Friday, November 09, 2012

Weekly Word for November 8, 2012

Weekly Word - November 8, 2012

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven - (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Last month was the four year anniversary of my dad’s death. The year leading up to his death had seemed so busy, hectic, and full of doing the things that were needed - to help him through that time. When he passed away, the focus quickly shifted to my mother’s needs. Mom had Alzheimer’s and diabetes - and her care quickly became more than any of us could handle. Mom needed to live in a nursing home. But that didn’t take away the burdens. There were meetings with nurses and doctors. There was a determination to make sure mom had visits at least every other day. And there were the calls from the nursing home when mom fell, got sick, was crying uncontrollably, or whatever the demand was. Now I have to say here that the care of mom, and even dad, didn’t just rest on me. My brothers helped where they could, and my brother Rob is a constant help with visiting mom.

Over the last few years, mom’s needs haven’t changed much. Her disease has progressed, and she seems like a lost little girl quite often. But the nursing home is so good to her, and they do their best to help her through this time in her life. I still worry though, and even though I do my best to let go of those things I can’t control - I am not always successful at that one!

When I think about the last 5 or 6 years, they seem so full of turmoil, worry, stress - just trying to get through the battles of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease! I guess that’s why it was such a surprise when I found myself looking inward, looking at my parents and the way they used to be when I was much younger . . .

And there is a time for every event under heaven -
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1 & 4)

It was late summer, and I felt a huge need to go see my dad. He had been gone almost 4 years, and I really wanted to go visit his grave. The plan had started out as a trip that Ted and I would take. The cemetery is north of us, in a town called Paxton, MA. The drive from our home is quite far. I had only visited the grave two times - the day we buried my dad - and once when Ted took me to visit. So I wasn’t quite sure I could make the trip on my own. As the day got nearer, Ted’s plans had changed. He had to work that week-end, and so if I wanted to go that Saturday, I was on my own. As I got in the car, with my lunch packed and coffee in hand, I put on a brave smile and waved at Ted as I drove away. But as he faded from view in my back mirror, I have to admit I was a little nervous . . .

A time to mourn, and a time to dance . . .

As I got on the highway heading north, a familiarity seemed to set in. This was the same road I took twice a week - when I visited mom. As I drove, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful blue sky, the wildflowers along the side of the road, and just the beauty of the day. Looking over at the seat next to me, I checked to make sure the plant I was bringing with me, was alright. It was a bright orange and yellow mum plant, in a planter that had a pumpkin face on the front. I wondered a little bit if I should have picked something a little less Halloween for the planter, but it had seemed so right when I bought it. As I looked at it again, I couldn’t help but remember back to my dad, and the pumpkins he used to make . . .

My dad loved art. He had a talent for it. He could draw and paint, and even make woodworking projects for craft shows. Every fall, my parents would go to the store and buy lots of pumpkins. My dad would then paint them. They were always bright colors, with funny faces, and never scary! As soon as he would finish painting them, he would call me. “I have the pumpkins here for the kids” he would say. That’s when I would bring Mike and Jenny over to pick out their favorite pumpkins. They would carry them in the house, arguing about whose was the best! Dad painted pumpkins up until the year before he died. He painted them for his great grandchildren, smiling as they would pick out their favorites too. As the memory slipped away, I realized I had picked out just the right plant for my dad!

And there is an appointed time for everything.
A time to search, and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away . . .

