1halffull's Blog

The nostalgia of love
July 21, 2009, 12:35 am
Filed under: Death, Friends, Love, Memories, Nostalgia, Parents

This past week has been filled with nostalgia for me.  It came from a strange place – Back Yard Bible Clubs, or more accurately, the kids who participated in our church’s Backyard Bible Clubs.

The theme was ‘God Always Wins’.  The homes the clubs were held in were just typical houses where some kids lived.  Those kids invited their friends and some friends of friends.  All told there were about 60 kids attending each day.

The clubs made an impression on many of the kids.  One little boy, Rhys (pronounced Reese) talked his dad into delaying the summer parental visitation with him so he could continue to come to the club.  He even gave up his camping trip with his dad so that he wouldn’t miss a day.

I wasn’t there daily to witness what went on, but  I was there on Saturday night.  All the kids gathered with some of their parents at our church for the carnival wrap up event.  We served food and then everyone got together for an awards presentation to all kids for the good things they’d done and experienced during the week.

What turned me nostalgic was their singing.  It wasn’t just singing.  adam-godIt was an expression of joy.  They were singing about and singing to, Jesus.  They were exuberant as they sang, hands, arms and bodies experiencing the music through the motions they’d learned during the week.  All their voices joined as one happy chorus to the God who always wins!

It reminded me of another time, 42 years ago.  My mom died in March; I was 16.  I’d met this girl, Becky, in my science class.  We’d become friends between September and that fateful March.  I’d never been to her home; never met her family.

One day, after I’d gotten home from school, Becky came to our door.  She brought her mom, Glenda, with her.  At first I thought it a bit odd but quickly got over that.  I already liked Becky and it wasn’t hard to like Glenda.  She was warm and caring; they both cared about me and wanted to express love to this girl who was bereft.

It wasn’t long until I was a regular hanging around their house.  Becky’s dad was a minister at the local Baptist church.  They invited me to come and I did go a couple times; I belonged to the Christian church already.  Becky talked to me sometimes about this relationship she had with Jesus.  She wasn’t pushy, just talked in conversation.

That summer Becky invited me to go with her to church camp.

I’d gone to ‘my’ Camp Christian every summer.  It was funny because my mom had told my dad after the previous year’s camp that I couldn’t go back there.  Something they said or did wasn’t to her liking.  My dad didn’t forget it, though, so when I asked to go back there, he refused.  But when I asked to go with Becky, he didn’t see why I shouldn’t go, so I did.

It was a great week.  We had a lot of fun with lots of other kids, playing sports, doing crafts, having morning devotions, swimming, just acting like kids.  The preacher that spoke to us at the evening service was amazing.  I’d never heard anyone like him.  He drew a big mural, illustrating his message, then awarded it to some lucky kid at the end of the message.  No, I didn’t get a mural.

On Thursday, Becky talked to me again about having a relationship with Jesus.  I remember telling her that I just wasn’t ready for that yet.  Little did I know.

That night, I sat with another girl from our church during the preacher’s message.  As usual, it was awesome; it really touched me.  When he offered the opportunity to come forward, I wasn’t going to go.  But my friend asked me to go with her; she wanted to go but was afraid to go by herself.

I felt drawn and I got up and walked her to the altar.  The moment I got there, I knew it was me that Jesus was calling, me He wanted to have a relationship with.  I said a big ‘YES’ to Him right then and there.  Becky came and prayed with me and we hugged like crazy!  I felt Jesus with me as I hadn’t experienced before.  I didn’t feel alone anymore.

That night was the best night of my life.

I have not lived a perfect life; I am far from a perfect person.  When I fall down, God is there to pick me up, give me a second chance.  Through the hard times, through the valleys, He has never left me alone.  When I am in the dark, He leads me home.  When there is a need, my kids are sick, there’s a worry about something, I only have to ask Him for help.  I know that He hears and answers every prayer.  He answered Becky’s prayer for me; I believe He’ll answer my prayer for you.


Remembering My Dad
July 2, 2009, 2:38 am
Filed under: Dad, Death, Love, Memories

July 1, 1981. I was 29 years old, living in New York with my husband, my two year old and my 30 day old son.

It had been a busy week but something nudged me that I needed to get all our clothes washed and dried. I’d been working on the laundry all day. I’ll never forget it. I can see it in my mind’s eye as clearly as if I was there this moment.

It was about 2:00 p.m. I just finished folding the last load of wash. I heard the porch door open, then the kitchen door. It was Dan. On a work day. In the middle of the afternoon. The horrible look of pain on his face began the nightmare as he walked toward me.

