calving and other stories

I want to write something beautiful and moving.

Or at least humorous.

Or stimulating.

But lately all good words evade me and the online world seems like a desperate cry of Look at Me, Me, Me.  It feels like pish-posh and I don’t even know why.

I say that without judging all of you who are writing good and beautiful and witty things in the least.  You know as well as I do that I am up there pish-poshing with the best of you when I’m in the mood.

It would appear that this online cynicism happens frequently to some of us and is becoming recurrent in my life.  Because as I was writing about this dilemma, I had serious deja vu.

I do not know the source of it. But I thought that maybe if I break right in with honesty and just write for a bit, I can get over myself.

I will not pretend. It was one of the harder winters and springs of my life. Some of the people that I love the most in all the world were going through terribly hard things and I couldn’t write about them.  I cried more than I laughed, spring was slow and cold and bleak and wet and muddy and snowy and hard.

Spring (if you could call it that) had some wonderful times, too. There was a pastors’ retreat in Montana and a ladies’ retreat down there too.  There was Easter in sunny, green Ontario and new and old friends to make life sweet.

Crazy things happen around here lately.  Like nine-year-olds writing “deodorant” on the grocery list for the first time.  These are my babies and all of a sudden they’re worried about sweating.

Liesl turned 8 in May and she is agonizing over picking out her calf, which is what happens the spring after you turn 8 when you are one of Dan’s offspring.

Here Liesl is at one year old.  I can’t stand how cute she is, then and now.

IMG_4030

She thought she had picked out her calf the other night and she came in and described the little heifer to me, “She’s just so pretty and elegant and delicate and cute all at the same time!” she said breathlessly.  Then she changed her mind because the calf is kind of wild.

Spring has crept in on us and now it’s here with full force, blowing us away with its gorgeousness.  The green washes the windows of my soul and life looks hopeful and good.  I cleaned most of my windows and we had delightful weekend company from Idaho and they probably thought that my windows always look like this.

I get some sun and it hides the dark circles under my eyes.

So what would you like to hear about over here?

On Sunday evening, Dan and I took the three youngest children to the park in town.  It was warm and windy.  We always stand out in our billowy dresses, we Mennonite girls.  The kids took their scooter and roller blades.  Farm kids have a hard time finding smooth concrete for toys like that.  I read Beautiful Boy by David Sheff off and on while the children played.  It’s  the heartbreaking story of a boy addicted to meth, written by his father.  Dan did Sudoku.

For three days in a row,  Dan’s cows produced seven calves each day.  They’re exploding  out there.  There are still a lot to go. It’s good that he takes time to do fun things in all the busyness of cow checking.

On the way home, we drove into the pasture below the house to check on the heifers.  One of them was laboring seriously and Dan asked if we wanted to stay around and watch a calf being born.  Everyone did but Natalia, age 11.

Two little hooves are appearing in the designated spot for calves to make their debut.

The young mom is in obvious discomfort, poor little two-year-old thing that she is.

She writhes a bit, more leg appears.

Things get more serious.  Natalia hides her eyes.

This  is the very reason I want to adopt children,” she says.

“Yeah, that’s one great thing about being a boy,” says Andre (9).

Other curious cows come over to inspect the poor little almost-mother.

Andre: “They’re like, hey, we know just what you’re going through.  We just did it three days ago.”

MOM probably knows what she’s going through, says someone.

Yeah, I kind of do.  I feel it all over again when I watch a cow giving birth.

They ask all kinds of questions.

“Did Mom scream?” they ask Dan.

And other questions, more intrusive things.

The head appears and the heifer spooks, getting up and walking a bit in her pain and awkwardness.  Natalia hides her eyes again.

Before we know it, there’s this healthy girl calf on the ground and the mother is licking it.

“She looks skinnier already!” says Natalia of the new mother.

Lesson over.

My sister and her husband of five months just visited us from Virginia. She was saying how her husband Ben, who is 78, loves lilacs and was enjoying them across the US as they traveled. “He really likes purple,” she said. “He’s kind of colour blind and doesn’t seem to notice the reds and yellows. I’m thinking I need to make myself some purple dresses!”

