Monday, March 16, 2020

Be a Helper

Be careful what you ask for. With my chronic fatigue from pulmonary problems, I tried to get at least one or two days a week to stay home in my pajamas. How I longed for those days of rest to be more. My lungs work three times as hard as the average person, leaving me exhausted and short of breath most of the time, with or without oxygen, which I seem to need mostly at night. My lungs are healthy, but there aren't enough of them to function well inside my elderly, deformed chest cavity, due to scoliosis.

I will always marvel at how our world can change in such a short time though. In just a matter of days, my desire for more "down time" has been answered, and I'm inclined to make every day a "pajama day" until this covid-19 outbreak is over.

My honest, first reaction when it all started to gear up and I learned what a threat this virus could be to people like me, was to feel like my life was over. It must be like that for anyone who receives a diagnosis of a terminal illness. Especially cancer, since just the word strikes fear and terror in all of our hearts. Surely, I felt my days were numbered too, and there was nothing I could do about it.

But, as I started reading about the precautionary measures that could be done, especially if they were community-driven, I began to have some hope. If people would only take this pandemic seriously, and follow the advice of experts, based on what they've learned from other countries so far, perhaps we can get a handle on this virus and lessen the threat for people like me, perhaps increasing the chance that there will be a hospital bed for us, if needed.

It saddens and even angers me when people either minimize, politicize, or criticize the efforts to stop this pandemic. I wish these "I'zes" would focus on the "me'zes" among them, and stop joking and/or complaining (although I realize some humor can be a stress reliever), and just look out for other people in their neighborhood and family who will feel the brunt of all this the most.

Through it all, I feel God's hand in the chaos. We must do like Mr. Rogers told us when we see scary things in the news. "Look to the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." In this particular crisis, we all have a chance to be a helper. Just staying home will help.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Heaven Is Looking Sweeter

Here it is the fifth of February, and I have blown past another emotional day of importance in my journey of grief. February 2 was the second year since Dean's passing. It's hard to sit down and make myself write about it, when in truth, I was doing all I could to stay busy and let it slide unnoticed just three days ago now.

Except for a twinge of remembrance when I posted about it ever so briefly on Facebook, I have been successful in staying positive and upbeat, despite the sad overtones the day brought, in uninvited, but manageable, thoughts of the event two years ago.

The positive messages from friends on social media though were enough to get me through what could have been a gloomy time. Instead of dwelling on such a low point in my life, I was reminded of the love that remains from so many people around me, some close and some far away.

All I can say is, heaven is looking sweeter every day. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Christmases, Past and Present

My second Christmas without just isn't the same, of course, without his jolly, fun-loving persona filling the house with holiday joy. I remember when we were in Montana, just three-years into our marriage, when he came home from logging one weekend with not one, but three trees he had cut down for us to decorate. He apologized for not having a tree the previous two years, so was making up for his negligence, he said. But I wondered where in the world he expected us to put up three trees in the tiny mobile home we had bought. Of course, he had our mobile home park neighbors in mind all along, I am sure. He was always thoughtful of others that way, and he quickly knew just who to deliver them to.

But that brings me to our first Christmas. I'm not sure how it was arranged, but he managed to be the "Santa" for a nursing home in Minnesota, where we were then living. He was such a hit with the seniors there, calling them little boys and girls, asking them if they'd been naughty or nice that year. One lady questioned his authenticity by pointing out his Southern accent (which he had acquired, I assumed, from his truck-driving days). Dean was quick to exonerate himself by announcing that he was from the SOUTH Pole, which got him another thunderous amount of laughter and applause from the crowd gathered there.

So, as you can see, I have ample memories to bolster me this holiday season. And, I'll never feel truly alone with so many friends, who still send Christmas cards every year. Besides, the greatest Friend of all is always present to fill in the emptiness that invades my heart ever so often. Jesus has promised to be with us to the end. That means I'll always have Him. He's the reason for all the joy I have and still experience in life. What a blessing the Lord has been to me!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Basking in Memories

How could a whole month slip through my fingers, as I see it is already December 1st on the calendar? I must confess, I have fought writing about anything too personal as we march closer and closer to the holidays. Just spent a lovely Thanksgiving with my daughter's in-laws, and am so grateful they include me in their gatherings. Would be a lonely time indeed without them. Stanleys, you are the best!

