Contact Me

If you enjoy my blog and would like to contact me, you may reach me at this email:

Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

How God Searches for You

The other day, as I prepared to drive down the hill for a baby-sitting gig with my granddaughter, I thought I could also take care of some routine business at the hospital later in the afternoon. My Doc had provided me with prescriptions, spit out of his printer on two 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of white paper.
Knowing I would need those two pieces of paper soon, I placed them in a prominent spot on the kitchen counter.
There, now I can grab them the next time I go down the hill.
I did not file those two sheets of paper.
I did not stuff them into my purse, where they'd get smushed by keys, wallet, checkbook and etc.
I did not place them on my desk, where they might get lost in my growing stack of scratch notes, business cards and rough drafts of my latest Work In Progress.
I put those prescriptions where I could plainly see them.
On the kitchen counter.

So, this other day, when I looked at the kitchen counter, my two 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of white paper were simply. . . . gone.

The first thought that entered my brain: you must have put them in your purse.
I looked in my red purse. No. No prescriptions.
Second thought: maybe, in an absence of thought, you filed them away.
I looked in my file for health papers.
Rising annoyance made my mouth screw into an unattractive, prune-like mound.
I pulled out the kitchen garbage and gingerly fingered through wet, coffee-grounded junk mail, wet kleenex tissues, wet vegetable peelings. No prescriptions.
"Bruce! Could you please help me find those papers." I washed my hands in the kitchen sink. "They've got to be somewhere."
Bruce plodded up the stairs and did what any reasonable person would do; he looked in every place I'd already looked.
Then he pulled out the medical file.
"That's not my medical file."
"Well, it's the medical file I just started," Bruce countered. "Could it be in here?"
"Nah, it couldn't be. I didn't put them in there 'cause I didn't even know you made that file."
Bruce showed me some of the papers in the file. I saw everything but prescription papers.
I looked at my watch. No more time to look; I'd just have to make another trip down the hill at some later date to take care of my routine x-rays.
Annoyed and disappointed, I gathered up my things and hurried out to my car.

Later that day, when I returned, I pulled out Bruce's new medical file and thumbed through it again, just to make good and sure. Perhaps I'd missed something.
And, there those papers were, filed at the very back. My husband, God bless him, is a very organized person. (Of course, I wished he'd have told me he took those papers from the kitchen counter!)
I felt flooded with relief, that I didn't have to call the Doc's office and feel embarrassed when I told them I'd lost those papers and could I have another copy?
And relief, that I not crazy and I did not file papers and completely forget I'd done it
and . . .
Joy that my papers were restored and safely in my hands.
Holding those precious sheets of paper, I thought about Jesus's parable about the housewife who's lost a coin and cleans and sweeps her whole house until she finds it.
And the shepherd, who leaves the 99 sheep to look for that one, lost sheep. Then he rejoices when he finds the sheep.

I'd systematically searched each room, even rooms I didn't remember being in, to find those small pieces of paper. I looked everywhere. Those papers were important to me. I did not give up until I found them.

That's how passionately the Lord seeks and pursues you and I. He wants you. . . me.  Just as I was willing to "tear the house apart" and even go through the kitichen garbage with my bare hands, God will go much, much further, to restore you to safety. That's how important you are to Him.
And He will not give up until you are safely in His hands.
Next time you lose something, think about how you feel when you can't find it.
Think about how you feel when you finally do find it.
Then think about how God must feel when He wants to find you.
And if He has found you, thank Him!

"And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:9,10)

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Crazy-Evil-No Good-Stinky-Bad Dog

This kind-of sad, kind-of funny tale of a truly bad dog has remained in my memory for forty years. It is an illustration of what happens when bad behavior is not nipped in the bud. Throughout my mothering years, the memory of Kip admonished me to persevere in training my children to behave as responsible, considerate and respectful citizens.

When I was a teenager, growing up in northern California, we adopted a collie pup named Kip.
I think Kip was a bad egg from the beginning. Like his mottled fur, his blue-brown eyes expressed a kind of odd and desperate ambiguity about his "people" and his new environment.

Maybe if we'd started training Kip during his puppyhood his craziness could have been controlled and he'd have learned to obey.
I think Kip thought he was the alpha dog and we were his pack.

