Thursday, 11 August 2016

One of the Lucky Ones

As I wrote in my last post, there have been a lot of goodbyes in my life recently.  And they've had me thinking.  I go back to a conversation I had with a friend of mine last year.  We can choose to be sad that we've lost someone close to us.  And we're allowed to be sad.

But we can choose to be glad too.  We can choose to thank God in the midst of grief.  We are lucky because God has chosen to give us some pretty important people in our lives.  And if you're like me, and you are still crying 6 years later, then you're even luckier.  Those people that pass through your life and go on their merry way?  They are a part of your journey.  But those ones that impact your heart for the rest of your life?  What a glorious gift. 

Missing those people, wishing you could hug them one last time, or tell them you love them because you can't help but feel that you didn't say it enough,is a gift.  If you still think of them years later, you also have memories of them.  Happy memories, or funny memories.  Poignant memories.  And a legacy.

You can tell those around you that you love them.  You can hug them.  You can create memories for you both to look back at and laugh.  Or cry. 

My kids asked me today if I could tell them about my Aunt.  They wanted to know if I knew her secrets, and if I could share them.  She was one heck of a women.  From an early age life kept knocking her down.  But she never let it stop her.  She always got back up.  She was a stabilizing force in our family, always putting the family before herself.  She had a wicked sense of humor.  She was loyal to a fault.  She could throw with amazing aim (just ask me about "what's green?" one day).  And she loved without measure.

She taught me that love is unconditional. 
That family is the most important thing you have ever been given. 
Life is to be lived. 
You are never too old to learn something new. 
Forgiveness is always an option.
There is always something to be thankful for.

I don't know her secrets.  I don't know how she always got back up when she was down, put a smile on her face and kept on trucking.

I do know that she left behind a legacy.  And each time I think of her, I can choose to show my kids just a sliver of who she was.  I can show my gratitude by paying the most important parts of her forward.  Maybe that's the secret...

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Shout It Out

This week has been an emotional week. 

My friend lost her grandfather suddenly.  A man she looked up to.  A man she loved dearly.

A friend lost her husband unexpectedly.  A man that she was married to for almost 39 years.  They had 3 children, 2 grandchildren, and tons of other family.  He was a friend to all.  He loved those he knew with passion and loyalty.  He welcomed everyone into his home for help, whether you were family or not.  And he will be desperately missed by all.

Another friend's son fell into a river and we have no answers yet.  They simply have him listed as "missing".  He was only 24 years old.  Just at the beginning of a promising career doing something that he loved.  And now she lays awake every night wondering if he's already gone.  If he laying somewhere broken and afraid.  I can't even begin to comprehend the terror she is experiencing right now.

Listening to the eulogy at my friend's husband's funeral, I heard so many happy stories.  Memories that he had made with everyone.  Explanations for all those mysterious happenings in his childhood (like the floor patched because of a gun accident no one knew of, or the gravel truck being taken to the drive in because they charged by the "truck load").  He was a man loved by many. 

All of these men were.

But have you told all of those you love that you love them lately?  Have you held them tight?  Have you taken the time to make memories?  And most importantly, have you said all of those things that you want to?  You don't want to wait for their eulogy.  Tell them now.  Phone them.  Facebook them.  Meet them for coffee.  And let them know now how much they mean to you. 

There is no embarrassment in showing love or respect to those around you.  And you may not even know the most important memory they have of you.  They may remember something else.  It may be a huge turning point in your life that they didn't even know they played a role in.  And it may just need to be what they need to hear right now.

These last few years have been filled with a lot of people that I've had to say goodbye to.  And for the most part, the one regret that I haven't had to live with it "I wish I'd just said..." 

Shout it out if you have to.  But say it.

If you have suffered a loss recently, or are trying to mend relationships, please leave a comment below.  I would love to lift you up in prayer.



Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Last Great Generation

I've had a lot of time to think these last few months.  And I've pondered about GGPa.  I was so blessed to have this man be a part of my life for 8 years.  He was in his late 80's when I became part of his family, but it wasn't until his last 3 years that I really put forth that much effort.

You see, I was busy.  I had two kids.  There was always something more important calling for my attention.  All of these things are true.  And they are also so very sad. 

I was given this amazing gift.  Bill.  The man who became a grandfather to me, even though he didn't have to.  He became a great grandfather to my children.  He loved us.  He took my kids for rides on his electric wheelchair.

He stole food from the breakfast cart for us.  Because you see, even though he was 92 before I really got to know him, he didn't care.  I was his family.  And that meant that you provide.  He paid a lot to be in that retirement home.  And if he wanted to take an extra nutri-grain bar here and there, no one was going to ask.  And even from an electric wheelchair, he was doing all he could to make sure that we had everything he was able to give us.  His step-granddaughter.  And his step-grandchildren. 

His generation grew up knowing what it was to not have everything.  And I don't mean the way we think we have it now.  I'm not talking about the lastest THING.  I'm talking about food.  Food that you have to either grow or kill yourself.  That you had to take care of to feed yourself over the winter.  The clothes that you had needed to be taken care of.  There was no Walmart to run out to if you ruined your good clothes. 

Manners were something that everyone used.  People opened doors for one another.  They looked strangers in the eye and smiled.  They made room at the dinner table for a friend in need.  They could stretch their pennies in ways I can't even fathom.

I heard some of the stories of his childhood.  He had it pretty rough.  And yet he still told me many stories with a smile on his face.  They didn't need so much back then.  So much stuff.

He told me about all the jobs that he had.  He did almost everything that you can imagine.  Including fight for my freedom.  And he took it all in stride.  It wasn't something that he boasted about.  It was just what he did.  When he enlisted, they knew he was an excellent marksman, and they wanted him to be a sniper.  He refused.  He became part of the motorcycle brigade instead.  And he escorted royalty.  But that story has no more importance to him than the fishing he used to do.  He grew up when you took pride in a good day's work.  And you didn't complain about a full day of work if you ended the day with a full belly.

He had a wife that he loved with every ounce of his being.  For the first year I went to see him, he told me every single time that she was gone.  And that he was all alone now.  After the second year, I hope he didn't feel so alone, because then when I walked through that door, he just smiled.  He never said he was all alone anymore.  They always said that the most important thing in their marriage was to laugh.  They swear that in over 60 years of marriage they never fought.  They were on the same side.  And rather than say that it would just be easier to start over if something went wrong, they just united against the problem.  No talk to divorce.  No comparing that they weren't as good as that person's spouse.  It was them against the world.  All the way to her last breath.  I can only pray to have that in my marriage!

I can't imagine all that he saw in his lifetime.  I can't imagine 96+ years on this earth.  But I do know that I had the privilege of getting to know a man who is part of the last great generation.  They fought for freedom.  For everyone.  Every.  Last.  One.  Of.  Us.  Not for a certain colour.  Not for a certain belief.  They fought so that we could have freedom.  So that others could be safe.  Because 80 years ago, you stood up and did what was right. 

Thank you GGPa.  And to the last great generation.  I hope and pray that my generation can put forth even a fraction of the effort to be like them.  And provide for others whatever we can.  Let's make it less about how much stuff we can accumulate, but about how many lives we can change.  Let's fix things that are broken rather than just replacing it.  Let honor them be being the next generation to affect a positive change for the world.  And let's start with our little corner of the world.  I tell my kids every day that we were given more than we need so that we can share it with others.  Not because we get to brag about it later.  But because the generations before us made the world a better place by doing just that.

If you have a prayer request, or would just like to talk, leave a comment below.  I would be honored to lift you up in prayer.  And have a blessed day.

Don't count your days, make your days count!