Ben loves to travel, but likes to do it economically. So they camp when they’re not staying with friends or relatives. He built Carol a plywood platform that they cover with a foam mattress so that she can easily get in and out of bed. This contraption folds up and fits into a minivan!

Their mutual respect and care for each other is wonderful to see.

Our May and June are packed full of guests.  It is busy and fun.  The quackgrass is overtaking the asparagus patch and every corner of the yard and garden needs attention.

It’s been good to talk to you again.  Other stuff is happening in our lives too.  But for now it’s good to write about the surface and the happy.

Advertisements

random awkwardness

I can’t believe that this poor blog hasn’t been touched since Thanksgiving.  I’ve been soothing the writing itch by posting long posts on facebook.   Then it feels redundant to publish them here.

I’m currently working on a post about  comfort zones and sticking with our gifts versus daring greatly, like Brene Brown tells us to. It has a little bit to do with me trying to learn to ski and a lot to do with how much you can learn new things when you’re over 40 and it’s also about growth mindset versus fixed mindset, like I read about on Jenny Smucker’s blog.  But that thing isn’t coming together very fast.

So I just popped in to say hi.

I’ll tell you about last Sunday.  I teach 9 and 10-year-old Mennonite kids and we were reading the verses in Matthew 21 about the man who had told his son to work in his vineyard and the son disrespectfully said he wouldn’t and then later felt terrible and went.  With the second son, the father asked him to work and the son was all agreeable and said he would, but it was all a lie because he never went.

Jesus went on to say that this was a picture of how the publicans and harlots would go into the kingdom of God before the chief priests and Pharisees, the religious leaders who looked so good on the outside.

So I was explaining these verses in my teacher voice and said, “So the publicans were people that no one liked because they collected taxes and sometimes they cheated. And harlots were like….do you guys know what harlots were?”

They didn’t.

I said, “Well….they were ladies who sold their bodies.”

“You mean like, they’d cut off an arm or leg and sell it?” asked one of them in disbelief.

“Well, no,” I said, squirming.

And then I launched into another explanation that hopefully kind of worked and they seemed satisfied.  But I am very glad it was not recorded.

Oh Jesus, your stories and your love for every single person are seldom tidy, church-y,  or easy to explain, are they?

Dan and I have always thought that children should be told the truth in simple language that satisfies them, without giving them more information than they bargained for in the moment.  But then I run into situations where I realize we have gaps. Innocence is good.   But  raising sheltered little people who don’t know about the reality of what so many people face isn’t our goal either.  February 23rd was the 5th annual “shine a light on slavery” day, the End It movement.  Thanks to my friends online who have reminded me that our children need to know and be aware.  And to my little Sunday school class.

Sometimes I feel like a walking paradox.  I ache to take all the hurt and homeless hearts in the world and nurture them.  But then I get grouchy about  nurturing the ones in my own home and church.  And I get So Tired of needs.

Serving in obscurity may be scarier than doing big things for God, as this post says so well.

I’m not sure how I ended up here.  Random awkwardness, I guess.

I must go and fry some burgers for supper.  Nice to chat with you a little.

We shall walk through the valley in peace

It’s Thanksgiving Day in Canada, a white one here in our much-loved North.  A few golden trees are shining through the snow, kind of like hope.  I keep thinking of poetry about October’s bright blue weather and wondering where it is.

Dan took Andre hunting this morning.  Liesl woke up early and snuggled on the couch with me.  She was “stouving”, so she warmed up some leftover baked oatmeal.  When the hunters got back, she raced out to meet them, hoping they’d brought “fresh venison for dinner.”  I think that comes from Little House in the Big Woods, of which she is a current avid fan.

While we ate bacon and eggs, I wondered aloud about what people in hurricane-riddled Haiti are eating today. The ache of need there and in so many other places can make us feel affluence guilt on a daily basis.  Is that healthy, do you think?  How do you deal with it?

