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A Man and a Fork

Today I’m sharing with you a story sent to me by our friend and neighbor Robert. It illustrates a simple but power message.

Time to Get His Affairs in Order

There was a young man who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So, as he was getting his things “in order,” he contacted his priest and had him come to his house to discuss certain aspects of his final wishes.

He told him which songs he wanted sung at the service, what scriptures he would like read, and what outfit he wanted to be buried in.

Everything was in order and the priest was preparing to leave when the young man suddenly remembered something very important to him.

“There’s one more thing,” he said excitedly.

“What’s that?” came the priest’s reply.

“This is very important,” the young man continued. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”

The priest stood looking at the young man, not knowing quite what to say.

“That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the young man asked.

“Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,” said the priest.

The young man explained.

“My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement.”

“In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’”

“It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming …. like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance!”

“So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’”

“Then I want you to tell them: ‘Keep your fork … the best is yet to come.’”

The priest’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young man good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see him before his death.

But he also knew that the young man had a better grasp of heaven than he did. He had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice his age, with twice as much experience and knowledge.

He KNEW that something better was coming.

At the funeral people were walking by the young man’s casket and they saw the suit he was wearing and the fork placed in his right hand. Over and over, the priest heard the question, “What’s with the fork?” And over and over he smiled.

During his message, the priest told the people of the conversation he had with the young man shortly before he died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to him.

He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

He was right.

So, the next time you reach down for your fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.

Friends are very rare jewels, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed.

Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share. Being friends with someone is not an opportunity, but a sweet responsibility.

And just remember … keep your fork!

The BEST is yet to come!

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Oh no! Not the scissors.

Aging has some fascinating aspects.

There are the typical face crinkles (wrinkles actually, but the word crinkles sounds a bit gentler), the annoying aches and pains that remind us we’re not as spry as we once were, the occasional brain fog where we tend to look for our glasses, only to discover we’re already wearing them. And a thousand other things that serve as continual reminders that though we’re not old, we are indeed aging.

But this reminder is annoying indeed.

While some reminders are mere annoyances, others seem to mock us. For example, something we all need to do but don’t necessary share with others: clipping our toenails.

Some opt for pedicures. But this frugal gal knows she can pocket $25 and do it herself, so she does. Typically, without any issues.

Of course, it is getting more difficult as each day goes by. Here’s why. I can no longer leave my feet on the ground, bend down with scissors in hand, and actually see what I’m doing. I wear progressive lenses and that very small reading or magnified portion is so small I am unable to get close enough to really see what I’m doing so I can ensure not only a straight cut across the nail but a straight cut without injury to my toe.

The solution?

Sample pedicure position minus the sock.

Glad you asked. As you can see in this picture, I lift my foot to the bathroom counter to get better access with the bright overhead lighting. This worked for years in my Orlando house, but our new house has higher counters so it’s nearly impossible to get the leg up, position the foot in the best light, and hold still long enough to make THE CUT.

This endeavor is quite the balancing act. And most times goes off without a hitch. But then this happens. As it did today. But I didn’t just drop the scissors; I yelled “Oh no!” like dropping them was the worst thing in the world. I guess at the moment it really was. Here I was, leg on the counter, ready to proceed with my own version of a pedi, but the scissors were now w-a-y down there. What to do?

Still the sock…but look down, w-a-y down on the carpet.

I had to detangle, get the foot off the counter, bend to get those pesky scissors, then figure out all over again how to get back into position to finish up.

In reality, dropping the scissors is just a minor annoyance, though at the time it seemed a huge hurdle to overcome, hence the “Oh no!”

Two things come to mind.

First: it really was no big deal. Annoying yes. After all, it’s not easy to “un-pretzel” yourself, bend those aging knees, then get all the way back up on the counter into just the right position to finish what you started.

Second: it is indeed a mocking reminder that I am aging and need to embrace adaptations that make life more manageable, sometimes easier.

Does this mean I’m old? Of course not. But as each year marches on, my body changes. My abilities physically and mentally are different than they used to. And my perspective needs to change as well. Because how I feel about all this will set the barometer for whether I can embrace this new phase I find myself in or whether I will despair and lament what’s been lost.

Some encouragement.

The Bible, my life guide, reminds me of what God has in mind for my aging years:

  • Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life. (Proverbs 16:31 NLT)
  • Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? (Job 12:12 NIV)
  • Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)
  • Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged. (Proverbs 17:6 NLT)
  • I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. (Joel 2:28 NIV)

With promises like those above, there is never a reason to lament. I still have much to offer others. I am being renewed every single day. And God is still speaking to and through me. And that’s not the half of it! There’s so much more.

Here’s to each of us finding the “more” in our own lives. The more that God promises. And the more that He takes delight in giving us.

Mimi

Medicare? No way; it can’t be!

Me, eligible for Medicare?

I turn 64-1/2 next week and my daily mail is now inundating me with offerings of various Medicare plans to consider. Many of these offers include a seminar and free meal. I figure these meal invitations could really amount to something. And I just might be able to manage a free meal each week right through the open enrollment period later this year.

