Wednesday, February 20, 2019

My Valentine Loves

It's become obvious to me why I'm avoiding posting on this blog this month. It must be because it marks the first year since Dean's been gone. I thought surely I would feel like writing something on February 2, the day of his death. And then Valentine's Day came around, and even though he was on my mind quite a bit, I just didn't have the heart to express my feelings and thoughts.

This was surely due to a shortage of time as well. It seems like a lot has been going on in my life, a lot of new obligations and responsibilities. I'm not sure if I'm the one to blame for this, or if God has seen fit to keep me busy, so I don't have time to get bogged down with grief.

For whatever reason, I am grateful that I can be useful, that I have a purpose for living, and that I still have ample memories of Dean to keep me going for as long as the good Lord sees fit. This must be grieving at its finest.

I've always believed that it was Dean who filled me with a lifetime of extraordinary experiences, both good and bad. But now, I just see it as the hand of God. He is the One who put me in touch with my soulmate, and even though Dean's gone, I still have three precious people in my life, who carry a part of him in their DNA. My daughter and granddaughters are constant reminders of the love that kept us together (even when we were apart) for forty-two years.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Grace in a Snow Day

Snow days usually fall on a work day, it seems, which has certain drawbacks and advantages. You get to sleep in, catch up on housework, but then again you might be missing out on pay, and there's always the restless children to keep entertained.

Today though, our snow day fell on Saturday, which for those who attend church on that day, could be disappointing. An advantage to this dilemma might be the opportunity to pursue new, creative, reflective avenues to connect with God.

I was fortunate to have a kind neighbor use his snowblower to clear my driveway, which always makes me feel safer, just in case I do have to get out and drive in this mess. Those who have posted pictures online of the beautiful snow landscapes outside our windows have reminded me of the beauty of the season, which we sometimes take for granted, just like all of God's blessings.

So, for these two things alone, I am grateful:

  • for the loving care of family and friends, and 
  • for the loving care of God, the Creator of that beautiful snow out there, gracing all the bare tree limbs with soft, billowy clouds of puffiness.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

My Annual Christmas Letter/Blog

Dear family and friends,
For the last thirty years, I have written a newsy family letter to accompany my Christmas cards, no matter what chaotic circumstances made up our personal lives at the time. Even after I started blogging online and discovered instant contact through social media, there's been this driving force to document the year's events in a special letter, send them out to our many friends across the country. It wasn't a chore at all, but a pleasure I actually looked forward to from year to year.

But this year, I just didn’t have the same desire to reflect and share the activities of the Thompson household. Dean, my husband, is gone (as of February 2, 2018), and no matter how I try to put a gleeful spin on that fact, it just won't come out on paper in a way that adds to the holiday joy of the season.

With his funeral now comfortingly documented on video, I have spent the rest of the year, pouring myself into blogging for Outlook magazine, carrying out various church responsibilities (including church clerk, communications secretary, and Sabbath school superintendent--it's a small church), and enjoying our two granddaughters every chance I get.

It seems odd to go on errands or to a friend's house and not feel tethered to Dean's care anymore (returning home to check on his care, either by phone or in person). But whenever I think of that freedom as a positive in my life, I also experience a twinge of guilt.

I try not to think of my new widow status as something better or worse in my life. It's just different. There was just as much satisfaction and joy in being Dean's caregiver all those years, as it is to care about other things and for other people now.

Have a merry, happy New all mean the world to me!
Love and prayers,


Here are some photographic remembrances that comfort me, and help me wait for the grand Resurrection Morning when Jesus comes again to take us all to heaven, as He promised in John 14:1-3. "Let not your heart be troubled...I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Monday, December 17, 2018

An Unassuming Life

It's with great sadness that this holiday season embarks upon my soul. And it isn't just because Dean, my husband of 42 years, is not with us this time, presiding over the gift-opening ceremonies in his Santa hat and with his cheery ho-ho-ho's.

I am also saddened not to receive my first Christmas card of the year, which for almost all those 42 years came from a college friend of mine, Joe Branson.

Joe revealed once to me, on one of the few phone conversations I had with him, that he mailed out way over a hundred cards every year to his friends. And they usually came almost right after Thanksgiving, as if he couldn't wait for these bright, glittery greetings to grace our mailboxes and set our spirits in the holiday, gift-giving mode every year.

Here it is, almost half of December gone now, and no card from Joe. I was justifiably anxious about it after talking to another college friend of mine (Sharon Titus Harrell) and discovered she had not received her customary card either. She too was suspicious that something was not right in Joe's world.

With very little internet searching, Sharon was able to find an obituary about him in a small town newspaper, his hometown of Pulaski, Virginia.

It was not what we were hoping to find; but there he was, with a photo to verify the news. In his obituary, it was stated that he was the last surviving member of his immediate family. The comments under the obituary revealed that some of his few, remaining relatives had regrettably not even received the news until this obituary was seen.

How lonely Joe's life was at the end can only be imagined. He was only 67 years old, died unexpectedly in his home, the obit said. He had recently retired from almost thirty years of elementary teaching, but the last card I received from him told how he was conducting a prison ministry through the mail and was writing to many, many inmates.

