Anything is Possible!

With Faith, Hope and Perseverance


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A Pacifist Honors a Soldier

Song Lyric Sunday

At first, I was going to skip Song Lyric Sunday this week. I had mixed feelings about the theme: Songs about the military. You see, for many years, I’ve been a pacifist. I love peace songs. I’m a card carrying member of Grandmothers for Peace.

My dad, sometime in the 50s?

Still, I want to honor my father. He was a marine for 20 years. He was a good man. A loving man. A devout Christian. He was tormented about what he experienced in Korea and Vietnam. Haunted. He had terrible nightmares about those wars. He was also the strongest and bravest man I’ve ever known. He told me that, “Nothing is impossible.” My father served his country well, both in the military and afterward, up until his death this past January.

fox hole and preg mom

So, for today’s military theme, I’m sharing the Marine Corps Hymn. I remember my daddy singing it when I was a little girl. I will always be proud of him.

The last few lines are kind of funny.

From the Halls of Montezuma
To the Shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
of United States Marine.

Our flag’s unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in ev’ry clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job–
The United States Marines.

Here’s health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve
In many a strife we’ve fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.

Here’s the the song:


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Flowers and Faith

Song Lyric Sunday

Today’s theme for Song Lyric Sunday is about flowers. Helen, our gracious host, aYsked that we post a song with a flower in the title or lyrics. First, I want to share about my mother’s miracle flower.

When Mom was close to 80, she had this red, plastic flower in a small pot on the coffee table. She called it her miracle flower because he never had to water it. It stayed red and beautiful. Around that time, I’d read something about mental health being a dedication to reality at all costs. I was all serious business in those days and wanted my mom to be mentally healthy. So I told her something like, “I don’t know mom, I think this flower might be plastic.” She  looked at me like I was crazy and insisted her flower was real. Then she changed the subject. To this day, I wish I’d joined my mom in celebrating her miracle flower. What would it have hurt? She only had a few more years to live.

My mom’s ditzy-ness embarrassed me when I was younger. I didn’t understand why some of my friends thought she was so sweet. Now, I get it. In the end, Mom’s faith was more important than whether a flower was real or plastic. So, before I post a flower song, I want to share this beautiful version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” which was one of my mom’s favorites:

Remembering Mom’s song (and her faith) helped me during the lonely years. Maybe she planted a seed.

My flower song reminds me of my first love, a love that faded and became dormant but never died. It was like “a seed, that with the sun’s love, in the spring became a rose.”

(You can read more about my first love on my Work In Progress page.)


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Love Letters From My Father

Dad with Baby mk and me (2)

 That’s me on the right, just in case you couldn’t tell.

After my father died, I found letters he’d written to me over the years and saved, like a journal, hidden in the old cabinet he used as an end table next to his recliner. I’m still processing the content of these letters. One of them is about why he didn’t come to my rescue when I wanted to come home from the college in the mountains.

This excerpt from my work in progress explains:

On my second day in Boone, before classes started, my roommate and I went to a pub not far from campus. I recognized Chris, a super brainy girl from my high school who’d already been at the college for a year. She waved to me and invited us to sit with her. My roommate saw some people she knew and went to sit with them. Chris made me feel welcome, and I started to feel comfortable with her. Maybe the beer helped. She asked me how I was doing.

“Well, I’m a little nervous,” I admitted.

“That’s normal. It’ll get better.”

“And I miss my boyfriend. I’m actually thinking of going back home.”

Chris looked thoughtful. “You know, you’ve got your whole life to go to college,” she said. “If you want to go home, it’s okay. It’s your decision.”

I was surprised by her response. I’d expected her to encourage me to stay. If this brainiac said it was okay to go home, then who was I to fight it any longer?

I called my parents and said I wanted to come home. Having just driven seven hours each way to bring me there a couple of days earlier, Dad refused to come get me. He didn’t say much, leading me to guess he was disgusted or at least disappointed.

Being stubborn, I managed to find another way home, but that’s another part of the story.

Fast forward to 43 years later when I read my Dad’s secret letters last week. One his letters revealed that the reason they didn’t come get me was because their old station wagon had a blow out on their trip home and left him “without a spare.” He wrote in Jan 2011: “Money was very short and, we had very little in the bank, and almost nothing on hand. I would have to have gotten permission from work…We also thought about what you were giving up….I have to admit my love for you was and still is a factor. After we made our decision not to come up, we went to bed, but I don’t think either one of us slept that night. The decision bothered us for years and we talked about it for even more years, even after you were married….I still felt guilty.”

