Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Morning Thanks--Faithfulness

For the last decade or so, every two weeks early Sunday morning, I would sit at my desk and write letters, first to my parents and then, once my father died, only to my mother. We live a day's travel away. I tried to be newsy and honest and open and, when I thought I could be and had to be, determined about what I believed. We didn't always agree about things; no man or woman is his parent's clone. 

Writing those letters wasn't a burden really; but there were times, lots of them, when, come Sunday morning, I opened a new Word file, typed in "Dear Mom," and wondered whether I'd have anything to say. Dozens of those letters, I'm sure, start with "Not much news," then proceed to run on and on for a couple of pages regardless.

The ritual has fallen off lately. In the last months, my mother's ability to read a letter and stay with the contents has fallen off considerably. I'm not sure she was even all that conscious of receiving them. My sister, who's been her devoted caregiver for years, says one of the last ones--which included a number of big pictures of our new house--was, to her, brand new every time she saw it. "Is that their house now?" she'd ask my sister as if it weren't to be believed. Her mind, I guess, was on something akin to a four or five-minute loop.

So the last letter I wrote was going to be full of pictures again because I thought she'd like more, not of the house but of her Iowa family--especially her great-grandchildren.  

Here they sit on the bottom shelf of a table in front of my desk. They never got sent. She'd not appreciate them anymore, not because she wouldn't want to but because she can't. 

My mother is dying. In a week or so, on Thanksgiving, should she make it that long, she'd be 95 years old. She's had a good life, not without its problems and it's sorrows, but she's not buried any children and she's raised kids who've never wandered all that far from what she considers "the paths of righteousness." But after a shocking diagnosis last Friday, she's now in hospice care. When she leaves is just a matter of time.

Sometimes it's hard to believe that there are people who actually read the words I type in a box marked "new post," but I know there is. I just thought I'd let you all know that if the stream of blog posts wanes for a time now--as it will--they're falling off because my mother is dying.

The doctor said the surgery would likely be more than she could handle at her age, and she consented with the plan--no surgery, no more treatments, just drugs to ward off the pain before the end. There were times in my mother's life that she seemed to want to be so close to God that there wasn't room for anyone else. She's more than ready to live with the Lord and greet, once again, her devoted husband. There's just this thing called death.

We're off today to travel that day-away because, quite simply, we have to.  I don't look forward to seeing her suffer; I've watched two parents, a father and a mother-in-law, stagger down the only road in life no one can walk with you. Those images will always be there, and I'm guessing they will be replenished by a new portfolio.

But we're going to see her--got to. And we're going right now. Just thought I'd let you know. 

And this is, most simply, my morning thanks--that when she goes, she will die in the arms of her Lord.


Dutchoven said...

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. -2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (MSG)

Ronald Polinder said...

Blessings to you Jim and Barb--there is not much to say that hasn't already been said. May I simply add: Lord, have mercy--on the entire family!

Ron Polinder

Clint W said...

Grace and peace to you and your mom and the rest of your family, Jim.

Ken Rip said...

thank you for writing. May you experience grace and peace.

Anonymous said...


Sorry to hear about your mother... we each get one mother and you got a good one. This short note is a lot tougher for me to write than I thought it was going to be, I can barely see the screen through my misty eyes.

Your mother holds a special spot in my heart. She was [in a sense] my mother too... [you know what I mean] since you and I spent many many hours together as kids.

Your mother's impact on my life can not be measured or reduced to words. She was a source of encouragement to me as your friend and as her student at OCS. She subbed in my classes throughout my elementary school grades 1-8 and suffered with me through my piano lessons.

When my Dad died I was only a kid, I had just turned 12, your mother comforted me like no other... she gave me space... she told me to spend the night at your house the night he died... and let me contemplate his death with you up in your bedroom...I can clearly remember our conversation and it was rather adult for two 12 year olds who were trying to understand the death of a parent.

She will be missed....

I am looking forward to catching up with her in heaven...she left no doubt that she loved the Lord...

Your old friend,
John Triphan (Romey)