My mother never learned to put the kitchen garbage can under the sink and behind solid cabinet doors. As a result, Kip learned that discarded treats beckoned within that receptable, mixed among plastic meat wrappers, old school papers and junk mail.
When one of us tried to get Kip out of the garbage, he kept us at bay with ferocious growling and bared canines.
One day, he even sank his teeth into my brother's arm.
We had another collie named Trina. As Kip grew into a seventy-pound adult, he quickly established dominance over the smaller female. Whenever one of us family members scolded him, he'd run over to Trina and gnaw on her muzzle.
None of us liked Kip, except for my mother. She coddled him and overlooked his many flaws as if he were an errant but much-loved child. He badly needed training, but my mother thought that Kip would respond well to love and affection. Too bad we didn't have a tv show called The Dog Whisperer back then.

The booms and scrapes and screeches of the Monday morning garbage truck run terrified Kip. I'm not sure if it was solely the ungodly sounds of the garbage truck. Maybe Kip had seen the big, burly, scary men who traipsed down our long gravel drive to retrieve the garbage can.
No doubt, Kip could hear the truck coming from a long way off. The dog's terror and his attempts to find a safe place --usually in the soot-encrusted fire place --on Monday mornings exasperated the entire family. "Mom, Kip's getting worse each day. Why don't we take him to a trainer who can help us work with him?"
But Mother had five kids and a house and a husband. Life happened and Kip never got his training.

Eventually, Kip came to behave as if each morning were Monday morning. Some traffic sound early in the morning alerted him and the diabolical dog would turn my doorknob, then burst into the bedroom and jumped onto my bed. Trembling and slobbering, Kip would try to hide behind me. Maybe I could have put up with his shaking body, but the umpleasant gases that hissed out of his backside as a result of his terror proved to be too much.
As a teen, I treasured each additional minute of sleep before the alarm went off. If I could just get that darn dog out of my bedroom, maybe I could sleep another ten minutes.
Have you ever tried to wrestle a seventy pound dog off of a bed, across 12 feet of carpeted floor and out a door?
Not so easy when you're only a mite heavier than the animal and he's fighting you every step of the way.
I usually succeeded in thrusting the dog out, slamming the door shut and locking the door. (House rules said that you only locked the door when dressing.) But by then, my heart pounded from the workout, my hands reeked of doggy odor and I was fully and frustratingly awake.

One early Monday morning, before any traffic noises alerted Kip, someone must have put him out for a potty run.
An hour later, my alarm went off just about the same time that I heard the garbage truck approaching our address. Where was Kip?

When I came home from school later that day, I asked my mom, "Where's Kip?"
She didn't know, and neither did my Dad or anyone else in the family.
Kip never did return. I'm sure he came to a bad end.
My mother grieved.
The rest of us rejoiced.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to be Like God

I was driving home at night from choir practice last week. I passed a slow-moving vehicle --there were just the two of us -- in the canyon going up to Estes Park. I wasn't speeding and I gave the guy plenty of room when I moved back over into our lane. Nevertheless, the driver sped up, turned on his brights and followed me closely. How rude. . . and creepy. I speeded up. My car has a lot of accelerating power, and soon I'd created a nice big lead. I checked my rear-view mirror a couple of times. Good, the guy wasn't even visible.

After a mile or two, a dim light in the rear-view mirror made my heart jump. There he was again. He started to gain on me. I accelerated again. But this time, the guy was rapidly gaining on me.
I've had this kind of thing happen a couple of times before, especially when we lived in SO CAL: you know, drunk or crazy people trying to give you a hard time because you're on the road the same time they are.
Was this going to be some kind of road-rage thing? He kept gaining on me.
I panicked and drove faster. Doing 75.
Still gaining.

When I got to Pinewood, I put on my blinkers and turned onto a dirt road. There! The guy will continue up the canyon and I can pull onto the road again after he's gone.
But no! He pulled onto the dirt road and parked behind me.
Oh, my Lord. This guy is going to get me!
My heart was thumping, my mouth was dry. Headlines from an imaginary newspaper shot into my mind's eye: "Grandmother found shot to death in her Highlander Hybrid."
Then I saw the flashing lights.
I did't know whether to feel relief, dread, or exasperation.

