Saturday, December 20, 2008

Not about Christmas . . . maybe.

Every once in awhile something happens and I am reminded how quickly time is passing. A "shift" takes place that causes me to come up out of the routine of my life and do a double take on just what it means to be passing through this lifetime that I call my own. Do I take time often enough to realize that it won't go on forever? 

Our family recently experienced a loss. Fred, my mom's husband of four and a half years, died. In November he was here; and now he is not.  Brain cancer. From diagnosis to his passing was five weeks. And Fred lived a bunch in those last five weeks. Boy did he. He would grab the phone every time it rang and whoever was on the other end was JUST the person he wanted to talk to. He went to church, bible study, invited people over every chance he got, made time to talk to every family member one on one, started college funds for the great grandchildren, bought my mom a fantastic new sewing machine, made sure special books of his got to certain people, transferred the title of his car to my mom, imparted the little wisdoms of his life right and left like he was a major league baseball player making one magnificent play after another. I am telling you that man was busy! I think all he accomplished in those last five weeks just about wore out everybody around him. It was work to keep up! 

My mom's side of the family all came to say "goodbyes" to Fred right away after the diagnosis. That, in and of itself, said a great deal about Fred. In four and a half years he had somehow managed to connect with each of us even though we are significantly spread out geographically. He and mom made the effort to be at all the important events. He wasn't the type to sit back and say "they aren't really my family."  No sir. He was there being a part of it all. Graduations, weddings, births, all of it, and as happy as if he had always been a part of the family. 

For most of the four years they were together mom and Fred watched my dog for me on a part time basis. They kept her while I was overseas for months at a time. I would fly in and pick her up to be with me for a few months before leaving her with them again when I flew out. The arrangement worked well for all of us. They really seemed to enjoy her and I didn't worry about her well being since they took excellent care of her. Fred called her "our" dog. If you are a dog lover you will understand that small kindness. Maybe even if you aren't a dog lover. 

Now things have "shifted" again.  My mom must make her way through another loss. This man that none of us (me, my siblings, our spouses, all the grandchildren, and some great grandchildren) knew existed five years ago has come and gone in our lives. I believe he was a good influence on all of us. He brought with him more than a few lessons on how to be in relationship with others, how to keep on loving and living to the very end. I had the opportunity to thank Fred for his kindness before he got too bad with the cancer. He looked me straight in the eye and gently said "it was very easy." I seriously doubt that, but he made it look easy. I think that came from the practice of choosing to be kind through many circumstances in his life. Thanks Fred. Glad you stopped by in our lives for awhile. 


Deb said...

Well put....I agree with Fred, you are easy to be in relationship with (and to love!)

Cheri (aka "The Mom Lady") said...

There is so much to learn from the "consistently glass-half-ful" people that grace our life. I never met him but knowing what you've told me of him, he was quite a fella! Your mom was lucky - he enriched her life in many ways. I remember sitting at the same table as your mother at K and P's wedding and she was so happy about the engagement. I'm glad you were all able to go and be with them - get some closure and bolster each other as well. I wish I could have known him - he sounds like my kinda person. :)