Sunday, June 29, 2008

I've seen fire and I've seen rain

Rain! Love it! An inch fell tonight with the promise of more tomorrow. All day the air was heavy and humid. When I played with the quartet for the first wedding of the day, at 1:30 p.m., the sky was too bright, the air somewhat stifling. By the end of the wedding it was hot and I was hotter, not having managed the ever present temperature adjustments my body refuses to make quickly. The doctor’s latest advice on this “temperature adjustment difficulty” is that it will pass in about five years. Five years! Do you have any idea how hot, or cold, a person can get if their thermostat won’t regulate for five years? Talk about global warming! All baby boomers with hot flashes should just rebel right now and get Congress to pass a bill regulating OUR temperature. Forget the polar ice caps. Get me a Sonic Route 44 right NOW!

There was another not so tiny problem today that could have been related to aging. My joints hurt. I don’t mean they ached. I mean they fell like they were on fire most of the day. I woke up that way and even took plenty of ibuprofen, did stretching and exercises in the floor just after getting out of bed this morning. That’s another thing the doctor says needs attention—the joints. We’re talking about flesh and bone here, not the illegal variety. The doc wants further follow up on the latest comprehensive lab results. When I had the lab tests it was only two days before Daddy had pneumonia, and I thought nothing about it, because for years and years, all my labs return with perfect results—right down the middle of the charts. Not so this year. The results showed a slight increase in the cholesterol and an enormous jump indicating inflammation. Flames! Fire! I prefer the fire of the Holy Spirit, thankyouverymuch. Anyway, the thumbs were flaming after playing for the first wedding, so I took more OTC anti-inflammatory drugs, rested while Muffin rubbed the arms with Blue Emu goo, and drove myself to wedding number two for the day. Our quartet played with another quartet, along with a trumpeter, a pianist, an organist, and guitarist, along with three vocalists. When I sat down with the other first violinist who is about thirty eleven years younger than I am, he said, “I don’t know why, but my hands have hurt all day and now it’s really bad.” I really tried not to feel gratified. Really, really tried. Anyway, it began raining while we were playing and both of us began to feel better.

I simply refuse to accept that I have growing pains. Not when the twenty-somethings are complaining too. This lovely rain that is falling goes a long way to regulate temperatures and quell fiery pains. Thank you, Lord for Your rain. Amen.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Fun

Summer. Love summer. Reminds me of baseball, swimming, reading all the books I ever wanted to read and stayed up really late to do so, hanging out with friends, riding bikes and snow cones. Never mind that all those events and pleasantries are far in the past, my youth that got up and went with my get up and go. My memory is fully intact, and I like to think about very long ago. Summer is still a time of reading what I wish to read, but I gave up bicycles and snow cones for other pursuits.

Today I got a pedicure, a hair cut, prepared a bonnet for hand smocking, and ironed my arm. Wish that were a typo, but I did not reach far enough over the iron to grab the spray starch and branded myself. Ouch! So I drove around town with a dishcloth full of ice cubes tucked between the inside of my arm and my ribs.

I shopped for Muffin, buying shirts and shorts and received an order of hats—lovely straw for summer from this store. He looks even better than usual wearing these hats!

Then I went to the gym and wore myself out really good, hoping I can sleep tonight, cause I didn’t again last night.

When I got home, this extraordinary work of humor and entertainment was waiting for me, and you, and anyone who has the address. Now, I’m watching So You Think You Can Dance like I’m their biggest fan, but this is even more entertaining cause he’s my grandson. That boy is really funny. And loud. And funny. His Mama was funny too, so he gets it honestly. Real summer fun.

Marking Time

As I try to return to a semblance of reality and routine, I gather fatigue. Maybe it’s because I am missing Daddy. Or because I let many things go unattended over three weeks and I’m scrambling to pick up the pieces. Or perhaps it’s because I feel more responsibility toward my Mom than I ever have. Maybe it has something to do with my health.

Restless is how I feel every evening, beginning at around 5:30 or 6 p.m. for about four hours. It just seems that I should be at the nursing home, checking in on what kind of day he had, how his speech is today, whether he has a sparkle in his eye or the dullness that only dementia produces. I still wonder who is on call for the evening, who is working the floor, which nurse is taking the night shifts. And I miss Danny and the “block party boys”—the precious aide who takes the men from two halls outside every evening, paying for the juice and cookies out of his own pocket. They listen to gospel music in the courtyard under the trees just before twilight.

Frustrated and over committed is how I feel every morning when I begin making phone calls to schedule lessons, weddings, and programs. All I want to do is my Bible study, but I sing to myself, say a few scriptures, and do a few cheers to bolster my energy levels. Then I fall asleep on the sofa late in the afternoon and almost miss my gym class.

A bit anxious is the feeling I have after spending the morning with Mother—seeing her pain level, knowing she almost has all the paperwork finished in dealing with the changes after Daddy’s death. The certificates are filed, the banker’s home will not be her new home, and soon all the notes of thanks will be written. She needs to re-schedule another spinal injection, canceled in the last weeks Daddy was alive. She needs cataract surgery on one eye. Her house needs new doors and locks in two places. Paint, flooring, gates and perhaps a security system, as well as a smoother surface where the car is parked are top priorities. I made the mistake of mentioning 2 or 3 of those items today. She isn’t afraid, doesn’t worry, doesn’t want the invasion of workers or even family helpers, and only cares about new carpet and tile repair at the present time.

