All posts by Ginger


I hardly know where to start in revealing this, but here goes …

For many years now I’ve not been much of a television watcher.  Michael was always in charge of the remote control and that was usually OK with me.  The occasional shows I was interested in watching were recorded and watched while I was on the treadmill.  But in the last year there’s lots more time to fill and no one to relinquish the remote to.  So I’ve been watching more TV than usual.

I’ve kept up with the few series that I’ve been watching for a while now.  And a new cable package has allowed me to see several movies that I missed in the theatres.  The kids have recommended several good series.  And services like Netflix and Hulu have allowed me to “binge watch” so I could catch up with past seasons.  Most of the things I’ve found have been pretty good, with a few exceptions.  And even the regular network shows today stretch the boundaries pretty far when it comes to acceptable family entertainment.

There’s one series I’ve heard about for a while now.  I’d never seen it and didn’t know much about it other than it was getting a lot of press and awards.  I asked one of my kids about it, who told me they had watched a few episodes but found it so objectionable that they quit.

Well, being the adult/grown-up/parent that I am I thought I’d check it out for myself.  So I started to watch.  I watched several episodes each night for about a week to get through the first season.  Before long I was several weeks into Season 2.  This particular series tells the story of its characters in all sorts of immoral situations and alternate lifestyle relationships.  So you can imagine not only the story line but the vocabulary that was being used.

After about a week of watching the show nightly, one morning I woke up to something strange.  Even before I got out of bed that morning, I was hearing certain words in my head.  Words from the dialogue of this show.  Words that aren’t a part of my normal vocabulary.  Words that I know none of you have ever heard me say.  I was puzzled.  Even as I went through my day, when different situations would arise, the first thing I would hear in my head were these words.  But would I be deterred?  NO!  The next night I continued to watch a few more episodes.

Again, the next morning, the same thing happened.  In my head, a barrage of words I would never speak out loud.  Well, finally, I began to get the message.  This show had to go.  I was being directly affected by what my ears were hearing and my eyes were seeing.  Throughout the day I heard the words.  That night – no more episodes of this series.  The next morning, I was still hearing the words, but not with as much strength or frequency.  Within a few days, they were gone.

Now here’s the kicker: I know better.  I know what God says in His word about keeping ourselves pure and holy; about being set apart from this world and its effects.  I know that what I put in through my eyes and ears affects my heart and mind.  I know that I’m created to reflect the image of God, not to be a part of the crowd followers in our society.  And yet still I watched hours of this “entertainment” somehow thinking I would be unaffected.  What a fool!

So, since I don’t have anyone here to keep me accountable, I’m confessing to you.  To keep me accountable.  To keep me reminded that my flesh is weak and I’m easily coaxed into believing I know better than God when it comes to what I should allow in my life.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”   Psalm 51:10

The Way We Are

RHS Reunion bag

Last week I had the privilege of attending my 40th year high school reunion.  (Yes, do the math and now you know how old I am.)  An event like this makes you look back on a lot of memories, some you cherish and some you wish you could forget.  As the day grew closer my Facebook feed was overrun with comments from classmates on all sorts of vital issues – what to wear, who would be there, and that always aggravating last minute zit that was appearing just in time.  Well, somethings really haven’t changed in forty years.

We began as 547 graduates in 1975.  There were some twenty-five of us who have passed away over the years, each one mourned and missed.  Of the remaining 500+ about 200 gathered that night.  We came from an all-girl public high school, a unique situation created when our parish government all those years ago decided to segregate the sexes after being required to desegregate the races. So many people think this odd and undesirable, but it was normal to us and afforded us opportunities to lead that we might not have otherwise had.

As I look back on our lives together I am reminded that we came of age at a exceptional time in history.  When we were in the first grade we heard announced in our classrooms that our President Kennedy had been assassinated.  In junior high we watched grainy black and white television sets to see the first man walk on the moon.  In high school we saw the Supreme Court rule on Roe v. Wade which changed the decisions women were allowed to legally make regarding child bearing.  And always in the background of our lives was the Vietnam War.  I remember well, the day in my sophomore year, when our leaders announced that our troops would be brought home. The relief we felt, expressed in both cheers and tears, was very real as my brother was just months away from his eighteenth birthday.

As we stepped out into the world in 1975, the women’s liberation movement was in full swing.  I expect more graduates from our class than any previous one, went on to college and advanced education. But I think, more important than going on to college and careers, was the fact that we had choices available to us.  No longer were we encouraged only in the direction of marriage and motherhood. We were actually told that we could become doctors and lawyers, nurses and accountants, artists and inventors, business owners and elected officials. And we did!

