Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Life Goes On

So, yes, my son's father passed away. Hard to imagine...On his last conscious day, my precious kid dragged a piano into the palliative care room and played for his dad, to soothe, to bless him, as they both are wonderful musicians. This is a treasured image for me, even though I was not present. A son ministering to his dad, ushering him into eternity. Now he'll need to find a "new normal."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Can You Do?

        Someone is dying. A link to me that has been lost, but nevertheless this is a wound. I've met a hero in this. My son. This one in the hospital bed is his father. A distant father, a now-and-then father, but his biological dad non-the-less. This man now lays moments from the end, no longer able to speak or move without help. Morphine is his friend now as he waits out these final moments.  And because I believe, it is my relief that he has made his peace with the Lord, forgiving, accepting forgiveness, calling on help only He can give.

Now we wait.

        There have been heroics. I've seen my adult son become a man in ways he never expected at his young age. In the last seven days, he's learned a new vocabulary with words like, "notary, power of attorney, living will." He's had to talk about last wishes and cremation versus burial.  Upon hearing of his father's illness, he jumped on a plane within hours and flew across the country to arrive at his father's bedside the same day. Since then, he has nursed him round the clock , mostly sleepless- feeding, toileting, making use of his medical training. He has made dozens of phone calls to arrange appointments and take care of business matters. No easy task, as this is an angry patient, a self-pitying patient. I've only heard my son speak words of encourgement and prayer to his dad. My boy has shared his frustration with me, but not in a complaining way. He only feels sad he cannot help his dad in more ways. But he's been a champion to me. He's living Matthew 25: 35 - 40, where it says:

        "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

We wait.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Just Moving Along

If there is anyone out there that has been patient enough to tune in once again, after my rather long absence from this blog, God bless you!  I have been remiss in the writing department. I was aghast to see that I have not blogged a word since December, as if life was suspended for all these weeks...

So here is the lowdown. I've been doing so much and so little of any consequence at the same time. The tedium of the same old, same old,  hunts me down. I'm busy enough, dashing about like the proverbial chicken sans head. Accomplishing little, but fulfilling the duties required of teacher, wife, daughter, mother, friend.

In the midst of the duty calls, I have found two exquisite delights - tuning into  Downton Abbey and watercolour painting. The first requires no effort at all, just a good beverage, an empty house and a comfortable chair. (My husband and I succumbed to an attack of the flu over the holidays and said very little except, "Want to watch another one?"  Good friends had leant us the first two seasons of Downton on DVD and we were hooked.) What is it about this series that is so enthralling? For a period piece, sumptuous in its attention to detail in attire and setting, it moves rather quickly, as each episode leaves you hanging. Favourite characters are cheered on in their challenges as either the ridiculously privileged upstairs-dwellers, or their wonderfully loved and understood servants on the lower floors.  What I love about the whole thing, is that living in a country with very little class structure, it is so curious to me, this great divide. This line of thinking is so distant from small town Canada. Yet, the beauty of Downton is that I can feel empathy for those sitting at table and those waiting behind it.  People are people. I look forward to each new episode. If you do tune in, check out the first 10 seconds. There is a shot of a dog's behind walking toward the is just plain clever.

Mr. Carson, my most favourite character...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Star

      Centuries ago, wise men, scholars of the night sky, saw a light of significance and gave up all to follow it. The Bible seems to point to a journey of about two years. We don't know how many wise men there were and we don't know their origins. But we can surmise this - they recognized a God thing when they saw it. And I got to thinking. What was the "star" that showed itself to me, that set me on a life- long journey to seek the face of God?  Was it that overwhelming feeling at age seven that Christmas was about Christ and not Santa? Was it that lingering voice in the back of my mind that whispered conviction as I grew to adulthood? Maybe, but the day I started the no-turning-back journey started with a letter.
        The message of the Light of the World was expressed in a fourteen-page letter to me at a low time in young adulthood. A childhood friend, wrote to me of her rebirth. I knew her well. We had tripped through our teenage years pushing the envelope of all that was good and right. Seekers both, we had questioned and read and sought truth. We made huge blunders on the way, fell into pits that had dire and lifelong consequences. But we were looking. We wanted to know.
         And in 1977, my friend came to both the end and the beginning. She met Christ. And she presented her findings to me in that letter. That was the star in the east for me. I picked up a Good News Bible at the second hand bookshop and just couldn't put it down. And today, I'm still following that Light.
        So, I ask you, has there been a "star" in your life? A God moment that turned your heart toward His light?