We chose the grave marker today. It will be lovely in bronze and granite with dogwoods and a Methodist cross and flame as Christian symbols. The dates of birth and death, and a triangle of straight razor, comb and shears will complete Daddy’s side. Mother will have the Methodist cross on her side. The veterans’ marker will indicate that he served in the Army in WWII and give his rank. That will insure that the US flag is posted for each holiday, especially Veterans Day. In three to ten weeks all will be in place, no doubt.

In this stage of life we mark time by the events in our lives—children’s weddings and anniversaries; grandchildren’s birthdays; length of time spent on a job or in service as an employee; time between doctor’s appointments; date of death. I long for the courts of the Lord, where there is no time, no repairs, no darkness, no illness, no death. And the Big Event will be eternal praise to our God, who is SO worth it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Almost a Routine

A few weeks ago I was gearing up for one month of teaching my violin students, getting them ready for summer institutes and festivals and camps. The plan was to teach two days each week for 4-5 weeks, spending one morning each week in Bible study, and working fervently other days on smocked clothing for Gracie, Em and Roo as well as plans for music club programs for monthly meetings in fall and spring 2009. After Daddy became ill I lost my momentum and ambition. Last week I promised that I would teach this week, no matter what happened

After 40 years of teaching students of various ages I might have grown weary, but most all the days I have taught someone a lesson, I am invigorated. Today I taught five families-a total of 12 students ranging in age from 3-13 for a total of five and a half hours. Although I’m tired (I was tired before I ever started the lessons) I feel a sense of routine and accomplishment and fun. We did lots of fiddle tunes—Dill Pickle Rag is my favorite title. Bear Creek Hop, Cripple Creek, a few traditional folk songs and waltzes always help the classical techniques by strengthening the 4th finger and improving string crossings. One or two students really wanted to play classical pieces altogether and they played really well. Another family is playing for a wedding in October and they worked hard on duet arrangements of Trumpet Voluntary, Trumpet Tune, the traditional Bridal Chorus and Wedding March, and Ode to Joy.

I am always inspired by the efforts in concentration, motor skill coordination, and listening. If you have never tried to play a stringed instrument it’s surprisingly complicated with very small motor skills requiring even more repetition to master control than larger muscles involved in athletics. Plus, throw in the real problem—left hand does something entirely different from right hand—and you have a difficult challenge. Even after practicing and learning the skills to play notes, the bowing techniques remain a challenge. Producing beautiful tone is lots of work! Ever notice how solo performers sweat when they are on stage? It isn’t just the heat from the lighting.

I snagged a venue for the December meeting for our club (Score!) at last year’s rate. After one more load of laundry and checking on the Nannie, I dragged myself to the gym. Although I was too tired to do a great workout I spent almost an hour doing some cardio and resistance training. Feels more like a routine from the past somewhere. Only thing missing was my evening visit with Daddy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wingless Wonders

I once heard a preacher's wife who said she formerly had wings until the backbiters chewed them off. Ouch!
I think, in the past 6 weeks or so, I've heard 4 sermons on the subject of grumbling, and did some Bible study on it my own self, too. To sum up what I learned: God really hates it! He hates it so much that the Hebrews who grumbled against Him and then against Moses, did not enter into the Promised Land. Then when Moses grumbled against the grumblers, he was denied entrance himself. An entire generation of grumblers was left to die in the desert, just miles from the Promised Land. Plus that, they wandered for 40 years trying to accomplish the goal! God provided water, food, shade, and fire, their clothing never wore out, but they wanted the Food Channel, with the gourmet stuff and were big fans of What Not to Wear and wanted makeovers.
Galatians 5:14-16—For the whole Law concerning human relationships is complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another in partisan strife, be careful that you and your whole fellowship are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk and live habitually in the Holy Spirit—responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh—of human nature without God. (The Amplified Bible)

May God forgive us for grumbling and teach us how to walk and live habitually in the Holy Spirit. That’s real living!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Too Tired Top Ten (alotta alitteration)

Ten Ways you know you are Too Tired:

10.You can't even sleep, no matter how hard you try
9. You can't remember why you started this list
8. You start 15 projects and finish none of them
7. You're not sure you can make it back to the house after walking to the curbside mailbox
6. You have the balance of a toddler on a sailboat on rough sea
5. Sunshine makes you irritable
4. Moonlight makes you irritable
3. Phone solicitations don't make you irritable
2. You have 10 items in your car to return, mail, or upgrade, but you can't remember where, why, or when.
1. You try to slice your apricot and rinse your bread. (How I wish I had made this up!)

I never went to sleep last night. Just stayed up all night, writing notes, listening to sermons on podcasts, drinking tea, reading emails about meetings I missed and planning on which I am terribly behind as program chair (Does that place me behind a chair? Am I not with the program?). Then I packaged items for mailing. After that I organized some clutter. Before I knew it, the clock read 6:40 a.m.

