A “Me Day”

Just Thinking…..

Every once in a while, I just like to do a “Me Day”.  I know that sounds selfish, and I really try to be a generous person, not a selfish person.  But I do cherish a “Me Day”.  

This is where I take time for me… doing a few things that I want to do…. and coming away refreshed.  I like to think that these kinds of days are needed, and that they are mandatory, not optional, for optimal mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.

I had set today aside to help on some family business.  But it turned out that I wasn’t needed for the transactions, so I decided to just use the time to refresh myself.  

So I slept late, had a leisurely breakfast and some wonderful brewed coffee.  Then I went to yoga class and stretched my tight strained muscles into some semblance of relaxation.  


When I came home, I took time to enjoy my flower garden.  We’ve planted a variety of flowers to brighten the house, with color splashing across the bed from early spring until fall.

After that, the Hubs and I went to Lunch In The Park.  This is a wonderful little summer tradition here in our small city.  Central Park is located downtown, with the old sandstone Romanesque courthouse on one side, the Andrew Carnegie domed library on another side, and the stately Federal building on a third side.  Across the street is the beautiful Catholic church and the equally beautiful Methodist church.  The fourth side of the park has a little grandstand or gazebo for live entertainment.  Each Friday in the summer, a different restaurant vendor sets up a tent in the park and sells a lunch for $6.  Today we enjoyed a BBQ cheese burger with all the fixings, sliced tomatoes, pickles, home baked cookies, assorted chips, and assorted drinks.  We sat at a table near the library, and just took our time, enjoying the sights and sounds and tastes.  Beautiful weather for an outside lunch:  77 degrees and a light breeze.

Afterwards, we went into the library.  The library has a section of withdrawn books that it gives away, so the Hubs looked over that area.  I headed for the Christian fiction to find another Lynn Austin book.  The Hubs picked up a free game while there, too.  

On the way home, we stopped at two garage sales.  Didn’t buy a thing, but we enjoyed the hunt!

We had no schedule or timetable.  We had no particular route or goal.  The Hubs and I just meandered through the morning, enjoying each other’s company and the beautiful world around us.  We took time to chat, to gaze at each other, to laugh together.

I’m going to read that book this afternoon and maybe take a nap.  And that’s what I do on a “Me Day.”

Was it a selfish time?  I guess so.  But I also believe that I really need these kinds of days where I can recharge.  Without them, I tend to slump and run out of energy.  And then I’m not much good at helping anybody.  The other day I took time to get a haircut.  Before Dad’s funeral, I took time to get a pedicure.  I got a massage this week.  One day I spent some time “working” in my craft room.  I like to putter around my little tomato garden.  And in the evening, I enjoy soaking in the hot tub.  This is all part of my “Me Time”.  I cherish it!  Tomorrow I will return to our regularly scheduled program.  I’ll be cleaning, and preparing for Sunday, and trying to be there for others.  But for today……

Father, Thank You for these interludes where we can refresh and recharge.  Thank You for an absolutely beautiful day to enjoy.  Just praising Your holy name….  Amen

To God Be The Glory,


Published in: on July 26, 2013 at 8:27 pm  Comments (1)  
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An Eulogy For My Father

Just Thinking…..

I am a retired speech teacher. One of the speech assignments my students did every year was give an eulogy. The textbook presented the eulogy as a speech of identification and magnification. This special occasions type of speech was to pull people together and identify them as a group, and then was to magnify certain traits.

My students usually did well on this speech, but for some it was difficult. Some would choose to eulogize someone who was still alive, some chose a person who had died long ago, but some chose one whose death was still recent and raw in their emotional memory.

I felt somewhat like a hypocrite. I had never actually given an eulogy for real. Then I wrote one for my mother in law, and delivered it when she died. I tried to think of points like her love for nature, and for being frugal, and her many kindnesses. I quoted Robert Frost, her favorite poet. And it worked.

Then my father died two weeks ago. No one pressured me to give an eulogy, but I knew that I wanted to say some last words. I wanted to identify us all as family and friends. I wanted to magnify certain traits.

The speech was actually easier to write than I thought it would be. I liked the second draft, and it was within my self imposed two minute limit. I printed it and went to the church for the funeral.

But part way through the funeral ceremony, another thought came to me, and I did a quick revision. And then I gave the eulogy.



“Eleven Things You Might Not Know About My Father….

And Two Things You Have Known All Along.”

11 things you might not know about my dad:

1. When ordering at a restaurant, he would usually order the fish, and especially liked lutefisk.
2. He used to clip lilacs and pin them onto our dresses.
3. He graduated as salutatorian and wanted to become a math teacher.
4. He wanted to go to Peru on a mission trip.
5. He played the trombone.
6. He loved dogs, especially one named Tippy.
7. Our house was filled with books because he loved to read.
8. When he butchered a whole hog for pit bbq, he cooled the meat down in the bathtub.
9. He loved to make fried potatoes.
10. He knew that duct tape and baling wire fixed almost anything.
11. He wanted to marry my mother one year to the day after he returned to American soil from being in WW2. And the ferns at the front of the church were actually ferns that were a part of their wedding!