I turned off the motor but turned on the overhead cab lights so the officer would be able to see that I wasn't waiting with a gun. I grabbed my purse, while mumbling some words, pulled out my license, then hunted in the glove compartment for my registration and proof of insurance.
"Good evening." The deputy said with a cordial tone  as he approached my open window.
"I know, I know," I moaned in my overly-operatic voice. My eyebrows slanted severely and the corners of my mouth dipped like the "tragedy" mask from Greek theater. I couldn't have appeared more dramatic if I'd pounded my chest and exclaimed, "Mama Mia!"
"I was speeding,"  I confessed,  "and I deserve a ticket. But would you please let me explain why I was driving so fast?"
I handed him my license and continued to frantically rifle through all the annoying, non-essential papers that I'd retrieved from the glove compartment. Somewhere in this mess were the two little slips of paper I desperately needed.
"You see, there was this car. . . "
I told him the whole story.
"And that's why, when I saw your car, I thought it was the same guy, and when you pulled over behind me I thought I was a goner."
The deputy probably had a hard time keeping a straight face. "Well, I could tell something was wrong. I was driving over 75 and I still couldn't catch up with you."
"I really thought you were some crazy guy."
The deputy probably thought I was a crazy, overly paranoid, little old lady.
But he said, "Look, it's late, and I'm tired and all I want to do is go home. I'm not going to give you a ticket, just a warning. Now, just drive a little slower and try not to hit any deer that might jump out onto the road. Okay?"
"Okay. Thanks."

He handed me back my license and gave me his business card.
My hands trembled slightly as I started the car and pulled forward. It was a very dark night and I could hardly see where I was going.
All of a sudden, I heard the "woop, woop" of the deputy's SUV. What is it now? I lowered my window. "Yes?"
"Dena, turn on your lights!"
ARRGH!  I'll bet the deputy gets a good laugh tomorrow when he tells my story to his associates.
Then he followed me all the way up the canyon. The emotions I felt as I drove reminded me of how I used to feel when I auditioned in front of a panel of judges for some musical role. I negotiated each curve with the utmost skill, fervently looked for speed limit signs and obeyed them to the exact tenth of a mile. I avoided the fog lines and my tires never even so much as breathed on the solid double lines in the center of the road.

Last night, I drove back up the canyon again after choir practice. I let other cars pass me. I set my cruise control at 45 mph and watched for the deputy's car.
God bless you, Deputy Menger. You showed a lot of grace to a little old lady, driving alone on a dark and sometimes hazardous stretch of road. You could have intimidated me, lectured me, thrown your power around. But you didn't. You possessed the wisdom and discernment to know it wasn't necessary.
You made your point, gently, and with a little bit of humor.
You, sir, acted like God.

Monday, March 21, 2011

There's Always a fly in the Ointment

I saw my first chipmunk yesterday. He was scurrying back and forth on our rock wall just outside my study.
"Already? Isn't it kind of early in the season for them to be out?" I said.
Bruce told me he'd been seeing one outside his office on the other side of the house for at least a week.
I love those little guys. They're so cute and perky.
The presence of the chipmunks signals the return of spring. But, unfortunately, when the chipmunks return, the ground squirrels follow soon after.
If you've been reading my posts for a long time, you know that I've waged a losing battle against those destructive critters.
Today is the first day of spring. Yippee!
That means that soon I'll be able to savor my mountain paradise from the deck.
I'll wear shorts, in the privacy of my own home,  and get a little sun on my way-too-white legs.
I'll take long walks around Lake Estes and not fear that I'll slip on the ice.
Local horse-back riders will traverse our neighborhood.
The aspen will finally get their leaves.
The cursed wind will stop wailing and whacking at my house.
Traveling up and down the canyon won't be nearly as hazardous.
Estes Park will come alive with excited tourists, eager to sample the beauty and the delights of this area.
But. . .
with the wonders of the spring-summer seasons, my battle with the chewing, clawing, digging, ground-pushing rodents begins anew.
My mother-in-law used to say, "there's always a fly in the ointment."
Of course, there's always a fly in the ointment. There will never not be a fly in the ointment. But we keep hoping that one day our situation, our life --if we just set things up perfectly -- will be perfect.
We're so naive. Haven't we learned yet? It's never perfect. Never.
We lived on a flawed planet. The ground was cursed.
(Maybe that's the reason for ground squirrels.)
 Even my wonderful marriage to my wonderful man isn't quite perfect. Because I'm not perfect, and he's not perfect.
And we'll never have perfect kids even if we do a perfect job of raising them. Because they are not perfect, and they live in a world governed by Satan.
There always a fly in the ointment.
But. . .
Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble, but take courage, for I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Jesus, who does not lie, said that we will have trouble in this world.
Naturally, because this is not Eden.
The ground squirrels and my chronically painful neck remind me that I will always be plagued by trouble and unpleasantness, mixed in with the obvious delights of my relationships and the natural world surrounding me.
I am reminded to keep looking up for the grace and wisdom that God lavishes on us when we draw near with a humble and needy heart.
I am reminded that my redemption draws nearer, when all things will be made perfect and there'll be no more flies in the ointment.
What a blessed day!