Twenty short years ago my kids were out of high school by a few years, we were in our mid-40s, and Medicare seemed a long way off…and for old people! That 20 years flew by and now I’m one of those OLD people! Funny thing…(1) I don’t feel old at all and (2) it doesn’t bother me in the least to sign up.

What does being old look like anyway?

Ever wondered what old age was supposed to look like or feel like? I think I always had a fairly good idea of it. I never pictured grey-haired and wrinkled people, bent over and walking with canes. That was a caricature for sure. But I do think I pictured a wise person who had enough life experience behind them to offer sage advice to others. I pictured grandkids flocking around who thought I was great fun to hang with.

I figured an older person now had the time to pursue hobbies, volunteer experiences, and perhaps travel. I thought that person’s days were filled with things to delight and the complete flexibility to enjoy those delights as often as they liked or wherever they presented themselves. I figured for the most part that person would be happy and content knowing they had lived a full life.

What’s the reality?

Reality isn’t very far off. I’m definitely not a bent-over person walking with a cane. My hair is about 50% grey at this point, and wrinkles? Well, let’s just say I have a bunch, but I tell myself each one is a brush stroke in the portrait of my life so why would I want to remove even one.

I do have aches and pains and tend to grunt out loud when getting up after sitting awhile. But I’m fairly healthy and still able to do most things I want to do.

Hmm, the part about doling out sage advice. You’ll have to ask others. I try really hard (really, really hard—not always successfully), to keep my opinions to myself unless asked…especially with my grown children in mind. But sometimes…oh yes, sometimes, I do wish they’d ask. Because I certainly have learned a thing or two I would love to share. Advice that could save heartache. Advice that could make some things easier. Advice that could possibly reassure them that when they feel as if they’ve failed at something, they are not alone. Most of us have felt that way at one time or another and it’s just a feeling, not necessarily the truth of the situation.

My personal reality is that I look in the mirror and still see me but it’s definitely a me who has experienced a little more wear and tear. It’s a me who still has dreams to change the world or to simply make a difference in someone’s life. It’s a me who despite knowing there are way fewer years ahead than behind, still wants to make something of those years.

Some of my thanks…

  • I am crazy in love with my family! And I so enjoy the adult relationships I now share with my kids. I’m blessed beyond measure with my grandchildren and I love being called Mimi. It’s one of my favorite words at the moment. And the fact that my dad is still such an integral part of our lives is beyond amazing. Blessed, blessed, blessed am I.
  • Through the years I’ve always had a group of women in my life about 10-15 years ahead of me. They have lovingly shared themselves with me…their wisdom, their experience, their unconditional love. What a difference that’s made. And I’m so very grateful for them. What they have poured into my life cannot be described with words. They are my friends but more than that…they are my treasures.
  • I am so very grateful that I am at this point healthy. It’s something that can definitely be taken for granted. I can play ball with my grands, walk a few miles at a time, bike for pleasure, clean my house (occasionally), and have enough strength to accomplish most of the things I find important.

Your own experience.

There is so much more to be thankful for, but maybe I’ll leave that for you. Please comment below and let me know what you are thankful for. Or just let me know about your own experience with the aging process…what you thought vs. your reality.

Thanks for sharing part of your Monday with me. I appreciate each one of you.

Mimi

So proud of my husband.

Look at my brave guy. It’s been about 28 years since Greg has tried a brussel sprout. Last time was when we had a Russian immigrant living with us for several months. Another church member who spoke fluent Russian was helping us communicate with Lydia, something we were so thankful for. He and his wife invited us to dinner where they served some typically Russian food.

First up was borscht. While Greg will loudly complain about it, it really wasn’t that bad. Just a different kind of soup. But following that, we were served the biggest bowl of brussel sprouts we had ever seen. There must have been hundreds in that bowl and yet there were only 5 adults at the table.

Wanting to be polite we ate those little cabbagy looking things. Eeww. Still sends shivers down my spine.

In any case, despite hearing from others that roasted brussel sprouts are quite delicious, neither Greg or I have eaten them since.

However, this weekend our precious daughter-in-law served them to us with dinner. I was determined to try and like them. And I did. But Greg was going to take a pass, remembering vividly the giant bowl of them from 28 years ago. But he girded himself with resolve and not only did he eat one…he ate all that were served! Way to go Greg.

Did he like them? No. Nope. Not at all. Will he eat them again? Don’t count on it. But at least he tried.

We often form conclusions about things without much knowledge. Like the brussel sprouts, it may be a new food we won’t try because it looks strange or has a funny name. It might be a social situation we pass up simply because we get anxious about meeting new people and wondering what we’ll talk about with them.

With our kids or grandkids, we urge them on as they try new things but as adults we often find the we give ourselves permission to sit back and not face some of these new challenges…mostly because of fear of the unknown.

And what a shame that is. We actually can end up on the losing end when we let caution rule supreme. Yes, we definitely need to use the wisdom of our years and good old common sense to help guide our choices. And caution can be a great partner in helping make those decisions but if we let it rule simply because we’d rather stay in our comfort zones, then we may end up missing out on a whole world of wonderfulness just waiting to be discovered.

