Home > Uncategorized > Green Eggs and a Life’s Blessing

Green Eggs and a Life’s Blessing

Green Eggs and The Blessing of a Lifetime
Maybe you can relate to this. A few weeks ago, the Voice inside me was saying that I should go to Arkansas (my ancestral home ) for a visit. My daughter, Laura, was going back for a few days to fulfill a promise to one of her grandmothers, and we would be able to share the ride from Tennessee. The rest of the family would be occupied with work and school.
Smart phones make these things easier. Emailing, texting, calling, playing; all from the passenger seat while being chauffeured. It makes a tedious six hour drive tolerable. Even pleasant, since I could visit with my daughter who had been away at college for her first year. And to top it off, I literally upgraded to the iPhone 4S right before leaving town. So what was an overgrown boy of 51 years to do, but explore every improvement the 4S had over the 3G.
The first couple of days were really nice. I dropped Laura off late that afternoon at my in-laws, who immediately killed my appetite with a big dinner. Then on to Glenwood, where I was able to catch up with my parents, eat a second dinner, “help” with some computer things, and just slow down. There wasn’t much of a plan really on how to spend time, except to catch up with my folks, and whoever I could see before heading back home.
Chapter 1 – Scout badge – DENIED
My uncle John called the house the first morning I was there. He would be at home all day and it would be ideal for me to drop in and have a nice visit. I really like spending time with my uncle John and aunt Holly. They are the consummate hosts, and really know how to make people feel welcomed in their home. I got there before lunch and the “plan” was to go out and get a burger and visit, while Holly was out with a friend.
I should say now my uncle has a very comfortable home that overlooks a private lake from a covered and shaded deck…AND it was a P-E-R-F-E-C-T day to be outside. He offered the choice of 1) going out for burgers, or 2) having baloney (sp?) sandwiches at the house. Baloney on that deck, and on that day, couldn’t be resisted. But after opening the refrigerator door we began pulling out eggs, ham, onions, radishes, tomatoes, cheese, and whatever else we could find. He fried up the ham, and I made omelets. MMM!! Megan, their awesome Australian shepherd, even enjoyed a coupla bites. We would have earned scout badges for all that, had we cleaned up after ourselves. But Holly arrived back home just in time to deny us the honor. John shared a number of personal and private remembrances that day; both anecdotal and documented. He showed me his garden I left there deeply appreciative of his openness and willingness to spend some personal time with me and just to catch up on what our families were in to.
Chapter 2 – By What Measure?
Leaving John and Holly’s, I was pushed for time to get to my niece Delaney’s last home softball game. She is a senior this year and she would soon be capping off her high school softball career. Being the only senior on this year’s team, she was recognized after the game. It brought back recent memories of my own daughter’s volleyball years and her last games. In fact, they were similar in that they lost those games. You don’t always win, win, and win. But you always choose how you lead, play, and contribute to your team. I hope she looks back on a tough year, knowing that she’ll be remembered and appreciated much more for the latter, and not the former.
While I was at the game, I ran into old my baseball coach. His oldest son, who was too young to play with us at the time, was also there. He would help warm up the pitcher, help us take infield, etc. It was humbling to hear him tell me that some of his most enjoyable summers was the ones he spent following us around from game to game. He recalled stories and things I had completely forgotten. Listening to him was like curling up with a favorite book. Thanks DJ! If I had I only known these were some of his fondest memories, what would I have done differently?
The Magic and Mystery that is…Technology
Back to my new iPhone. It’s a serious upgrade over my previous phone. In fact, there are two versions of the iPhone that came after my old phone. This one multitasks, where the old 3G did not. So I was in mild shock when that all-too-familiar Skype ringtone goes off on my phone that following evening. It was running in the background all along. My cousin Nona was placing a video call from Tulsa. Nona’s mother (my aunt) Neoma, was under hospice care at their home and they saw me online and decided to call me from her iPad. So glad they did. Neoma struggled to talk, but she gave it her best as I took the phone around the room to my mom, dad, brother, and niece. This was probably the first video conference for most people in the room and it was actually funny to watch. Technology is as much a curse as a blessing. But I’m sold on making the most of the blessed portion. Staying connected with friends and family ranks high, and it’s more fun than ever.
It’s Only the Beginning
If I had come home the following morning, I would have declared the time and effort completely worthwhile. But waking up that morning, the Voice had returned and clearer than ever. I was thinking of my aunt’s declining condition, and that I could be of some company and encouragement to my cousin, her husband, and daughter. It wasn’t a feeling of empowerment. Just a sense of “calling.” Sort of a “Here am I, Send Me” thing. I had time, opportunity, and transportation. My cousin was very happy with my offer to come, and I hit the road to Oklahoma. It was going to be unforgettable day.
The older you get, the more you realize the gravity or enormity of a moment, as its actually happening. My aunt had been battling cancer for years, and at the same time growing older. She was now 87 and in her last days with us. My cousin is a nurse and very capable of taking great care of her mother. Her husband Dewey is a man that is also a true friend. Her daughter, Leslie, is enjoying her early years of motherhood. And well, she should. Her children are beautiful, inside and out. And her husband John, is a man of Christian character who does more than just fit in.
