Thursday, October 22, 2015
The winds of March that make my heart a dancer
A telephone that rings but who's to answer?
Oh, how the ghost of you clings
These foolish things remind me of you
How strange, how sweet, to find you still
These things are dear to me
They seem to bring you so near to me
The sigh of midnight trains in empty stations
Silk stockings thrown aside dance invitations
Oh how the ghost of you clings
These foolish things
Remind me of you
Rod Stewart singing "These Foolish Things" on "The Great American Songbook" (2002)
Carol liked to listen to the old standards and often listened to this CD.
Dear Family and Friends,
I have spent some time over the past year going through Carol's desk, folders, papers and records…cleaning and organizing. I have a long ways to go to finish the job…maybe one more year. A lot of it is memorabilia that I want to pass on to my children so I have nine large 3-ring binders into which I am attempting to organize the material.
Sorting through this memorabilia has given me a renewed sense of gratitude for how God has guided and protected us. There are reminders of our children's growing up years…certificates, awards, report cards. There are family genealogy records. There are records of Carol's trips during the illness of her mother, the illness of her Dad and their passing. There are reminders of my layoff, the selling of our home and downsizing, the amazing guidance and miracles of provisions, debt free as God guided step by step. There are notes Carol kept dealing with all the medical issues of her last year…appointments, X-rays, insulin instructions, various drug effects and warnings, consent and discharge papers. All these bits and pieces add up to an amazing life where several things really stand out.
First, Carol seriously studied the Bible. There are eight 3-ring binders full of BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) notes and worksheets…written on both sides. It must be a stack of paper at least 12 inches high. There were hours and hours of serious study over many years. When on road trips she often made arrangements to attend BSF classes in cities through which we were traveling.
Carol prayed for people. I found so many prayer lists for people in the BSF and small groups she attended. Prayer was vital to her life. Most likely, she prayed for you. I know she did for me. I've often mentioned how Carol hunkered down with God during the last year of her life….it is now no surprise. She was grounded in the Bible and prayer.
Carol was a reader. In addition to all the books in her bookcase there are pages of book lists, book series, and notes about the plots. She read The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw along with four other books on WWII so she could talk with her dad about his involvement in D-day. She read many book series such as The Walk by Richard Paul Evans, books by Mitch Albom and many mystery authors.
Carol took care of me. She made sure I had books on grace. One of my characteristics is to be a perfectionist that works hard to earn my way into God's good graces. She told me several times that I did not understand grace and gave me books on grace on different occasions. One birthday she gave me, In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado and wrote in the flyleaf,
"My hope and prayer for you as you read this book
is that you will fully realize the limitless grace that God has bestowed on you,
and that you will never doubt the gift."
What can I say? Carol gave me the gift of grace.
Grieving does something to a person that forces one beyond intellectual understanding. I've heard others mention it and I have found it true for me, that when grieving your core skills and interest in them disappear. I've been a teacher. I developed technical training materials for 35 years. I've taught Bible classes and small groups for most of my life. Intellectually, I know the stories and the gospel message. All of that disappeared for much of this year. I don't have the energy or mental capability to deal with it. Those skills do slowly return but they are very elusive and require way too much mental energy. I don't go there any more. I don't want to return to what was. Yet there are these reminders to which I have a vague recollection. It is like coming out of a fog to something new but I have no idea what that is. The cloud dissipates slowly. Grieving is forcing me to come to terms with grace…to being a "me," not a "we."
On one of my trips to visit my mother this past year we were cleaning out the bunkhouse and came across a bag of Guidepost magazines. Mom wanted to give them to a medical office to put in their waiting room so people could read them. I put the bag in my truck and it ended up in my bedroom next to my bookcase back in California. Months later I was having difficulty going to sleep and needed to change my "going-to-bed" routine. No more TV, no news before bed…instead I decided to read before bed two or three articles from Guideposts and then list three things for which I am grateful in a notebook. I have been at this now for 5 months. I am about to finish the stack, just a couple left.
There have been several articles that were helpful and encouraging but I struggled for awhile with the articles about miraculous healings. Carol's story is not one of physical healing. Where does Carol's story fit in with all these stories I was reading? I came to realize I wasn't thinking straight. Being healed is not the singular proof of God's presence. God's presence is also with those who are not healed, even more so for those who go through suffering. Unfortunately, those stories of God's presence through suffering are not the ones that get published…but I got to see Carol's story up close and personal. God was certainly present.
Thanks Carol, thanks mom…for all the reminders. I am slowly becoming more grateful and aware of God's grace. The reminders are not foolish things but actually wise things. And yes, it still aches when reminded. I wouldn't want it any other way.
In the next post I will describe what is helping me come to terms with it all. Blessings …. George
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Posted by George at 4:22 PM