For Chip: He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion. —Unknown

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Finding My Way

Spiritually, a white feather is typically seen as a sign from the angel or spirit of a loved one who has passed on. White feathers symbolize faith and protection and are most significant when found in a spot where they are not likely to be, such as inside of a home or an automobile. #white feather

Recently, a ray of hope emerged as I found a lone white feather in the living area.  My attention was only on the feather as I examined it and hoped that it was a spiritual source rather than from a couch pillow. Signs from a deceased person could be linked to dimes or pennies in your path, or a hint of a familiar scent. 

Pulling oneself out of grief is difficult.  Like the old "Godfather" saying:  
"Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in".  I try hard not to dwell on death, but even after a year it is difficult.
 My mom's birthday is Friday, December 9.  The date should be insignificant, but the timing compounds the feeling of abandonment.  Can abandonment be related to grief?  It certainly feels that way.  The past ten years  I drove four hours to bring her back to my house for Christmas.  The timing had to be perfect  so she would not be away from home very long.  Last year was my first Christmas without her.

I certainly did not know that her absence would have touched me so deeply. I think of how unique she was, and the many things she accomplished in her life without every working a regular job.  She taught Sunday School for children, played the ukele, painted, and made so many ceramics I had no place to display them.  I know there is no way I can ever be that kind of mom.  She had an amazing ability to pick up vibes  from people as to whether they were good intentioned.  No way she could be scammed because she was much too savvy.  She frequently shared flowers and vegetables from the garden with neighbors and friends.

I have been so blessed to have had such amazing parents that gave me  an emotional, spiritual and social legacy.

Happy Birthday Mom(my) and Merry Christmas to all.

P.S.  Oh yeah and in this journey of love and heartache I am still finding my way. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Julian Assange and 'Band on the Run"

Julian Assange is a computer programmer, publisher, and journalist.   In 2006 he founded Wikileaks and is taking refuge in the London Equadorian embassy. He is currently wanted by Sweden.  He has been releasing delicate emails involving numerous US government officials.  Julian's internet connection was terminated by Equador on Monday morning.  The lost connection occurred at a crucial time while planning to release additional emails.    

If Assange was feeling a bit down he has had several visits from an interesting celebrity.  Pamela Anderson, blonde beauty from Baywatch was seen wearing a blue dress and pink heels as she carried bags into the embassy to visit Assange.  She was visiting because of her concern for Julian's welfare  and brought him a vegan meal.  

If you were a man in hiding could you possibly turn down a visit from Pamela Anderson, who is also  a porn star?   The visit  caused a barrage of Twitter comments claiming that Anderson had been paid to poison Assange, and that he is dead.  No one seems to know his status,  but I'm betting that the rumor isn't true.

In the midst of a chaotic United States presidential election  I would assume that more Wikileaks emails will be released through the network of hacker supporters.  

Netflix has a film on the Wikileaks "god" titled "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks (2013).  "The Fifth Estate" is another movie that chronicles  the founding of Wikileaks.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but hopefully more details on Pamela Anderson's visit.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Grief is Alive and Well

It's 4:00am and I will be at work soon.  Thank God for work.  I hope that I will be so busy today that I will forget the pain. The "pain" is not something that is visible.  The pain is a deep gut wrenching feeling that robs one of their spirit.  But wait I have many blessings.  I have the most gorgeous granddaughter, talented, brilliant, and loveable adult children, a beautiful place to live, and friends that would do anything for me. Furthermore, I have seen a counselor that gave me hope, but there is only so much they can say or do.  I think I left with more questions than answers and a debit of $150. 

My youngest son had very good advice for someone consumed with grief.  He said that I was in the twilight years, and that I should love myself and enjoy every day as a gift. After I remarked that  
being in the twilight years  sounded gloomy he explained that it did not really revolve around age and could apply at any time of life.  How would I know that my youngest son who loved superman pajamas and always slept with the family cat would give me "Hallmark based" and incredibly wise advice as a young man.  He is correct in his assessment.    I have so much to live for and I need to enjoy every minute of it. However, when you have a parent that does so much for you, and maybe they weren't so "touchy feely", but you know they would love you regardless of your shortcomings....  then mourning is natural.  I don't know why the loss of a mom suddenly seems so much more tragic than the dad.  My dad taught me everything about loving people, and yet there are many people that will not love you back. There are people that did not love my mom.  But they must have not known her in the same way that I did.   That's life and nothing can be done about that.  That's where you give that up to God.

