couple of months before I can attend the next one and my dream was telling me that I  didn’t have the luxuary of time. I need to counteract this depression, now. I called and made an appointment with my family doctor.

The dream has become the catalyst for me to face  what this pain is costing me.  For some time, now, I knew that I have several symptoms of depression. The one that has plagued me the most is  lack of sleep.

Each night, I fall asleep on the couch around 8:30 in the evening and wake up around 10:30 PM. I know that I must get back to sleep because my alarm clock is set for 3:30 AM. I have to be at the client’s house by 5:30 AM. If I can’t get back to sleep, I will be awake about 20 hours. After a few days of this, I am totally exhausted.

This cycle of sleep deprivation has caused my immune system to be compromised and I can fall victim to every flu virus that comes along.  I cannot afford to miss work and I cannot afford to become chronically ill.

I also noted that I seem to have an increase for minor accidents. Lately, I have pulled muscles in my ribs and arms. I have sprained my ankle and I have fallen more than I usually do. Normally, I don’t find myself so clumsy. But, I know that this kind of thing goes along with depression. Now that I live alone, falling and spraining things are more of a concern. I know that I can have an accident and no one will know until I am able to get to a phone or have another way of communciation. It becomes more of a concern.

Depression can be well disguised when you keep yourself too busy to think. I think that the dream caused me to acknowledge that I need to be wiser than my pride and accept that I need help so as to not be overtaken by this kind of dark of shadow.

After seeing my doctor on Friday, I am to start on an anti depressant this weekend. As I discussed this with him, I expressed that I do not want medication to become a long term kind of treatment. I told him that I do not want something that will keep me from grieving, but rather, I need this medication to be a tool and I want to take this medicine for 6 months to a year period at most.

I won’t be relying on medication alone for this problem. I will be doing the  things that I know will help combat this disorder. I will return to walking for exercise andI will try to eat better. I will also take supplements to help build my immune system.

I also contacted my hospice chaplain friend about a bereavement group that meets at times when I can attend. If there is no group, then I will go back to meeting with her for counseling. I know that this must be a balanced plan.

One of the other tools that has helped me has been writing this blog. You may have noticed that I do not post as often as I have in the past and that I do not respond to comments like I once did. Writing has been my “saving grace”. Now, it is not as fluid. That was also one of my warning signs. Hopefully, the blog will see more attention.

So, now, I begin the uphill climb, up this rugged face of a mountain called depression, toward an emotional recovery. I am not walking an unknown path. Many have struggled with this pain as they try to find life after the death of someone they loved deeply. glorious-sunriseThere is no reason to stay in this dark moment.

I will meet a New Dawn. To accomplish this,  I will need every tool to be successful in this quest.

If it is true that it is darkest before the dawn, then know that, at this moment,  I cannot see my hand in front of my face. But  know this, I shall see the light of a new day dawning…Dan told me that I cannot leave here as yet. I must stay….

Immobilized II

Thanks to you all who commented on the Immobilized post.

I was able to get out on Friday, but it was still “tricky” to get around. The roads out here were finally attended to at 3:30 AM on Friday morning. I was awake when the snow plow raked what it could off of the road. At least, it took the ruts down so that I would not bounce in and out of them and find myself in the ditch.

Sunday afternoon, everything was in a major melt mode and the ruts were as bad as before. Later in the day, the snow plow came back through and the pavement was a welcomed sight.

Today, I only had to deal with the refreeze and that was a little challenging at 5:30 AM, but I got to my client’s without incident. But, tomorrow, the forecast is for 3-6 inches of fresh snow and I need to be at the client’s house 30 minutes earlier than usual because the mother is traveling to a new location…

Oh, how I will welcome spring and it takes more and more of me to daily say, “Thank you Lord for another beautiful morning”…

I know that February is the month that we in the “southern” part of Indiana have the most snow and winter woes…please pray for me.

My biggest battle is not the weather, but it is the fear of what the consequences of poor driving conditions or poor driving skills can heap on my fragil state of existence.

As I tried to explain to my employer, I am the only income in this household. I have no one to find me if I am missing, provide for me if I am injured nor keep me safe and warm if I do not work…so I am evaluating each day as to the risk involved and weighing it against loosing the car or my health…

I doubt if it made a dent in her thinking, but that is the way it is when others haven’t experienced what it is to loose a spouse or a livelihood…so, whatever they want to do to me for not venturing out in a Level II Snow Emergency, it is what it is

This is my reality.

