iBelieve

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

Archive for the tag “Death”

Like Peeling an Onion


Today is Father’s Day. I can say the simple phrase that many people can voice with me, “I miss my dad.” But this phrase packs a lot within and it really is not a simple phrase. Sort of like peeling an onion, there is so much more to the phrase.

Let me peel about my dad.

Outer layer, I miss my dad; he’s been in heaven since 2009. He worked hard at his job and he worked hard caring for his wife and kids. He loved my mom and that is the most important example he could share with all five of his children. Mom and dad bickered a lot but they were both perfectionists who would approach a process differently but always end up with the same outcome. I don’t think they ever went to bed angry at each other. Another valuable life lesson from both of them. Sadly, my first marriage was nothing like theirs and it fell apart quickly. Dad stood by me through that difficult time; never judging, but always supporting me.

The second layer, he loved his kids. He never belittled us. His conversations with us were always positive words and he was lovingly stern so we would turn out to be respectful adults. My siblings and I are high-functioning people. He was always goofing around with us too. He’d be in the back yard with my brothers and me as we played basketball. He had a famous “hook shot” which I picked up and made as my famous shot when I play basketball with my nephews. The hook shot is a lifesaver when we play a game of Horse.

The next layer includes the grandkids of which he was blessed with many thanks to one sister and one brother. He went by the name “Gramps” and it still sticks when we talk about him. He loved each grandchild and treated them so kindly. He used to slip bingo winnings into the hands of my niece and nephew when they lived with my parents for a short time. He put up a small basketball hoop on the side of the garage much lower than normal because my nephew used to play basketball like the big kids. And, he was really good for such a little guy. Of the great-grandkids he got to meet, he showered the exact same love, but his health was failing and he could not do as much with them. However, his love was evident. Always giving of himself.

In the next layer I remember a back-and-forth conversation with the neighbor kid, you know, the one where you say, “My dad could beat up your dad”. Thinking back to the other dad, yes, I bet my dad could have whooped him, but in truth, my dad was friends with everyone. I never saw him fight, nor did I hear him bad-mouth anyone. In fact, I was invited many times to run errands with him and in the course of each trip, he would talk with everyone he met as he seemed to know at least one person at each errand. I commented to him that everyone likes him. He assured me that was not true, and in my youth I did not comprehend that we cannot be liked by everyone, but he didn’t explain it. I had to learn that lesson on my own. Not everyone was his friend, but he treated everyone equally with kindness. What a beautiful life-lesson and I am thankful for the invite to go on errands.

The next layer, he was a devoted son. His dad was a watchmaker and when he needed parts, my dad would have to walk, after school, to get what he needed, bring it back home and head out to baseball practice or a game. My grandma would make dinner and leave him a plate and even though it was late he always cleaned up after himself. I clearly remember him jumping up from our dinner table to begin doing the dishes after a meal my mom cooked for the family. Dad was aware of what was important to others and a clean kitchen was important to my mom.

Getting deeper into the onion, my dad thought he felt called to be a Priest. Obviously that did not pan out as I am here today blogging about him. But his Catholic faith was important to him; my parents saw to it that we all attended Catholic school. Those years have planted Holy Spirit seeds in my heart and the love for the Trinity has sprouted within me.

He also was a very good baseball player; a pitcher actually. He tried out for the Detroit Tigers one time, but realized that his shoulder was not built for the majors. Instead he coached my brothers’ little league teams.

Can we talk aim for a second? That man had an eye for a straight line whether it was baseball, horseshoes, basketball, or those, heaven-forbid, pointy lawn jarts. He had an aim that kept him a winner much of the time.

At the core of my dad, he loved. He loved his country and it was evident when he quit school at the age of 17 to join the Navy during WWII. I regret not remembering much about his stories of his Navy days but I am fortunate to be the holder of his photo album from that period in his life. He was a handsome Sailor. At the conclusion of his church funeral, the Honor Guard performed a service of their own for their fallen comrade. They removed the flag that covered his casket, folded it and presented it to my mom. Someone snapped the most precious photo of that flag transfer and the look on my mom’s face was priceless. She was proud of my dad and was honored to hold his flag. The bugler began playing taps and that is where we all shed some heavy tears.

Truly cutting into an onion gets the eyes to water; thinking about my dad has the same effect. I miss my dad.

Late Night Visitor – Missing Someone I Never Met


I get to know people more by observing them because I believe their actions speak louder than words. When all someone has are words, then the consistency of the words speak to their character.

In the 10+ years I have been blogging, I realized early on that there is a blogging etiquette. One doesn’t write a blog, hit send and go on with their day. No, they search out topics of interest and find other bloggers that inspire them and subscribe to their site so they can keep up with the postings and comment on the writing.

Early on, I was impressed with a group of bloggers who were taking a “Post a Day Challenge”. I was too far into the year to begin the year-long challenge so I read and subscribed to some Christian bloggers that touched my heart-center with their words.

