Living with Remembrance

There’s a difference in looking back at the past and remembering, and living with remembrance.

Looking back tends to keep us past focused and backward facing. Neither is conducive to forward motion.

Living with remembrance is present focused and forward facing.  It openly accepts what is and acknowledges what was and it incorporates both into a workable solution that launches one forward into what will be.

Living with remembrance honors the memory, provides an outlet for an expression of grief, and keeps one in the present and looking toward the future.

This weekend is a difficult one for my family.  Yesterday, Hubby’s mom celebrated her first wedding anniversary without her husband – a marriage that lasted almost 60 years.  She lost him 4 1/2 months ago.  Tomorrow, Hubby will endure his first Father’s Day without his dad, and I will remember three Father’s Days ago when I watched my dad take his last breath.

Sorrow has a way of sucking us back to where and when it all happened and if we’re not careful the past can wrap its memories and emotions around us and snare us.

As we immerse ourselves in this weekend, may we do so present tense with our faces set toward the future, living with remembrance, loving those left and those who left us, and rejoicing in what and who we have with us still.  May we remember the blessings we had in those who blessed us with intent, with their presence, love, discipline, strength, character…for so much of our lives.

We are who we are because of them. And, we live with remembrance to honor them.  It’s what they would want us to do.  After all, it’s what they modeled for us.

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Certificate of Death

Here in the US, two forms are needed to for her citizens to navigate life’s roads (legally).

A certificate attesting to the fact that your birth was live and actually occurred is necessary. Gotta have it for just about everything, it seems.

A certificate proving that you’ve died is necessary, too. Your affairs can’t be closed out and your cases closed until your loved ones/business partners have that little paper in hand.

Before our granddaughter left the hospital last year, information was gathered from her mother and doctor that would be placed on her birth certificate.  This piece of paper will be shown to countless people and agencies over her lifetime and is necessary for her to receive her US tracking number (aka Social Security Number, or SSN)

After my dad’s death in 2012, Mom had to wait several days to attend to his affairs and place everything fully in her name.  Her word alone was not enough.  A legal document was required – a Certificate of Death. Hubby’s mom recently received his dad’s death certificate and can now begin the chore of closing out his affairs and beginning anew with her own.

One would think that a legal document attesting to the fact that a baby has been born would be accurate – usually they are.  However, with Hubby’s dad his birth certificate revealed his REAL name.  Apparently his mother named him one thing (on the birth certificate) and his grandmother later overruled his mother and changed it.  David was originally James (if memory serves me well).

And, one would think that a legal document that attests to the fact that a person has died would be accurate – but they often are not. It’s been reported that 1/2 of doctors interviewed said they had placed or instructed others to place inaccurate information on death certificates and that 1/3 of death certificates contain errors.

My dad’s cause of death was listed as renal failure caused by a heart attack.  Hubby’s dad’s cause of death was listed as Alzheimer’s.  While Alzheimer’s was a factor that contributed to his inability to swallow, it was not the cause of death.  Hubby and I were present and know what caused his death. And, now we wonder if there is some sort of coverup afoot to protect the hospital.

With government issued forms it often takes an act of congress, a miracle from God, and a lengthy process to get errors changed.  And, with a death certificate amending the cause of death is rarely accomplished.

Click on the link for more on Death Certificate Facts.

Twenty-One Days

Twenty-One Days

January 29, 2014 through February 18, 2014

Tim Hutchinson

Yesterday, I realized that it had been twenty-one days since my father’s doctor called me a second time and informed me that someone at the hospital had ignored direct orders not to feed my father by mouth. Doing so would cause my father to develop pneumonia and his kidneys to fail and finally lead to his death and going home to be with Jesus.

Earlier that day the doctor had called. He was enthused with how well my father was doing and was going to send him back to the Nursing Home where he hoped my father would remember how to swallow once he was back in his ‘home environment’ there. The doctor hoped once there they would quite possibly be able to remove the feeding tube soon in the future.

I proceeded to get ready to go to work encouraged that things were looking good for my father.

