a year ago

Old Time, in whose banks we deposit our notes
Is a miser who always wants guineas for groats;
He keeps all his customers still in arrears
By lending them minutes and charging them years.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

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(image from Gallagher’s Boxty in Temple Bar / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Exactly one year ago today….
I fell in love with something new…
yet oh so familiar.

I fell in love with a city.
I fell in love with a country.
I fell in love with my own heritage.
I fell in love with the comfort of a chicken boxty
and a delightfully crisp, soothingly dry beverage…
Stonewells Cider…

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And just because I was busy falling in love, didn’t mean that the rest of life
wasn’t busy being just that…
busy….
while at the same time, it was pretty much staying the same…

Yet…

unbeknownst to anyone in particular, life was secretly gearing up for change….

I was holding life together by a very fine thread.
Just enough in order to get by and get gone…

And it worked for a while.

Yet during these 365 days which have come and gone,
all since eating a chicken boxty,
there have been great changes,
both good and bad.

Life changing as well as life altering.

And as it always is, it all began before I even came back home from being away…
and it’s been that way ever since.

For there have been actual lives which have come and gone…
while others remain hanging in the balance.

Life has that way about it…
that way of never sitting still.
And it doesn’t much matter whether we like it or not…

Within a day,
a week,
a month,
a year…
heck, even within just a mere hour…
our lives change,
for both good and bad.

There is simply no avoiding the changing…
No matter how hard we try to hold onto all the sameness…
change will always be greater, stronger, and ever more relentless…

So as I reminisce about comfort food and comfort places…
I know that time and life and change are each busy at work…
Working hard at changing me..
my time and my life.

But the one constant that I cling to….
the one thing that is not held by either time nor space…
not held by change nor even life itself…

Is the love of an omnipotent Father….

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine
or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-38

seeking solace

The sea is his,
for he made it…

Psalm 95:5

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(Gulf of Mexico, Santa Rosa Beach / Julie Cook / 2016)

There are those who have Lourdes…
Others have Fatima
For some it is Medjugorje
and for others still, it is Guadeloupe.

There are places all around this world of ours that pilgrims have traveled
for centuries in hopes of…
a healing,
a miracle,
or merely peace…

for me…it is the sea…
It is to and for the sea that I yearn…
when I feel most in need of soothing…

Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord.
“Should you not tremble in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,
an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
they may roar, but they cannot cross it.

Jeremiah 5:22

decisions of life and death, as witnessed by the squirrel

“I may not have gone where I intended to go,
but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

Douglas Adams

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(gray squirrel / Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016)

If you’ve ever driven down a road, suddenly spotting a grey mass sitting in the middle of the road…
as you approach said mass, at a nice clip of speed…you quickly, and a bit sickeningly,
realize that the gray mass quickly coming into focus…is a frantic squirrel…
who now sits directly in your immediate field of vision and in the direct path
of your 50 mph plus some odd ton vehicle…
closing in for an immediate and deadly impact.

The squirrel seems stuck in time, shifting left then shifting right…
with this surreal dance of death going on a million times,
within what seems to be an eternity but in actuality is…
a mere few seconds…

If life is good–the squirrel makes the right 11th hour decision by darting
miraculously out of your path by the very hair of his tail.

If life is not good–it is a bad day for the squirrel as you feel badly for that slight bump you feel under your wheels….

I am that squirrel.

The car barreling down on me is dad with cancer…
add to that my on-going searing back and hip pain coupled by the myriad of tests
I’m squeezing in in-between trips to Dads.

The Radiologist oncologist told us today that radiation would be every day for 7 consecutive weeks—everyday I’d commute to and from Atlanta as dad would be zapped.

Not to cure him mind you…just to hopefully keep the tumor at bay….
but for how long, no one can say.

His primary care doctor says he is simply too weak and frail to endure such.
The side effects of radiation in the elderly is weakness, diarrhea and burning…
that is in the best of cases…

He’s already weak, already battles colitis and is not very well overall mentally or physically…
yet that did not seem to deter the doctor today who seemed
more concerned with his ever ringing phone…
as he would step out of the room for 20 minutes here and 10 more minutes there…

He told Dad that if he did nothing it wouldn’t be pretty with pain and misery…
which scared dad into wanting to begin zapping right then and there.
I explained to the doctor that we, as a family, would need to talk about all of this
and discuss this with Dad’s primary care doctor—
at which he seemed a bit incensed that I too didn’t agree to begin immediately.

