It has occurred to me lately that eventually either our bodies will fail us or our minds will. At least, this has been my recent experience.
My earthly biological father has been dealt the dementia card. My earthly “second” father’s body failed him, yet he retained his remarkable brain up to the end of his earthly existence. We laid my second father to rest a few days ago.
The greatest gift he ever gave me was the recognition (that as I was slowly losing my biological father and anticipating a future as an only child without any living parents), of the gift of belonging. Belonging to a family that had embraced me going back to the second grade. Belonging to a tight-knit, hard-working, foul-mouthed, fun, Lutheran, huggy, emotional, loud, loyal, Chinese stir-fry out-of-a-can loving family. He knew that I needed that support, and He knew how valuable that was (and would continue to be) to me. In his later years, especially after my dad was diagnosed with dementia, he formally claimed me as his daughter, in words and action.
I will never forget the sweet time the Lord allowed with him four days before his death. I sat by his bedside at the Hospice House and read scripture verses to him. Amazingly that day he was awake, alert, not-agitated and peaceful. He would rest his eyes as I would read scripture verses to him from 2 Corinthians, Psalms, and Titus. He reminisced about his trip to Israel, getting baptized in the Jordan, feeling close to Jesus Christ when he was in Capernaum, and how he did not enjoy all the garbanzo beans while there. As I was getting ready to leave he grabbed my hands and mentioned how cold they were, and like any good father would do, he held them until they warmed up again.
Death is, perhaps, most difficult to the degree we loved the person who left us. And, I don’t know what is worse, losing my sound-minded earthly father somewhat suddenly, or slowly continuing to lose my earthly biological father day by long day. Both are almost unbearable, yet, the Lord continues to give me daily strength and the eternal assurance that above all our trials here on earth, He is my Heavenly Father who has claimed me as His child and Who loves me even more than my earthly fathers could.
Another trip around the sun. A friend gifted me custom pints of ice cream and one of the labels displayed this saying: “Another year sweeter” Super cute, however I don’t know about that. 😉 As I look forward to my birthday each year, this one is hitting me a bit differently than previous years.
As I gazed over at the side table in our kitchen that holds several b-day cards received this week, some touching, some funny, all of them thoughtful, and looked at the material gifts that I had received each day this week as the Lord so graciously ordained. My thoughts turned to my dad (and the fact that he is now gone from this earth as of Jan 6th this year) and the thought that the absolute best gift I could receive (from the Lord) was seeing a bluebird on my birthday. I wept at the thought. As, I have yet to see one since dad’s death.
As I woke up this morning (quite melancholy, knowing that this day will not be unlike most others unfortunately) after a restless night of sleep and continued my day as always, feeding the pups, reading devotionals and praying, making coffee, walking the pups etc.…It does hit me that even though my dad, Lou did not recall that Oct 7th was my b-day for many years preceding his death, which was super hurtful the first year that happened, it hit me that no one loves you quite like your parents. And, when they are gone, nothing will ever be quite the same. There is a deep void in our heart and soul that realizes, no one will love you in the same way your parents did. That is my experience now (in this moment) and I realize that will not be everyone’s experience. I was blessed to have parents that loved me despite my flaws, which were truly my biggest cheerleaders in this temporary life on earth. And, when they are both gone from this earth, it changes things, and that truly did not hit me until this week leading up to my b-day.
We entered 2021 excited for what was to come. Things were looking up! We had a goal, a vision, and a purpose that gave us great joy. We had it all planned out. Our amazing graphic designer, Preston, had created the artwork. I had sourced just the right garments. Our trusty local printer printed onto the amazing garments. We had created giftable items for folks who might be looking for something more than apparel. We spent several months curating, sourcing, and working towards our goal of launching THE most amazing thing ever. We had a plan; (we have learned over 5 years to plan far ahead of the seasons.) We even had a pop-up planned at a trendy store. We were super excited to launch this powerful, hopefully life-giving movement. Everything was on target.
Then…during a benign Monday night in early January, we got a phone call. For anyone who has ever been a caregiver, you know that when you see the facility name and number pop up on your screen, your heart drops a little bit.
In mid-March, Kansas declared that schools would close for the rest of the school year. Other states soon made the same determination.
Very quickly we started hearing terms like “Shelter at Home” and “Social distancing.” “Quarantine” was a word seldom heard these days…until now when we hear it daily.
The words “Pandemic” and “Plague,” although foreign and strange to the younger generation, engender memories giving rise to fear in the minds and hearts of the oldest among us.
Businesses and churches closed,
The economy faltered,
Violence at home is increasing,
and Deaths from the virus are reported daily.
Many of us have only seen times like these in movies or read about them in books.
and Discouragement is on the rise, exacerbated by the news reports and accompanied by weather fluctuations from cold and wintry to mild and spring-like and back to wintry again.
And we are all wondering, "How long???"
Nothing is certain except that nothing is certain.
I always love it when I read those words “But God” in my Bible. Often they follow bad circumstances or evil, offering hope to a situation that would otherwise seem hopeless.