As we speak, the Trump/Clinton race for the election rages on.  My facebook page is full of my (many & mostly conservative) friends’ take on the subject, angry or stony faces of both nominees filling the newsfeed.  This morning I keep thinking of that song, “If Jesus Himself will be our leader, we will walk through the valley in peace.”  I wish He was here to walk with us, to touch us and give us that peace.  But maybe we’d miss Him, like so many did 2000 years ago.

The last six weeks have been difficult ones at our house, difficult by first-world standards anyway.  Besides rutted fields from fall rains and getting back into school schedule and a weird, unnamed stomach bug that put almost everyone on the couch with varying degrees of discomfort, we are facing some hard life issues that I can’t even really talk about because they’re too personal and painful and uncertain.  Being quiet in difficulty is not my strong point, but I’m learning.  I’m also learning that it’s easy to think you’re kind of learning to be strong when things are just a little bit hard, but then they get harder and you realize how much you need faith and others and Jesus because your strength is no match for Harder.

You can pray for our family if you think of it, unspoken prayer requests here.  I have always kind of hated those things, but now I know why people give them.

This post about beauty is so good.  It’s just where I find myself.  Sometimes thanks seems impossible, but always there is beauty.  And when you identify the beauty, the thanks usually follows.

I rescued these three pretties before it snowed too hard.

image

And since the Inspirations journal that my friend Luci Miller gave me is full, I get to start this purple ($4) Dollarama beauty.

image

Scarf sisters.

image

And there’s always humour too.  Dan and the boys were guffawing over this meme this morning while Tori and I rolled our eyes.

a-lot-of-women-actually-turn-into-good-drivers-so-4146499

About the last post I wrote?  I wrote it in overstatement.  Our 12 year old boys do smile at us.  My 14 year old hugged me on the way into the grocery store on Tuesday evening.  We talk a lot, discuss the world and people, have many.good.times here.  We love our teens and they love us.  Just to get that straight.  But I’m not minimizing the hard times, the estranged times, the we-did-something-really-wrong-here moments.  That’s what I was writing about.  The mean old comparison thief can make it look like everyone else’s families are  put together Just So and mine is floundering horridly.  I like to tell the kids that we probably look like that on the outside too. But that’s not really what we’re here to do, show you only the best and hide the ugly.  Not that the opposite is beautiful either. Balance in all things, folks.  Balance.  I’ll tell you when I’ve achieved it.

Here’s to peace in the storm,

Jesus as Leader,

and the final Triumph of Love over Evil.

Love you all.

He Smiled First

You might look on at our family and think we have it made. Three handsome sons and three pretty daughters, a decent business and a modest home, a dad who loves to take his family out for dinner and a mom who grows green beans and flowers.

Twenty years ago Dan and I entered holy matrimony, buoyed by love, sights soaring as high as the Rockies.

We both came from strong families; strong but flawed.

Since we loved God and each other and were moderately intelligent, we hoped we’d have a family a cut above the mediocre ones in which we’d grown up. Not that our parents didn’t fit that same criteria.  But nowadays there was good literature out there about how not to be passive dads and controlling moms, about avoiding iron-grip discipline and over-protectiveness, about giving more time to our children and teaching them the reasons instead of just saying no.  We’d both been teachers and we both loved children. Surely if we followed the Ezzo’s Raising Kids God’s Way formula and practiced healthy communication and read good stories and taught them to pray, things would turn out well.

I don’t think we were more naive than most 22-year old-Mennonite couples. We were happy and hopeful and maybe a little unlearned. But it didn’t matter.

Our six brown-eyed bundles of joy came pretty quickly, some of them planned and others surprises.  We cried with intense feeling at their births, worked our hearts out for their first smiles, smacked their bottoms when they threw fits, and read lots of Beatrix Potter and Dr. Seuss.

There were a lot of other moments too, hard ones and happy ones, funny ones and terrible ones.

Then all of a sudden the boys turn about nine and they don’t smile at us anymore.

