Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cleaning Up 40 years

Oh my goodness.  Our elderly relative who recently died left a huge mess for the family.  She was a Depression era child, and never psychologically recovered from being put into an orphanage for a while.  It was apparently fairly common -- at least there kids would get meals.  It was the equivalent of the state taking custody of your children these days, except the parents had control.  At any rate, it created such an insecurity in her that "things" became very important.

When she was a military wife, it didn't really manifest much because she had to move so often the accumulation would get sorted through frequently.  Plus, they didn't have much money.  But in her later years, after she inherited money, and they stopped moving around, things began to pile up.  After her husband died in 2000, it really accelerated.

We would try to help take things out -- even newspapers and magazines -- and she would start physically shaking and tearing up.

So now we have the nightmare to deal with. On the other hand, God is using this to bring family members together who had been somewhat estranged because of the way the elderly relative had manipulated the relationships.  We find photos of early occasions together and laugh and remember.  It's very healing.

So...I will continue to visit sporadically until we get it under control.  We can't even have the "pros" come in yet, mostly because there are some very valuable items in the house -- we just don't know exactly where they are.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Not Sure How to Feel

Have you ever experienced that?

Yesterday an elderly family member passed away.  She was a child of the Depression and had some very tough experiences as a little girl due to that, and it affected her whole life.

Someone summed it up like this, "she lived exactly as she wanted to and died the way we'd all like to."  Still in her home, in her bed, in her sleep.

Her living exactly as she wanted had the unfortunate effect of making some of her grandchildren feel judged and lesser in the judging.  In other words, she had favorites, and if you weren't the favorites, you knew it.  She could be very generous, but there was always a price, which was to go along with her way.

As she aged, and became more fearful, she was less and less pleasant to be around.  So the less-favored grandchildren stopped wanting to be around her.

Fortunately, we had a family dinner last week to celebrate September birthdays and it was one of her good days.  She was pleasant and kind, and the birthday presents she gave showed real thoughtfulness. Maybe she knew, maybe not.  But those who had experienced her bad days were given one last memory that was positive -- so I think that was God being kind to them.

Still, those grandchildren are struggling with how to feel.  The favored ones are truly grieving.  They had a close, loving relationship with her, and are very sad that she's gone. The others say things like, "I'm supposed to be sad because it's my grandmother, but I'm not really."   They're a little bit sad that the situation never changed, and they're sad for their dad -- who even though he was often on the end of the same type of treatment, is still sad because it was his mother.

Families are so complex, aren't they?  I look upon this as yet again, an opportunity to ask myself, "when it's my time, will anyone be sad?  And if not, don't I need to do something about that now?"

I've been a bad blogger lately -- too busy and, as I approach the big 50 next week, doing some evaluating of priorities.  This death is just sharpening my need to ensure that I choose a different path.  Daily, hourly, consistently.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Merry Go Round

School has (finally) started. It seemed last spring that I kept saying, "When school ends, we'll be able to finish this project."

During the summer I averred, "When they go back to school, I'll ..."

Well ... now life has gotten busy again and I find myself only able to write and visit in short spurts.

So I'm trying something new.  Each morning when my alarm goes off at 5:30, I spend another 10 minutes with my eyes closed and pray, 'Lord, order my day. Anything that doesn't get done, give me peace that all time is YOUR time, and help me see the things that you want me to do.'

So far, so good.  Less anxiety and ... I haven't fallen back asleep in those 10 minutes either!

Man, I love Saturday.

If you want to read something beautiful, go here:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Empty Tank

I'm feeling kind of empty tonight.  Today my daughter and I went to the funeral for the young boy who drowned last Thursday night.

We hadn't seen them since we left the school -- three years ago, but our memories of Jack were as clear as day. He was a pistol. He always had the next question on his tongue before the first answer was finished, and his energy was constant. He was amazingly intelligent, which put him at odds sometimes with the "norms" -- very much like my daughter, which is probably why she liked him so much.  When he was little he had a way of looking at you with his head tilted, as if he was carefully considering what you had just said.

The church today was overflowing.  There were boys in little league uniforms, people in boy scout uniforms, and many families in the Christian school uniforms that we used to wear.

Amazingly, his mother was able to stand up and tell us about Jack and his special gifts of the heart, and share so much of the joy he brought to their lives. Through Jack, she was also able to share her certainty of the Gospel of Truth.

Their grief will never cease although it may dull somewhat, allowing them to go on.  Yet, their certainty that they will see Jack in heaven sustains them.  I don't preach here very often, but praise GOD for people, who in the midst of tragedy, share their faith and their certainty that God is walking with them, carrying them when necessary.

Have fun asking all those questions, Jack.  When we get there, you can fill us in on the answers.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Noah? Noah?

So let's see -- in the last month in the Nation's Capital we've had earthquake, hurricane, and now flood.  These videos are from the "peaceful" stream behind my house.  The first one is directly behind our property -- usually a 1 inch deep trickle down to the creek.  I'm sure all the geocaches formerly in our stream valley are out in the Chesapeake Bay by now.  The noise of the water is intimidating.

And not to be taken lightly.  Yesterday a 12 year old boy in the next town died when he was swept away by his neighborhood creek.  Update:  Found out this morning that the boy who died was a child from our old school.  I remember him as a mischievous kindergartner with a great smile.  My daughter babysat him a few years ago.  Please pray for the Donaldson family to find comfort and peace ... it won't come quickly or easily, I know.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Where Were You When ...

America was attacked on 9-11-2001?

Would you share, briefly, where you were?  I believe this is one of those pivotal moments.  My mother's generation all remember where they were when they heard the news of Pearl Harbor or the news about President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr..  I remember some stark moments -- when President Reagan was shot, when John Lennon was shot, and 9-11.

We had just moved to Virginia and my husband wasn't finished in-processing at the Pentagon.  However, he had been asked to come to a conference out in Maryland so was out of the building that day.  My daughter was at school, my son was with me.  We were sitting in the line to get the oil changed in my car.  I had let him out of his car seat and he was bouncing around.  I heard the news on the radio about the twin towers.  Then I heard the news about the Pentagon.  I ordered him into his chair, called the school and said, "I'm coming to get my daughter."  I called my husband's widowed mother to tell her I absolutely KNEW that he wasn't in the building that day.  I picked up my daughter, and we went home to wait.  Praise God, we had just moved into our rental house and didn't have any TV service.  My children never saw the footage until it was history.

My husband finally made it home about 8 hours later.  Since then, we have a family plan, a meeting place, and a family member not on the East Coast who is the "check in" person.

We explained in simple terms to our children what had happened.  The very next morning my 4 year old son prayed, "Dear God, please change the terrorists' hearts."

What about you?  Where were you?  How are you changed?  This is not a place to rant, but to share some of the grief that many have carried since then.