this is what should keep you up at night…

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

Marie Curie


(Bela Lugosi as Dracula 1931)

When I was a kid, I loved watching those old black and white horror movies from the ’30s and ’40s—
Dracula, Frankenstein, The Werewolf, The Mummy, all the way up to the vampy ’60’s with
Vincent Price’s The Pit and the Pendulum, the Creature from the Black Lagoon
along with such cult classics as Dark Shadows.

At 10, I can remember telling my mother to buy real garlic and not that powdered stuff
she’d keep in her spice cabinet.
I needed the real deal in order to sleep soundly at night.
Throw in a Crucifix, of which hung on my wall, and all I needed was a silver spike,
some silver bullets and I would be safe and sound.

Ode to the imagination of a 10-year-old.

As an adult, having seen snippets from those same early horror flicks, I now get tickled seeing
the ridiculous over-emphasized melodramatics.

Looking back, however, I can remember the difficulty in trying to convince my 10-year-old self,
complete with an overactive imagination, that sleeping with a strand of garlic around my
neck was not exactly prudent and totally impractical.

Thankfully, I’ve outgrown the frightful likes of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff,
as well as Vincent Price…
however, there is one individual who does, in fact, leave me a bit
restless at night.
One whose very name can cast fear in my heart… just as he should yours.
And all because he remains more of enigma on the world stage rather than
a defined individual.

I’ve written about this individual before…
actually, all the way back in 2016 when the notion of Brexit was becoming a household word…

Of recent weeks, I’ve read a great deal concerning the global financial powers-that-be
bemoaning or gloating, depending on which side of the fence they line their pockets,
what a Brexit would do to the global economy.
The likes of George Soros, a man who has profited, or make that made a killing,
on the downward slopes of markets before (mainly the Bank of England),
is set to cash in once again.
And cash in big—but yet no one really knows how big he cashes in
as he doesn’t disclose much…
This man parlays deeply and dangerously into American politics as he gives and gives
graciously to the Clintons and their campaigns…
He plays his hand in global economies and seems to try to muscle the outcomes of elections
as well as markets worldwide—all to his benefit—

The rich and powerful trouble me.
Rich and powerful politicians trouble me.
Even our self-centered, anything and everything goes, millennials trouble me.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2016/06/25/should-we-go-or-should-we-stay/

Yes, George Soros troubles me.

And he should trouble anyone who loves America, democracy as well as the gift our
founding Father’s left for us.

And it’s because George Soros is determined to rewrite the Constitution of the United States.

However, this notion is nothing new and according to the authors of the book
I mentioned the other day…dark forces have long yearned to alter
The United States as you and I know it to be.

The book in question is not exactly new as it actually came out in 2006…
The Shadow Party
How George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and the Sixties Radicals
Seized Control of the Democratic Party

by David Horowitz and Richard Poe

The authors explain that before there was George Soros, there were others who helped
to form Mr. Soros…just as Mr.Soros has helped to form the likes of others—
Hillary Clinton being one such individual.

Growing up, I knew early on from my interest in history and politics, and in part due to the
mystery surrounding the one time leader of the Teamsters Union, Jimmy Hoffa, that big Government
was sadly capable of just about anything.

Powerful people like…power.
Just as much as they like control.

J. Edgar Hoover
Franklin Roosevelt
Joseph Kennedy and his three famous sons
Richard Nixon
Bill Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Tip O’Neil
Huey Long
Barak Obama
George Soros
Bill Gates
Nancy Pelosi
Katharine Graham

the list of movers and shakers seems nearly endless…

And there are reasons as to why we are currently watching the rise of the Fab 4
Congressional leaders.
It is not coincidental.

Reasons you and I, the average citizen, need to understand.

And so reading, as I do each evening a few pages here and there,
I have certainly been given just enough information in order to produce more than
my fair share of nightmares.

If you are left scratching your head as to why we seem to be in such a mess these days in
this nation of ours, let me simply recommend this book…
It won’t take too many pages until you’ll begin to understand.

