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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

sunshine_through_cloudsI thought I would use the title of my blog to do a little preaching at myself. Though I must admit that wallowing in sorrow at times is much easier. 

I do not need to reiterate how difficult the past three months have been for me. At times it has felt like I was at the bottom of a very deep, dry well; and the only help I got was someone threw me a shovel. That sounds rather dramatic, but there it is. 

As I am writing this, I am in my bedroom with the door closed and the lights off. That in and of itself is nothing rare. But what is rare is that in the living room of our home I am hearing gales of laughter and giggles from a bridal shower. One of my nieces is getting married next week and my daughter, as her maid of honor, is throwing her a shower.  

Laughter, fun, refreshments, hugs, gifts, etc. Everything that stand in stark contrast to how I have felt all summer is just a few yards away from me. Is that wrong? Of course not. Is it wrong that I just now answered a call from a good friend with news that he is getting married? Of course not! I am very happy for all of them.  

Yes life has sorrow and tears, but life also has so much love and happiness. Always look for the silver lining in whatever storm you may find yourself in. So taking another dose of my own medicine….life does go on.  

James 1:2-3 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 

So the trials of life will seem very burdensome at times and attempt to squelch our joy. But through it all, we can take comfort that the ultimate joy of Jesus Christ in our lives will produce an unshakeable faith. 

Something that my parents would have, and did tell me over the years. I must always continue to remember and live out the biblical truths that have been passed down to me.

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MomA Time for Everything

I was not going to write anything about today, July 7, 2015, but the longer I laid in bed this evening, my mind kept going to my blog.

My mother passed away this morning at approximately 3:00 AM. She had been battling Parkinson’s now for about three years. The last year had been incredibly difficult on mom and the rest of the family, especially dad. My dad is 82 years old, has dementia along with other physical ailments, and yet faithfully provided 24/7 care for mom at home until May of this year.

Mom suffered from the numerous symptoms of Parkinson’s, and in May we had to bring her to a Gero/Psychiatry Ward where she could receive the care that she then required. After three weeks there, we were told that mom was in the end stages of Parkinson’s and we needed to put mom on Hospice, or Comfort Care as it is now call. A little over a month later brings us to today.

The past four days have been difficult as mom lay in bed in a coma state, no longer to eat or take fluids. I have been through many emotions since Saturday, more today, and more yet to come with the funeral ahead.

All of the family has been very attentive to dad. I have been sitting with him a lot, giving me a chance to observe him. Both of us have shed tears, talked, and had a few chuckles remembering funny things. What we have also down a lot of is just sit and be quiet. Dad has always been a strong man with a big heart. I can see how much he is hurting, but I also know there is nothing I can do to take away his hurt. He and mom had been married for 55 years. Mom was the love of his life, and losing her has taken a part of him away.

These would indeed be very dark days without hope. There are three Bible passages that come to mind that I have shared with mom on several occasions over the past three years.

The first one is 1 Peter 1:3 which says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Jesus Christ is our hope and mom had her hope placed squarely on the promises of God.

The second one is 1 Corinthians 15:23 which tells us “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.” Mom will have a glorified body without sin, pain, Parkinson’s, anxiety, worry and the list goes on. Summed up in one wonderful word, perfection.

The last passage is taken from Ecclesiastes 3.

A Time for Everything

1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

I think that I have experienced most, if not all, of these in my life. I know mom did as well. A time to die may seem very final to some. In our case, with the blessed hope of Jesus Christ, I know that death is only the door that we all must walk through to go from this life to the next. I have no doubt that mom is now with her Savior, and someday I will be with her once again where death will no longer be able to separate us.

Right now, I am in the time to mourn. But I know the time to dance is coming.

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flowerWendy and I were going into one of our favorite restaurants a couple of days ago when I saw this lonely Blue Bell flower pushing its way up through a blanket of autumn leaves. There was nothing spectacular about it other than it catching my attention. One last attempt of summer holding on. It has be 17 years since we have lived back in Maine. We are seeing everyone hunkering down and getting ready for the long Maine winter. Wood being piled high for the wood stoves, the smell of smoke caressing the air as it drifts from the many chimneys, leaves being raked and shovels on the ready. Life here continues despite the cold winds blowing and snow piling high. My feelings about all of this…I’m looking forward to it. There is a simplicity to life that winter forces upon us. The Blue Bells will return, but for now, autumn is upon us with the hint of winter not far behind. A natural time to sit by the fire and finish the book that has patiently been waiting on my nightstand. My favorite coffee cup and I are looking forward to it.

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“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”
―     Edgar Allan Poe

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I woke early this morning while the darkness still surrounded my world. I lay in bed and listened to rain drumming on the roof and watering the world outside my open window. A delicious smelling breeze coming in from the wet pines. The grey colors of dawn slowly made the world visible. Holding up my hand in the morning light, Wendy reached up to put her hand in mine. Life is good.