Grief strikes at the most inopportune times.  As I drove to work yesterday it started all over again. Was it a song?  I never stray too far from music and it can be mood changing, but grief hurts in ways that you would never imagine.  I see my friends handle grief with grace.  I have never spent a lot of time crying, but when grief is present it does a magnificent job of breaking your heart.  It consumes all your thoughts and the first thing you think about is "Did I do everything humanly possible to keep this person alive"?  I know what most Christian people would say.  They would say to stop letting Satan rule your life.  I am a Christian and if that is true then I am sorry because it is uncontrollable.  I do not know how to handle these random feelings of yearning for years gone by and longing to feel the presence of the deceased once again.

I have a friend that has been grieving for five years for her mom.  She recently got a tattoo on part of her foot with her mom's signature from a greeting card.  My male friend who loves her dearly told me that she and I should get together.  He says she has the same hang up as I do.  In his words she carries her mom's "butt ugly" handbags to stay close to her spirit. I wear a ring of my mom's even though
I thought it was disgustingly gaudy when she was alive.    I have found that whatever makes one feel better and closer to your loved one is what you do.

There is a coworker that I enjoy immensely. However, I cringe when he says he hates  his mom and says rude things about her.  One day he will be grieving like the rest of us.  No one knows the guilt that commands your spirit when the person that you loved leaves this earth.  It makes no difference about their personal traits and whether you enjoyed their company or found them annoying. It hurts just the same.

I recently went on a cruise.  The only time I have felt complete relief from grief has been while on the water.  The sound of the water, and the smell of the water, and the feeling you get as you cruise in the dark of  night is so overwhelmingly comforting.  I yearn for that feeling daily.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of  the book Eat, Pray, Love has an amazing article about how water heals.      
Her recipe for healing is: rest followed by water.  Repeat this process over and over until healing is complete.  I am a believer of this concept.  God made the water to comfort and bring us peace  as it pours over our souls and makes us whole again. 

I don't know how we as humans can be so horrendous to other humans, but one day everyone will experience this feeling of loss and remorse for someone we love.  Until then God is in control.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Disease and The Gift

I entered the restaurant that my mom went to once a week.  I was meeting my cousin and her caretaker to relive the lunches we had  before my mom passed away.  I was a bit disappointed that the candy that was once in the big decorative bowl had been changed to regular red and green mints.  My mom used to fill her pockets with brightly colored candy until it was dropping on the floor.

My cousin, Alice and her caretaker entered the restaurant dripping wet after a sudden thunderstorm.  I held my cousin's hand and lead her to their usual table.  Alice said she did not know me while sitting next to me.  I told her I was her aunt's daughter, but she had no recall.  She pointed at pictures on the wall of the restaurant and  wanted many of the things we saw.  Her mind wandered rapidly from one topic to another.

People with Alzheimer's must not require much food.  She barely ate at all. She loved the coffee.  I cut up her enchilada, but she was more distracted by people and objects.  She said she wanted me to stay with her.  She was beginning to remember me or maybe she thought I was a safe person now.  Her caretaker constantly encouraging her and listening to her every desire. I was impressed with her patience.

We left the restaurant together and drove aimlessly for hours looking at flowers and renovated houses.  Wouldn't I like to move back and be closer to the few family I have left?  A normal conversation was impossible and at the same time exhausting.  Speaking to a child would be easier.
We  stopped at the caretaker's daughter's house.  Her daughter was extremely artistic and creative.  She was embarrassed of her messy apartment, but all I saw was interesting pieces of art.  It was a joy to see a bohemian style apartment in the midst of the realization that Alice would never be the same. 

