Simple Pleasures

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

Psalm 23:1

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picture of a fence post on a country road near Shelbyville, KY. I have a thing for fence posts.

Today was for living and finding memories in everyday moments.

I mentioned on Day 9 that I thought I’d find an Apple Orchard and buy a bag of Apples in memory of my Mom.  I did just that today.  They did not have Cortland’s but there was a nice variety and we did a mixed bag of Jonagold, Winesap and Ruby Mac.  We came home and did a taste test.  The Ruby Mac was our favorite and reminded me slightly of the Cortland’s that Mom used to buy. Tart with a hint of sweet, kind of like Mom herself. She would have loved being part of the tasting.

Part of the joy in finding an Orchard was getting to drive in the country.  One of our favorite things as a family was taking drives.  We’d roam all the back roads happy as larks. I know Mom would have loved our adventure on the way to Mulberry Orchard in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Next, on our out and about excursion we stopped in at Goodwill to see if we could find a bargain.  We found a couple pair of slacks for Rocky.  Shopping at the Goodwill also brings back memories of Mom because she loved a good bargain.  She could spot the good stuff. One of my favorite outfits as a kid came from the Goodwill, the cutest brown white and blue plaid skirt with suspender straps.  Of course, as a child, I didn’t want to tell anyone that it came from Goodwill.  Now, if I find a bargain at Goodwill I want pats on the back! Remind me once this series is over to tell you about the beautiful Scottish plaid jacket we found for Rocky (haha, can’t wait to share).

After our stint in Goodwill, I stopped in at Hobby Lobby to find a pretty binder and protector sheets for Mom’s handwritten poetry.  I want to type all of her poems and make copies for the family, but I also want to preserve her original copies as well as other snippets of writing that I have found.  We are lucky to have her poetry as we thought they had been lost.

In 2010 she came to stay with me after surgery and she brought her poetry with her.  We were going to type up her poems, but life got in the way and we didn’t.  After she went back home I never saw her poetry again until last year. For seven years we had no clue where they were and Mom couldn’t remember where she put them.  Last summer we started going through her crates of school papers and there they were buried in with worksheets and notebooks where she had evidently hidden them for safekeeping. I put them in a safe place with intentions of finally typing them up. That is my next project once the 31-day writing challenge is over.

When we arrived home at the end of our day, we ate a bowl of chili.  This too reminds me of Mom because when I was about ten years old she taught me how to make chili.  It is the first thing I remember cooking and to this day I make it pretty much the way she taught me.

In a little while, I will eat a bowl of ice cream and be reminded of all the times Mom and I would sneak off to Dairy Queen without telling Dad and Rocky.  We’d go through the drive-through then find a pleasant spot to park the car and enjoy our treat.

Today was exactly the kind of day that Mom would have enjoyed.  I think I’ll add an extra scoop of ice cream just for her!

Simple pleasures are best.

Alan Bradley

 

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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The Rainbow

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

Journal – Thoughts from September 26, 2018:

The day we took Mom to hospice my cousin Patsy was with us.  She was a great support to us, not just during hospice, but from the beginning of the Alzheimer’s journey.  She is still in our corner and I am thankful for her.  We tell her she is the oldest child, Mom’s first child as Mom helped care for her when she was a baby.  She calls to check on us and she has come down to spend time with my father.  I don’t think we could handle this journey without her.

Patsy had a place in Mom’s heart long before she had her own children. Which is why I tell Patsy she is the older sister.

Patsy stayed with Mom that first night in Hospice while I took Dad home.  It had rained earlier and as we were driving home there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky.  A reminder of God’s faithfulness.  I knew it was a message for us that all would be well. I remember going to bed that night praying for God to be with Mom and for his will to be done.  I was hoping for some kind of miracle; hoping that the x-ray they were taking would show nothing broken even though we’d already been told that it was more than likely. Still, I was finding hope in a rainbow.

The next morning when we arrived back at hospice the doctor came in and confirmed our worst fears, that she was, in fact, suffering from a terminal injury.  I remember letting the news sink in and going a little numb.  No matter how much you are told in advance, you are never truly prepared for the moment when you have to face the inevitable.  We made calls to the family and prepared to stay by her side for as long as she was with us.

That second evening my Dad planned to stay and Patsy was going to go back home with me.  Before we left we ran out to get dinner for my dad.  On the way to the restaurant once again there was a rainbow in the sky.  Another promise.  This time I knew the promise did not hold a miracle this side of heaven but instead was a reminder that God is faithful, even in death. It was something to hold on to. He would give us new mercies.

When we knew that Mom would not be coming home again and that we’d need to be making arrangements for a service, Dad said he wanted one of Mom’s poems to be put on the memorial card and read at her service.  While looking through her poetry I came across one she’d written in 1974 called, The Rainbow.  It was the only choice because God had already pointed it out to us in the sky.