As far as my being grateful, I am truly grateful that my daily needs are met and that I have electricity and warmth. So many in Kentucky are without power and heat. There are some who have been in shelters since the beginning of this mess and they are being told that they may have an additional week or more before power is restored.

Gratitude is never relational, but our awakening to our blessings may be…Gratitude is a way of life and I am striving to learn the lessons that Dan taught me regarding the subject…I am not a fast learning when it comes to things that are against my circumstances, but I am determined to learn. If not for my own benefit, for Dan’s memory…

I Am Thankful

harleydThis is the first Thanksgiving without him.

Last year, he was in ICU on Thanksgiving day. He was so disappointed because he had looked forward to seeing his children and, as always, the food at the family dinner. Oh, how he loved noodles, oyster dressing and all the desserts.

He loved to cook and he loved to eat. He never was able to eat the Thanksgiving meal that was frozen for him to eat when he got out of the hospital that year. He was not able to eat like that again. Cancer took that joy away from him.

As I looked back, I can see that it was at Thanksgiving that his final days began. From that holiday onward, we spent more of them in the hospital than we did at home. Each one was shadowed by a complication or a family problem.

But, I choose to not have these difficult and painful memories be my focus on this day of Thanks. I am choosing to be thankful.on-the-road-again

I am thankful that he chose to stop by that day 18 years ago at the family business. He was looking for my brother. Instead, he found me. After 25 years, our paths crossed and I am grateful that he didn’t just keep on going down the road, but he came back to see me and eventually he moved back to the area.

I am grateful that love came back with him and he added so much to my life, especially to the holidays.

I am grateful that this new joy filled a longing that I had since my childhood. I was so full of hurt after a painful divorce and believed that I would never know love in this life. He proved that I was so wrong.

Through him, I had a renewed hope and joy.  I found a new family when we “blended” our lives and our children’s lives. They made the holidays a wonderful new experience for me. It was because of his love that the holiday season took on a new delight that I never knew existed. I am grateful that, even though we didn’t get the rest of our lives together, we lived a “lifetime” in those 18 years that we did have.

But most of all, I am grateful for his love and the way he cherished our marriage and me. Being cherished was so new to me that it took five years for me to trust that it was finally a part of my life.

I choose to be grateful no matter how my heart “feels”. As my sister pointed out, I could have lived my life never knowing what true love was. He taught me to love myself as myself because he loved me for me.autumn-rainbow

I bless God for blessing me with a love that I never knew was possible while still on this earth and by knowing love, I know the true meaning of the word….

Thanksgiving

And I will give thanks………….

The Geese

statuesque1

It was a moment that struck me as picturesque. The newly harvested field of corn seem to blend into their gray colored feathers. The only contrast was the black bands around their necks. They were standing perfectly still. This in a field that was a  bounty for the flock standing at attention.

I expected to see them bow their heads and begin feeding on the loose kernels of corn, but instead, they were like soldiers outside Buckingham Palace; erect and still as statues.  What was their focus of vigilance? It was curious.

For me, scenery with geese was nothing out of the ordinary, but I am at a loss as to understand this concrete like behavior. They just stood there facing toward the east.

After 40 minutes or so,  another flock of geese began to circle overhead. Their cries and calls seem to stir the statues in the field. Both the statues and the fliers called back and forth until the arriving band landed on the pond behind the field.  They all began to stir. Those on the pond first and then those in the field began to move and shift into a preflight mode.

In a few minutes, all rose from the earth and circled the pond and field a couple of times. With an unseen signal or a specific cry was sounded and they were off. The lot of them were flying in a predetermined direction. I watched until they were no longer in sight. I was spellbound.

Awestruck by their percision and the timing of the gathering of the flock, I stood amazed by the way they waited on the others to arrive. How did they know that this smaller band was coming?

As an afterthought, I realized, for a moment in time, my thoughts of sadness and loss were suspended to observe one of God’s wonders. sunset-and-geeseI am sure there are those who know much more about the habits and migration of geese than I, but this was so curious to me.

As I contemplated the autumn scene, I wondered as to why they were still here?

