scenes

Scene 1 fades in from black: I’m standing in the doorway of what used to be the bedroom for my two daughters. Eleven months before I said, “Her mother and I do,” at my oldest daughter’s wedding, and like the refrain of a song, I just said the same words at my youngest daughter’s wedding! My oldest son is already married. Three down, one to go. I pull out my phone and capture… this… empty room. I guess I was hoping to capture the conversations, dance parties, tears, Christmas mornings, laughter, prayers… capture all that happened in that room. The phone displays an empty room. But I am filled with gratitude as I remember that grace brought me here and will continue to lead me…home. I am crossing the vast Canyon of Parenthood, which is followed by the great Canyon of Fatherhood and the Canyon of Where Did the Time Go… and I realize that I am at the beginning of that time in my life where I will be remembered a bit less, and less. And that is what will be. And it’s ok. Scene 1 fades to black.

Scene 2 fades in from black. I’m standing in the doorway of what used to be the bedroom for my youngest son. I pull out my phone… you know the rest. Now, the emptiness of the room is a bit more final in my heart. All four of our children (can I still call them children?) are gone. Now I watch our children and their families, and I see them and the 6 little ones that are the new generation in their “rooms” praying, crying, laughing, enjoying dance parties, creating moments to remember and one day say good-bye to… one day let go… one day to try and capture on a phone. And I know that the new generation will forget more than they remember of their papa and nana. And I know that is what must be. And it’s okay. Scene 2 fades to black. One more scene.

Scene 3 fades in from black. I am being held by my mom in an impossibly strong, firm embrace. Impossible because my mom’s 96 year old body appears to be so frail, brittle and fragile. I see her connecting to my dear wife in a hushed conversation filled with memories and love. She can’t really stand up straight anymore. It seems like she is always folding in on herself, like she is ever seeking the fetal position. I tell her, as often as I can, that I love her, and her frail, thin voice tells me the same. My mom is a stranger in this world. She has lived long enough to bury he mom and dad and all of her siblings. The neighborhood is filled with strangers, for all of her friends from the old days have passed as well. She is, in so many ways, alone. Few remember who she is. And as I have had the opportunity to watch her in these late years, I am grateful for all that she has taught me. She has embraced her reality, and it is okay. She has taught me to welcome your emotions and the reality that you are in, but to not let it steal the grace and love that you can, at any moment, give to someone. She is frustrated, but not angry. She is sorrowful, but not bitter. She feels forgotten, but is not resentful. I want so badly to take away all the pain, heartache and struggle that makes up her days and nights. But I can’t. It must be this way. And that is okay. If I could take it away, it would diminish her and also diminish me. It is okay. This scene will fade to black. I am not sure I will be able to navigate that blackness. But, it will be. And that’s okay.

a valentine’s life

My mom and dad have been married for 62 years. They both have their physical struggles and they take care of each other. My dad takes care of my mom’s arthritic feet every morning. I felt privileged to watch him carefully wash, dry and apply topical aids on her feet. They have lived a Valentine‘s life together, and not just a Valentine’s Day. I was also reminded of what Jesus taught us. Take a moment and read the gospel of John chapter 13 today. Thanks for stopping by.

galena time

Galena, Illinois was “born” in 1826. It is known as the town that time forgot. This beautiful town is filled with shops, candy, lots of chocolate, delicious coffee, great eateries and, apparently, ghosts! This is my bride, and we enjoyed celebrating 39 years together in Galena!

still here we are

For us, January 1st is Happy Anniversary as well as Happy New Year. So, in honor of my bride:

just look at those kids
kneeling in stillness
about to unfold
a story to be told
of their love

just look at those kids
praying and longing
about to discover
the path is so steep
and love will require
more than they know

still here we are
still telling a story
older now
somehow
still here we are

just look at those kids
i do
let’s go
i’m yours

your love is true
through all the hurts
pain and sorrow
you still said yes
through each tomorrow

you love so well
with grace and kindness
staying by my side
oh Ruth
so grateful
you’re by my side

still here we are
still telling a story
older now
somehow
still here we are

just look at those kids
dear God
thank you for the journey
and for taking care
of those kids
and thank you
for the gift of
that high school girl
who so long ago
was kneeling beside me
and still is

dear son

Our youngest son is getting married tomorrow... I walked into his room and reflected on what I found...

dear son
thank you for the empty room
it tells me the time has come
to see you journey on
and say how proud i am of you

dear son
thank you for my heart is full
it tells me that the time has come
to listen to my memories
and watch you make your own

dear God
thank you for your grace for me
it tells me there is grace for him
let him be so much more than me
let him soar and sing and be
a wonderful man

a wonderful man

who was once a boy
to me

strong servant

there are not enough words
in the world’s languages
to properly honor my mom

today I’ll choose two:

strong servant

rest your eyes on her hands

a remarkable strength lies beneath
their frail appearance

when i greeted her this morning
her embrace was not only filled with love
it was filled with a force
a firmness
a stability
that comes from deep within

i know her heart carries
immeasurable sadness
and a weariness
that age and time have given her

her heart is also filled
with a near perfect combination
of strength of will and resolve
and a seemingly endless
river of love
ever flowing
in service of others
rest your eyes on her hands

hands that have worked so hard
to create a home
to clean and cook
to calm and reprove
– trust me when i tell you they are strong hands –
to hold and release
to serve all who entered her home

but these are just two words
shadows that dimly portray
my dear mom

a walk in the park

I have so enjoyed spending some time on Long Island visiting my parents. Whenever I come back home I always take a walk in Eisenhower Park and visit the Veterans Memorial. This beautiful memorial serves as a tribute to the heroes of Nassau County. I also always go to Jones Beach. That will be the next post.

mom moments

This is my dear mom who is… well, to be polite, she is above 90 years old. We try to get back to Long Island, NY a few times a year to visit with my family. COVID porevented an earlier trip this year and, this time, my wife needed to be at home, so I am here enjoying my parents who still live in the house I grew up in. We hung out on the front porch and just chatted away a few moments together. She carries a weight of sadness for all that she has seen in this world, but at any moment, she can laugh and get me laughing as well! Favorite quote so far: “You have to enjoy your home… when you think about it, for 60 years this home has kept us from getting wet.”