Sadness & Gratitude for Extraordinary People
This Christmas season finds me with feelings of both sadness and gratitude this year. For even though the season is filled with the joy that Christ’s birth brings, I selfishly mourn for the loss of loved ones this year…
My sadness comes from the loss of my very special, sweet father-in-law whose body succumbed to Alzheimer’s this summer…and from the loss of 2 wonderful friends this fall…and from the impending loss of another dear friend, given only days to live.
All three were extraordinary people…giving of themselves to help others:
Ron, my father-in-law, was a teacher and high school principal before he retired. He and Barbara welcomed my two daughters and me into their family – he with his sideways grin, bright eyes and good natured humor. Much laughter was shared over the years and there always seemed to be an adventure when Ron was involved. Of course, he might have preferred to blame me for the adventure part…that’s when I’d get the infamous baseball hat tilted to the side and his sideways glance. Without a word he was giving me the ‘yeah right’ or ‘you’ve got to be kidding’ look. He shared stories from his time teaching and being a principal that showed what a big heart he had. His family talks about how he used to bring people home who needed a place to stay for a few days. This is just one example of what an incredible man he was – he loved with his whole heart.
Merle was a great friend of my husbands. He was a school teacher and athletic director for years. After he retired, he could be found back at the school visiting quite often. My husband talks fondly of all the times he didn’t get his work done because Lunce had stopped by (he took on the AD job years after Lunce left). But it was always said with a smile on his face…and he never minded having to work longer hours to make up for that work time lost. Lunce never married, instead telling a mutual friend that he was too busy doing God’s work. He quietly helped to take care of the children in our community. If a teacher called him to say that she had young children coming to school without having eaten breakfast…he bought granola bars for her class. He often donated for sports programs and funded scholarship programs for high school seniors. Always behind the scenes, he never wanted to be in the spotlight, but like it or not, his light will surely shine on for years to come in the memories of those he left behind.
Rose was my dear friend who was taken far too early, at age 63. Scleroderma ravaged her once incredibly fit body. Rose was an Occupational/Physical Therapist who traveled to schools working with children who have special needs. This woman gave of herself every day. She loved working with the kids. Her heart broke for a young man who had once been a golfer on her golf team, bright, excelling in school and loving life. A car accident left him with a traumatic brain injury and broken bones. She talked of stopping at his home to see him and his parents and there were tears in her eyes as she told me about the improvements she saw in his health. She was also my daughters swim coach. She loved her girls and they loved her right back. She was firm but fun and genuinely cared for each and every one of them. She and I worked together many years ago…in fact for my oldest daughters baby shower, she gave her a tiny swimsuit and a gift certificate for swimming lessons! Rose taught infant swimming classes – I’ll never forget the look Rose got from my 6 month old when she tried to get Alex to float on her back in the water. This child was having none of that! These are memories I will hold dear (and laugh about) forever. At her funeral service, the priest used his homily time to speak to the girls about Rose’s legacy and told them the best thing they could do to honor her memory is to continue her good work, attitude, and giving ways.
This past Sunday I was notified that my dear friend Bernard will be leaving us soon. He kept his illness to himself so as not to bother anyone else…and he wanted to continue his Boundary Waters fishing trips and other adventures in his final years and he wasn’t going to let anything get in his way. Bernard lived his life in Ely with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, in awe of the beauty of nature and loving every moment he was able to be out exploring it. He was an incredible French Chef, inspiring and encouraging my daughter and entertaining us with stories of how he would get together with other great chefs to visit and ski. He was a gentle soul, a sweet man, and always asked about my daughters with genuine interest and caring. He will be sadly missed by his many friends here on earth.
*Update: As I was writing this last night, Bernard passed away. May God hold him in his loving arms, providing him peace and the knowledge of how very much he was loved here on earth.
I am truly grateful to God for having had the opportunity to get to know and love these amazing people during their time here on earth.
I am GRATEFUL for my faith that assures me they are all in (or soon will be in) Heaven with Him – healthy and happy again and watching over us all.
And I am ever so grateful for the time I have with my family…
For my husband, who is a true gift from God – we’ll be married 18 years on Christmas day! For my 3 daughters, all incredible women who offer a bright future to our world! For my mother-in-law who is also my dear friend! and…For my extended family and friends, who bring joy to my life every day!
I’ve been blessed in many ways this year, and I count you among those blessings.
Thank you for being a part of my 2017, may you have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!
A Thankfully Imperfect Woman