Monthly Archives: October 2005

The days have sorta’ blended into one another in the past five days.  Yesterday, the home health care organization came and removed Gertrude’s hospital bed that had remained here while she was at the nursing home.  All of her belongings from the nursing home were sitting around in boxes, and I knew that things really needed to be gone through. 

I gathered my wits about me and decided that if I didn’t get started, it wouldn’t get done, so Eldest Daughter and I hauled a table in and set it up where the bed had been, and got busy going through the pajamas, long johns, undershirts, blouses and sweatshirts and what she always called “dungarees” (whether they were beautiful dress slacks or sweats or jeans).  There were lots of sweaters (Gertrude was always cold) and there were lots of hair things like bows and ribbons and barrettes and clips (she was so proud of her hair that we had allowed to grow out the past couple of years).  Gertrude loved Christmas, and there were lots of christmasy ribbons and bells (She always wanted red bows and big jingle bells on her shoes from Thanksgiving to Christmas) and even Christmasy sweatshirts.  I held one in my hands and remembered how pleased she was when we bought it for her.  It had an angel picture on the front with a caption “…an angel among us!”  It was done in blues and yellows and pinks, and she thought she was really pretty when she wore it.

Sometime after Eldest Daughter left to have lunch with her husband, the tears started, and I cried more today than I have any day since she left us.  I don’t wish her back, I don’t want her back.  We had prayed for three months that God would either let her come home to us, or that He would take her home to Heaven.  The last few weeks were so full of suffering that I really do feel this incredible joy when I think about how it is for her.  Just think!  In one split second she went from pain and confusion and inconvenience and dependency to light and life and the very presence of Jesus.  I am sad.  We’ve already missed her so very much in these past three months.  But the joy far outweighs the sorrow.  I am so happy for her, and I am sure that God has a plan for us.  It is the most inspiring thing to think of her being in Heaven without any stigma or handicap to hold her back.  She really had the sweetest spirit, and I believe that she is now shining with an unbelievable Glory.

. . .But there in her room is her dolly and her wheel chair and her clothes that still smell like her.  Her warm flannel jammies and her sweaters and her nighties…We just miss her. There is such a big hole in our hearts.  “Bittersweet” is how Youngest Daughter so aptly put it.

You know, I had so hoped that I could be there when she slipped into Glory.  But on Friday, around noon, when Deborah was there, Gertrude was fading fast.  Deborah told her, “Gertie, Mom won’t be able to be in for a couple of days.  She and Dad are going to Ohio to see Lem for Parents weekend.  But Gertie, if they come for you, we want you to know that it is okay to go.  Heaven is waiting for you, and it will be so wonderful.  Just go ahead and go.”  That day, Deborah didn’t get any response from her the entire visit except when she said, “I love you, Gertie.  Do you love me?” and Gertrude, with her unseeing eyes nodded her head and made the sound that we have come to know as “yes.”  Deborah said to me, “You know, Mom, I had such a vivid impression of angels all around the bed, but they were not looking at Gertie, they were looking towards Heaven, awaiting the signal that said, ‘Bring her on home’.”  A little over twelve hours later, the call came, and she was in the presence of Jesus.  It gives me goose bumps every time I think about it.  How could this sadness not carry such an eternal weight of Glory?  These are precious, precious days.

Funeral arrangements are for a Celebration of Gertrude’s Life at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, November 1st, at the Chapel on the grounds of Stockley Center.  The undertaker will meet us at the grave site (again on grounds) at 12 noon.  The State has been very gracious to us in allowing us to plan and have the service.  It is healing for me to think about the music and the words and the possibilities for Kingdom impact that this service can contain.  Anyone is welcome to attend.  If you have questions or need directions, please call me.  (302-422-5952)


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Serenaded by Angels

She went to sleep one night, Never here to awake again,

But everything was alright, Between her and Him,

So she awoke in Heaven’s courtyard,

Free from pain within, The angels gathered around her,

And took her by the hand.

Serenaded by angels, Up to the throne,
Serenaded by angels, Finally at home,
Surrounded by praises, To the King,
Welcome to Paradise, The angels did sing.

Now, I close my eyes at night, And try to imagine,

That city of brilliant light, Waiting for me,

But my mind can not conceive, So I’ll continue to dream,

Till I’m transported there, Then I will be. . .

Serenaded by angels, Up to the throne,
Serenaded by angels, Finally at home,
Surrounded by praises, To the King,
Welcome to Paradise, The angels did sing.

Words & Music by Kirk Talley

Gertrude Finnegan

Home Free

October 22, 2005


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I went to Millsboro this afternoon, armed with Baby Magic, baby powder, No-rinse Shampoo, toothpaste and two towels and two washcloths.  I never can find what I need when I am there and need to bathe or clean Gertrude up.  When I got there, she was propped up in her bed with her glasses on, clean, DRESSED, with her favorite movie playing on the DVD player.  I could not believe my eyes!