Who knew that typing skills, not considered a college prep course in 1975, are today the indispensable keyboarding skills?  Who could have imagined iPads and wireless internet in a world of  televisions with knobs to change the channel?  Could a cell phone be possible when our house phones were connected to the wall and used rotary dials?  The changes in technology and communication have been unprecedented in our lifetimes.  And socially we have seen such great changes in the rights of women, minorities and the disabled – I know we have a long way to go, but these things weren’t even discussed forty years ago.  (If some of my former employers made the comments today that they made to me years ago, I’m sure it would be a case for a discrimination or sexual harassment suit.)

To gather together again meant contacting people throughout the United States and in foreign countries. Some of us still live close by while others came from as far away as California. Some of us look the same and some of us look remarkably different. We laughed and hugged and tried to remember names and places. I learned that there are some folks I’ve met in the last forty years that I didn’t know I graduated with until we saw each other on reunion night.

By now this group of girls (or do I call us women or ladies?), has seen enough of life to know both the joy of love and the sorrow of loss. To look around the room, clearly life has been more difficult for some than for others. But we gathered for pictures and recounted silly stories as we promised to get together again soon. And I must say, though I’ve spent much time remembering what it was like forty years ago, I am less impressed with The Way We Were than I am with The Way We Are.

And at the end of the night, we joined arm in arm to sing the same song we sang forty years ago:
Can it be that it was all so simple then?                                                                    Or has time rewritten every line?                                                                                   If we had the chance to do it all again tell me, would we? Could we?  Memories may be beautiful and yet                                                                  What’s too painful to remember we simply choose to forget.                         So it’s the laughter we will remember                                                                Whenever we remember, the way we were.

RHS Reunion

Falling in Love Again

Have you ever experienced love at first sight?  Is it just something you see in Life Time movies and read about in fairy tales?  When I first met Michael it was not love at first sight.  I don’t think there was anything wrong with that.  It was like at first sight.  And getting to know him didn’t take long, because within a few weeks I knew that this was a love for a lifetime.  I remember after our third date telling my mom that “this is the man I’m going to marry”.

When my children were born it wasn’t love at first sight either (sorry to disappoint, kids).  It was wonderful and exciting and scary all at once.  But I never had that lightning bolt experience that you read about some new mom’s having.  I was both in awe and terrified at the thought that I was now responsible for another human being.  But, again, it didn’t take long.  Within a few days they had my full and unconditional love, and they still do.  The kind of love that doesn’t end, regardless of time or miles or circumstances or disappointments.

So imagine my surprise, shock even, to now, (at my age, ugh!) finally have experienced love at first sight.  That lightning bolt experience.  For someone new to come into my life and change my heart in such a profound manner.  From the first time I saw him I knew this was the beginning of an incredible new relationship, unlike any I had ever experienced before.  Someone that met me with no requirements. No expectations.  No judgements.  And I’m able to say that I see him the same way.   With only love between us.

So how do you respond to such a weighty experience?  Well, I responded the way I so often respond to things these days.  With tears.  Right there at our first meeting.  And I wish I could say it was a gentle cry where the tears softly rolled down my cheek.  But no.  For me it was a big ugly cry.  The one where you have to put your hand over your mouth to keep big audible sobs from alarming everyone around you.  The one where your shoulders shake and you’re not sure your legs will hold you.  I thank God for this new relationship in my life – for the hope of future days and new experiences, for the anticipation of many years ahead to get to know each other and learn from each other.

Welcome to my life Drew.



The First Anniversary

I know you’ve heard people say, and I’ve certainly said it myself, that the first year is the hardest.  All the firsts – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays.  Well, following that stream of thinking I should have been looking forward to this week.  Cause if the first year is the hardest then the hardest part would be over.

What nobody talks much about is the seconds.  What is the second year gonna be like?  And what nobody tells you about is what to do on that first anniversary.  I’ve spent most of this last week with a knot in my stomach anticipating this day.  Wondering what it would be like and what I would do.  I had a few thoughts.  My first inclination was to stay in bed all day.  But then I remembered that this day coincided with the day my housekeeper would come to clean my house.  And I never pass up the chance to have someone come clean my house.  (It’s like one of my life philosophies: #1 – Never wake a sleeping baby. #2 – Never pass up the chance to have someone else do your housework for you.)  So I couldn’t stay in bed.

My second thought was to run away from home.  But then I remembered there was nothing here to run away from.  (This was something I used to threaten my children with, but it seems to have lost its value now.)  My next idea was to buy flowers and go to the cemetery, probably camping out there all day until they threw me out.  I just wasn’t sure what I should do.

