Cheese Cuts (or "Who Cut the Cheese?")
A week ago Monday, my fiancee and I were speaking with the doctor, who told us Dad was failing, and it would be only a matter of days. He was dehydrated and his body was shutting down. The next morning, I stopped in to see how he was doing (I had to run errands), and he was in distress. He had just finished breakfast (he ate well!), and he was having some kind of seizure/attack. I rushed to his side and took his hand, telling him I was there. He couldn't see (his eyes were fixed) or speak, but he squeezed my hand hard. The nurse told me he was taking his final breaths, and I told him to go be with Mom, go be with Jesus, and that we'd be OK. Thirty seconds later he was gone.
My brother & family arrived on Wednesday, and we had the funeral on Saturday. Somehow, we managed to put together an amazing service. I was in a good place emotionally, so I actually sang a setting of Psalm 23, and played the piano for two of the hymns. My brother gave the most poignant remembrance, filled with love and a most fitting tribute to an amazing man that I was honored to call my Dad for 48 years.
Dad's passing was an act of grace. He did not suffer or linger. The previous day, I had a fluid moment with him when all the neurons were firing, and I told him the doctor was there. "why? Am I sick?" "Yes, Dad - I think you're getting ready to go be with Mom." "Oh, ... OK." Then I took his arm, and said "Dad, this is very important. I want you to know how much I love you." He grabbed my arm, and patting it with his hand, he said "and I love you very, very, very, very, very much."
What a gift. What an amazing thing to walk in the room as he is ready to pass, to hold his hand, and be with him in that holy moment. I am in a good place emotionally, as I rejoice that my parents are together, no longer hindered by their bodies. I feel their presence all around me, and I give thanks to God for giving me the best parents I could possibly want.
It's been nearly a year since I've taken my family leave from the ministry in order to be with my Dad and his Alzheimer's. I also needed to heal from the wounds of ministry that left me battered and burned out. The time off has been good for me, and I'm on the road to healing.
The good news is that I'm getting married! I met Andy through a mutual friend, and we just knew instantly that we are meant to be together. Married at 48! Wow! I had pretty much written off that possibility, thinking that I was going to be the stereotypical "crazy cat-lady" who lived alone. We met on April 15, and got engaged three weeks later.
It's been a bit difficult communicating with my Dad, but he does know (usually) that I'm getting married, and he's met Andy - for the first time, several times, if you know what I mean. I do know that my dad is truly happy for me, and he has already welcomed Andy into the family.
But at the same time, it's kind of sad, because I really miss my mom so much. When Andy proposed to me, he went to my dad to ask for his blessing; and then we went to the cemetery and he asked my mom for her blessing as well. He has the ability to know when our loved ones are nearby, and he has told me that Mom hangs around me a LOT. He described her accurately, and when he saw the picture, he said "yup, that's her." So in a way, I know that Mom will be at our wedding. We've also decided to have our wedding at the place where my Dad lives, so he can be there, and hopefully "give me away." We'll see, since he's in another decline. My brother will come to do the ceremony.
I just wanted to share my story with you, who have been such compassionate friends in my time of need. For the last four years, you have helped and encouraged me when I felt so alone. Thank you for believing in me, and helping me realize that my life would go on, and I would find happiness and joy again. I am truly blessed for knowing such wonderful people.
Holidays are hard when you're grieving, but I've always felt that Thanksgiving is the hardest to bear. There's a constant emphasis on family and togetherness, and being grateful for your blessings. But when you've lost someone you love, it's often hard to think of the family really "being together."
After my mom died, the family gathered at Dad's. And it was horrible. We all felt the empty place in our hearts, and noticed her absence more than ever. Easter was easier, because the focus on resurrection brought us hope. But thanksgiving brought heartache and tears, as well as a few arguments and cross words.
Today during the Macy's parade, I heard one of the announcers say "we hope you're all with your family, because that's what Thanksgiving is all about." And I got mad. Totally ticked off. I thought "you obviously haven't lost someone significant in your life, because you'd know just how insensitive your remark was."