Butch Dean, Wordsmith’s Desk, is one such blogger that hit my sweet spot talking about the love of the Lord and many well-written stories of his past. His wife, Bonnie, also blogs and her site is called Memory Bears by Bonnie. When Butch hit send, Bonnie was right after him and their blogs showed up in succession in my inbox.

A post from Butch came on Thursday, October 22, 2020 and strangely one from Bonnie did not follow in my inbox. When I read the post titled, I’ve Changed My Address, it made me cry. Butch had his son send out his very last post that was beautifully and creatively written. He let his readers know that he is now face-to-face with the God he so lovingly had been writing about.

I get to know people more by observing them because I believe their actions speak louder than words. When all someone has are words, then the consistency of the words speak to their character.

Godspeed Butch. May the peace of God fill the hearts of Bonnie and all who loved Butch.

Late Night Visitor – Grief Meter


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Late Night Visitor – Grief Does Not Social Distance


My aunt passed away yesterday on the most beautiful, blue-skied sunny day of May.  There were no clouds in her way when her spirit met with Jesus and together they soared up to heaven to meet her husband, her baby boy, and all the family and friends who have gone before her.  Her 93-year-old body has been vacated.  She can breathe, walk, run, and move freely forever in the light of Christ.

The funeral will be small, holding to the group size restrictions during the pandemic.  Not all of her immediate family will be in the same room to gather for the final blessings, but they will be near by.  The grief felt at a funeral is temporarily snuffed out by a hug; however, there will be no touching and the face masks worn will double as tissue.

I grieve with my cousins, their spouses, and the grandchildren.  From my own experience, I know the feeling of being an orphan and losing the matriarch of the family. It feels so unnatural to not be there to hug each cousin, kiss my aunt on the forehead and wish her godspeed.

    my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
    my soul and body with grief.


My drive to work is a leisurely 25 mph around 7 a.m. through a residential neighborhood. Some houses along the route illumine against the dark winter morning sky. Families are waking at this hour and because they do not have window coverings, I am allowed a glimpse of their morning routine.

For example, I pass a house with a little child pushed up close to the table in a high chair sitting to the left of an adult at the head of the table. The adult is feeding the child, which to most of you reading this is no big deal. One of those, “been there, done that” moment in life. But to me, who was never blessed with a child, this is a moment I can only imagine taking place in my kitchen.

In the morning before work, I eat breakfast alone.

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Revelation 3:20 NIV

My house illumines the dark winter mornings as I eat breakfast. If there was a knock at my door so early in the day, I would be hesitant to open it.

But from this verse in a literal sense, I would have to open the door in case it was Jesus standing there. I would invite Him in and be awestruct that He was there How would I know it was Jesus, though? this day and age, I think I would be afraid of someone knocking at my door early in the morning. However, the light illumining in the dark winter sky had attracted someone to knock.

I do not have window coverings on the window in front of my sink, but my kitchen is in the back of my house. Let’s assume this is you in the morning going about your routine with your child and suddenly there is a knock at your door.

You are in your pajamas, or robe, and your hair is a mess from sleeping. You breathe in the palm of your hand to check just how bad your morning breath resonates. Are you going to open the door to see who is calling at such an early hour? You really cannot hide from the visitor because you have no window coverings.

What if Jesus was riding through your neighborhood and stopped at your house because He saw you eating breakfast through an undressed window?

Jesus knocks at your door.

Late Night Visitor – Grief Brain


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Late Night Visitor – Please RSVP


It came in the mail the other day.  The 4″ x 6″ white envelope had no return address, but my name was handwritten in beautiful calligraphy.

I sliced open the envelope to find it was an invitation.  The beautiful calligraphy continued on the inside and I was being invited to a Thanksgiving Dinner and a Christmas party.  An RSVP was requested, but there was no contact name, email, or phone number.  As I read futher, I noticed the time and location were not listed either.  Confused, I flipped the card over thinking the details would be on the back, but alas, they were not.  I scrambled to pick up the envelope and look at the back to see if there was a return address written there, but there was nothing.

“What a cruel joke” I mumbled to myself while tossing the invitation in the air and slumped in the oversized couch in my living room.

I hugged the pillow made out of my mother’s clothing.  My mind raced trying to think of who would send an invitation without any details.  Then it dawned on me.  It doesn’t matter where I go this upcoming holiday season, grief is going to be there.  I have never been one to say, “If so-and-so is going to be there, I am not going.”  But this time, I am allowing myself to make an exception.

Grief is excited for the holidays.  It’s his big debut.  He is going to make an appearance in so many hearts this year.  He will be in every store, mall, and restaurant.  He will be singing Christmas karaoke at the top of his lungs.  He is a bit much; too much actually.

For the record, I am RSVPing MAYBE.  It is okay to not do anything on the holidays if my heart is not up to it.  Grief is as unique as a snowflake and does not come with instructions or an end date.  MAYBE is my best answer…for now.