Andre is our youngest boy and he’s tall and sturdy for his age. He has a wide face and a big smile. He has a slower, easier nature than some of his intense siblings and he gives us big hugs when he tells us goodbye, even in front of his peers.  He’s my baby boy and I’ve probably enjoyed him more than I did the others, knowing that soon he won’t make popsicle stick plane messes and create huge farms on the downstairs carpet, using masking tape to mark fields and roads.

But now he’s nine and after a skirmish with his sisters on the way to church (something to do with who sat where in the suburban and his dad’s reprimand about how he was acting) he got grouchy and sullen. I came into church a few minutes after he did.  He was sitting there with his dad and I smiled at him.  No response.

Oh come on, I groaned inwardly. Not again, not my Andre. I thought maybe we’d bypass this stage with him. He’s always adored me and I’m not ready for this.  I guess we just go wrong somewhere. What do you have to say for yourselves, Mr. Ezzo and Dr. Dobson? 

It actually hurts not to have your smile returned. Especially when it comes from the same little people that you taught how to smile in the first place.

Later on that no-smile Sunday, we had choir practice at church. Alec is our oldest son and at 18 his bass voice is so beautiful that it can make me cry if I let it. We were standing in our choir circle, facing the other parts. Between songs, I looked at Alec, standing tall in his hipster jeans and new, dark-framed glasses.  He smiled at me.

Mom, I think you’re actually pretty nice. I like you and I’m proud to be your son.

Those first months you work your heart out for that baby of yours, pouring, pouring, pouring into them.  You store up their baby smiles and photograph them and frame them.  You go tingly with joy over their first laugh.

If you’re flawed parents like us, you miss things along the way and before you know it, you feel them draw away and it makes your heart ache a little. Or sometimes a lot.

Remember what’s been poured into your life and who poured it in! you want to scream some days.

Then somehow miracles dawn and they reach back out to you. Along the way, they start to say thank you, sometimes more with actions than words.  The smiles you coaxed out of those one-month-olds come back to you.  And they fill you up like you wouldn’t believe.

 

incredible daughters, springtime, and judgmental humans

Written Monday, May 2nd.

It’s been such a good day.  Any day that is Green and Spring is good.  These precious days when we enjoy good health and good food and relative peace are good days.  I had to add “relative” to the peace part because we seem to be having an especially bad round of fighting at our house.  I am not the pro-active mother that I could be and sometimes I just wring my hands in despair and roll my eyes and pray that we’ll somehow make it through without being consumed one of another because of all the biting and devouring that’s going on. (Paul knew what he was talking about in Galatians 5.) Maybe when they’re 30 they’ll love each other.

Dan is much better at handling things.  “Okay you two.   I want you each to think of something to do that will make the other person happy.”

It works!  They think.  Liesl gets shiny eyed and goes to put away the silverware for Andre.  Andre gets thoughtful and goes downstairs for the bottle of bubbles he never uses.  They go outside and blow them together.  Dan says, “See? Isn’t that so much better? You’re actually smiling now.”

I took Victoria to the airport in Grande Prairie today and she flew to Lethbridge for a week to be with my mom.  This is our girl who finished her schoolwork early for the spring, graduating with the CLE academic diploma in eleven years instead of twelve.

Here she is with her friend Sandra, who also graduates this year.

image

I imagine that when God was growing Victoria inside me, he said to Himself,  Ok.  This lady Luci cries easily and overthinks life and tends to negativism.  I’ll give her a break in life.  I’m going to give her a daughter with her Dad’s calm and steady disposition and his mathematical mind and musical abilities.  I’ll give her her Grandma Martin’s grace and her Grandma Peachey’s efficiency and organization.  She’ll have her  Auntie Monica’s perfectionism and her Aunt Michele’s thick dark hair and almost black eyes.  She’ll be poised and disciplined like her Aunt Linda.

And He created her and said that she was very good.

IMG_4930

(I’m not sure what part of me He gave to Victoria.  Maybe my love of Beverly Cleary and long walks on sunny days?)

