Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rest in Peace, My Friend

Patti was the first friend I had when we made the move to Casper, Wyoming  just before my 6th grade year.  She was tall in 6th grade, like 5'1" or 5'2".  That's funny now, because she didn't get much taller than that after 6th grade.  But she was sweet and friendly and took me under her wing to show me the ropes of a new school and the way things worked.  She even kept me out of trouble one time at recess when she gave me one of her gloves to wear and told me to put my other hand in my pocket as she did the same.  It was big trouble if you were caught without appropriate winter wear on the playground, and I didn't yet have mittens or such.   (It wasn't that my parents were unprepared for winter.  They were, however, unprepared for winter to hit in October and for there to be outdoor recess in the snow.  In Oklahoma, we didn't go outside for recess in the snow.  In Oklahoma, we didn't have snow.)

I was thrilled when Patti and I re-connected last year on a social networking sight.  We caught up on what our lives looked like now and what we remembered from all those years ago.  I made her chuckle because I remembered her phone number from back then. (Don't be impressed.  It was the first few notes of Happy Birthday.  Who wouldn't remember that?)  She made me chuckle with her recounting of things that had happened in and around Casper since I moved away.  And we found that we much more in common as adults than we ever did as young teenagers.

She was a wife and mother, and she loved being both.  She was a faithful daughter and sister and aunt and friend.  She served the community through Meals on Wheels.  She made God's love real and tangible to people, and she sought no attention or affirmation for it.  She was, as my dad would say, "good people."  (And my dad always thought she was cute as a button.)

Patti died last week, much too young, much too early from our perspective.  I know where she is. I know she gets to see her parents.  I know my dad is chatting her ear off.  I also know that I wasn't ready to let her go.  We were going to try to meet the next time I was through Casper, and I was going to try to articulate how much she meant to me, and how sad I was for all the years we weren't close. 

I'm not trying to make this about me.  It certainly isn't.  There is a husband, a daughter, relatives,  close friends and a whole community who, after tomorrow's service, will have to adjust to a new normal of life without Patti.  She had a large circle of influence, and she has left a gaping hole in their lives. 

I can't make the hurt go away for Patti's family and friends.  I know their faith is deep, and that truly is a comfort at a time like this.  I can, however, be thankful for the time she was in my life and learn from her example.  It was a life well-lived, Patti.  Rest in peace.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Warped Door

If you just look at the sign on the door, you might miss the beauty of the rest of the dwelling.

Some friends have just moved into a beautiful new house.  Physically, it's beautiful.  But, honestly, we live in an area where many houses are beautiful.  What makes this house special is that it is a home.  It is a representation of the love of the family that dwells there.  It is a reminder that they are a family, they have worked hard, they are on the same team.  But this home has a warped door.  Even if you are not someone who has been trained to spot a door's warp factor, it is obvious the door is flawed because the builder wrote on the door, right there where everyone could see:  WARPED DOOR.

Now, if you've never built a house or been involved in a building renovation or remodel, you may not know that no one EVER moves into a perfect space.  There is always something that was left unfinished, something that needs to be redone, repainted, or removed.  So, in the great big scheme of things, a warped door is not that big of a deal.  And while I am certain there are more items on this new home's punch list, that's the only item I saw with its flaw so boldly proclaimed.

I hope this is not a news flash for you, but people are flawed.  Maybe our flaws are out there for everyone to see.  Perhaps we position ourselves around others whose flaws are more obvious so that ours seem to pale in comparison.  Some of us work hard to cover up or hide our flaws--a fresh coat of paint, a change of accessories.  But what if we had to wear signs around our necks that proclaimed our flaws?  What would yours say?  Emotionally Unavailable?  Narcissistic?  Jealous? Insecure?  Liar?  Pessimistic?

Personally, I would require a plethora of signs.  Things that need work, stuff that needs to be discarded, areas that need some attention to detail--I am a walking of punch list of flaws.  And I've lived long enough to realize I am not the only one.

I am determined to look past the signs, whether they are obvious or not.  I am determined to see the beauty of the whole person.  I choose to focus on what is good.  Because if I were to just look at the sign on the door, I might miss the beauty of the rest of the dwelling.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Reunion Weekend

Cube 3 ruled.  It was like having 7 sisters.  We laughed and cried about boys, jobs, classes, and life.  We each had 7 other closets to rummage through to find just the right sweater vest or polo to wear.  There was almost always someone available to join you to grab something to eat or to join you on a trip to the beach.  And we played "Friends are Friends Forever" about half a million times.

This weekend was a reunion of my college roommates.  I was not able to go, but from all reports, it was pretty much like the old days, though, honestly, I didn't hear of any clothes sharing.  I am certain there were stories told, heartaches shared, and joys celebrated.  I thought of these friends so many times during the weekend.  How is that health scare turning out?  What happened to that relationship?   When was the last time anyone heard from that person?  What is like to have your kids walk through that? 

I am desperate to know how each friend is doing.  Not the kind of knowing that takes place on a "social connection website."  I want to know in the way good friends share together:  face-to-face, Kleenex close by, ready to hug at a moment's notice.  I want to look into their eyes and hear their hearts, and I want to tell each of them how they have impacted my life.

So, get ready Babes of Cube 3, because I WILL be at the next reunion.  I will need a brief update of whatever updating happened this weekend (I hope someone took notes), as well as the Cliffs Notes versions of each one's life since we last saw each other.  Let's start planning it for as soon as possible, please.

And if I happen to win McDonald's Monopoly, I'll see you all next week.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Daddy

Today is my dad's birthday, and I miss him.

I am thankful for the many wonderful years we had with him.  I am thankful for the things he taught me, the life he provided for our family, the way he loved his children (and their spouses and children), and especially the way he loved my mom.  But I miss him.

I miss being able to call to ask him what it means when a car makes this noise, what tool we need to fix this plumbing problem, or which road to take to shave time off a trip.  He was a natural mechanic, the World's Greatest Plumber, and he knew practically every road in the country.  And I miss him.

He's in a better place.  He is holding the 3 babies Dale and I have never held and telling everyone who walks through the gate the best way to navigate the streets of gold.  I'm pretty sure he's a greeter there, making certain people feel at ease, telling them the secret to getting the hot water turned on in the shower, and looking for my mom to join him.  Still, I miss him.

He didn't have much of a childhood.  He made certain we did.  He valued education for his children and put actions to his words when he earned his GED later in life.  He never met a stranger and was a favorite among the little old ladies of his church.  He had a million Okie-isms that we still repeat on an almost daily basis.  He had a twinkle in his eye which meant he was about to say something funny (and possibly inappropriate) or do something inappropriate (and most assuredly hilarious).  And he laughed the most contagious laugh.  I miss that, too.

I miss him when I smell coffee, eat barbeque, buy peanut butter in bulk, and drink ice cold milk.  I burn a ceremonial batch of cookies because he liked them crispy.  I see his eyes twinkle in my boys, I see his hands on my brother, I hear his laughter in us all.  And I miss him. 

I am thankful to have had the kind of dad that I get to miss.  I am thankful to have been able to embrace the process of grief without unfinished business.  No railing at God.  No bitterness about things past.  No lack of love on my part or his.  I got to just lean in and grieve.  I am so thankful for that.  But I miss him.

I'm not certain how birthdays work in Heaven, but I have a feeling today is an all-you-can-eat barbeque buffet. My dad, 3 babies in tow, is telling stories until people are snort-laughing and their sides are hurting.  At the end of the meal, those he just met are thinking that they are so glad he is there and how they would miss him if he wasn't.

I am familiar with that feeling.  I miss my dad.