So my plan was to leave it up to God to show me what to do.  I told God I was going to get on my knees and pray and I wasn’t going to get up until He told me what to do.  Now, in times past when I’ve gone to God asking for a specific message from Him, it usually takes some time for all the voices in my head to quiet down so I can just be quiet and listen.  (Don’t judge the voices in my head – they have a lot to say.)  But this time was different.  Before I could even get to my knees, as soon as I told God I was going to kneel down and stay there til He told me what to do, I heard him say this:  “Live”.  It was short; it was sweet; it was right to the point – “Live”.

So no staying in bed all day or running away from home.  “Live”.  No camping out or picnicking at the cemetery.  “Live”.

So what did my day look like?  I did buy some flowers and visit the cemetery.  But I bought the flowers for me, because that’s what Michael always did.  I bought sunflowers because that was our last trip together – to Tuscany where we saw acres and acres of sunflowers.  And I bought some colorful flowers, because he always “liked lots of color”.  I went to lunch and dinner with some precious friends (exactly what Michael would have done).  I’ve had phone calls and messages and deliveries.  I’ve had cards and gifts and people who shared memories with me.

When Andrew called he said “Dad would probably be saying ‘Look! Y’all made it through the year! I knew you could do it!’”  I told him I woke up that morning thinking “I hope you enjoyed your first year in heaven. Ours hasn’t been nearly as much fun as yours.”

While this last year hasn’t been what I would call fun, it has had many fun moments in it – travel, weddings, babies and celebrations.  I’m sure I’ve gone way over my limit of laughter for a grieving widow.  I’m so thankful for the friends and family who have come along side me to keep me busy and to include me even though I’m no longer part of a couple.  My kids have been incredible in supporting me while dealing with their own heartache.

Most of all I’m impressed by the faithfulness of God.  Not that He hasn’t always been faithful, but maybe more the way I’ve seen His faithfulness manifested.  He has taken away fears.  He has disposed of properties that were overwhelming me.  He has given me strength when I was slipping into some bad habits and thought processes (more on that in future posts).  He has replaced my anxiety with His peace.

I do hope the first year is the hardest.  I do hope the second is easier. Either way, I’m trusting God.

Divine Moments

One year ago I sat beside Michael’s bed as he died.  Before that day I had only been present two times as people had died.  Both times were quiet and peaceful.  I think back to the night Michael died.  It was a long day.  We knew it was coming.  It was a decision that he had made – at least as much as we are allowed to decide on these things.  The kids were all gathered with me in his room.  It was quiet.  It was tender.  We listened for his last breaths.  Finally the machines and monitors told us it was time.

Two weeks ago I stood next to my daughter’s bed.  Besides my own deliveries I had never been present at the birth of a baby.  It was a long night.  We knew it was coming.  Having a child was a decision my daughter and son-in-law had made – at least as much as we are allowed to decide these things.  All our family was gathered in the room.  But it wasn’t quiet.  Finally the monitors and machines told us it was time.

As I look on both of these events I am amazed.  These are divine moments that God allows us to be a part of — when a life enters or leaves this earth.  It seems we are somehow especially close to the presence of God in these moments.  But I also look at how we struggle to get here, with pushing and great effort, with cries and great shouts of triumph.  And I see how we leave, with quietness and surrender, yielding to God’s plan for an end to our time here.

And then there was another divine moment.  At the very same time that this new baby was being born, there was another birth taking place, a rebirth.  A precious friend has been battling cancer for over two years.  The doctors recommended he have a stem cell transplant and a donor was found.  And on the very day, at the very time that my grandson came into this world, our precious friend received his stem cells and got a new birthday.  They knew it was coming.  It was their decision to have this transplant – at least as much as we are allowed to decide on these things.  I’m told there wasn’t much fanfare.  But I know the presence of God was there with them and I’m sure it was another divine moment.

How great is the Father’s love for us that He would allow us to be a part of His great work and plan.

One life on earth ends.  One life on earth begins.  One life on earth is re-born.  All three are named Michael.

Two By Two

I had the chance to go to the movies this week with a girlfriend.  We saw a movie called I’ll See You In My Dreams, about a widow and her girlfriends.  (Sound familiar? Spoiler alert!)  As a result of the movie we had quite a discussion, the conclusion being this:  I need to buy some mouse traps, learn to drink more, never speed date and get a younger pool guy.  Oh, and I don’t want to get married.

Now I want to preface what I’m about to say with this.  I love/loved Michael and loved being his wife.  I made promises to love and honor for as long as we both were alive.  And if I had my choice I’d still be doing that.  I’d keep on doing it til I took my last breath.  But I don’t have that luxury anymore.  With that being said, I don’t want to be married now.

