I prayed for sense of clarity and understanding and that my approach could be lit, and that my spirit would be directed by God in this writing.
One of the undeniable features of our contemporary culture is an uneasiness on the part of most of us to face the reality of death. Death is covered up in all kinds of ways. We have the notion, perhaps, that if we do not mention it, it will go away.
But I cannot do that. For one thing, there is no way to escape it and therefore, we need to find a way to move towards it without blind eyes. For another thing, I have an aneurysm behind my heart and the measurements are not good. I saw this on my medical chart, but I have not yet consulted with my doctor. The latest tests are brand new. A byproduct of modern communication is that we can see test results before our doctor speaks to us about our test results. I really do not know exactly what it means but it has prompted me to write. If it is not true, that my time is near, it will be true in the future; that is guaranteed to all of us. I was diagnosed with this aneurysm twelve years ago and the thing is, I was expected to have this news much sooner. The aneurysm grew slower than had been anticipated. Grateful.
If I am saddened and discomforted by this, it is not because I fear death. But I am sorrowful over any lack of love I showed and I own a broken heart over the lost. I pray in that direction so that when I die, I can die with hope and joy and confidence for those I leave because I have given my worries over to the Father. As we recall Paul say, “For momentary, light affliction” – that’s how he viewed his troubles – “is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” I can only thank God Himself for giving me the divine enablement to have my confidence in Him; called according to His purpose. It is a glorious dwelling up there. It does not mean that leaving love, however, is without angst. God did not originally design us for that. Jesus wept over this. I must say something, however inadequate, in my own words, while I am able, two more days or 10 more years.
Regarding the loss of love that is on my heart…, which is heavy, who do I love? My husband, my daughters and my granddaughter hold my heart foremost. Equally, now, the sons who have joined our family for loving my daughters are in my deepest connection.
I know that my family will miss me when I go. I hope that they can find peace, even during grieving, to know that I am in a grand and glorious dwelling. People say it all the time: location, location, location. I have a sweet dwelling! I want that my time here has had an impact on their lives, despite my shortcomings, my mistakes, and my failures. I ask for forgiveness for any pain and plead for them to recall the joy. I hope that the good ripples of my life have entered into their lives will flourish instead of my absence becoming debilitating. Please be in gratitude for whatever good I have had and pass it on to each other. Take care of one another.
In my life, the devotion of Brian has been the reason I have had a good song to sing my entire adult life. He has been a constant source of love in the peaks and in the valleys. His steadfast commitment to the well-being for all of us has lessened our unease in this sphere. Brian loves this way.
Samantha wove joy into my veins from the first time I was able to utter the words, “my daughter,’ to the day her father walked her down the aisle. It is her unique instinct for art that illuminates so much of her distinctive genius for our benefit. It manifests in humor, contemplation, and teaching. This incredible child of mine is, through patches of struggle and enormous triumph, shined glimpses of life that I otherwise would never have known. She is an amazing mom and cares for my beautiful Maka like stars lighting the sky.
Adrianna has been the instrument of connecting our members into family through her gentleness and desire for unifying relationship. She has a gift for caring for others, giving. It is Adrianna’s mix of creative talents with responsible stewardship that has strengthened all of us. We call her Ana mostly and that makes sense. Simplify. Adrianna loves to minimize. She knows what’s essential and she has a knack for making lasting gifts with her hands and a few materials.
Nate has broadened our capacity to talk to one another. He is a vital agent for easing tensions and enabling discussion. A natural counselor, Nate calms division with his knack for recognizing human needs and our default weaknesses. He hides and jumps out and makes me laugh. He takes his responsibility and commitment to his wife and daughter seriously and, for that, Brian and I are grateful.
John linked all the members together by becoming a part of our family. With a sublime aptitude for the stage, it is likely he will be recognized for his forte in some capacity, one day. For Adrianna, John’s propensity in that regard has helped her to become less intimidated by the world. Sometimes, he’ll just break out in song and it’s so awesome.
Only listed last because of her young age, my granddaughter Maka, who is staying with Brian and me as I write, is the one for whom I newly rejoice daily. She allowed me to be a grandma; that is certainly true. You see, though, I have been given the honor to be the grandma of a most lollapalooza child; filled with sweet smiles, glorious gems of hugs, beautiful laughter, twinkling eyes, lovely curiosity and a thirsty quest for knowledge. Our days together have been a time for gratitude beyond the scope.