It seems that those 2 weeks of sleeping 20 minutes here and there, or none at all at night and then 4 hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or perhaps none for a day and a half, then 6 hours in the middle of the day, has my body discombobulated. Any suggestions for a remedy?

One more tribute

It has been one week since Father's Day. I listened today to 3 sermons, and 2 of them were recorded on Father's Day, but that day this year was two days after Daddy breathed his last breath, and one day before he was buried. Our family sort of "postponed" Father's Day. It was a bit too painful. JB and CB celebrated yesterday. Boo and M went through the motions. The three girls who were home for the day gave Muffin a great card, and we all smiled, but still there was a sadness that prevailed. So, I'm posting one last tribute, read at the Celebration service by an "older brother" from our church youth group who has remained a faithful friend to our family all these years.

Memories of Daddy Dub
I have so many memories of the man that I was privileged to call Daddy Dub. Some are far too personal to be shared with anyone other than Momma A., or Sister J. or Brother R. But distilled to its very essence my one overall memory of Daddy Dub is this: he was a really good man. Somehow to say simply that he was a really good man doesn’t seem intense enough or powerful enough a statement. But when I think of what that statement implies it seems to be most appropriate.

Daddy Dub was a really good husband. He really loved Momma A. He was faithful and loyal to her “‘til death us do part” as it says in the marriage vow. Daddy Dub was the epitome of what God intended when He established the institution of marriage. In my mind Daddy Dub was the model of what a Christian husband should be.
Daddy Dub was a really good father. He really loved Sister J. I know that he would have done anything in his power for her. I know he sacrificed to provide J with the opportunity to develop her God-given gift of music. He didn’t do so because he considered it a duty or obligation. He did it because he really loved her. He also saw to it that she was well grounded in the Christian faith and knowledge of her Savior, Jesus Christ. What better could a father do for his daughter?
Daddy Dub was a really good grandfather and great grandfather. He really loved his granddaughters. Take it from me—I wouldn’t lie to you about something like this. I wasn’t around much while the granddaughters were growing up, so my first-hand knowledge of that is limited. But, I heard things.
Daddy Dub was a really good member of his church. He really loved Grace Church. When persons present themselves for membership in a congregation of the United Methodist Church, they are asked: “ Will you be loyal to the United Methodist Church, and uphold it with your prayers, your presence, your gifts and your service?” Anyone who knew Daddy Dub knew that he really lived up to that vow.
Daddy Dub was a really good friend. If you had Daddy Dub for a friend, you really had a friend. He was a friend that you could share a confidence with and know that it wouldn’t go any further. He was a friend that you could seek counsel from and know that he would tell you what he really thought, not just what you wanted to hear. And most of the time his advice and counsel was right on the money.
Daddy Dub will really be missed. He will be really missed by his wife, Momma A. He will be
really missed by his daughter J and he will be really missed by his granddaughters. He will be really missed by Grace Church. And he will be really missed by his many, many friends who respected and admired him.
Daddy Dub will even be missed by great grandchildren too young to fully appreciate who he was, and even those yet unborn. Someday they are going to hear their mothers and grandmother talking about Dubbie and they will want to know about him. Perhaps a good way to start to tell them about Dubbie will be to say, simply, “ Dubbie was a really good man”.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Muffin and I took Nannie to another service today--gravesite only, but in the same location as Dubbie's burial just 5 days ago. We rearranged our day to accommodate this, because the only notice we had was today's obituary in the local paper. The man who died was a long time member of my childhood church--same church where we had Dubbie's memorial service.
Before that we made two beds upstairs, emptied trash accumulated for 2 weeks, did some laundry, acknowledged more expressions of love and sympathy til running out of stamps, and Muffin repaired our almost 2 decades old fence. After the service we worked out at the gym, then came home to get an ice chest. Then we decided to have lunch at 4:30 and detoured to a restaurant. Finally, we made a stop at our local Sam's Club, then came home to more laundry, cleaning, and household chores. Twice today we've had sleep interrupted by phone calls that seemed very insignificant.
In short, it has been an exhausting day. Tomorrow is the Lord's Day--a day of rest. Right?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Baskets of Blessings

The Bread Angel left a basket of bread on our doorstep. Well, we don’t have a step, but we have a park bench where Muffin found the bread wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. Or rather, red and white towels, lying in a green basket. It was warm from the oven, huge, fine textured, crispy crusted, slightly sweet Cinnamon Raisin Bread, and it tastes like a country cafĂ© at breakfast time in a little mountain town, just after a rain storm. Seriously. Big flavor, small town love and care. Yummy.

After some text messaging and a phone call, I discovered that it’s from the mother of these boys, and that one of them helped make it. My Daddy’s Mom, my Pickle (don’t even ask), taught her boys to cook. Nannie and Dubbie made so much bread for gifts that it has its own name—Nannie Bread. It’s a porous textured, soft crust, very light whole wheat and bran bread, made in six loaf batches. Nannie had Abigail helping her bake it this morning. My daughters love to bake it too.

Baskets seem to be a theme. We received a lovely basket of lilies, gladiolus, carnations, and small daisies, all in white, mixed with green ferns and stems. Many of them are still beautiful in vases. Much of the “love food” (sounds better than “funeral meal”) arrived in baskets, too. I have a gift basket ready for a bride with placemats, napkins, napkin rings, a spaghetti sauce, pasta, and sparkling juice, plus pasta server and micro plane. It’s ready for a bow on the handle and ceremonial gifting. Hope she knows that the micro plane works great for grating parmesan.