I don’t want to rearrange my time and schedule.  I don’t want to do somebody else’s dirty laundry or cook their meals.  I don’t want to keep track of somebody else’s appointments, medications or possessions.  I don’t want to learn about somebody else’s bad habits or have them learn about mine.  I don’t want to have to explain my life style to anybody or have it judged.  I don’t need somebody to support me, pay my bills, or raise a family with.  (I’m beginning to hear Helen Reddy sing “I am Woman, hear me roar.”)

This isn’t a feminist rant.  But as Blythe Danner said “I’ve been married.”  I guess 6 weeks of living on my own have made me selfishly independent or independently selfish.  I like being able to decide when and where I go and with whom.  I like being able to make decisions about my finances and investments (though I still hate making decisions about insurance).   And it’s not as though I didn’t do most of those things when Michael was alive, but it’s just different now.

So what do I want?  So glad you asked.

I want FRIENDS.  I want people who will go to lunch and go to dinner, who will go to the movies or the theatre, who will explore museums, classical music and opera.  People who will have discussions with me about news and opposing views, about faith and God and family.  I want new friends to go along with my life-long friends, guy friends and girl friends.  And I want young friends as well as older friends.  I want friends to take a walk with or ride my bike with and friends to travel around the world with.

So to my girlfriends, you don’t need to set me up, fix me up or hook me up.  And to my guy friends, you don’t need to think that I want an involvement.  It’s just nice to have people in your life to share ideas with and to spend time with in any variety of experiences.  Because most of this world expects you to carry on two by two.

Oh, and if Sam Elliot happens to come by and ask me for lunch … I’ll take that too!


TV Preacher

I don’t usually find myself watching TV preachers.  (In fact I don’t watch much TV at all.  Michael was the TV watcher in our family.)  I usually attend my own church’s service during the weekend.  But since I was traveling last weekend I found myself flipping through the channels on Sunday morning.

I settled on a preacher I hadn’t heard in many years.  He’s grown up a lot.  I always appreciated what he had to say in years past.  Last Sunday he made two particular points that have stayed with me and caused me to think a great deal.  (I think this is probably what most preachers would hope for — taking away just one or two points and spending some real time dwelling on how they apply to your life.)

The first thing that impressed me was this: “In your lifetime you’ll only have one or two roles that are unique to you. So why trade what’s unique to you for something that somebody else will do.”  He said this in the context of how we spend our time and what we focus our energy on.  I think he’s right.  There are just a few things that are my roles and mine alone.  I am/was Michael’s one and only wife/widow.  I, and only I, am the mother to my children.  No one else can have these roles.  For some reason God has chosen them for me alone.  So why would I trade something that is unique to me for something somebody else will do?

It set me to thinking about these roles.  I guess my role with respect to Michael is mostly done, except perhaps for how I represent him from now on.  But I am still the one and only mother to my children.  And even though they are grown, I’m still their mom.  They don’t need me to bandage knees or check homework anymore; or to read bedtime stories or help them get dressed.  But, thankfully, I think they still need me.  And I need them.  The role looks different now – it’s more of conversation and advice that goes both ways.  It’s hugs and kisses and prayers and encouragement.  It’s laughter and tears and being there for one another.  And just as I have a unique role to each of them they too have a unique role to me.  Another thing the TV preacher said was “you’ll never be happier than your relationships.  You will never be happier than the relationships of those most precious to you.”  How thankful I am for my unique role and for the relationships I have with my kids.

The second point I took away from my TV preacher was this: You don’t ever want to look back on a season of your life and wonder, “What would God have done if I had just trusted him with that? I wonder what God would have done if I had not let fear be in control.”  I confess that I can look back and wonder what God would have done if I had just gotten out of the way and taken the chance to follow His lead.  But I don’t want to add to that list of looking back and wondering any more.  I don’t want to wonder what it would look like to not worry about tomorrow (like Jesus said) and to do what I know God wants me to do, while I trust Him to do what He’s promised to do.

So at this junction in my life — where I’m not sure what the future looks like and I’m trying to figure out what God wants me to do, but I’m always worried about failing — I am more impressed than ever to trust Him.  I don’t want to look back and think “if I had trusted Him with ________, I wonder what God might have done through me.”

Why look back on this season and wonder.  Instead, trust God.  Fear not.
Sent from my iPad

Home Alone

I remember so often when Michael was in the hospital those many times.  I would be going back and forth to the hospital each day.  And each night I would return home to an empty house.  I admit that coming home at night to an empty house and knowing that I would be there all night by myself would creep me out some.  One of the things I feared most was that I would come home to live scared in my house after Michael was gone.  Several times I cried out to God about how I wasn’t going to be able sleep at night.

