Monthly Archives: December 2006

Happiness is . . .


~A five minute phone call from Nepal.  Eldest Son sounded like he was in the next county. 


(But he is sick with an upper respiratory infection . . . and he is missing his friends, his family, his church, his job.)


As God brings him to your mind, would you join us in praying for him?


Me and my hat

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Christmas Company


Our Family has been blessed by family and friends that come to visit over the holidays.  This is Certain Man’s nephew, Jeremy, and his sweet wife Doreen.  Their exuberant boys are so sweet, and we enjoy them immensely.  The oldest is Weston, and he is six.  The fellow on Doreen’s lap is Kendall, and he is four.  And the “baby” is Donophan, and he is one. 


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Look, Aunt Mary!  Tonsils!


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Christmas Card

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It’s Christmas Eve at Shady Acres.
For almost twenty Christmases,
Old Gertrude
shared our carols, our Shrimp Chowder, the ageless Christmas story and the gifts.
Oh, how she loved the gifts!
How fervently she believed in Santa Claus!
Last year, she went to Heaven in October and was buried in early November.
At Stockley Center.
In the cemetery for the indigent and Mentally Retarded. 
Then Daddy died and nothing was right about last Christmas.  I hardly had time to think about Old Gertrude and how much she loved the season.  Besides, there wasn’t much to enjoy last year.  Just a new, wrenching grief and so many things for my hands to do that my heart didn’t catch up for several months.
Today, getting ready for our family celebration tonight, the gifts are wrapped, the tree is twinkling, the village is resplendent in it beauty, and, out of the blue, Youngest Daughter says,  “You know, I MISS Gertrude so much today.” 
Suddenly, the ache in my heart gets wider.


Old Gertrude
Gertrude!
She would have parked herself in the chair beside the tree every night since it went up and would have sang the carols and eaten chocolate, (getting it all over herself!)  She would have rubbed her hands together in gleeful anticipation of the packages under the tree, and would have listened as Certain Man read the Christmas story and Christmas prayers were offered. She would have rooted through her Christmas stocking and made a royal mess of things and would have been delighted with stuff that I could have imagined that she wouldn’t have looked at twice, and dismissed the things I chose so carefully with a sniff and an impatient wave of her hand.
Gertrude!
I miss her songs and I miss her childlike faith and enthusiasm.  I miss her unconditional love and her uncompromising loyalty.  She didn’t care if the house was a mess, she loved the simplest things to eat, she made me laugh and sometimes she frustrated me no end. She never wanted to hurry, and she didn’t care if everyone in the house was telling her to move, she would stand where she was and say with dignity and force “Don’t rush me.  You’ll cause me to fall!”


The picture above was taken at a small group caroling time several years ago.  Old Gertrude never could read, but she loved to pretend that she could.  I snapped this priceless photo and it couldn’t be more definitive of what Old Gertrude was like. 










For Gertrude. . .


The other day, I passed the place you always liked to go. 


 And I picked up the phone because I thought you’d want to know.


But I forgot you weren’t there.  I miss you all these days.


When I’m reminded of your smile and the funny things you’d say.


I miss you most at Christmas.  You were like a little kid.


You always loved a good surprise, and now I must admit


That I long more for Heaven, than I ever did before.


You give me one more reason, and each day I want it more. 


Knowing we can spend a lifetime, reminiscing on the past.


Knowing I will see your face again, where tender moments last.


It makes me want to go there, knowing I won’t be alone.


Knowing you’ll be there, makes it easy to go Home.     


Lyrics by Guy Penrod

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. . . And now, it is after midnight.  It has been a full, full day.  I am so tired I can scarcely see straight. 


A year ago today (actually Yesterday by the clock) we had a funeral.  For some reason, this day was harder for me than the day that marked a year that Daddy died.  I don’t know why.  One of the things that I have learned over this year is that stuff needs dealing with.  I need to think and then decide to not be crippled by the sad thoughts.  I think this is a sign of healing, because there have been many, many months when I felt sometimes powerless before the grief.


This is one of my favorite pictures of Daddy, taken at Bert and Sarah’s house the day that Elmer was baptized.  Doesn’t he look happy?  I look at him, holding Mama’s hand, and surrounded by “the four musketeers” — our four daughters that ran around together all the time —  still do, whenever they get a chance.


