Monthly Archives: November 2005

He is so tall.  When I hug him, I barely reach his shoulder.  All the words I said to him were said against his shirt.  My Son.  I held him for the last time in a long, long time this morning, and tried not to cry.

“Be a faithful disciple, Son.  Let God be your first and greatest love.  Let all the other loves of your life be defined by that love.  Know that you are prayed for every single day, and that I will always love you.  I am so proud of you, so glad that you are mine.”

Is there really anything more to say?  How do you say good-bye to what you want to hold on to so desperately when you know that there is, will always be, a higher calling?  How can you resent it when a child does what you tried to raise him to do?

Lord Jesus, hold me steady.


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Youngest Son has been home for a week, now.  We have done all the normal family things, trying hard not to think about tomorrow when he returns to his mission assignment, trying to laugh, trying to soak up the togetherness and the memories.  Middle Daughter and Youngest Daughter decided to go together to buy a cam corder to record some of the memories that could be our last. 

Thanksgiving with the Yoders was a wonderful time.  My sensible sibs all agreed that we didn’t want the day to turn into a sobbing wet mess.  There were some tears, but there was far more laughter and story telling, and support and courage and food, of course. “The lines have fallen unto me in pleasant places.  I have a goodly heritage!”    There was a grand mix of siblings, in laws, grands and their spouses, and great grands,  (The Great-grands are so wonderful–they really light up our lives) and of course, Grandpa and Grandma Yoder.

Then our own family scrambled around trying to be ready for Christmas the next day.  We celebrated “Little Christmas” last night.  For the first time, it appears that one of our children will be missing on Christmas Eve proper.  We decided a few months ago to have our family gift exchange (where the offspringin’s and Certain Man and I pull names out of a hat and buy something for that particular person) on November 25th. 

Eldest Daughter, Youngest Daughter and Niece Holly and I went Shopping early on Friday morning –( Something I have never done before, and don’t think I will be very apt to do again, but this time I was constrained.)  By the time I got home, there was supper to make, lots of straightening to do, and I was TIRED.  The offspringin’s that live at home, plus Youngest Son’s Gal Jess, sprang into action and helped.  They chopped and stirred and measured while others picked up and vacuumed and set the table and wrapped presents.  I could never have made it without them.  And I would not have wanted to.  It was FUN!.

Grandpa and Grandma and Uncle Nelson and Aunt Rose wandered in around ten of six, and they helped to put the finishing touches  on the traditional supper.  Eldest Daughter and Beloved Son in law scrambled in, carrying interesting packages.  We sat around the lovely table, replete with goblets and sparking cider, and ate the big pot shrimp chowder, and left over cranberry/apple salad, homemade bread that had been in the freezer too long and was still frozen, and pie, left over from Thanksgiving Day.  There was laughter and stories, and puns from Beloved Son in Law (which, incidentally, we would not want to do without), and when everyone was stuffed, we headed to the living room to open presents. 

Certain Man read the Christmas Story, that ageless, wondrous story of a virgin, espoused to a man named Joseph, bearing a child, calling his name Jesus.  About Wise men, coming from the East, bearing gifts, and a king, jealous and vengeful, looking for a King who will always be the victor.  And then Grandpa prayed.  We have been blessed by this tradition for over 20 Christmases now.  When our children were younger, they would fidget and get impatient.  “Grandpa prays so LONG!!!”  But now they look forward to it with eager anticipation, every one of them maintains that it would not seem right without it.  His voice was strong, his prayer was a blessing, and we luxuriated in that voice we’ve heard so often, and never get tired of hearing.

This year, no one said, “Okay, bring on the loot!” (probably a first!) but they still unwrapped and exclaimed and thanked each other with joyful enthusiasm and shining eyes.  Again, there was lots of laughter and good natured joking — and some inevitable tears.  Most notably, from Youngest Son when he opened a long flat box that contained a picture frame with the word “Family” cut out of a mat, and in each letter was a picture of one of his family.  That is a memory for all of us to carry in the months ahead.  We are just going to miss him so much!

And then, too fast, it was over.  And today, we are washing up laundry, packing suitcases, and trying hard not to dwell on the dark side of things.  Days like today never have enough time, and I am far from finished tonight.  But at nine o’clock tomorrow, Youngest Son is to pull out of Greenwood Church parking lot for the next leg of his adventure.  Somehow, we will try to be ready.  There is this stricture to my throat that I keep trying to swallow down, and I’m having less success as the hours pass.

The one good thing this evening was a report from my sweet Mama that Daddy had a better day today than he has had for a while.  He had some energy, went shopping and did some of the things that he likes to do.  We are always glad for any good news, and this seems like the best we’ve had for a while.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for the prayers, the love and the ongoing support that we all feel and treasure so much. We’ve been so blessed!

        ~Remember us!   


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If my Daddy had been a harsh, mean man. . .  If he hadn’t loved my Mama or his six children so intently. . . If his name in the community had been spoken behind the hands of gossips or been wine in the mouths of bar maids. . . If these days would be, of necessity, a time to mend fences and build bridges, how very much harder this would be.