“June,” he said, full of emotion. “It’s your dad. He’s been killed in an accident.”

The world stopped and my mind ran amok. What did he just say? “Your dad is dead,” he said again. No. Impossible. Not again.

When I was 16, I was getting ready to leave the house to go to a basketball game when the call came. It was my dad. He called to say I needed to stay home; my mom had been in an accident and she was in the hospital. After three roller coaster days, she died.

Now it was happening again. How could this be?

Dad had been training a younger man on his route. He was a milkman for the Goshen Dairy. They were out on Rt.39 headed toward Coshocton. Dan said that dad had gone off the side of the road and overcompensated to bring the truck back on the road. He was thrown from the truck. The truck landed on him, crushing him instantly. Not a moment’s hope.

He was gone in a heartbeat.

I was dumbstruck. I called my stepmom. She had lost her first husband in a skiing accident. Now here she was, facing it all again. She was in total shock. Yet she had the presence of mind to talk about where tributes might be sent. I suggested they be sent to the fish in dad’s favorite Tappan Lake. The shock of it all made me stupidly humorous. It’s the dumb way I respond.

We packed the fresh, clean clothes and crawled into the car with our daughter and our baby boy embarking on the longest ride of my life. It was so fresh, so unbelievable. I kept thinking “Maybe they’re wrong.

Maybe it was the other guy that died.” “No,” Dan said again and again, “he’s in the hospital. It was your dad.” Then I’d cry and cry some more.

When we got home, there was mom, but no dad. I’d be in the kitchen and swear I heard his footsteps on the porch. I expected to see him on the porch swing. He wasn’t there.

My dad was quite well known in our town. Both mom and I had learned with our previous losses that we didn’t want a big wake. Dad had always said he didn’t want that either. We chose to just be able to go as a family the day before the funeral to see him, spend some time with him, then have a time before the funeral for visitors.

It was a time when I was expected to be strong, get everyone through it all. If I was going to be strong, I knew I had to go see him first, by myself. I was afraid of my own reaction. I knew that I needed that time alone. Our friend was also our funeral director so I called him. He didn’t think it was a good idea for me to come alone. I insisted, knowing that I couldn’t make it through the rest without this one precious moment.

Dick went in with me. There he lay in a suit when he should have been sitting in a chair in his green plaid pants with his red plaid wool shirt – what a combination that had been!

I commented that he didn’t look as bad as I feared he might. Dick told me about his injuries. They’d done a good job with him – except his hair, always shiny and warm auburn, now turned to straw. I didn’t like that. He wouldn’t have either.

I went home and told mom what I’d done. I told her, “He looks okay. You’ll be able to look at him okay.”

Our family visit wasn’t without drama that none of us needed. The morning of the funeral, I informed the culprit that should she behave like that at the service I would personally yank her out of there myself. If I had to keep a stiff upper lip I wasn’t about to tolerate crap from someone who was trying to make it all about herself.

Three hundred people came that morning. It was amazing. For the viewing, they had placed dad at the back of the room. After everyone was seated, they gave us a last moment before the service started. When it was my turn, I walked over to the casket and looked in at the man I’d loved as my father. There he lay, taking with him the grandpa I’d hoped for my kids; the man who had dealt with so much in his life yet managed to stay afloat. In that moment, I truly wanted to throw myself across his lifeless body, screaming in grief, crying until I could cry no longer. But I didn’t for the sake of the stiff upper lip. I’d have been so much better off if I had.

I don’t remember much about the service except the sense that it helped a little. The ride to the cemetery was unreal. It was a beautiful sunny, summer day. Life was taking place outside the car. I wondered why it hadn’t stopped the way my heart had stopped?

Leaving my dad at the cemetery was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, even worse than leaving my mom. I’d always had this idea that dad would be around till he was 85 and I’d end up taking care of him. I thought, having lost my mom, I was owed at least that much. Now he was gone at age 61.

dadToday, 30 years later, it seems so long ago and yet it still seems like yesterday. I can still see him on his hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor one Saturday morning when we were visiting, an impish grin on his face. Or the time he brought grandma and mom to see Rachel at six weeks old; he never got to see Michael.

So many more memories live in my heart and the eye of my mind. I treasure each one. I rest in the knowledge that some day, we’ll be together again, in a happier time and place. Till then, I still love and miss you dad – Robert Hayes Page – August 11, 1920 – July 1, 1981.