Category Archives: Stories and Values

OOPS! Did We Lose Those Anti-Forgetfulness Pills?

OOPS! Did I Lose Those Anti-Forgetfulness Pills?

For some time, Chris and I have worried about our forgetfulness. A few weeks ago, a friend suggested that we get screened for Dementia and Alzheimer’s. What a reasonable idea. So I felt really good about our back-to- back appointments. In fact, when the day arrived, I woke up thinking about my appointment and wondering if I should brush up on my multiplication facts. (To heck with that idea.)

And then . . . WE FORGOT TO GO. We forgot to go to our appointments about forgetfulness. This does not look good for us. Oh dear. Chris called to apologize and make new appointments for next week.

Can the forgetfulness doctor possible meet us with an open mind? Won’t she have pre-determined that indeed, we desperately need her services? At this rate, she’ll make a fortune on us.

Maybe, I’ll arrange for our children and a few of the older grandchildren to call and remind us to remember to not forget to go to the forgetfulness screening.

Seventy Years Young

That’s quire a milestone for anyone. All who know and love you realize our lives get better the longer you stick around. I wish you many more years of health, laughter, and prosperity. You become more precious to me with each passing day. Happy birthday, my love.

Crossing the Bridge

Last week, I shared a college experience with my teenage partner, John Long. Thoughts of working with John triggered a second Oklahoma memory.

Not only did the small Oklahoma church where John and I worked as Christian Youth Roundup partners provide places for us to stay and food to eat, the members also arranged for each of us to have a car for the week. Two thoughts drove their decision about providing cars. First, every night following our worship service, John and I each drove teenagers from the church back to their rural homes. In addition, the cars provided transportation between the church and the farmhouses where we stayed. No problem! Although old, my car seemed reliable. I did not feel in the least bit uneasy driving on rural roads late at night.

All went well until midweek. As soon as we got to the church, word spread that a man had been murdered the night before under a bridge spanning a dry creek. Fear followed my initial shock as I grasped that each night after dropping off the teens, I crossed that same bridge. Maybe I had even crossed just as the murder had taken place!

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Laughing As Part of Sadness

Have you noticed that death often fosters feelings of sadness even while holding tightly to humor? After a memorial for John Long, a friend from TCU days, I found myself in that strange juxtaposition where laughter and fond memories comingled with tears.

For almost sixty years, I have thought of John as a friend from college. As young married students, we lived in a student apartment near John and Donna. Years later, with young children in tow, we moved across the street from them.

John and I first became friends when state church leaders chose us to be partners in a program known as “Christian Youth Roundup”. At that time, numerous pairs of TCU students ventured out to lead teenagers (scarcely younger than we were) in recreation, music, and church services. John turned out to be a wonderful partner who not only carried out his assigned tasks well but who often kept us amused.

One memorable week occurred while working in a Dunkin, Oklahoma church. Two families provided lodging while other parishioners took turns cooking for us. One afternoon, John and I arrived at a beaten down farm, which swarmed with so many children that not all of them could sit at the table to eat. In a hot kitchen, their tired mother served generous helpings of vegetables along with fried chicken and gravy.

As we began eating, one scruffy young boy plopped down beside me and began describing how he had shot and skinned the rabbits for our meal. I looked at John just in time to see him bite into a mysterious chunk of meat unlike any chicken piece I had ever seen. Although today, I view this meal differently, at the time I considered fried rabbit a bit unconventional — not quite up to my snobbish expectations.

Today, I appreciate that instead of purchasing pre-cut chicken from a grocery store, the family had shot, skinned, cleaned, cut, and cooked the body parts in a way that vaguely resembled fried chicken. Many years and many meals after this event, I also realize that the family, with absolutely nothing to spare, worked very hard to prepare a feast for two young people from TCU. This insight humbles me.

John always gave his best. He served God, his family, and his friends. After years as a minister, he spent time in retirement working with individuals suffering from memory loss. Pictures signify that he delivered the same hearty enthusiasm and fun that he had always given. John lived life with gusto until his final days and thus provided a powerful example for all of us.

