Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance


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Saying Goodbye to my Parents’ House

birds on the wire at 312

We closed on my parents’ old house on Monday and got the last of the stuff out. Besides paperclips, I will never have to buy duct tape again, or screwdrivers, T shirts, pencils, blankets, or coffee mugs just to name a few of the things my house is now full of.

At first I thought I might not cry, being so busy with loading the car. But as we approached the end of the process, I found it hard to breathe. Crying is a good thing and healthy at times, so I did.  Intellectually, I knew the house was just a structure, a building, but somehow it felt like I was saying goodbye to my parents and the end of an era. So many important things happened in that house. I lived there through my teen years and into my early twenties. My parent’s were there during the death of my sister in the mid seventies when she was 16.  After Mom died in 2008, Dad insisted on staying there by himself until he joined her in 2017.

My husband David was a big help. As we got ready leave for the last time, he said, “We have to decommission this house!” David spent much of his life on the New England coast where old ships were decommissioned to be removed from active service. I’m sure my parent’s house will go through a lot of changes before it returns to active duty. Standing in the front threshold, David said a prayer of thanksgiving for the vessel that served my family well.

It had been drizzling off and on for most of the morning, but the sky opened some clear patches as we carried the last items to the car. Looking up, I noticed four mourning doves perched on the electrical line out front. They seemed to be watching us.

birds on a wire at 312

All four members of my family of origin – my father, mother, and two sisters – have passed away. I wondered if these four doves could be spiritual representatives of my family in heaven.  As we finished loading the car, the doves flew away one at a time in the direction we would be driving home.

bird flying away

IMG_E0658 (2)

The last dove to leave seemed like the biggest one. It (he?) lingered for a bit, watching, then finally flew away.

It’s hard to put into words what I felt about the four doves, but I will try. I felt comforted by their presence. I think they were there to tell me that my parents and sisters are no longer confined to that house or this realm. Their spirits are alive, well and flying free! It’s time to move on.

I will carry with me the treasured memories from my parents’ old house and the lessons they taught me into new adventures!

 


42 Comments

Doctors Did Not Expect Her To Live

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Here’s today’s SoCS prompt from our hostess, Linda Hill:

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “fab.” Use it as a word or find a word beginning with “fab.” As always, use any way you’d like. Have fun!

I don’t know if I’m going to have fun with this, but I will have … meaning? I have a story I want to tell. I will not fabricate it. It’s a true story about my friend, Fleming. On the day you read this, if you read it Saturday, I’ll be going to Fleming’s funeral. That feels final. And sad. But it’s not really final because she has a spirit that is alive and well.

When Fleming was born, the doctors did not expect her to live more than a few days. She was born with spina bifida. Back in those days, babies with her condition and severity were not expected to live long.  The doctor told her family to leave her at the hospital.

A couple of weeks after she was born, the hospital called her mother and told her that Fleming was still alive and they could take her home. They did not do surgery because she was still not expected to live long. That was the way it was back then in that hospital anyway. So Fleming came home.

She told me that her mother saw her two brothers in her room standing at the crib one day. I think it was late in the day. They were being quiet and her mother did not disturb them but later asked what they were doing. They told her they were saying prayers with their sister and laying their hands on her.

Fleming’s mother did extensive research on her daughter’s condition. She changed the dressing on her back every day.  She wrote a letter to a hospital in… I don’t recall where, another state, maybe it was Pennsylvania or Virginia – where they specialized in helping children with spina bifida. She got a letter back from a doctor there who let her know they had had good success with surgery and that she should make the doctors in Durham do the surgery to close Fleming’s back.

I’m writing this from memory about what Fleming told me, so I hope it’s accurate. I met Fleming about three or four years ago through Cursillo, which is an intensive weekend of classes on Christian leadership and lots of folksy music at Trinity Center.  We met at the closing service which is open to everyone and went to dinner with a group afterward. Over the next year or so we became friends. I saw pictures of Fleming when she was a child on crutches. She had the same bright smile. Later she had to get a wheel chair, but she remained independent. Fleming graduated from high school, went to college, worked as a substitute teacher and volunteered with terminally ill children for many years. She was very active in her church, especially with youth programs. Fleming made a lot of friends, and I am very honored and privileged to have become one of them.