 Everyone, even humans, know that the days of ice, snow and unrelenting cold are about to descend upon us, so why are these geese waiting? How did they know to wait for the smaller band of travelers? Why were they not  south  already? Why were they so still and facing east? So many questions about what I witnessed and no answers, but I don’t know if I really want answers. I was lost in wonder.

The first thing to capture my attention was,  while standing in a field filled with food, the total lack of motion by these large birds. I was astounded; not a ruffle of a feather or a bob of their head. How can any living creature stay that still and silent for 45 minutes?

But, the greater mystery is how  were they able to capture my attention and distract me from my constant feeling of loss? For those 45 minutes, I was transported from my loneliness and dread over the approaching holiday season to an attentive observer of that present moment.

After the geese were gone for a while,  i realized that I appreciated those minutes of wonder. I became aware that I found relief from my grief. Because of my curiosity over the behavior of 20-50 geese in a newly harvested field of Indiana, I was mesmerized by the curiosity of the moment.

I think that I saw a glimpse of clearing in the fog of grief in those 45 minutes. I needed the reprieve and comfort while I pondered a mystery that was before me. It gave me hope. Hope that I will begin finding my way out of these continual shadows that live in my heart…

Leave it to God and His creation to fascinate me!  I have always been entranced by the outdoor “Cathedrals” I find in his Creation. I have thrilled to the Majesty of the Red Rocks of Sedona Arizona and I marveled at the wildlife in the wilderness of Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada. These were my heart felt places of worship. 

Just as it was here where my teenage heart called out to God with the intent on knowing Him. Now, I may again, walk pastures and fields in open conversation.  I know that He will meet me here. This is where I first opened my heart and my mouth and walked and talked with my God. It was in His Creation, not a man made building, that my awestruck heart came to know true worship.

Maybe, it will be as it was then.  Maybe it will be in this place of security and familiarity I will be able to call out to my Creator, my Lord and Savior and end this silence between us.  Maybe, it will be in the midst of these woods that I will lift my voice in keening of my mourning and finally give my inner pain back to the One who holds our sorrows?

I know that My God and Creator can do nothing until I am willing to release this pain. It is not His lacking, but my unwillingness to let go.

In a strange way, I may be afraid that I will loselife-mates2 the final part of my husband that I carry inside of me. This pain is one of the few things that exists that is shared by our hearts. Yet, I know that my husband would never want me to keep company with him through sorrow. He loved me too much to have me stay this hurt.

As with geese who mate for life, I too must make a choice as whether to stay with my fallen mate or leave for the life-giving horizons.

new-sunSomehow, I realize that I have stood perfectly still while waiting for him to somehow join me again so that we may continue our flight together. Now, it is the changing of season and I must either stay by his lifeless body and eventually die, or I must join the others who are flying to a new destination…

I suspose I could do a little online research and become more knowledgeable of the habits of geese, but somehow, I don’t want to spoil this learning observation that I received from the Heart of Creation.

Maybe, it is a beginning of a sunrise out of this long sunset and night that I have been living. Maybe, it is a little wind beneath my wings.

It’s Gonna Be Worth It

The Video says it for me….I can’t add much to what the song says.

Everyday, as I, in fear and trembling, leave the sacturary of my home to face new people with serious illnesses, it is this song that comes to my mind.

When I am so tired that I don’t know if I am going to be able to force myself to get into that old car and drive an hour to my first stop, I have to recall that “It’s Gonna Be Worth It”.

When I look into the faces of children and into the faces of the aged, my heart breaks for them and the betrayal of their bodies that bind them into a shell of the life that they once knew, I hear the melody and words that says, ” I don’t understand Your ways, but I give you my song, give You all of my praise…”

I especially don’t understand the pressure cooker of events that seem to befall me as I deal with the greatest loss my heart, mind and soul has ever known. I just know that I must not fail to live. If I fail, then who would take my place to tell of this man who was taken too soon from those who loved him.

But, most of all, there is only one way that I know that I can survive this crushing pain that consumes me body, mind, and soul. It is through my faith that I look past the hurt of my heart and cry out to my Lord…

I especially identify with the lyrics that says that He is using my pain to pull me closer into His ways….and if I must walk the rest of this life alone, I want to see His face. I want to see the Mysteries that my husband now knows.

He would quote the verse that says, “I would see Jesus”.