But this pain, though so very real, and deep, and even sometimes scary, is nothing like it would be if there was unfinished business, or hearts broken by painful memories or public humiliation or a shady character.

When I go to the bridge, it’s already there.  I don’t have to wade muddy waters, or swim against a raging current.  I don’t have to check for weakness because of faulty foundations or eroding elements.  The bridge is there.  Like a faithful example of a loving Heavenly Father, my Daddy has made it easy for me to come to him, and find that he has already done his part to lead me safely home.


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Yesterday, my Daddy started running a fever. When it reached 102.+, Mama gave him some Tylenol. He had his second chemo in this new round on Thursday, and sometimes it is hard to tell what is a result of that and what is not. This morning, Mama called me and filled me in on all the details, and I thought that we should call the doctor and just run some stuff past him. Daddy was not exactly pleased that I had called, but I didn’t know that until I already was waiting for him to call after being paged. When Dr. Martin called, he was concerned about all the stuff that was going on. He said that if the temperature came back, even though it would go down with the Tylenol, he needed to be checked at the emergency room. That was at 11:45 this morning. This afternoon, around 3:30 or so, Daddy became very short of breath and quite shakey, and the fever was back. Mama and he headed for the emergency room, picking up Clint on the way. There are many answers that we don’t have, but Daddy is having a round of IV antibiotics before he comes home, and will probably need to take more in the next few days, but they are letting him come home. He has pneumonia, and his one lung has significant fluid on it. He has strict orders to stay home and take care of himself.  He is to be careful about what germs he allows himself to be exposed to.  He will hate missing the hymn sing, but I hope that he follows instructions.  Patience is not one of his strong points, and he said that if they didn’t let him go home, he was going to SUE! He also told them that if he had to lie there much longer, he was going to have a bed sore.

Clint said, “Dad, don’t say that! You better not say that, or they will keep you longer so that they can study how anyone could get a bed sore so quickly.”

I said, “Is he grumpy?”

He said, “No, he’s just acting sorta’ just ornery.”

He has gotten increasingly fragile over these past few weeks, and does not look well to me. In talking to my brother Mark this evening, he said that he was under the same impression last night when Daddy and Mama had stopped by for a short visit. On a positive note, his blood work and lab panels were encouraging this past week before his treatment.

Certain Man and I and Youngest Daughter left Ohio last night at 9:30 PM and pulled into our driveway a little after 6:00 AM this morning. We had been out to Youngest Son’s commissioning into REACH, and to help Certain Man’s parents with a few little things. When the service was over, and the visiting finished, we made a purposeful trip home to DE. I was so glad to be home. We are all tired and it would be nice to sleep all day tomorrow, but there is the annual Hymn Sing at GMS, and Daniel is out there now trying to set up. We always have a good time when we go, so things will look better tomorrow. Good night, dear friends, and if you have a prayer to spare, please send it for my Daddy.


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It is a gray morning, and the promise of rain is in the air.  I have some beautiful roses on our little rose tree at the end of the driveway that have been bravely resisting the frost.  I want to get a picture of them today.  The rain will probably be the end of them.  It has been such a lovely autumn.

Yesterday I had to go to the dentist again…the temporary filling that they put into the root canal on Wednesday fell out on Saturday evening.  So yesterday they put in a post and did the permanent filling.  It was nice I didn’t need a crown, and there was not much pain.  That was reason to rejoice, indeed.  Youngest Daughter was home all day, and I loved that.  I wasn’t glad that she was sick, but I like having her home.

And these are days to count blessings.  Think of all we’ve been given.  Think of all we’ve been spared.  Think of all that we’ve been promised.

“. . . Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow.  Blessings, all mine, with ten thousand beside.  Great is Thy Faithfulness . . .” 


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We pretty much froze everything last night, but what wonderful people were here to freeze with us!  Today we are digging out, washing tables and stacking them back in the garage, and putting away all the stuff we drug out yesterday.  Even Blind Linda seemed to enjoy being around the campfire.  That was surprising to me.  Yesterday her teaching aide from Easter Seals called and told me that she has been doing some crying in the last couple months.  They couldn’t figure out what made her so sad, but since they found out about Gertrude, they believe that she is grieving for her.  That made me pensive, but for five and a half years, they spent nearly every night in the same room.  Linda hears so well, that the noises of the presence of Gertrude, coupled with the fact that Gertrude loved her and was always kind, makes it a very real possibility.  H-m-m-m-m.  I will need to think on that.

Christy-girl, GREAT JOB on my page.  Thanks!  I surely do love you!

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Eldest Daughter really does have Christmas on her brain.  Wow, Christy-girl!  These holly leaves and berries make my eyes go crossed!  Maybe we ought to tone it down a bit.  Anybody else have an opinion?  I do love it when I don’t have to read around the busy-ness. 