Informed citizens or clueless and mindless entities?
…those in the shadows prefer you remain clueless and most definitely mindless.

Sometimes we vote for a candidate not so much because we love them but because
we know they are the lesser of the evils…and becasue we know garlic
does nothing to help the evil intentions…

Teach me…

“When you pray, you only have to ask for two things:
You should ask for the light to see the will of God,
and you have to ask for the courage to be able to do the will of God.”

Venerable Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz


(buckeye butterfly rests on the viburnum / Julie Cook / 2019)

“My great God, you know all that is in the universe, because you yourself have made it.
It is the very work of your hands. You are omniscient, because you are omnicreative.
You know each part, however minute, as perfectly as you know the whole.
You know mind as perfectly as you know matter.
You know the thoughts and purposes of every soul as perfectly as if there were no other
soul in the whole of your creation. You know me through and through;
all my present, past, and future are before you as one whole.
You see all those delicate and evanescent motions of my thought which altogether escape myself.
You can trace every act, whether deed or thought, to its origin and can follow it into its
whole growth and consequences. You know how it will be with me at the end;
you have before you that hour when I shall come to you to be judged.
How awful is the prospect of finding myself in the presence of my judge!
Yet, O Lord, I would not that you should not know me.
It is my greatest stay to know that you read my heart.
Oh, give me more of that openhearted sincerity which I have desired.
Keep me ever from being afraid of your eye, from the inward consciousness that I am not
honestly trying to please you.
Teach me to love you more, and then I shall be at peace,
without any fear of you at all.”

Bl. John Henry Newman, p.150
An Excerpt from
Everyday Meditations

children

“Times are bad.
Children no longer obey their parents,
and everyone is writing a book.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero

“We cannot always build the future for our youth,
but we can build our youth for the future.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt


(a youthful barn swallow, stuck in our garage / Julie Cook / 2017)

This is not a post about my own child…
nor is it a post about anyone else’s child in particular…
and yet, none the less, it is a post about children.

All children, no matter the species, spend their youthful days swinging upon
some sort of learning curve….
As in growing up…there is always some constant state of learning.

Life is indeed a constant lesson on what to do…
…but probably more importantly, perhaps the lessons are in what not to do.

As in don’t touch…HOT
Don’t step there…DEEP, WET, GROSS, DANGER
Don’t eat that…HOT, GROSS, BAD, POISON
Don’t get out of my sight
Don’t let go of my hand
Don’t forget to_______ (fill in the blank)

Anyone who has survived getting their children to a certain point in life…say,
maybe 30, can tell you that it was harrowing…

And frustratingly still, say at age 30, the coast is yet anything but clear.

Such is the lot of a parent.
A life lived in a constant state of worry, jubilation, pride, disgust, sorrow, anticipation…
the list is endless.

During the summer months I often have had problems with hummingbirds
flying into my carport / garage.
I don’t know why they do it….
there are no flowers, nothing bright and colorful, just an open
dirty white space where two vehicles live, when not on the road…
along with two trash trash cans and all the recycling.

When the birds appear, I usually grab an extension pole—
one of those things that telescopes upward allowing one to clean a ceiling fan etc.
I walk around the garage with pole extended,
complete with a soft brush on the end in order for the now tired hummingbird to light,
all in order for me to slowly lower the pole allowing the bird
to clear the raised garage door and fly to freedom.

Sometimes the birds are so tired that I can actually pick them up by hand from
atop the windowsill.

The birds tire because they buzz around the white ceiling…
unable to perceive that it is indeed a ceiling and not the sky.
Buzzing and bumping into a white ceiling that won’t let them out.
All the while, I’m craning my neck at a 45 degree angle, balancing a
pole blindly and wandering about dizzy while trying to get the birds to light on the pole.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon.
There I was yesterday afternoon, minding my own business in the kitchen
busy cooking supper, when my husband arrived home from work.
I go to the door to let him in when he tells me that I’ve got birds in the garage.