2 things you probably have known about my dad all along: graciousness and grace.

1. He taught us graciousness. When you came to the door, he would invite you in by saying, “Come on in and make yourself homely.” When you left, he would say, “Take your time a going, but hurry back.” And he would walk you to the car, poke his head through the opened window to say goodbye, and then stand, waving, as you drove up the lane. Their home was always filled with company: family, friends, neighbors. Dad made sure we practiced hospitality, treated others with respect, and minded our manners. Learning graciousness from my dad insured us of a smoother life with our fellow man.

2. He taught us grace. While graciousness secured relationships with others, grace secured our relationship with God. He taught us about God’s grace in both word and deed. We saw Dad read his Bible. We all went to church as a family. This was not a once in a while thing just in case nothing better came along. Worship was real to Dad. He sang, sometimes loudly and off key, about grace. And we saw it in action as he forgave us for our misdeeds, just as God had forgiven him. Learning grace from my dad insured us that we would understand God better.

I was indeed blessed.

Father, Thank You for my dad. Thank You for the many years we had together; it is a precious gift. Amen

To God Be The Glory…..

Dad…. Saying Goodbye

Just thinking…..

How do you say goodbye to someone when you know it likely is the last time you will do so?

A couple of years ago, Dad was having extreme pain in his legs. The PA prescribed a powerful pain med, which unfortunately sent Dad over the edge mentally. He was sitting in our living room and began talking about the fire outside (there was no fire), about his little pony out there in the storm (there was no storm and no pony). He thought my mom was his teacher. Then he began violently waving his cane about and shouting. We got him to the hospital, where he continued to see boxes on the wall, doors and windows that weren’t there, large birds, and more. I thought, “I have lost my father. He is gone, and I never had a chance to say goodbye.” He came out of this state, but was never quite the same.

About a year and a half ago, my dad became very ill. It seemed as if he had pneumonia over and over and was getting weaker and weaker. Dad had assorted problems and illnesses: heart problems, high cholesterol, prostate cancer, rotator cuff tears, rheumatoid arthritis among others And now…. the everlasting pneumonia.

Finally he was transported to DesMoines to a larger hospital for more sophisticated testing. Mom and we kids got an apartment across the street from the hospital so that we could be there with him. He became worse and worse, and still the staff could not pinpoint the problem.

One night he almost died. We were at the apartment and hurried over to the hospital. In my mind, I was already composing my goodbye words. I wanted to tell him I loved him, that I appreciated everything he had done for me, that his example and encouragement had made me who I am today…. and more. I tend to be a wordy person, and this little speech was growing longer as we crossed the street and waited for the elevator.

Dad rallied, and I didn’t have to use the goodbye speech. He was then diagnosed with crypto-coccal fungus growing in his lungs and began treatment for that. But as the year progressed, his problems just continued to grow. He was in and out of the hospitals, skilled care nursing homes and our homes.

One night he was in intensive care. The Hubs and I were taking the overnight shift of staying with him. He had an IV in the groin artery, but kept trying in his mental confusion to pull it out. I literally spent the night leaning on him, trying to keep his hands confined under a pillow, so that he could not get to the IV. During this time he began to moan in a different way. The nurses were wonderful and were treating him for the pain, but still he moaned and carried on.

At daybreak a sister came in to relieve us. I was planning on catching 40 winks as soon as I got home, but a phone call interrupted that plan. Dad was having a massive heart attack. We hurried back to the hospital, and my goodbye speech was forming again in my mind.

The family gathered in his room. He had his eyes closed and I was not sure if he heard us or even knew that we were there. They gave him only a short time to live, and we all took a turn getting close and talking to him.

My goodbye speech was about our trips that we had taken as family. Almost every year we had piled into the old car and taken off for destinations both far and near. Usually we tried to see family when we went out of state. Sometimes we visited sites around our home state. Once we went to Washington DC just because Dad said every American should visit there. We spent winter nights researching the booklets and brochures and maps to plan our trips. So I spoke to Dad about his taking a trip now to a place where none of us had ever been: Heaven. I talked to him about how we used to plan our trips with great anticipation, and how he had spent his lifetime planning for this final destination. I thanked him for caring for us so much with all his careful planning. And I told him how someday, I would take this same trip and see him again.

Remarkably, Dad came through the ordeal alive. But he began to fail quickly. He no longer could stand, sit, feed himself, clean himself. He did not call me by name for several weeks, but instead addressed us as “Teacher”. He had moments of lucidity, moments when he would sing, but mostly he chattered to people we could not see about things that we could not observe. The dementia increased and I knew that he probably would never know reality again. How could I say goodbye? How does one say goodbye to someone who can’t recognize it as goodbye?

