Have a good life

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
Allen Saunders

“The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

(cross found in the Rock of Cashel cemetery, County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Just when you thought you had things situated, straightened out, figured out
and felt you were rolling merrily along feeling in charge, doing a good job of keeping your world in the middle of the road… Life’s little wicked twists and turns come calling, sending you careening out of control.

And so it was when the phone rang late this evening.
It was my godmother calling.
I’ve written about both my “godparents” before.
He is a life long Episcopal priest, Dean Emeritus of the Cathedral in Atlanta where I had grown up.
She, his wife, for the past near 70 years.
He’s soon to turn 93 and she 90.
Their bodies and minds failing in tandem.

I first wrote about my godfather shortly after I started this little blog of mine
as he was the one person in my life who had made the greatest impact–
as he basically saved me from myself when he came into my life…
when I was all of 15 years old.
I won’t retell that long convoluted tale as you can read it elsewhere if you so desire,
(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/ ) but suffice it to say, he’s meant the world to me.

Whereas he and I have shared the common thread of each being adopted, as I was a teen when we first found one another, we each had, throughout the years, a sea of ups and downs with our perspective internal baggage. We had our hard fraught moments as much healing took place over the years within both of our hearts as we walked the journey together. He taught me about unconditional love and what it truly meant–as I continued testing the depths of that love.

She was often in the shadows.
As the wife of a very busy and well known national cleric, picking up pieces, tending to children, as well as the home front, would have been the assumed standard lot for such a spouse.
Yet she was never one to shrink or hide.
This was a woman who had had a career on Broadway in the 40’s staring in Carousel along with other well known musicals.
She was outspoken and very very sound in her faith, never mincing her words.

She had more than her fair share of input into the shaping of my life.
So much so that my own mother was often intimidated.
She was the type of woman who saw what needed to be done and simply went about doing it, no matter who or what would or could be in the way or problematic.
“No” was not a word that was within her thought process.

So today when the phone rang, I figured it was a call of checking in and touching base.
Perhaps a thank you for the latest goodies I’d sent through the mail…
But no, this was not that type of conversation.

Before we even finished with the opening pleasantries of the “hey, how are yous”– she begins with “the Lord told me that He wants me to call and tell the people in my life what they have meant to me…so…I want you to know how grateful I am for…how precious you are to me…how much I thank you…how I want you to know…”

“WHOA—what are you saying???!!!” I fumble over the words.
“Well, I’ll be 90 soon, I don’t have much time left….
“WHOA—let’s not rush things shall we….” I hear myself stammering.
“Now let’s not put the cart before the horse shall we…” I continue trying to stop where this conversation is going…for all sorts of reasons–

She continues on with her “speech” when suddenly her mind takes the conversation elsewhere, in a totally different direction and tone… which is what’s more telling to me than her kind and endearing words–
Time is truly of the essence is it not…in this world that is…

Whereas my Godmother is sound in her faith and has no doubts, no regrets, as she continues pushing forward despite failing body and mind, living to hear His word and obeying those words to the very end—I fear there are not many of us who are as determined to do His very bidding up to that last breath we each have on this earth—or perhaps it’s more about having the courage to do so.

And maybe that’s it–
Courage, freedom, determination…

What is it that gives us, offers us, the courage to do and say the words God urges us to speak…. as well as giving us the “why”… as to why we are to speak certain words in the first place… and then there is the “when”… when are we to speak them and to whom.

When do we give ourselves the freedom to speak such words?
And what is it that sets our determination to do all of the above—
is it our health, our time, our circumstance?

As the conversation finally came to an end, with me most thankful as the difficulty and awkwardness of her words were crushing in on my heart, she put my godfather on the phone who proceeds to tell me he loves me and to “have a good life”

Oooooo, this is NOT the conversation I wanted to hear this evening.
Often within adopted folks there is a tiny voice buried deep within that likes to perpetuate a lie that “you’re not really ever wanted,” so hearing, as well as accepting, such deep and meaningful words, that you matter or are dearly loved, or are precious to someone can be very hard to digest… as you simply feel most unworthy…
Plus this whole signing off as if I’ll never see them or hear from them again is most unnerving–as it reminds me that none of us are guaranteed a thing in this world, especially not time…that precious commodity we so often take for granted…

So when this once prolific writer, speaker, preacher, religious leader who just so happens to be my “godpoppa” utters his parting words in an almost singsong sort of fashion
“Have a good life”
I’m like a deer in headlights…frozen in the moment.

Have a good life….
Who says that???!!
An almost 93 year old man who has spent the last couple of years fighting with his mind as it tries to shut down, and he’s hellbent to hold on…

This as I head to Dad’s today which is a whooooole ‘nuther ballgame–

So here’s to life…
Here’s to the end of life…
Here’s to how we choose to live that life, up to the very end…
and here’s to love….

May we all “have a great life…”

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
John 14:15

17 comments on “Have a good life

  1. phyllissnipes says:

    I love you, Cookie!! You’ll never know how very much your life and your words mean to me!!! I just do not tell you often enough!!

