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Archive for December, 2007

Often, when a loved one is sick, it becomes hard to remember who he or she was before the sickness took hold. And when that person passes, we are left with different, even contradictory images. During our grief, we find ourselves sorting through all those memories.

THEREFORE

I choose to forget…
… the unfamiliar stranger weakened by a myriad of physical complications and emotional weariness.

I choose to forget…
… the times when I was called by the wrong name and times when a birthday or other important life event was passed by.

I choose to forget…
… any times when I was hurt or wronged, unintentionally or otherwise.

BUT

I choose to remember…
… the generous man who gave freely, often without consideration of the cost to himself.

I choose to remember…
… the hard-working man who was always willing to lend a hand, or a hammer, or a ladder, or a saw, or a…

I choose to remember…
… the man skilled with his hands who upholstered furniture, built cabinets, fixed up houses, completed numerous wood working projects and built those bright, beautiful, cheerful miniature carousels.

I choose to remember…
… the creative man who was always into something new or recreating something that Granny had seen somewhere and he said “I can make one of those.”

I choose to remember…
… the adventurous man who enjoyed camping and those little excursions they were often taking (even if only an hour or two away from home)!

I choose to remember…
… the man at ease who enjoyed country music, old westerns, cop shows, card playing, dice rolling and spending time with family (including watching the soaps with his wife)!

I choose to remember…
… the man who made baked beans every holiday, drank iced tea, loved cashews and circus peanuts and always had cookies or candy around the house (which we grandkids got into)!

I choose to remember…
… the ornery man who liked Ray Stevens, kidded and joked with family and friends alike and could usually be found with a smile on his face and something funny to say.

I choose to remember…
… the grandfather who got me personal pan pizzas on Fridays and KFC chicken on Sundays, who allowed me to stay over when I needed, who took me places I needed to go and who was always available for me. I can still hear his strong voice, grown serious after some wise-crack, saying “if you need anything…”

I choose to remember…
… the man with the crooked smile which, though he was self-conscious about it, I found so beautiful.

I choose to remember…
… my Pappy.

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Intangible

It still hasn’t quite sunk in yet that I no longer have any living grandparents.

And I’m not even 30 yet!

Is that normal?

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Happy Birthday

“Celebrate yourself, for this is a special day- a day for thinking back, a day for looking ahead… And somewhere between old memories and new hopes lies a special moment- a moment for being glad that you are you… After all, you’re the reason today is a special day, so celebrate you! ~ Pappy”

Pap forgot about my birthday celebration (just the family on a Sunday afternoon). So Wednesday when Mom was at his house cleaning (still thinking he’d be home in a couple of days), she found the card he’d gotten for me. Not sealed, or completely addressed and never delivered… but he picked it out and he signed it.

And now it’s the last card I’ll get from him.

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Still numb…

I slept in late today – had a headache. Then I got up and got around, eating breakfast and finally getting the last of the Christmas gifts in the mail. Seemed like any normal Saturday.

Then the first sympathy cards arrived in the mail. And some flowers were delivered.

Oh yeah. Pap’s gone.

Why does it still feel so remote? So unreal?

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Silent Night

In my 28 years, I think that this year has been the most difficult Christmas. Not because it was bad, the irony is that it was pretty good, but it’s been difficult. Very difficult.

I was in charge of the drama part of the musical at my church. Never done anything that big before. I was a convoluted mixture of stress and peace and excitement throughout the weeks leading up to and during the production. It stemmed out of a vision God had given me and I acted in obedience and God was glorified. Despite my shortcomings. And that was wonderful.

But November and December were trying times for me physically. First off with the fibro and hypoglycemia… missed work, felt miserable, unsure what to do… Then, on my birthday no less, I came down with a cold of some sort. Not fun to begin with. Especially not fun with fibro. I’m in my third week of being sick and still not better yet. Haywire symptoms. Deadening fatigue. Simply feeling lousy.

In between the musical and Christmas, on a day after a day I missed work because I was so sick, I tried to be helpful and run Christmas errands for Mom and Pap. I was doing pretty good getting things done and had just a few more stops to make… and then I was rear-ended. Hard. Pushed into the car in front of me. Both bumpers cracked (one dangling). The next day I couldn’t move my head very far. The day after that I went in to the ER because people kept telling me neck injuries shouldn’t be trifled with.

After getting x-rays, being told it was a muscle strain and getting some meds, Dad and I went up to the second floor of the hospital to see Pap. He’d been admitted the day before. 911 call. Ambulance. Possible pneumonia. Lots of tests.
So the 3 days before Christmas were largely spent sick, hurting, resting, trying to help Mom get ready and visiting Pap. Christmas eve service. Get-together with family friends. Christmas morning. Celebration at cousin’s instead of Pap’s. Christmas night with siblings and families…

We left the gifts Pap “got” for us (we mostly got the gifts for each other, helping Pap out like the past two years) all wrapped up. We wanted to wait till he came home from the hospital so we could open them with him. Guess that will never happen now…

Pap died last night. Can’t say it was really a surprise, or completely unexpected. After all, he’s been just a shadow of himself for the past few years. Slowly fading. But it wasn’t like he’d been in the hospital for a long time, or with hospice, or had a terminal illness. Yesterday the doctors did say to be prepared. But the couple days before that we were looking at the possibility of bringing him home soon.

So I’m still somewhat in shock. Stunned. Numb. I want to cry but can’t seem to quite yet. Hard to process it all. And now we’ll be starting the new year with a funeral and figuring out to do with Pap’s house, his stuff and his rental properties… and those pretty wrapped presents he never got to open.

And yet… it’s been a good Christmas. It’s really quite hard to explain. The rush of the musical, the stress of being sick, the loss that now engulfs – and my Christmas cards just went out this morning! It hasn’t been a loud Christmas, or one filled with an abundance of merry. It’s been soft. Quiet. Peaceful.

Like the gentle glow of a candle. Or the hushed heavens staring in awe as God became a baby. Or the comfort of simply resting in my Father’s arms. Peace. Enveloping me like a warm chenille sweater. This must be that “peace that passes all understanding.” It doesn’t make sense. Yet it’s there.

If I should ever stand upon the shore like the anonymous poet, this would be one of those times when I would only see one set of footprints. For I know that it is God carrying me through. Immanuel. God is with us.

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Here’s the promo video for our Christmas musical at church.  Check it out, share it with others and be sure to come see the musical on

December 14th and 15th 
starting at 7 PM 
at Mt. Pleasant Church in Chambersburg, PA!


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