But seriously, she’s such a good daughter.  She’s not perfect and she wishes she could express herself like her witty Smucker cousins and she wants to be more socially adept and not so bossy with her siblings.  She finds fault with her dad and mom like I did when I was 16. And other things.

But if I told you her grade average I might be bragging.  And she is a girl with a Sense. A sense of appropriateness, a sense of otherness, a sense of Jesus.

I love her and am so proud to call her mine.  I know that God gave us a beautiful gift when He gave her to us.

We shopped a little yesterday, more rushed than we’d hoped to be.  I wanted to take her to eat at The Chopped Leaf. But there were taxes to sign and we didn’t have time for too many extras after spending too long trying on sweaters at Value Village. It’s fun to be able to swap shoes and sweaters with my girl.

I hugged her goodbye and left her, happy to know I can trust her and happy to think of her spending time with grandma and her aunt and cousins. I miss her when she goes, but I know I have to gradually get used to doing without my right-hand girl.

image

She dreams of Faith Builders in Pennsylvania, Jungle Breezes mission in Guatemala, Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute, IGO in Thailand, Maranatha in Minnesota, going back to serve at the place in Belize where we spent two happy years when she was little, Zimbabwe, teaching at the Russian school in Hudson’s Hope, working in a Dawson Creek coffee shop.  It is good to be 16 and full of dreams.  I hope we can keep her close for at least the next school year.  Seventeen seems too young to go very far for very long.

I drove home in the May heat, the farm suburban air conditioning out of order, windows rolled down.  I so seldom drive alone and when I do, I daydream about just driving and driving.  Ending up in Fort Nelson by nightfall, heading on up to the Yukon and maybe Alaska. Who knows on a summer-like day?

I thought about the stony-faced Mennonite lady I saw in the Walmart checkout line and wondered what made her face so dark.

I thought about this meme someone posted on facebook.

meme

I passed an abandoned camper and wondered about its story.  Had someone made love there? Died?  Left it for a double wide?  Maybe I could write fiction, I thought. The idea was quickly discarded.  I don’t even read fiction much anymore.  Chalk it up to being over 40, I guess.  Real life means so much more to me than it ever used to.

I thought about the new shoes I’d found for Natalia, those Converse style she’s been dying for. Teal and shiny to boot. (They didn’t fit and need to be returned to Payless, which is a hard realization for a 10 year old.  Maybe they won’t have the right size by the next time we get to Grande Prairie.)

I saw a jet stream in the blue and marveled (again!) at all things green and warm.

I thought about the balance of mercy and judgment and how hard those calls are to make and where God stands in all of this.

I prayed about church problems and family stuff and so many hard things in life.

I laughed again at how in my last blog post I called myself a judgmental human and later in the day I read a post by someone who isn’t my personal friend, but is a friend of a lot of my friends and she’d written her post about 5 hours before mine and used that very term.  And I was sure that our mutual friends would be sure that I was copying her because I used her very words.  But I was innocently naïve to the fact that she’d used that term when I wrote my post.   I felt at the time like I needed to clear myself immediately of plagiarism.  But then I thought better of it and realized how driven I am by what people think.  And usually people are thinking of us so much less than we imagine them to be anyway!

(But here I am, still clearing myself in the event that someone may have read both posts who happens to also care about reading this!! Ugh. The fear of man bringeth a snare.)

I thought about how someone told me after our choir program the other night that I look So Sad.  And I know they meant well and were being sensitive, but it made me feel bad.

Number 1:  I wasn’t actually feeling sad, I was actually quite happy and at peace.

Number 2:  I realized that do the same thing in my attempt to care for others.

Life Lesson for me:  Do not tell people they look tired.  Or sad.  Unless you know they are, maybe?  Or maybe ask them if everything is ok instead?  But then that can get on my nerves too.  When things ARE ok and somehow I don’t look like they are, I wonder what is wrong with me that I look troubled.  But sometimes it’s the question I need and it gets to my heart and I am ready to talk about the sadness or the tiredness.

Sigh.  Conversation is dicey.   Aptness is a gift.