"When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:28)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Flowers Instead of Swasticas

A few years ago when my oldest son had just started college, he got a job working for one of our local gift stores. One evening, after working his shift, he walked out to the parking lot only to discover that someone had painted huge swasticas all over his car.
Ian drove home, pretty upset, not only for the damage, but that such a hate message would be advertised everywhere he drove until he got it fixed.
He didn't have a lot of money;  a full paint job can be expensive.
What to do?
I suggested that we decorate the car with a very different message, something to kind of thumb our noses at the perpetrators of the vandalism.
We went down to our local hardware store and bought various bright colors of paint.
My daughter invited one of her friends over to the house and together with our family we had a paint party.
The result?
Unfortunately I don't have a photo of the car. I could kick myself for not taking pictures.
But if you're old enough to remember the tv show, The Partidge Family, you've got an idea of how the car turned out.
Large, bright flowers, painted in reds, oranges, pinks and yellows adorned the car's hood, its sides and trunk.
If anyone ever tried to paint another swastica, that symbol would have been lost in the explosion of colors sported by the old Chrysler.
Ian's car effectively shouted down the Swastica message of hate by shouting louder with his flowery vehicle.
Similarly, when we as Christians are surrounded by messages proclaiming lies as truth, we need to shout our message of truth louder.
When we're told that we cannot be seen praying, we pray, nevertheless.
When we're told that our message of the gospel -- God's mercy to haters--is a message of hate, we need to keep proclaiming the gospel of God's love. . . in whatever way God has gifted us to do so.
When we're told that Jesus Christ is only one of many good and alternative ways to know God, we need to gently say, "that is not true."
When the media make us out to be intolerant and bigoted, we speak out and make ignorant people see how much Christians are in the forefront of nearly every act of worldwide charity.
Christians in America are not insulted by unbelievers so much because we say too much, but because we allow "swasticas" to remain on our sides without removing and advertising our own true message.

Don't be afraid to advertise "flowers" instead of "swasticas."

"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Isreal; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood."

Monday, March 14, 2011

How to Live a Long Time

What would you think would be the single most important quality you could possess in order to help you live a long life?
I've asked a lot of people, especially those who've reached eighty or beyond.
Most of them answer with something like this:
"I've tried to keep a positive outlook."
Or: "I stay busy."
It's true that most of my very older friends do indeed have a positive outlook and do indeed stay busy.
But maybe they have a positive outlook simply because their bodies have not betrayed them with Lupus or RA or some terrible degenerative disease that might prevent them from having a busy life.
I've also known many people who suffer with chronic diseases that, even with their positive outlook on life, will significantly shorten their lifespan.
And some very old people that I've known have nasty outlooks on life. Some of them make people around them miserable because they're selfish or mean-spirited. Yet, they keep on living and living.

I used to hear people remark to others: "you'll worry yourself to death," or "try to stay optimistic; you'll live longer."
I've wondered about this for a long time.
Those centenarians that get their pictures on national news when they turn 102 or 104: when they're asked the secret to their long life most of them say something like this: "I don't smoke or drink."  "I take a walk every day."
But some of them say: I've smoked a cigar every day since I was a young whipper-snapper."

So, should you just do what makes you happy? Is that the secret?
Or it the secret to long life purely hereditary?
There sure does seem to ge a genetic component.
My dad's family seem to live long inspite of hardships and a not-too-healthy diet.
But I've known other families who all suffer with heart problems at an early age. And they have great attitudes and they exercise each day.

