Living eulogies…

Eulogy: noun. A commendatory oration or writing, especially in honor of one deceased.

Serendipity. That’s the name of a movie my honey and I have watched a couple times. At one point in the movie, one friend (who writes obituaries for a living) wrote an obituary for his friend who was struggling with a decision. At the time, I thought that was an interesting idea.

After my mother passed away suddenly, and I helped my dad plan the memorial, I realized how sad it is that people often only say the way they feel about a person, at their funeral. The person who dies never gets to hear the beautiful affirmations of their life. It was then that I decided that I wanted to write eulogies for those I love while they are still living.

I have done so for my husband, my father, brother and sister. I need to take time and write them for my son and daughter also, then their spouses. But now I realize I need to add our closest friends to that list.

I would encourage you to think about doing the same. Let those you love, hear the loving words you would say at their funeral. The relationships we build today are what build the people of tomorrow.

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Rough week…

It seems that things always seem to go wrong just before we celebrate God’s set apart special occasions. The fall feasts are upon us: The Day of Trumpets, a day to watch and wait for the return of Yahushua/Jesus. The Day of Atonement, a day to examine our hearts for sin, and thank Yahushua/Jesus for the work of forgiveness done by his death. And finally, The Feast of Tabernacles, a week to celebrate with other believers and look forward to spending eternity with him. These are joyous times, or supposed to be. Seems that this year, the enemy of my soul would like to steal my joy.

In the past two weeks so much has happened. Multiple people I know with Covid, one hospitalized. The Afghanistan withdraw and the suffering plastered all over the news. Very emotionally draining. My 18 year old van apparently had an alignment issue which damaged one of four tires. I had to drive to a neighboring city to find the same tires, so I could buy only two, instead of a whole new set. And, my battery went defective at the same time. Having to rearrange things based on the van not being available. Finding out that a ductless hear pump head had been leaking in our wall since installation a year ago. The drywall was cut into, wet insulation removed, wet floor planks removed in our main living space and six huge fans and one heavy duty heater running non stop for a week. It was deafening and hard to focus. Then, to really amp up the emotions and stress, one of my husbands best friends from college suddenly passed away while battling cancer two weeks before their daughter’s wedding.

We agonized for a day about whether to rearrange everything in life to try to rush out to where the funeral would be (a two day drive). We finally decided to ask if it would be ok to plan a trip out to see the wife and kids in a month, when she has to start adjusting to a new normal without her husband. So, we are getting that planned.

And so, the process of cleaning up begins. The drywall patch has a first coat of mud on it. The subfloor remains uncovered u til the flooring guy can fit the repair into his busy schedule. Spare flooring has been ordered. A new battery was installed and an appointment for an alignment made for next week. I also began work on transferring our friend’s Caring Bridge journal into book format for his family. He journaled extensively. His writing was humorous, eloquent and inspiring. I am not sure if his family actually got to read the journal while they were living through the trial.

Tomorrow I rev up the freeze dryer again, and plant a patch of flower garden on one side of a new pergola. Hopefully I can get the other side prepped and planted in time to give the new plants a chance to really take root before winter hits. We hope that maybe someday, our grandchildren might choose to get married on our property. And we would like to have it available to bless anyone in our fellowship of believers to use for special occasions.

Monday, we will watch the live stream of the funeral with another college Buddy and his wife, and our son and his family over brunch. We will toast our lost friend/brother and reminisce.

Goodbye sweet PK…

Sunday was a rough day. Our last pet, PK was a tortoise shell rescue. My father adopted her from the pound soon after my mother died 11 years ago. We estimate that she (PK) would be between 13-14 years old this year.

Over the last couple years, PK had started having random seizures. Maybe one every four months. Around the beginning of the year, they began increasing in frequency, maybe one every other month. By May, she was having multiple seizures every couple weeks. One vet gave us some medication for hyperthyroidism and one to stop the seizures if they went longer than two minutes. The medication worked great the first time, about a month ago. But this Sunday, it didn’t work so well. I have almost gotten to the point where I could sense she was having one without seeing her, and I would go looking for her.

I won’t go into details, but there emergency vet said they were seizures probably related to having strokes. She didn’t recover from the last set… this is the part of life that I hate. Death. Permanently losing those you love.

PK stood for Phantom Cat. When my father first brought her home, he didn’t see her for the first six months. He knew she was there, hiding someplace because the litter box was being used and the food was being eaten. And so, Phantom Cat. The spelling was specifically chosen because my father loves Phantom of the Opera. Once we found her hiding in the drawer under the oven. She had been jumping into the kitchen counter, then behind the oven to crawl into it. When we brought a stray kitten into the house, she came out and joined the family.

PK was skittish, and took a long time to warm up to us all. It was only in the last few years that she would come out into the family space when we had company, and would allow the older grands to pet her. PK always seemed frail and sickly. She was overweight until four years ago (the hyperthyroidism caused the weight loss), she coughed regularly (we figured she had asthma). She was a territorial female. When my father moved in with us, she would chase our black cat Spanky up the stairs whenever she ventured down. Spanky’s death last October was hard on PK. Although they didn’t play together, they had developed a sort of loving tolerance for each other. The other cat had died a few years earlier. PK began yowling at the top of her lungs when she didn’t know where people were, or if she wanted you to open your bedroom door at 4:00am. Usually in the only space in the house that would echo. The last year has been hard for us too with regularly disturbed sleep. And she became very talkative, especially first thing in the morning. Auugh! Wait until my eyes are open!!

As obnoxious as she had become, she had her sweet moments too. She purred quickly and that motor ran forever. She would perch on the back of the couch behind you after a few pets. We are enjoying the solid sleep again, but miss the girl. The tears still flow at random moments: when I go to check her food dish, when I am sitting on the couch. I am sure they will continue to flow for a while. Rest In Peace dear PK. You are missed.