Amazingly I have had to come home to my house without Michael for almost a year now, most nights by myself.  And incredibly I haven’t been scared at all.  God has just taken care of that fear for me.  How wonderful that He cares about even the smallest things – that this fifty-something, scaredy-cat girl would get creeped out in her own house was a priority for God to deal with.  He has given me a peace in my own home.  OK, I admit that the occasional bump or creek in the night gets my attention, but the anxiety is gone.  No more tears.

Movie quote:  Kevin McCallister:  No offense, aren’t you too old to be afraid?         Marley:  You can be too old for a lot of things, but you’re never too old to be afraid!

Well, I’ve made it three weeks living totally on my own.  I’ve noticed a few things.  Like there’s no one to blame when the toilet paper roll is empty.  On the other hand, the seat never gets left up either.

And there’s no one to hand you a towel when you’re dripping wet in the shower.  And I do wonder if I fell in the shower how long it would be before help would come.   But there’s no one to see you streak to the laundry room for clean clothes either. (Don’t judge me – you know you’ve done it too!)

And nobody cares if you have a second glass of wine in the evening.  For that matter, nobody even knows.

Movie quote:   Kevin McCallister:  Guys I’m eating junk and watching rubbish.  You better come out and stop me!

It can actually be nice to be in charge of your own time – when to wake up and when to go to bed.  (But my responsible self still sets the alarm for 6:30 every morning.)  What movies and TV shows to watch.  What to eat and when. You know – grown up decisions.

Thank you to so many friends who check on me regularly, especially when they think I’m home alone.

Sent from my iPad


One year ago Michael was in ICU, struggling daily to recover from the effects of years of liver disease and a liver transplant.   I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not, but each day I find myself returning to the Facebook and CaringBridge posts from last year – rereading what we were going through each day.   I am sometimes amazed at the hope that we tried to find in each day, not knowing what would come just one month later.   We would recount the daily blood counts and tests results while friends and family patiently listened and diligently prayed for us.   Even a year later, I am touched and encouraged by comments from friends to pray for us and encourage us as we made our way through the maze.

Tomorrow is the twenty-first of the month again.  The eleventh month since Michael died.  And tomorrow is Fathers’ Day too.  I’m thankful for my own father and for Michael, the most incredible father I know.

But my heart aches today for my children.  This will be their first Fathers’ Day without their dad.  I know they have felt like they were under attack this week as they’ve been barraged with commercials, videos and testimonials about people’s fathers.  Thankfully my children are adults and had their dad with them through their younger years.  But I know they will miss being able to call him tomorrow to laugh with him and at him, to tell him they love him, and to hear his silliness.  They are blessed to have pictures of him, drawings he made for them and even some recorded voice mails to hang on to.

As for me, I miss him too.  But for me I miss all the little ways we connected with each other.  I think when a couple has been married for a long time, they develop their own way of communicating with each other – without words.  You’ve heard “A picture is worth a thousand words”.  But a certain look, a touch or squeezing your hand.  All of these say volumes when you’ve been together for several decades.

The other thing I miss is the way Michael would sing to me.  We could be at home listening to music or driving down the highway when a certain song would come on.  Sometimes he would get the words wrong, or deliberately make up his own lyrics, but it would always make me laugh and touch my heart.  These are the things I’m missing most today.

Warning:  I’m about to reveal a piece of my heart.  Handle with care.

Unforgettable video


I can remember in days past sometimes daydreaming about having days free to do whatever I wanted to do.  I would imagine finally getting to complete some of the projects in my mind.  Well, it seems now that time is here.

The only problem is – how do I get myself up and running to get things done?  What do I do with all my time?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I don’t have a list of things that need to be done.  I’ve physically made a list of things to do at just this time when I’m finally living on my own.  There are closets to clean and organize, studying and writing to be done, business details and paperwork.  The problem is not having something to do.  The problem is having the motivation to get things done.

How do I develop the self-discipline to get up and take on these projects when there’s no one here to be accountable to?  There’s no one to even know if I’ve stayed in my pajamas all day.  I do better when I have a specific appointment.  But sometimes it becomes so easy to just sit in front of the computer or get lost reading posts on Facebook.

I want to be able to look back at the end of the day and see that I’ve accomplished something, even some little thing.  But how do I get started?


Michael was blessed to have many, many friends.  And to him they were all important and valued.  But for some reason there were five guys who he singled out in the last days of his life.