The preacher in me needs to say that Thanksgiving is NOT about family. It's about gratitude. It's about how a group of Christians gathered after their first bountiful harvest, and offered thanks to God, not only for the food they had, but also especially for God helping them to survive one of their bleakest of moments. Somehow, football and turkey have taken over the message. But today, I give thanks to God for continuing to see me through the darkness, offering me hope that tomorrow will be better; and reminding me that no matter what I go through, I will never, ever, ever be alone. That gives me hope to face not just today, but tomorrow, and all the other difficult days that lie ahead.
I'm thinking of you all today, and hope that you know you are surrounded by love.
I was talking with one of our members, and she told me that God's been doing everything possible to get these people to turn away from their country club mentality and turn to him, but they're refusing to listen. Then, bless her, she said "you were probably their best chance to get right with God, but they ran you out... and God is not pleased."
It's a long, drawn-out story, and some day I might tell it. But for now, I just have to shake the dust from my feet and walk away.
Just keep me in your prayers as I look for a job and a place to live.
And yes, the shiny floor makes me smile.
Posted by RevCheesehead in Christian Liberals/Progressive People of Faith Group
Mon Apr 14th 2008, 12:34 PM
As of last Thursday, I am on a personal leave of absence for a month.
Last summer, my dad fell and hit his head pretty hard. He has since that time slipped into a progressively worsening (yeah, I know) dementia, and in March, he moved into a "Memory Care" unit. I found myself stressed beyond imagination, having to move the remainder of his (and mom's) belongings to my home, 3 hours away, with Dad unsure about what was happening. I've also had to assume legal power of attorney. Fortunately, he had already put me on all of his bank accounts, so I am now paying all his bills... but still!
Things at church continue to be stressful, with certain people harassing me about the messy parsonage. And the usual characters continued to criticize everything imaginable. Then the PPR committee met, and told me that they were "concerned" about me. They wanted certain things done by the first week of May - like cleaning my parsonage - and I told them what was going on. Though they were sympathetic, they felt I still needed to do these things. So I called the District Superintendent, and filled him in.
Long story short: I cannot take "family leave" time unless I am seeking a change in my appointment status. That means I would be without a salary - or a home - during the time I was on leave. So I told him that I was stressed beyond measure, and had to do something. The church approved me taking 4 weeks of personal time, and now I can focus on my life.
Sometimes you just have to walk away, huh?
That's worth tuning in for, ain't it?
Posted by RevCheesehead in Christian Liberals/Progressive People of Faith Group
Thu Apr 12th 2007, 12:01 PM
this was my response to a GD post (no, not that G.D.!), and I thought it could bring some lively, polite discussion to our group.
Can Imus be forgiven? Of course he can. But that depends on who is doing the forgiving. Even though I was offended at his remarks, they were not directed at me. I don't enter into the equation. Whether or not I choose to forgive him is irrelevant, as far as the bigger picture is concerned.
Forgiveness does not imply "wipe the slate clean," as if it never happened.
Forgiveness is actually something which is done by the wronged person(s)... and it is done so that they don't destroy their own lives. They in effect say, "I choose not to carry this anger with me."
Forgiveness rarely happens instantaneously. It takes time, intentional effort, patience, and even more time. It is, literally, "hard work."
Redemption, OTOH, is the work done by the sinner, to make right what they did or said. That's usually where restitution comes in. The question becomes "what can I do to make right, as best I can, what I did wrong?" Acceptance of the terms is again dependent on the person(s) injured. This is often called "Restorative Justice."
For Christians, we add a whole new dimension to the package, in believing that the Redemption has already been paid in full. But Jesus still insists that we practice forgiveness - even with our enemies.
So, for me - speaking as a Christian pastor - I can find it within my heart to forgive Mr. Imus. But I also fully expect that there are, and should be, consequences to his actions.
I think the ultimate question is one of Judgment...and that ain't my place.
I was awake at 4 am, unable to sleep. The phone rang at 4:30, and it was a nurse calling, telling me that my Mom passed away in her sleep. In an instant, my blood turned to ice, and I heard my voice screaming "NO!". The rest of me was numb. I hoped and prayed that this was all a bad dream - that I would wake up, shaken, but assured that this wasn't happening.
