Birthday parties and funerals

“Presents don’t really mean much to me. I don’t want to sound mawkish, but – it was the realization that I have a great many people in my life who really love me, and who I really love.” – Gabriel Byrne

Somehow, I have made it through “The Year of Firsts.”

It was July 24, 2011, in the very early hours of the morning, that Dad was called to be with the Lord. At 1:40 a.m., he ceased to breathe on this side of Heaven, and continued his pain-free journey with those he loved who had gone on before him.

He may have broken a record for the shortest stay in Hospice, as he was wheeled into the room around 4:30 p.m. on July 23, and didn’t even make it a full 10 hours. I remember it vividly. And these past few weeks, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t help but to remember every single detail. Every single detail.

The Alzheimer’s ravaged his memory, but one thing that will always stand out during his last stage of life was his love of children. He was fascinated watching them, and enjoyed visits with his grandchildren and his great-granddaughters. His entire face lit up when he was around them. I think, too, that the kids had no fear of him. I believe some adults who knew Dad feared him because of his disease – not knowing what to say, how to react or if they’d somehow catch his dreaded, memory-sucking affliction.

So as we neared the one-year mark, this was how my brain functioned; like an over-worked diary that spit out timeline info on a continuous basis:

“July 10, the ambulance took him from the nursing home to the hospital; July 11, a ventilator was inserted; July 22, the ventilator was removed and the sedation was turned off…” and on and on and on my thoughts went.

Thinking I was going crazy (hey, no comments from the peanut gallery out there!), I shared my concern with a friend who lost both her parents recently. She asked how I was doing, and I was a bit emotional saying, “It’s one year today. He died at 1:40 a.m. last year, and I woke up at 1:55 a.m. this morning. My first thought was, ‘It is finished,’ and I cried.” With a hug she comforted me, and admitted that she went through this process as part of her grief experience as well. I felt better. Like I hadn’t totally lost it.

So I embraced those times and dates. Difficult as they may be, those memories are part of my history, and they make me who I am today.

I allowed my brain to continue:

“July 25, we met with the funeral director and pastor, planning the visitation and funeral. July 25 and 26, we collected photos and memories to celebrate his life on July 28.”

July 28 – a year ago today, at this very time – we gathered with several hundred people and celebrated Dad’s life.

But July 28 has another major significance for me. It is my granddaughter’s birthday. We will gather today, on her fourth birthday, to celebrate her life.

Could it be God‘s hand at work, as we gather today, to yet again celebrate life?

I believe so.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

On being gentle and kind

“Life is fragile…handle with prayer.” – Harold B. Lee

I believe I was about 13 years-old when my mother made an embroidery sampler using the above quote. It hung in a frame and I must’ve looked at that piece a million times throughout the course of my life.

Without dating myself (yes, it’s been a few decades since Mom made that!), I really understood the meaning of that quote yesterday morning.

Yesterday, I made the discovery that I am indeed “fragile.”

After dropping the kids off at school, I had a driver pull out in front of me, only to stop and block traffic to turn left. If she had waited just a few seconds, she would’ve had a clear path. Luckily, I was in no rush, but the rudeness just brought me to tears. Honestly, I thought I was crazy being so emotional over this driving incident – which, unfortunately, happens all the time these days.

But my feelings were very real. And it has taken me an entire day to figure out why this bothered me so much. Seriously, I spent a lot of time praying I wasn’t crazy and for the Lord to give me patience with others.

Why? Because I felt like this driver didn’t care about me.

Obviously, she didn’t care about anyone other than herself and her own time-table. But somehow, I felt like she did this on purpose to me. Didn’t she know what I was going through in life? Didn’t she know that my dad died less than a year ago and that I was having a hard time dealing with his death this week? Didn’t she know that we buried a dear friend last week? Didn’t show know that if I hadn’t paid attention to her lack of patience, that we’d have been in an accident?

I felt singled out by this driver, simply because of this: rudeness is running rampant.

The “I don’t give a rip about the next guy attitude” has really gotten on my nerves lately. How can people be so callous and rude? It’s not ocassional anymore – it’s everwhere! It is on the roads, where people are completely inconsiderate of others. It’s in parking lots, where people  leave shopping carts to roll into other people’s cars.  It’s on our front lawns, where folks walking dogs leave their pet’s mess for someone else to clean. It’s in short, snarky comments and the rolling of eyes. Rudeness has become an absolute epidemic.

Of course I don’t expect a total stranger to know me or my emotions on any given day.  But I do expect that people would behave and treat others with some level of respect.

Is it because I watched my dad struggle the last few years of his life that I put myself in other’s shoes?  If I walk through a fog of emotion, are others doing the same? There is no way to know if the people I encounter today have received a big dose of bad news – a death, a diagnosis that is terminal, a foreclosure notice, a job loss. Maybe a smile or a courteous word is all they need to keep moving in that moment.

If I am fragile, than I will just assume someone else is, too.

It is the least that I can do.

Have you been a victim of rude people? Tell me below in the comments section.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb