For many years now, I have reposted what I wrote about the anniversary of my father’s death, back in 1988. So it seems fitting today, on the 1st anniversary of my “Dad 2″‘s death, to repost this . . .
Grief has no sense of decorum. So it did not occur to me to question my actions when I interrupted the chaplain, with his head bowed and hands folded, to place myself in front of my grandfather’s face. As he tugged on the tubes, wildly waving his hands, and craning his neck up while his head turned side to side, I planted my face in front of his. “Hi PaCharley,” I said. Over. And over. I saw his clear blue eyes. I saw him. He saw me.
After weeks of stoic, walls-up, business-mode, yesterday my dam broke. Intending to call my husband, and update him on the coming family meeting at the hospital, instead I lost it. “I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I’m so sorry . . .” It was an involuntary, illogical (so I thought) reaction, but I lost all control.

Had our year gone as planned, we would not be here now. We would be in the flurries of school life, finishing out the year in Ghana. Only after arriving would we find out the family business that would occupy us so completely, for so many weeks, that would pass in a rapid blur.

Truthfully, over the past couple of months, I have questioned what I’m doing here at all. With nothing tangible to account for our days, they have, at times, felt wasted. And the “work” we’ve been doing has left me painfully aware of my shortcomings. I have been impatient with errand-running and hospital visits, and bad-attitudey about the changed grandfather he seemed to be. The man who never met a soul he didn’t like would now complain about doctors and nurses. The man who was always in a good mood spoke constantly of how bad he felt, and how much the tubes, the pricks, and the medicines were bugging him. He fought back, trying to coax forbidden foods and drinks from unsuspecting visitors. And I watched, stunned at the changes in this man I’d loved all my life. Mind you, he still had good moments and “normal” days as well, but the negative moments were so shocking to my perfect image of him that they overshadowed the good. I wondered why he couldn’t let people do what they needed to do to care for him, and I even resented the trouble caused for those closest to him.
But yesterday I realized how wrong my perception had been. When I saw him—and when he saw me—all I could think was I get it. I see. I see.
I see a man who has lived 92 beautiful and full years. A man who has given himself, without reservation, to his children, his grandchildren, and his great-grandchildren. A man who has worked hard, running his own business and rising up from the depression era. A man who fought well, who “won,” as his great grandson aptly noted, as a good, good soldier. A man who “fought the good fight, [who] finished the race . . .” (2 Timothy 4: 7-8, NIV)
And now, for the past few months, he has been unable to care for others, wholly dependent on the help of those of us who had always before come to him for that same help. He never wanted anyone to trouble themselves over him. He never wanted to be a burden, on anyone. And when the time came for his independence to be gone, he fought back.
One week ago, on his 70th anniversary, he told my grandmother that he intended to be home in a week. He told her this as if he was going to get back to independent living in the house he had loved for 50 years. But when my sister relayed this to me over the phone last night we knew what had happened. PaCharley was true to his word. PaCharley found his way home.


April 13, 2020


“Shelter-in-place. For a long, long time…”
“Emergency alert-Warning! Take shelter-NOW!”
So it was that, in the middle of the night, Peter and I hunkered down on our kitchen floor (the closest thing our small home offered to an “inside” room).
It was terrifying. And today I find my body still tended from the fear of the pending tornado. I feared for our home, and for our animals. I feared for the homestead that we have poured ourselves into for the past few years, and that now, more than ever, we find to be our lifeline.
Today we are grateful for our safety, and for that of our families. And we grieve for the loss upon loss that so many around us are suffering.
Lord, how long?…Have mercy on us, your weary children … Come quickly to our rescue. I want to trust. I want to wait patiently. “Lord, help my unbelief…”
But for now, in this moment, I will pick a rose from our yard and we will take comfort together in this gift of a home.


April 3, 2020

Today I was asked to “Describe your idea of a perfect day.”
Well, on my ideal day . . .
I wake to the smell of coffee percolating (not just any coffee, mind you, but freshly ground beans we ordered from my friend’s small coffee business. The smell brings me back to when we got to enjoy it regularly, while working with them in Ghana; and it confirms my opinion that coffee makes the world go round).
I lay in bed a bit, listening to my alarm go off, and waiting for my husband to come “remind” me that it is time to get up and milk the goat. I weigh the benefits of the 2 options before me: laze in my warm bed or rise to milk, after which comes the reward of coffee. Today, thanks to the promise of sunshine, option #2 wins out. These days, weather has taken on a monumental importance, for with nowhere but home or outdoors to go, the removal of outside activities is no small matter.
But I digress. Back to the day.
We milk the goat. Re decides to poop while I am milking her. I milk more quickly, turning my face away from the odiferous pile. I debate whether or not she still deserves her kiss, and decide that yes, she still gave us our daily milk; so I will still kiss our goats. The knowledge that they only kiss me in order to receive the graham cracker I dangle in front of them does not diminish my childlike amusement at the routine.
After we finish, I pack up, kiss Peter goodbye, and head to Chattanooga to access internet for the day of school. It promises to be a full day of work; I don’t mind, though. Without other activities I used to enjoy fitting in, I find it a bit soothing to have enough work in each day to put a damper on the grief.
I check off one small item on my to-do list. I see the sun shining brighter and the air getting warmer. I should get something else done first but . . .
I go for a run instead. For, as I mentioned, weather has been amped up in significance!
Running is hard. I wish I were swimming instead. I lament the lack of my old form of exercise. And then I remind myself that I have the privilege of having an alternate form at all; running will have to do. I also try to pep talk myself with the hope that perhaps, eventually, it will not be quite so hard.
I finish my run and get back to work. I check my email. I call my husband. “I have something to tell you. Are you ready?” I tell him the good news. We share the happy moment. “I love you,” I say. “See you later.” I actually get back to work. And I finish early enough to get home for milking session round 2.
“Wait a sec,” you interrupt, “that wasn’t the question!”
“Oh?,” I say, in feigned innocence. “Was it not? In fact, I think it was . . .”
You see, I cannot help but think that this is, in fact, my “ideal” day, whether or not it fits a stereotypically “ideal” definition. I have all I need, you see. And if I thought I should wait until something more—something better—arrived to make my day more complete, I suspect that I would discover that my idea of “better” wasn’t so great after all.
So yes, this is my real day. And it is ideal.
*photo of sidewalk message found while out runn