It's Bigger

       Sitting in church this morning, I had a moment of explosive clarity, that I have allowed life to become an orderly series of one of two things...."accomplishable goals" or "worry blocks."  I seem to move from task to task, from predicament to plight.  The "accomplishable goals" follow the predictable path: a need is expressed, a task presented, a goal is set and eventually it is ticked off the list. 
       But the "worry blocks" are different. Something beyond my control springs up.  I stew, plan, freak, try to work it through, all the while praying... praying to calm down and trust my Lord. He says all things work together for my good, (Romans 8:28), and I believe Him. But, oh, it is a struggle sometimes. The process continues for days, weeks or months, and then all is either resolved, or momentarily forgotten, relegated to the back burner. In the last decade, there was one "worry block" that lasted almost two years. I wouldn't say it was a daily struggle, but at least conservatively, two or three days a week, a wave of soul-sucking anxiety would take over. And the fight for my peace was on.  And at the end of this dilemma, all was resolved with great victory. Looking back, I realize that there was not one thing I could have done to make it happen. I just needed to look up, keep quiet and wait on God.
        Slow learner....almost this same thing repeated itself this year. And again, the same pattern of me trying to make things happen. Nothing I said or did had any effect. The only one who needed to hear my voice was the Lord. And again, He made it all work together, for all good. And once more I am at peace.
        Oh, that I would learn to trust the Prince of Peace. To be still and let God be God. To trust Him. To know that as I "trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding, in all my ways acknowledge him and He will make my paths straight!"  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Brief Moment in Time

Last night, my son dug up our old Sony video camera. We had purchased it in 1999 when we were leaving the west coast to move here to Ontario. Using it to sieze and corral every bit of what we loved and were leaving behind, we took tapes and tapes of footage of the pack and move. There were tapes where the video was strapped to the dashboard of our '84 Tercel as we roamed favourite and familiar sideroads through forest and oceanside running personal commentary so we'd never forget. "Oh, I've always loved that house. Or quick, turn here, this is where we saw the herring run."  Knowing human memory can fail, we wanted proof that we had lived in one of the most beautiful places in the world. That for a precious five years, we lived in a smalltown beach community.

The camera did its job well. As each of our friends came to say goodbye, some local and some travelling from the mainland to spend scheduled weekends with us, we talked of the past, how we came to know and love each other and looked toward a future where the telephone would be the only link.

Watching the tapes last night, all I could think was that we were all so young. My son was only 16. His fresh sweet face was registering great glee over a newly aquired drivers licence and in many takes, he was the driver. He was leaving his home, but I don't recall him being negative in the least. He looked forward to a new start.

What I saw on my own face was quite different. Younger yes, but not fresher. My expressions were sadder, more harried. Shots of us carrying items out for a huge garage sale, of best friends meeting for a good-bye party singing and praying together after a big feast. Pasted smiles at times, when I wanted to collapse and scream, "why are we doing this?" 

For I loved my time on the Sunshine Coast. Though financially it had been a challenge, its beauty surpassed it all.  On this coast, we had lived in a heritage house on the beach, rented a little cabin on 11 acres of wood and built a big Cape Cod style house of our own.  We were accustomed to daily breaths of salt air and views of changing seas. No wonder we wanted it all on film. 

At one point on the tape, we were standing on the wharf in Roberts Creek panning the ocean and it struck me that just about everyone we knew and loved had come to visit and stand in that place. Family, friends from far and wide. Because it was beautiful. Because it was remote. Because for some reason, we were there and we were loved.

Much time has passed. Though we have fallen in love with Ontario, its beauty, its variety, most of my closest friends are on those tapes. Like us, many have left the coast....for Europe, for other parts of Canada and even the US. But for one brief moment, we all lived there together and I'm thankful for the old video camera that tied it all up like a gift to show it again and again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Remembering the Little Ones

          You know, I grew up in a home where my mother emphatically imposed her ideas on us that pets were a nuisance and were grand contributors to chaos and dirt in a home. Therefore, we had limited experience with pets. We had a little bird named Penny, a budgie that drank from our cereal bowls and pooped in our hair and on the sheers in the living room. Penny escaped one day and took her liberty beyond our back screen door. She didn't roam far and reappeared in the willow tree about a week later. She flew from the tree at my father's call and landed on his shoulder, but was never herself again. She came back starving, depleted and seemingly brain damaged. She could no longer judge distances and flew into walls and eventually drowned in the dishwater. A sad day for the pet deprived kids at our house. That, and a "dog for one day" fiasco are the only personal experiences I had with pets as a child. As an adult, I had a budgie for a short time when my son was little and it met its demise by flying into a wall heater. My son and I cried for days over "Mickie." I understand how attached one can be to an animal.

          Today, my good friends had to put their elderly cat to sleep. Sparing her of longsuffering from a number of ailments must have been no easy decision. That tiny little lady, Elfie, was over 16 years old. She showed up at their door when they lived on acreage in western Canada, seemingly out of nowhere and she became their constant companion. She was named after Mount Elphinstone, the mountain in the coastal range in the distant view from where they lived. Elfie was there to greet the birth of their baby son a year later and shortly after made the journey with the family to the Netherlands. She was a delicate, longhaired cat with unusual markings and a gentle way about her. She liked to curl up in a ball in the bowl on the table.

       My friends will long remember the joy Elfie brought into their family over all these years. There are no words for this particular brand of loss. It's just plain sad. She may have been a little one, but her family presence was great.