Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Being Kind - in Life and in Death

It's been a while since I wrote anything for public consumption, but was inspired this week.  I went to a funeral at church (St. James UMC) for my dentist - Dr. George Gillian - who died suddenly about a week ago at age 80.  He was still practicing dentistry and I think we all expected him to be there for several more years, as he was generally in good health.

It was a lovely service and as I sat near the front of the church, I was reminded of Randy's service in that same place almost seven years ago (in August 2009).  I thought about all the funerals and memorial services I have been to since, as well as before.  Sometimes I've gone because I loved the person who left this earth and sometimes because I loved the people they left behind (Julie Font and I learned this at a young age from our parents), or both. Most were special in their own way and honored the life of someone who mattered in this world - younger, older, churchgoer, life-liver, etc. (I say most, because sometimes the pastor felt compelled to preach hell fire and brimstone - those make me uncomfortable and I don't think they aren't inspiring to many of us).

I attended a memorial service for Ben Fry a few weeks ago - Pastor Greg Schick who did Randy's service, also did Ben's.  I was upset after (not really) as I told Greg that until that time, Randy's had been the coolest service he had done and/or I had attended.  But Ben, who was station manager at KUAR/KLRE had some audio/video footage from church events that was replayed, plus an incredible daughter who spoke and did him right!  I don't think Randy is too upset about it  - he and Ben are probably joshing around in heaven about who had the coolest service, or maybe who is the coolest, in general.  Randy is the person who introduced me to public radio, so I don't think he will give Ben too bad a time!

Attending several services in the last few months has made me contemplative about death and how often we wait until someone passes from this earth to honor them and express our love and appreciation for their impact on our lives.  I wish it were more in our culture to love our neighbor and tell them so!  This is one place where social media rocks as it actually encourages this - I see a lot of those kind of posts.  Of course I also see the opposite, although those are usually from people who don't know the individual, but just need to get all uppity about a thought, belief or idea, especially because they're hiding behind a keyboard of some size.  Yet, aside from social media, I am trying to think about how I can do a better job of life- honoring during life instead of just afterward.  Don't get me wrong - I understand well that honoring someone after their death is very comforting for their family and friends and it needs to happen (so yes, you should go to the service and/or send a card, do whatever you can or more than you think you can).  But if we all worked a bit harder to show our love and appreciation while we are still breathing, it seems like there'd be much more an era of good feelings abounding in this world which might result in all of us doing a better job at loving our neighbor.

So, I am pledging to do just that.  It may be like a random act of kindness - if you appreciate and love on someone, they'll be more likely to pass that along to another person and before long you have a plethora of folks who are smiling and feeling like their lives matter.  We know deep down that we all matter, at least to those closest to us, but I can think of a long list of folks who have made a difference in my life and who I wouldn't want to have lived without knowing.  If you're reading this, you're probably one of them!

And because there's a direct connection, I'm going to name a name.  Shortly after Randy's service, I ended up at Dr. Gillian's for a routine dental checkup and teeth cleaning.  Shirley, who sits at the front desk and generally runs the office, told me that she had gone to get her hair cut on the day of Randy's service.  She said someone named Mark had brought a bottle of champagne in to the salon, saying that he wanted to honor the life of his friend Randy Moore.  I can't remember how Shirley made the connection between Mark Kennedy and Randy Moore and me, but she did.  Otherwise, I would probably have never known what a kind thing Mark did and I would have so hated to miss it, because it made me very happy. I'm pretty sure I've told him that, but because it came to mind again, Mark Kennedy - thank you again for your kindness in honoring the love of my life!  I love you!

There...  it may not be the normal way we go around talking to each other, but it feels pretty darn good to me!  In this somewhat vicious and brutal election year, maybe passing along some love will have a lasting positive impact on all of us.  Will you join me and maybe we can all encourage each other?  Thank you - it matters now!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


I believe compassion is one of the very best qualities a person can have.  I'm thankful to know a lot of compassionate people who care for me and put up with me and encourage me.  I strive to share that compassion in today's sometime uncaring world.....

I know that people are motivated by different things, but how can one not be motivated by someone caring about them?  I'm not at all motivated by fear or competition, although some people may be.  Even if you're motivated by those things, I still have to believe that compassion motivates you also.

It makes sense that compassion is the ultimate "pay it forward" motivation that can touch each of our lives, both individually and in groups and even in the world sense.  I might be opinionated about religion or politics or something else, but if you show compassion to me regardless of those beliefs, then I am touched and want to do the same for others, even those different from me.

So, let's try and be compassionate with each other.  I think Jesus would like this, since he told the original story about compassion for those different from us.

“There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
“A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
 “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”   (Luke 10: 30-17  The Message)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Another anniversary- the not-so-happy kind.

It's unbelievable to me that I haven't posted on this blog in almost a year!  I've written (partially or totally) several things but haven't shared them.  Tonight I'm more led to write and share, because tonight is the six-year anniversary of Randy leaving this world. That seems unbelievable to me- six whole years.  Things are much the same, but also very different in my life.  I think about Randy every day, but usually not in a sad or mournful way.  I remember the joy and fun times we shared and I miss those and him, but I'm also thankful for so many good things in my life today. I often think of those in light of how Randy would enjoy them, especially the puppies!