I had no idea that money was a problem back then! I figured it was all about not wanting to bail me out when I should have stayed. I thought it was just because he was mad at me. I’ve carried that shame for years. And all this time, HE felt guilty for not coming to get me. I knew my parents loved me, but I didn’t know how much until I read these letters full of love.

Ive always wanted my father to be proud of me, even when I resented him. Even when I didn’t like his conservative beliefs. Even when I avoided him. I still, deep down, wanted him to be proud of me.

And what I’m finding out from his secret love letters is that he was.

love letters from dad (2)

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Short Years Call for Rain Dancing

SOCS

 

“The Days are long, but the years are short.”

That’s what came to me when I saw today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt from Linda Hill: the word, “short.”

That little nugget of paradoxical wisdom was offered by a friend when my first child was born. As time went on, I came to realize it’s truth.

Having and caring for children, or any labor intensive work, makes time fly, so that the years go by in a blur. Good thing we have photos!

Ah, but to slow things down a bit. I’ll never forget that summer I stayed home on maternity leave with my second child. I got to take the whole summer off. My favorite memory happens to be in my book. I was sitting in the living room nursing my baby girl. The big kids, including my son, played outside as it started to rain. There’s nothing like a summer rain when the weather is so warm you don’t mind being out in the wetness. The big kids sang silly songs and danced in the rain as I listened through the front screen door. It was like a slice of heaven.

Life is short. Dance in the rain every chance you get.

Watch this. You won’t be sorry. You’ll smile, I bet. 🙂

 

Here are the rules for Stream of Consciousness Saturday:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!

 


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Answered Prayer

I asked God to take away the desire for a partner or else send me a good one. “And God, I would really appreciate it if you could get my soulmate here before Dad and Jesse die,” I added.

  From Trust the Timing

When I prayed that prayer seven years ago, I knew I would be strong enough to deal with the death of my father and my dog, Jesse, when those times came. Even without a partner, I had proven to myself that I could cope with loss and keep my head above water. No matter how much it hurt, I would deal with it. But I didn’t want to go through it alone gritting my teeth and forcing myself to be tough.

Now, as I process grief for my father, I can’t imagine how I would deal with the waves of sadness, especially after I spend a day going through Dad’s abundant possessions and then come home to sort through his mail and paperwork. I’m going through mom’s stuff, too, because he didn’t want to get rid of anything after she died eight years ago. If I had to do this alone as the only surviving child – and go to work the next day at a challenging job – it would be overwhelming to say the least.

But I don’t have to do it alone. I know that even if I was still single, God would walk with me through this, and that I’d survive (probably with jaw and neck pain from the teeth gritting.) But it helps so much to have a supportive partner. That is an understatement. Not only does my husband support me emotionally, he made it possible for me to quit my job just one month before Dad died. We didn’t know the timing would work out that way. But I bet God knew.

My husband was here for me when Jesse died a couple years ago, and now he’s here for me as I grieve for my father, because God answered that prayer.

God doesn’t always answer my prayers my way. Despite all I’ve learned about trusting the timing, God still seems awfully slow to my limited perspective regarding prayers yet to be answered. But I know things are being worked out in those I love, and ultimately, love will prevail.

I am thankful beyond words.

bride-leaning-on-groom-in-doorway

2012, just after our wedding

dad-waiting-for-bride

Here’s Dad on my wedding day.


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Signs From the Other Side

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Mary Elizabeth Frye

Since my dad passed away, I’ve seen signs of his light.

The morning after I got the call, this is what I saw in the Tennessee sky

from the passenger side of the car where I rode.

indiana-2017

Dad saying, “Hello. It’s me. I’m okay.”

The morning of Dad’s funeral, I saw this rainbow reflected from an old bottle in my kitchen window. I had never seen this rainbow before.

sign-rainbow-sharper

As we drove home from the funeral/celebration dinner, I saw this sign in the sky. Dad always liked red.

sky-sign-from-dad

Sunday morning morning, a sweet lady, Dad’s contemporary, gave me this card with the poem above about signs.

card

I imagine these signs were easy feats for the man who taught me, “Nothing is Impossible.”

The timing is interesting, though not surprising – my dad died just a few weeks after I retired from my 30 year career, so now I have more time and energy to grieve, to sort through his stuff, and to see the signs.