Driving north, I finally came to the town that I grew up in. Turning onto the exit, I looked out over the fields where the local dairy farm used to be. As I drove through the town, so much had changed since I had been a little girl there. The “News Room” was now a florist, the post office had been turned into a pizza place, and the barber shop where my dad and brothers used to go get their hair cut - well it was now a beauty salon! As I drove down Main Street, I came to the road that would lead to the house I had grown up in. Without even thinking about it, I made a left onto the road. Slowly I drove down around the little streets, until I came to “my” street. The house that I had grown up in was at the end of the street. Slowly I drove toward my old home. As I got close, my heart seemed to stop, as I looked at my childhood home. Sitting in front of it, I started to see all the changes that had been made since I had last been in the house. The bushes in front of my window were gone! The fence that had surrounded the front yard, that was gone too. The little tree we used as shade, as we sat in the glider out front had been cut down. And the flowerbeds - all my mom’s hard work - were nowhere to be seen. I guess I must have sat there for quite some time, because a woman and her daughter came over to the car. As I opened the door and told her who I was, she smiled and said how often the neighbors still talked about my mom and dad. She told me how the house had been such a gift, because of the ramp that had been out front. My dad had it put in when he couldn’t walk any more. This woman told me how her brother-in-law had MS and had moved in with them. The ramp made all their lives so much better. The little girl told me that her room was in the far corner - the room that my brothers had shared growing up. As I listened to this woman and little girl, I realized how this house had become “their home”. When they asked if I wanted to see inside - I told them “no”. I didn’t want to lose the memories of the kitchen and living room as it was, when my family would get together for holidays. As I drove away, I found myself swallowing hard to keep from crying. The “home” that my parents had made for us - was no longer there. It belonged to another family - and they were making new memories in that house. But as I drove, the memories of that house still lingered - and I knew they would never totally go away . . .

There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven -
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1 & 2)

As I continued to drive north, memories of the past seemed to flood my being. There were birthdays, and holidays that seemed so full of life. Many of the people in my memories had passed on, and yet I could still hear their voices and see their faces. As I finally found the cemetery, my thoughts turned toward finding my dad’s grave. I headed to the area I thought it was in, and very quickly found his plaque. I took the plant I had brought and set it behind his name. I knelt down and brushed the leaves and sand from the plaque, and then I sat back, just looking at my dad’s name. It was then that the tears started to fall. Without thinking, I started to tell my dad all about my mom and the hard times we had been having. As I sobbed, I told him: “I am so glad you aren’t here - to go through having her forget you!” When I heard those words, I guess I hadn’t realized the emotions that I had been holding inside of me. As I sat there that day, I told my dad all about the things happening in my life. I told him about Ted and the kids, and the grandbabies. I told him that we were going to have a new grandson in the fall. I sat and just visited with my dad that day. I knew he wasn’t there - but the memories of him were. As I left, I felt like a burden had somehow been lifted from my shoulders.

Oh Lord, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will give thanks to Thy name, For Thou has worked wonders, . . .
He will swallow up death for all time,
And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, . . .
(Isaiah 25: 1 & 8)

As I drove home that day, something seemed to have changed inside of me. There would still be difficult days ahead with my mom. I knew that hard times were not over. But I guess what I also learned, was that the memories and moments that went into making me “who I am” - I appreciate those moments so much more. Driving home that day, I prayed that I would be able to make more of those moments and memories for my own family.

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, . . . (it) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(1 Corinthians 13: 4 & 7)

When Halloween came around last month, I decided to paint a pumpkin. I picked the biggest pumpkin we had! I found my acrylic paints (that my dad had given to me) and I somehow painted a funny face on it. I was so afraid that it would come out terrible, but it didn’t. It was nowhere near as good as what my dad used to make, but it was bright, and cute, and the little ones seemed to love it as they came trick-or-treating here that night.

Three weeks later, on October 22, my youngest grandson was born. He was born early, and only weighed 4 pounds 2 ounces. He was so tiny, and I worried about him so very much. He lost weight in the hospital, and I worried some more. But slowly, he started to get stronger, and grow healthier. He and his momma came home from the hospital 6 days after he was born. He is beautiful, and perfect, and I love him so much! The first time I held him, I cried. This precious little boy is such a gift to our family. I wanted to tell him so many things, as I held him in my arms that day.

Love - bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails;
(1 Corinthians 13: 7 & 8)

My dad will never meet his newest little great-grandson. My mom will never remember that she has a new little great-grandson. But I can tell little Christian Michael all about the family that I came from. They are the family that helped to make me who I am today. And with God’s help, I can be a part of forming who little Christian will become - in the years ahead . . .

But now abide faith - hope - love - these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13: 13)

Over the next few weeks, as we begin to celebrate Thanksgiving, it is my hope and prayer that you see the moments and memories that are full of Love and Life - in your own life. When you do, you will see God! He wants to be in not only your life - but also in the lives of those all around you.

God bless you and keep you, until we meet back here again!

In His Abundant Love,

Debbie and Ted Ayers