At the end of the day I gave Alice a blue and white painting from her aunt, my mom.  It had a beautiful white carved frame.  It was more beautiful now than I had remembered.  I gave no thought to it's beauty when I threw it into the car.
As soon as I gave it to her she said "How did I get this?"  "Where is Aunt Agnes?"  Tears began to stream down her face with her blonde hair shining.  Her caretaker broke into tears seeing my cousin so touched.  I knew then that the caretaker really did care for her patient and also friend.  I had to leave quickly with goodbyes and well wishes before I became uncontrollably teary. 

I was sorry I had waited so long to give her the gift.  The painting meant more to her than I ever would have imagined.  The gift touched my heart as well. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Things Said

I am awe of the way life has twists and turns. There is no explanation for my incredible blessings other than from the “Father”.   I will spend the rest of my life being faithful to God, trying to do the right thing.
 My friend asked what she should do about an unforgivable deed her mother-in-law had done to her when her children were very young.  She wanted to tell the adult children so she could let them know what she had to go through, and that the mother-in-law was such a scoundrel.  As she was telling me the story it was obvious what she had to do.  Never disclose that information to the children.  Nothing is accomplished by hurting a family member. 

Time moved on and the mother-in-law had passed.  It serves no good purpose to taint the image of the grandmother, but rather let the children have positive thoughts about that time in their life. They will be proud of their mother and the way she handled all the obstacles.  As her children have children they will realize what an incredible job their mom did for them.  When someone tells me to just do the right thing the first thing that comes to mind is I'm not Jesus.  But when in doubt ask yourself “what would Jesus do”? Only then will you find the right answer.
Today is Monday, July 25, 2016.  There are 2 days left until the one year anniversary of my mom’s death.  As I drove to work I wondered how I should remember that day.  One of my friend’s remembers the death of her loved one by staying at home all day.  That seemed like a logical thing to do until I thought about my mom’s life.  She loved to go shopping, find a bargain and be active.  I doubt she would approve of feeling sad and depressed on the anniversary of her death. I will remember that she loved life, her neighbors, and her home rather than dwelling on her taking her last breath.  The countdown begins.
Revelations 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Letter to Mom