I tried. At times that I sat by his bedside, I would just go along with his ramblings, and try to insert statements of thanks. For example, he one time said, “Teacher, we need to measure to see if all the beds will fit in here. They will have to be against the north wall. Can you measure it?”

“Sure, Dad,” I replied. “And thanks for always making sure that we had a safe place to live and sleep.”

It was the best I could do.

During the last few days, he didn’t open his eyes, refused most food, spit out his pills. He muttered a little, but mostly made unintelligible sounds.

Then Hospice said it was about time. Dad’s breathing had changed and his skin was beginning to mottle. We called in the family. We knew it probably was a matter of hours. At around 5 pm, most of the family was down the hall making some sandwiches. I stayed in the room with Dad; we wanted someone with him all the time. I watched him and leaned down close to his ear. I have no idea if he could hear me or not, but I said, “Dad, all the kids are here. Mom is here. Even some of the grandkids and great grandkids are here. You’ve been through so much, fought so hard. It’s OK. We love you and we’ll take care of Mom.” Then another sib came in and I went down the hall to get a sandwich.

But I never got it. I had a slice of something on a styrofoam plate when we were quickly summoned to the room. Dad was within minutes of seeing Jesus. We gathered around the bed, placed hands on him and began to sing.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace”

Then my brother in law began to pray. Dad took a breath at the beginning of the prayer. He was not breathing at the end.

The things of earth had grown strangely dim for Dad as he looked at Jesus.

Last night I wrote on this blog about grieving and mentioned that I grieve differently than some because I have the hope of my faith. That’s probably the most important reason. But I also grieve differently because I had already said goodbye. I think that I have been grieving all these months, but just did not recognize it as so.

I have an uncommon peace about my dad’s death, a strange calmness and sense of acceptance. But it has left me tired. I did not realize how grieving can sap energy and drain every fiber of my body. I didn’t realize how my mind would be worn out.

It’s been a long strange journey…..

I can only rest in You, knowing that Your plans and timing are perfect. I thank You that I had a chance to say goodbye to my father, in fact, I had the chance many times! I thank You that you are carrying me in this time of grieving. Amen

To God Be The Glory,

Published in: on July 24, 2013 at 4:21 am  Comments (1)  

Dad. Daddy. Papa. Father…..

Just Thinking….

I always wondered what I would be like when one of my parents would die. Would I go to pieces, be in hysterics? Would I be numb, withdrawn? Would I give up on life, or ignore the event?

Two weeks ago today, my dad died. I reacted in none of the above ways. But it has taken me two weeks to write about this very important event. It’s taken me two weeks to sit down and do paperwork and business that was past due. It’s taken me two weeks to get my life somewhat back on schedule. I have not dissolved into tears, although some trickled down my cheek. I didn’t scream or cry out or pull my hair in despair. But I find myself staring off into space at times and realize that I don’t know how much time has passed while I was mentally somewhere else.

We all grieve in different ways, and it has always irritated me when others judge how we grieve. My sister lost her son to cystic fibrosis, and she had a very tough time with that. Some folks expected her to “snap out of it” and get back to normal. I tried to explain in my very uneducated way that some just don’t snap out of it on a timetable. There was no set schedule for when grieving must be done, let alone trying to figure out what is now the new normal. I’m so grateful that no one has criticized how I am grieving…. at least not that I know of.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:12-14 )

My faith has given me hope. And I know my father’s faith. It was as imperfect as he was, but it was perfectly based on the ONE who is perfect. So I have every confidence that my dad is in Heaven. I have the hope of seeing him again. It’s not hope as in “maybe”. It’s an entirely different kind of hope, as in “looking forward to”. How can I possibly be in despair at knowing, not guessing, he is no longer in pain, no longer suffering dementia?

What I do feel is an emptiness in part of my life. There’s a void that was once filled with my father. Only two weeks, and already I see something or hear something and think, “I’ve got to tell Dad about this; he’ll love it.” And then I remember.

During the visitation at the funeral home, a fly landed on Dad’s face. I actually started to call out, “Dad! Don’t you know there’s a fly on your cheek?” And then I remembered.

It rained yesterday, breaking a long dry spell. Dad was a farmer, and the rains were important to him. I started to think of Dad standing in the doorway of the barn, looking out at the rain. And then I remembered.

There will probably be a lot of those Dad-shaped moments coming up. I will probably grieve in my own way during those times. And it’s OK. I’m not grieving without hope.

But I miss you, Daddy. It’s been a long two weeks.

Father, I am blessed with faith and hope and absolute knowledge that death is not the end. Praise to You, Almighty Father, for the gift of Your Son, who died and rose that we might live forever. O grave! Where is your victory? O death! Where is your sting?

To God Be The Glory….

Published in: on July 23, 2013 at 4:12 am  Comments (1)