Archives

Living Until You Die

Last week I shared a story of being in Hobby Lobby, kind of in a hurry, and racing someone (without looking like I was racing them) to the only available cashier.

Today I share with you the reason I was in Hobby Lobby to begin with: my uncle. My Uncle Jack had received a totally unexpected terminal cancer diagnosis just a month ago and time was drawing close. My rush that day was to purchase the right card ahead of time so I would be prepared to send it to my cousin (Jack’s daughter) when that fateful day came.

The unexpected diagnosis.

While in Ohio visiting Greg’s brother in late September, we received the news about my uncle. Because he was given anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, we immediately began preparing for a trip to Nebraska so we could visit with him. Just two days after arriving home from the Ohio trip, we were on a plane with my dad to spend four days with Jack, my dad’s brother, and his family.

At first, Uncle Jack seemed much the same–a younger version of my dad.  And with a twinkle in his eye he greeted us. But it soon became clear that the liver failure was taking its toll. Yellowing of the skin and eyes, weakness in body, and a growing liver that caused great indigestion. He was very sick indeed. But while his body was wasting away, Jack was still busy living.

Each day with him, we went to Panera for breakfast, one of his favorite things to do. The second night there, about 50 people came to a celebration of life party. I didn’t know most of them but it became obvious how much these people adored my uncle. And I thoroughly enjoyed watching him interact with so many who adored him.

Lots of talking.

Conversations centered on his life, his accomplishments (of which there were many) and were filled with memories. My dad and he would sit for hours talking about old times. Though Dad was 12 years older, there was still plenty to reminisce about and my first cousin and I would smile just watching the two of them remember things in such detail. It was astounding!

Other conversations were about his unexpected diagnosis and about funeral planning. Music is a major love in my family. My uncle, with his beautiful baritone voice, was still enjoying singing into his 80s. Therefore, it had to be a major component of his memorial service.

It was interesting to watch all this—the open talk of death and dying, the funeral planning, time spent going over finances and other concerns, the remembrances. Often, I would just peek in on my uncle visiting with my dad or a work colleague or friend. It made me so very happy to see how joy-filled he was at the moment.

Part of the Clan

He lived until he died.

It became obvious that my uncle had chosen to live until he died. Yes, his body was dying, but he wasn’t. Every night, with greater effort, he climbed the stairs to his second-floor bedroom so he could sleep in his own bed. And each morning, he used that same effort to shower, get ready for the day, descend those stairs, and make it to Panera for breakfast.

He ate supper at the dining room table as long as possible. A few times he succumbed to the sofa for a much-needed nap. But most times he could be found in his recliner where he was not only more comfortable but could live life on his terms…visiting with others, talking or texting on the phone. Occasionally, he would venture outside to the front steps to enjoy the lovely fall weather.

Our trip drew to a close and the time came for our goodbyes. Our final goodbyes. I had never before experienced this kind of sadness…knowing we would never see him again this side of eternity. That was hard. And tears wouldn’t stop flowing. But the joy that permeated his life this past month has been so beautiful, it’s hard to be sad for too long. And boy, did Jack defy the original prognosis…by two weeks!

And so last night the expected call came. At 6pm my uncle took his last breath and passed away. Both his wife and daughter were with him and the end was peaceful.

Angie and her dad

The last month was a gift. A wonderful gift.

The gift of time came along with Jack’s last days. Time to visit. Time to prepare. Time to plan. Time to talk. Time to express love. Time to be loved. Time to share memories. Time to show affection. Time to enjoy loved ones. Time to care for others. Time to be cared for. Time to appreciate life’s blessings. Time to be thankful.

This gift of time isn’t always available. So we grabbed it, knowing it truly was a precious gift. Despite the deep sorrow I experienced when leaving Nebraska several weeks ago, at the same time I experienced great joy because that four-day visit with family was one of the best ones we’ve ever shared.

It wasn’t about a grand vacation trip, or a thoughtful present given. It wasn’t about dinners out or exciting experiences. It was simply about being together, about loving each other, about enjoying our precious family.

And I am ever so grateful. For my family. For the lessons learned this past month about how to honor and cherish each member. For the opportunities ahead to show that love to each one.

And for the glorious hope I have in Him, knowing that when He calls me home, I will be ready, my family will be okay, and my eternity will be spent with the One who gave up everything to prove his love for me.

NOTE: A few hours before receiving the call about Jack’s death, I was in my car listening to Chris Tomlin’s song I Will Rise. I knew at that moment that God was letting me know that Jack’s death was imminent but I also knew that God was reminding me of the glorious new life promised and reserved for those who call Him Lord. Read these lyrics and see if you agree.

