Movin’ on up!

Thought I’d best let my readers know that there is a big change coming in my life. I have decided to move out of my house (and let my daughter move in) and move into a retirement complex.  I had two weeks notice and must admit I am still in a bit of shock but completely convinced that this is the right thing to do.

It all started at the local grocery store, when the clerk advised me that the carton milk was cheaper because I had some coupons. “Not to worry,” I said, “This will do.” A grey-haired woman in her late sixties said, “I’ll get it for you, I would have liked someone to help my mother.”  There wasn’t a bolt of lightening but I aged twenty years right on the spot.  I declined her kind offer, went home and phoned the group associated with the seniors residences in town…I had been on their list for two years (just being careful of course). “Can you take a unit in two weeks?” came the question.  Another bolt of lightening hit me…(could I, I questioned myself for about five seconds?)  “YES”,  I boldly answered.

So here I am a week later, not exactly questioning the Lord, just praying, praying that this is His will, …because I’m moving in on Saturday.

Tears have been flowing all week…no, not sad tears, but every cupboard or drawer opened contains memories and they are bitter-sweet…so many of Harry and those over five decades together… But there are decisions to make…what to take, or what to leave in the basement in the care of my daughter who has owned the house for the past year.  I am exhausted but by this time next week I will have had my first nights sleep in my new abode.  It really is a bit of an adventure.

I visited my new residence yesterday…had lunch in the dining room and met all kinds of  friends…so many have grown old with me in this wonderful Peace River Country where I have spent the last fifty-seven years of my life.

So hang in there blog readers…I have lots of old stories still to tell and new ones to experience.  Thanks for reading them…Hopefully I will have this machine up and running by next week.  See you then and God bless each one of you.

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REMEMBERING

This article was previously printed in The Presbyterian Record Web page, but I believe it will give insights into what Remembrance Day means to many people……

Attached to the deck, outside my computer room window, flies a small Canadian flag.  Much as I am a proud Canadian, it also tells me which way the wind is blowing.  Although I love to see its’ red and white colours flying.  I really enjoy the wind-free days when it hangs rather limp.

Today it reminds me that it is Remembrance Day Sunday and I head out to Church.  Once there I don my blue choir gown, attach my red poppy and with little ceremony join the lineup and march into the Sanctuary.

For some there is more “remembering” than others.  My Dutch “war bride” friend has multi-memories of Holland and her young soldier husband.  Mine are of three years spent from 1955-58 with my Air Force husband, living in Germany in somewhat makeshift homes from bombed out houses.  We spent two years in them before military housing became available for us. We visited cemeteries where hundreds of Canadian boys, killed in the 2nd World War, were laid to rest.

As a child I recall attending Sunday School in the church basement, while the adults upstairs feverishly sang, “Eternal Father, strong to save” and prayed ardently for those who had joined up.

But today I stood, head bowed, in the choir loft as “The Last Post” was played on our audio system.  Then my ears picked up on a familiar melody wafting up from the Sunday School downstairs.  The children were practicing for Christmas and their sweet young voices, like small teasing breezes, filtered through.  The were singing “Silent Night.”

Of course it was important for us adults upstairs to remember that we were taking part in a Remembrance Day service, but the children were full of the excitement and hope of what was to be.  They were anticipating the birth of a baby boy and the promise of better tomorrows.

And isn’t that really what all the sacrifices of Remembrance Day is all about…the promise of better tomorrows.

 

 

WAR STORIES

Today I thought I would share with you some of my ‘war stories’. They are tales that are true but ones I hope will never be a part of your memories.

I was so young, just a little girl, one of several in an ordinary Canadian home.  Dad was with the C.P. Railroad and Mom was trying to raise Dad’s kids, her kids and their kids. It was an interesting life with little money but lots of love.  The threat of World War II was not a part of those very early years of my childhood;  why would it be with little sisters to torment and older siblings to run to with torrents of tears, the results of some bumps and bruises.  But then the war seeped into the situation.

My brother Gordon sort of disappeared.  Later I found out he had run away from home, lied about his age (he was only 16) and joined the Army.  I missed him.  He and I were buddies.

Besides my brother, things that had been part of my life disappeared too…licorice candy cigars, tiny candy ice-cream cones…gone, gone, never to be seen again until after the war.  The word ‘rationing’ became a part of everyday conversation and it directed all parts of our lives.  Ration-stamps were the precursor of food-stamps.  They decided how much sugar, tea and coffee you could buy at the grocery store.