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Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Rainbow picture credit: Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexels

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Apples and Wings

Keep me as the apple of your eye; Hide me in the shadow of your wings Psalm 17:8 NIV

When someone says you are the apple of their eye it means they love you very much and may even dote on you a little. I like the image of being the apple of God’s eyes, but I love being in the shadow of his wings even more.  The past few days I have felt a renewed sense of peace and knowing that God is watching over me.  Writing about my grief and sharing memories of Mom has helped me see things from a better perspective.  God has been faithful in this process and my desire is for my words to honor him.

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Photo by Elizabeth Tr. Armstrong on Pexels.com

This is harvest time and that means apples.  I can’t think of a better image for this time of year than sitting under the shadow of an apple tree eating a crisp, juicy apple knowing that God sees me as the apple of his eye and hides me under his wings.

I was talking with a friend yesterday who was on her way to the Apple Orchard.  It brought back memories of Mom.  I remember when she would go to the Orchard and bring home a bag of Apples.  More often than not it was a bag of Courtland Apples, which was one of our favorites.  I can taste one now a perfect blend of sweet and tart. Deep red skin and pristine white flesh.

Mom loved apples.  She kept them around and they were a go-to snack.  In recent years Dad made sure he kept apples for her.  Sometimes knowing what she’d eat or could eat was a challenge,  but we could pretty much count on apples.  When she no longer seemed to enjoy eating them we switched to Apple juice which she loved.

One of the challenges with Alzheimer’s is knowing if they are eating enough.  Some foods become more difficult and at some point feeding themselves is more of a challenge.  So we tried to keep finger foods that we thought Mom would enjoy and when necessary we fed her.  Towards the last of her journey, she needed more help with eating.  She had a wonderful caregiver who came in a couple days a week.  She would feed Mom and spoil her a little bit.  But we didn’t mind. One of the last things I did for my mom was to feed her a meal I had cooked.  She mmmm’d appreciatively, which is how we knew she really liked something. I was happy to feed her and she was happy to eat.

I  remember seeing Mom walk down my back sidewalk many times, on her way to my house, apple in hand, munching contentedly, or standing on her back porch eating an apple staring into the yard thinking her own thoughts.

She won’t be going to the orchard this year, but I imagine God has plenty of Apple trees in his backyard. My Dad remarked that he figured one of the first things she did when she got to Heaven was pick an apple to eat.  I’m sure she did right after she ran into Jesus’s arms.

Maybe I’ll find an orchard this weekend, buy a bag of apples, and eat one in memory of my sweet Ladybug. I’ll rejoice that she is indeed The apple of God’s eye and that she has found healing under his wings.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

 

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Come Away

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Today has been a quiet, rest day as most Monday’s are.  Several years ago when I was still working public work, the company I worked for moved us to four day weeks and my day off was Monday.  So, I developed a habit of Monday being my chill day.  We eventually went back to five days, but now that I’m no longer working I’ve once again made Monday my day to catch up on rest.

My husband is in ministry so Sunday’s are very busy days for us and not the sabbath rest so sorely needed. I’m usually exhausted after the weekend, so Monday to the rescue. In the spirit of resting, I’ve laid aside some of the deep thinking and sorting for later.  I have a list of things I want to share with you.  Some things I’ve made notes about, but the time for sharing is not yet. I’m living this in real time, so I have to respect each day as it comes.

After committing to the thirty-one-day writing challenge, A Journey Through Grief, I am more convinced than ever that it was the right thing to do. The writing I have shared and some that I have not shared yet has been therapeutic.  Writing down my thoughts helps me see a clearer picture of where things stand. It helps me gauge how I’m doing.

Talking to people is also therapeutic and last night my writer’s group at church gave me a safe place to pour out my heart.  It reaffirmed some of the writing and helped me put things in perspective. It was a safe place to share some of my deepest grief.  I can’t urge you enough to find a safe person or group to share your grief with.  We thrive so much better in community than we do alone.

My first instinct is always to close the door, curl up in the fetal position and hide under the covers and for a time that might work.  But not for the long haul.  For the long haul, we need friends who support us and will come along beside us.  They don’t have to fix us or make us understand, that is not their job. Their job is to listen when needed and give hugs when necessary.  I’ve been blessed with friends who have done just that.  Sometimes in person, sometimes via text or phone conversation and always through their prayers. And most recently, you dear reader have let me know you hear me and that has made me glad to share with you. I hope my sharing has been a service to you and helped you in some way.

Hoping that Monday has been kind to you and that you too find time during the week to rest and allow your soul to be filled with His peace.

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Grace for the journey,

Teresa

 

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Sunday Blessing

I had planned to take Sunday breaks during the write 31-day challenge.  But today at church one of my favorite scripture passages from Isaiah was read and I found it comforting.  I thought maybe you would too.

In our deepest grief or trouble, we can go to God’s word to find strength and peace. My prayer is that whatever you are passing through today you will find comfort in the words of our Holy God.

