Sunday, February 17, 2019

A Death in the Family Erases Happy Occasion

     Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday! It should have been a happy occasion, but sometimes, happiness and sadness collide, leaving one with a confused mind, a weary soul and a broken heart. How can you be happy about one occurrence when another is breaking your heart? By last night, all celebratory feelings were wiped away by a death in our family. Even though we’ve known for a while that this one was coming, the reality is no less heartbreaking! Everyone reading this knows the feeling.
    Happiness and sadness seem to meet face-to-face a lot in our family! My mother was laid to rest on my eldest son’s birthday, tainting his birthday, just a little, forever.
    My son had a serious, life-threatening operation on a favorite aunt’s birthday. I’ll never forget her reaction. Late that night, after my son was in ICU, safe and sound, we came home to get a little rest. I had bought Aunt Betty a birthday cake and had it waiting in the fridge, thinking we’d have a piece of cake together and observe her birthday quietly. However, she said, “Let’s postpone it. Somehow, it doesn’t seem right to celebrate right now.” I agreed, hugged her and we went to bed so we could rise early and head back to the hospital.
    We’ll never be able to celebrate any of these birthdays without remembering the dreadful thing that happened on the same day.
     However, once the pain of loss begins to soften, perhaps we can remember that death, too, should be a sort of celebration. Our loved one is no longer in pain: he or she is released into a beautiful world with a perfect body. Why should we not be happy about that?
     Of course, it’s difficult now. The pain is fresh, we still see the face we loved and hear the familiar voice, but this is where God proves that He doesn’t give us more than we can bear. We begin to remember things this person did or said to make us laugh; our friends remind us of the good things they did; all sorts of memories we thought we’d forgotten come flooding back and we find that we are able to laugh though we may have thought we’d never laugh again, and remembering them with laughter makes us feel a little better.
      Is it possible that the laughter we accumulate in our souls makes the tears easier to bear?
     Think about it.          
       When we lose someone we love, we often search for memories of that person that make us laugh. This gives us permission not to grieve so totally, but to find a little gladness in an agonizing event. We don’t have to reason it out. We just do it.

How amazingly resilient God has made us!


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Alien Ornament - 2018

      When I am old and wise, I shall gather my grandchildren around me and tell them about the alien ornaments their grandfather and I used to discover on our Christmas tree each year when we dismantled it. We were never certain who was responsible for the magical appearance of the strange ornaments but we had our suspicions, tho' no one has ever owned up to it. 

I think the grandchildren might enjoy seeing pictures of all of the ornaments that began to appear on our tree when some of them were too young to understand. Each ornament is very different. Whoever chose them had a colorful imagination and a desire to make others happy.

And they did!

We've enjoyed each and every one of these aliens and still get excited each time we find a new one -- even after all these years!

This is year number 12. Here is a picture of the beautiful ornament we discovered this year.

It appears to be a shiny pink doe wearing a genuine crocheted scarf. She's quite eye-catching! She was resting on a concealed branch of the tree when I found her. Looked as if she'd always been there - perhaps hiding from predators.

If you've never read my blogs, and are interested in what I'm talking about, you may go here and find out how it all got started.

Last year's ornament is here.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Ah, September~

Ah, September~
A person who was a great influence on my life often said, “The days are long but the years are short.” As a child, I let those words roll off me like beads of rain without giving any thought to what they meant; all I wanted was for the important days like Christmas and my birthday and the last day of school to hurry up and come - but all the good stuff seemed to take forever!
However, getting older changed my perception of time and now I know how true that statement is. The years disappear like water down a drain and I find myself wondering where they went. I can hardly believe it’s time to say goodbye to the eighth month of this year and move on to the ninth, one of my favorites. 

Many people complain. “Oh, my!” they say, “That means winter is right around the corner,” but I’m not one of those. I love September and the beauty that follows. Here in West Virginia, it is more beautiful than anything else I can imagine. Almost Heaven!

Get ready for some gradual changes. 

First, the light changes. Suddenly, you notice there is a soft golden glow instead of the harsh, hot, eye-straining yellow of midsummer. Then there is the silence – the lovely silence, delightful cerulean skies, cooler nights — and an air of expectancy! 

If you combine these golden days with refreshing silence and the still colorful, though declining, flower gardens, you have September days that seem—almost sacred.

It is a restful time. I like to visit a small man-made lake in my town where I sit on a bench beside the water and watch ducks glide gracefully across the reflection of a clear blue sky adorned with puffy white clouds. As I savor this moment in time, my mind is free of worry and stress and I feel very close to God.

“Ah, September, you are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul, though I must admit I love you only because you are the prelude to my beloved October.” ~ pth ©2010 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Summer Afternoon

We are two young girls, barefoot on a sizzling
    street; August heat - Dante's Inferno!

Faster and faster we go; upward pointed
 toes; lips O-ed as we scurry to find a
   cooler spot. At last, thick clumps of grass offer
relief. We accept. Our giggles bounce back from
   surrounding hills; breathing returns to normal.