Huh??

Knowing that it was too early for the hummingbird madness,
I couldn’t imagine what in the world he was talking about…
that is until I saw them.

Two barn swallows were whirring about in circles along the top of the garage ceiling…
flying 90 to nothing!

If you don’t know, barn swallows are the acrobats of the sky.
They zoom and dart, precariously skimming the surface of ground or bush as they snap up every
and any sort of insect, never missing a beat of wing.

These two were no hummingbirds and they were not about to let me grab them nor were they
comprehending that they had to swoop downward in order to get out.

As I grabbed a broom, my husband said “let’s eat and they’ll get out on their own.

Well…
following supper there were still two fast as lightening birds swirling and
racing in circles around the top of my garage.
We backed out the cars.
We got brooms and rakes.
I even ran to find one of my crab nets.

All of a sudden, another swallow flies in the garage.
AAAGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!

But this third bird actually flew in, did a couple of laps,
then dipped low while flying back out.

We went back inside to watch and wait as we had an inkling this third bird had a plan.

The third bird kept coming back in, looping around a time or two, then dipping low
each time near the backdoor, then swooping out.

Finally one of the misguided birds took notice and did the same.
This left just one hapless bird who seemed clueless as to where everyone went.

What we deduced to be the mother to these two slow learners, would return in and out until
she finally got the one lagging behind to eventually follow suit.

After about two hours, we were thankfully minus the three swallows but
we had a copious amount of bird poop all over the floor, walls, windows…

And yet I marveled at this most teachable moment within this small family.

Happy, as well as somewhat awed by what I had just witnessed,
my thoughts drifted to that of a loving Father who also tirelessly dips into our own lives…
trying over and over to demonstrate just how it should be done…
until we finally get it and follow suit….

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

Psalm 32:8

what’s in a word

“My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel–it is, before all, to make you see.”
― Joseph Conrad

“A man must be prepared not only to be a martyr, but to be a fool. It is absurd to say that a man is ready to toil and die for his convictions if he is not even ready to wear a wreathe around his head for them.”
― G.K. Chesterton

“If there were no God, there would be no atheists.”
G. K. Chesterton – Where all roads lead, 1922

DSCN0346
(St Kevin’s Monastery / Glendalough National Park, Co Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Strike while the iron is hot”
or so they say…
I don’t know if the iron is truly hot but the thoughts are fresh and the spirit seems willing…

I am a far cry from being a grammarist or etymologist.
And those of you who read much of anything I write, probably painfully observe I would imagine, that often I either fall victim to my own inability of having ever mastered spelling or either I fall prey to the dreaded autocorrect monster who simply doesn’t understand me or gets where I’m coming from.

Add to that that I am a southern belle, born and bred, with my syntax and or jargon often being more times than not, based on my regional dialect and verbiage….ie my southern drawl….so anyone who stumbles this way may be hard pressed making sense of things…

Yet despite all of the aforementioned, one thing is certain, I love words.
I am most intrigued by words.
I find words fascinating.
Just as I find language fascinating…
Yet sadly my brain has failed miserably when it comes to
learning a language…other than my own southern style of english.

Yet that never stopped me from incorporating the use of words, language and even alphabets within my classroom with my kids or in my own art work.

One thing that I have found intriguing, when delving into the use of words, is that of their origins and of how the original meaning morphs over the passage of time. It is also interesting when words sound alike but are vastly different in meaning.
Those who try their hand at learning English, I am told, have quite a time as we, primary english speakers, have so many similarly pronounced words that have vastly different meanings— a quick example being there and their.

Let’s take another word—apology.

A word rooted in Greek which means to admit a wrong doing or owning up to a slight or misdeed.
Yet the word apologetic is not necessarily referring to one who is sorry for said misdeed but rather refers to one who is defending a certain belief or stance.

I can see where this can all become confusing.