Joy appeared with a basket full of yarn, some crochet hooks and instructions for Nannie blankets. She worked one evening on chain stitch, single and double crochets to be sure she knew what to do for future blankies.

You may notice a pattern of speech. Over the years we have so identified our food and household items with my parents that they took on titles: Nannie Bread, Nannie Blanket (“w” pattern baby afghans), Dubbie Candy (chocolates, fudge, brittles and divinity), Dubbie-isms (really groaning jokes), Dubbie Cut (haircut), Nanniemobile (a Buick of larger proportions).

Our basket of blessings is overflowing with love, prayer, sweet cards from dear friends, memorials to our churches and Meals on Wheels, and phone calls (One dear brother in the Lord calls my Mom every morning at 7:15, knowing that is when she would leave for the nursing home to visit Daddy.) It’s called Connection. We are part of the Body of Christ, Who is the Head of the Church, the Family of God the Father, Whose Kingdom has come on earth and Who gives us our daily bread. Thank you, Father God.

And the time is: Two Hairs past a Senior Citizen

When I was about 27-28 years old, people seated behind me in orchestra began to tell me that I had gray hair—always such a welcomed comment to a brunette. Ten years and three children later, I was definitely past gray and moving rapidly to silver/white. I felt really sorry for my youngest child since I looked more like her grandparent, and I had a very serious visit with my hairdresser, darling Rosie. She laughed only a little and did a reverse frost, so it left some of my tresses the natural color and the rest were blond. But long time friends didn’t recognize me, since I had always had hair this color.

Finally, I reconciled to my genes. My Mom’s aunts were silver early—by mid 30’s. My Dad’s hair was really graying by 40. His sister was whitish by 37. I made a decision—let the hair go natural ASAP so no one will remember when it happened. Then, with any luck, they’ll think I’m timeless. It was somewhat successful as a beauty plan. At my 30th high school reunion my classmates complimented my Silver Fox look, and many of them proclaimed they wished they had the nerve to do the same (big chickens or little lies?).

About a year ago Muffin started to gray a bit at the temples—so distinguished. I thought we looked a bit like George and Barbara Bush—he had the wrinkles and I had the silver hair.
And he earned the wrinkles, having worked hard to keep three of our four daughters in college in a 5 year overlap, then the same three marrying in a span of 11 years. Not to mention that he has worked 200 miles east of our hometown for the past 10 years, traveling back&forth, to&fro on Thursdays and Mondays, living in an apartment Monday through Thursday, and with me the remaining days. Then our darling baby went to college far away for four years. Let’s all say, “Travel!Travel More!” It’s enough to give a man gray hair, wrinkles, office spread, and dishpan hands! (He avoided all but the wrinkles.)

During this past year, with all the stress of travel, nursing home, job related woes, and life in general, a very positive thing started to happen. Clerks in stores and employees in fast food restaurants began to offer us Senior Citizen Discounts. And, they didn’t just offer, but actually rang up the discount after a mere glance at us. In the words of “Monk”, “It’s a curse and a blessing”—especially if you don’t want to look as old as you may feel, but you love being favored with a discount. Now, please note, this never happens at a drive thru where our faces (and our hair) is unseen. We still sound young—no loss of vocal quality accompanying the muscle tone and hair color here.

We’re taking the “eat inside option” more often.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Light Moments

After leaving the bank with my Mom today and being further reminded by statements, accounts, death certificates and financial planners that my Daddy is no longer on earth, I wanted to think about the lighter moments of this process. Here are a few:
1. Nannie told the financial planner that if he messed up her expenses and did not leave her enough for daily living that she would move in with him, however, said she, "I don't eat much".
2. At the burial service at 10 a.m. sitting under the cemetery tent in building summer heat, Muffin and I, CB and JB and twins, and Joy and Mike were seated on the second row from the front, directly behind Nannie, Aunt Leona, KaK, and Abigail. About 5 minutes into the 15 minute service, Roo got a bit distracted with the cursive letters embroidered on the back of the folding chair covers belonging to Elmwood Cemetery. She began to read them out loud. "D, O, O, E, L, M---ELMO! ELMO!ELMO!ELMO!" It's such a comfort to know that our two year old has a sight word already.
3. During one of the last visits to the nursing center, Em, who loves her moments of drama, had been "shushed" about all she could stand. So she prissed down the hall with her forefinger to her lips telling everyone she met to "Shh..."
4. Watching old movies--Daddy Long Legs, Skirts Ahoy, and others--with my lovely girls
5. Eating. Eating. Eating well. The girls refer to their habit when coming home as "Abulemia".
It included many cookies, brisket, smoked turkey, a hugh chicken/veggie enchilada casserole, 3, yes 3! cakes, real veggies and 2 super jumbo containers full of salad, 3 loaves of bread, blueberry pancakes, about 2 dozen eggs--scrambled, several runs to Taco Bueno, and the piece de resistance--a S'mores Pie baked by Joy. Abulemia indeed.
6. Sandbox and wading pool time with the twins. Always fun and full of smiles.
7. Remembering, and hearing new Dubbie stories for 2 weeks as friends and family came to visit. He was just a fun guy, as you can see in the slide show.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nannie, Part 2

Perhaps it is because she sat mostly idle at Dubbie’s bedside for 2 weeks. Perhaps it is because she likes to be active. Perhaps she is remind too poignantly of his absence by looking at his personal belongings. For whatever reason, Nannie is in “purge mode”. She gave more items to two of the granddaughters today before they left town, and sent some with them for me and for the great-grandchildren.

