Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance


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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!

 


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Grieving a Lost Love (What I’ve Learned)

bird alone at sunset

In the divorce support group they said it generally takes one year of grief for every five years you were in the lost relationship. I did not want to hear that after my 20 year marriage ended. But experience has taught me a few things about the process.

  1. There might not be an end date. You can have moments of grief which may include denial, anger, guilt, depression… even acceptance, beyond the 1 to 5 ratio.

  2. The good news is, it gets easier with time. The waves of grief come further apart and they eventually get smaller. There will come a time when you rarely think about the lost love.

  3. When you’re grieving, you’re vulnerable, so be careful. I thought I was ready to date after the divorce was final. Boy was I wrong.

  4. Love YOU. Focus on the constants that have always been there for you and the the things you’ve always wanted to do. Take good care of yourself.

  5. Know you are loved unconditionally by a divine Power who is working on a plan for your best good.

  6. Believe that someone or something even better is on the way and will come to you when the time is right.  Trust the timing.

Here’s one of my favorite scenes from Cast Away. “Who knows what the tide could bring.”   (You might need to turn up the volume.)


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Just Another Wave of Grief

April Evening Wave

 

I used to be good at math.

Now, the numbers get tangled up

With tax brackets and grief

Falling from my family tree

To cover the ground

Like dried up stars.

I have so much to be thankful for.

So much to be thankful for.

So much to be thankful for:

A good man who loves me

Who came before my father died,

That retirement gives me time

To deal with all this….

Is this just another wave of grief?

Holidays on the horizon?

Feeling my feelings more easily?

Now that I don’t have to be strong

All the time?

Is it just grief and the new role

as the senior family member

Against the backdrop of

All I have to be thankful for.

All I have to be thankful for.

All I have to be thankful for.

It must be time for a gratitude list.

(I started writing this Monday night and feel better now with some perspective.)

 


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When People are Hard to Love

“Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some people are hard to love.  Maybe it’s a teenager who you love deeply, but it’s hard to like her when she’s spewing drama. I remember telling my daughter, “I love you, but I hate the way you’re acting right now,” and “Please lower your volume. I can’t hear you when you’re yelling.”
It’s even harder to love the haters, the racists, the ones who intentionally do harm. But Matthew 5:44 says to love your enemies and to pray for those who persecute you. Now, I know I’m not persecuted. Not really. But it’s still hard to love the haters. I can pray for them, but love them? How do I do that?
Can I say, I love you as part of humanity, because you are created by God. Can I ask, Could we try to listen to each other with respect?
I have no way of knowing if that would work. And to be honest, I’m not too keen on putting myself in situations where hate is strong. I’d much rather avoid conflict altogether, though sometimes I’ve pushed past the fear.
My heart goes out to the family of Heather Heyer who was killed when she stood against hate in Charlottesville, Virginia. They had no way of knowing  her life would be cut short by an act of violence. It’s hard to know when and how to make a stand – when to push past the fear and when to love people from a distance.

In Trust the Timing, I considered it a victory when I finally learned I could just walk away from toxic relationships that would have killed me slowly if I had stayed in them.
But I don’t want to walk away from my country. I love my country in spite of it’s flaws and with all our different kinds of people. But I have to admit, I find myself fearing the actions and beliefs of some of those people.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center recommends in this article  that if hate groups plan to demonstrate on a campus (or in a city) to ignore them and ask administrators to denounce them. We need to realize that facing hate head on might give haters the distraction they crave to keep from looking at some turmoil stewing inside themselves. I believe that deep down, haters are using anger to cover up hurt and fear. That’s no excuse. That doesn’t mean we accept the behavior. But perhaps this could bring us closer to the love the Bible talks about in Matthew.

“Grief unprocessed becomes bitterness, resentment, and unharnessed fury.  Grief processed becomes an unstoppable force of compassion, empathy, and love.     __Allison Fallon

I have no plans to go into places where hate is strong.

But sometimes hate crops up unexpectedly.
      I want to be ready with love if hate crosses my path.
I want to avoid posting negative comments on social media.
I want to hold up positive stories of people doing good work.
I want to say less about what I’m against,
and more about what I stand for.
I want to remember that peace begins with me.
      I want to recognize any seeds of hate that might hide away in the deep corners of my mind – the lingering resentments from old hurts.
I want to forgive myself and others, to bring the hurts to the light, open them up and see if I can love the hate away and heal the fear and sadness underneath. I can’t do this by myself. But with God’s help, maybe I can let love grow so big that it takes up all the space and seeps into the dark places.

What if that could happen in our country? In our world?

      We can start by finding the gardens of love within ourselves and letting that love grow. Water the love. Nurture it. Give it light.
        I wish you peace and strong growing love.
The above is from my August Newsletter. Here’s one more article of interest:

SOCS badge entry 2017

 

On a side note, please hop over to Linda’s blog and vote for this year’s SOC Badge. My entry is the “Sparkly Stream.”

Click here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/08/17/vote-here-for-the-4th-annual-socs-badge-contest-winner/

 


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One-Liner Wednesday X 2 : Grief

“Grief unprocessed becomes bitterness, resentment, and unharnessed fury.

Grief processed becomes a unstoppable force of compassion, empathy, and love.”

                                               Allison Fallon

    “When There is Violence, Hatred, and Evil in the World – Now is the time to Write.”

http://allisonfallon.com/time-to-write/#

 

For more One-liners, visit Linda G. Hill at:

https://lindaghill.com/2017/08/16/one-liner-wednesday-wordless/

The rules, which I sometimes follow are:

1. Make it one sentence.

2. Try to make it either funny or inspirational.

3. Use our unique tag #1linerWeds.

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

5. 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