Dear Mom:
I wanted to catch you up on a few things since it has been awhile since we talked.  I was on my way to visit you in July when I got a call from hospice that you were unresponsive, and that I needed to get there as soon as possible.  I called the boys while driving and became uncontrollably teary, and was thankful when I arrived at the facility.  I was able to compose myself, and was hoping that Jeff would get there shortly. I asked John to call the church and ask for someone to come as soon as possible. They came within thirty minutes. 
I didn’t say much when you were having trouble breathing because I was afraid I would start crying.  I remained silent instead of encouraging you, but never let go of your hand and stroked your hair so you would feel my presence.  Jeff was very strong and loving when he bent over you to tell you he was there and everything was ok.  It was less than thirty minutes after he arrived that you took your last breath.
The grief counselor said I must tell you some things in order to heal.  You knew everything about me including my strengths and weaknesses, and could sense anything left unsaid because of your great intuitive nature. 
You knew how much I cared for you.  I always held your hand and gently brushed your hair back.  You would often tell someone that I was a “good kid”.  You did that often and I liked hearing it.  I was shocked when you asked me who was going to take care of me.  I never thought you were going to die even with the presence of hospice because I thought you were much too strong. Jeff and Carla met me at your house on a weekend that was the beginning of the end.  It was a precious time to have them there for support and encouragement.
I wanted to tell you about your beautiful funeral that the boys and Carla helped organize.  You must have been surprised that James and his girlfriend Jessica were there, and James sang two songs and played the piano.  John gave a nice talk about you and read the sweet obituary that was written by Jeff.  Carla, Jeff and John presented scriptures that you would have enjoyed, and were appropriate for the occasion.  Jeff and James accompanied the singer, and it was lovely.
Dressing you was mentally difficult.  We were not at your house or city so I went shopping and found the most beautiful blue dress.  The dress was in the “mother of the bride” category, and you would have loved the sparkly fabric and your favorite color blue.  Your casket was also a deep blue that John located.  He was amazing and never left my side during the planning.  He has always been faithful to you and Gramps. He made numerous trips to see you “one last time”.
 I always thought it was a bit morbid to say the deceased person looked good.  However, you looked beautiful with pink lips and styled hair adding just the right touch.  Your jeweled butterfly pin was placed on the right side of your dress.  The gorgeous accessories included the silver cuff and earrings that I had worn at Jeff and Carla’s wedding.  Did I ever think I would take pictures of someone that had died? I took pictures and was so happy to have documentation of the occasion. It numbs some of the rough times you had with the two hospital stays and the facility that you wanted to leave.
The hospice nurse removed your ring while Jeff and I debated about leaving it on.  I wear your rings all the time.  I told you they didn’t interest me, but I never leave home without them because it makes me feel like a “superhero” with special powers. You would be so excited to know that Jeff and Carla are having a baby girl.  You always loved girls and maybe I can hand down one of your rings so she will know a little bit about you.  I will let her know what a powerful, energetic, and religious woman you were.  You will be an excellent role model to this baby even though you are not on earth.
The flowers at the funeral were beautiful.  Jeff and James accompanied a second singer and James played background piano music during the service.  We used the pastor from Oak Forest since he knew you well.  We used the cemetery chapel for the service and buried you in the plot by Dad. We had a dinner at your weekly restaurant, Tony’s.  The candy from the restaurant that you routinely stuffed into your pockets has shown up all over house and car.  I want to hang on to every piece of candy and even keep one in my pocket to pretend you are with me.
We found a wonderful florist in Houston and they specialize in pastel flowers.  Your casket was covered with magnificent flowers in pale pinks and white.  We also bought a beautiful spray that had darker versions of the flowers on the casket.  I have never seen flowers this beautiful.  You received a generous number of sprays.  One was from a woman that was in your Sunday school class when she was a child.  I thought that was really sweet.  
Overall, I think you would be amazed how your grandchildren organized, sang and spoke at the funeral.  I would never have dreamed that it would be so beautiful.  At the gravesite I took a white and pale pink flower and handed the two flowers to each woman that was there.  It was a nice touch as they later laid them on the table at Tony’s.  I waited until the coffin was covered up with dirt and the flowers placed at the gravesite.  I was not about to leave you as if the job was not completed.  Although this act seemed to be uncomfortable for some, I let the dirt blow over me in the humid one hundred degree heat as I made sure the task was completed.
Pallbearers included the boys (grandchildren) along with your neighbors Ray, Mark, and Don.  They were wonderful taking us to breakfast and offering referrals and support.  Your neighbor Pat was the best helper in completing tasks.  Not only is she very funny, but very efficient.  Her call from the Dollar Store was very sweet when she said she was buying candy for children in the neighborhood.  However, it was followed by “I hate kids”.  The humor and southern accent reminds me of a reality show.
The things I miss about you being gone is your physical body and ability to talk to you every day.  I could always fill you in on everything.  Since I called you every day without fail I recently called your house and let the phone ring over and over.  I now have that number forwarded to me. 
I was unemotional when you told me you thought your death was coming soon.  I could never have known how much I would miss you.  You were my supporter, encourager, and loved me.  I thought I knew what grief was when Dad died.  Evidently, I was clueless because I have suffered so much and cried uncontrollably at the most inopportune times. I finally went to see a grief counselor which was productive.  When she said I would need to come back for many more sessions I thought of what Dad said when the chaplain came to visit; “How much is this going to cost me?”  We would have all laughed.
Hope you have peace and serenity.  You lived a very long and fruitful life.  I always found it amazing that you seemed to make an impact on people everywhere.  God is good and you were faithful to the end. 
Love from your daughter through eternity.
P.S.  Thanks for calling me the night that I wrote this letter.  I could not believe it was your voice, and that you called me while I was driving in the car.  It was hard to believe you were calling me just as I used to call you.  After you hung up I woke from the dream.  I went back to sleep and then I saw Dad.  I was so surprised.  He was watching a small TV and I told him he could afford something nicer.  He never said anything but I saw his face just as I remembered.  Thanks for both of you visiting me.  It was comforting.  Love you both very much.  There is no doubt that I will see you again.