There are likely grandchildren that have not yet been born. I won’t meet them here. For your earthly stay, you know me through my writings and by the imprint I’ve left in the lives of your parents and in Maka. I love you now and throughout eternity.
I am grateful for all of this; for all my kids becoming best friends and for my precious time with each of them. My love is so overwhelmingly strong for each one of them, I must trust that it has landed into their hearts and they will forever know. I pray God has mercy on your hearts with my passing and that you are prompted to love even deeper.
Joe South wrote a song called, “Games People Play.” The lyrics begin with:
Oh, the games people play now
Every night and every day now
Never meaning what they say now
Never saying what they mean
And they wile away the hours
In their ivory towers
Till they’re covered up with flowers
In the back of a black limousine
Well, I think that’s kind of true, isn’t it? We are human. In some sense, we push death aside as a part of this life. I’ve been facing it since my diagnosis twelve years ago and I did push it aside to live. I knew it was there but it couldn’t be my daily emphasis. However, that knowledge was equally there; and something of a gift so that I didn’t go about thinking I’d live forever. I fell short, surely, but I didn’t hesitate to express love. If I told you that I loved you, I truly did love you. I love you now.
God’s fingerprints are all over the place. Don’t try to scrub them out. Leave them alone and really look at the intricacies of them. I am the wretch to which the song refers. My salvation is not based on anything I ever did. It’s a gift I was given. Because of that rich gift, which I received later in my life, I’ve wanted to give good out. I didn’t live that way because I felt obligated. The joy was derived from the gift made and simply expressed with my grateful heart. And, practically, in the sense of wanting to tilt the world in an upward trajectory, as my astute counselor, Dave Classen, has often said, “actually do consider what people may remember about you once you’ve headed home.” I think that advice did prompt me to be a little wiser; a little kinder. Where I fell short; mercy. Sweet mercy. It’s a beautiful thing when one has an understanding of why the world is, well, painful; loss, suffering, death; we all have relationship with such matters, when God is realized. That has lessened my burden, the clarity of it all. If you thought I was in a cult (well, some of you actually said that) it’s much less interesting and drama filled than that. I believe Jesus is who He says He is. And I hope, at last, that is okay with you now. And, I never doubted that God can perform miracles. He changed the designation of my eternal home, though His design for me here was brief, as is the stay here for any of us brief, no matter the years.
That last plea (that I hope it’s okay with any loved one that didn’t favor my walk) leads me to an important thing I need to convey to my children. You need to make a decision about how many stones you’re willing to pick up and carry around with you. I’ve been around nearly sixty years. There have been times in my life, mainly before I conquered much through the instruction of scripture. People will say the wrong things to you. Sometimes it will be for lack of good judgment. Other times, it could very well be from self motivated, misaligned objectives. It will happen for the rest of your lives. And, if fifty people say encouraging things to you but one says another thing that stabs your heart, you’ll be inclined to carry around that one bad stone more vehemently and longer. Don’t let that bag of stones get unbearably heavy. Cast those stones into a lake, one far away. And please, do think about the things you say. They can end up as stones in their bag.
Oh, oh, a few last things! Please carry on my memory by telling “a sandwich walked into a bar” joke. Never waste pizza. Always freeze it in a ziplock bag the same day. Wash your dishes before you go to bed. Don’t have a messy countertop upon waking. Take walks. If you use Facebook, use it to love and encourage others. It’s one of our public squares now. We’re not going to rewind that fact. If you don’t like this public square, that’s okay. Don’t use it. If you do use it, what a great opportunity to love people. Be kind. Show gratitude! Most aren’t fortunate enough to be a librarian, I know! It’s the best job in the world. If you’re not a librarian, visit a library often and create a library in your home with great books for children. Even if you don’t think it’s a significant shot, snap the photo, decide it’s value later. Don’t take for granted your good friends. They can elevate our lives here, as you can theirs. Refresh one another. If you were my friend, thank you for loving me. To those of you who asked me questions about what my life was like growing up; I probably told you about my favorite Penny Candy at the Belton store, playing red light/green light on Lathers Street, my mom’s rose garden, breaking the wafer on Christmas Eve, five dollar bell bottom pants from Pants Galore, dating Brian in high school and working as an intern reporter in Southwest Detroit. Your interest in my history connected us and I’m grateful for you. Kids, ask your parents questions now. Connect. You don’t need bells and whistles to connect, just each other. If you’re a dancing queen, keep on. I’m dancing, too. If you’re of faith, keep on. I did and in these days, there is nothing for which I am more indebted. Peaches, keep on. I love you!