If we are fortunate, every so often we find a sweet spot in life . . . a time when our relationships and circumstances seem just right.We are thriving and feel safe and happy.And then something outside of our control happens.Life changes—even though we don’t want it to.
The first time I experienced it, I was only eight.My dad was starting a new career, and we had to relocate half-way across the country. I remember the anxiety and sadness I felt over having to leave the only home I had ever known.
Similar feelings resurfaced as my high school days came to a close.I dreaded the transition that would scatter my close friends and propel me into the unknown. Yet the hands of time dictated that a season in my life was over.
As an adult, the pattern has repeated itself several times when circumstances beyond my control changed my world.Sometimes it happened suddenly, like the day my house went up in flames. Other times it was a longer-term process, such as experiencing the stages of eldercare.
My dad’s world (and my family’s world) changed dramatically this month. It started with a phone message alerting me that dad wasn’t answering the door for his noon “Meals on Wheels” delivery. I wasn’t initially too concerned, because sometimes he doesn’t hear the doorbell. So I tried calling dad and left a message. Five minutes later I tried again. When another few minutes had elapsed, my anxiety began to rise. I called my cousin’s husband who lives around the corner from dad and asked him to check things out.
My relative called with an urgent tone in his voice moments later to let me know that he had found dad collapsed on the floor, unable to get up. Dad was still wearing his night clothes, so we estimated he had been there at least five hours. His “Life Line,” which would have detected the fall, was later found on his bathroom counter. Continue reading →
The garage looked cavernous without the lumbering, maroon car parked in its usual place. Only oil spots and track marks lingered as indicators of its long-time resident.
Pangs of sadness zinged my heart as I knew dad’s car, a 1991 Lincoln Continental, was gone forever. But I wasn’t grieving the loss of the vehicle as I much as I was mourning what its absence signified. The sale of “Mr. Lincoln,” as we affectionately called the car, meant that my dad would never drive again. Continue reading →
The luncheon after my uncle’s graveside service was winding down, and the cameras were coming out. “Let’s get a picture of all the first cousins,” I suggested. As we lined up, someone motioned to a middle-aged woman across the room to join us. “Whose cousin is that?” I asked, “She’s not my cousin.” Sure she is, that’s Joanie,” another cousin said.
As the woman came closer, she smiled and I clearly recognized my Uncle Bob’s countenance in hers. “Of course,” I said sheepishly. I guess I shouldn’t feel too badly—I don’t think she would have known me, either, had we passed on the street. I can’t remember the last time I had seen Joanie in person—it had been decades. My mental image of her as a pretty little blond girl was long outdated.
I was born into a large extended relation, with thirteen children in my mom’s family and seven in my dad’s. From these siblings came my dozens of cousins, literally. I have fond childhood memories of playing with my cousins in our small rural community. I always looked forward to going out to their farms, especially if they had horses. I grew very close to one cousin and considered her a best friend. Continue reading →