The first time I remember him summoning these guys was a few weeks after his transplant.  Michael was in ICU, unable to get out of bed or sit up on his own, barely able to raise his arms.  He mouthed to me to get them together and when they arrived he began giving orders on how they would get him out of the hospital.  That’s right he called them in for a jailbreak.  He started telling them to get a board, put it next to his bed and slide him out so he could go home. Never mind that he was still hooked up to dialysis, on oxygen and taking an incredible amount of medicine to maintain his vitals.  Needless to say he wasn’t happy that no one complied.

The second time he assembled this crew was the day after he had a rollercoaster experience.  The previous day he had gone through one of those episodes where his blood pressure and temperature spiked and fell without explanation, causing the medical staff to run around trying all sorts of interventions while he went in and out of various stages of pain and consciousness.  But at the end of the day he was at peace and told me he had made a recommitment of his life to Jesus Christ.  (Maybe there was more going on than just a medical struggle.)  The next day he wanted to tell these guys about his experience.  It was important to him that they know.

The last time he called these guys together was the last day of his life.  They were in different places, near and far, but all worked to get here.  I remember them telling him that everything would be ok and making promises to him to take care of me.  (I remember wanting to scream that I didn’t want anyone to take care of me; but all I could do was sit on the sidelines, shake my head and cry.)  They waited close by until late that night when he was finally gone.

Why these five guys?  There were so many men he considered close friends, whom he loved and laughed with, whom he shared life and dreams for the future with.  The only thing I can say about these five guys was that he’d known them for decades.  He’d prayed with them and for them.  He’d argued and struggled with them over all kinds of life issues.  He knew their wives, their children and most of their parents.  He worked with them, built with them, travelled with them and planned for the future with them.  He had seen the highs and lows of life with them.

These five guys — a brother, an electrician, a painter, a partner and a pastor.  They held a special place in Michael’s last days.  So why shouldn’t they hold a special place in Emily’s day as well.




The Kindness of Strangers

So many times we have heard and said after someone dies, that the first year is the hardest.  Marking all the firsts without that person.  It’s true – first Thanksgiving and Christmas, first birthday and anniversary.  And then the impending anniversary of your loved one’s death.  So I knew that this time of year would be difficult and involve lots of time spent thinking back to what I was doing/thinking/feeling a year ago.

Michael was admitted into the hospital on May 19th and spent his last sixty-three days there.  So each day for the last two weeks (thanks at least in part to Facebook) I’ve been going over what those days were like.  Sometimes it’s hard and brings me to tears.  Sometimes it’s sweet and I treasure the memories.  Throughout it I have been going over the last pictures we have from those days and can now see things that I could not or would not see then.

Two things I am particularly struck by as I remember.  First, on May 30th last year, unknown to us, a young man was working on his car.  I imagine it was a day just like a thousand others.  I don’t know his name, age or where he lived.  I don’t know if he had a wife or children, though I think it’s probable that he did.  While he was working on his car, the jack slipped and the car fell on him injuring him greatly.  While I don’t know all of the details I know the injuries were great enough that he would not survive.  In the midst of this tragedy, some medical person or persons approached his family about donating his organs.  And in spite of their own grief, they selflessly and graciously agreed.  They then had to wait for this young man’s heart to stop beating so that this donation could be made.  This was the family that provided Michael with a liver transplant.

I’ve not had any contact with this family.  Even though the transplant center will allow me to send a letter, I haven’t been able to bring myself to write it.  Somehow, because the outcome for Michael was not the triumph we had hoped for, I don’t want them to think that their gift was any less valued or appreciated.  Not every transplant story ends with a victorious ride into the sunset.  But the gift of giving life or the chance for life is no less cherished.  I too would have chosen a different outcome if it were up to me.  Regardless of the outcome, I still believe in the noble act of organ donation and will always respect and appreciate the family that gave Michael this chance.

The second thing I’ve been impressed by in recent days comes from all the Facebook posts from a year ago.  On the night of May 31st, one year ago, Michael received his liver transplant.  It was a long and complex surgery that would begin on Saturday evening and not be finished til Sunday morning, June 1st.  As I read back on the updates and messages people sent to me and our entire family, I am renewed in my thankfulness for the prayers and good wishes sent our way.  I have been rereading them as if for the first time.  Posts from friends we see every day in our own town.  Posts from friends we haven’t seen or heard from in years.  Posts from so many foreign countries, many we’d never travelled to.  Messages from people we had never met offering prayers on our behalf.  Prayers offered up to God from all denominations, in various customs and practices.  I think a year ago I was so deep into survival mode that I didn’t really appreciate the outpouring of love and concern.  But know that I appreciate them today.  If it is possible for prayers offered a year ago to continue to be felt today, then that is what I am feeling.

