Saturday, January 28, 2012

Join me for a chat . . .

Sometimes my brain feels as if it might explode. Thoughts, activities, projects invade my mind and I have trouble making sense of everything. There continue to be necessary business items to consider (i.e. like finally getting the car tag, etc.) and those are the things that were on "Tom's side of the ledger." Last year the IRS wouldn't allow my tax return to be filed electronically because they said Tom's number had already been used. Friend and CPA Jerri tried everything she knew to get to the bottom of that mystery; we hit a brick wall. Now, here it is time to accumulate all the stuff for 2011 taxes and I'm still waiting on resolution from 2010. Finally, not knowing what else to do and having put up with too many computerized messages, I called the tax payers' advocacy group. They promised help; we'll see. I've gotten exasperated with the lack of activity surrounding the offering of my house for sale, tried to e-mail the realtor and the e-mail was returned. What's up with that? I know I should perservere, but instead I curl up with a good book or play a word game on my Kindle--avoidance, big time.

Also, clammoring for brain time are thoughts about life and death. Too many friends seem to have gone too soon. Some have gone unexpectedly, like Jan Stone; some suffer what humanly seems more than what a person should bear, like a dear professor friend and his wife; some really loving, productive folks have their days of motherhood and productivity cut short. It is difficult not to ask: "Why?" Today I drove to Jackson to attend the service of a ninety-something friend who was the last of my in-laws' group. The service was simple and to the point. The minister spoke of Lucy's life and how she was a woman with a great sense of peace because she had found peace in Jesus. Her request of him was that he share that peace with those at her service. Hers was a life well lived, a life that was example for all who knew her.

During my college days a number of us affiliated with Central Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS. It is the place where Tom and I met and married, as had his parents before us. Lucy and her husband, the Suttles and several other couples adopted the college students and provided not only a church home, but opened their own homes to us on a regular basis. One of the men in that group mentored Tom in his law practice and invited Tom to be a part of his firm. How those couples impacted the lives of the students! Many of those students were there today as we paid tribute to Lucy--and remembered the "good ole' days."

Following the service, I drove to the cemetary where Tom and my mother are buried. There had been some unfinished business with the marker for his grave and I felt indignance rising. It's not like I could take my business elsewhere. A kind lady in the office gave me a map and directions and I spent between 20 and 30 minutes in a cool, brisk wind trying to locate Tom's grave. Mission accomplished. The marker was there with both our names, side by side--in life and in death. For some strange reason, I feel more a sense of closure. As I left, I was not sad. He is not there; he is rejoicing with the angels and, as always, he is in my heart.

While I was gone, the little girls had a picnic outside and Tommy helped fourth grader, Drew, with his science project--making a dill pickle glow. It seems I missed a lot by being gone a few hours. At Marty's house, this has been a week of birthday celebrations: Colin was 2 on Tuesday and Christopher turned 4 on Thursday. Colin's party was last weekend and Christopher's was to have been today, but the stomach bug arrived as an uninvited guest and his party has been rescheduled for tomorrow. I really miss a lot by being far away from them.

Tomorrow is worship, a day I love. It's great to be able to praise God with friends and to think of friends in other places who are doing the same.

Pastor Margaret

Friday, January 20, 2012

Phew . . .

Elisa's new word. Yesterday as we were leaving for storytime at the library and other errands, she used it twice, in just the right places. It made me think.

Phew . . . I'm so glad I have Elisa in my life! She fills me with joy and I am constantly amazed by the depth of her feeling. Marty called during the day and I knew immediately that something was up with her. Call it mothers and daughters being on some weird wave length or something; whatever; I knew. Marty's oldest and closest friend , Susan, whom many of you have prayed for, is at the end of her life. Marty needed to talk to her mom. When I hung up the phone, Elisa wanted to know why I talked so long to Aunt Marty.
Maw Maw: Aunt Marty is sad and needed to talk to her mom.
Elisa: Why is Aunt Marty sad?
Maw Maw: Aunt Marty's friend is really sick and cannot get well.
Elisa: What is her name?
Maw Maw: Susan.
Elisa: I can be Aunt Marty's friend.
I wanted to squeeze her to pieces. What a tender heart! And to think, I get to spend time with her.