But now, this is what the Lord says — he who created you, Jacob, He who formed you Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your savior.       Isaiah 43:1-3 (NIV)

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Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Click here for the complete series, A 31 Day Journey through grief.

 

I Won’t Lose You

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5b

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From the archives – September 21, 2015

I look out my window and see you standing there, all forlorn in your red jacket and shoes.  My heart breaks into a million pieces as you look around lost in another world.

I’m helpless to fix you. I wish I could take you in my arms, hold you tight and make the pain go away.

Memories of things said in haste flood my mind; things I wish I could unsay because I didn’t know. I didn’t know you couldn’t always help it; I didn’t know how bad you were hurting.

How we were all hurting.   Walking around in a fog trying to make sense of the new normal.  In many ways we are all ill – it has changed us.  We dig deep trying to find answers; trying to hold onto hope, but failing in so many ways.

I don’t want you to leave before you go.  I want you full and present while you’re still with us.  I know it’s not about me, it’s not about any of us really.

We’re the burden bearers reaching out to you to offer comfort, accepting the reality that it’s never enough.  I stifle screams for mercy and laugh with you over whimsy and words that have no meaning.

The laughter is the mask that helps us live, otherwise, we’d cry tears unto death.  We won’t give in without fighting.  I won’t lose you.  You are still you.,

I wait for a glimmer of your essence and thank God for you. I blink away tears as I watch you walk away and I pray for mercy, strength, and peace.

Later, I’ll cry those tears and hope they wash everything new again.

 

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I came across the above words from the blog archives last night as I was planning ahead for today’s post:

Journal – October 5, 2018

I still remember the day I looked out my window and saw Mom standing on the sidewalk beside her house.  She had on her favorite denim dress, red canvas, shoes and a red jacket.  Red was always one of her colors. I will never forget how she was standing there, staring across the yard.  She seemed so defenseless and I just wanted to run to her, hug her close and tell her everything would be alright. That memory still breaks my heart.

One thing that stands out to me was the resolve not to lose her.  It didn’t matter if she was losing memories, I would remember for both of us.  I told her on several occasions that she didn’t have to worry about what she couldn’t remember because I’d remember for her. And many times I did just that. She’d ask questions about people or events and I’d give her the answers. As many times as it took.

Another way that I held on to not losing her was humor.  She could still say things to make me laugh.  At times in the middle of a conversation, she would come out with a one-liner that hit the nail on the head that made us all take notice.  She loved to tease people and make them smile.

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Mom as a teenager teasing one of her nephews.

As devastating as Alzheimer’s is I’m convinced that if we hold on tight it can never truly take away the essence of a person.  Mom’s personality still shone through and for that, I am eternally grateful.

I’m starting to realize that even though she is gone now I can never truly lose her. She will always live in my heart and my memories. Maybe you can relate.

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I hope you don’t mind my sharing from the archives. Yesterday’s post was draining and in preparing for today’s I couldn’t find direction until I came across this old post and it somehow seemed like the right time to share it again.  Memoires are an important part of the grieving process.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

 

Come back MONDAY for more of the journey? I don’t plan to post on Sunday’s. Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Heaven Is Sounding Sweeter

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever. Psalm 30: 11-12 NIV

 

Journal – Around August 23:

I love you, Mama. You were a beautiful woman.  It was a privilege and honor to be your daughter.  So many things on my heart to say but I don’t know where to start.

You were there when I took my first breath and I was there when you took your last. Thank you for allowing me to be there in your last moment.

We were two peas in a pod you and I and I don’t know how I’m going to do life without you.  I think of so many things that I wish could have been done differently but I know you wouldn’t want me to have regrets. You’d want me to remember the good times and smile about them and think of you being happy.  You were happy much of the time.  You had been singing a lot the weeks before you passed.  And, even up to the last you held onto your sense of humor teasing us and making us laugh.

You were my confidant so many times and I was yours.  Everything just feels a little different now. I know God is with me and he understands my hurt.  I know I will feel his peace again and that he will help me say goodbye to what was and accept what is.

I love you so much, Mama. I wasn’t ready to let you go but I am happy for you because I know you are not suffering anymore.  Your mind is clear again and your bones are healed.  You are dancing on the streets of Gold.  I told you when I arrived on Saturday that we were going to dance. We never got to dance, but I’m sure Jesus is a better dance partner than me.

I’m sure you are busy catching up with everybody and telling Jesus how much you love him. You never lost your faith in him. Wait for me, Mama because I will see you again one day.  I truly understand now why people say heaven is sounding sweeter all the time.

Goodnight mama, thanks for everything. I will never forget you and I will always hold you close in my heart my sweet Ladybug.

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I believe the night I wrote the above entry was the night that I listened to Elvis hymns on my phone.  I used to sing songs to my mom at night and sometimes we’d listen to Elvis sing Peace in the Valley. One night after her death I couldn’t sleep, so I listened to Elvis until I was ready to sleep. Music is a wonderful way to remember someone and it can be therapeutic in the grief process.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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