To be honest, I felt overtly pressured.
He didn’t seem to consider that dad is weak and frail or that he is struggling with his cognizant abilities…
It was more like checking off a list…then wham bam you’re good to go, lets sign you up now…

I called a dear friend who had been one of dad’s nurses over the past year for her input.
I called back to dad’s primary care doctor for his opinion.
I called my husband
I called my cousin.
I called my aunt…
and I cried the entire rush hour traffic ride home…

Everyone who knows dad knows treatment is not the correct route.
But dad is scared.
And dad is very much like a little child.
And the cancer doctors are chomping at the bit…

So this squirrel is at a loss.

I may dip in and out of blogland here and there.
The first time in 3 years.
But I’m feeling my energy, creativity, my very life, ebbing away….
Depression is closing in fast…
it’s wicked hot breath has been on the back of my neck now for months.

Decisions have to be made…
and sickeningly, like the squashed squirrel, the buck stops here.
For I am now the parent of the parent who can no longer make those calls himself.
What is the right decision???
What is the right call???
Quality of life…
length of life…
yet at what state??
How much longer either way?
Aggressive cancer…
Fast growing…

I danced this dance with Mother 30 years ago…
I never would have envisioned walking down this road again…

I pray for a revelation or a Divine intervention—
One that directs our path without regrets, without second guessing…
That the road we go, is to be the right road…the only road…

I’ll be in and out as my strength and mindset allows…

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For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.
I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord,
“and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Jeremiah 29:11-14

A direction in learning

Painful as it may be,
a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction
that serves us and those around us more effectively.
Look for the learning.

Louisa May Alcott

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(This handwrought weathervane came from the 12th century Church of Cranham, Essex, England, where James Oglethorpe is buried / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2016)

Sometimes, learning comes easy.
It comes from the obvious,
the expected,
the familiar.

At other times, it seems to happen out of the blue.
It is unexpected,
questionable,
even painful…

The delivery matters not,
it is what is taken away from the experience which matters most.

Remembering such, is just as important as the lesson to be learned…

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God;
whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

2 John 9:11

How do we remember

“Well I won’t back down
No I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down”

Tom Petty

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(my son’s 7th grade school picture shortly following 9/11–
the kids all made the small flag pin he has pinned to his shirt—we still have the pin)

How is it that we remember?
How do we mark those important moments in life?
How do we best remember them–both good and bad?

From the perspective of a parent, it is most likely by our children.
how old they were…
where they were…
what they were doing…

My son was in the 7th grade that fateful September day.
It was a warm Georgia, clear blue sky, kind of day.

With razor sharp precision,
we remember exactly where and when,
on those earth shattering days when tragedy strikes…
as life suddenly stands still.

Life stopped in time,
that New York, clear blue sky, fateful Septemeber day.

Life stopped in time,
that warm Pennsylvania September Tuesday morning.

Life stopped in time,
that typical September Tuesday morning in Washington D.C.

For thousands of Americans that September day,
life simply ceased.

Stopping forever for…
young and old,
male and female,
Black,
White,
Latino,
Asian…

For stopping and ceasing does not bother to discriminate nor separate.

Parents were suddenly gone.
Brothers were suddenly gone.
Grandparents were suddenly gone.
Sisters were suddenly gone.
Mothers,
Fathers,
Friends,
Husbands,
Wives,
Children
all suddenly gone.

With the breaking news…
those of us who were parents,
suddenly felt an innate urge to run and find our children.

It mattered not that they were at school, day care or with sitters
and that we were at work, or at school, or on business trips….
We wanted our children.

We wanted to run to them,
gathering them in our arms…
Wanting, needing, yearning to…
see them,
touch them,
hold them…
holding them close and tight in our arms—
reassuring ourselves that our small world was…
still safe,
still real,
still whole…

For thousands of Americans that clear blue sky Tuesday September 11th morning…
their worlds were broken…
forever…
for both those who were gone and for those who remained….