Then, everything changed with that second telephone call. Dad’s doctor, who was almost in tears, explained to the best of his ability what had happened, which by the way, was none of his doing. My father would have pneumonia by the next day, and by the time my wife, Suzan and I got there, four days later, he was in Stage Five Kidney failure with little hope of recovery.

A lot has changed since that day, twenty-one days ago…3 weeks ago today. Change certainly occurred in my mother’s life, not to mention what changed in the lives of my brother and sister, and my life, too.

Have you noticed how that time just seems to fly by?  It’s like we blink and it’s another day before we know it. We blinked and twenty-one days passed by. A lot happened.

Six days into these twenty-one days, my mother, knowing that there was virtually no hope of Dad’s kidneys working again and not wanting my father to suffer any longer and realizing that if he could speak he would want not to go back the misery he had at the Nursing Home, decided with my sister and myself, to let Dad die and go on home to Heaven to be with Jesus.

Quite possibly, up to this point in my life, having to tell Dad’s nurse, Heather Tanner, what my mother and our family had decided, was the hardest moment of my life. I will always be grateful for her comforting hug as I broke down and cried and for the compassion she showed our family and the wonderful care she gave to my father in the hospital.

Eleven days into the twenty-one days, my father died and went home to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Not long after Dad’s home going, I wrote on Facebook:

“My father, Rev. David E. Hutchinson, at 8:23 a.m. Eastern time, went home to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His home going was peaceful. He took a breath, exhaled, and inhaled this world’s air one last time and woke up at home in heaven.”

I can honestly say that I felt no sadness at that moment. There was calmness in the room when Dad crossed over into Heaven. At that moment, I just felt happy for Dad and sad for Mom and my sister and brother. Yet, for me, I found it almost amazing as I watched Dad go to Heaven.

Then, just seven short days ago, fourteen days into the twenty-one days, we tried as best we could to give Dad the ‘happy’ funeral he wanted. I think we succeeded. We cried and laughed and celebrated to the best of our ability, his life.

The Psalmist said that “we live our lives as a tale that is told.”  We simply told the ‘tale’ of Dad’s life spent loving and serving Jesus Christ to the best of his ability.

Still, how do you celebrate the death of one you loved so much?  With grateful hearts, trusting God to give you the strength you need at the very moment you need it.

In our case, we knew that the body was just the shell. Dad wasn’t in it anymore. He was home in Heaven and because that was the case, we knew that one day we could go home to be with him.

So, we were strengthened and comforted.

Yes, it hurts like crazy. However, in our grief and in our tears, that show up so unexpectedly, we are clinging to God, trusting Him to give us what we need to make it through these difficult days.

Now, even though I couldn’t exactly say I was having fun during these last twenty-one days or that they were filled with happiness, I can say that during these twenty-one days God has provided me with everything I needed to make it though those stressful twenty-days of sorrow and heartache.

Maybe, that is what changed in me during these twenty-one days:  I learned to trust and lean on God to give me what I needed to make it through today and tomorrow. I found God to be good and totally trustworthy. I found I could depend on Him to provide me with what I needed each day.

Twenty-one amazing days filled with God’s goodness and love and provision.

(Guest post by Hubby.)

Death, the Process

Birth is amazing.  New life, full of promise and hope….

The process of bringing forth new life is mind blowing…amazing is the only word I can think of to describe it.

The process of death is equally amazing as new life is birthed from the old.

The body is made to be born – and to die.

Both are natural processes.

One (birth) we accept and welcome.  The other (death) we avoid at all costs.

Why?

Perhaps it’s because we’re afraid of what lies beyond.  Or, perhaps we’re afraid of the process itself.

Both processes (birth and death) involve pain in most cases.

But, why do we welcome one and not the other?

Those of us who believe in something better beyond the grave should welcome death and the thereafter. We should rejoice in the exit from the old and the birth into the new.

At least that’s how I see things. What about you?

On Death and Dying

Now, as you read this post keep in mind that these are my thoughts and that if you disagree with what I think…that’s okay.

After being with Hubby’s dad throughout the end-stage disease process, I’ve come to the decision that there comes a time when it’s time to say “enough.”

Death is going to come to us all.

We take every precaution to avoid and delay it, but ultimately our bodies will die.  That’s how life is.