So I hope I continue trying new things, stretching my wings, and making new discoveries. I hope I can set a good example for my kids and grandkids as I face new challenges. And you can be sure I’ll share the results with you.

How about you? Tried anything new lately? A food? An sport? A new genre of music? Please share; I’d love to hear all about it.

Mimi

Take comfort: the Lord is your Shepherd

I discovered the above pic around Christmas time and it was very poignant. I think we often miss our loved ones a little bit more during holidays.

I lost my mom in 2016 and my dear friend lost her parents one year apart, one in 2016 and one in 2017. Both near Christmas. And while the first Christmas or two are no doubt filled with sorrow, my hope is that future Christmases for her are sweet with wonderful memories.

I hope the same for me as well.

And while I certainly can’t speak for Heaven and cannot attest to what our loved ones there are doing at any time or capable of doing, it really is a nice thought to look at the sky, see the stars and think maybe at that time they are whispering reassurances that they are fine.

And if they indeed are in Heaven, then we have great assurance that they are not only fine, but more than fine. They’re in the presence of the One whose beauty is beyond description…whose love for us is beyond understanding…and whose very essence is (in the words of the song) absolutely more than wonderful.

My heart goes out to those who have recently lost someone they love. Most times the pain of the loss begins to fade, at least with time it can. But for those whose pain is fresh and raw, may you find comfort in our wonderful Lord, experience His sweet peace, and rest in His arms of love.

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.  You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23 NLT)

Mimi

Happy 91st Dad

Ready to Go (Dad is on the right)

So…as you already know, since moving to Clermont nearly a year ago, my dad has enjoyed many adventures. River tubing and flying in a biplane to name two. Dad has recently added one more item to his Thrill List: he went zip lining! Oh yes he did.

On a visit to Gatorland, he and a few others decided to give the zip line a go. I guess being 91 has nothing to do with whether or not you try something new.

Look, up in the sky, it’s Dad!

Dad continues to set such a great example of living life to the fullest. He’s been a lifelong volunteer extraordinaire: singing in choirs and glee clubs, serving on the planning board and condo board, volunteering through AARP to do taxes (up until last year), working the polls for most elections. In his new residence, he helps lead the worship team and often is the stand-in leader for daily devotions.

Add to that his many adventures and trying new things—gee, he makes my life look dull!

In the midst of all this he celebrated his 91st birthday two weeks ago. And since he had two commemorative bricks in his honor in Juno Beach, we thought he deserved one in his new hometown.

At this point I have no idea what pictures I’ll be posting of my dad’s next birthday. At the rate he’s going it could be of him jumping out of an airplane! (Just kidding Dad.)

In any case, I’m proud to call this man my dad and delighted that after many years we now live so close together. Love you, Dad.

 

 

Mimi

Happy Birthday Mom

I’m writing this post on March 14, my mom’s birthday. It’s the first one since she passed away last April. And I have mixed feelings.

There is still some sadness and a bit of melancholy. But sweet Hubby remembered her birthday this morning and asked if I was ok. Then my brother texted about it and my girls also sent along some remembrances.

I miss my mom every single day. Those who knew her, also knew her feisty personality. Her enthusiasm for life. Her way of speaking (sometimes without a filter). They experienced her deep love and her giving spirit.

Lee Turner (my mom) celebrates her 88th birthday, March 2016.

She was an important part of my life for 62 years and she meant the world to me. Like many mothers and daughters, we butted heads as we openly shared our strong opinions with each other. But there’s no one in this world who loved me more than my mom.

Throughout my life I depended on her. And she always, always no matter what, loved me hard.

As an adult I truly felt blessed to have had her for all these years. She was a wonderful mom and grandma. And the best great grandma to her four littlest ones. I’m so grateful all four of them got to know their Gigi.

Fond memories? There are many. But in recent years one thing that remained consistent was how she greeted Greg and me after not seeing us for a while. Her face would light up as she grabbed me in a hug while brushing aside my hair and whispering “You have such a pretty face; we could see it better if you cut your bangs.” And no matter how bedraggled my hubby might look after riding in the car for hours to see her, she would hug him fiercely and state “You look so good. I don’t know what it is. Is that a new shirt?” Every single time.

After a lifetime of caring for others, at the end of her life, others were now taking care of her. She wanted to be at home and my dad did an amazing job for many months. Hospice was also wonderful. And when we realized her days on earth were coming to an end, the family began making trips to see her.

And boy did she perk up during each visit. We were able to celebrate her 88th birthday and she surprised us all by playing the piano and singing, something she hadn’t done in years. That day was special: joy-filled and sad at the same time.

Just a few weeks later she was gone.

Mom, Kate, Cindi

And though I still want to talk with her and share life, though I want to show her pictures of the great-grands and talk about their adventures, and though it can make me sad at times that she’s no longer with us, for the most part I’m just happy. Happy she was my mom. Happy she so willingly shared her life with others. And also happy that she is now with the Lord.

Mom’s influence will remain with me all the days of my life. And for that I’m very grateful.

And in her honor, I’m signing off today with her own personal sign-off she stated each time we talked by phone or in person:

I love you all the way to heaven…and back!

Mimi