This was a day I feared for the last several years. I didn't know how I could survive without my Mom. Living without a spouse or family of my own, I came to depend on Mom for so many things. Someone to listen and really hear me. Someone who loved me unconditionally, and often told me to believe in myself. She reminded me, in my darkest times, that I was a far more effective pastor than I'd ever realize. "Remember, you're probably reaching more people than you think you do." When I celebrated the joys of life, she was there. And when I carried the burdens of the world, she reminded me to turn them over to God. And when I hurt - whether physically, or emotionally, she cried with me. Her hugs could cure any pain in the world. Her smile was contagious. She always had a kind word to say about everyone, and those who met her fell in love with her joy of life.
Mommy, I miss you.
Thank you for all you have given me. You live within me, not just in my heart, but in my life. I carry you with me every day, and realize that I would not be the person I am today without you.
Thank you, God, for giving me the most precious gift of all.
Happy All Saints' day! In my faith tradition, this is the time when we remember and give thanks for those we lost in the last year.
First, my Mom:
And my beloved Binky:
Rest in Peace, 2006
This is more than a simple copycat. Yvr's thread got me thinking about all the people who post here, and how some people have come to rely on the compassion and sympathy of others.
In my darkest times, your posts of support kept me going. I know I'm not the only one to experience your kindness and compassion.
But here's my real question: As Dems, don't we believe that we have a responsibility to help care for those who, for whatever reason, cannot care for themselves alone? And doesn't that include emotional support?
Rodney King once asked "why can't we all get along?" And I want to ask all of us the same question. Can we please, PLEASE make a real effort to support one another - or at the very least, be polite? And if you can't do that much, would you at least leave other people alone and stop the snark? You may go for the easy laugh, but ultimately, this behavior is destroying a lovely community.
Flame away. I can take it.
My Binky, sick with complications due to kidney failure, died at 4 pm today. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but it was clear there was no hope.
I can't even begin to say how much she meant to me. She followed me into every room, slept with me, and was the best friend I could ever ask for. There's a very large hole in my heart right now.
Rest in peace, Binky. Thank you for sharing your life with me, and for all the love and comfort you've given. I am forever grateful.
Meet CC and Keith, who were adopted this afternoon. They are slowly getting to know their much older sisters, Oreo and Binky.
This is CC. He is already exploring every nook and cranny, and fearlessly walked right up to Oreo (who didn't appreciate that very much at all). His purring sounds more like growling, and when he gets excited, he sounds like he's grunting like a pig!
This is 9 Lives. I'm hoping he'll like the name Keith. He is very, very shy, and wouldn't leave his carrier. I showed him the litterbox, and he sat right down in it and wouldn't get up! Right now, he is hiding under the sofa in the family room. His hair is much shorter than in this photo. Or, he is much, much bigger than he was just a few months ago. The really cool thing was finding out that he was born about the same time that Mom died...like he was sent from heaven!
Acts 1:11 - "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."
Acts 2:2 - "And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting."
Hi everybody. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers and good wishes this week. I was at the vet's from Friday until Monday, when Mommy picked me up. I'm still very tired and weak, and don't feel much like eating. Mommy still has to give me medicine that I hate, and she puts fluid under my skin to keep me hydrated. I spend most of my time in my crate, hiding from Oreo and staying safe in a confined space.
It's so good to be home!
From Ruth: Thank you all, so very much. She's looking much better than she was last week. Not 100%, but she's getting there.
To all of you,
ed/to add photo!
My cat, Binky, is at the vet's, and will be having surgery in a few minutes. She has an abcessed tooth, is terribly dehydrated and weak. She is 16 years old, and the vet gives her a 50/50 chance of making it.
The vet was optimistic enough for me to be willing to try it, and see how she does. But I'm a mess, I've been crying all day, and my eyes are swollen. I won't know until later this afternoon how things go.
If you're so inclined, please say some prayers for Binky, and for me. Good wishes and happy thoughts are most welcomed, too.
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Member since Mon Aug 30th 2004
Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin
Yes, I am. United Methodist.
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This is a test....
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