Joe's death may have gone unnoticed, but his life and influence surely encircled thousands of young children and God-thirsty adults on the verge of despair. Yes, Joe will not be lonely in the resurrection. His voice will likely be the first one raised in worshipful praise to our Creator God in heaven, prompting all his friends and loved ones to join him in song, just as he diligently prompted us to begin our gift-giving preparations for the Christmas season every year here on earth.

This thought has lifted my saddened heart and will enable me to continue my holiday with joy.

Joe would want it that way.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A Special Day

They say grief is most difficult around the holidays, and this first Christmas without Dean I know will not feel the same. My daughter, sensing this for me, and feeling it at the same time herself, is making every effort to not only make this time of year special for me, but to make it different for all of us.

For instance, instead of passing out gifts to open, as we are accustomed on Christmas Eve, she has planned a mystery treasure hunt for our granddaughters. It won't be the same, but maybe that's a good thing. It won't remind us of Dean's traditional way of wearing a Santa hat and directing the girls in who to give the gifts to, one by one, even after they were capable of reading the name tags on the packages themselves.

All of this and more is good in helping us get over the fact that Dean is not here to enjoy the Christmas season with us. But then today, I was blindsided by Dean's birthday. Yes, December 4th was "his day". How do you replace that? I thought it would be easy to ignore the day, rather like I did with our anniversary last summer.

There are lots of things going on in the summer though, making it easier to let our anniversary pass more or less unnoticed. But his birthday falls on a time of year, when one is more homebound. We just had another hefty load of snow this weekend, forcing us seniors to stay closer to home and off the slippery streets and sidewalks when we can. I have more time on my hands to reminisce.

So, here I am, pouring over old photos, remembering how I would go to such lengths every year to celebrate his birthday with a come-and-go party, or some such event, so he would feel "special" on his day. He always said December birthdays were hard as a kid, because everyone's focus and finances would be on the birthday of Jesus. Not that he minded sharing the time with Him he would say, but especially as a child, the loss would have been noted with some sadness.

I'm not a person prone to tears, which they say is alright for those who grieve. But last night, I too had some sadness, and actually shed some healthy tears after a photo excursion into past times with my life partner.

Unfortunately, this is all I can give him this birthday. But, maybe that's enough to get me through the day. I'm thankful for the relief those tears brought. Yes, tears might just be my new way to celebrate Dean's birthday. But, I'm OK with that. It's the least I can do to keep his memory alive.

trying to make daddy feel special on his birthday--he always appreciated our efforts

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

I Am Blessed

Close on the heels of a great Christian Women's Retreat I attended with my daughter last month was a chest cold. Mine that is. So we're talking major life adjustments here...staying at home, utilizing every cold remedy known to man for at least a three-week stretch. My pulmonary condition demands extra measures that I have cultivated over the years that keeps this a stay-out-of-the-hospital event for me.

My home becomes a quasi-hospital with my own nebulizer for breathing treatments, along with all the medicines that have proven most successful for keeping my colds from turning into major bronchial/pneumonia episodes.

Fortunately, this time was no exception. I have recovered enough to finally return to church services, and even managed to sing with the choir this weekend. I have also returned to my bread ministry, experiencing not only the pulmonary exercise I get from kneading four loaves of bread, but the joy of seeing people enjoy the fruits of my labor.

For instance, when I called my next-door neighbor and asked if she could send one of her kids over to get another loaf of bread, there was a knock at my door, even before I hung up the phone! Then, when I delivered another loaf to a friend of mine, she indulged in two slices of the bread while we visited. She kept apologizing for eating in front of me, but I reassured her I had already had lunch. It was fun watching the obvious pleasure she got from eating my bread.

Just when I feel like my caregiving days are over now that my husband's gone, I get reminded that perhaps I still have something left to give to others. This knowledge is what keeps all caregivers going. And if you have tended to forget, just know that you do make a difference, and whether you always see it or not, that difference is often in you. Giving of any kind is a blessing to the giver.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Women Makeovers

Don't know how I made it through the month of October without blogging here, but as these autumn months sneak up on us, they are quick to "leave" (pun intended).

Only other excuse I might have for this negligence is busyness with my bread ministry. I have given away over a hundred loaves these last three months, but the Lord blesses this outreach with just enough donations to purchase the ingredients and keep it going.

My biggest event for the month though has to be the Kansas-Nebraska S.D.A. Women's Retreat in Grand Island, Nebraska. It was made even sweeter with the addition of my daughter attending with me. We drove there together and stayed in a room all to ourselves. We enjoyed great speakers, delicious food, and endless women to visit with and establish bonds of friendship.

But our greatest Friend we came home with was the Lord Jesus Himself. The closer we are to Him, the closer we are to each other. So, I can't think of any way a mother and daughter could bond in a greater way than to experience the wonderful weekend of a Christian women's retreat like we just had this past weekend.

I am quickly seeing that with my caregiving days having lapsed for my husband, I have entered another cycle of loving care...that of my daughter taking care of me. And that's OK.