Tag Archives: home

Time To Go Home

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Timing is all…

Wednesday, August 30, 2017, was an intense day.  My emotions ran the gamut from profound sadness to overwhelming love to incredible joy, over the course of both hours and moments.  I’m actually still trying to process it all, and in doing so, I’ve spent a bit more time lately just keeping to myself and being still.

It was the beginning of my work week as Wednesdays always are, but with a distinct change in the middle of the day when I took a 3-hour lunch to go and sing for a funeral at Messiah Lutheran Church, where I sang and served from 2013-2016.  The associate pastor’s mother had died, and I adore both pastor and mom.  Being asked to offer music for this occasion both honored and humbled me, as I would have attended the service even had I not been singing.

Even the most seasoned of musicians sometimes feel nervous, especially when called upon to provide music for funerals and memorials.  It is only natural.  And nerves visited me as well.  My friend and #firsteverworkhusband Martin, knew how much I love this family, and how important the service was to me.  We exchanged messages first thing in the morning and throughout the day.  I had gathered a little token of love for Pastor Pauline to take with me and give her prior to the service, along with a big hug.  A reminder that she has not lost her marbles.

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As I had predicted, my singing was not easy or perfect, but it was, as I told Mother Farrington’s grandchildren afterward, with my speaking voice breaking,  “…a way for me to love your family…”  Reuniting with my former “choir boss”,  Joan, to make music for this service comforted me, and being back among this church family warmed my heart and made me feel loved.  As I have come to understand, musicians and people of faith are all part of the same family;  we never really say goodbye and we always recognize and welcome one another back.

I left the fellowship hall and I walked to my car with tears of sadness, gratitude and love…and I thought the intense part of my day had passed.  Knowing that Martin had held space for me meant the world to me, especially with everything he has endured this year…a transitional period in his relationship, his health, undergoing medical procedures, and his living situation, including being without a home for months and staying with friends/family, and in shelters ranging from tolerable to hellish.  His, and my, fondest wish, had been for him to find a place to live, and that process seemed to be taking longer than forever to happen.  Until this intense day.  Almost the minute I returned to work, Martin ping’ed me with a message.

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Anyone who knows me or reads this blog knows that feathers are for me a symbol, a powerful reminder that God is there, looking out for me and my loved ones, sending comfort when I need it in a language I can understand.  When this teeny feather floated down after the funeral and landed on the program, I assumed it was just for my benefit…turned out to be a harbinger of Martin’s wonderful news as well.  That his housing came through at the same time I sang and we were commending Mother Farrington to her home in Heaven…seemed, and still seems, especially poignant, and fitting.  For her, and for Martin, it was time to go Home.

Home.

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Aunt Ruby’s Dream

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Home Places and listening to my instincts…

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 was a monthly in-service at the hospice where I volunteer. The morning was muggy and humid so instead of pants I wore a lightweight dress with a cardigan over it, and the outfit turned out to be cute. Plus it was a great hair day, so the morning started off on a bright note. The thought crossed my mind that I ought to go and check in on Aunt Ruby after in-service was over.

At our in-service I was able to see Glenda, a lovely friend who was in my volunteer training group back in 2009 and with whom I had shared Monday afternoons at the hospice until our schedules changed and we rarely ran into each other anymore. We even had our picture made together that day, and it is a treasure to me for a number of reasons. We had a wonderful visit and caught up on each other’s lives as best we could in the time we had together.

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My outfit was cute, my hair looked good, and visiting with Glenda had filled my heart with happiness. Something inside my happy heart kept telling me, “You should go and see Aunt Ruby while you’re out today.” After I left the hospice I did a little shopping, and I found a very cute pair of faux-suede boots with a plush fur lining on sale for a ridiculous price. The stores had already started putting out their fall stock, and as hot as the day was, I could look at those boots and dream about the cooler weather that would eventually come. Pulling out of the mall parking lot, my spirit once again tugged at me. ”Go and see Aunt Ruby while you’re out today. You NEED to go and see her.” So I whipped my car back toward the north end of town and headed to the assisted living where Aunt Ruby had spent the last several months, her new home.

When I arrived she was sitting on the end of a sofa, napping, as had become her daily post-lunch routine. I sat down next to her and she opened her eyes and smiled before I even said hello, scooping her into a big hug. Her eyesight was very poor but I was close enough to her that she could recognize me even before she heard my voice. That smile and that hug made me very happy that I had listened to my instincts and gone on to visit with her. But our conversation held other blessings— mixed, prophetic ones.

At one point during our visit she said, “You know, I had the most unusual dream last night.” I asked her what she had dreamed about and she said, “I dreamed about Mother and Daddy and the old home place.”

“Really?” I asked. ”Was it a good dream? What all do you remember about it?”

She said, “Oh, it was a nice dream. I just dreamed that we were all there together again, the kids and everybody, and we were all so happy.”

With a lump in my throat and a queasy stomach, I said, “It sounds wonderful.  I’m glad you had such a happy dream.”

She said, “Oh I am too, it was so nice to be with everybody again.”

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Less than 3 weeks later she had her massive stroke and was gone, at the advanced age of 88, and yet still so suddenly.   When I visited with her at the assisted living that muggy Tuesday and she shared her dream with me, I realized that she was getting closer to going Home, but I didn’t realize just how close she was.  I believe that wonderful dream of hers was God’s way of preparing her for Heaven and the trip she would be making there very soon…sooner than any of us ever expected.