I’m curious. Have you ever noticed signs?

PS: Jo’s comment below and repost: https://hellsbellsandcreativetails.wordpress.com/2017/02/03/the-odd-egg-a-repost/ reminded me of the water mark heart that appeared on my mom’s bedroom ceiling some time after she died. They slept in separate rooms, but only because Dad snored so loud. I used to think one was a heart and one was an apple, but maybe they are two hearts. Mom was short and Dad was tall, so these hearts could represent the two of them. Now they’re together again. And I bet he doesn’t snore in heaven, or if he does, it’s like music to her ears.

heart-and-apple-on-moms-ceiling

 


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An Extraordinary Man

joanne-and-dadIt’s been an extraordinary week.

The trip to see my grandchildren started out as an adventure since I don’t travel much by myself these days. The first night I stayed with my friend in Chapel Hill, North Carolina at her cozy house in the woods. Her sweet cat, Feather, slept with me. The next day was Saturday. I drove to the mountains to stay with my son in Boone. While my son was at work, I got the phone call from the pastor at my father’s church. He told me my father had passed away. They found him in bed, so I’m hoping he died peacefully.

My father served in the US Marine Corps for 20 years, and I knew he would want me to complete this mission to visit his great grandchildren. (He didn’t believe in calling children kids, because kids are baby goats.) So, I’ve been in Indiana making funeral arrangements by phone with help from my wonderful husband who’s back home holding down the fort. I’m so thankful to not have to go through this alone, though I could have.  As my father taught me: “Nothing is Impossible.”

It was good to have some time alone in my son’s apartment Saturday when I got the news. I went from cleaning his kitchen window, to crying, to cleaning something else, to crying some more. I thought of calling my dad’s older sister, Ruth who is 94 and in assisted living. But first, I called her friend Judy, who takes care of her fiances. Judy told me that Aunt Ruth had been more confused than usual that morning when Judy visited her. She said Ruth asked her, “Is my mother gone?” Judy told her, yes, her mother was gone.

“Is my sister, Margaret gone?”

“Yes, Margaret’s gone,” Judy said.

“Then I’m the only one left.”

“No, You still have your brother Jimmy.” she told her.

Maybe Aunt Ruth already knew, on some level, that her brother was gone. I wonder if he visited her.  Judy said she would go tell her in person the next morning.

Driving to Indiana with my son on Sunday, the clouds hung low in the Tennessee sky. The opening you see in the photo below made me think my dad was peeking through to tell me hello and that everything’s good.

indiana-2017

On Sunday afternoon, I called Aunt Ruth. I told her who I was (she forgets things) and asked how she was. Then I told her my father had died. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” she said. A bit later she asked how Jimmy was. I told her Jimmy had passed away. I had to repeat myself and explain that her brother had died. She said how sorry she was like she was was trying to console me. His death wasn’t a big surprise to her; my father was not in good health. He had a lot of pain from his old war wounds and arthritis and being 85. Aunt Ruth asked me a few more times, “Jimmy’s gone?”  “Yes, Jimmy’s gone,” I told her. “He’s with his wife, Betty. He’s with the Lord. That’s where he wanted to be.” I told her she still had me and her other niece who lives in Wisconsin closer to her, and her friend Judy. Aunt Ruth wants to go be with the Lord, too and can’t understand why she’s still here. Physically, she’s in great shape for 94. Mentally, she gets pretty confused.

My father was an extraordinary man. After serving in Korea and Vietnam and while living with with the horrible memories that haunted him from those wars, he and mom volunteered at their local soup kitchen and drove disabled veterans to the VA hospital two hours away. They led the church youth group on camp outs. Dad sang in the church choir until his voice started squeaking on the high notes. He taught an adult Sunday school class until just a couple weeks ago. And he taught me, “Nothing is Impossible.”

Dad missed mom terribly after she died. I’m glad they’re finally together again.

mom-and-dad-in-54-in-washington

Mom and Dad in Washington DC 1954

My visit with my grand kids, er… grand children, was a good one. I enjoyed the sweetness of holding little ones on my lap as we read picture books.  My dad is glad I’m was with them.

just-jot-january

Just Jot It January is brought to you by Linda Hill. I’ve been waiting for today’s prompt, “Extraordinary,” from Jetgirlcos to get back to blogging by telling you about my father. This post is longer than most of mine, but he’s worth it.