The question came – prolong his life and send him back to the nursing home and back into the confusion and lost-ness of Alzheimer’s? Or, let him go and allow him to pass from this painful fear filled life and enter the wonderful life promised him?

The family did what he would want – to be released.

Hard decision because everyone wanted him to stay…but when love speaks it’s always in the best interest of the object loved.

And, staying here was not in his best interest.

The family loved him enough to let him go.

What a great show of love and respect…what a tribute to the life of Hubby’s dad and to his great faith!

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

Blooming

On the nurse’s desk was a vase.

In the vase were 5 cut stems.

At the top of the stems were closed yellow buds.

Lilies.

The nurse’s desk was in the center of the unit Hubby’s dad was in.

Throughout the day, as I passed the desk, I noticed the buds.

Change happened slowly.

What was first tightly closed, slowly began to relax…and to open.

By day’s end two of the buds had fully opened, their fragrance perfumed the hallway.

As we talked with Hubby’s dad’s nurse at the close of day, she mentioned that they had lost two patients that day.

Goosebumps prickled my arms as I remembered the 2 yellow lilies, now fully blossomed…beautiful, fragrant…changed from what was at day’s beginning into what is at day’s end.

And, what is is beautiful!

Looking Ahead

I usually have posts scheduled several days ahead.  As I type this, it’s Saturday mid morning, Feb 1.  I have posts written and scheduled to post through Feb 4 and from Feb 7 through 10.

Days 5 and 6 are nonexistent – so far.  This will be Feb 5, I suppose.  And, I’ll schedule it to post knowing that I most likely won’t be where I can change it’s post date or edit it in any way.

Most likely, I’ll be in SC on this date, and without adequate internet.  Hubby’s dad’s health is failing and we anticipate the necessity of travel soon.

As I type this, my mind is going over my travel list and my “to do” list for before we travel…here at home, at my mom’s, with work, etc.

My own dad’s death comes back to me time and again as we learn more about the situation with his dad and attempt to decide what we need to do and when – and for how long.

The nurse said today that she believes his dad is in “end stage” – the time is near.  We’ve asked God for wisdom and guidance in timing and details.

If this posts you will know Hubby’s dad continued his march toward the promised land without a look back and we grieve our loss and rejoice in his gain.

And, Suzansays will be silent tomorrow.

Black Friday Countdown

Have you noticed the Black Friday countdown?

There seems to be a countdown on every site I visit.

Can someone please explain to me why I need to know how many days it is until Black Friday sales begin?

For those of you who are blissfully ignorant of Black Friday…allow me to enlighten you.

  • Black Friday 2013 falls on November 29
  • Black Friday always falls on the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving
  • There are websites devoted to up-to-date Black Friday news, deals, ads….
  • People have died during Black Friday sales
  • Black Friday spoofs mock the idiocy of it and calls awareness to brutalities suffered
  • Black Friday officially kicks off the holiday shopping season.
  • There’s a link devoted to 10 freaky facts about Black Friday/shoppers (2012)
  • Black Friday has been around a lot longer than I thought and yes…originated for the benefit of stores, not customers/shoppers (something to remember)

In past years, Black Friday was an opportunity for the women in my family to bond…up early for a quick breakfast out, then armed with newspaper ads we would wade into crowded stores to grab whatever bargains were left us at 7:30 a.m.

It was a fun time and one we gladly ended by 11:30 when we joined our male family members for lunch and a regaling of Black Friday tales. We with ours and they with their own.

Oh, yes…they went out, too. Later than we did, of course, and to different stores also – but they broke off a piece of Black Friday for themselves and shared it with us.

This year, Mom is too frail for Black Friday jostling and my patience is…well…not Black Friday proof anymore. As Black Friday dawns and people scramble into already well packed and picked over stores, I will be pulling the cover up under my chin and settling in for a few more hours of snooze time.

And, I will smile because I got one up on big business and said “no thanks” to all the hype.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow

How is it possible that after a person is gone, it seems you come to know them better?

Perhaps it’s because the old barriers are gone and there is freedom to explore, not only the individual, but ourselves and our feelings.

Perhaps it’s because we are able to see the person as a whole, from the views and positions of others, and not just with our own eyes and through our own relationship.

