Saturday, August 26, 2006

Waiting for a Window of Time

It's been a while since I posted here at my favorite blog. I'm tired... deep-down tired.

It was a long summer. Ron's mother passing away, Ron's father's new dependence on us, moving. And more, too.

I'm a writer, by trade and by nature. I like and need a certain amount of solitude (mornings to early afternoons) to hear God's voice, and to channel it through my voice. To allow Him to use me.

Solitude has been especially scarce this summer. Besides all the unusual events, our precious daughter is now an energetic, emotional, bright, challenging... did I say energetic?... 15 year old.

School starts in one week, the day after Labor Day so there's light at the end of my long summer tunnel. And while I'll miss sharing daily lunches with her, and shopping with her, and chatting with her, and visiting Starbucks with her, driving her to parties and play rehearsels and friends' houses and golf practices and the library....

I simply can't wait to reclaim a consistent window of time for writing.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Eat Birthday Pie Every Chance You Get!

Today is Andrea's 15th birthday. After our recent sad losses, it's a double-pleasure to celebrate such a joyous occasion.

I treated her to lunch out at the local eatery of her choice, followed by a trip to the Jewelry Mart, where she selected a pretty bracelet as her birthday gift. Tonight, she continues in our church drama department's family-friendly production of Grease, and afterwards, we're hosting friends for a birthday dessert party at Marie Callendar's Pies.

Andrea is a lovely and sweet young woman, and one of God's great blessings in our lives.

While I never preach living just for today, recent losses of loved ones reminds me again that God never promises tomorrow to us.

Eat birthday pie, and honor a loved one, every chance you get!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Alice and Bill

This is Alice and Bill.

They're my parents' lifelong best friends. My mother and Alice have been friends since 4th grade, and they were in each other's weddings... Alice and Bill in September 1948, my parents in November of that year.

Both couples, the children of small-time San Joaquin Valley farmers, married quite young. My newlywed parents moved away from farm life, while Alice and Bill opted to live their lives there... near their parents, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

When we spent time with them, Alice and Bill were like second parents to me, my brother and sister, and their two children were like cousins.

Alice worked for decades as secretary to the principal at the town high school, and Bill headed janitorial services at a small school for special needs children. He also worked at a local bank in the 60's. Alice has beaten cancer three times over 30 years, albeit with some unpleasant side effects. No one has ever heard her complain.

Without question, Alice and Bill are the nicest and most hospitable people I've ever known. Humble and friendly, with an extraordinary peace and contentedness. They've purposely led a simple life in the same cozy home, a life unusually filled with family, friends, and endless hospitality and kindness to others.

My parents received word yesterday that Alice and Bill and a great-grandchild were recently killed in a car accident. They were hit by a drunk driver (with previous DUIs), and killed instantly in a fiery crash. They were driving to a local restaurant where family waited for them to celebrate Bill's 80th birthday.

Their son told the Fresno Bee that his parents "were just the most giving people that I ever knew."

Please tell everyone you know: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is evil.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Home from Our July

I'm still here... just recovering from our July.

We moved, merely two miles, but it was hectic beyond words. And on the very day we moved... precisely when movers were mangling our family heirloom piano while carrying it into the new house... we got the call that Ron's mother had passed away. It was earlier than expected, and yet, we later learned that it wasn't.

That was July 14. Ron and I, along with Kevin (22) and Andrea (14) flew to Reno for services, etc. on July 20, returning late on July 23.

The services were of the old-fashioned ilk, complete with unbearable (to me and especially our children, who sobbed openly. Andrea sobbed again the next night.) body viewing, dramatic cemetery burial accompanied by throwing Mom's favorite flowers into the open grave, and, the following day, a lovely memorial service in the Episcopal tradition at their 100-year-old church. (The stained glass windows were magnificent.)

Turns out Mom discussed her service with the priest, but none of us knew that until the service. She asked that the 23rd Psalm be read, and she selected the organ hymns.

Ron was the primary eulogist in his mother's honor, and we both learned a lot about powering through remarks regardless of overflowing emotions. His words were touching and perfect, and he brought everyone to quiet tears with sweet reminiscences, and a tribute to his parents' 54-year marriage.

We stayed with Dad at the house, of course. He's not doing well. He hugged Ron for the longest time when we first arrived. He's aged quite a bit, which is saying something for an 80-year-old man.

Ron's aunt and uncle (Mom's sister) and their three daughters, Ron's cousins, all reside in Reno. The cousins are 35 to 45, married, with children. One hosted a family dinner for 18 of us Friday evening after the burial, the night before the memorial service. And another hosted a generous reception for all attendees after the memorial service. A third, Mom and Dad's Godchild, read a Bible passage at the service.

I have such strong impressions and mental photos of that long weekend, that Ron is encouraging me to jot them down into a short book. So I won't also be doing that here... at least, not now.

I just wrote thank you notes to the cousins, as I only today found the thank you note statonary.

So we're home. I don't think we've fully processed her death yet. A couple times this week, I felt an unexpained sadness... which is not my normal disposition.

Dad calls almost every night after dinner. He's lonely, and we're 600 miles away. People are keeping him busy with dinners and get-togethers, but that will fade away as life returns to its normal rhythm. He'll never move down to Southern California, and our life is here.

So we don't know what life holds next. But do we ever?

Mom had great peace and unshakable faith right to her death. She said good-bye to her loved ones, tied up loose ends, and decided to end her medication. We learned that she was sicker than we realized, and that she knew it. She was heavily anesthetized in her last days, and in and out of consciousness. But she was probably aware.

She passed away surrounded by her husband, her sister and the hospital chaplain, leading them in prayer. She inspired us all with her great faith.

A few days after we got home, Andrea had a vivid dream in which her grandmother appeared to her. Mom was wearing a navy blue dress with pale yellow flowers. She smiled warmly, hugged Andrea and told her that she is fine, she feels healthy now, and out of pain. Not to worry. Andrea said it felt very real.

I have no earthly idea how anyone sanely processes death without possessing a faith.

My belief in Romans 8: 28 is enduring and essential: "And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

God is good!