Last Sunday, when I went, I thought it would be my last visit. When I walked in she was lying cross-scissored, exposed and nearly comatose.  Her gown was soiled, and her sheets were tangled and the top sheet had food on it.   I got her straightened out in the bed, saw that it was getting late and that she needed mouth care and bathing.  I asked her if she knew who I was, and there was absolutely no response from her staring eyes.  So I bathed her, straightened chucks and bed sheets.  Got her into a clean gown and obtained a clean top sheet.  I tucked the sheet and her favorite blanket from home into the foot of the bed securely and brought the blankets up around her shoulders.  I brushed and flossed her teeth, and swabbed old food out of her mouth.  I brushed and braided her hair and then I held her and prayed for her and wept into that snowy white hair while I told her how blessed we have been to know and love her.  She never once gave any indication that she knew who I was or that I was there.  I was sure that I would never see her alive again.  This week, everytime I called, they said that she had no change.  She was pretty much unresponsive, just on “comfort measures” and not eating much, not drinking much.  Deborah was in on Thusday, and was able to get some response out of her, but she still wasn’t doing well.

But today, they tell me that she has some good days and that this is one of them.  She knew me — said “Mary Ann” when I asked her if she knew who I was.  Wanted me to do mouth care, didn’t want me to do anything to her hair, and tried to talk to me.  I chattered around there while I brushed and flossed her teeth, and she followed the conversation.  When I was leaving she reached out her hand to me and said what sounded like, “Tell Don I’m being good.”   When I repeated it back to her, she nodded and then tried hard to say something else about “Tell ya-ya-ya-ya-and ya-ya-ya-ya–”  I said, “Tell Stifflie (Deborah) Rachel and Christina to come see you?”  “Yes!!!” she said happily.  And that was how I left her.  She was watching a Christmas video from Bill Gaither, and she promised to eat her supper. 

Do you feel like hearing some feelings?  I feel so frozen.  Too many things that if I let myself think about will start an avalanche of tears that will not stop.  Gertrude is never far from my mind, but there are other things, too–

Tomorrow I go with Daddy to an oncology appointment that is of critical proportions.  Some things are not good.  I see the grief in Mama’s eyes and wish I could fix it. 

I miss Youngest Son.  I want him to be obedient to The Father, and I believe that God has called him, but I miss him.  I miss his friends crashing in and out of the house, and their chatter and laughter and appetites.

I am saddened by the violence against our school — not so much because of the damage that was done, but by the damage in the hearts that perpetuated it.  I keep thinking about the parents and siblings of these young men, and I weep for these families.  “Lord Jesus, where could we have helped?”

And then, on a really carnal side:  This week we learned that our farm is in the direct line of the proposed by-pass for 113.  In fact, where our house sits is to be the median between the north and south bound lanes.  If they choose any of the proposed plans that go west of Milford (and that is the probable route, given the farm land here and the expensive housing developments to the east), it will take our entire farm.  Our chicken house lane will be one of the exits or on-ramps for Route 36.  Yes, they will compensate.  Yes, they will be fair.  Yes, it isn’t going to be for a while.  But I don’t want to think about it.  We’ve been so happy here.  In my “Please, Lord Jesus, don’t let this happen,” I hear, “I’m but a stranger here — Heaven is my Home!” and I’m trying hard to think “eternal” in the middle of the “present” (but it isn’t too easy!).  Daniel laughs at me, and waxes eloquent in his ability to “leave it all” but that is not at all comforting.

There are some other things, too.  We all have them, and they are either too personal, or the right to share them isn’t ours, but they are still on our hearts.  Tonight I choose to remember that we are never out of the Father’s care.  He knows about Gertrude and Daddy and Lem and broken hearts and people that are too attached to earthly things.  He made us, and it comforts my heart to acknowlege that He LOVES us, He promised to never leave us, never forsake us.  And none of this surprises Him.  And probably He saw that “this world’s empty glory is costing me too dear” and is answering a life-prayer that He would help me to remember that what really matters is His eternal Kingdom.  That means that all of this is good for me.  I think.  And on that note, I am ending this too-long post.



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It’s a rainy morning in Delaware.  I have always loved rainy days.  Since the terrible devastation from rain in these last six weeks, I almost feel guilty being so glad for these rainy days (but I still am!)  The good thing is that there is nowhere to go today.  And there is wonderful home stuff to do (like working on this computer room that can barely be walked through– how sad is that?) and finishing laundry from yesterday and working on this week’s Bible study lesson, and organizing the 1,000 ACE paces and score keys into their nice little boxes that I bought just for that purpose yesterday. 

Our chickens went out last night, and I overslept this morning.  It is hard to get moving this morning.  This house is playing Christmas Music.  Ah, wonderful Seasons!