I close with words from Joan Borysenko who reminds us, “The challenge is to pay attention and grieve what we’ve lost as a testimony to how precious it has been.” Yes, John, you lived a precious life. Although today I feel sad, I’m also grateful that our paths crossed through the years. Memories of a good friend make me smile.

(John shared how proud he was of his only grandson. I think he had every reason to feel good about this young man!)

Living in Gratitude and Faith

Chris and I received a double blessing this season by having two separate Christmas celebrations. Both brought fun. However, our memories of Christmas a year ago heightened the sweetness experienced during our earlier celebration.

A year ago, our son lay suffering from the ravages of a 10-hour cancer surgery followed by intensive and simultaneous treatments of radiation and chemotherapy. He missed Christmas, and Thanksgiving, and New Years and all the fun normally enjoyed during those special times. His wife, Melissa suffered along with him and did all she could to help as family members grieved.

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I knew life was getting ready to take an unusual turn when our Air Force grandson called to tell me that he could not find anyone in Panama City, Florida who would take care of his three cats and two ferrets. (Imagine that!) “Grandma,” Dalton asked, “May Rachel and I bring the animals with us when we come for a Christmas visit?” I heard my mouth say, “Of course they may come. We’ll all have fun playing with them. Ferrets will be a new adventure for us.”


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Gotta Love Those Boys

Grandpa and I always counted ourselves fortunate that we enjoyed the many hours Lane, Dalton, and their friend, Derek spent with us as they grew up.  Summer visits began when the boys were around five or six years old. The older the boys got, the more weeks they spent with us. Once they hit their teen years, they got jobs shoveling manure for extra pocket money. Yes, they created a great deal of mischief along with lots of laughter. Always, without exception these young boys continued to be good kids.

Now, that the three older guys have hit their twenties, I continue to miss their visits. Fortunately, we now have three younger grandsons (not counting Baby Rhett) who fill the big guys’ shoes quite nicely. With Chandler on a camping trip, Aidan and Ellioitt invited Korben, a friend from school. The three boys started the evening playing pool, ping-pong, and air hockey. They also amazed us by walking on balance beams. We ate dinner at P Terry’s, which promised to give all money to the Austin American Statesman for families in need. Lane (the oldest grandchild) and his wife, Margie joined us. Continue reading

Building Family Memories

Although we only see the children who live out of town on rare occasions, the time with them feels sweet and special when we can be together. This Thanksgiving, we enjoyed time with Dina and her three children: Rylie (age 9), Ana (age 7), and Baby Rhett (age 1) who flew here from California.

It was a little over a year ago that I wrote about a very tiny, 3.5 pound, premature baby boy named Rhett. Today, at age one, he wears Toddler 2’s and 3’s. He manages to stay very active, moves with lightening speed, and remains totally curious. We had a good time with all three children as they played in our new home and went on short adventures with us. Rylie and Ana amazed us by going swimming! The water felt much too cool for all of us but those tough little CA girls plunged right into that November water. A trip to Windmill Park also provided fun for all of us.  Continue reading

Life — Too Strange to be True!

Life can sometimes be stranger than fiction. From September until the middle of November, we lived one of those life experiences.

In August, we bought a house with many attractions for grandchildren. However, a few small improvements seemed in order. Soon, we heard ourselves saying, “Well, if we mess up the living room by knocking down the pop-corn ceiling, we may as well clean up all the downstairs’ ceilings.

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How You Can Help Your Child Mourn

Jenny Wise has submitted another thoughtful article. Please read and consider her ideas about ways to help a child in grief.

It’s always devastating when someone you love dies. Whether it was a parent, spouse, or friend, the loss is heartbreaking — and it’s not going to suddenly disappear. Grief is a journey that everyone must take. Thankfully, you’re an adult and can find resources, friends, and help to get through this difficult time.

That’s why you need to be there when your child mourns. They don’t have the experience or skills to cope with the death like you can. While you cannot ignore your own needs, read on to learn more about helping your child get through the grieving process. Continue reading