Then, there's Dean's birthday on December 4th. That will be a hard day for me. I always tried to make it as pleasant and happy a time for Dean as I could. Of course, that became harder each year toward the end, but he always got enjoyment out of anything I would plan. Anything that brought friends over was a hit. He just thrived on the company of others. His stories were legendary. And his jokes, even after hearing them multiple times, never ceased to bring a smile. Yes, people were always the best gift you could give this man of mine. The bigger the party, the better. I thank each and every one of you who made it out to our little "come and go's" each year.

Mulling over memories may not be the best way to increase faith. But I do feel my faith grow as I ponder these things. I don't have a choice really. I could sink lower and lower into the sadness of past times, or let my faith soar in the visions of what life will be like when Jesus comes. I choose the latter. Dean will have the party of his life, when the trump of God calls him from his resting place, and I join him in the air on our way to the Promised Land. In the meantime, I'll bask in the memories and plan for the future.

Times weren't perfect, but there were happy moments like this one...another Dec. birthday.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Some Things Never Change

Shortly after my big family reunion last month, October brought me to another own 50th high school reunion. Living in another state now, I had never attended one of their get-togethers before, so it was quite enlightening to see my classmates after all this time. Half a century, in fact!

Besides briefly reconnecting with school friends, it was a joy to see my hometown again as well. It was amazing to see how all the places had changed--some weren't even there any more. Yet, mercifully most of the landmarks survived and brought back so many memories.

The three weeks I've spent at my sister's so I could attend my high school reunion, included a brief time when my brother was able to be with us and we could enjoy each other's company again. Living in three distant states has made these sibling visits rare and treasured.

Once again, memories have been a constant companion since I've been here with my sister. I've noticed more reminiscing about my husband Dean too, gone for almost two years now. How he would have enjoyed the activities I've had these past few weeks.

I'm looking forward to returning home to family in Nebraska though, where I can busy myself with current events in my life. Remembering is a good and necessary tool of surviving grief, but remaining active is also a blessed way to put the past behind and get on with life as it is.

As you can see, the years have brought some outward changes, but inside we're just 3 happy kids!
Curiously, the natural landmarks are the ones that remain changeless.
These dunes we passed through on our daily summer swim in the ocean, was one thing that hadn't changed!

Monday, September 23, 2019


How great it was to reunite with family members this past weekend! My father's side of the family, the Wards, had their first grand reunion in quite a long time. What set it apart from other reunions was the fact that it was not the occasion of a funeral this time.

It was wonderful and relaxing to re-connect with each other and reminisce in the happy aftermath of a 50th high school reunion that brought a few cousins to town at the same time. It provided the perfect opportunity to get our younger cousins, some who had never met, into a common area to enjoy a meal, in true family-reunion style.

I regret that I didn't stay longer, as it would have taken many hours to catch up properly on all our lives. But was thankful my daughter's family accompanied me and was able to meet cousins they might otherwise never have been able to meet. Those of us who needed to visit the most were unfortunately also those who tired the easiest, cutting our visit short.

Having lost my parents and a spouse makes it seem even more of a treasure to spend time with loved ones, every chance I get. I will treasure and look forward to meeting many family members in heaven, where time will not be a factor. We will have an eternity to get to know more about each other and be comforted in the immediate presence of our Lord and Savior.

"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God [at the Second Coming]. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NKJV
I call this a blessed hope...don't you?

That little toddler boy on the right was my father! 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

A Day to Remember

As deficient as my husband's memory was after his traumatic brain injury, he never failed to remember the date of his injury. And neither will my daughter and I. It was September 1, 1999, when a tractor ran over him, causing life-threatening injuries which he barely survived. He couldn't remember any details of that day, but we all knew it represented a pivotal change for all of us.

Tomorrow marks the twentieth anniversary of that event, and although he's been gone from our family for a year and a half now, the memories of that day can't be erased. God took a disastrous calamity and shaped it to fit our needs. Although we couldn't know it at the time, it would be the cause for enormous spiritual growth that couldn't have occurred any other way.

September 1st will always hold a special place in our hearts. For...

"I will remember the works of the Lord
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old." Psalm 77:11