I don’t know.  Wish I did.  Perhaps someone who reads this will be able to shed some light on this for me.

Dad died Father’s Day 2012.

When he died, I thought I knew him well.  And, I felt I had learned all of him, and about him, possible…that there could be no more to learn.

After all, as his daughter, I had known him for 55 years and had lived in his house for 20 of those years.

But, in the year+ that he’s been gone, I’ve come to see beyond the man I knew as Daddy and saw through eyes of adoration. In his absence, I’ve experienced him in new and different ways as friends and family have spoken of him and of their own loss.

I see my dad differently now. And, perhaps, I see myself differently as well.

My dad didn’t change.  It was only my perception of him that changed as my knowledge of him grew to a more well rounded understanding of who he was as a man, a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a father-in-law, a grandfather, a friend….

And, as I beheld the man…the whole man, I began to look at the woman…the whole woman.

Me.

Part of my understanding of who I was (am) was founded in who my dad was, or, who I saw and understood him to be, and my relationship to and with him.

My identity was, in part, wrapped up in his.  Or, in the identity I had given him because of my experiences with him, our relationship, and the words of others.

“You’re just like your daddy!”  “I see your daddy in you!” “You’re your daddy made over!”

Dad’s been gone a little over 14 months.

When I look in the mirror, I still see him…the eyes, the perpetual frown (genetic not anger generated), curls, freckles….

But, more often than not, I see me and traits I obtained from him.  And, I am beginning to accept, and like, the me that I see.

It’s good to look beyond and observe the whole of a matter…of a person…of a situation.  Taking in what’s ignored or unseen gives a more complete picture and greater understanding of and appreciation for what is.  And, you never know…you just might find yourself – your true self – hidden within your assumptions and blind ideas.

Take a look around you – a fresh look with open eyes and willing heart.  You might be surprised by what you learn about those nearest and dearest to you.

And, you just might be surprised to find that you grow up and grow into the person you’ve been all along and just didn’t realize it because you were trying to be someone else.

Happy 88th Birthday, Daddy!  I’ve always loved you, but I find my love and appreciation for you has grown in your absence. The more I learn of you, the more I love you and appreciate the traits of you that I see in me.

On Death and Dying

It’s been a year today since Dad died.

Arriving at this point has been an emotional haul for us.  But, we are now at the peak and the only way off the mount is down.

I hope the journey will be quick…the trip light.  And, I pray tomorrow will begin a new season for Mom as she sees her way through another hard anniversary and moves toward the remembrance of his burial, and then beyond.

These “anniversaries” come unbidden – and truly unwanted.  But, they arrive and force us to remember and in some ways to relive what happened.

And, they force us to realize all over again the loss we suffered – as though each day lived afterward was not a reminder in and of itself.

In the days leading up to this anniversary, I’ve watched Mom grow tired, quiet, and introspective.  No, I didn’t expect her to jump this hurdle and race on toward the next.  I knew a downward spiral would begin that could not be prevented.

Some things are necessary and beneficial to the process of grieving.  We all grieve differently and for varying lengths of time.  For most, the one year anniversary is a hallmark on the calendar and a bulls-eye on our hearts.

Mom, at 85 years of age, doesn’t bounce back as quickly or as easily as she once did.  Life lost it’s spark when Dad died.

I can’t walk this darkness for her.  I walk my own today.  But, I can walk with her, hand in hand.  And, I can encourage her to talk…to share…to seek the light and not become lost in the darkness.

Dad’s life was one of light and yes, his passing ushered in darkness. But, truly, Dad did leave light to guide the way.  One only needs to look for it.

All is not lost. All is not dark. The sun yet shines.  And, even with great sadness, there is reason to live…to love…to look forward to tomorrow while glancing back on yesterdays.

Note: Mom declared Father’s Day as a day to celebrate his life and not to dwell on his death. She chose light over darkness…life over death…love over longing.

We went to church. We ate (we’re big on that) at Dad’s favorite restaurant.  We laughed.  We remembered.  We visited his grave.  We ached.  We loved.  We survived. We fully engaged the day.

And, we stepped fully with hope and determination into the light.

We did Dad proud.