Tab List

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

True Pain

Some things do not need a commentary.  This is one of them.  No need for me to butcher it.  Jeff was the son of a friend of mine.  He was thirty-three.

This written memorial is one of a kind.  I have read nothing like it.  It screams with pain and open-hearted honesty.  Here is a brief excerpt:

“Jeff didn’t give himself much credit.  He didn’t allow himself to see himself like anyone who knew him saw him.  He couldn’t fathom that anyone could see him differently than how he viewed himself.  He was funny, he was smart, and he was caring.  Jeff loved hard and with everything he had.  He sees it now: in our memories we share, in our tears, in our laughter.  He sees what he couldn’t here on Earth.”

My friend’s brother gave the eulogy.  I can’t remember it all, but I remember two things vividly.  First, speaking to his brother and family, “You did all you could”.  A little later he told everyone that they were burying our regrets with Jeff.  No second guessing or living in the past.  “We are not taking those away from here.”

This is a family of immense faith.  They told Jeff’s story directly.  They chose to be honest.  Their faith allowed them to share in a way that might help another family.

Mental illness is beyond real and has finally entered the public conversation.  Unfortunately, we frame the dialogue in our country as a battle over who can buy a gun.  Maybe that is part of the solution albeit a small one.  I don’t have the answer.  I do know that there are many people hurting and in need of help that are not plotting to injure someone else.  Let’s not forget those people.  How do we reach those people?

Jeff received help, but as is too often the case it didn’t measure up to the inner darkness.  Standing on the outside, one can’t know that.  Not a parent.  Not a professional.  Depression is the bottom of a well.  A spark of light reveals hope.  If only one could have ignited.

Losing a child is beyond painful.  Impossible.  There will always be the time before and a time after.  It is not supposed to happen this way.  I feel idiotic even commenting.  How can I grasp the hurt?  

I pray for this family daily.  We each know someone who could use the same.  A prayer, unsolicited, from a far.

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Friday, June 14, 2019

So Wrong & So Right

“Give my granddaughter a kiss for me.”

These were my words from a recent telephone conversation with my daughter.  Normal by all standards of measure, except mine.  For the first 10 months of our granddaughter’s life, our house was her home.  There was no need to ask how she was doing or anything else.  She was there.

It was such a blessing.  One I took for granted now that she has moved across town.

The plan was always for my daughter and son-in-law to establish their own home.  I even encouraged it.  Often.  A friend of mine suggested that living with us was “robbing them of their joy.”  I immediately saw this as an honest and accurate description.

You never really know what you have in a marriage until you’re dirt poor, exhausted, and have a crying baby to take care of.  That may not sound like JOY, but the satisfaction of calling a place your own and working as a team to figure it all out is wonderful.  It might not feel all that wonderful when living it, but no doubt it is.

In the first few days after they left, the air was uneasy and too quiet.  My wife and I were empty nesters once before, but this differed from when our youngest went off to college.  This time we lost a family of three.

Yet, I am thrilled for the kids and our grandbaby.  While it seems wrong to get home from a day at the office and not be able to love on the little one, life is as it should be.  And we are blessed that they moved just 10 minutes away.  Most grandparents can only dream of such proximity.

So, what felt wrong has proven to be right no matter whose lens we peer through.  The kids have taken their joy back.  May the relish in the exhaustion of such JOY.

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Friday, April 12, 2019

Assembly Required?

My instructions could not have been more clear.  What is it with people?  Can we only listen to short fragments?  Social Media.  Blame it on Social Media.  Well, excuse me for using complex sentence structure in my verbal communications!  Lesson learned.

I should go back….

The gift for a one-year-old was exceedingly expensive.  While a shared expense with other family members, make no mistake that as her grandparents we were on the hot seat to pick up the exceeding part.  Yet criticism without a solution does not deliver change.  Not having any better ideas, I agreed with one major stipulation.  We could buy this playset as long as I was NOT required to take part in the construction of said playset.

***

I arrived at our daughter’s house Tuesday evening and found an oversized wood pallet buckling under sealed boxes.  My hope, no make that my expectation, that my son-in-law would have everything laid out and organized was gone.

Cloaking a level of frustration, I greeted everyone and jumped into the “let’s get this S--- over with” mode I know so well.  This is when the abandonment began.  My son-in-law left for the airport to pick up a coworker.  Shortly after, my daughter departed for work.  No, I am not making this up.  