There’s a peace I’ve come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There’s an anchor for my soul
I can say “It is well”

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

Mimi

And then it is winter.

This recently came across my path. I take no credit for it and wish I knew who to give credit to. An internet search came up empty for me.

It is something I want my kids to know. Something I want those younger than me to know. Something I want to share with others.

For the past many years, I’ve been reminded of how quickly time passes and how quickly things can change.

My family and friends who are younger, this is pretty close to how I feel. I look in the mirror and think “Who is that older person?” And I nearly always seem surprised to realize it’s me. So please read and share.

And then it is winter…

You know time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems like yesterday that I was young, just married, and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all those years went.

I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams. But, here it is… the winter of my life, and it catches me by surprise… How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go? I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those “old people” were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But, here it is…my friends are retired and getting grey… they move slower and I see an older person in myself now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me… but, I see the great change… Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant…but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be.

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore… it’s mandatory! Cause if I don’t on my own free will… I just fall asleep where I sit!And so… now I enter this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!  But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last … this I know, that when it’s over on this earth … it’s over. A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done… things I should have done, but indeed, there are also many things I’m happy to have done.  It’s all in a lifetime.

So, if you’re not in your winter yet … let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think.  So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life, please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long! Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can TODAY, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not!

You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life … so, LIVE FOR TODAY and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember… and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!

Mimi

Granny panties to the rescue!

I don’t mean to offend by the picture or my post. Please keep reading. This post is really about our aging bodies and the necessity to adapt some of our daily routines. It is also about how we view others and hopefully encourage them, rather than tear them down.

I’ve actually been thinking of this post for quite some time—namely every morning when I get dressed! While I don’t dwell on some of my changing limitations, I am daily reminded of them when getting ready for the day.

So, what in the world is going on?

For over 63 of my 65 years I’ve been in charge of putting on my own clothes and until the past year or two, it’s never been a big deal. The problem now is that I have some limited flexibility and a few balance issues. Take sox for instance. In the past, I would stand on one leg, lift up the other waist high, put on a sock, then repeat on the other side. Can’t do that anymore. I need to sit to accomplish it.

Same thing holds true with the undies. Every day I continue in my old ways by standing and putting one leg at a time into the opening. Only I find I’m having more and more trouble with it. Most mornings, I kind of fall over because while it’s bad enough to have to balance on one leg and then lift the other, add to it that I need my arms to be several inches longer to get the undies past the foot that gets stuck about a foot off the ground, refusing to go any higher.

Cleverly, I extend the “unders” by using just the tips of my fingers but still inevitably fail, stumble, and finally sit down to accomplish the task, or lean all the way over to the floor to try getting them on in a different way.

PLEASE NOTE: I promise you; I’m always successful even if it takes a few tries. No going commando for this Mimi!

But all throughout my struggle I think to myself “What do women my age do if they attempt to wear thongs? I can’t imagine there being enough material to go through the shenanigans required to get those pesky things on. So, while the younger generations scoffs and laugh at our famous granny panties, I wear them proudly…knowing tough as it was to get them on, they are securely in place and my important parts are firmly (if not completely) covered! (big wink)

Why all this talk about our undies?

Great question. It’s simply to talk about how we change in our elder years. We like to think we’re as young as we feel but the truth is that our bodies betray those feelings. These bodies were not created to last forever here on this earth. They break down, change, and begin to let us down in various activities and in our health.

And while we struggle accepting that, sometimes what hurts is that younger folks really don’t understand it. They can be judgmental and condescending. Younger family members scoff at the granny panties thinking we’re just old-fashioned when as I explained above, they’re just easier to deal with.

Wrinkles and face sags can garner the same reaction when you hear someone younger proudly declare “I’ll never let myself go; I’ll do Botox or get a face lift.”

And there’s not one woman my age or older who isn’t well-aware of cellulite or loose thigh skin when they don a bathing suit on a hot summer day. But just because she is plagued by those things, is she not supposed to enjoy cooling off in the pool or at the beach? And if she actually gets up the courage to take a dip, the last thing she wants to hear are the whispers of some young’un stating emphatically if they ever look like that, they’ll definitely not go out in public in a bathing suit.

It ain’t easy growing old.