For both of us the most difficult day of the sum of difficult days was his admittance to the nursing home. I wrote this on that day, almost exactly one year ago.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I am home. Just downloaded Chris Rice’s “Short Term Memories” so I can hear Come to Jesus and cry while I’m alone. It was so good to see Daddy cognizant and alert again today. Last Friday morning at 2 a.m. on the way to answer my parents’ call for help when Daddy fell for the fifth time in two days, I heard the Lord say we were on a journey that wouldn’t be all unpleasant. Yesterday I asked you, Father, that Daddy would regain his dignity, peace and reasoning. Thank you. Thank you for victory in this journey. Today I ask that Mother, Daddy, I and all my extended family will regain our joy. Abigail is asking what we will do without Dubbie. It breaks my heart to hear it spoken. I want him to fly to you, Father. I want his only visions and dreams to be of your kingdom and your power and dominion and glory. I want Him to be familiar with your realm before leaving this one. Thank you for giving what we ask. I receive it for him.

So, I thank you, Father, that my mom is moving, not stagnant, and moving forward, not backward, and that she is thankful even in loneliness. You are good. The journey was not totally unpleasant, and there has been wonderful, beautiful music. Amen.


An interesting process is evolving--Muffin and my sons in law are feeling empowered by the Holy Spirit to step up and share the responsibilities Dubbie shouldered, but in a new way. JB spent an hour with Roo Monday night telling her Dubbie stories. Said it calmed her like nothing else would. He totally broke down on the phone telling us about it. Only minutes later Mike arrived at JB & CB's house on his way to a hotel and told them he had to stop by the side of the road on the way and just sit and cry for awhile. Michael had some similar moments before they left TX.

Muffin says the definition of a fast is to willingly give up food/water for a purpose that humbles one before God and honors Him. Years ago my Daddy made a decision that no heroic measures would be made in the event that he became seriously ill and was near death. His resolve in faithfulness to that decision was his final fast to the Father. God always honors our fasting, and my family, both blood relatives and the Body of Christ, is benefiting from that faithful decision. We're still learning about Dubbie.

In the words of Selah's song, Faithful One:
Faithful, faithful to the end, my true and precious friend,
You have been faithful, faithful, so faithful to me.
And when the day is gone and when the race is won I will bow down before the risen Son.
And I will lift my hands in praise for all He's done and I will worship You, my faithful One.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Nannie 6_17_08

The title of this post is very strange looking. We have always referred to my parents as Nannie&Dubbie--one word. Without him her name looks incomplete. I know she feels incomplete after 661/2 years of marriage. The past year has been "practice" in staying by her self at the house, in attending church alone, in driving alone around town to errands. There have been places she simply has not wanted to go without him--concerts, visits, some functions even at church. I cannot blame her at all. She didn’t want visitation to be at their church because she didn't want to remember the casket at the front of the church. Thankfully, we had the burial ceremony prior to the service. "Taps" played as the VFW Post representatives quietly folded the US Flag, knelt, and presented it to my Mom, along with a Bible, "on behalf of a grateful nation in thanks for his service to our country."
Today, Nannie said farewell to the TX coast relatives, then called Kak and Joy over to help her sort through personal belongings. She sent all Daddy's ties, suits, jackets, knives and a few other items home with them. They brought some of Nannie's things too-yarn and crochet hooks, wall plaques, my Grandmother's engagement bracelet. It is almost as if she wants to erase the part of her that aches in remembering. I'm concerned that she is making too many changes too quickly, but I also understand her desire to move forward. Three weeks ago, moving forward was too painful because the alternative to watching Daddy as he lay struggling to breathe was unthinkable. After 13 days at his side night and day, my mom deserves to move forward, however slowly or quickly she chooses. Since I have always been more like my Daddy, I do not expect to grieve as my Mother does.
She had plans tomorrow to bake with Abigail, who is in high demand at her Tae Kwan Do studio, preparing to leave for an exhibition trip. Baking day is postponed. Joy and Kak may take her to lunch before they leave town. They drove her to the cemetery today, and reported that she cried a little, but stayed strong. That's our Nannie. My Mother has always been strong in making decisions, following through, standing courageous and enduring pain. I am confident that will not change.

Muffin drove back to work tonight. His first appointment for PT on his shoulder is Friday morning. After he left this evening, I consolidated the remaining food, washed dishes to return to generous folks who have provided meals for our family, swept the walk and porch until I realized another storm is brewing, and vacuumed my carpets. Our girls are watching old movies. These things too, will not change.

My Famous Daddy

Read more about my famous Daddy here.

