Running with Ghosts

This is the one blog I read regularly. I read and subscribe to a few, but this one always speaks to me, especially today. Such wisdom in a young person and all because of his beloved dog…

Marking Our Territory

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Just as I remember them.

I spent yesterday driving and I owe tomorrow to the road. But before I pay that debt I have these precious moments alone.

Penny and Zero are with me, but I have always considered my dogs a part of myself. The nameless part I can never share with another person. Not because I lack the will, but because in any attempt to translate it – through word or deed – its truth is lost.

So I silently share this truth with my dogs as we stand in the rain and look down the path leading into the trees. I am here in search of ghosts, but not the Revolutionary War specters many say walk these woods. I am here to commune with a boy and his puppy.

I gather myself, dogs and all, and run into the darkness.

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Saying Good-bye: A Truth About Growing Older

Uncle Bill and me at a family reunion. Also, Aunt Vivian and my cousin, Chris.

When we’re young and think about growing older, we think about how we’ll change physically and probably think about our death. Our young minds scamper away from these foreign ideas, unhappy with the idea. Yet, it’s a fact a life.

One truth about aging that we don’t grasp until we’re older is the loss of loved ones, and, inevitably, the fact that we only see close family members at the funerals for these loved ones.

A little over a week ago, we lost my Uncle Bill. My family has said a lot about him on Facebook as each of us deals with this loss, but I’ve said little. Why? Probably because my grandchildren consume my time to the point of exhaustion, but this doesn’t mean my thoughts haven’t been on Uncle Bill. He was a fun man to be around, always joking. You knew when a joke was coming because his lips started to twitch and his eyes would sparkle with delight.

He had stories galore, too. Stories that my cousins and I need to capture before they’re all forgotten.

My earliest memory of Uncle Bill is at a family reunion when I was five or six. I was sitting on his lap and wanted to get up. He wouldn’t let me without the magic word. Well, guess what? I had NO clue what the magic word was. While I tried to guess he held me there. Yes, my parents had taught me to say please and thank you, but I guess they never used the term, magic word. Somehow, I managed to escape. I don’t recall if I said please or not, but I’ve never forgotten it.

After I grew up, Uncle Bill became the uncle I visited with when Mom and I took her annual trip to Sugar Mountain. Sometime during that trip, we’d meet up with her brothers for lunch. Bill was the oldest, then Bob who left us a few years ago, then Mom who we lost in 2014, and her younger brother, Wayne, the last surviving of the crew. The four of them together were an absolute hoot.

During these gatherings I heard stories about Uncle Bill’s flying antics (he had his pilot’s license), tales about their childhood escapades, and how Uncle Bill loved to goad Mom into an argument when they were young. He confessed that when she was attending Limestone College, he came along for the ride to pick her up for a weekend break. Within minutes, he’d picked an argument with her. As soon as he had her spitting mad, he sat back with a proud smile and announced that his job was done.

Here’s a video I shot in 2009 during one of those lunches. From left to right, Bob, Wayne, Mom (Babs), and Bill (apologies for the poor quality):

Bill was a softy, too. I don’t know how many times he called me because he was missing my dad or mom and just wanted to tell me how wonderful they were. He and his brothers came down to see mom and dad when my parents’ health declined. He was there the day my dad passed away. He was the first person who got a real reaction out of my mom when she was in the hospital after the fall that started the decline in her health.

Every time he spoke to me in the last few years, he told me I had his favorite name. His wife, who passed away in 1992, and my mother were both named Barbara.

So, yesterday, I gathered with family and his friends to say goodbye. It’s unreal he’s gone, but I’m so glad I came to know him better as an adult. I wonder if he’s picked an argument with Mom in heaven yet?

 

Seeds of the Prodigal, Part 2

A Happier Birthday Memory

This month, my daughter—the one who persists on a dark path away from her family while I raise her children—turned 37. We did not hear from her. We haven’t heard from her since early December.

A few posts ago, I started exploring what might have happened to make her turn away from the life we raised her to live and the values and morals we taught her.

As she started her senior year in high school, everything looked positive.  She enrolled in several advanced credit courses and, for the first time in her life, took her studies seriously. She’d always been smart, but she chose to control her life, I think, by choosing how much she studied. When she applied to colleges, all five of them accepted her! She took the decision seriously and picked the school that offered the best route to her chosen career, veterinary medicine. She even decided to double-major!

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,  and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:14-15 

Not everything was rosy, nothing ever is perfect. She struggled with the past, giving up her baby and the abuse she suffered from her father, but we saw less of the effects that last year of high school.

And then, she went off to college. As happens with many college Freshman, the temptations of nightlife vs studying grabbed her. Her grades revealed her choices. The awareness that she might have an undiagnosed learning disability didn’t help the grades situation, either. The college offered services for her, but she had to take the step and make the appointment. I couldn’t do it.

She never did.

Then she got sick, and we received a phone call from an ER doctor. Not the kind of thing you enjoy when your child is 4 hours away. The prognosis? She had a digestion issue that needed further exploration to determine the cause and treatment. With a barely passing GPA, she decided to finish the semester, then come home and live with us, enrolling in the local tech college while we sought the medical help needed.

That never happened.

Over Thanksgiving break, she went out with friends and by midnight wasn’t home. As another hour ticked by, I paced and eventually called the parents of the friends she went out with.  All of her friends were home in bed. Where was my daughter?

Around 2:30 am, I went in search of her and eventually found her car, empty, parked in a back alley downtown. My husband was placing a call to the police when she pulled up in another car. The surprise on her face when she saw me waiting on her was priceless.

The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15  

In the morning, after we had time to calm down, we told her if she was going to live in our home, she had to follow our rules. Over Christmas break, she continued to ignore our rules. I didn’t get much support from her friends’ parents. They felt like they couldn’t restrict the coming and going of their college-age children. She threw this in our face, but we stuck to our guns.

She moved out.

Ever since then, she’s floated from place to place. She’s made poor choices for the majority of the last twenty years.

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—  having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2 Timothy 3:2-5

This was the visible beginning of her downward spiral.