I recently read an article that surprised me.
New research suggests that the single most important quality to possess in order to live a long life is. . .
That's right, being conscientious-- more than optimism, a relaxed attitude, or being super skinny--
will help you add years to your life.
Think about it:
When you're conscientious, you:
don't ignore that lump or cough or strange growth on your skin
you take care of your car's tires: rotate, balance, change, put on snow tires
you check your weight and decide to do something about that growing waist circumference
you return phone calls and emails that help you keep good relationships with employers and friends
you do what you say you're going to do. . . resulting in good relationships with people
you pay your bills on time. . . assuring a better credit score and possibly a better lifestyle
you go to the doctor regularly for your checkups
you mow your lawn and pick up trash. . . resulting in better relationships with neighbors. . . resulting in a happier lifestyle.
you go to work and get there on time
you do your work, school, college, church, etc. assignments

I could go on and on. I'll bet you can think of tons of other things conscientious people do that benefit themselves and others.

The research results, that being conscientious helps you live longer seem to echo the message of a little book that came out a few years ago. The message of that book was: everything that I learned of value, I learned in kindergarten.
Kindergarten is the place where kids begin to learn about good citizenship. (Or it used to be the place; maybe it isn't any longer.)
That's where children learn to put their toys away, say "please" and "thankyou" and "you're welcome."

So living longer is not a matter of: "Don't worry, be happy."

It's a matter of taking care of business.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

"Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life." (Proverbs 16:31)


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pity the Poor English-learners!

I am so glad I grew up speaking English.
Because if I had had to take English like I took Spanish, French, Italian and German in K-12 and college, I'd never have become fluent.
Those languages are far easier to learn.
They're not filled with irregular verbs:
I eat/ I ate
I go/ I went
I see/ I saw
I read, I read (?)
I teach/ I taught
I lie down/ I lay down
Not only that, but English learners have to contend with all the homonyms, too.
Take this, for example:
scents, sense, cents
two, too, to
some, sum; sole, soul; peace, piece; him, hymn.
Too bad we don't employ inflection, like other languages, to help distinguish one homomym from another.

And how about these words which look like they should be pronounced the same, but aren't?:
bough, trough
food, good
bow (from a tree), bow (as in tie a bow)
sow, cow, but. . .
low, or tow, or mow?

If I'd been born two generations ago, I'd be a native Norwegian speaker, and I'd be struggling to master the ridiculous inconsistencies of the English language.
How I admire and applaud all you people from China or India or Russia or Europe or South America or anywhere else you do not naturally speak English.
You are geniuses, all!

I was reading in Acts, chapter 2, the other day, where the disciples of Christ suddenly began to speak in other tongues. Of course, they spoke other languages, not because they studied and practiced them for months or years, but because the Holy Spirit enabled them to do so.

Then a question popped into my mind which I don't think I'd ever entertained before: did the person who suddenly started to speak Parthian, or the person who was enabled to speak Phrygian keep that language ability? Or did that speech go away as suddenly as it came? And did the speakers-in-tongues know what they were saying?
Maybe I'll have my questions answered when I stand in heaven.
But did you ever wonder this: In heaven, will we all speak our native languages but be able to understand each other? Or will we all speak some heavenly common tongue?
Language-learning is such a laborious process here on earth.
Won't it be incredible to not have to struggle with irregular verbs and confusing homonyms in heaven?
In the meantime, I guess we, as writers, will just have to remain diligent in applying correct grammar and punctuation and vocabulary and spelling so that our words effectively communicate words of truth and inspiration to fellow believers.

". . . we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" (Act 2:11)

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'm Not Andy Rooney

Remember those last few minutes of 60 Minutes when Andy Rooney would come on and talk about some little thing that was bothering him?
I used to look forward to hearing and seeing him. He was so cute, with his old-man curmudgeonly attitude, his bushy eyebrows and whiny voice. Rooney kind of reminded me of one of Jim Henson's Muppets. He knew just how to complain but entertain at the same time.
Just about everything he had to complain about resonated with his audience. Don't we all share universal annoyances?
After listening to Andy Rooney, it was much easier to think up my own list of petty annoyances. His whiny complaints "helped" me think along the lines of all the negative, inconvenient, rude, thoughtless, arrogant, unbelievable things that people do or say to other people.
Once I got into the mind-set of thinking about my annoyances, I found it difficult to climb out of the dark pit of negativity and focus on more positive thinking.
The negative thinking affected my whole day.
I forgot to be happy.
I forgot to be thankful.
I felt worse.
I felt less inclined to pray for others.
I felt robbed of peace.
I wasted time trying to pull myself out of my negativity by watching tv or venting to available listeners.
I started to dislike myself.
And I suspect others liked me less, too.