I didn’t finish this post on Monday and it’s now Tuesday and the 3rd of May.

I need to plant beans transplant tomatoes plan supper change a load of laundry bring in laundry clean the perennial beds wash the windows and buy a new loveseat.

Not all happening today, obviously.

Happy Spring, wherever you are.

 

From Starbucks

I’m feeling as refined  as I’ll ever feel, sitting here at Starbucks in Dawson Creek, looking out at Shoppers Drug Mart’s red and grey front with white lettering, having just eaten a chicken chipotle panini and an Almond Coconut Cashew Chai fruit and nut bar. I am drinking a caramelized honey latte and wearing a circus red scarf, a gift from my sister-in-law Kim. I don’t really do Starbucks, but then again I guess I do once in a while. I planned to spend the day at home, putting sheets through the washer, sitting in the big chair and actually remembering my dad, calling Mom, catching up on my diary, folding jeans and towels if I felt like it.  But Dan had cheques to deposit and bills to pay and I knew that my help would help to make up for the day he took off yesterday to take Bryant to an auction.  So I went to the bank and gift shopped for Hannah, my niece (I’m so excited about my find for her at Faking Sanity, the used bookstore.  But I’d better not say what it is because she might read this.) I ran into my friend Carol at Safeway when I stopped there to get Nabob coffee on sale for 9.99.  And being at Safeway, I grabbed a plant with orange flowers and a card in honour of the newest Peachey baby. I got to see the new little guy for just a minute…and his precious young parents so brave and proud.

Life has been such an overwhelming muddle of death and birth and marriage and death and lovely music and death and engagement announcements.  I feel breathless from trying to keep up, tired from being stetched thin washing clothes and packing and preparing and planning and crying and scrubbing mud boots and singing in the choir and making floor beds and flying to Portland.

To try to write of the last month feels insane, narcissistic, a veritable marathon of events that could make us appear super human, which we definitely aren’t.  Just ask our children, whom I lost my temper on the other night-the first night there finally wasn’t something that had to be done-for the simple reason that I get tired of them Always Having to Have a Bedtime Snack.

And if we’re comparing hard things, my life is a breeze compared to Job, my sister Twila, or  the young woman whose cancer journey I read last night on Caringbridge. To name just a few of the people my addled brain can think of. Nothing heroic or super human here. Just a lot of grace and kind support of friends and family.

I guess if you read only here and not on Facebook, I should insert into this muddle that my dad passed away on March 29.   He is Home and at peace. The chain of events since then are only part of this defective world the rest of us still call home.

I’ve been wishing to write again, to write real things. But I don’t know where to start.  This quote by E.M. Forster guides me:  “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” 

It also makes me laugh, describing the many long conversations Dan and I had while driving the road between here and Edmonton.  At one point he looked at me and said, “Did you know you talk too much?”  But talking  or writing is my way of thinking. It’s an annoying habit, I’m sure, one that needs to be seasoned with a sense of otherness.

One thing that I want to say is this:  I have been a judgmental human a lot of my life.  I have often been judgmental of people and their words, especially as expressed to people who are grieving.  I remember when my brother Kevin died at age 27 that I felt like laughing bitterly when people said, “I know how you feel.  We lost our baby after she lived for only two days.”  Or:  “I know what you’re going through.  We buried my grandma a year ago.”

Kevin was in the prime of life and it was taken.  There is no comparison,  I felt like saying.  But there is, actually.  Death hits us all deep and hard.  It causes guilt if we don’t love the person who left us like we know we should have.  It causes loneliness and deep holes and weird emotions and unexplainable aches.

And planning funerals is Just Hard Work.  With a wedding, you plan in anticipation for three or six months, taking care to honour the people you care most about with important positions, thinking about flowers and colours and time honoured traditions.  Funerals give you about five days in a state of blurred shock or unseeing tear-filled eyes to try to bring together something just as beautiful and meaningful and honouring to the people the person who died cared most about.