We hope to have the slide show on the internet soon. Today was such a blessing with more stories than we can remember even now. As my Muffin said, speaking for the family, we all thought we knew Dubbie, but the longer we live, the more stories we have that unfold his character, personality and humor. Just like our Father in heaven, he was a man of many facets, and yet did not change from the simple person he was as a young man.

We're having a thunderstorm here tonight. Daddy said a few weeks ago as he gazed out his window at the nursing home " I love me a good shower".

Monday, June 16, 2008

Memorial to Dubbie

Today we laid my Daddy to rest in the Garden of Prayer, beneath a blistering Texas sun. His casket was covered with an American flag, which he earned. As Taps was played for him for the final time, I cried. As I stood over the bare casket that held only his "earth suit", I cried more while reciting for the last time:
The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

From a "long lost cousin"upon being "discovered" by my parents:
My thought at the time was, Why in the world would they want to know me? I'm not important and they've lived all these years with knowing who I am. But I was curious as to who they were too. And I wanted to know as much as I can about who and where I came from.
I can't tell you what a wonderful journey I have been on since that day. I learned so much about family, heritage and what living a life that was completely sold out to Christ looks like. They have been there to encourage me, to help me think through situations, and to be the loving and accepting people that God knew I needed in my life. I have listened to 'groaners' on the phone and laughed till I cried, and I have called crying and had my tears dried by love and acceptance. Uncle Dub said he liked to make me laugh because I sounded like mother and as long as i was alive my mother was too.
One of the things I looked forward to at Christmas was my pecan brittle he would make for me. And I remember the first time i went over (when I lived in Dallas), and took my Buckeye recipe. We rolled buckeyes untill none of us could even look at one! We all know that one made history.
All of these and so many more memories hve been flooding my mind, but the most important example of all is the love and respect he and Aunt Evlyn showed for each other and the 65+ years they spent together.
I will miss him so much but, I have no doubt that he and so many others will be there to meet me when I go home. That is one of the promises I claim that God has given to us in his word.

From old friends who grew up with me:
Our hearts are hurting with yours and our prayers are being lifted in your behalf as we remember with gratitude the life of your dad, Joyce. I remember him very well and always appreciated his kindness and his gentleness while maintaining a strong conviction and a vibrant faith! I even had some haircuts in his chair!

You know that you all are very special to me and to my family and we will be keeping you in prayer as you make arrangments, tell the wonderful stories and enjoy the family that gathers to celebrate Dub's homecoming.

From Pastor Mindy:

As a pastor in my first appointment, I can't begin to say how wonderful it was to have Dub and Evlyn there to minister to me. They were so very kind and supportive and loving at all times. They gave excellent advice as needed but mostly they were just there to share the love of Christ with me just like they did for everyone else they came in contact with. It is rare to know one person who is so filled with the love of God that they live a life of ministry at all times and even more amazing to see a couple working together in this life of ministry.

Dub and Evlyn were a team in everything they did. It seems to me that their love for God could be seen in their love for one another; and their love for God and for one another spilled over onto everyone they came in contact with. I can't begin to name all of the things they did but a few include: visiting members of the church in the hospital and taking them a posy, visiting members of the church in the nursing home and taking them whatever treat they knew they would enjoy, inviting people for Sunday dinner after worship every Sunday and of course baking that delicious bread and making all kinds of jelly to share with lucky folks like me. I think they made eight loaves of the bread at a time. They would bring me a loaf of that fresh bread and say, "Here is our tithe." I love homemade bread; and I have never tasted any that was better than Dub and Evlyn's! I think the special ingredient was a generous portion of love that went into every loaf.

Dub played in the praise band while I was serving at Grace. He was a great musician; and the band loved having him play with them. Being a wanna-be musician myself, I truly appreciated the gift of music that the Holy Spirit had given to Dub. I enjoyed listening to Dub's music and listening to his stories. He was a gentle, kind and generous man--much like Jesus. I'm sure that Dub's arrival in heaven will bring an extra-special celebration as Christ says to him, "Thank you, Dub, for representing me so faithfully while you were on earth."

It seems to me that Dub and Evlyn have set for us an excellent model of how to love God with all that we are and all that we have and to love our neighbors as ourselves. I pray that I will follow their example and share the blessings that I received from them with others. I give thanks to God for teaching me how to be a pastor through the example of Dub and Evlyn.

From one of my friends whose father died young:

"I am so jealous of your great heritage"

From Dr. Will:

"Dubbie and Evlyn gave dignity to so many people in nursing homes who would have otherwise thought they had lost all their dignity". (He gave over 3,500 free haircuts in a span of over 30 years on his day off.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day with Father God

Father's Day was spent with our family, but Daddy spent it with his father, and Father God. It was a great time of visitation today--I have no idea how many people came but there was almost a chapel full at one time and a steady stream until after 5:30. Extended family was at our house for supper, furnished by the Gold Band Class, complete with pudding for the twins. Wish you had been here too. The slide show Muffin and Kak did is wonderful. Many folks commented on it. The mandolin music they downloaded was perfect for it. Tomorrow before the service and at the closing they are running the slides again, with our recorded CD.