The weeks ahead will surely bring more of these feelings along with many other things.  As we get ready for a family wedding I am realizing that I will begin living on my own for the first time in my life.  Yes, for the first time in my life I will have full access to the remote control and the thermostat, and my refrigerator will only need to be stocked with the things I like.  My washing machine setting has changed from super-sized loads to medium-sized loads.  And my two-car garage will be half empty (or half-full).  There are new challenges ahead.  New freedoms, new routines, new experiences to explore.  So while I take some time each day to look back, I want to spend most of my time looking forward.  I’m not sure I can safely do both.

Be a blood donor.  Be an organ donor.  Be an encouragement to someone you meet today.

What Would You Do

What would you do if you knew that tonight was the last night your husband would sleep next to you?  Would you hold his hand?  Would you study his profile?   Would you lay so very close to his side, tucked up under his arm?  Would you lay your head on his chest to hear his heart beat and feel him breathe?  Would you lay in silence thanking God for him?

What would you do if you knew this would be his last kiss?  Would you slow down and make it last longer?  Would you memorize every part of it?

What would you do if you knew today would be your husband’s last day in your house?  Would you memorize how he gets up and down from his chair?  Would you happily serve him his breakfast?  Would you watch as he walked out the door knowing that his presence would never be in this room again?

What would you do if you knew this was your last anniversary?  Would you spend every second of the day by his side, no matter if that meant medical tests or just sitting in silence with each other?  Or would you spend the day at the spa and at dinner with friends without him because you knew this was what he planned and how much pleasure it brought him?

What would you do if you knew that today would be the last day you would hear your husband’s voice?  Would you ask him to say “I love you” and so many other sweet things again and again?  Would you ask him to sing all those songs he loved to sing in that slightly off-key way he does?  Would you try to make him laugh?  Or would you want him to tell all his old stories one last time so you could laugh at them?

What would you do if you knew tomorrow morning your husband would make the choice to leave you?  Would you beg him to stay?  Would you gather all your children so each one could try to understand his decision?  Would you beg God to change his mind?   Would you beg God to stop his heart so this difficult decision wouldn’t have to be made?  Would you be able to sleep?

What would you do if you knew today would be your husband’s last day?   Would you stay by his bed and never leave for one breath?  Would you ask him to open his eyes every time he closed them so you could look into them one more time?   Would you scream at the top of your lungs or just cry quietly?  Would you crawl up in the bed to be next to him one last time?  Would you beg him to stay?  Or would you let him go?

What would you do …….. If you knew?

Ten Thousand Times

Over the years I can remember watching several close couples going through the grieving process as one died and the other was left here on earth.  So many times I would think about the difference there would be in their perspectives of time.  For the one who had died, I remember thinking that the time apart must be relatively brief, knowing that it would be seen in the context of eternity.  And I remember thinking of the one left behind – that the survivor should know that no matter how long it was til they were reunited, the time was really just a fleeting moment in comparison to the eternity together to come.  I remember thinking that this should be the mindset as they approached each day.

I see it a little different now (nothing like personal experience to change your vantage point).  I know that Michael has already begun to experience and enjoy eternity with God apart from this earth.  And I know that however many days/years I remain here will seem just a moment when compared to the eternity to come for me as well.  But I read recently that, statistically, I probably have 30 – 35 years to live.  This means I have somewhere over 10,000 days to live (statistically).  That doesn’t sound like such a fleeting moment in time anymore.  In fact, it seems to be an unending stretch ahead.

Ten thousand times to wake up in the morning alone in the bed and look at his empty pillow.  Or ten thousand times to wake up and praise God for another day.

Ten thousand times to cry over what I no longer have in this life.  Or ten thousand times to be grateful for all I do have and have had in my life.

Ten thousand times to sit idle in my chair and let life go by outside my window.  Or ten thousand times to get up and out into the world to find my place.

Ten thousand times to mope and complain, to drag the life out of those around me.  Or ten thousand times to encourage and walk alongside others who may need a friend.

Ten thousand times to cry over what could have/should have been in my mind’s idea of how my life would turn out.  Or ten thousand times to smile and laugh as I go about continuing to live life.

Ten thousand times to be needy and demanding of family and friends with petty requirements of how I should be treated.  Or ten thousand times to serve others and give all I have so that my heart can be made full.

Ten thousand times to gossip and criticize others with lethal words.  Or ten thousand times to bless and love others with words that speak life.

Ten thousand times to be angry and bitter by holding on to old wrongs and hurts.  Or ten thousand times to choose freedom by both offering and accepting forgiveness.

Ten thousand times to close myself into my room where it feels safe.  Or ten thousand times to travel the world, far and near, to see new things and share new experiences.

