Today is April 1 and I am reminded of the many years my dad would pull his classic, ‘Oh look, there’s a deer in the yard’ joke and always get a kick when we kids fell for it. The key was to be the first one to pull the prank, when the day was fresh and no one was thinking about it being April Fool’s Day. I remember the last time I saw my dad alive, August 2001. He was sick, and though there hadn’t been a diagnosis of what he had, I knew it was terminal and that this visit would be my last. I treasured the time I had with him and made mental notes of the interaction he had with his two youngest grandchildren, who were 4 and 5 at the time. He was tired, but he made the effort from his easy chair to play lego’s have them sit on his lap and chat, and draw. (He was great at drawing horses). You know how you can have a relationship with someone where things are known but don’t have to be spoken? We had that. I remember asking him if he was afraid of dying, and without hesitation he said, ‘No’. I would see him read his Bible in the mornings. He would tell us he loved us and gave sweet hugs…I had peace when I left in the knowing he was ok and soon his earthly suffering would be over and heaven would be his forever home. He died that November of leukemia.
I recently returned from visiting my mom in Minnesota, where I grew up and lived until moving to Castle Rock in 1993. Mom continued to live in the home the two of them built (when they retired and moved from the Minneapolis area in 1986) and back to the small town where they grew up. She stayed on the 40 acres until the fall of 2017 when it was determined it was time for her to sell and downsize. Through a series of events, she is now living in a wonderful facility – one that has independent and assisted living capacity, a memory care unit, nursing home and a rehab wing, and a wellness area (complete with a full size swimming pool) for residents to use, as well as the outside population – All under one roof. Within a year and a half, during all of the transition in her own life, she has lost 2 sister in-laws, a brother-in-law, a cousin, and 2 very close friends. She is now 86 and most everyone she was close to is gone. But, living amongst the elderly, she has made new connections and friends and has adjusted over time, realizing she is in the best place and has her needs met. Parkinson’s Disease limits her some as she needs a walker to safely get around, and it has also caused some decline in her memory – but, for the most part, she is still the spunky, independent, and caring person she has always been. My time with her is always special and every time I leave, I’m reminded that it could be my last. But this is true with anyone and everything in life. Over the years mom and I have had some great conversations – she has been a constant role model of someone who believes and puts their faith in God. In my heart I have no doubt that when it is her time, she will join my dad. I had a peace when we said our goodbyes just two weeks ago, and I continue to have that peace every time I talk to her on the phone.
My life has many good memories and as I write, I may have shared more than necessary. But, it takes me back, and I remember, and it is good. All is in God’s Hands. With these threatening times, I find myself trying to focus on just the today and remain constant and calm amid all that may be happening around us. I pray that you will purpose this special time given – to slow down, focus, and use it for spiritual self- reflection so that we might all emerge wiser. Even when there is distance between us, we can still benefit by what God is teaching us in these ‘alone’ moments. Remember Philippians 4:7: ‘And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ That peace is available to us through every and all circumstances, and today is no exception!