  2. Kentucky Angel says:

    I think at a certain age we all feel that way Julie. With my diagnosis of advanced MS I feel as if my days are limited, but I sure am going on with living as if I’ll live forever. I understand your godmother’s way of thinking though. 90 is a good old age, but at the same time, there is a lady in my building who just celebrated 104 years of youth. It’s all in God’s hands, and when He brings you to it, He will also bring you thru it. Love her while you can. I know I don’t have to tell you that, but just as a reminder. My Mom died at 95 on July 24 of this year, so it is still too fresh in my mind at the moment. So many things I would go back and change if I could turn back the clock.
    Hugs, Angie

    • All so true Angie—it’s just hard to ever say good-bye–young or old as you know from both your mom and grandson—we’re just never really ever ready to let go it seems—an maybe since they are both still kicking and driving!!! the did find the formal farewell a bit out of sink 🙂
      but the sentiments were indeed more humbling and gratifying —hugs to Kentucky—cookie

      • that would be “I did find the formal farewell…” and “most humbling and gratifying…”
        I really do need to make certain I’ve had a good night’s sleep before ever typing for public consumption — 🙂

      • Kentucky Angel says:

        Oh, how funny Julie, re the typos. I’ve had to just trash so many things and take naps before trying again because of my fingers not working correctly.
        Since this was posted, we have had another death, my ex-hubby and father of my kids died in his sleep on Tuesday/Wednesday, 10-28. He was buried today, and this makes the 7th family member this year for us. My kids were looking at me with fear in their faces, wondering I guess if I would be next, and if it would be Nov. or Dec.
        KY blue HUGS, Angie

      • Angie, I am so sorry—my mother use to always tell me bad things came in threes. When my mother-n-law died last year, we next attended 2 other funerals of close friends of my husband—and the year my mom died, my grandmother followed suit shortly there after—it’s never easy–
        Aging, illness—all challenges we just have to meet with the Grace of God’s mercy

  3. This made me cry. I’m so sorry Julie. First I know how hard it is to face losing those that you love, but the fact that you have ever felt unwanted breaks my heart. You are such a wonderful and loving person! So I know that like me there are those who have and do consider you a treasure and look forward to interacting with you in any way. I told you before that for whatever reason we have bonded and it happened quickly. And you need to know that that doesn’t often happen with me. I love your devotion to the Lord, I love and envy your vast knowledge of the church and saints and Godly writers and scholars, I love your sense of humor, I love your kind and giving heart, I love and respect your willingness to help your Dad and Gloria despite the misery they’ve been dealing out,
    I love and envy your amazing gift with words, and even if all that weren’t the case, I love you for all that you are and the way you make me feel. My grandson’s are adopted as you know and I’m sure they have and/or will feel the same at times and it breaks my heart for them too. I tell them frequently that I love them more than they will ever know and hope they remember that in the dark days when doubts come. And I want you to know too that I love you more than you can possibly know and treasure our friendship beyond measure. I so wish I could be there to give you lots of hugs and make you smile for a few days. Huge, huge, hugs and much, much love, my sweet Georgia Peach!!! ❤ ❤ ❤
    PS. I don't often tell people but I suffered some emotional abuse from my mom, and it has left me scarred. At 73, I still have to talk myself down off the ledge when her words and actions raise their ugly head again. I even had to have help in my 30's dealing with that and some tragic events that happened between me and my dad before he died when I was 18. I know that it's not the same maybe as being adopted, but it was a terrible betrayal at the hands of parental units and those are never easy to live with. Love, Natalie

    • I love the big celtic crosses and would love to have one in my garden. Too bad you couln’t bring one home for me. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Ok, first of all don’t cry–I’m good—it’s just that sometimes I feel like I’m living in a sea of the dying and departing as the ones I’m charged with tending to are, yes elderly, with minds and bodies failing, but it kills me how Dad and Gloria all still mobile(ish) yet are choosing to just wait until death comes calling —Dad is happiest just sitting, literally all day watching old black and white movies, never wanting to leave the house and God forbid for even a walk around the neighborhood. Gloria is just miserable and has decided everyone else should be as she has made herself a miserable prisoner.
      The Collins are in their 90’s but they do keep on keeping on—so I suppose their phone call of “thanks for everything and we’ll be seeing you” was disconcerting.
      His mind is really failing and he is growing quiet and depressed as he can’t remember things—and she is equally failing mentally but her body is quickly giving out.
      So some days, it’s just harder than others.
      And as much as I know things in my intellect—the truths and the what have yous—there is still that deceptive little voice within that will instinctively raise its ugly head from time to time, often catching me and my reaction and emotions of guard—we all have our own demons and deceptive voices– mine is just from being given up.
      I am a firm believer in emotional transference in the womb from mom to baby—and I have been prayed over for healing long ago–of which I am most thankful.
      It is hard for me to hear and receive the affirmation of really heart felt deep words yet I long for such—odd thing that.
      And there is that hurting little girl deep inside that needs to be comforted—so over the years I built a tough nut exterior–Yes, you and I became fast friends and I am most grateful—I think it was from both being retired teachers, deep spiritual thinkers, each married to “older men” 🙂
      we each have an only child and we both went through battles in our youthful days—two peas in a pod—God is good to bring certain endearing individual into my life when I am in need—as He did in the case of my having found you my friend—I do not have many in my close circle as I tend to have a need for solitude, I am introspective, not social and have gotten use to be “alone” as mother died when I was first married, Gregory worked all the time and we’ve always lived in the middle of no where—so my circle is small–but I hold fast to those inside–
      welcome to the circle 🙂
      So—sorry to blab you ear off—
      off to pick up cat food 🙂
      hugs to the Texas sidewinding tumbleweed from an now out of season Georgia peach 🙂

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