1halffull's Blog

The Surprises of Life…
April 4, 2010, 5:05 am
Filed under: Change, Dad, Friends, God, Happiness, Humor, Jesus, Kids, Legacy, Life, Love, Memories, Nostalgia, Parents, Travel

For the average person, there are very few really big events that take place in our lives.  You’re born – but you probably don’t remember that.  You learn to walk – don’t remember that either.  Your first day at school – maybe.  Your first visit from the tooth fairy – yep, pretty sure you remember that.

 The first date…the first kiss….the first ‘real’ boyfriend.  High school graduation then college.  Getting engaged then the big (or small) wedding day.  The birth of your first child, and every child after that.  The death of your mom, then your dad; your grandmas and grandpas if you were fortunate to know them at all.  There goes your favorite aunt and suddenly you’re so much older than you’d have thought you could get when you were 20.

 For me, most of that happened in the first 30 years.  It was a lot to pack in there.  They were all a big deal at the time….some remain a big deal in my heart, my head, even now.

 Someone once said that it’s the little things that sneak up and grab a hold of you.  They were right.

 Some of my ‘little things’ include, in random order….

 Going fishing with my dad and catching more fish than him.  He let me.  I loved the lake.  Still do.

 My friend deciding that I wouldn’t be able to deal with a club meeting when I got home after my dad’s death.  She put herself in my place and took care of it so I didn’t have to.  A little, but thoughtful thing.

 My dad poking his head into my room, handing me a $20 bill as he told me that he knew all I’d been doing around the house to help out.  Demonstrated appreciation that meant so much to me under the circumstances.

 Aunt Betty who invited me to visit her in the summers and allowed me to see myself as a valuable person like few others did.

 Learning that my friend Avis daily sang ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’ in the final weeks of her life.  I’d always hoped she would.

 Playing a game of ‘keep the car moving till the light turns green’ when taking kids home from church – it’s a fun game – you should try it.

 Having a mother-in-law who patiently listened over the years, didn’t butt in, and has spent hours on the phone with me, talking about anything and nothing.  If we were running the world, it would be a much better place.  Thanks, mom.

 Going to the beach with the whole clan; all the kids playing together; sunburns radiating.  Sea creatures scurrying out of the bucket of sand while one child screamed and the others all laughed.

 My sister-in-law and I in the ocean – without our contacts in – screaming at ‘jaws’ coming for us then laughing our faces off when we finally could tell they were just shadows.  Another time laughing ourselves silly so hard in the card section that a man ‘just had to come see why we were so hysterical’.  “There are two sides to every divorce” the outside of the card said.  “Yours and the s— head’s.” (not my words – but how we howled and promptly sent it to a sibling who may still have it today)!

 Two little faces pressed against the window waving and calling ‘bye mommy’ as I’d pull out of the driveway on my way to somewhere else.

 The surprise 40th birthday party my husband gave me where I was totally surprised.

 The kids so excited to sleep in the van the night before a vacation started.

 All the Christmas videos we made that could be Christmas any year except for the changes in sizes, hairdos, glasses and voices.

 Howling at the moon from the causeway with my daughter.

 Taking my son for his first tattoo.

 Oh, the list goes on and on and is my way of saying, let the little things grab on to you and you hold on tight to them.  In the end, they’re really the only things that matter.


Everybody Poops
October 18, 2009, 12:47 am
Filed under: Bragging, Everybody Poops, God, Humor, Life, Love, Parents, Racism, Sadness, Storms, Unions, Work

billnyeThe book, ‘Everybody Poops’, was written by Bill Nye, The Science Guy.  Remember him?  He was a hit with kids back in the late 80’s and early 90’s I think.  The first time we saw the book, we giggled like school kids.  I mean, after all, it mentioned the word poop and that word makes everyone giggle at some point or another.  Well, unless you’re a person whose job is to clean it up.  Then, I suppose, you probably don’t giggle much about it.

Anyway, we were talking today about people who think that for one reason or another, they’re at least a half head better than everyone else.  We all know them.  We work with alot of them.  They make it their business to make sure we know how important they are, even when they aren’t.  We watch alot of them on TV or in movies or on sports fields.  Then we watch them get all haughty because someone wants to take their picture or asks for an autograph and they don’t think they should have to participate.  Hey, bucko, you’re the one who wanted to get all famous, and I helped you get there, so suck it up and sign the autograph.

Which brings me to – Everybody Poops.  I started thinking about how we all want to point out the differences among us and Poopshow some of us even want to get all haughty about these differences.  Whether we should or not is another question.  

Just in case you ever get the idea you’ve got something to get all haughty over, I thought I’d give you a list of some of the things we do pretty much the same.  Here goes….

We all have skin covering our muscles, unless yours has been burned off in a fire.

We all have hair covering our bodies, unless you have alopecia.

We all have eyes to see, unless you’re an alien from another galaxy, then you might not.  Or if your haughtiness has blinded you.

We all have hands and feet and, generally speaking, ten fingers and ten toes, unless you were in a very bad accident or born without them.

We all have navals, I believe, without exception.  There is a difference in navals, as some people have innies and some have outties.  Even so, I see no reason to get haughty over it.

We all have ears, although some of us use them less than others.

We all have mouths, although some of us use them more than others and should think about that.