And the music!  Like any pre-teen I was very interested in the music of the day and still can sing the war songs that filled our small radio.  Music was used to stir the soul..music of love, of longing, of hopes and dreams for the future…music that can still make me weep.

I can recall going down the street with my wagon and several strong bags.  A man filled the bags with sand and put them on the wagon which I dragged home.  I am not sure what it was all about but in those days you did what you were told.  And there were ‘black-out’ curtains on the windows.  Luckily an invasion never occurred but the threat of one hung over all of us…especially on the west coast.

Then one day a dreaded telegram arrived.  My brother Gordon had been wounded and my Dad said “I think he’d like a letter from his little sister’, so began a correspondence that last until his death from his war wounds several decades later.

I recall the day the war ended.  Our house on the hill overlooked the Main Street.  The fire siren was screaming, cars horns were honking and people were running up and down Main Street yelling…it was quite a show!

The War was over and I in my innocence asked my mother…”What will be on the News now?”

But the news of war never ceases…and there was the Korean War, The Cold War, the take-over by the Communists of Hungry, Eastern Germany and the Vietnam war…and all the wars since that have spilled across our TV screen.

God has promised us he will never send another world flood but sometimes I wonder how he can continue to love us when our lives are so full of hatred for one another.

And yet grandchildren and great-grandchildren arrive and we have hope.  Hope that there will be a better world for them…and we pray earnestly for a peace that seems to constantly slip out of our hands.  God will not forsake us and to that promise I will cling,

 

THE WRONG MESSAGE

Touching base with someone through the internet can be interesting.  I have received a number of messages through the years and love hearing from my readers.  But recently a name came up on my screen that surprised me…someone that I haven’t seen for years and who had no reason to contact me.

When I clicked on the message, it was not personal as I had expected, but rather an advertisement to lose weight.  The last thing I need to do is lose weight!

Some health issues in the past few years, plus my age, has whittled me down considerably.  I spoke to a dietician recently who did an assessment of my weight, height, etc. and advised me that if I were younger, I should weigh about 123 pounds.  I told her that if I weighed that I would be pregnant…for that is exactly what I weighed when I walked through the hospital doors over a half century ago and said I was pretty sure my baby was going to arrive soon.

We agreed on a more attainable goal and I was given permission to eat almost anything I desired…including ice-cream.  Easy directions.

The email message made me realize how often a message sent is all wrong for the receiver.  Even with the best intentions I have sometimes spoken with less tact than I should have.  Occasionally, it has been the fault of the recipient but often my words just proved that I didn’t really know what I was talking about.  It is a humbling experience.

Recently my younger sister phoned and spoke about a medical crisis in the family and I tentatively suggested that she pray about it…(I really know little about her relationship with God…I have seen her seldom through the years.)

“I  AM praying about it” she shared.

How self-righteous of me to think she needed advice to pray…what I should have said of course is that I would keep her and her loved ones in my daily prayers.  Just because someone is not practicing their faith in the same manner you are is no reason to believe that they haven’t a relationship with God.  Sometimes our messages are confusing to others.  We need to get our facts straight first.

And my email friend…well, a gentle click and the message disappeared.  There was no harm done and I pray that my words, to family and friends also “cause no harm.”

LAUGH AND THE WORLD LAUGHS WITH YOU.

I think God has a great sense of humor…who else could create a giraffe?  Yet I find little humor in people nowadays.  Most of what you see on TV you would not want to share with your grandchildren  (and mine are over thirty).  The days of Newhart are long gone.

I write up our Church Newsletter and trying to find a joke or two is sometimes difficult but I have discovered that the funniest things happen in everyday life…perhaps that’s why Stewart McLean was so popular.

So, today I will share an event I heard about this morning, true or not, it is funny.

It seems a couple, who had a dog, were asked to look after their neighbour’s house for a few days. No problem.  Then one morning the couple’s dog appeared at their back door with their friends dead and blood covered rabbit in its mouth.

So, they rinsed off the dead rabbit, blow-dried it and put it back in its pen.

When the neighbours returned they wanted to know if there had been some strange things happen while they were gone.  Then they went on to say, “Our rabbit died before we left, so we buried it in the back yard, but now there is a dead rabbit in our rabbit pen.”  Needless to say there was no explanation given.

Laughter is built into us…check your grandchildren watching a silly TV movie…no one sat down and taught them to laugh and yet it bubbles out of them.

We don’t have to be Scrooges…there is joy in living, even if you have problems.  An old friend with M.S. once confessed that she took a bath one day and couldn’t get out of the tub.  Her daughter and son-in-law had to rescue her.  Embarrassing yes, but they laughed through the whole episode and laughed again as they retold the story.