I never really understood why the word apologist was used when referencing one who was defending a point of view verses one who was offering an “I’m sorry”

The Greek, ἀπολογία, translates to “speaking in defense”—or—apologetics
With the classical Greek word being apologia
Wikipedia explains it with this sort of example… “the prosecution delivered the kategoria (κατηγορία), and the defendant replied with an apologia.”
Meaning the defendant wasn’t apologizing but rather was arguing in defense…

Talk about confusing…

Interesting that the word used to admit a wrong sounds so much like defending a stance.

Which brings me to the meat of this wondering…

I read many Christian blogs that are written by very knowledgeable, learned individuals, who are equally passionate in what they write.
They are well versed in their knowledge and they are true defenders of the Faith.
They are apologists.
They are staunch and even zealous in and of their defense…
They are not ones to apologize….nor should they

And that’s the thing…
They are witnessing and presenting a case and / or defending a case…not apologizing for it.
There is no need for an apology…but there is need for the apologetics.

In today’s society we may or may not see any similarities to nearly 2000 years ago when the Church was but young and new. However it may certainly behoove all of us to take a closer look.

Back then the disciples and followers of the risen Christ had begun to spread far and wide in order to teach, preach and share the Gospel of both Hope and Salvation.
Some of the faithful found themselves in positions of acting defense attorneys, where the preaching had quickly turned into the defending of one’s beliefs.
There were arrests and trials.
There were deaths and persecutions.
And there were the apologetics.

Yet how familiar a position are the faithful now finding themselves today.

What had become accepted and even commonplace in the day to day life of mainstream folks, is now questioned and even actually banned out right.
The talking about one’s faith in Jesus with fellow students on college campuses is being banned.
Those who opt to join in prayer before and after sporting events are now warned against such.
The display of Christian religious symbols in public settings is now outlawed.
The use of bibles in various places of learning are now prohibited.
Those who profess to be believers of the Faith are now finding themselves as targets of violence and hate.
Those of the Faith are being pegged as scapegoats for all the is now wrong with the world.
Those who write about their beliefs and faith in magazines, papers and blogs are being called to task
to defend such beliefs as they are mocked, ridiculed and scorned.

However…. this is not the time for apologies…
But simply, rather, a time for apologists….

and rightly so it seems…

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Colossians 4:5-6

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
1 Peter 3:15-16

Forgiveness, one step at a time

“Jules, your family has put the dysfunction in dysfunctional long before it was popular.”
He said it not with sarcasm, not with contempt but more of a passing state of resignation…
as though he was simply voicing a troubling thought out loud.

I looked down at my feet–tennis shoes no doubt and most likely jeans.
I adjusted my position in the elegant leather wingback chair.
The office was rich with dark coffered paneling–a gothic office in a Gothic Cathedral.
A copy of Diego Velázquez’s Crucifixion graced the wall—–one of my favorite paintings.

This certainly wasn’t the first time I’d sat in his office.

I was probably 18, or maybe I was 22—it didn’t matter as I had been finding myself in his office
since I was 15.

Behind his desk, on a credenza, sat several baseballs in displays cases…you see he
wasn’t just any ol priest or a random dean of a cathedral, he was also Chaplin to the Braves Baseball team—
Yet most importantly he was my “godpoppa”– a surrogate father.

I loved him immensely and I needed him terribly.

I was drowning and he offered a lifeline—one that I clung to
Just as I still love him to this day— despite the passage of time, he still finds that precious time for me.

We also shared something in common.

We were both adopted.

So I believed he always understood some things about me that I had yet to grasp or realize myself.

This was just one more visit in a long line of visits.

There really were no answers to my troubles– he was simply gracious in allowing me some of his
precious and limited time.
Time from his busy and frantic schedule, allowing a “woe some” young person an opportunity to vent,
to share, to describe the latest story—the latest incident in a never-ending stream of incidents that
only seemed to be escalating with time.