Well, I never got that rest the other day.  I was going to curl up with a book, but I had gotten some cider from Webb’s Market and I wanted to cook up the rest of the applesauce that has been residing in the refrigerator in the garage for several weeks.  Eldest Daughter and I had planned to do a bunch more, but we had been discouraged with the progress.  So we had put it back with the promise of “someday soon” and then got completely sidetracked.  So I thought that while I spent some time resting, I would just let it cook away.  Wrong.  While it cooked, I stirred and stirred and stirred and measured and calculated and stirred some more.  And finally, after it was time to go to prayer meeting, the last of it was in the jars.  42 pints, no less!  And I was quite tired, indeed.  But now that is done, and I am so glad, and I won’t be making apple butter for a very long time. 

Tonight we have a hot dog/marshmallow roast and a hay ride for the church.  Come on over, everyone is welcome.  6:00 in the back field.  Dress warm!  It is going to be cold.  Hot drinks, tableware, etc. will be provided, but you need to bring your own hot dogs and rolls and potluck picnic foods.  And whatever else you want to make this a fun evening.  Hope to see you there!


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Had to have a root canal this morning.  I can think of few things I hate more, but now it is over, and I am home to my cozy house, and I think I just might do some sleeping.  Eldest Daughter and I had thought to do some shopping (If I felt good enough — I didn’t) so we came on home.  I did stop at Medding and Son’s Seafood place north of  Milford and bought a hot cup of wonderful cream of crab soup ($5.95)  When Eldest Daughter saw how wonderful it looked, I talked her into getting some, too.  Then I came on home, and now I want to just be puttering around doing nothing.  So I shall commence!


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I’ve been working with Youngest Daughter to try to bring some order to her room.  It is so funny to find old notes, attempts at poetry, and pictures that she and Lupe would concoct in their endless hours together.  Tonight, this was the star of the creative discoveries:

“Matt and Raph are so tough/ Raph and Matt eat a very big Mac/ and that’s why they are fat/  So thank-you.”    

(I have to wonder what brought that on!)

Lupe spent the night on Saturday night.  She has been living with her sister in Rehoboth, taking care of her niece and nephew.  It was incredibly sweet to have her here for the night.  We never see her enough.

Today at Wal-mart, I stopped in front of the specialty meats and had a sharp stab of grief.  I looked at those packages of Rapa Scrapple and realized that there is no reason to buy it any more.  Since Gertrude loved it so much, I would try to keep it on hand for her, but Certain Man holds scrapple in great distain, and his offspringin’s have adopted his prejudice, so the only person who would eat it would be me — and Eldest Daughter if she happened to drop by. . . and that isn’t enough to warrant the purchase, so I walked away and left it there.  Probably couldn’t get it past the lump in my throat, so it is just as well.  Anyhow — to use the language of Certain Man — “Who wants to eat something that has everything in it that a pig has, but the squeal?”  Come on, Native Delawareans, tell him a thing or two.  His handicap is that he didn’t grow up in Lower Delaware, and he doesn’t know what’s good.  So there!


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On Wednesday afternoon, in a sunny little cemetery, we laid Old Gertrude to rest. There were flowers, and songs at the grave, and there were memories shared. The service had been a great comfort to us, as people who cared about her and about us, shared so freely of their gifts to bless all who had come to remember. Once again, we thank all who so eagerly agreed to be a part of the service. It meant so much to us, and it touched the hearts of people there. My nurse from Stockley Center, a crusty, sometimes tough and always feisty gal said to me today, “Mary Ann, that was the nicest service I have EVER been to.” I was so thankful to our friends, but also to our Heavenly Father, because I had prayed specifically that it would be meaningful to the state workers that had come. On Wednesday evening, our church family planned a meal, and there was time given there for sharing memories about Old Gertrude, and that was incredibly healing for me. I looked around at the faces of the people who make up the church family, and read their notes of encouragement and sympathy, and it just was such a special thing that they did for us. I am also realizing how good it is to finally have some closure. It has been a stressful two weeks, and I am glad to be on this side of it. The following is an account of that service, and it pretty much happened just like it says here.
Celebration of Life
Gertrude Finnegan

November 2, 2005
11:00 AM
Chapel at Stockley Center

10:45 Prelude …………………………………. Karen Bontrager
11:00 Welcome ……………………………………… Brent Zook
11:02 Invocation ………………………………..Mark Yoder, Sr.
11:05 Congregational Singing ………………….. Jesse Bontrager
“Old Rugged Cross”
“Jesus Loves Me”
11:15 Reading of Scripture …………………………Deborah Yutzy
Psalm 23
11:20 Song ………………………………Mennonite Antrim Choir
“No Disappointment in Heaven”
11:25 Meditation ………………………….Pastor John Ivan Byler
11:40 Song ……………………………………J. David Hertzler
“It’s not Home”
11:45 Brief comments and Closing …………………..Daniel Yutzy
11:48 Song ……………………………………….Kirk Talley Serenaded by Angels”

11:50……………………… adjournment to the Stockley Cemetary

12:00 Graveside Services ………………………..c/o Funeral Home

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