That was his goal. He wrote in one of his prayers that He wanted NOTHING between him and his Lord…I saw with my own eyes the smile on his face when he left this earth. The only thought I had was that he must have just seen Jesus…

I would see Jesus and I shall give him my “song” and all of my praise…because He is pulling me closer and bearing my pain…

For today, that is all that I need. I no longer live in my tomorrows because my days are full of bringing a little hope to those who are hurting in ways that my heart can understand. It is my hope that I am a “light” into their world and that they are God’s light in mine…

So as my weary heart, soul and body cries out in pain, I play this song and remind myself that Heaven is a little sweeter because my husband is there, but more than that, Heaven is my Hope and seeing Jesus face is worth it all…

In that I have absolutely no doubt….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School Days III

In 1964, when my husband was 12 years old, the family left the small Indiana rural community to take a church in the northern area of Chicago. They were located close to the Naval Training Base in Waukeagan IL.

Changing schools again, and going into a school system of another state made my husband’s desire to excel in anything academically more difficult. This was the 4th school in 6 years for him.

Instead of a classroom with the same teacher, he was in middle school with several teachers and classes. This is a difficult transition for most children. Add to it that he was the “new” kid in many classes as opposed to the “new” kid in one class and soon it spelled trouble. Again, my husband was fighting and there were many “meetings” with the principle over his behavior.

 Because of the Naval Base, there were many ethnic groups i.e. Puerto Rican, African American, Hispanic. His behavior caught the attention of the “tougher” kids of the school and my husband was invited to run around with this diverse and multi ethnic tough group of kids. Hanging around with these kids was quite an exciting change from rural Indiana.

Because of his fighting, he quickly gained a reputation for being a “tough” guy. He soon became a part of the juvenile system. This brought into his life a person that soon took interest in him; his probation officer.

My husband described this man as a 40 something, big black man who seemed to show up every place and every time he was just about to do something “stupid”. My husband credited this man with saving him from having to do jail time. Many of his other friends had already been in jail and it is only through pray and this man’s vigilance that kept him from following in the footsteps of his buddies.

School was not a priority to my husband. The difference in school systems caused him to be behind the grade level of those in his class. That seemed to drive my husband’s disinterest and he began to focus on the “social” aspects that presented themselves through school.

There were many times that he would walk in the school building and on through it to a local coffee shop across the street. Again, the probation officer came to his parent’s door. This time it was for his truancy.

There were a few bright spots. The name of the school was Jack Benny Junior and Senior High Schools. This school offered orchestra. It was through the director of the orchestra that my husband began his love affair with the bass violin.

This man would give my husband private lessons at his home to ready him for the “First Chair” in his orchestra. Through this avenue, my husband learned and played the classics…Vivaldi, Handel, Beethoven, The New World Symphony,…all of the great music that caused his heart to sore. Music was already an intregal part of my husband. He loved of all kinds and types of music, but the classics was his introduction to another world. One that was full of beauty and grace. His love of classical music was birthed through this teacher’s interest. It was one of the few saving graces of my husband’s young life.

His home life was becoming more splintered and fragmented. His mother was consumed with his now adopted brother. Caring for this child was her main focus.

His father was pastoring the small church and working in a shoe store to earn extra money for his family. When his father was home, he was working on his college courses to finish his degree and to qualify himself for seminary. Like many of us born in the ’50’s and coming of age in the ’60’s, our parents were absent even when they were home.

My husband told of the time when he wanted and needed to talk to his father. I don’t remember if my husband ever said what was on his mind at the time, but he decided that the only way to get his father’s attention was to write a letter to his dad and leave it in the typewriter.

When my husband told the story, there was pain and dejection in his voice. He viewed this story with the saddness of an abandoned child.

When his mother told the story, she viewed it as one of those stories where your child did something that was just “so cute” that you just had to share it.

My husband’s parents never knew the desperation that  was in his heart. As he hunted and pecked out the words of this letter, his heart’s cry failed to be heard. My husband went to the one thing that he knew his father would go to on a daily basis; his typewriter.

i don’t know if my husband and his father ever had the “talk” that my husband requested. I doubt it because it wasn’t long afterwards that my husband began using drugs and staying gone from home for days.

Where does a 14/15 year old get the money to buy drugs? In the mid ’60’s, they work for it.