My family suffered through something that many people today now painfully acknowledge and recognize.
But for my family, at the time, our turmoil was pretty much just for us to experience.

The trouble was my brother and his trouble was mental illness.

Mental illness is now finding itself front and center of national headlines—
as there are more and more violent ramifications reverberating throughout our society.
My younger brother, unbeknownst to my parents at the time, suffered a mental illness.
It would be years before it was diagnosed, but the years of turmoil would not be lost on anyone.
And by the time of his diagnoses, it was really too late.

Both my brother and I were adopted.
We were not biologically related and were 5 years apart in age.
Something never seemed quite “right” about Ed.
He was a colicky baby, crying often and difficult to soothe.
My aunt often quips that she knew they should have taken him back as soon as they had gotten him.

A bad apple so to speak.
However, it was 1963, no one really knew much or talked much about the baggage babies can carry
from traumatic pregnancies and/ or births.
We didn’t know or understand the effects of the mother’s life on babies while in utero and
how that could/ would transcend to life and living of these yet to be born children.

Ed was different from the very beginning.

Back then, adoption agencies worked hard to match babies with the adopting families—
skin tone, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, etc.
Ed, however, looked quite different from the rest of us.
He was faired skinned, freckles, light haired, lanky.

I suppose growing up, discovering you are adopted and then looking at your family,
you immediately notice you are more different than you first realized,
which only adds to that already existing sense of alienation.

Given the fact that I was 5 years older and that I was prone to having that bossy big sister demeanor,
certainly did not ingratiate me ever to Ed.
We were more like oil and water, which I can now only imagine having grated on our parent’s nerves
and frustraton.

However, they loved us both very, very much.

In school, Ed struggled.
He was ADHD but no one knew about that particular “condition” at the time.
Believing that hyperactive element to be a part of Ed’s troubles,
our family’s pediatrician told my mother to give Ed coffee, as the Medical field was currently
looking at the use of caffeine, a stimulant, in the treatment of kids who were simply “all over the place”
counteracting that hyperness.

I’ll skip most of the growing up and won’t bore you with the mundane details.
However you need to know that my memories of family meals were not the happy Norman Rockwell
images that we all so long for—–but then again, are any family’s time together pictures of such tranquil images?

I can’t recall an evening that didn’t see some sort of fight or struggle.
Ed wouldn’t eat.
Dad would get mad, telling Ed that he could just sit there all night until he ate.

One night it was two hours before Dad gave in and told him to go to bed.
Mother would begin to cry.
As frustration set in, I would get mad.

I couldn’t understand why things always had to be so hard.
It was supper for crying out loud, can’t we eat in some sort of peace or harmony?!
Mother would leave the table in tears.

This was the typical evening.

If it wasn’t fighting over supper, it was homework.
I would just go to my room and drown my adolescent sorrows in James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James”,
“Fire and Rain”, “Don’t let me be lonely tonight”—-
playing his album over and over and over.

And yes there were the thoughts of suicide.
What teenager, who was an adolescent ball of emotional hormones, who was experiencing unhappiness
night after night, wouldn’t entertain such thoughts??
What other remedy was there to such a problem?

Thank God for that gothic office in that gothic Cathedral and for the life-line I had found there.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I was aware of how bad things really were with my family.
It was my 22nd birthday. Mom and Dad had not called all day wishing me a happy birthday.
This was long before cell phones, texting or e-mail.
It was a long distance to Athens from Atlanta—the rates went down after 5PM so I was expecting my call.
By 8 PM I was getting a little sad, as well as concerned.
Finally, I called home.

A collect call of course.
Mother answered.
No words of happy birthday but rather “everything here is fine.”
Great, I thought, but does anyone remember what today is?
I wonder out loud.
“Oh, Happy Birthday Sweetie, Ed’s fine.”

That’s odd.
I wasn’t asking about Ed, and truthfully didn’t particularly care.