Listening to Andy Rooney was kind of like when I was first married. A group of young married women in the neighborhood invited me to join their morning coffee klatsch. I liked the ladies. But after about two weeks I had to beg off meeting with the group because the mornings were usually spent complaining about their husbands. I'd come home in a foul mood and wonder if my own husband was exhibiting any of the bad habits described by my friends.

I stopped listening to Andy Rooney.
Anybody can be an Andy Rooney.
Anybody can find something to complain about and then find someone to listen and commiserate.

It takes quality of spirit and strength and grace and wisdom and courage to lift others up, to be an encourager, an inspirer.
It's much harder to do.
It's a choice.
I know, without the Lord's empowering, I cannot be anything else but a complainer. That's my natural bent.

Andy Rooney helps me remember what I don't want to be like.

Here's a scripture that reminds me what God desires in my attitude:
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true,whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable --think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me --put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

Friday, March 4, 2011

I traveled to California to see my dad this week.
He's almost ninety-six and is in a nice nursing home.
My mother and siblings have been giving me frequent updates on his health and awareness and they all said it was time for me to see him before he no longer recognized me.
I must confess, I struggled with many emotions when the time came to see him. I would prefer to keep younger images of my father in the forefront of my mind, not the old, shrunken, non-communicative man that he has become.
But then I reasoned that that was cowardly. Even if my father no longer recognizes me (or maybe it only appears so), shouldn't I possess the whole range of images that comprise my father?
Shouldn't I squarely face the knowledge of my own father's human frailty, the brevity of his life, that even brilliant, capable, wonderful people, such as he, eventually wear down and go the way of all flesh?
So I went into the nursing home and found my father sitting up in a wheelchair. He was clean, well dressed, obviously well-cared for. He kept his head down, continually rubbed his forehead and didn't acknowledge my presence. We had brought a strawberry milkshake and he sucked that up like a hungry baby to the bottle.
I notice that his hands had been manicured and his nails were clean.
The place smelled nice. Not even a hint of, well you know what these places can smell like.
The other patients also looked well-cared for. In the other room, someone limped along on the piano playing, God Bless America, and another tried to croak the tune. My sister and mother and I joined in. We all have good voices and I noticed that the pianist tried harder when he heard us singing.
Finally it was time to say goodbye. I gave my father a long hug and said, "Goodbye, Daddy. I love you. . . I love you so much." Daddy made some affectionate noises in his throat, but used no words.
One of the CNAs rolled Daddy away to his dining table and I noticed that his dinner plate held some
tasty and nutrious food. The three of us went down the hall and into Daddy's bedroom. We sat on his nicely made up bed and I remarked at how lovely his room looked, so peaceful, light-filled, clean and organized. Images of my dad flowed in succession through my mind as I tried to come to terms with the fact that Daddy will not survive much longer.
He's left his stamp on each of his children, though. Our DNA follows the pattern set by Daddy. Our morals, our ability to tell a good story, our love for learning and for reading great literature come from him. Our fascination with history, with the natural world, with medical mysteries, and our appreciation for our Nordic heritage are all attributable to Daddy.
I love you, Daddy.
I appreciate how you worked two, sometimes three jobs to assure that all of us five children were fed and clothed and kept a nice roof over our heads.
I respect your wonderful mind, now cloaked in senility.
I love you for bringing us into the world, for cherishing us, for playing with us, listening to us, bragging about us, protecting us.
You've had a very hard life and have seen war-time things I can only shudder at, in imagining.
You were a quiet man, except in front of a classful of high school students.
You loved to listen to us sing and play our musical instruments.
You put in plumbing, knocked down old walls in the house and put new rooms in to accomodate our big family, you fixed the car, constructed a brick staircase, carpentered bookshelves and windows and doorways. You could do anything, Daddy.
Now you can't do anything and someone else is feeding and clothing you and deciding when you will get up and when you will go to bed.
But Daddy, layered with my recent mental snapshot of you in the wheelchair in the nursing home, are hundreds of additional images of you, laid out in my memory like a giant collage, that will forever engender my admiration and love for you.
I hope and pray that you have made peace with God through Jesus Christ. I don't know if you have. In the past, you have spoken about God and have prayed to Him. But who's god is that: your own or the God of the Bible? I pray that the Lord reveals Himself to you in your final hours and grants you a clarity of mind to respond to His one more invitation to everlasting life.
May God bless you, Daddy.
I love you so much.