At 15 years old, my husband began working at the same shoe store where his father worked. He began earning enough money to do as he pleased. He not only worked everyday after school at the shoe store, but he worked weekends for a catering service.

When he told me about the catering service, scenes from Dirty Dancing came to my mind. He told of the white shirt, black dress pants and tie that was required for this job. It brought to my mind those scenes  with the waiters in their white coats serving the guest at the retreat. That movie captured a lot of what life was like at that time.

My husband also talked about hopping a freight train to downtown Chicago. For the longest time, he never told me what he did downtown. I thought that he was just going for the sake of excitement.  It wasn’t until he was in 6ICU at IU Med in 2005 that I learned what he did.

Because, he had thrown two blood clots and they lodged in his left lung after the debulking surgery, he was told to lay still and not to move.  I sat by his bedside as he dozed off. He woke up and said that he wanted those “Goombas” to get this 5 pound bag of sugar off of his chest. Before I could ask any question, he went back to sleep.

I sat there wondering what a “Goomba” was. I could understood  the 5 pound bag of sugar. He had pressure in his chest from the clots, but I couldn’t figure what significance the Goomba had.

He awoke again and said something about getting the Goomba out of here. I finally asked him what was a Goomba and why was he so afraid of it.

It was then that he told me that when he was 15 years old, he would hop the train and go downtown Chicago and “run numbers” for the Mafia. He said that they let him drive a big Cadillac and go to the barber shops and pool halls and pick up the numbers and the money. He was a kid and if he got caught, he would be charged as a juvenile and nothing would happen to him. He said that he made a lot of money by doing this and that he always knew that if anything came up missing, the Goomba’s would hurt him.

Finally, I knew what a Goomba was and why he was so afraid. Even though he wasn’t Italian, the Mob was using kids to run the numbers and transport money. All the “wise guys” were identified by wearing a pinky ring. In this picture, notice the pinky ring on his hand.

It explained how he always had money. How he could buy the “trike” that he kept at his girlfriend’s house,  how he had the money for drugs and how he always was aware of his surroundings. He was “street” smart. He didn’t need school except to meet girls.

It was this time in his life that his father learned that he smoked cigarettes. He was at work at the shoe store when his father came in and saw him smoking in the back room.

His father lost his temper and began hitting his son. My husband said that he couldn’t hit his father and he was taking a hard beating when the manager/owner of the shoe store saw what was happening and called the law on his dad.

With eacg blow, hardness was forced deeper into my husband’s soul. Hardness against God, against  his father and all he represented. This beating hardened his heart against all things spiritual. I believe it completed the detachment that he was developing. He could detach himself from almost anything; even those he loved.The beating provided the determination that he was going to live his own life and he didn’t care what anyone thought. 

My husband said that he most likely would have given up smoking had it not been for that beating. He loved his parents dearly, but he decided that the life that they had, the “church” thing, was definitely not how he wanted to live. If he ever was going to go “church” he didn’t want what his parents had. He wanted what his Grandmother Lela had. He believed all “Christians” in his father’s church were as hypocritical as his parents and he wanted nothing to do with it.

This break with his parents only led to more “acting out” behavior. It led to his “road trip”. At 15 years old he and his buddies decided to go to New Mexico…..

“Thank You, Lord For Another Beautiful Morning”

I found this post this morning. It was dated in June and I don’t know why I failed to post it. I decided to post it now. It is a reflection of the man, the mature and completed man, that came out from all of the troubled youth and adult life that he led. It shows how the terminally ill come to value the next morning. He knew that he lived on borrowed time for the last 2 1/2 years…and he was so grateful for each day.

My husband is a morning person and I am not. He has always risen early for work, sometimes at 3 AM, so to take whatever load to its destination and to get back home in the early afternoon. He says that he feels his best when he first wakes up. How I envy that quality.

I am a “second shift” kind of person. I naturally wake around 8 AM, that is if I went to sleep before midnight. I like to take a hour or two to fully wake up and drink my several cups of coffee. I don’t like answering questions or making decisions until I feel that I am fully awake. By 10 AM, I am usually ready to start doing things around the house and get my day started. That is my natural biorhythm.

When I hear my husband up and about, I make myself get up and check on him. I want to know if he is up because he wants to be or if he is up because there is something that isn’t quite right. After I determine that he is OK, sometimes, I lay back down. It is then when I hear his morning “talk” with the Lord.