We lie on cool grass watching big, puffy clouds 
float across a cerulean sky. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

#TBT - A Really Old One of Mr. H. and Me!


We were leaving for a weekend trip to Cincinnati. My parents were babysitting.
Fun times!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What A Narrow Life!

Jenny Lee Smith is dead!  

Jenny and I go all the way back to first grade! She was such a cute little girl. The first thing one remembers about her is her hair. It was a shiny chestnut brown and hung all around in long, individual shoulder-length curls. She reminded me of one of those big-eyed, porcelain-faced dolls I’ve always feared. I don’t mean to imply that Jenny looked scary; it was just that looking at her sometimes made me remember my Pediophobia.

The second thing one remembers when Jenny’s name is mentioned is the way her mother doted on her. She brought her to school each morning – all the way to her classroom – to her desk! Nobody else’s mother did that. I watched curiously as Mrs. Smith preened her daughter, touching her hair lightly, inspecting every curl and adjusting the bow attached to the top of her head. Finally, she’d kiss Jenny on the cheek, smile and take her leave, waving as she exited the door.

I shuddered, imagining how embarrassed I’d be if my mother did that! But Jenny seemed okay with it.

We went to school together throughout elementary and middle school but separated to attend different high schools when we were about 14. Although we no longer saw each other every day, we still lived in the same town and never completely lost touch – until I got married and moved away. Even then, she and another friend paid me occasional visits for a while but that, too, began to wane as time and dissimilar lifestyles separated us.

Jenny lived in the same house her whole life. Literally. She was brought home from the hospital to a modest home smack-dab in the heart of a small town that parallels the Kanawha River. She grew up there and when her parents died, she and her husband continued to live there, and according to the obituary, she died there. I suppose Jenny was happy but I can’t help musing: What a narrow life!

And so... recently, when I found myself needing an answer to some questions from long ago, I thought of Jenny Lee first. If anyone would have the answers, it would be her; she knew everything about the town and its residents. Dialing the number I had for her brought nothing. Checking social media didn’t turn up anything either, so that’s when I resorted to Google. How simple! Once I’d entered her name in Search, the first thing that came up was her obituary. I almost fell out of my chair. So I did what I’ve always done when I was shocked or hurt or upset – dialed the number of my lifelong friend, Caryn.

“I’m depressed,” I said, as soon as she answered.

“Why?” came her reply. “Everyone we know is dying,” said I.

Caryn is so level-headed! “You’re looking at the glass half-empty,” she said. “Just be thankful you’re still walking around.”

“I am, but Jenny Lee Smith is dead!”

“I saw her obit on Google. She died in 2014. How can that be? We just talked not too long ago.”

“Uh,” Caryn reminded me: “the copy of Jenny’s obit is four years old!”

“Yes, but it doesn’t seem possible it’s been more than four years since we talked. I can’t believe she’s gone.”

Attempting to lighten the mood, Caryn blurted, “Well, at least she finally got out of Taylorsville!”

Chuckling, we said our goodbyes and hung up.

My last thought before going to sleep that night was, I wonder if Jenny Lee’s mother was waiting to fix her hair when she got to Heaven...

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Coincidence or ESP?

Sometimes my ESP astonishes me! (Of course, I know it's coincidence but it still surprises me each time it happens). I was in the kitchen this afternoon drying a few dishes, my mind wandering, as always...

... Paris, France on a beautiful March day – on my own for the afternoon, as the people I was with had chosen to do something that didn't interest me. So, off I went strolling down the Champs-Élysées, browsing the shops, people-watching, and soaking up local color. After a while, I decided to stop for tea at a sidewalk café. Sitting there alone, sipping my tea in the bright sunshine and cool breeze, I felt awestruck! The Tuileries Garden was not far away, also the Louvre, the Place de la Concorde, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, The Opera House and many other historical places that I’d read about, but only dreamed of seeing. 
My heart was full to the brim!
Draining my cup of the last drop of golden liquid, I rummaged in my change purse for a few coins to leave on the table and left, feeling weary enough to head back to the hotel and catch an afternoon nap before getting ready for dinner with the others.
Later, when my friends returned, one of them asked, “What did you do today?” Eager to tout how well I’d done on my own, I said, “Well, I strolled leisurely on the Champs-Élysées, taking in the scenery and observing the people, and then I stopped at a sidewalk café for tea -- and oh! I even left a tip for the waitress.” (I should confess that I’d had a difficult time learning to deal with the French currency and my friends loved teasing me about it).
“That’s great, Peg!” my friend said. “How much did you leave her?” Opening my change purse, I pulled out a couple of coins that looked like the ones I’d left, opened my hand and said, “These!” Trying not to laugh, my friend said, “Good job. You left her two cents!” 
Suddenly back in my kitchen, still chuckling about an incident I hadn’t thought about for many years, I heard the TV in the adjoining room blaring:
“Breaking News!  Stabbing attack in Paris, France leaves multiple injured.”

Peculiar that I’d just been visiting that very area in my daydreams...