And the fact that those holes still remain in the hearts of those who survived…
or remain in those who simply remained,
left to carry on without those who they loved and still long to hold close…
that is something the rest of us must always remember…

Show us your mercy, O Lord;
And grant us your salvation.
Clothe your ministers with righteousness;
Let your people sing with joy.
Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
For only in you can we live in safety.
Lord, keep this nation under your care;
And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
Let your way be known upon earth;
Your saving health among all nations.
Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
Create in us clean hearts, O God;
And sustain us by your Holy Spirit.

Book of Common Prayer 1979

falsehood

“The real loneliness is living among all these kind people
who only ask one to pretend!”

Edith Wharton

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(small private plane leisurely crosses the sky above our house / Julie Cook / 2016)

There is a danger in our lives…
one offered up slickly,
in such a fashion,
that we are painfully failing to see it for what it truly is…

It is hoped that we won’t discover the danger until it is all too late…
Too late to turn around…
while there is still time for safe guarding our hearts and minds…
and even our very souls….

For we are finding ourselves living in the age of the sublime…
A life that has been elevated by those who spin the innocuous into the delicious…
As they vie for everyones full attention and interest.

They woo us with all that is glossy while passing off dribble as exceedingly important.
They hope our eyes will glaze over as they happily wipe the drool from our mouthes.

They are the henchmen to a dark and sinister force,
who sadly don’t much realize the part they now play.

We have found ourselves living in the stratosphere of falsehoods
yet strangely we don’t seem much to care.

Distraction and glamour are the name of the game…
anything to persuade the masses that the trivial is what truly matters.

Diversion is their forte and it is found in every aspect of living.
If we are not careful, not thoughtful, not cautious…
it will all be too late.

But no one really wants to hear that.
No one wants some gloom and doom sort of scenario…
because that isn’t fun, comfortable, wrapped up pretty and sweet.

It’s not the unbelieving who are the only ones to be the goats of choice…
The lukewarm, so called, followers…
those who prefer nice to the hard truths, happy to the seriousness at hand…
those who are lost to banal indifference,
those who proudly consider themselves the chosen sheep…
it is they who will find the errors of following the falsehoods

However it will all be much too late as they too will join the goats….

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.
All the nations will be gathered before him,
and he will separate the people one from another
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”

Matthew 25:31-33

Good and bad

Good judgment comes from experience,
and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

Will Rogers

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(twin fawns / Julie Cook / 2016)

Aren’t they precious?
Twin little fawns…
just so sweet…

Yet…

When they get a little older,
they will eat all of my flowers and plants…

So they are both good and bad…

Much like today…

both good and bad….

The good news is that the Oncologist told us the battery of tests and scans show
no cancer in Dad’s lung’s or bones…just in the muscle of the bladder wall…

But there is a relatively large ascending aortic aneurysm…which is bad…
very very bad….

The good news is that he thinks a regime of chemo and radiation
may be successful on the cancer…

But we should now go see a Thoracic specialist…
I’m sorry…
I forgot,
how many doctors does that make we need to see?

The good news is that I took an arsenal of prescribed pills last night hoping
to be able to drive to Atlanta today without withering in pain…

I did indeed drive, with the pain being more tolerable…
but the pills made me feel as if I was going to
either pass out or throw up…or drop my head hoping for lala land….

And that mind you…. is with just one pill,
I have to work up to 3 a day…
Hummmmmmm…..

The good news is we head to the radiologist on Monday
The bad news is we head to the radiologist on Monday

The good news is that this Oncologist thinks a combined treatment could have some success…
The bad news is that dad is wended just walking from the bathroom to the den,
having to sit down before passing out, and that is hoping he doesn’t fall en route.

Hence why he now travels outside of the house via wheelchair….

The bad news is that Dad is feeble and frail—
As the question begs…
Can he tolerate what now awaits come Monday…

The good news being…
we will just wait wait and see…

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while,
will himself restore you and make you strong,
firm and steadfast.
To him be the power for ever and ever.
Amen.

(1 Peter 5:10-11)