For a number of years, every time we’ve gone on a vacation, I’ve had the niggling thought in the back of my mind that something might happen to Aunt Ruby while we were gone and we might have to make a frantic trip back home. Obviously I don’t have to think about that any longer. She is Home now, and I believe she is experiencing the scene from her dream, reunited with her parents and the rest of the family in a new, yet somehow familiar,  Home Place.

To Every Thing…

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…there is a season

I am beginning to feel the welcome approach of fall.  For the past few weeks I have been detecting little glimpses of seasonal change in the world around me and, after a wet, muggy summer, I am more than ready to greet autumn with open arms.  My dogwood tree is always the first harbinger of the coming shift, with its shiny berries looking like the red-hot cinnamon candies that Aunt Mary used to enjoy putting into her hot tea.  After the berries burst forth, the leaves begin their gradual change from brilliant green to the warm rusty orange and golden brown I so enjoy seeing.  Each day the sun’s touch on the leaves paints on more color.

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As lovely as the changing dogwoods are, my favorite trees to watch this time of year are the maples.  Several different varieties of maple grow around here, and they turn the most spectacular colors, from lemon yellow and tangerine orange to vibrant reds and rich shades of burgundy.  I remember one year when we were living in Florida, my sweet husband and I came back to the Knoxville area in October for a visit, and the leaves were so vivid that everyplace looked like a postcard.  It was the most wonderful welcome home I could have asked for, and a more lovely fall than I had seen in many years.  Image

Of course, the beauty of nature was only part of the sweetness of that visit home.  Jeff and I took a picnic in the mountains with Mom and Pop Cutshaw, stopping by a little stream to have our lunch.  At one point I noticed that Pop was wandering off by himself and I started off after him, until Jeff told me that he was probably looking for a place to pee!  Such a funny memory now.  We did a little shopping that day and I bought a handmade basket to take back to our little home in Florida to decorate our apartment, reminding me of home and that wonderful visit.  I still have it more than 25 years later.  We took lots of pictures that trip and the colors were incredible that year.

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This time of year holds lots of happy memories for me.  There are the reflections of falls gone by when I was a college student, walking the rolling hills of the campus, feeling the first hints of autumn’s chill on my way to class, breaking out my favorite sweaters and hanging pictures on our dorm room wall.  There have been Homecomings  where I have been united once more with friends and professors from my school days.  I love the change in the air and on the trees this time of year.  And I love the gentle rhythm of the seasons, the reminder that God indeed has the whole world in His hands, and as long as there are summer and winter, seed time and harvest, His hands are where the world will stay.Image

The Big Six

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The end of a generation…and time for the next one to step forward

My cousins, my brother and I are living in a different world than we were just 10 days ago, one with a giant hole in it.  The woman Reed and I called Aunt Ruby, and who our cousins called Mother, Mom and Mama, has gone home to Heaven.  I will write more about her, her living and dying, in a future post.  Right now I can still hardly wrap my head around the idea that she is gone.

Right now I just want to reminisce about simpler times with Reed and my cousins, to find comfort and maybe some smiles in my memories.  Debbie was born to Aunt Ruby and Uncle John first, and she enjoyed 10 years by herself with them.  Then Aunt Ruby and Mama started the family “baby boom”.  Mark and Reed arrived less than 5 months apart, then I was born less than 3 years after Reed, Alan was born 10 months after I was, and Haven brought up the caboose about a year and a half after Alan.  Poor Debbie sometimes got stuck with babysitting the remaining 5 of us younger kids! I can’t even imagine what that must have been like!  Image

We grew up attending the same schools because we lived close together.  Reed and I began going to church with Aunt Ruby and Uncle John and their kids when Mama was taking care of Granny and unable to take us to church herself.  Granny made Mama promise that she would take us when she was able to, and after Granny died, Mama kept her promise.  Aunt Ruby and Mama were very tightly bonded and, as a result, so were we, often functioning as a single group of siblings rather than two separate sets.

Often we would “swap a kid”.  Haven would come to spend the night with me on Ford Street and Reed would go to hang out with Mark and Alan on Arnold Street.  Or vice versa, with any configuration of kids at either place.  I know I spent almost as much time at Aunt Ruby’s house growing up as I did at my own.  It was equally home to me.

As we’ve grown older, our lives have taken off in different directions, and each of us has dealt with individual issues and struggles.  Life as a family is not always pretty.  And even though 5 of the 6 of us all live in the same town, we’ve been hard-pressed to get together as a group…unless someone is getting married or buried.  But I agree with the immortal wisdom of the Facebook quote that asserts, “Our cousins are the first friends we have”.  In our case that has been the absolute truth.

Aunt Ruby was the last of her siblings, her generation, to leave this world.  She and her sisters, “The Big Five”, left us a rich legacy of strength, craziness, laughter, tears and love to draw upon as our generation is forced now to step forward and pretend that we’re grown-ups.  I don’t know how all of that is going to work out…but I pray that we can be more diligent about gathering now and then, just to spend some time connecting with one another.  We’ve learned once again, all too poignantly, how short life is.  Image