This was a surreal conversation and happy birthday to me.
Mother told me Dad was busy and would talk to me later—doubly odd to say the least.

It wasn’t for a week or so later that I discovered the truth behind that strange evening’s call.

It seems that Ed had decided to run away.

He took mother’s car, two thousand dollars (where in the world he came up with money is beyond my soul,
as we did not have that kind of money lying around)
and his bass guitar.
He decided he would go to California
(why do all young people seem to want to run away to either California or New York?!)
to live in the desert and look at the stars.
Okay.

He made it to the US/ Mexican boarder when the Boarder Patrol stopped him.
They searched the car.
I suppose seeing some 16-year-old kid driving an old mom car pulling up to the US/ Mexican Boarder
threw up a giant red flag.

When they opened the trunk they found wet underwear hung over the bass guitar, drying.
They also found the money.

The Agents called my parents and told them that had they not stopped him,
he most likely would have been stopped in Mexico and most likely would have been killed by
the border bandits when they found the large sum of cash on a wayward kid.
Dad had to fly out to get him and drive back to Georgia.
I said then and there, they should have left him to his own devices.

Later, when it was time for me to start my student teaching,
I had to move back home in order to student teach at a school in the Atlanta Metro area.
My brother at the time was attending GA Tech.

Living between our great Aunt, who had run a boarding house during the War and
that of our house—–all depending on his mood.

He was really super smart but really super socially awkward.

There was one evening, in particular, that I recall most vividly.

It was my first-day student teaching.
To say I was nervous was an understatement.
And it just so happened that mother was in the hospital at the time,
as she had to have a hysterectomy.
I had to juggle the new teaching post,
running to the hospital, getting ready to help take care of mom and help take care of my dad.

That evening I had come home after a very long day of school and hospital duty
only to find Ed in the den with all of his record albums spread out all over the floor.
I sat on the floor, looking over what all he had.
Ours was a tenuous relationship and his temper was explosive–
I had to tread very lightly and truly wanted to be able to get along with him.

The conversation turned to mother.
He had fallen into the habit of referring to her only as “woman”,
as he did not consider her his mother.
I found this to be infuriating.
But the whole adoption thing was coming to a head in him, to such a level, none of
us fully grasped.

The stories of his explosive temper were becoming legendary.
Mother would have prepared him a baked potato.
If he had found it not to his liking, the potato was slung against the wall as he would spew foulness from his mouth.
Calling mother a ‘fucking bitch.’
There were holes in the walls from thrown hammers or screwdrivers or the wayward fist.

I could not fathom how on earth Mother and Dad could or would tolerate such behavior.
It made me crazy.
I was mad at them for letting him control the whole house.
I was thankful to be living away at college, spending summers away working at boarding summer camps—–
dreading ever coming home.

What I couldn’t understand, at the time, was that they had tried counseling.
Ed refused to attend.
The whole “tough love, kick him out on his own” approach was more then their hearts would allow.

This particular evening was not to be any different.

As I brought up the fact that Mother was in the hospital and that he should go see her,
he reacted in typical explosive behavior.
He blew up at me.
Why?
I have not a clue.
He proceeded to take a ball bad to every album sitting on the floor, smashing all in sight,
waving the bat at me and telling me my head was next.

He next stormed off to his room where I knew he kept a revolver.

When did my family every have a gun in the house is beyond my soul.

I left the house.

I went to the only place I knew I could find safety and solace—my godparents.

I called the house hours later only to have Dad answer the phone.
I recounted the series of events.
Dad got mad at me for “setting” Ed off.

Are you kidding me??!! He got mad at me??
WOW!!

As life with Ed is now becoming a small book, I will condense the remainder of all of this–
and bless you for reading all of this.

Ed eventually moved out of the house.
Attending Ga Tech sporadically and living in one of our great aunt’s boarding rooms,
as her large house was all but empty.

Mother by this time was broken and beaten.
I eventually got married and moved away.
Thank God.