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Old Gertrude is still in Millsboro at the GreenValley Terrace.  Her nurse called me on Wednesday to tell me that things were not going so well.  She said that her family had decided against intervention and Gertrude was failing fast.  I wanted to go right away, but there were too many things that got into the way.

When Deborah was in yesterday afternoon, Gertrude was very out of it, and they said that she hadn’t eaten or drank for five days.  Deborah sat beside her and talked to her.  She came home with eyes red, and couldn’t relate her experiences without weeping. 

“Mom, she looked so bad, and I tried to get her to drink, but her eyes are fixed, and she really doesn’t respond.”  However, after Deborah left her, the nurses said that she rallied and drank some juice and ate some pudding.  After hearing Deborah’s account, I knew that I needed to get in there, so I went later in the evening.  She was a little bit more with it.  I sat on her bed and held her hand, rubbed her so cold arms and spoke words of love to her.  I started the Mennonite Choir CD and sang her the songs of faith. 

Before I started any music, I got up close to her fixed eyes and said, “Oh, Gertrude, can you hear the Angels singing?” 

She focused for a minute, then said clearly with a direct nod of her head, “Yes!” 

I said, “You do?  You hear the Angels singing?” 

“Yes!” she said again. 

“Oh, Gertrude, they are coming soon for you.  They are coming to take you home to heaven.”  Then she lapsed back into her quiet, semi-stupor.  As the evening wore on, the nurses and CNA were so busy and it was getting late.  So, I gave her a bath and got her ready for bed.  Her hair was full of tangles and food, so I brushed it out, and combed it smooth.  I braided it and pinned it up out of her way.  She was all pink and clean and orderly and smelled so sweet.  I told her then that I needed to go home to Lindaand the rest of the family, that I loved her and that I would be back   She was pensive, but agreeable. 

I asked the CNA how long she thought she could live with eating and drinking so little.  “Honey,” she said, ” some go real fast, but I’ve seen’em last for weeks like this.” 

And so we continue to wait.  Our prayer is that she could go home to heaven.  She loves Jesus, she’s counting on Heaven, and there is nothing to hold her here. . .


~ O, Love that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee;

I give thee back the life I owe, That in Thine ocean depths its flow 

May richer, fuller be.

~ O Light that follow’st all my way, I yield my flick’ring torch to Thee;

My heart restores its borrowed ray, That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day

May brighter, fairer be.

~ O Joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to Thee;

I trace the rainbow through the rain, And feel the promise is not vain

That morn shall tearless be.

~ O, Cross that liftest up my head, I dare not ask to fly from Thee;

I lay in dust life’s glory dead, And from the ground there blossoms red,

Life that shall endless be.    ~Albert Lister Peace, 1884


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Have you read the book about Dr. Elton Lehman?  I just finished it when we went to Ohio last week.  Besides the wonderful stories, there are many things to goad the mind.  In one chapter, the story is told of a man who brought an Amish man to some meeting of professors to talk about what makes the Amish different from the rest of the world.  The Amish man began the session by asking “How many of you would agree that TV has had more of an influence for bad than good?”  There were a few tentative hands going up, then, when the point was pressed, nearly every hand was in the air.  “Now,” said the Amish man, “Since we are agreed on that point, how many of you are going to go home and get rid of your television set?”  There wasn’t a single hand.  Then the Amish man said, “That is the difference between us and you.  If we believe that something has an evil influence, we do without it or get rid of it.”

I’ve done alot of thinking about that in the five days since I read the book, and it is sobering for me.  Not just the influence of TV and all that intails (Videos, DVD’s, etc) but thought processes, and things I allow myself to think, some of the stuff I allow myself to eat, even the dynamics of some of my friendships could come under that.  Wow!  It’s mind-boggling, but not something to dismiss easily.  And I wouldn’t want to…

On another note…as soon as I can, I want to go down to Old Gertrude.  Her latest sun is sinking fast. . .   I have an abscessed tooth that seems to have been aggravated my unfortunate fall, and the pain is phenomenal.  The pain and the medication is making me teary enough without the sadness.  Please pray for Gertrude, that the home-going could be soon, and could be glorious.  And say one for me, too.  I feel again that this parting pain is penance done for love, and I would not want it any other way, but how sad we are without her.


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Well, Here I am at the Hampton Inn in , Canton, Ohio. I am not feeling terrible, but I certainly hope to feel better next week. Yesterday, my lower lip was so swollen that I could SEE it when I looked down!!!
There is one word that characterized Jerrel and Sarah’s wedding, and that was JOY. The whole ceremony and reception was alive with laughter and the thread of incredible joy. I am so glad I came. I am so thankful to have been a part of this day.
Blessings to the Happy Couple. And Jerrel, we love the pretty girl you chose!!!

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