CB's friend who is having a baby tomorrow came. Dr. Will, a former student's mom, several of the Denton Valley crowd also came. My 7th grade orchestra teacher came early, before the family arrived, and signed the book. And one of my orchestra friends from HS came--haven't seen him since high school. Lots of people sat down and watched the slide show several times.

A sample of tributes to my dear Daddy:

In his sermon today, Dad mentioned your Dubbie and how his faithfulness set the stage for the faith of all of you.

It was in January of 1958, having become a mid-term seminary graduate, that I, J. B. Fowler, was appointed to be pastor of Grace United Methodist Church. My wife Pat and I were more than excited to begin our ministry at Grace Church. With dedication and enthusiasm, we began our work and with supportive and dedicated laity, we accomplished more than we could have imagined possible. I remember that until the largest church in town received its confirmation class, we had received more new members than they had.
Growth and ministry was possible because of the dedicated members of Grace Church. And when I remember those who anchored and led our congregation, chief among them was Dub and Evlyn. Dub and Evlyn are synonymous with the mission and ministry of Grace United Methodist Church. Their contribution to this church can not be measured. Will Dub Allen be missed? Absolutely! And in ways we do not yet know. But he, like others we can recall, will be remembered because they have been loyal and dedicated disciples. In a real way, he will live on in our thoughts and memories. And we will remember him because of his inspirational faith. He was a good man who lived a good life and made this community and this world a better place.
Over the years, Dub lived his faith. His life was a wonderful Christian witness. He was God's gift of neighbor, friend, brother, father, husband--he was the best of these and those of us who were blessed by his life give thanks to God for him.
I remember one specific act of love and caring: Pat died in 1988. I shall never forget Dub's unexpected appearance at her memorial service. Now I know the very gates of heaven have again been opened wide. I know, even now they greet one another in the Kingdom of heaven. Whenever again we worship together and praise God with the wonderful affirmation,
"Therefore with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven,
We laud and magnify thy glorious name. evermore praising thee and saying:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts: Heaven and earth are full of thy glory!
Glory be to thee, O Lord most high! Amen."
we will know that the company of heaven has grown. We will remember Dub and we will know that he joins us and those faithful who have gone before as the company of heaven gathered at the throne of God. These holy words will forever carry new meaning and we will remember those who have joined the "company of heaven."
We remember our Brother Dub and even as we go through the pains of grief and loss, we will be thankful for him and praise our God from whom he came and unto whom he has returned. Amen.

When I Die

by J. B. Fowler

When I die,

Do not weep for me

Not only because of what you believe is yet to be,

But because such a wonderful life was given me.

Celebrate with me the gift of my life,

A gift with all its wondrous parts.

Mother, father, brothers, sisters, friends, teachers, colleagues,

The myriad of those who influenced and shaped the construct of my life.

I experienced all of life.

I have felt the hardness of struggle, failure, and despair.

I have been knocked down , counted out.

But I have gotten up again to know the exhilaration of pursuit,

The satisfaction of commitment,

The fulfillment of accomplishment,

And the surprise of success.

Life, I knew it all!

I knew its hopes, dreams, wonder, fulfillment,

And I knew the greatest of its gifts ; the gift of loving and being loved by others.

These are the fabric of my life, creating a wonderful tapestry.

Life has been good.

Weep not for me!

More of life I could not expect.

A greater gift I could not know.

And yet it is for more I hope

And like you, I yearn.

In which I have faith and believe.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A wedding and a viewing

Last year I promised a former violin student, whose family has known my family for years, that I would play for her wedding today. The event was at a local museum, in the courtyard, and our quartet sat in a shady place, which also happened to be near an ant bed. The ants crawled all over our ankles, feet, finally up our legs into our clothing. They were in my purse, which I left unzipped to be able to reach a tissue. They even crawled up the music stands and into our music. And they stung! Ouchy! Plus, it was really close to 100 degrees, with sun radiating off the three story brick building and the concrete patio courtyard and glass enclosures. Hot!

But the wedding music, and the need to concentrate fully on music, tone, and timing for a wedding, was welcome to my exhausted brain and body. As I sat there, stinging, burning, and melting down, I was able to lay aside the images and sounds of the past 14 days in the nursing home, and focus on a happy occasion. After playing for an hour in the heat, the last person in the wedding party was escorted from the scene and Muffin and I put away all the stands and music and moved inside for the reception as invited guests. Sitting there in the coolness, eating tidbits, watching a slide show, I became less and less focused and it seemed all my energy and stamina melted away with the last degree of heat as the sun set.

I am tired. I admit it freely. We got about 8 hours sleep last night, but I dreamed that my watched stopped at 12:35 and was broken. It was so real that I checked it when I woke this morning. What a strange feeling—my watch, and a big part of my world stopped at 12:35 p.m. June 13, 2008 when Daddy’s heart stopped beating.

This afternoon we took Mother to the funeral home to sign paperwork, order death certificates, finalize arrangements and view the body. Then to the cemetery for more of the same and an invitation to view the grave site opening (which Mother declined). I was surprisingly OK with the process. Daddy is not in that body anymore, and although I loved the container, I appreciated the spirit much more. Mother cried a little because she is my Mother. She is still wound tightly and in repeat mode, but promised to rest tonight and tomorrow before the public viewing and visitation. We’re looking forward to seeing old friends and having more family nearby.