By the time I was 25 and Ed was 20, Mother was diagnosed with cancer.
I know in my rational mind that people do not give other people cancer.
It doesn’t work that way.
Mother was sick for all of 6 short weeks.
It was as if she gave in to the cancer as an escape.
She had no will or desire to fight as her “fight” had left her long ago.

I blamed Ed for her death.

Like I say, people don’t give people cancer but I believed with all of my heart that
he had killed her.
And I resented the hell out of him for it.

By this time he was deeply involved in his quest for answers regarding his adoption.
He had also been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
It was at this point for my dad that he would do anything to help Ed find “peace”.
To say that my dad didn’t love him would certainly be a lie.
I just wish Ed could have understood that at the time.

It was the first case of it’s kind in the state of Georgia.
Ed had his adoption annulled.
My dad went before a judge, on behalf of Ed, asking that it be so.
Ed had exhaustively sought his birth parents, finding his mother and narrowing down who
his father had been.
In the annulment, he relinquished his identity of being Ed and took on the name
from his biological birth certificate–Timothy William Sommers.

There is still so much to all of this that time simply will not allow me to go into more detail,
as I am certain your eyes are already glazing over.
I am also certain that you realize that this story does not have the happiest of endings—
but it is an ending all the same.

By the time I was 31 I received a call at work.
I was teaching at the time.
They called me to the front office.
Ed was currently living in Ohio, continuing his quest to establish a relationship with his biological mother.
Upon meeting her he called my dad telling dad that he now understood why he was the way he was—
seems the old expression holds true—nuts don’t fall from the tree.

This particular day, when I reached the front office, I saw something in the face of our school secretary.
She was handing me the phone telling me it was my dad.
No one had to tell me what I was about to hear.
Dad was on the phone, telling me that the State Patrol in Akron, Ohio had called him.
They had found Ed dead in his apartment from a single gunshot wound.

You would think that this would be the sad ending to a sad story,but it is not, thankfully—

I am a firm believer in Redemption and Grace.
God’s hand has been too evident throughout my life, despite a troubling growing-up.
And yes I wholeheartedly believe that what doesn’t kill us will make us stronger.

It took me a long time to stop blaming Ed for mother’s death,
and for resenting him for how terrible our family was because of him.
I even had a great deal of resentment for my dad for not being stronger to do something,
anything to stop the craziness.

It wasn’t until years later that I found the forgiveness I so long needed—
not so much for Ed’s sake but rather for my own.

I had a student who was terribly troubled and had a severe drug problem.
He was removed from our school and sent to an alternative school.
I was terribly frustrated in that here was a kid that I never could reach and felt as if I had
somehow failed with him.
Shortly after his removal from school, he killed himself.

Being raised in an Anglican church, to me, suicide, at the time,
was very taboo.
Many victims of such were not even given church funerals.
I had always thought it to be the greatest sin against God—as it was a slap in the face
for a most precious gift of life.

The husband of a dear friend, who at the time was a Methodist minister,
sent me an email regarding the situation.
He told me that at the time when a person seems to be at their lowest point on this earth…
a time when we cannot know what is transpiring between that person and God—
how can we say that at that decisive moment when a person pulls a trigger,
or takes a drug, or breathes in a poisonous breath,
that God is not right there, right then still offering His undying and unyielding Grace and Forgiveness?

I can’t answer that.

And so it goes.

That God is so much bigger than me, my brother, this student, my parents, the cancer,
and all the tragedies any and all of us ever experience!!

After all of the years and all of the energy, the oh so negative energy,
I could and can look at my brother, and yes despite an annulment, he will always remain my brother,
I could and can find forgiveness.

Yes the story is sad—but it is not hopeless—
as long as there is light on the Earth, there will always remain Hope.

I must forgive as I too have much to be forgiven for in this life, just as we all do–
for it is one step, one day, one act at a time—

God remains Sovereign!
His Forgiveness and Grace endless…
Thank God and Amen!!!