The doctors had told her mother she wouldn’t live long and would be “a vegetable.” What a horrible thing to say. But Fleming lived 51 years. She lived a life full of love and spirit. Fleming and I got closer as we talked about the loss of our parents. She helped me with both of my estate sales. Just to get a visual glimpse of who she was, this was her last Facebook profile picture:

Peace Fleming

Fleming lived a rich life. I will miss her and the things we didn’t get to do and talk about. When I think about her life, I think about it as a rich fabric. That reminds me of the song by Carole King. Tapestry. The first and last stanzas of the song are fitting. The rest of it’s always been enigmatic.  So here’s the first verse.

“My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold.”
                                                                                                   Carole King

Fly free Fleming. Run, dance and be happy.

For more info on SoCS, visit:

https://lindaghill.com/2019/04/05/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-april-6-19/

Here are the rules:

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. I will post the prompt here on my blog every 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 will simply be a single word to get you 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 all of them! 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 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!

 


26 Comments

Junk Mail, Acceptance, and Electricity

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We have a different sort of prompt today. Very clever idea, Linda! Our prompt is:

“…the last piece of mail you received.” Talk about the subject of the last piece of physical mail you received, i.e. a gas bill–talk about gas, not the bill itself. Have fun!

Hmmmm. First, I want to say I almost thought about not doing SoCS this week because I’m going to our church yard sale, and since we’re still living an hour away from our regular home and church, I won’t have a lot of time to do the community thing until later. But I just couldn’t NOT do SoCS! It’s not really an addiction. It’s… an obsession? No. Part of my routine. Yes. That’s it. Every Friday, when I go to Linda’s prompt page and look for the prompt, there’s a drum roll in my head. But I guess I should get to the prompt.

The last two pieces of mail I got (at the same time) were the electric bill and some “junk” mail for my father which is the more interesting topic. When my father died, or shortly thereafter which was just over two years ago, I filled out a change of address card to get his mail and started receiving a LOT of mail from organizations he has donated to. My dad’s “junk” mail was more prominent than my regular mail. After a year, I filled out another card to stop his mail. But it just keeps coming. A lot of times, I write a little message on the donation card that he was deceased and please stop sending mail. Very slowly the mail addressed to my dad has decreased but it still comes, even after more than two years. The mail I got yesterday was from one organization I’ve actually written three separate notes to, asking them to PLEASE stop sending mail to my deceased father. It used to really bother me. Now, it’s starting to bother me less. I’m on the verge of just accepting it. With every piece of mail like that, no matter who it’s for, if it comes to my house and I get my hands on it, I magic marker out the name and address before I put it in recycling. So I think I might just give up. Surrender. Black out the name and address and put it in recycling without getting irritated about it. Who knows, that might work! Maybe acceptance is the lesson that will stop the junk mail for my father! We shall see.

Nothing goes away til we learn

The electric bill reminds me of something I will not accept: that electricity is the only power there is. So I will continue to call it electricity and not “power.” Electricity is nice to have – especially in the winter and summer – but when we don’t have it, we still have power. That’s my story, and I’m sticking go it!

If you’d like to learn more about the SoCS and get a drum roll going in your head every Friday, or just read more takes on the prompt, visit Linda G. Hill at:

https://lindaghill.com/2019/03/22/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-march-23-19/

Here are the rules:

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. I will post the prompt here on my blog every 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 will simply be a single word to get you 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 all of them! 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 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!


28 Comments

Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold This Body Down)

mlk on love driving out hate with sun rise

It’s strange that I don’t consciously recall hearing “Ain’t No Grave” before my friend Elaine shared it in memory of her father. Strange because it’s such a powerful song, especially with Molly Skaggs’ voice and the stunning images in the video below.

I share this song today in celebration of the spirit of Martin Luther King and hope Dr. King wont mind if I also share it in honor my father who left this earth two years ago today. They both loved Jesus dearly. They were men of courage and conviction. Dr. King changed laws and opened the eyes of a nation with determination, love, and peace. My father worked on a smaller scale. After 20 years of military service, my father  (and mother) volunteered at the local soup kitchen, led a boy scout troop, ministered to disabled veterans, and taught Sunday school into his eighties.