I actually love many things about growing old. I like that I don’t have to work at a regular job. I like my completely flexible schedule. If I’m supposed to dust today but don’t want to, I don’t! I no longer wear make-up (personal decision) and am fine with it. I have more tolerance for some things and much less for others. I can have cereal for supper if I want and pizza for breakfast. I get to do lots of jigsaw puzzles and have time to participate in several Bible studies.

But I have to admit, sometimes I find myself lifting the saggy skin around my eyes to see how much better I look. And when I can no longer easily maintain an ideal weight, I can get a little down. (Of course, a little ice cream cheers me right up!) And the lower back ache that plagues when I change position throughout the day is a screaming reminder that I’m definitely in the senior citizen category.

My eyes have been opened!

If I wasn’t aware before, I sure am now…aware of others in my age group. Aware that my small aches don’t begin to compare with friends who have had to have shoulders or knees replaced. I’m aware that I can hop in the car anytime I want to drive somewhere while neighbors are more house bound. I’m aware that each illness or ailment needs an extended recovery time and often someone my age is unable to gain back 100% of what they had (or could do) before. (Sigh)

I’m aware that instead of judgments about something I should do differently to look or feel better are just that…judgments. And I don’t want to hear it. Instead I would like encouragement, people to love on me, and to have others look at me as if I’m still the cat’s meow!

My challenge.

Today, be good to yourself. Don’t be harsh at what you can no longer do but instead find things to be happy about, things you can do and do well. Be careful about jumping to conclusions about others. You never know what goes on behind closed doors or in someone’s mind. And finally, reach out to someone else and encourage them. Do an errand for them, visit over a cup of tea, offer to help with a project, pray for them.

And to any reading this who are younger than me, the above paragraph is especially important. Keep your criticisms and judgments to yourself and just extend love and kindness to me and others in my age group. Your sweet words will mean the world to us!

A few parting thoughts from God’s Word:

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)

Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? (Job 12:12)

And afterward, 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)

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:32)

Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. (Psalm 71:18)

They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green. (Psalm 92:14)

Mimi

A little fun for this beautiful Monday.

Oops. I goofed. Just didn’t get anything ready to post this morning. But I’ve been saving some messages that have tickled my fancy at one point or another so I’ll share them with you.

Proverbs 17:22 tell us that “A happy heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit drains your strength.” Sometimes your heart is naturally happy. And sometimes you just have to happy it up.

Either way…enjoy…and let me know if you have any funny sayings that are sure to brighten someone’s day.

         

The big 4-0 has arrived.

Well, the first 40th birthday has nearly arrived. Son-in-law Chris turns 40 on Tuesday and son Tim will follow two weeks later.

So far, I think Chris is enjoying the celebration.

This weekend he got to play paintball and have an evening on the town. Then his parents took he and his twin (along with their families) to dinner.

And on Sunday, his boys presented their gifts. Each had made something for him. Callan went to a ceramic studio and painted a football helmet in Florida Gator colors and Konnor created a broken-glass picture frame. Using a hammer (which was a HUGE hit…pun intended), he smashed up some colored glass tile, then glued the pieces on the frame. A little grout, and a carefully chosen picture and voila! A gift for his dad.

Best of all…

But most fun for the boys was planning a treasure hunt for their dad so he could find his goodies. They wrapped and hid their gifts along with ours around the house, then wrote clues for Chris to follow. Both boys were proud not only of their gifts but in the enjoyable time they created for their Dad in finding his gifts.

Chris came into our family in 2003. And though I call him my son-in-law, long ago my heart welcomed him as another son. Our family wouldn’t be complete without him!

Happy 40th Chris. We sure do love you. Here’s to a wonderful, wonderful year.

Mimi

Missing Mom…still.

The holidays are always a time with family at the center. In many, if not most homes, it’s the family that gathers around a table laden with yummy food. It’s the family that spends the day together giving and receiving gifts to show how much we love each other.

So, when families are fractured or have missing members, instead of pure joy, often those gathering times are reminders those not there.

Like so many others…

Like so many others, I’m missing my own mother this Christmas season. She was a very special person who brought joy to so many, that her parting left a huge hole in the hearts of those who knew her.

My sister is gone, too. Much too soon. At age 63 and after celebrating her birthday on the Friday of Labor Day weekend in 2014 with friends and family gathered near, she passed away three days later, no longer able to fight the cancer that took her life.

So, I too, mourn these losses. And though most days the sorrow is no longer a constant nag, getting through the holiday season each year seems a tough journey.

But I rather like this Charlie Brown picture and caption. Though it’s not scriptural, it’s still a happy thought indeed to look up, see the millions of stars, and think they just might be our loved ones reminding us that all is well.

Mimi