WHERE THERE IS SADNESS, JOY

She began to talk to me of times of JOY. She spoke of happy things and times and places. 
Upon leaving, I said,
”See you when you come home”.
“Ok honey”, she said

Always Generous, Gracious and Giving

She was my joy.   Now she’s gone…
I asked her, only hours after Grandma died;
“How does it make you feel?”
“Like an orphan”, was her answer. 
“But Mother”, I responded, “You have us.”
“I know honey”, she said. “But this is different.”
Carrying our second child,
I was filled with the joy of life; annoyed at having to deal with death. 
I wanted Mother to tell me it wasn’t so bad.
Grandma was old. Eighty years was a long full life.
In a coma, Grandma hadn’t suffered. 
I wanted Mother to move on to lighter talk and future plans.
  I wanted her to ask how I was feeling today,
resuming our daily ritual.
She was always the giver. I was always the taker.
Years passed and now Mother was in her eighties. 
She shared with me the ominous news
that she had found a lump in her breast. 
“Mother” I said, “I am absolutely sure that it will not be malignant.”
When the report came back, Mother said,
“Well, you were wrong. It is malignant and the involvement is extensive”.
Now, I who never wanted to deal with anything uncomfortable,
was required to face the unimaginable.  
Mother was  going to die. 
Try as I would, I couldn’t get my mind around that fact.
A friend said to me,
“It’s part of life, although it’s not the best part.”
I was angry with my friend
for her crude and thoughtless remark. 
How could she be so matter of fact in the face of my devastation?
My friend offered.  I refused.

In the days and months to come,
Mother calmly accepted the diagnosis;  
Always generous, always caring, always gracious and giving.
She was ever accepting. I was ever refusing.
The following January,
a friend and I vacationed for two weeks in Florida.
Upon our return I learned that Mother had suffered a heart attack
a few days earlier.
She didn’t want me to be told about it
because she wanted me to enjoy my vacation.
I could learn of it when I returned home.
She was always protecting.  I was always accepting.
I visited Mother in the hospital the day after returning home from vacation. As she lay in her bed she was cheerful
and as usual,  interested in me.  
“Maybe it wasn’t so serious after all”, I said.
  She answered “No, something very serious is going on.” 
She began to talk to me of times of joy.  Speaking of happy things and times and places. 
Upon leaving, I said,
”See you when you come home”.
“Ok honey”, she said,
for she was due to come home on Monday.
This was Saturday; she would be in the hospital one more day.
Early Monday morning, before leaving the hospital,  she died.
Mother always gave me her love. I always accepted it.
 
She was gone.
I felt smothered by a blanket of grief.
Mother was as much a part of my life as my heart and soul.
Now she was gone.
Her belongings were still here; her clothes hung in the closet.
Pictures she had painted hung on the wall.
They were only “things”.
Weeks passed and my seemingly endless river of tears
began to subside.
On a stark February night, I visited my friend
who is a shepherd.
It was lambing time,
and it was required for her to make frequent visits to the barn
 checking on the well being of the ewes.
I found her there
and we began to talk.
Surrounded by the rumblings of her flock
and the sweet smell of freshly scattered straw,
the rawness of my grief began to pour out.
 
With gentle encouragement
my friend shared her own journey
through the painful loss of both parents
during the preceding years. 
With deep compassion she shared her healed grief. 
I knew that with her consoling love,
I too would be healed through this journey of grieving.
My friend offered. I accepted.

Next morning as I prepared my morning coffee,
my glance fell upon a plaque hanging on my kitchen wall.
Reading it as if for the first time,
I understood the message of St. Francis of Assisi.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled
as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in the giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Dear Lord
Thank you for the loving, giving people you have placed in my life.
Help me to be the consoling,  understanding, loving and giving instrument of your peace
which has so graciously been given to me.
Amen
copyright©2020
 
Printed May 2017 at Sunlight Press
          Photographs By Mary Anne Tuck

A GIFT TO BE SHARED

Ann was healed and she was in heaven!
The Holy Spirit was giving to me the knowledge of her healing.
I received the confirmation of her new life 
as a gift.
It is a gift I will remember and cherish all the days of my life.

ANN…
 

Remembering  Ann

 

A gift to  cherish….