Of course, he would have suffered with me through losing Sophie and probably would have been OK to go full force into fostering to help ease that grief.  And then there's adopting Ellie Rose!   I'm sure he would love her as much as I do, although he probably would have taught her more manners at an earlier age, like he did Sophie!

The Alaska trip was something we both wanted to do, so I was a bit sad in some ways that he couldn't enjoy it with his brother, sis-in-law and me.  But that's just how life goes - we don't all get to do what we want or think or even expect.  I'm grateful for all the good times Randy and I had, as well as all of the good times I've managed to have without him here.  I'm mostly just thankful to be content where I am, at least most of the time.  Maybe I'm a little more content when there are three foster puppies asleep on/near my lap, as there are right now, but hey, give me a break!  We all have our addictions!

So, here's a toast to Randy and how he was loved - by not only me, but many of you and many others who won't ever read this.  Whenever and wherever you are, please think of Randy with a smile and a cheer (and a Boomer Sooner, if you're so inclined!).  Thank you for remembering him and sharing my memories tonight!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Joyful Sadness!

So again, as often I do in the evening when I don't have to go or be anywhere (which I love, BTW), I find myself a tad teary.  Now I don't want anyone to go worrying that I'm sitting here being all depressed or sad.  I'm not!  I think I sometimes get teary from being so happy.  It's usually after a busy day volunteering somewhere wonderful (ACH or UAMS or wherever) when I've encountered amazingly strong and loving people or precious babies.  I come home, have a glass of wine (or two) and enjoy the fact that at least two (and usually four) dogs are playing with each other or adapting to each other or even a little snarky with each other (as this rarely lasts).  The nights that it's cool enough to sit out on the deck, I will admit that a few kinda sad tears are for Randy, as that was one of our favorite things to do - usually with music playing in the background.  He was better at putting CDs in the player than I am, so usually now it's just quiet (except for the dogs panting!).

I don't understand this "joyful sadness" phenomenon but I feel like it's a good expression for me and one for which I am grateful.  It may be heightened by things I read on Facebook when I get home - again, usually good things, whether joyful moments for friends or one of my foster dogs and his great furever family being on vacation together in Maine or people in general being loving and nice to each other.  I try not to let the hateful, negative junk bother me - I either click in the upper right corner to say I don't like this post (and go from there) or if I'm feeling particularly loving, say a prayer for the person who posted it.  I wish I could say I did the latter more often.  I do fairly well to not turn on the TV, as the political ads make me to want to throw something at my TV - I so wish politicians and would-be politicians could not advertise on TV.  Think how much less money they'd need to raise?  That money could go to some so much worthwhile use.... like ACH or UAMS or even dog rescue!  Anything would be so much better than 30-second sounds bites of political lies/hate/untrue (or even true) accusations.  Does anyone actually use the information from these to decide how to vote?  I certainly hope not!

So, tonight, as sweet Luna lies on my lap (all 70 lbs of her) and Ellie Rose and Lucy sleep close on the floor (and the Parvo exposed pups sleep in the back bathroom), all is right with the world and I am thankful.  It may want me to shed a tear or two, but that is A-OK with me!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Shouting on the Hills of Glory!

Shouting on the Hills of Glory!  I happened to hear this last night on A Prairie Home Companion.  I'm not a big fan of listening to Ralph Stanley or the Stanley Brothers (one of whom who wrote this song), but I loved hearing these two gals do this beautiful song (Heather Masse and Aoife O'Donovan).  It mightl take a few minutes to load, but it's worth the wait!  If it doesn't load right to their song, scroll over to 22:54 and listen for the next three minutes...

And the timing is appropriate - I can hardly believe it, but it's been five years tomorrow (August 11) since Randy left this world.  I will always miss him, but I picture him running up and down those hills - something he could no longer do in his body on this earth, and that makes me smile.  I can't say I don't have some pity party moments, but they're mostly few and far between.  I know I am very blessed, so I try to be thankful for all the good things in my life.  And mostly for the chance to see Randy again some day and do some of our own shouting together once again!

There'll be shouting on the hills of glory
Shouting on the hills shouting on the hills
There'll be shouting on the hills of glory
There'll be shouting on the hills of God!

Oh what a blessed reunion
Oh what a blessed reunion
When will we gather over yonder
There'll be shouting on the hills of God!

No more sorrow in that city
No more sorrow in that city
Jesus prepared a place in heaven
There'll be shouting on the hills of God!

Now's the time to make your preparations
Now's the time to make your preparations
So stop and make your reservation
There'll be shouting on the hills of God!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Swirling emotions, but joy prevails!