It was so enjoyable to be near them during this time. They had a joy at their core that this couldn’t defeat. I got there about three in the afternoon. My aunt recognized me and responded with her best voice, while holding my hand. She’s never failed to be interested in the affairs of her extended family. And now, though very weak, seemed fully aware that I had come some distance to see her and her family. We had a sit down dinner, and managed to get re-acquainted and caught up on things.
I’m never at a loss of things to talk about with this branch of the family. We share so much in common. Dewey and are both big into military history, and he puts me to shame in this area. We want to visit Omaha Beach together some day, and now maybe we are getting closer to that goal. (I think it goads him along that I’ve been there once already, and he hasn’t.)
My aunt has two children, the other being a son living in Crescent City, California. Neoma is my aunt by virtue of marrying my mother’s oldest brother, Harlo. Crescent City is where the family was raised. Melvin and his wife Kathy have two daughters (Shellee and Aimee) that still live there or close by. I’ve only ever seen Melvin two or three times, Shellee twice, and Aimee only once. But Facebook has rekindled the relationship somewhat the last few years. They all have quite the sense of humor, and you can just tell there’s shared DNA there.
Later that evening, the Skyping began. First Aimee, then Shellee, then Melvin and Kathy. Each one took time to speak (face-to-face) to their mother/grandmother, express their love, and cheer her on. And then I was able to visit with each one afterwards. It was a trying time for them unable to be present. It meant a lot to me to convey some sense of solidarity with Melvin and his family; if only to tell them that so many of the family were standing with them during this time by praying and thinking of them often.
Later that I night a spoke my last words to my aunt, only to say how much I enjoyed being there, talking to all of her beautiful family, and how wonderful I thought they all were. Her only response was in the brightening of her eyes. It was like playing cards, when you pick up a phenomenal hand and your eyes get bigger to take it all in. That’s how I can best describe it. She seemed to glow inside with a pride that a mother and grandmother cannot contain. John had long since taken their young children home for their bedtimes, and now Leslie was heading home.
I last looked in on Nona and her mother about 1.15am, then Dewey and I headed off to our beds. She passed only moments later. Out of respect, I won’t share the details of the next few hours with anyone outside our family. I only want to share with the people that read this that there were so many things to feel and experience all at once.
Watching people you love go through this process is difficult. There’s no script to follow. You can’t be sure what the next hour or moment will bring. It was the ultimate in “living in the moment.” There are a lot of tears. There aren’t magic words to speak, but there are words to speak and hugs to give. Life goes on and stops at the same time.
The poignancy of the next few hours was heavy. It was the beginning of grief. But seasoned with the comfort and joy of realizing Heaven’s gain, the love of our Savior, and the great reunion of family being gathered on the other side to welcome her. There were things to do and put into motion; but being together, close together, seemed as much instinctive than intentional. It was a painful time and dreaded time. But I observed it to be a very holy and sacred time, as well. Here was a woman who had experienced the years of the Great Depression, married a man who had fought in the Pacific in WW2, and lived to see and experience and influence so much.
I was struck by the expression that the longest of journeys begins with a first step and a first mile. Well, it ends the same way. With that last word, last breath, last blessing, or last moment before we continue our immortal existence with God. What do people feel that don’t embrace a faith that gives hope through and beyond this life? As one of my favorite authors is fond of saying, “the gospel is better than we thought.”
I often draw strength from Psalm 23. Growing up, it seemed to be sweet little verse that people memorized or read because it was the thing to do. But it means more to me with the passing of time and life experience. Each phrase seems independently directed to me at times like these. That night it would be…
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”
There was no fear of evil that night. Just a blessed assurance that the angels of God that carried Lazarus to Himself, were in attendance and at the ready. “Your rod and your staff,…” were the tools of the shepherds trade. They managed and protected the sheep with these. I remembered how each of my own children would find safety next to me. In the same way, we find it in the awesome power of God. And that our most dread fears and uncertainties can vanish within His protection.
I left Tulsa late the next day a richer man. It was a privilege to share with my parents and daughter how things had transpired. I couldn’t contain it if I had tried. On the road to Tennessee with Laura, I appreciated the chance to share all this father-to-daughter; knowing we could very well be having similar moments in our future.
Green Eggs
Let it be known these exist and not just a figment of Dr. Seuss’s imagination. My mother-in-law (read father-in-law) keeps chickens in the backyard. They enjoy the constant supply of fresh eggs. So happens one of the hens lays green colored eggs. Normal inside. Green on the outside. They sent us back home with a carton of a few dozen “organic” eggs and eight or so green ones. We enjoyed each one.

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