Sunday, December 17, 2006

Anticipation for Sunday Scribblings

Anticipation - that feeling inside, much like suspense, that makes the tummy fluttery. Anxious? Patient? Experiencing dread? Experiencing nervousness? Experiencing all the possibilities, good or bad? All anticipation.

Take, for instance, a dinner date. It's not a regular dinner date. He orders wine. We're dressed in our Sunday best. We're at a pricey restaurant that we both love, soft music playing in the background. The conversation is lively. He appears a bit giddy and nervous. It's as if we are alone is this crowded room basking in each other's glow. This is no ordinary dinner.

Is he going to ask me to marry him tonight? It can't be. Frankly, I haven't been expecting this to happen, though I am elated at the thought. It's a feeling deep in my soul that tells me tonight is the night. Now I tell myself: Act surprised when he proposes!

So many questions run through my mind. Will he have a ring? Will I like it? When will he want to have the wedding? What kind? Who will be invited? What will we wear? How will we all (blending two families) adjust to each other? How do I know that's what's going on here? Could I be wrong? No. Women's intuition. I know, but the suspense is killing me!

A glass of wine, a salad, bread, Italian entrees, more wine. I know in my soul this is it. The anticipation makes it so much better, more exciting. The heart is thumping loudly when he says my name with a particular tone of love and seriousness. He asks. Of course, I say yes! We're not school kids anymore, but the anticipation of this was more meaningful the second time around. Words do not do justice to the thrill of it all.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

In the Last Hour

This is the Sunday Scribblings topic from over a week ago, but I didn't know then if I could write what I want to write or not. I'm still not sure if I can make it through it.

In the last hour of my father's life... The hour just before death stole him from me... I didn't even see him. I was at a little league football game with my son and daughter. I saw neighbors of my parents walking around the field area who aren't normally there, but I didn't think anything of it. I found out too late.

His last hour on this earth was spent in service to others. I so admire him. He was at a refresher class for CPR. They were learning to do the Heimlich as part of the class, and he had asked someone to demonstrate on him so he would know that he was doing it correctly. That may have contributed to his death as he had bleeding in his stomach when he was in the hospital. The hospital staff was never able to completely revive him. He was on machines keeping his heart pumping and his lungs breathing. He had come home from the class and collapsed in the bathroom. My mom was there alone and had just had knee surgery. She tried to get to him, but physically, she couldn't do anything. She had to call for neighbor's help and dial 911. I still wonder if she had been a little braver and less concerned about re-injuring her knee and tried to revive him herself if he would have lived. Probably not, but I wonder. He had suffered a type of brain aneurysm/stroke. They called it a sub arachnoid hematoma, or something like that. He was only 69.

The last hour with him.... No, the last hours. I can't forget all the wires and tests and so many friends who showed up at the hospital. I remember arriving at the hospital and asking, "Is Daddy awake yet?" When they told me no, I cried and asked, "Why not?" No one could really explain it. I didn't understand. I had no idea how serious things were. He was supposed to live to be 98 like his father before him! When would he wake up and get well?

He was transferred by life-flight to a better hospital in the medical center. They ran their own tests and told us there was nothing they could do. There had been too much blood on the brain. Even if he could breathe on his own, and even if his heart would pump, there was no activity in the brain.

The last hour... I held his hand and tears streamed down my cheeks as they disconnected the machines. I wanted him to start breathing on his own. I prayed for it! I hoped against hope! I remember crying, "No daddy, don't go!" And his heart blipped a little faster. Then it began to slow, and I kept hanging on to his hand. I couldn't let go. I still can't. Finally, it stopped. I will never forget that silence. That was the saddest day of my life. I miss you so much, daddy, and I love you so much. And I can't wait to see you in Heaven. But for the rest of my life here on earth, I will always remember holding your hand and holding hope until it was wrestled away from me.

My children loved him dearly. I so looked forward to them growing up with him as their Papaw. He was already a huge part of their lives. He was Mr. Fix-it, and Mr. Ride-a-little-horsy, and Mr. You-look-away-while-I-steal-your-jello. That's probably what makes me the saddest, that my kids were only 8 when they lost him. He was such an awesome grandfather. And he was a rock of strength for me through hard times. He was going to be everything to them that their father wasn't.

Dad, I'm so lucky to have had you as a father. You are the finest man I'll ever know, the most decent, the best influence in my life, taken too soon. I love you. Please come back.

Punishment and Reward (Sunday Scribblings)

It's Tuesday, so sue me. The title is Sunday scribblings. At least I am here now.

Like some of you other writers, I'm a teacher, so punishment and reward is a much-discussed topic, but teaching is only my career, not my life or a definition of me. Why am I here? That's the $64,000 question we all ask at one time or another. My answer is... to please God. He made us. He wants us to enjoy life. He wants us to live in joy and to spread joy and to worship Him who created us.

So you are probably asking what does this have to do with punishment and reward? I guess I am looking at it from an eternal standpoint. I think there is plenty of evidence of Godly punishment in the Bible as well as in times not so long ago. But I don't believe He takes pleasure in punishment. As a parent, sometimes I just have to say to the kids, "enough is enough!" I believe that God gets to that point, too. And sometimes what we consider "punishment" is actually discipline used to teach and reinforce a lesson. Admittedly, punishment does exist, and it should, both in the here-and-now as well as in eternity.

Then, there is the reward. When I do what I can to bless others, that blessing comes back to me ten-fold. I believe that with all my heart. It may be something simple as smiling at someone when I'm walking down the hallway, letting someone go before me in a line, not cutting off that car trying to get on the freeway, or giving a quarter to a student who doesn't have enough money for lunch. It may be as elaborate as donating money and toys for various charities that help the needy or delivering gifts to a family in need. It may even be so elaborate as to attend a benefit for charity, tithe at church, or donate a kidney to a relative in need. The movie "Pay it Forward" is an example of something coming back to you ten-fold (or more). I believe in the philosophy that if you serve others, if you help others, if you are kind and generous, you will receive your own blessings, have reason to feel good about yourself, not to mention the heavenly reward we will receive.

To some, that may seem like it will never happen. Some may say, "Oh, I'll worry about that another day." Others may scoff at the idea of a life after death, especially a life NOT as we know it, one that words cannot describe. But I believe that it is my reward waiting for me for a life well-lived. I believe others may "punish" me for my beliefs, but that will mean nothing once the reward is received.


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