Psalm 31:7 (NIV)

I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
    for you saw my affliction
    and knew the anguish of my soul.

 

 

Late Night Visitor – Earthquakes and Aftershocks


Did you feel that?

…and that?

……and that too?

I am talking about earthquakes; I lived through three.

The first one was in July 2009 when my dad passed away.  My life changed at the moment he took his last breath.  Parkinson’s Disease took away his mobility, strength, and his great smile.

…and the aftershocks.  I miss him asking me, “So what’s new?” I miss his laugh.  I miss racing him to figure out the mixed up letters of the Jumble puzzle in the newspaper; he always won.  I miss playing horseshoes and lawn jarts; he had such great aim.  I miss watching baseball with him.  I miss sitting in the back yard on lawn chairs listening to Polka music in the summer.

The second one was in December 2016 when my niece Jill died in a single car accident with a tree.  She left behind 3 young children, parents, a little brother, and a new boyfriend.  Word was that she was at the happiest point in her life and she had been going to church and loved the song Amazing Grace; my dad’s favorite song too.

…and the aftershocks.  I am sad that I do not know her children – my great niece and nephews.  I miss the twinkle in her eyes and dimples in her cheeks when she smiled.  She was quick-witted and kind.  She could light up a room during a power-outage.

The third one in March 2019 when my mom passed away.  A tough little eighty-nine year old weighing less than her age.  Her mind was sharp, but her heart was weak.

…and the aftershocks.  I miss calling her just to say “Hi!” and to check up on her.  I miss watching her sew.  I miss watching her decorate cakes, helping her bake zucchini bread and cupcakes, and making Christmas sweets.  I miss helping her plan and make Thanksgiving dinner and setting the table together.  I miss Sunday afternoons listening to Polka music on the radio; she loved Polka music.  I miss driving in the driveway of her home and seeing her fuzzy little head sitting on the back porch in the summer; she loved the warm sun shining on her through the windows.  I miss doing things for her that she could no longer do for herself.

I will not see my dad, Jill, or my mom this side of heaven.  The aftershocks, otherwise known as grief, come in waves; some light and some strong.

My world has been rocked and torn apart.  Please go away grief; I am tired of you showing up as an aftershock.

Psalm 75:3 (NIV)

When the earth and all its people quake,
    it is I who hold its pillars firm.

 

Late Night Visitor – Gone Fishin’


When I was a child, my family spent summer weekends at our cottage and fishing was a popular activity. At dusk on Friday night, dad held a shovel in one hand and my little hand in his other, and we made our way to a specific spot in the yard to dig up worms to use for bait in the morning. The worm-hunting excursion brought a song to my dad’s lips and to this day, makes me giggle.

“Nobody likes me, everybody hates me. Sitting in the garden eating worms. Big fat juicy ones, small little thin ones. Oh, how they wiggled and they’d squirm.”

Shovel in hand and me on the sideline, dad made his first plunge into the dirt. I remember he used his foot to stomp on the shovel to get deep into the the earth. With his brawn, he’d flip the dirt pile over and I would start to paw my way through looking for big, juicy nightcrawlers. Dad put some dirt in an empty coffee can and empty whipped cream plastic bowl and I would drop nightcrawlers in one at a time. The lids of the containers had holes poked for the sake of oxygen and they were placed near our fishing gear for the morning.

At dawn on Saturday, when the lake looked as smooth as glass, we packed the fishing boat with our safety cushions, nightcrawlers, and fishing poles and motored to a fishing spot dad felt would wield a good catch.

Even though I caught the worms, I was not able to put them on the hook as well as he could, so dad did it for me. I fished with a bobber on my line so I could learn what it felt like when a fish was interested in my bait. Nibbles would make the bobber wiggle in the water and a hooked fish pulled the bobber out of sight. Depending on the size of the catch, it could take some effort to reel in, but once in the boat, we’d size up the catch. Too small a fish, it gets released to the water, if large enough by state fishing regulations, it becomes dinner.

So it is with grief. The tug at my heartstrings when a memory of my parents comes out of nowhere is like the bobber wiggling in the water. Then the milestone moments knowing they will not be there for a special event or holiday makes that bobber disappear. As hard as it may be to face what is on the end of the line, I reel it in. At this point, whether a nibble of grief or a major catch, it is healthy to face it. Sit with it if I must; ride it out until it fades away.

I have a big catch on the end of my line. June 24 will be my first birthday without either parent. It is the hardest thing for me to reel in right now. My parents made birthdays fun and grief is showing me the slideshow of memories on the wall of my mind.

Thank you mom and dad for bringing me into this world and giving me such a good life that I have, yet another, reason to grieve your passing.

1 Thessalonians 3:6 (NIV)  Timothy’s Encouraging Report

But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.

 

Milestone – Haiku


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