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IMG_9012I am sure that most of us have heard that the only two sure things in life are death and taxes. The Bible speaks of only two people that escaped death…for the time being. And as for taxes, I could write a lengthy political treatise concerning taxation. Many try to skirt around them, avoid them and even lie about them. But eventually the tax will be collected in one form or another. Henry David Thoreau thought he could go without paying his taxes because he did not agree with how they were being spent. He ended up spending one night in jail because of it and probably would have been incarcerated longer if family members had not paid the tax.  But since I am not in the mood to discuss the pros and cons of civil disobedience, I’ll leave that one alone.

What I do want to propose here is a third item that cannot be avoided – history will always repeat itself. I’m not even referring to a large global scale of this reality, but on an individual and personal level.

Our youngest daughter graduates from college on Friday, and Wendy and I will officially have the empty nest syndrome. She will be overseas for the summer working on an internship, and when she returns, she will be starting graduate school. I have spent the last couple of weeks listening, watching and doing a lot of thinking. Everything that she is doing is something so exciting and new for her, but something that is not so new for a dad that is 52 years old. Thinking back over the portion of those 52 years that I can remember, it is like I continually press some enormous rewind button and keep repeating the same positives and negatives of my life. Every time I think something is done and over with…voila! There it is again.

For instance, when I added my book, Better to Be Broken, to the millions of other inspirational books clogging the shelves of bookstores, I looked at that as a parenthetical moment in my life. Book written, story told, lessons learned and time to move on. That was not even a year ago and I already find myself dealing with so many of the same issues I wrote about. Perhaps a little twist here, a slightly different nuance, or a new person involved, but the same story repeats itself nonetheless.

Everyone speaks of the “great circle of life,” but I think I would prefer the great timeline of life. Always moving ahead, facing new and uncharted territory and leaving the past behind. Of course we can learn from history. Things to do better or different, and pitfalls to avoid. The only problem with that, is that I often find I learned nothing, along with the rest of humanity, and am doomed to repeating my previous failures.

So as Ariel faces her future with arms open wide, I pray that she also has her eyes open wide. Perhaps she has watched me enough over the years to avoid some of my mistakes. She may make some new ones of her own, but perhaps, just maybe, a little portion of history will not repeat itself.

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imagesCA1N0BXRI think one of the most disappointing things about growing up is when we outgrow our memories. Things that seemed so real and solid when we were younger, slowly melt away like morning mist when the sun rises.

My mother’s parents lived in a New England style Cape that was neither large or breathtakingly beautiful. In my mind I can still see every detail of that home. The granite slab for the front door step, each room right down to the furniture placement, worn spots in the kitchen linoleum, the smell of baking cookies and even the cracks in the old plaster walls and ceilings. I thought the home was beautiful surrounded by lilacs, bright orange day lilies and a huge chestnut tree in the front yard. And on the inside I would stare in awe at the antiques that were so different from my own home with the “lovely” 60’s decor of plaids, oranges, browns and shag carpeting. EEEKS!

But the childhood memory which filled me with a mixture of excitement and fear was the attic. Typical of most old New England homes, there were two rooms upstairs with an open area at the top of the stairs. Since my grandmother did not use the upstairs at all, there was no furniture and the rooms had fallen into disrepair due to neglect. The wallpaper was faded and peeling, bare wood floors and large jagged cracks across the ceilings. There were three small doors that I could creek open which allowed entrance along the length of the house behind the bedroom walls. The only light daring to invade the darkness filtered in through the cracks in the walls.

Upstairs in the attic, I could let my imagination run wild. I fought Indian wars, hid from pirates, hoarded my childhood treasures, and of course there were monsters to slay and the dreaded bogey man to hide from. Depending on the day, the weather, and my mood of the moment determined which adventure I would experience. All I had to do was open the attic door, walk up the narrow creaky stairs and I was no longer seven year old Ricky Huntress. I became hero’s of old and never suffered defeat to my foes.

untitledBut time marches on. My grandmother went into a nursing home and the attic sat empty of even my company. I think I was around 16 when I went with my parents to the house for the last time before it would be torn down. While they were cleaning out some last minute items from downstairs, I went into the attic. My heart raced as I walked up the stairs. And there I stood looking around. The rooms were smaller, the windows let in more light than I remembered, and the attic crawl spaces no longer seemed dark and unwelcoming. Everything seemed “practical” and the magic had left. In truth, the magic had not left the house, it had left me. The seven year old boy had grown up and was more interested in other pursuits than drafty old attics.

But deep inside there was an ache of loss. I walked back downstairs, leaving part of my childhood in grandma’s attic.

“Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,

Whose only play was what he found himself,

Summer or winter, and could play alone.”

Robert Frost – Birches

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