Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Celebration of a Life

Entrance to Casa Bella
 As you would expect, as Mike was preparing for his journey, friends descended with some version of "anything you need." I took them up on it.

Neighbors Mike and Scott hitched up a trailer and drove to the lake where they loaded much of the hub's hand crafted furniture. They stored it in the garage, along with choice pieces from the house.

The cradle was Mike's first piece
Then, on Sunday morning they, along with my niece Britt, arranged it all in the foyer of Casa Bella, the banquet hall attached to Pastariffic, in Kokomo. This is, in our opinion, the finest restaurant in Kokomo. I arranged to hold a celebration after Mike's funeral.
photos and displays

Britt and Allyson had torn (their words) through the house, grabbing things: Mike's high school letter jacket, our wedding album, many other photos, mementos, and etc. to adorn the furniture display.
sideboard and chair

Monday, June 17 was a full day: greeting guests at 9; funeral at 10; burial around 11:30 and THEN, the Celebration of Life from 2 - 5...and that went on into the evening.

flowers and other pretties
 I've posted some photos for any of you who were not in attendance. I was flitting around a lot but when I caught my breath, I noticed that many people spent as much time admiring Mike's work as they did sampling all the goodies in the banquet room.

After the party, the same guys lugged everything back to our garage until they could replace the items. Today, Saturday, was that day.

So, my desk is back in its place upstairs and the gorgeous sideboard and chair are back in the cottage.
 Allyson and Zachary have returned to San Antonio. BTW: today is my son's 30 birthday. Where does the time go?

Mom and I have been playing. She has introduced me to her afternoon 'sipping wine' ritual. Mom will be 90 soon. Every time she mentions something that she eats (loves hot dogs) that might now be healthy, I come back with, "Mom. You're 90. You can do what you want; it's working for you!"

 On Tuesday, the Howard County Bar Association will honor the hub in the Circuit Court. I have asked our family friend, Lynn Reed, to escort my mom and me.

Then, Mom will be off to Florida, to rest up for our big celebration of her birthday in August.

And we'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fits and Starts

When we started this blog, it was a method to organize our jumbled thoughts and then make them tangible. We then discovered that we had gained a following...many believers who began to pray for us.

In the first year, I authored the whole thing. Then, slowly, the hub would mention "something that would make a good blog topic." As I had my own things to do, I suggested that he take a crack at posting.

I created a monster, of course. First, he's a much better writer than I am. Second, where I wax preachy, he entertains with his lawyer stories, always a crowd pleaser. THEN, when some readers left comments, it became a competition (with him, at least) to see WHO got the MOST comments. He won. He reminded me of this on more than one occasion.

His blogging settled into a pattern. He would 'write a blog' in his head; then he would TELL me he had another blog ready to go; and he fired up his laptop, often typing up a first/only draft of a very good little post.

He never learned how to actually post; he had 'people' (me) to do that. So my task was to read it over, made a few suggestions and tweaks, and then post it.

As he had bookmarked the site (and quite the peacock he was about THAT), he checked and checked and announced when someone left a comment. Perhaps if I had told our readers this, they might have joined into the competition, offering compensation???

He was a good story teller....close friends says he was the best...but, English teacher that I am, I would find a few little things to fix in his draft.  I mean, how many VERYs does one need? And, occasionally, he would include a detail or two that, in retrospect, were not suitable.

Let me report that, if you commented on Mike's posts, you made him very very very happy.

In cleaning up around here, I found two starts that never ended up finished. I will post them here.

One from March 2012

I picked up a book at Books-a-million the other day titled something about the first five people you meet in Heaven (Assuming that is where you are going.  I suspect that the first five people you meet in Hell would also be interesting, but probably a whole lot more painful.)  I did not buy it, but the title got me to thinking.

Before going further I should warn you that I am a Believer.  As a person who holds that belief, I think there is a real Heaven, and Hell.  I know I will be in Heaven the minute I take my last breath.  How I know this can be the topic of another blog on another day.  I have read most of what the Bible has to say about Heaven.  Some of it I think I understand and some of it I wonder about.  For the purposes of this blog, what I think does not make much difference.

Since picking up that book, I have been thinking about who I would like to meet in Heaven.  Who I would like to have lunch or dinner with?  Who would I like to go on a walk with?  After all, I will have eternity to get it done and nobody’s social calendar can be that full, right?

Who first?  Probably the Apostle Paul.

 (say Hi)

Another from May 2013

A Patient in Pain

All of us have been sick.  The majority of us, if not all of us, have been in the hospital for an extended stay, where the stay is characterized by significant pain to be endured.  It is not much fun. That is for sure.

It is one thing to endure the pain which is brought on by the sickness or injury, knowing that eventually the pain will go away because you are going to get well or healing is going to occur, thereby eliminating the pain; it is entirely different to have to acknowledge that the pain you are dealing with is only going to get worse and is never going to go away. 

All last week I have been in the hospital trying unsuccessfully to come to grips with the reality that the abdominal pain that has taken up residence in my body is severe, long-term and everlasting. My last moments, if not carefully monitored, will be accurately described as a nightmare, tempered only by brief moments of narcotic induced relief.  I do not think much of the prognosis, let me tell you.