I am starting to cry here in Starbucks just thinking about all of these things again.  Don’t look at me, man with the white cell phone case  and grey sweatshirt and black bill cap.

I have become a stuck CD it seems, speaking so often of the beauty of life in the midst of pain.  But the last month truly made that real again to me.  So I guess you get to keep hearing it if you bother reading here.

We had a wedding that Dan officiated at and we sang at on the Saturday after Dad passed away. It was pretty, simple, and happy.

After the whirlwind of viewing and funeral for Dad down south, memorial service up here in the Peace Country he loved so well, burial at the little cemetery just down the road beside Kevin, hugs, songs, cards, flowers, friends, family I-love-you’s said…. After that Dan and I went to Oregon to support my sister Twila and her family at another funeral.  Twila’s husband Brian lost his father and stepmother to a fatal accident.  So Twila’s five girls lost both grandfathers in four day’s time and then their grandma on the day they buried their Grandpa Peachey.  The grandma was taken off of life support (as per wishes in her will) and died shortly after.  Twila and Brian’s daughter Hannah lives with us this school year, teaching special ed at our church school.  It was fun to walk in and surprise them on that sad day.  And I got to meet Dorcas Smucker.  She is tiny.  I was wearing heels that day and I’m average height, but when I hugged her, I felt like I was overwhelming her. She has kind eyes.

Oregon in springtime is delicious, full of wild color and gentle green.  I saw so many good friends in our brief stay there.  And made a few new ones. And I started to eat again.  Poor Dan, having to pay for airport food for his ravenous wife.  Everything tasted SO good, starting with the fajita bowl at Chili’s in Denver. Zesty Ranch snack mix on United Airlines, heuvo ranchero (eggs, taco chips, zesty beans, salsa) in Portland airport on the way home,  fruit crepes at Elmer’s across from our Portland hotel, Asian cashew chicken cabbage salad, cheeseburger soup at the funeral, a parfait in San Francisco, Wendy’s Asian cashew chicken salad, bacon cheese baked potato, and frosties in Whitecourt, Alberta.  Everything Tastes Good again. My legs feel strong again.

After we were home, we got ready for SMBI (Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute) from the hills of Pennsylvania, who graced us by coming north to sing for us.  We slept ten girls in our basement and it was so much fun.  Black and green choir dresses hung all over the house that night, drying after their midnight washing.  And the music?  Awesome and beautiful.

The day SMBI left, our little Peace River Community Choir sang at one more celebration of life for a well-respected man we didn’t know well, but who was very well loved and honoured by all who knew him. I tell you, funeraled out as we were, it was a privilege to sing there and all the memories touched us in deeper ways than we knew existed because of fresh grief of our own.

I might write about being with Dad when he left this world, of our messed up family and the ways death brings us closer, of Mom in her quiet house, going through Dad’s footwear.

Or maybe I’ll just write about other things.  Like Natalia saying, “Grown up ladies always say, (insert prissy voice) “Oh my! It’s already 2016.  And it’s already the fourth month.  And we’re already halfway through it.”  And they say things like “My!  You’ve grown so much!”

Ain’t that the truth, said Luci cliché-ly.

I must get home to my children and towel folding! Tomorrow there is another wedding to attend! Life goes on!!!

Said Luci like her expressive friend Sharon whose letters are adorned with exclamations.  Life is really full of them, isn’t it?

I am publishing this without proofreading.  Because it’s 4:01 and I said I’d be home by 4:00 and it’s a 15 minute drive home. 😦

It’s majorly haphazard

My dad has stage 4 cancer of the pancreas and liver and for people who want details (mostly boring ones), you can go here.

I’ve written quite a bit about my feelings on the whole deal on facebook too. I know there are a few of you who read here who don’t read there….but I so badly don’t want to belabor the issue. It’s big and it’s real and it hurts.  But long medical explanations quickly become monotonous for some of us.  And he’s 79 and has lived a joyful and generous life.  The family is rallying around him and the neighbors are offering products for healing and bringing in food and flowers and songs.  He is back and forth between wanting to get strong enough to take some chemo for prolonged life and telling Mom who he wants to preach his funeral message.  I cry sometimes, walk around in a daze sometimes, hug my kids extra tight, and stare out at the northern landscape pondering life and death.