Last night, I discovered a new stash of memorabilia in the attic. I thought I was done with the hard part of processing of my parents stuff, but there’s more. There are at least three big trunks in the attic, and I’ve only opened one of them. Inside the first trunk I found maybe 50 letters my mother sent my father in 1968 when he was stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba shortly after Vietnam.

attic trunk letter 1968

After reading just two letters, I’m beginning to realize what a difficult time this was for my parents when I was 12 and clueless, though I must have sensed something. Who knows what I’ll learn through my mother’s letters and what more I’ll find on this fascinating journey where the scent of my father’s old treasures makes me want to fall into a puddle on the floor.  But I don’t fall often. And if I do, I get up. I keep breathing and digging.

attic trunk items jan 2018 (3)

It’s all a process. Some day, I will have gone through all the physical items. The attic will be empty and the house will be sold. But the memories will live on. The spirit does not die.

As my father told me when I was 12, “Nothing is Impossible.”

 

 


18 Comments

SoCS: Art on the Wall

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Today’s prompt is “art.” We are to write about something handing on our wall or in a museum. First let me say a big THANK YOU! to our hostess Linda Hill for picking one of my favorite topics as a prompt and also for all you do in the SoCS world.

I’ve loved art since I was about ten and drew dogs and horses all the time. Didn’t think it had as much value as science so went that way, sort of, in college. But now that I’m retired I can do more art. Except that art is more on the back burner with the house stuff going on. I have a sketch pad sitting on the coffee table and have sketched stuff for the house. That’s going to change.

Normally I have too much art on my walls, if that’s possible which anything is. But since we had to take “everything” out of our house for re-wiring which was supposed to start a few days ago but hasn’t….. Grrrr, the walls in our Wilmington house are bare. I do not like bare walls at all. I do not like them Sam I Am.

I’ve brought a few things from the house that is in renovation to the house that was my parents and hung them on the walls. There’s the painting I did  years ago right in front of me right now as I type.

reaching for horizon w frame

Do you see the two figures reaching for each other? Can you tell what they are? I didn’t plan them, they just appeared, then I enhanced them. I love it when that happens.

Another piece of art on the walls here at the house that was my parents’ is a reproduction my mother loved. It’s not really my style, content wise, etc. But I know she loved it, so I hope I can find a good home for it.

wall art mother and child

I mean, it’s beautiful and sweet, but it’s not something I would normally hang on my wall. I am really working on de-cluttering and have sooooo many family photos, etc. and art to consider hanging when we get back home. I will give this away to someone who loves it. Or I could donate it to the church for the spring yard sale. It’s not a big problem though. It’s a joy.  But it’s one of those things that meant a lot to my mom, so letting it go will be one of those griefy things. There’s another wave. But I can handle it.

ART is such a blessing. Can you imagine… no don’t. I am thankful for art, for color, paint, sculpture, drawing with a stick in the sand, photography…. it just goes on and on with all its possibilities. Infinite possibilities of color combinations, shapes. I could go on about it for hours. Thanks again, Linda.

My sketch pad waits patiently, calling softly.

Wanna  see more of my art? There’s a tab above for that.

For more information on Stream of Consciousness Saturday, visit Linda’s blog:

https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/11/the-friday-reminder-for-socs-jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-12th/

Here are the rules for SoCS:

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!


35 Comments

One-Liner Wednesday: Gratitude Makes Sense of Our Past

woman looking back at rocks

 

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Melody Beattie

I thought I knew all the stages of grief.

But there’s always more to learn.

 I never understood the role of  bargaining in my divorce.

I don’t remember begging, though I did ask “Why?”

wandering around in shock.

The counselor said the marriage could be saved

unless there were other lovers –

then it wouldn’t work.

The other woman had been my friend

before the bottom fell out.

There was no checking in.

No sisterhood.

.

I used to think  guilt was a stage of grief,

guilt the companion of bargaining,

guilt who knows where I live.

Maybe if I’d been more attentive,

 more docile, more playful…

I thought I was doing a good job

for the two decades tossed away.

Why? Why? Why? ad infinitum….,

(until now.)

.