A lot of emotions have been swirling around in me the past 10 days or so.  I spent a lot of time with Randy’s family on a wonderful visit to the west coast.  It began with Bill and Marge’s 45th anniversary celebration in Carmel, California where I got more time with Randy’s nephew Drew, his wife Jess and daughters Emma and Nola, as well as Bill and Marge and their great friends, some of whom I’d met and some who are new friends!  

Then it was on to Portland/Vancouver on Monday where I had dinner with his niece Diana, her husband Dea and more adorable kiddos – Charlie and Hazel Jane, then spent all of the next day with them, even while they dug potatoes from their garden for dinner (I loved that!).

Both visits involved much talking, good food and drink, hugs and kisses and lots of pictures.  I loved being with Randy’s family and meeting “new” great-nieces and nephews!  Of course I missed him, especially at the anniversary celebration, but a kind friend pointed out that she knew he loved me and was there in spirit, which I felt.  Diana and I also talked about Randy quite a bit.

And on top of that, last Thursday was our wedding anniversary!  Nine years ago, Jim and Julie and the two of us were together in Glacier National Park for a beautiful ceremony on the shore of Two Medicine Lake.  It was a unique wedding, but hey, after 21 years of dating, just what we needed.  And at least I didn’t sweat on my wedding day, which was about my only demand!

Today is the 30th anniversary of our first date.  Not everyone tracks that date, but when you date as long as we did, it becomes a fairly significant date.  It hardly seems possible that it was 30 years ago, nor does the fact that August 11 is the five-year anniversary of his death. 

I have so many blessings in my life and I appreciate every one – family, friends, dogs, volunteering, etc. – the good Lord has certainly filled my life with a lot of love, which has eased the loss.  I am able to have joy and contentment in my life, along with love – all of which are so important.  I don’t know why things have happened like they did, but I am thankful to have had Randy in my life.  He taught me how to use humor to ease stressful situations –whether at work or at an airline counter or almost anywhere.  I think I taught him a few things too.  Together I felt like we made a good pair and I still feel like he is a part of me.  

Most certainly, when I make a joke with a total stranger I know he is there!  And when something nice happens to me, I want to tell him.  And when something crummy happens to me, I want to tell him.  I am thankful for all of you in my life who I tell instead (you might not be so happy about the crummy part J.)   Losing Randy is something I will never completely get over, because he will always be in my heart.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Perfect Beach Day - at least for me

We had a storm last night at the beach - from 4 a.m. to almost 7 it carried on with wind, rain, thunder and lightning (but thankfully no tornadoes like Arkansas had a day ago).  It's still cloudy and very windy with occasional rumbles of thunder.  A bit ago the dogs and I went for a long walk on the beach and it was beautiful and peaceful.  The waves were crashing in close and not another soul was on the beach - it felt like our private place.  This is exactly the picture I had four years ago when I decided that Sophie and I should find a cottage on the beach somewhere to grieve our loss of Randy.  I wasn't thinking of bright sunny days, but of days more like today - maybe more normal on a beach in New England or Nova Scotia.  Friends suggested that Lucy also go and I resisted.  Lucy was not as obedient or trustworthy as Sophie, who I could let off leash and know she would come back to me.  Plus it was Sophie and I together who had the stronger tie with Randy.

However, they went on to offer to come with me to help with Lucy (the joke was on them later!) and so that's how our first annual beach trip was born.  It was great fun, even with lots of sun, partly because we were early enough in the year to still have cooler days, which I appreciate and because I had friends with me.  Lucy wouldn't do what any of us wanted her to  - she wouldn't even walk with my friends without Sophie or me.  But it was still fun.  The next year we repeated the trip, just moving next door to a smaller house that was still big enough for us.  The third year I decided to leave Lucy at home and just take Sophie.  I could never have known that would be Sophie's last trip, as she would die unexpectedly a month later.  I will always be glad she was an only dog on that trip.  The fourth year there were only two humans, as one friend was gone to the Holy Lands.  And there was only Lucy.  I had Ellie Rose at the time, but she was only about 6 weeks old and her brother was also still with me.  So, both puppies stayed with their other brothers and sisters at another foster mama's place.  And now it's our fifth year and once again there are three people and two dogs - back where we started.  Ellie Rose is so very much like Sophie, although not as well behaved.  Lucy is better than she used to be, but still has her stubborn streak.  The friends are much the same!

Today my friends are outlet mall shopping.  Instead of going with them, I stayed here to enjoy the "bad" weather.  Getting out in the weather was perfect and immediately brought to mind the feelings I had which made me desire a beach getaway four plus years ago.  I had the girls on a long leash and even let them go a few times to chase birds.  The second time they ran a little too far for my comfort, but had stopped to sniff, so I was able to catch up with them (and deliver a small sermon, which they probably couldn't hear,  because of the wind - I'm sure they were thankful for that!).

Back at the beach house, both girls are pancaked and I can sit here and relish this day.  It may have taken four years and five trips, but God knew I needed exactly this kind of beach day to close the grief circle.  No tears have been shed because I rarely have those moments (I said rarely, not never), but I truly feel the completion of something that began four years ago.

It's a peaceful easy feeling (thank you Jack Tempchin!)...