Muffin and I got a bit of time with Em and Roo today before the wedding. We watched “Classical Baby”, ate yogurt bites, played with new toys and read books. Tonight we visited with CB & JB, Joy & Mike, allowing Kak time to work on photos. Boo called to say she misses everyone and her feet are swelling. She and Michael went to a baseball game tonight in AZ, but her thoughts were returning to us, Dubbie and Nannie. This will be a pattern for all the family in the days ahead.

Thanks to some awesome friends we are eating very well at our house, and Mother’s fridge is filling in anticipation of her family/guests arrival tomorrow. God’s people are just the best—through illness, death, marriage, birth and celebrations of many kinds.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Day 12

Recreated and Posted June 13

Day 12

One year ago today Daddy broke out in shingles, which was horribly painful and complicated the diabetes. On June 13 Mother had cataract surgery. On June 14 all looked well, with good reports on the eye and Daddy on medication that seemed to be working. June 15 Daddy began to be unstable, falling several times. During that night he fell and really hurt himself and Mother called 911 for help. By the time Monte and I arrived there in the wee hours of the morning, he was stable and had refused ER assistance. Later that morning he fell twice more and on Saturday of that week he went to the ER and was admitted to the hospital later that day. So we spent Father’s Day in the hospital because he had a broken pelvis and was very contagious with the shingles.

As I sit here looking at him today, I am amazed that his heart still beats and he is breathing. The strength to equal his days—that’s what I prayed last year. I looked at my prayer journal from one year ago and saw “let Daddy fly to You”. This journey has been more of a steady, slow walk, with his head turned toward us, looking back and savoring the days, hours, and minutes. He and Mother agreed years ago that no heroic measures would be enforced in case of stroke or other illness or injury leading to death—no feeding tubes, no life supports, nothing to prolong life that yearned for eternity in heaven.

Mother cried while she ate the chicken dinner delivered by a sweet friend. It is unseemly to eat and to enjoy it in this room. She is exhausted. She left long enough for a shower and a change of clothes this morning, leaving JB, our sweet son in law, with Dubbie. Today she will leave again to get her hair done by a precious friend who has visited faithfully and is rearranging her schedule to accommodate Mother. She says she slept about 4 hours last night while JB sat here, working on his lap top. That enabled Muffin and me to sleep in a real bed for 8 hours, for which we are extremely grateful.

CB is very hoarse and is resting with JB at home while Kak watches the twins, takes calls and manages. She also rested well last night. I think the high winds are causing major allergic reactions, such as sneezing, sore throat, itchy eyes, and migraines. God is good, and we will all persevere and develop character in doing so. Dubbie would like that.

In Mansions of Glory

I don’t know what happened when I published my last post. The post published, but the title of it showed up 3 times, then an error posted and now the entire Blog is gone. I’ll try to recreate the final post.

Our Dubbie is singing in mansions of glory. He is standing strong, able to walk and run and talk again. At 12:35 p.m. Dubbie left his body and went to heaven. He breathed slowly and left quietly after 12 ½ days of laboring to breathe while Mother sat by his side. His eyes were slightly open and his faced turned toward us both, and it seemed as though he looked at us in those last moments. One of my brothers in the Lord, who also came to visit twice daily, was also there. Mother was so tired, in so much pain from her back problems and from grief, that she laid her head on the bed, face down for a few moments. Yesterday, the treatment nurse said all Daddy’s moisture reserves were gone, yet in those few moments, I saw a single tear roll from his eye down his cheek, and then he didn’t breathe again.

Every nurse, aide, social worker and administrator on duty who knew him came to pay respects and they cried. The first aide I met, Ruby, who came to escort him from the hospital to be admitted to the nursing home, was the aide who had the duty to prepare his body for the funeral home. She left us sobbing her heart out. The night aides were called and some of them came, off duty, to say goodbye to us.

Mother is so tired that she is almost ill. Joy and Mike arrived about 3:30 today, and Kak’s interview ended just before 2 p.m. today so she will be returning to our house soon. Mike, JB, Muffin and I are home with the twins and CB and Joy are with their Nannie. Mother told us lots of stories today—perhaps out of fatigue, or perhaps a need to keep the past before her and not the present. One of the stories, when she realized today’s date, was that every Friday 13th when Daddy was deployed for three years during WWII, she received a letter from him. So she always felt Friday 13th was special. That tear, the impossible one that rolled down his cheek in those final minutes, was his final love letter to my Mother. How he hated to leave her!

In mansions of glory and endless delight

I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright

And sing with the glittering crown on my brow

If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

We have wonderful memories and loving friends and family. This evening, I had to be at a wedding rehearsal—the granddaughter of an old friend of Dubbie’s. The father of the bride told me that when he was a child, he disliked waiting downtown at his family’s business with nothing to do, so he would sneak away to the barber shop and talk to Dubbie for hours.

Details: Sunday, June 15, 3:30-5:30 Visitation at Hamil Family Funeral Home

Monday, June 16, 10 a.m., Burial at Elmwood

Monday, June 16, 11 a.m., Memorial Service of Celebration, Grace Methodist Church, North 14th and Grape Streets