Usually, the first things he says out loud is, “Good Morning, Lord. Thank you for another beautiful morning. Thank you for letting me stay for another day. I am yours, you know and I am waiting to see Your Hand to save my life, but if it isn’t to be, it is OK….”

There is more, but I feel that I am eavesdropping on a very private conversation and I try not to listen. Sometimes, I go back to sleep or then the other times, I hear his prayer for his children, grandchildren, parents, and for me.

The tears roll down my face as I think back to the days when I didn’t have a husband who prayed for me. My first husband was at best an agnostic and at worst, an atheist. I had prayed many years for this man to come to know that there was a kind and loving God who knew his name.

When the day came that my first husband wanted to leave me after 17 years, I finally let him go. One of the main reasons was that I knew that he would never share my faith or my love for God.

Three years later, my present husband came into my life. As a son of a minister, there was no doubt as to his faith. He didn’t always practice what he had learned at his grandmother’s knee (she also was a minister and a female Evangelist). He had his rebelliousness, but there was no doubt that he knew that there was a God.

As I hear his prayer, I am so grateful for a husband who prays for me. Many times, we have dropped everything to hold each other and pray for the situation that we were in at the time. Many times we have laid in bed and talked about God and about His Word. We have laid in bed and sang the old old hymns blending our voices into one voice lifting the melody heavenward.

We sang together when we were teenagers. The tember of our voices complimented each other beautifully and it was the harmony that was felt between us that made our voices as one. That has been the nature of our relationship. Harmony.

This morning, I join him in his prayer of Thanksgiving for another day, another beautiful morning with the sounds of summer as our personal symphony. I am so grateful that he is still here with me. I know that whatever this day brings, it has been ordained by Heaven and in that knowledge, there is peace.

So, I echo, “Thank You, Father, for another beautiful Morning, for this day and for all that You have ordained in our life. Thank You for all that surrounds us and is for us. May we always be grateful for all that this day brings. For now and always, let us give thanks….”

In light of what I am about to write regarding his early teen years and his young adult life, I wanted there to be a comparison of the “finished product”, of the man that he became before he died. Like many who have many talents, his path in this life was a difficult one. But, in the end, he did find peace, joy and love…and so did I.

Finding this draft of a post again brought tears over the loss of a man who prayed for me daily. I miss sharing our faith and praying for each other. I have to believe that he still prays for me. Now, the prayers that he offers for me, his children, grandchildren and all those he loves are in heavenly places….and, yes, I am still grateful for his life and for our life together and I do give “Thanks” for having him for the years that I did.

Shadows of Joshua

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NIV

I found the beginning of this post. I do not know when I began it and I can’t recall what my train of thought was when I quoted this verse. I suppose it is one of those things that I was to find “after the fact” for encouragement.

The words of the verse are exactly what I needed to hear. My reality is that I know that I need  “strength and courage” at this very moment. I am walking into a new job and I am not familiar with all of the “ins and outs”. That always makes me nervous.

Tomorrow, I see my first clients and I am anxious to meet them. I hope that I like them and they like me. It is my adventure into home care and I know that I must be at my best as a nurse and as a person.

It is the words of the song that seems to impart the strength that I need to face my tomorrows. It is a reminder that there were never promises in this life that excluded disappointment, pain and even suffering. The promise has always been that we don’t have to face them alone, no matter how alone we feel. We are not….

 

The songs says everything that I want to say, but I think it does a better job…it is my comfort.

For those who aren’t into Gospel Music, here are the words to this song….

So many times I’ve questioned certain circumstances or things I could not understand.      And many times in trials, weakness blurs my vision and then my frustration gets so out of hand.      Oh, but its then, I am reminded that I’ve never been forsaken and I never had to stand one test alone. That’s when I look at all the victories and THE SPIRIT rises up in me and its through the Fire my weakness is made strong.

Chorus:    He never promised that the Cross would not get heavy and the Hill would not be hard to climb. He never offered our victories without fighting, but He said, “Help” would come in time. Just remember when your standing in the Valley of Decision and the Adversary says, “Give in…”, Just hold on. Our Lord will show up and He will take you through the Fire again…

Bridge:    I know within myself that I would surely perish. But if I trust the Hand of God, He’ll Shield the Flames again…again…

Chorus….