"I have seen personally what is the only beneficial and appropriate course of action for people: to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all their hard work on earth during the few days of their life which God has given them, for this is their reward." (Ecclesiastes 5:18, NET)

March 23, 2015

Ups, downs, and what-have-yous

Maybe someday I'll start writing shorter, more frequent posts instead of saving up my thoughts. Or not. At any rate, here are some ups, downs, and what-have-yous from the last couple of months.

Easter season

It has begun! The Easter season is such a glorious time—the beginning of spring and the special celebration of Christ's victory over death. It's all about newness of life and confident expectation.

God created the seasons, and we can count on spring arriving every year after winter. Yeshua, the Passover Lamb, rose from the dead, and believers can count on Him raising us up on the last day. At the moment God gives us spiritual birth, He makes us new creatures and seals us with His Spirit (2 Cor 5:17; Eph 4:30). Yahoo-hallelujah to that!

Some reasons why 150 eggs weren't nearly enough
And then there's the big Easter egg hunt. I began my own hunt weeks ago for tiny treasures. Many shopping hours later, it was finally time for the fun task of filling the eggs. As it turned out, I was short on a few colors, and all of Jackson's yellow eggs had gone missing. (Each grandkid has an assigned color so there's an even distribution of treasure.)

I bought a few more packs of multicolor eggs, but couldn't find all yellow—the bulk option of 2000 for $140 notwithstanding. I ended up settling for assorted colors with designs on them, so Jackson's getting a new assignment this year. Crisis averted.

Sweet sorrow

On Valentine's Day, my kids' dad passed away. They had been taking care of Clyde for 8 months while he suffered from cancer. Thankfully, they got to share a lot of precious moments with him, but probably none more so than being at his bedside when God took him.

Zach was the only speaker at his dad's memorial service. With my son's gift for writing and plenty of prayers to get through it, he delivered the most beautiful, fitting eulogy I've ever heard. All of my kids—Angy and Darrell, Zach and Kelly—made the service one that even Clyde would have liked.

They held it on serene, rustic property, in a building called the Alamo. It was set with intimate table rounds and soft lighting. The dress code was jeans and boots. "The Pilgrim" was the featured song, and the playlist after the service was outlaw country music and classic rock. And the obituary cards were printed with Clyde's favorite picture of himself—in his 30s wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt.

For the slide show, Angy and Kelly located almost 200 photos, most of which they had to scan. Zach selected the background music that would have personal meaning to his dad. And Darrell set up and tested the AV equipment for a seamless presentation.

Everything fit together to create a special service. And although Clyde had told the kids he expected only 5 people to show up—3 of them just to make sure he was dead—over 80 people came to pay their respects and share their memories.

I savored the extra time, the meaningful time, spent with my kids and grands that week. What sweet sorrow it was to comfort a grieving granddaughter who's ready to go to heaven so she can be with her grandpa ... to hold a weeping grandson who longs to see his grandpa "just one more time."

Sending farewell messages to their grandpa via balloon

Being with Mom

I stayed at Mom and Rex's house while Rex was cruising around the Caribbean. Mom had been really sick the week before and didn't want to be alone. I didn't want her to be alone, either. An awesome mom with as many kids and grandkids as she's got should never have to be alone anyway.

Rex left on a Friday, and Dale spent the night with Mom. I arrived on Saturday and stayed through Thursday morning, when I met Angy in a parking lot and handed off Mom to her. Then Angy drove Mom to the next drop-off, where Romaine picked her up to take her gambling in Mississippi. We had Mom covered, and she was well aware of the plan.

However, when Dale returned Saturday afternoon, which I thought was just to have some of the chicken chili and cornbread I made, he brought an overnight bag. I told Dale that I'd already grabbed the guest room, so he'd have to sleep on the couch. He was surprised that I was staying because Mom had asked him to spend the night again. Apparently, she was hedging her bet in case I didn't sleep over.

Speaking of the guest room, I was so settled in after a few days that I did a complete overhaul of the room. Compelled to make better use of the space, I rearranged the furniture. Then I got rid of the clutter and gave the room a thorough cleaning, all to make it more to my liking. At least I stopped short of drilling holes in the wall to rehang the mirror, on the off chance that Rex wouldn't like the new arrangement. I'm not that obtrusive.

I set up my temporary office in the dining room. Work was atypically slow that week, so I was able to enjoy a daily lunch break with Mom and quit working at 5:00. We got into a little routine of having a cocktail, then watching "Wheel of Fortune." Mom's really good at the game, but when I make it a contest, she chokes.

As I started work on Monday, it was eerily quiet in the house. I got up to investigate and found Mom in her bedroom, watching TV with the sound so low she couldn't possibly have heard it well. I asked what she was doing in there. "Just trying to stay out of your way," she replied. I assured her that she wasn't in my way and urged her to go about her business as usual.

Mom emerged from her room, but she was still keeping quiet. I told her more than once that a little noise wasn't going to disturb me. Even so, when I was on a call with a colleague, I noticed Mom tiptoeing toward the garage with a bag of trash like a burglar trying to sneak off with a bag of loot.

My colleague is well acquainted with my brand of humor, so I knew I could get away with giving Mom a hard time. "Woman," I called out, "stop making so much racket! I can't work like this!" With a sheepish look, she mouthed "Sorry." Mom is so cute.

During the day, she would alternate reading a little, watching a little TV, gazing out the window, taking the occasional phone call, and just ambling about the first floor of the house. "Mom, don't change anything because I'm here," I said. "Just do what you normally do." She replied, "This is what I normally do."

Mom during a Sunday visit
I can't tell you how many times Mom hugged me that week, longer and tighter than usual, or how many times she expressed her appreciation for me just being there.

Although I visit her nearly every Sunday, I saw for the first time what life is like for Mom nowadays during the week. It made me ashamed that I rarely call her between visits. The weeks fly by from one Sunday to the next for me, but how they must drag on for her. So yes, I've been trying to do better about calling.

But enough about me. Have you called your mom lately? Whether her days are quiet or busy, you know she'd love to hear from you. And you never know when it's going to be the last time.

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