Daddy and some of his girls
From left to right, Carmen Heatwole, (my youngest sister, Alma’s only daughter) Rachel Yutzy, (known as Youngest Daughter of Certain Man and his Wife) Maria Slaubaugh (Middle Daughter of Middle Sister, Sarah), and Holly Yoder, Youngest Daughter to my youngest brother, Mark, Jr.).  And of course, that precious couple in the middle is the Grandma and Grandpa of them all — my Sweet Mama, and my now gone Daddy.


You could not have told me how much I would miss him.

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Wow!  A day when (I think) I get to stay home!


So, I’m gonna’ set up a present wrapping station, turn on my Gaither Christmas Videos, and enjoy it!


All the office Christmas presents are delivered.  (Homemade strawberry jam in pretty jars with old fashioned gift tags)


We got done with the teachers’ and bus driver gifts yesterday (Homemade cinnamon rolls on a pretty paper christmas plate).


And Middle daughter cleaned my messy kitchen.


And my Mama watched my ladies so I could go Christmas Caroling with our church for the first time in many a year!  What a great time we had!  And doughnuts and hot chocolate and great fellowship in the church basement afterwards were all warming and encouraging.


“. . . All is calm, all is bright!”


 

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One year ago, you went away.


Home to Heaven, and this we believe.


How have we made it?  Has it only been a year?


How have we made it?  Is it already a year?


Brave Mama, brave siblings, brave grands.


Friends so warm, so kind, so understanding.


And lots and lots of pain and hurt and grief belonging to others


To mix in with our own to remind us that-


We are not alone!


We have never been alone!


And the very Jesus who welcomed you home


Walks with us.


Knows our pain.


Knows how much we miss you!


Oh, Daddy.  We remember!


Sometimes it seems like we should be able to look up to see you walk through the door.


We miss your prayers.  Your birthday cards with the notes.  The eyebrows that went down when you were displeased.  The smiley lines around your eyes.  We remember shoulder rides and ticklings and whiskerings.  We remember playing on the living room floor when the safe area was the hardwood bordering our area rug when we would dash from one side to the other and you, on your hands and knees would growl and chase and catch us as we tried to sneak by.  We remember riding in the back of the truck to the Butler Feed Mill in Andrewsville, and the suckers that were given away free to wiggly farm children.  We remember how you taught us to ride bikes and always made sure that our bikes were in good repair.  We remember the swing in the maple tree and ice cold watermelon on hot summer days.  We remember your strong arms and your tanned skin.  We remember Family Worship around that grey formica kitchen table and kneeling on that hard linoleum floor while you prayed and prayed and prayed.  We remember how you prayed for our community, for our ministers, for your parents, for each one of us, for the wayward and for the faithful, for rain in long dry summers, for the less fortunate, for the strength to be faithful, for forgiveness where you had failed and that God would bring us all safely home without the loss of one.  We remember how much you loved our Mama, and how much you loved us.  We remember the way you would cradle our babies to you shoulder and murmur Grandpa talk into their ears.  We remember the interest you had in our relationships, our marriages and the love affairs of your grandchildren.  We remember how you never lost faith in “True Love” and how thankful you were that you had been blessed with it.


Some days it seems like this old world really did need you a whole lot longer.  Not that we question our Heavenly Father’s timing.  It’s just that you had so much to offer, so much of what so many have so little of when it comes to compassion, and a listening ear and an understanding heart.  We feel so much the poorer without you.


But we’ve learned just how blessed we really were, too.  We had it incredibly good in almost every way.  And because of that, these days are harder in some ways, but sweeter in others.  And I know that from where you are tonight, it doesn’t really matter, but we will always love you!


(Note to my readers:  Over the last year, I have chronicled alot of emotions in another web-log, at www.xanga.com/letterstomydaddy.  There are things there that are very private, very personal.  But I think I am pretty much done writing there for now.  And if you love me, and if you loved my Daddy, you are welcome to read my journey there.  It isn’t all sanctified, I am sure, but it is honest.  And it is written as what I was feeling and thinking when it was happening.)

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One year ago today

A Year ago today, I made the following posting:   This morning, looking at it, I realize I could have posted almost the exact same thing this year —  with a few changes concerning circumstances.    Daddy was ill, Gertrude had gone on to Heaven, Youngest Son was in Phoenix — And this was what I wrote. . .