Why tears?

This morning’s local paper was filled with emotion for me. A long awaited obituary finally showed up and an article featuring my good friend and her store were in it.

About a month ago, we heard that the son of an old friend of ours died of a serious lung infection. We had been waiting for the obituary to show up with details of any celebration of life. It was nice to read what was written about the young man who died before turning thirty. Our kids went to school together. Our son was the same age as their older son and our daughter was the same age as their second daughter and they were friends. The son who died was a couple years younger.

After writing down the date, time and location of the celebration, I continued reading, only to find my dear friend, her daughter and their two stores featured in an article! What a pleasant surprise. Oddly though, as I read through it, so many tears fell. I still am not sure why. I am so proud of my friend and her daughter (my goddaughter) for what they have built together. I wished that I could have the same compassion she shows towards her customers. Sometimes I think I am too business like and a bit harsh. My ex- told me I was and that label has been a hard one to shake, in spite of being told by others how they see me. I wondered what I had to show for my life. What legacy am I leaving behind? I don’t have a store where I make people feel special, or shows that I have done something with my days.

After allowing myself to cry a bit. I reminded myself that sometimes as women, we just need a good cry. Nothing is wrong, it is just like taking a shower, only tears clean out our emotions instead of skin. I have plenty to show for my life. Children who are serving God and are responsible, loving human beings and parents. Grandchildren who are respectful and kind. Although it was God who gave the wisdom to raise children, I had to act upon it, I had to pray for them, and still do. I also have many friends whom we consider family and they consider us family. That is enough for me. My children and grandchildren are the fruit of my time, my prayers, my life. And, I pray that the way I live my life brings joy, and a smile to my Creator. Ultimately, that will be the crowing achievement for me.

Today, look beyond what the world labels as success. And may you be content with what you see. And if you aren’t, each moment that follows this moment, is a new chance to start something that will bring contentment, or change, or whatever you are seeking for.

Cats…

If you have ever been owned by a cat, this will resonate with the deepest part of your soul. How is it that a cat will expand to fill any sized empty space on a bed at night? And why do they prefer to lay between your legs, trapping you in one position instead of next to you?

For those of us of a certain age, the between the legs thing is torture! I already struggle with hot flashes, or power surges, as my friends who don’t want to admit they are getting older say. You put that furry little ball of heat between, or on the legs and it is a recipe for setting the bed on fire! I kid you not! I used to appreciate the extra heat during the cold winter months, but no more. Maybe once I have the hot flashes under control?

Then there are the water drinking habits. Our girl, Spanky, Otis Spankmeyer the III, LOVES to be hoisted into the bathroom counter to drink water from a dripping facet. Our facets don’t drip, but we oblige and turn it on for her. Of course we wait for her to be done. We wait, and wait, and wait, wondering if she is part camel. She used to jump down on her own, but the older she gets, the more often she will wait for us to gently lift her down. I think it is easier on the bones and brain than the jarring jump.

Our black cat, Spankie, aka.: Pookie and Butthead, was a stray. She joined the family when we had two teens, our two dogs and one cat, my parents and their cat all under one roof. She is a hisser, and would often hiss and batt at the dogs. Our other cat at the time rules the roost, and Spanky avoided her. Mom’s cat stayed in their room near mom. It wasn’t until a few years later when we moved my dad and his cat PK into the same house with us and Spanky that we learned she is also a screamer. I still remember the first time she and PK went at it, and she let out a blood curdling scream that belonged in a horror movie! My heart was beating so fast when I heard that! Over the past 5 years, I have gotten used to the sound. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I don’t jump anymore. We do keep the cats separated at night though, just so that scream doesn’t jump start our hearts at 3:00am.

My dad’s cat PK, short for Phantom Cat, has always had health issues. When he got the beautiful Tortoise Shell cat as a rescue after my mom died, he didn’t see her for six months. He knew she was in the house, because there was poop in the litter box, and the food would disappear. It wasn’t until he took in a stray kitten I had found that she magically appeared. Since then, he hasn’t been able to shut the little chatter box up. For the first several years, she hated being picked up, and was skittish. We think she may have been in a less than tolerant house at some time. She is also afraid of the outdoors. After ten years of lovingly and quietly working with her, she will tolerate being picked up, and sometimes enjoys it. One reason she didn’t like being picked up, was that it would often trigger a coughing fit. A vet said she needed drugs, or eventually all the cats in the house would have it (we had three at the time). But we are pretty sure it is asthma. We affectionately say she has a smokers voice and cough. Who knows what her past held. And so, I will be trying some homeopathy on her here real soon. It also appears that she may be having seizures. This manifested in front of me the other day for the first time. It would actually explain some other behavior we had been wondering about.

You may be thinking that we are just cat lovers, but that isn’t at all true. We have had dogs too. Raised them, fallen in love with them, lost them. After my Australian Sheep dog Sunny died 8 years ago, we decided that our lives were too busy to have dogs. There is an element of stress making sure they are let out regularly, finding someone to housesit them when you go on vacation, walk them. We just haven’t been ready to tread that path again.

Probably the hardest part of being a pet owner is the end of life. You spend ten to twenty years with these animals. You learn their personalities, they become a friend you find yourself talking to when you need a listening ear, and then you watch their health decline. It’s hard knowing that inevitably, death will happen. It does to us all, eventually. I am trying to learn to reframe death as being as much a part of life as living is. We gave her a good life, filled with love and care. As hard as our furry friends deaths will be, maybe that will just give us an open space to rescue another one, and continue the cycle of loving.

We’ll see. In the meantime, I will tell her to stop snoring on the other couch.