I was able to spend about four days with Dad and Mom last week and it was precious to rub Dad’s feet and back and tummy and bring him another pillow to make him more comfortable.  We weren’t a family with a lot of physical affection growing up, so it seems extra poignant now.  Time softens and widens us, doesn’t it? Dad feels like his body is a prison and I long to see him soar free. But of course it hurts like crazy to think of letting him go.

I need some lightheartedness today. We’ve all been in a funk after a Very Long Flu and the news about Grandpa and the coming of muddy March, which is almost more than my weak constitution (weather-wise) can bear.

So I’m going to post photos of my children (and their classmates), taken by their cousin Veronica at school.

021374351313053415

511427

847

Speaking of children. We’ve got some tough things going on here with growing up and yesterday I spent the day in town with Bryant. Occasionally we all need a break from the grind of life–maybe especially when we’re 13.  We ate lunch at The Chopped Leaf (it’s new to Dawson Creek) and went grocery shopping and finished out the day at Starbucks. He didn’t want me to take a selfie (or technically”usie”…that’s actually a thing) of us with our lunch, but he let me snap a coolish-for-me shot of him at Starbucks with his mocha and their very Starbucks-ish wall mosaic behind him. (Not that I know much about Starbucks.  I don’t go there much and it’s relatively new to our town too.) When we got home,  I wrote up a goodish-for-me description of teenage life…and unfurling personalities…and becoming…and I posted it on facebook with the picture of him.  Knowing the touchy nature of teenagers, I posted it and then quickly went to okay it with him.  What I’d written was okay, but there was absolutely no way that I was allowed to post the picture.  None, zip, zero. I didn’t even plead very long, deleted the whole thing, nursed my wounded heart, and thought wryly to myself that that in a nutshell is what life with teens is like, that delicate balance between making them face reality and suck it up and grow strong–and the need to respect them as people with big feelings and preferences and deep longings for identity and power. Ok….I sound like I’m trying to be a therapist here and I’m not a very good one.

This is a quote from Alec the other day, “Mom, DON’T let Dad become a grumpy, conservative old bishop.”

Dan isn’t a bishop and doesn’t hope to be one.  And grumpy is not a word that would ever describe him.

But I take these warnings to heart.

I have to add when it comes to teenagers that it is just wonderful to come home after being gone for over a week to a clean house and a baked potato dish in the fridge for Sunday dinner and little children bathed and people relatively sane and happy.  A big, big shout out to Victoria.  She did it with the help of her cousin Hannah–and I know the big boys and other kids pitched in too.  She runs a house better than I do.  Sorry to brag.  She has her limitations too, of course.  But I’m so thankful for her.

My brother Kevin’s funeral was 8 years ago this past Monday.  He died on the 7th of March and I think his funeral was exactly a week later.  I miss him. ❤ He seems closer lately, somehow.

kevin p

This morning my neighbor Linda Funk was here for coffee and I told her I’m fasting today and would try to especially remember her brother in law who’s so sick with cancer in prayer-especially when I got hunger pangs.  Then I felt bad because Jesus talks about not letting other people know you’re fasting and going on with life as usual.  They have their reward on earth, those people who want to look righteous. Anyway.  At lunch time I was writing about Dad being sick and wanting to get better and also wanting to go home to Jesus. And I was hungry and thought about this rye bread I got for 50 percent off at No Frills.  I got hungry enough that I thought maybe God would be gentle with me breaking my fast because my Dad is dying and so I ate two slices with lots of butter and cream cheese.  My weakness is very strong today.

I thought I had so much to write today. Then I wrote about Dad on caringbridge.  And a little of this and that here.  And now I’ve already run out of all the excellent things that were pounding on my brain and I’m remembering the messy fridges, the tomato seeds that need to be started, and the lunch table that isn’t cleared yet.

Adieu.