Wednesday, December 14, 2005









I should be finishing the planning of my menu for Friday night, but I am bone weary, and it has been a stressful day.  I found myself crying in the car tonight when I went to pick up my girlie from quiz practice.  That is usually a sign that there is something really amiss somewhere.  I decided to consciously think of all the things that are bothering me, and that was enlightening, to say the least.  And I concluded that the sadness I feel is honest emotion, not something contrived or hormonal or even vicarious.  It is HERE.  It is MINE.  It needs to be thought about, grieved over, worked through, but it isn’t a nameless, vague, “I feel sad-ish” kind of thing. 


Lord Jesus,


When you see the things I cannot control


Make inroads on the things that I think I “need”


Or even just “want.”


When age and illness and distance and even my own wicked heart


Refuse all my attempts to bring them under my direction.


Remind me, even as you have tonight,


That control belongs to you.


It isn’t self control, or trying hard enough or air line tickets or medical science or vitamins


That will win the battles.


It’s You.  Despised and rejected of Men.


It’s You. A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.


It’s You.  Bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows.


It’s You.  Wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities.


It’s You.  The chastisement of our peace upon you.


It’s You.  By your stripes we are healed.


You’ve already done it.  It has been long done.


Let my heart become another manger.


May you be pleased to dwell there in your Holy Glory.


How very much I need you.

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Finally!  Word from Eldest Son!!!
(Actually, 21 words!)


Our Eldest Son


And here, in its entirety, is the message:


Hey mom.

 We made it here safe and sound. Just wanted to let you know that i love you guys. Raph

 

(Well, at least we know that much!)

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The open house went well — we had alot of fun!  But this hostess forgot all about her camera until the party was almost over, and by then, I was so tired, I didn’t feel like crashing about and getting pictures.  Of course, the next morning, I was very, very sorry, but it was way too late by then.


Today has been a full day, and there are many reasons to give thanks!  I narrowly averted disaster this afternoon.  I was energetically getting trash together since the trash man goes tomorrow.  Out in the garage there is a roll of barrel liners, and when I noticed that the trash barrel needed a liner, I decided to take care of it immediately.  I also took some eggs to the garage refrigerator so that I wouldn’t waste the trip.  While I had the fridge door open, I noticed that there was one lonely diet pepsi in there, so I thought I would take it in for later.  I was going around the end of the car to go out to the trash barrel, and thought that it might be good to stash my diet pepsi on the bumper of the car while going around the corner of the garage, so I perched it up there.  Then, far off in the house, I heard the phone ring. 


Now, I am a bit more apt to try to get to the phone these days.  I am longing for word from Eldest Son.  It seems eons since we’ve had any word, written or otherwise.  I am never sure what time it is in Nepal, and when Middle Daughter was in Bangladesh for three months, the solitary call she made home was made at a strange time, indeed.  So, when I am home, I am thinking that any time could be a good time for a phone call from Eldest Son.  


Anyhow, I was standing at the end of the car, holding this great long barrel liner when I heard the phone ring, and I thought that I should probably go in there and get it.  Now I want to make one thing very clear.  I was not really hurrying.  I had plenty of time, I thought.  I picked up my diet pepsi, and made my way up the ramp, rounded the corner into the entryway, and came into the laundry room.  As I made the slightest corner there in the laundry room, the long, trailing plastic liner somehow got under my left foot, and I went down with a mighty crash. 


There were no obstacles in the laundry room.  I was quite relieved about that.  I didn’t hit anything but the floor.  Somewhere in the far reaches of my conscious mind, I heard my pepsi can bouncing on and on, and both of my hands slapped the linoleum hard.  I was aware that my knees felt like they had received a brush burn, but nothing else hurt.  At all.  I was amazed.  I mean, when a gal goes down like a cow on wet cement, there is usually some kind of damage!  But there was nothing!


So I got myself up, ruefully noting that my phone had ceased to ring.  I was so aggravated that I didn’t even look for my can of pepsi.  Audrey-girl found it some time later and brought it to me.  I think it was somewhere behind the toilet in the downstairs bathroom.  And I was thankful to see that it hadn’t ruptured anything either, in the melee.


I suppose that tomorrow there will be a hundred muscles crying “Foul!” but I feel surprisingly unscathed.  And if that isn’t reason to give thanks, then I don’t know what is.

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