We all have butts, some flat, some round, some with kind of a table top effect, some sagging.  Maybe you can get all haughty over your booty if you want.  I wouldn’t lord it over others, cause the booty can change at any moment.

We all put our pants on one leg at a time, unless, again, you’ve been in a terrible accident, lost your legs to diabetes, or were born without them.  If you’ve got ’em, be thankful for them and keep on walking.

We all have brains, although with some people, you just can’t tell.

We all breathe the same air, but some of our bodies respond badly to it while others consume it regularly.

heartWe all have hearts that pump the blood that we all have, carrying the oxygen that we just breathed to all of the organs that we all also have.  Here there is a difference:  some hearts beat with love while others beat against love.  Again no reason to get haughty – those beating with love should strive to help those beating against love.

 We all came from the collision of a sperm with an egg and were ‘baked’ in a warm uterus until it was time for us to pop out.

We all have birth mothers; we don’t all have moms.  Those who have moms should share with those who only have birth mothers.

We all have access to God.  We don’t all choose to access Him.

We all have the capacity to love one another.  When we use that capacity wisely, without mixing love with power or control, we just might forget the reason we thought we could get all haughty and enjoy and benefit from the gifts we each can share.

If all else fails just remember:  everybody poops.  Sometimes, that’s a very stinky business, so try not to poop on anyone else.

Three Things
August 4, 2009, 2:02 am
Filed under: Love

Don’t give up.

Everyone wants to be understood.

You are loved.

I flipped on the TV tonight to hear and see a very lively Josh Groban, rushing across the stage in a very large venue, singing those words to the crowd.  They were cheering for him, reaching up to him; he reached back, touching hands, encouraging them, his own face, radiant with the belief to back up his words.

I thought about how we each need to hear those words.

Don’t give up.  In this world, every day is a battle against evil, sickness, depression, thoughtlessness, work stress, family issues, road rage, bone tiredness, financial discord, worries of small and great magnitude.  Some days, we wonder how we can not give up.

And yet, the sun sets and rises again and we get up once more to give it another try.

Everyone wants to be understood.  Heck, most of us just want to be heard, really listened to by someone, anyone.  Most of us are too busy thinking of how to respond to what we’re hearing to actually hear.  Instead of really concentrating on each word, hearing it for what it is, catching the feeling, the emotion behind it, we miss it because we allow our selves to supersede that of the other person.  If only we could put ourselves aside in that moment, look into the other person’s eyes, see their heart, focus on someone else, then we might understand.hearts%20logo

You are loved.  And yet you rarely feel that way.  Why?

I think we rarely feel that way because we constantly measure ourselves against others and rarely find ourselves measuring up.  When we feel that way, it is hard to believe that we are love-worthy.  Then there are the ‘love, buts….’

Human love is so volatile and most often, even unwittingly and subtly predicated on what you do for me.  It’s an ugly battle.  Listen to your own conversation sometime and hear yourself as you say to the object of your affection:  You know I love you, but….

I love you should never come with a ‘but’ attached.  I love you should always come with a ‘because’.  I love you because God made you with such a soft heart.  I love you because I see your kindness in the midst of a doubtful situation.  I love you because I have watched you grow through difficult times and still you persevere.  I love you because you are, period.

When Josh Groban told his audience “You are loved” everyone wanted to believe him.  Unfortunately, just saying it doesn’t mean we can believe it.  For many, it takes more than just being told.  It takes a ‘because’, it takes a demonstration.

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.

Automatic Bragging Rights? Or Not?
July 17, 2009, 2:31 am
Filed under: Bragging, Kids, Love, Memories, Parents

Here’s a question for you:  Do parents have a right to brag about and take pride in their children’s accomplishments?

From the kid’s point of view, maybe not.  After all, it’s the kid who is doing all the great things, not the parent.  Why does a parent think they should get to talk about it, show off and make a big deal even, about what their kid has done?  The parent should get a life and create something of their own to brag about, right?

Okay, so maybe parents are just plain lame.  However, as a parent, I have to say I don’t really think so.

Here’s my POV:  As parents, we spend a lot of time on and with our kids over the years.  It feels to us like we invest an awful lot of ourselves into their raising.  These kids don’t come out with a care manual in their little hands.  We do the best we can with what we know; we hope we don’t screw things up too badly for the poor unsuspecting little one.  We want, even need, reassurance.  Unlike getting a good grade on a test, which is instantly gratifying, there is no grading system that shows us how we’re doing along the way with this parent thing.

As a parent you’re constantly second guessing yourself; even after the kid is grown and out of the house, you’re constantly remembering and reviewing all the stuff you did and didn’t do that makes you pretty sure you were an idiot, to say the least and the worst parent ever, to say the most.

When your kid messes up, you blame yourself.    You’re sure it’s proof positive that you’re a loser!  You didn’t see they were hurting and help them.  You stopped paying attention for just a moment and down they went.  You beat yourself up royally and you rarely forgive yourself for what somehow slipped by you.

For some parents, the success of their kids is a form of redemption.  It becomes that good grade, the thing that says, in spite of me, they were able to do this good thing.  Regardless of how much I screwed up, they’re pulling through.  It makes us so happy that we want to brag, sing the song of praise, let people know – in spite of me, they’re making it!

Sometimes, we also hope it means that we just might have done something right.

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.