Our workforce had dwindled to the one who specifically forbade himself from construction, and my soon to be one-year-old granddaughter held by my wife.   This was not getting off to a good start.  I’ve been trying to think of how it could be worse, but it eludes.  This could be poor imagination on my part.  

After we unpacked and sorted the lumber from the first two of five boxes, my son-in-law arrived with Bobby.  They appeared ready for action and an extra set of hands would be helpful. I pointed out the weak labeling system on the lumber and other obvious challenges.  

Not knowing what do next, we consulted the directions.  No sense in making things worse by assembling the things wrong right out of the shoot.  Getting started and realizing that all the parts needed for construction were not there would be a disaster.  

The desired outcome
Oh wait, after another half hour of sorting screws by size that is exactly what happened.  Entire sets of screws or bolts were not there.  Not as in “Batteries Not Included” not there, but as in “this bag should hold 3,164 screws, bolts and nuts of various sizes, but Glenda was out sick today so we did our best” not there.

The question now was whether to wing it and improvise or regroup locate the missing hardware.  Under protest by my wife, we decided not to go ahead.  I was sure we would not get far and only compound the problem.

I saw this as an opening or answered prayer.  Circumstances finished my job for the day!  I went home and told them to call me when the store or manufacturer sent ALL the parts.  Abrupt?  Maybe, but I was supposed to be there.

This assembly appears beyond our extensive backgrounds and experience with Tinker Toys and Legos. In no way do I look forward to resuming construction.  But, the near $1,000 price tag for professional assembly is ridiculous.  A wise investment but outrageous just the same.

Some skeptics out there might be thinking, “Oh, he’s just being silly.  I’m sure he’d be disappointed if they assembled it without him.”  Let me say that you could not be more wrong.  The only way this becomes a salvageable gift, one I won’t regret taking part in for the balance of my days, is if somebody other than me gets the “thrill” of putting it together.


Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Dad's Reward

Several months ago I became a grandfather for the first time.  It was beautiful, a miracle, life altering…and so on and so on.  She has blessed our lives in so many ways that it is impossible to describe with justice.  Most things in life are overrated.  Being a grandfather is NOT one of them.

But I do have a problem.  My wife and kids are suckers for t-shirts.  They gave me my first “Grandpa” shirt which reads “Only the Best Dads get Promoted to Grandpa.”

While I am more than confident this is correct of yours truly, I am equally as certain that a bunch of crappy dads get promoted to grandpa as well.  If one were shooting for accuracy it might read “Only Dads get Promoted to Grandpa.”  They may not sell quite as many t-shirts, but my family to would want one.

Bad dads, good dads, all dads become granddads when one of their children has a kid.  It is such a crisis that there are so many shattered families.  Those granddads often get locked outside of this child’s inner circle.  I suppose they may not know the joy they are missing, but that does not make it any less tragic.

So, during this Thanksgiving Day week, I am beyond thankful.  Blessed that my family is close and we get to ride this wave together.  Any other way in unimaginable.  As for the shirt?  My humble self will not be wearing it in public.

But let’s not bury the lead here gang.  I am in the Best Dad category if there EVER was one!


Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Good Stuff

It is different for everyone.  We often fail to look for it.  Too busy, too tired, too lazy.

I discovered mine recently.  Yes, I found the good stuff.  The things that matter.  

Money can’t buy them.  There is no set number of things that matter to someone and they change with time.  I am not even sure how to find them.  They just sort of show up and you think to yourself this is cool or oh my, when did you get here? or this is special; pay attention.

The good stuff is a flawless sunset, time with my granddaughter, having dinner with family, screened in porches, rocking chairs, college football and the warm hand of God on your shoulder as you bless a meal while sitting alone in a restaurant.

The good stuff can’t be created.  The same location or situation can be duplicated, but it takes a separate element to generate the goosebumps you feel the first time.  It is a God thing.

The good stuff gets missed when we are going through life’s motions in cruise control.  Too busy moving from thing to thing to slow down and look around.  I regret that the past several years calcified me.  My optics saw things on a scale of 1-7 rather than 1-10+.  Too much gray and not enough white.

I have had plenty of moments of great joy and happiness.  The problem is that I moved through them with my eye on NEXT so these moments peaked at a 7.  The Good Stuff only has a chance of happening if you can forget about the Next Stuff long enough to feel it.  Long enough to let the Good Stuff rise above the trees or break through the clouds.

O’ Lord, please help me linger and look deeper this Holiday Season!


Run in Peace, Rest in Grace