Thursday, December 21, 2017

Blessings and Birds

I'm sure that by now your shopping is done, gifts are wrapped, cards are in the mail, cookies are baked, and your home is decorated inside and out. Or, not. At any rate, my wish for you is that you take time amid all the hustle and bustle of the season to enjoy friendships, listen to music (here's a song for you that I wrote and my son-in-law Curtis Willey recorded: Mary's Christmas Curtis Willey/Linda Loegel ) , read a good book (there are so many out there), or simply linger over a cup of tea and count your blessings.

While you're at it, please take time to stop and think about the real meaning of Christmas--the baby boy that was born in a humble barn and grew to become Savior of the world. How great is that?

I'm celebrating Christmas in my new home and loving every moment of it. I'm hosting Christmas Eve for Cyndi and Bill and their family. If you're going to decorate, isn't it nice to have someone over to see your handiwork? Then, on Christmas Day, Cyndi is holding an open house that I'll be going to. Have I mentioned lately how glad I am that I'm on the East Coast and near family? Family is worth far more than year-round warm weather.

Speaking of warm weather, we had a couple of days this week in the high 60s - low 70s. I still have enough New England blood in me to say, "But it's December!" I took advantage of one of those days and put up five bird feeders. I can see three from the kitchen window and two from the living room window while I'm at the computer. Today the birds discovered them! They seemed to enjoy the seed, but probably not as much as I enjoyed having them stop by to visit. I have two bird houses yet to put up somewhere before nesting season starts. This is a view from the kitchen window; there's a bird on the right feeder. You may not be able to see him, but he's there.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a healthy and stress-free 2018.

Quote of the Day: Then pealed the bells more loud and deep/"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep/The wrong shall fail, the right prevail/With peace on earth, good will to men. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Loving Tribute to a Godly Man

I am now home from Connecticut where I’d been for almost three weeks, staying with my sister, 78, while my brother-in-law Joe, 83, was under hospice care for his final struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.  I rode up with Cyndi and Bill, making it from Angier, North Carolina to Fairfield, CT in one day.

I can’t say enough good things about hospice. Joe had round the clock care with nurses, male and female, who were caring, efficient, people of faith. One male nurse even made breakfast for my sister one morning because he wanted to make sure she ate and kept up her strength. Another nurse came to the funeral to pay her respects.

The funeral service was the epitome of honor, respect, dignity, and love.  Joe was a Marine, then a Fairfield policeman for years. The day started with a member of the police force coming to the door to say he’d be guarding the house while we were at the viewing. Then the police honor procession carrying the flag-draped casket drove slowly past the house while we all stood outside and watched them go by, their lights flashing.

In the viewing room, two uniformed policemen stood at attention by the casket. The guards changed with a white-gloved salute every fifteen minutes. Joe was laid out in his sergeant’s uniform and badge. People came in droves to pay tribute to this godly servant and to my sister, another godly servant. 

The service itself began with bagpipes leading the more than fifteen family members into the sanctuary and ended with a Marine bugler playing Taps. In between, Tammy and Cyndi and other family members spoke from the heart about the impact Joe made on their lives. My son-in-law Curtis sang Amazing Grace. Joe’s grandson, in full Navy uniform, handed the folded flag to my sister while barely being able to contain his own grief. A reception followed where people could mingle and renew acquaintances. People had come from California, Florida, Vermont, New York, North Carolina, and other states to say “Goodbye, Joe.”

Now I’m home and able to resume my life that’s been put on hold for a few weeks while my sister learns to cope without her husband of fifty-nine years. I am more than thankful that I’m now on the East Coast where I could be there for her. Cyndi and Bill were a Godsend, making sure her every wish was carried out before she even knew what it was she wanted. In the days since, my sister has started to relax as she sheds the heavy caretaker’s mantle she’s worn for so long. Her voice is stronger than it’s been in years; I know she’s going to be alright. And at this moment, Joe is most likely asking St. Peter how he can be of assistance since it’s never been his nature to sit idle for very long, especially if someone needs help.

Goodbye, Joe, we’ll see you again one of these days.

Thought for the day: Come home! Come home! Ye who are weary come home! From the hymn, Softly and Tenderly, Jesus is Calling. This hymn was playing at the moment Joe was received into Heaven.