Phew . . . I FINALLY have a Mississippi tag for my car and a title forthcoming. I have been trying for months to get everything official. Today I made my third trip to the courthouse to get the title put in my name and to get a proper tag. Afterwards, I headed to the Highway Patrol to get a Drivers' Liscense, had to make and unexpected trip to the Social Security Office, and FINALLY got my liscense changed and registered to vote, to boot. Why did it have to be so hard? It was almost as if the state didn't want my money---and we all know that isn't true.

Phew . . . the Older Adult Task Force is off and running. That's a good thing. How neat to have interested, optimistic folks involved! I am excited; no, I'm pumped to be working with such a great group of people.

Phew . . . God is faithful! Last week I spilled my innermost thoughts and it made me feel better. It made me face up to the facts; God has brought me face to face with things I know in my head, but have not been able to accept in my heart. I am grateful! What would any of us do without God's word, God's promises and God's provisions?

Phew . . . I am one blessed person--and I'm counting the blessings, one by one!

Pastor Margaret

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Truth . . .

It has been difficult to write. For all the "stiff upper lip," the smile on my face and the Steel Magnolia appearance, I have been miserable. Through this past year, so many have affirmed me and offered words of encouragement, saying "how well I am doing." The truth is: I haven't done that well. I have been, as one psychologist wrote in her book, A Deepening Love Affair, "papering my walls with activities." That has been easy and comes naturally. First, there were arrangements to be made for Tom's service, the trip to Mississippi for the burial and memorial, Tommy's call to a new church, all the notifications and the stuff to be done when someone dies, getting a house ready to sell, buying another, moving, unpacking, family activity, "granny day care," a new doctor and regular trips to Jackson to see him . . . the list seems endless. Some days I am alone with a family of seven just across the pool. As I have sorted through boxes, I find pictures of times past and they tug at my heart. Some bring smiles; others bring tears. Several weeks ago I asked God to take away the pain of Tom's loss; He has, but the profound sadness, the emptiness remain. It has been suggested that I have not allowed myself to grieve, something I don't deny; I'm not sure I know how. And, during the last several weeks, I have learned of the deaths of both old friends and newer ones--precious folks from our home church and in the first older adult group I staffed; a special college friend and then just this past week Jan Stone. I was both stunned and saddened by her passing. What a great lady! What a great friend!

Life is indeed fragile! Last night I learned that our church secretary who was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer last spring, has been pronounced cancer free. Praise God! On the outside, looking in, most would have thought that Tom would outlive me by years. Until Christmas of 2010, he had not been in the hospital since 1944. Yes, he had allergies that plagued him at times, he had a back that would "go out," but until the Parkinson's diagnosis in 2003, he had been one healthy person. He was a man of integrity, a man who put God above all, someone who tried to be obedient. I keep thinking, "why was my Tommy taken from me?" In the past few days I have become aware of the error of my thinking. He wasn't "mine" at all. He always belonged to God and he was God's gift to me. Even now, I cannot full comprehend what that truly means. There was Tom, with an incurable, debilitating disease, our secretary with deadly lung cancer, Jan, so much like the Energizer Bunny, who was here one day, gone the next, and here I am, having been diagnosed with ovarian cancer over nine years ago. Try as I might, I cannot make sense of it.

Job couldn't make sense of his circumstances, but he never denied or cursed God. He remained faithful in spite of his afflictions and his so-called friends who preached to him. What I need to do is to quit with the questions and get on with answers God has already provided. He is the one who lights my path, who can heal my broken heart and who knows what my future holds. I know this in my heart; I pray to trust Him more.

Pastor Margaret