I showed up the other day at our IGA this morning coffee with a pin curl clip in my hair. A kind friend remarked on my new hair decoration…at least it wasn’t one of my big, blue plastic rollers that I sometimes use.

Life is full of humbling experiences…our job is to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and SMILE.  We are not perfect, but God loves us.

 

FEAR NOT

Although I have no fear of public speaking, I have a dreadful fear of winter’s icy roads.  Northern Alberta was probably not the best choice of residence and yet I have been here since 1961. I am sure God had a reason for this and maybe it was to allow me every winter to face those fears for I am still driving when the weather is good and still praying every time I get into the car.

What are you scared of?  It’s a good question to ask oneself.  I think ill health would probably head the list of many of us.  Lack of independence would probably be near the top, especially for seniors.  I think the list is endless and perhaps it is better to concentrate on the positives..maybe that is why the Bible is so full of “Fear not’s”.

One of my senior friends has a terribly long list and every day as she views the world news she adds to it.  I know the world is an awful place for many people but besides my prayers and my pennies for charity there is not much else I can do.

And I am finding that even good intentions get thwarted too.

My concern about the health of my friend, has been ongoing.  Finally, I said, “See a specialist about that hip”, I almost said “or else.” And her doctor did make the appointment.  I offered to take her but then I came down ill myself, so I phoned a senior friend to take her, then the next day is was -33C and she said it was far too cold for my senior friend to be out so she would get her daughter  to take her.   Twice I had tried to get that lady to the doctor and God said, “No, her daughter is to take her.”

We had a prayer together before she left and then she called me later.  She was so happy her daughter was there to help her sign the papers, find out what the future entailed and to be part of the preparation for her hip surgery.  She had been so fearful about the whole thing and God had said “Fear not.”

Her voice was filled with joy when she called and I, leaving all my staid Presbyterian responses behind, with enthusiasm hollered “Praise the Lord.”  Even when you’re not sure you are doing all the right things for the right reasons, don’t count God out of the picture.  He has a plan…so Fear not!

 

KINDNESS COUNTS

I tend to read the paper on line and find it works for me and I no longer have to recycle all that paper.  A while back one of the articles mentioned a Golf Tournament being held in remembrance of an old friend of mine.

I didn’t know a lot about him but he had a wife and several daughters. He always had a smile, and that I do remember.

But the thing I remember most is that when my husband had a heart attack in 1988 and had to stay home for three months, to recover, he was the one that showed up on a regular basis to visit him.  There were a a lot of people that should have shown up and didn’t, but he was there every week.

He was there, laughing with Harry, sharing a cup of tea and making it a special day because of his presence.  I wonder if he ever realized how much those visits meant and how 29 years later, I am still remembering them.

Oh yes, I recall the doctor and the staff at the hospital the evening of his heart attack and how washed out my handsome husband looked for weeks afterwards but it is not those big things that still filter through…it was the effort made by an almost-stranger who cared enough to visit.

Who knows what will happen when we touch someone with a smile a hug or a small word of encouragement.  They are all reflections of God’s love and He works all kinds of miracles.

I still recall being in hospital at five years old…frightened and alone.  Then a lady came by (she was a friend of my Mom’s)…she came every day and I have never forgotten her kindness. My  Mom lived a long ways away and with no transportation and two more little ones at home she couldn’t visit.  But Mrs. P. did.   She didn’t know she was an angel but that’s how she appeared to me.  I am reminded of her every time I visit at the hospital.

My near neighbour lost her husband a while back.  Two or three times a week I would call her and she said “how did you know I needed someone to talk to?”  I really didn’t know, I just had a feeling I should call her…I pay attention to those feelings…they are sometimes tiny messages reminding us to care for others.

Stand in an elevator with someone who is really upset…you can almost feel the vibrations, or walk down a strange street, then do an about-face, knowing that there is trouble right ahead.  I had a friend who was a public nurse that always listened to her feelings when nursing in strange areas of town.

There are always little reminders in life, little drops of wisdom that say to us, “You better be quiet, you are getting yourself in pretty hot water.” Or “maybe this is not the right place for you to be right now.”

Years ago at our Writer’s group we took turns evaluating each other’s stories.  First Rule was…say something nice, then gently critique their story, then say something  helpful.  Exposing your work in front of strangers was always difficult but those rules kept us kind.

Being kind is always acceptable and leaves the recipient glowing…and God loves that glow you put on other people’s faces.