Ann lived a short distance from our house.  
 She and her husband moved to the neighborhood
 from the southern part of the state 
where she had worked in a factory and he had been employed
 as a heavy equipment operator.
 Now retired, they spent their time caring for their home.
 They had no children and were deeply devoted to each other.
Plain looking and soft spoken,
 Ann had the proverbial heart of gold. 
Her graying hair was not stylishly fixed
 in the fashion of the day.

Each year ann raised a beautiful circular flower garden 
with a birdbath in the center
 surrounded by colorful flowers.
The garden prospered under Ann’s tender care.

The two were always nearby,  lending a helping hand
 when one was needed. 
 Appearing on a summer’s evening to visit for a time,
 there was always encouragement in planning our young lives,
 with an offer to help in any way they could.

 

Ann unwittingly helped me to acquire a taste for sauerkraut. 
I could never abide the bitter taste no matter how I tried. 
 One day, I stopped by her house. 
The wonderful aroma in her kitchen caused me to inquire
 about what she was cooking.
 Her answer was sauerkraut. 
I shared with her my utter dislike for it.
Ann suggested I should add brown sugar 
and a couple of quartered apples to the sauerkraut as it cooked.
 What a difference that combination made.

 

Perhaps there’s a lesson here. 
It may be the “lack” of seasoning that causes bitterness
But the “addition” of something sweet
 can change bitterness to joy
 and give us a new appetite for life.

 

One day I learned Ann was in the hospital for stomach surgery.
 The results were not good. 
She had cancer and nothing could be done.

 

coming home to spend her remaining days
 in her own bed and her own home,
 surrounded by things and people she loved.
 By this time, Ann was in her late sixties.

 

Life, for me, at that time, 
had been completely turned around
 by the joy and knowledge of the Holy Spirit. 

The Bible was exciting. 
Scripture was leaping off the pages of the Bible, to me,
 as it had never done before.  

I prayed incessantly for Ann’s healing. 
 I had faith and prayed for more faith 
and more understanding 
and always
 for the complete healing of Ann’s body.

Time passed and healing was not evident.

 I searched scripture for more information.
  There were many passages for guidance.
 1Thess.5: 27 “pray without ceasing”.

 

The disciples asked Jesus
 why they had not had a healing for someone
 by praying for them.
 Jesus responded; Matthew 17:21 
“this kind does not go out
 except by prayer and fasting.”
Further, it is noted He said to them.,
“This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting”.

 

For the first and only time in my life, I fasted; and
  prayed without ceasing for 24 hours. 
The fasting directed my complete attention to the prayer,
 to Ann, 
and to the Spirit of God.

 

I was confident

that Ann would be healed. 
She was not.
 A few weeks later, Ann died. 

I questioned God, my faith, and myself.

Ann was a devout Catholic.
 Her funeral was held in the local Catholic Church.
 Our family sat in the back of the church 
quietly observing the unfamiliar (to us)

funeral rituals.

 

I was sad for the loss of my friend, Ann. 
For me, the words of the service fell on closed ears and a heavy heart.

Suddenly I was amazed.
  I felt a great feeling of joy welling up within me.

 I was overwhelmed with the knowledge being given to me. 
 Ann was healed.
 She was in heaven.

 The promises of God were fulfilled. 
“I go to prepare a place for you. Where I am you will be also.”

Ann was healed and she was in heaven!

The Holy Spirit was giving to me the knowledge of her healing.

I received the confirmation of her new life 
as a gift.

It is a gift I will remember and cherish all the days of my life.

* * *

A Gift To Be Shared

One treasures the people in life who made a difference 
in the way we lived then and now.

 

I would not have identified Ann as such an important person,
 until my experience at the time of her death.

 

I now believe that God called me to Ann’s friendship
 so He could show me

His Way.

It’s hard to explain my experience the day of Ann’s funeral.

The feeling was instant, intense and joyful.

I’ve shared my feelings
 with friends and family.
But there is no way to convey 
the intensity of the joy I felt 
as I sat quietly in the back row of an unfamiliar church 
during an equally unfamiliar funeral service. 

 Maybe that was part of God’s plan too.

 

Belief in Ann’s healing 
and belief in life after life
 in a perfect state of being
 will never change for me.

 

It truly is “A Gift To Be Shared”

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