Anger got lost in depression,

the depression I tried to swallow,

but it kept coming back up.

Or I’d stuff it in a drawer and forget about it

until I went looking for that purple scarf

and it grabbed me around the throat

and threw me on the bed.

 I couldn’t get up

but I could roll over and slide down

to put my knees on the floor.

.

All the while I wrestled with depression,

anger lurked nearby growing into a boulder of resentment

blocking my path to happiness.

.

But where was this acceptance I kept hearing about?

I had no idea.

.

It wasn’t until forgiveness

finally got a foot in the door

and started chipping away at resentment,

that acceptance had a chance to work.

It was forgiveness that opened a path for love.

Love of self. Love of family. Love of life.

And finally when the time was right,

Love from another.

.

Now, after all these years, I’ve awakened

to another stage:

Gratitude.

Eighteen years ago I would have never believed it possible

to be grateful for my divorce.

But if the first marriage had not died,

if the other woman had not been there,

I would not have been set free.

Free to fall.

Free to flounder.

Free to fly.

Free to find myself again.

Free to be found.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

one-liner-wednesday-badge-2018-19

 

One-Liner Wednesday is brought to you by Linda G. Hill

at

https://lindaghill.com/2018/11/21/one-liner-wednesday-its-time/

 

Here are the rules that we sometimes follow:

1. Make it one sentence.

2. Try to make it either funny or inspirational.

3. Use our unique tag #1linerWeds.

4. Add our lovely badge to your post for extra exposure!

5. Have fun!


18 Comments

Sorting Through Memories

 

folder-for-dads-retirement-certificate1.jpg

I’m very close to finishing up with my dad’s room. Today, I finished the closet, except for some shirts. I already donated about 30 pairs of pants, or as my dad would say, trousers. After wrapping several years of receipts and tax records in paper bags and duct tape  and lugging them to the trash, I finally went to reach up to the top closet shelf. There were more tax records to wrap,  a picture of some general or colonel he must have served under, and finally a large padded envelope. What could it be? Something important, I imagined.

Inside the envelope was a thin red book with the Marine Corps emblem. Opening the book, I discovered it was a folder with my dad’s certificate of retirement after 20 years in the Corps and a photos of him with 17 other retirees in khaki uniforms. My dad was clearly the handsomest. But they made a mistake on the date! The certificate says he retired in 1979. But he retired in June of 1969 right after I finished 6th grade. Oh, well.

I carried the red folder in the chair I keep in my dad’s room, my grief chair, where I go to feeling my feelings, and cried. I’m not sure if it was the significance of the retirement certificate or that I hadn’t cried in a while and have been working intensely on this room for a few days. Then Doodle came in, tail wagging and a concerned look in her big brown eyes. She can be a sweet dog sometimes.

I took a breath and decided to talk to my parents:

“I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate you more when you were alive. All the challenges and struggles you went through. Your strength. Your courage. Your faith. Thank you for passing that on to me. If you can, guide me, help me to pass that on to my children, even though they are grown.”

My parents responded:

You’ve done a good job. We are proud of you. Just keep setting a good example. Love them. Don’t be afraid to tell them, “Jesus loves you.” He does love them, and he loves you, too.

Talking to my parents helped. Their message helped. Crying helped.

My father’s retirement must have been a big deal. Definitely a relief, but maybe a little scary. Like my retirement. If I’d gotten a retirement certificate, I would’ve hung it on the wall. Or at least the refrigerator.

My father is the person who told me when I was 12 years old, “Nothing is impossible.” His words made an impression. But now, I realize that his life made even more of an impression. Even after his 20 years of military service, my parents faced and overcame big challenges. They want me to clarify that they couldn’t have done it without Jesus.

I still have a little more of Dad’s desk to clean out. No telling what I’ll find there. He saved everything. There’s a cigar box full of shoe laces. And I will never have to buy paper clips again. Here are some things I’ve found in and around my dad’s desk. You never know when you might need some carbon paper.

stuff from dads desk

Later I spent a couple of hours making a collage from one of Mom’s old angel calendars. It was an intensely fun diversion. I think the hands are interesting.

Angel Calenar Collage

Tomorrow, I switch gears and get some yellow paint samples for the kitchen!