Ten thousand times to eat cold cereal and feel sorry for myself.  Or ten thousand times to feast on friendship and banquets of laughter and celebration – food for both body and soul.

Ten thousand times to think my best days are over and behind me.  Or ten thousand times to look for how God might choose to use me.

Ten thousand times to think of all the things I will never have again.  Or ten thousand times to let God meet my needs since He knows me even better than I know myself.

Ten thousand times to sink into obsessive thoughts and patterns.  Or ten thousand times to let God transform me more and more into His likeness.

Ten thousand times to remember Michael’s last days and wonder “what if” and “should I have”.  Or ten thousand times to remember a life well lived and celebrate his legacy.

Ten thousand times to mourn a loss.  Or ten thousand times to rejoice in victory.

It still seems like a long stretch ahead.  May I choose to wisely use the time ahead, however long or short.



Remembering Daddy

I have a friend that always says: “Remember your father on Mothers’ Day.  ‘Cause if your father weren’t your father, would your mother be your mother?”  So while everyone else is remembering their mother today, and I’m certainly remembering mine, I also am remembering my father.  Because it was one year ago today that my daddy died.

Life wasn’t always easy with my daddy.  He could be gruff and hard to live with and had a keen knack for pushing people away.  But he was still my daddy and I’m afraid sometimes I see some of his traits in myself.  To remember him today I thought I’d share the eulogy I spoke at his funeral last year.

My father, Paul Henry “RED” Weaver, was born on January 15, 1927 in Meridian, Mississippi.  He died on May 10, 2014, and was a resident of River Ridge for the last 56 years.

He was the third of eight children born to the late Earl Franklin Weaver and Bessie Sarah Manning.  A brother of Mary Hall, Jessie Daniels, Margie Upton, Jack Weaver and the late Glenn, Billy and Bobby Weaver.  He only had a 3rd grade education because his family was poor and moved around a lot.  His father was a steeplejack, which means he painted bridges.  And dad and his brothers had to help him paint them as well.  Even when their father became blind, they would lead him up on the bridge so they could paint it together.  He was only 15 when his father died and he then became the head of the household.

He served in the United States Navy from 1944 – 1946, stationed at the submarine base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  In fact he joined the Navy just before his 17th birthday.  He was very proud to have been in the Navy.  And it was a privilege to take him back to Pearl Harbor 60 years later and see the memories return.  He was so pleased to talk with the historians about his time there, and it was a pleasure to see how they honored and appreciated his service.

He was married to the late Rose Helen Stephens.  And he loved mom.  They were married for over 65 years.  They were introduced by his sister Jessie, who was also one of mom’s best friends, when he returned home from serving in the Navy.  It didn’t take long for them to fall in love, get married, leave Laurel, MS and move to New Orleans where they would stay and raise a family.

He is the father of Paul Weaver, Jr. (Patty), Ginger Moskau (Michael), Ann Phelps (Asia Baker), and Becky Coker (Kent); and the grandfather of Christy Moskau Hudson (Jason), Andrew Moskau, Emily Moskau and Colin Coker.

He worked for 40 years as a structural iron worker and was a member of the Local Union #58 for 65 years.  He was very proud to be an iron worker and to have been a part of building most of the plants and refineries along the Mississippi River from Chalmette to Baton Rouge.  He worked hard and also brought in three of his brothers to become ironworkers too.

He loved fishing and I can hardly remember a time when he didn’t own a boat.

He loved his garden. He took it very seriously and worked hard in it. And he was proud to share all the crops with family and neighbors and friends from church.

In 1989 Dad gave his heart to Jesus Christ, accepting the forgiveness and grace that God offers to each of us.  Over the years he was an active member of First Baptist Church Harahan and Rio Vista Baptist Church.  He enjoyed reading his Bible and having lively discussions about what he was reading and learning.   And I’m thankful that I can know that he is now in the presence of God, reunited with mom, and enjoying a peace that too often he could not find here.

One last message I want to share with my siblings:

            Life with dad was not all “Ozzie and Harriet”.  He was often difficult to get along with.  He could be demanding, opinionated and outspoken.  But because he was demanding, we became hard workers.  Because he was outspoken, we had to find our own voices.  And because he was opinionated we learned to think for ourselves.

            The last 6 months have been hard watching mom and dad both ill and dying.  But it has brought the 4 of us back to a place of closeness that we haven’t had in many years.  So today, as we say good-bye to dad, I hope that we can also say good-bye to the disappointments and hurts and things that we cannot change.  And I pray that we will move ahead, together, in hope and love and a renewed support for each other.  

So today – on Mothers’ Day – I remember my daddy.