(Done now, budds)

Missing him.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Friday, June 14, 2013

High Flight by John Gillespie McGee, Jr.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

June 14, 2013   Graduation Day at the Cottage

Mike slept peacefully though the night. When I awakened, I held his hand and whispered, once again, how much I love him. I told him that I would be ok, that he had taken such good care of me. He was breathing slow and gently. He was relaxed and resting.

Then, I joined my brother for breakfast. When I went back in, Mike's earthly life was over. In whatever reality exists in heaven, he is now walking and laughing with his own father, my father, sister Janelle, and he's running to the arms of his Savior.

So, join us in thanking our God! Mike is soaring on the Highest Flight.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Not the way he would have chosen

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

So the haunting words of Dylan Thomas take us through the desire to live; and remind us of the inevitability of death.

More than a few times in the last four years, the hub has said, “This is no way for a man to die.” Mike sometimes sought out friends who had witnessed a cancer death. He would ask and/or they would volunteer the grisly details. I still stand amazed at what some people will share with a cancer patient. But I don’t blame them; this one went asking.

Then, he would slip into a funk.

As we sit here together with Nurse Nancy who works her magic, I see that I will have no dramatic stories to tell. Mike’s passing will be peaceful, quiet, and pain free. This is what we have prayed for and God has supply Mike’s final request.

He might have preferred

  trying to race a Great White while scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.
  missing a step while running with the bulls in Pamplona
 snapping the main sail while battling a sudden typhoon
 racing down a path in the Boys’ Club in Winona Lake, bumping a hidden tree root and flying over the handlebars
climbing into a wind sheer and then boring in at Oshkosh
just about anything than slipping, quietly and quickly, into a gentle rest where we can say our goodbyes and and tell Mike tales.

So, this is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.

Nothing dramatic. Just peacefully slipping away on this beautiful summer day.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


and girls, too. They are showing up, asking to help. "Anything you need."

I know they mean it but I come up short. Right now, I'm the caretaker, the main person, who keeps this hospice ball rolling. Of course, helpful Nurse Nancy and her buddies are a phone call away but I have a range of medicines and schedules and symptoms worth calling about and those that are NBD.

I also have a few people who just do, without me asking; often without my knowing that I need something. They just jump in and the task gets done.

Wednesday, I actually wrote down 2 tasks. 1) The handle on the shower sliding glass door has come off. Could someone fix it? (No problem) and 2) I think I have a bat downstairs. What should I do?

A word about  bats and others of God's creation. Most of our friends are kindhearted when it comes to creatures that come into a house by accident. You won't find many "squish it under your foot" "smack it with a tennis racket" or "grab the shotgun" folks in Indiana. What you get is a detailed plan for removal plus how helpful bats are and "poor thing just got lost." So, in case you're wondering, the plan was to open the back door and let battie find its way out. Don't know if it worked; haven't seen it swish by. Of course, my house has many nooks and crannies that a bat might find homey. Should he show up again, I'll let you know.

The hub's condition, and medical needs, have changed quickly. Scribble out THAT sheet. Start on a new sheet. Hey, make a chart. No wait, the chart is wrong because NOW we are doing this at 11 instead of that at 10.

Deep breaths.

So, when Nancy Nurse answered several questions on Thursday, I said, "Should we get a hospital bed?" I am learning that hospice people are all about What Do YOU Want? They don't push. They don't say no. They look for your lead.

This does not work so well with me. "Nancy, what would YOU do?"

"I'd get the bed."

"OK. Let's get it ordered. I'll place it where our king-sized bed is now."

This is because our bedroom has served as a multipurpose room, long before they were trendy. We have the television with the big cable package. Besides the center piece bed, we have three or four recliners and our favorite rocking chair. They form a comfortable circle that facilitates late-night discussions, even when SOMEONE is already in bed. She (!) just pulls the covers over her head so as not to distract them.

And, you may remember, Mike's Ducati has wintered in a corner of the bedroom.

So, the next task was to get that king-sized bed outta there. What to do? I turned to neighbor Mike, one of my guys, and asked if he could help. Of course he would and did. Grabbed his very tall son and a few more guys and told me to forget about it, it was as good as gone.

"One caution," I warned. "When we bought the bed, it had an odd sized mattress and Mike somehow connected to the wall. It's never been moved."

"No problem."

"There's probably 15 years of gunk and dusk and who knows what else."

"Ha," he returned. "You should see under my bed."

That's the kind of thing people say to make you feel better. I know his wife. I'm betting her floors are antiseptic.

But I digress. For the night, with no bed downstairs, I relocated us to our guest room which, by the way, has the best mattress in the house. We settled in and I heard a lot a guy talk know where they are talking about the plan, why it will/won't work, which way to turn....that sort of thing.

Soon it was quiet. I opened a window at the foot of our bed so we'd get a nice breeze. I turned down the lights and clicked on the television. Mike began to doze. My plan was to go downstairs after my Mike was asleep and make sure the house was locked tight.

Before I could, I heard a low, buzzing sound coming from the bedroom. THEY WERE VACUUMING MY FLOOR.

I got guys! I LOVE my guys!