Thursday, February 24, 2011

Staying True to Traditions

It's been a while since our last barefoot walk in the snow. My feet have grown soft. One of my daughters has bailed on the tradition, choosing to follow in her grandmother's footsteps and hold the camera. The rest of us, though, continue proudly in the painfully hilarious traditions begun so many years ago in the cold Alaskan night.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

We're All Terminal, But That's Not Bad

"Patty, we're all terminal. I just happen to know what might get me." Joanne laughed last year when the rumors of her impending death reached her ears. She didn't even know what kind of cancer she had yet, whether it was (fingers crossed) breast cancer or if the kidney cancer had spread. She assured me it wasn't time to plan her funeral or pick out the colors for her casket. Not yet, anyway.

Well, now it is.

Less than a month ago, I was blessed to sit across the table from Joanne and share in a time a prayer with her for our missionaries.

Three weeks ago today, I visited her in the hospital. She'd had a headache and they'd found brain tumors. 7 of them.

Yesterday, she passed quietly out of this world and into the one she's been looking forward to for as long as I've known her.

My first memories took place in Joanne's apartment, or with her and Ron in our little house. They were family to us, though we weren't related by blood. I have so many memories and almost all of them revolve around her thinking of and doing for others... always with grace and style.

She used to have a garage sale every June and would spend weeks collecting from people at church to raise money to build houses for poor people in Mexico. The garage sale grew beyond the confines of her garage and moved to the church parking lot, but still she was in command, dolling out orders from beneath a fedora...or a beret...or a feathered bonnet...whatever random hat she'd picked out of the sale pile.

Anyone who knew her could tell you what she's done for others. But let me tell you just a little of what she did for me. She loved me like a daughter... and then like a friend. She made me want to be a missionary. If she could move to Chile with 5 boys, I could certainly go to Togo (sight unseen) with a husband and a team. She gave me her secretary desk, knowing it would mean more to me than to anyone else because it was a desk she and my mom purchased together when they bought Jessie's trunk back when I was a baby. I think of Joanne every time I sit at that desk and I always will.

One of the greatest things she gave, though, came clear to me in the last week or so. The last time I saw her awake, she gave me a big hug and told me several times that she loved me. I know she did the same for Mom and for others. It's as if she decided not to burden us with her suffering, but chose to spend the last weeks of her life passing down blessings to all who entered her bedroom.

As a final gift, it was a doozy. She was gracious and lovely to the very end. Kudos to my mom for picking such a lovely friend.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Breaking Radio Silence

It's been a hard month. So much heartache, so much sorrow. Larry passed away a week and a half ago. Jeanne died suddenly and quite unexpectedly on Friday. And today we heard what we already knew--that Joanne will not last much longer.

I don't do crying well, but I've sure been getting a lot of practice. The smallest thing sets me off. One moment I'm fine, then a fleeting thought of someone I love in pain and I'm off again. In church this morning, it didn't help that I was sitting in the middle of a triangle of grieving spouses. It also didn't help that we sang In Christ Alone.
The last verse always gets me.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,

This is the power of Christ in me.

From life's first cry to final breath

Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of hell, no scheme of man

Can ever pluck me from his hand

Till he returns or calls me home.

Here in the power of Christ I stand.

Late last year, on the day of another friend's death, I ran across the picture above. What a powerful reminder that what is a sad day for us on earth is a happy homecoming for the one who has gone before. Can you see it on Jesus' face?
This morning Craig displayed this picture of another homecoming. In a way, I think this one's more accurate. Such joy, combined with such pain, must give a glimpse of how Jesus feels when we are finally in his arms.
Are you hurting? Can I pray for you? God knows my knees are calloused anyway.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Mom Meme

It's been a while since I did a meme. This one's from my mom. Leave your answers in the comment box or post them on your own blog.

1. What color are your socks right now?
2.What are you listening to right now?
hubby reading to a kid, Biggest Loser, and the crunch of cereal
3.What was the last thing you ate?
a handful of cereal
4.Can you drive a stick shift?
5.Last person you spoke to on the phone?
Stan, Kim and Kerry on a conference call
6.Do you like the person who sent this to you?
I owe my LIFE to her
7.How old are you today?
8.What is your favorite sport to watch on TV?
9.What is your favorite drink?
a big mug of black tea with sugar and cream
10.Have you ever dyed your hair?
11.Favorite food?
fresh picked fruit
12.What is the last movie you watched?
My Life in Ruins
13.Favorite day of the year?
3rd day of vacation
14.How do you vent?
call Sara
15.What was your favorite toy as a child?
prayer bear
16.What is your favorite season?
17.Cherries or Blueberries? Cherries
18.Do you want your friends
to e-mail you back?
19.Who is the most likely to respond?
20.Who is least likely to respond?
21.Living situation?
Married with children
22.When was the last time you cried?
23.What is on the floor of your closet right now?
laundry and the dog
24.Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending to?
depends on who reads it
25.What did you do last night?
Ladies Bible Class
26.What are you most afraid of?
Falling out of an airplane
27.Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers?
28.Favorite dog breed?
29.Favorite day of the week?
30.How many states have you lived in?
31.Diamonds or pearls?
32What is your favorite flower?
Iris for looks, gardenias for smell