Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lessons from My Dad

There are many things that go wrong everyday for thousands of people. I don’t think that we remember that often enough.

For instance, in the post office on Monday, the man in front of me seemed agitated and angry. He could barely stand still in line. A friend of his entered behind me and he greeted him. They exchanged two sentences and then the poor guy blurted: “My wife is divorcing me!” I cannot explain the pain, shock and weight I heard in his voice. How devastating to have the ONE person who CHOSE to be connected to you for life (better, worse, rich, poor, sick, or healthy) leave you. In that leaving they declare you unfit to deal with, they are unwilling to fight for you, and you are unworthy of their time/ life. I don’t know the circumstances between this particular man and his wife…but I connected with his pain. (Not that I have ever been married or divorced…ha! I haven’t even dated!) We are talking about emotional pain- THAT I understand.

I have been learning a lot about LOSS this month. There are so many different facets and levels to that single word: the loss of a dream, loss of a hope, financial loss, loss of weight, loss of pain, loss of life!

I’m sure there are more positive ones…but none come to mind at the immediate moment.

Currently the person who has experienced the most loss this month that I am aware of is my Dad. He has been a steady and almost perfect example of Christ in my life and as I have watched him these past four weeks- I have been amazed!

First, there was the wreck of one of his vehicles…my Mom and one of my sisters were in an accident that came just short of totaling the car…it cost $10,600 to fix it!

A week later, his Dad commits suicide- that alone would be enough to drive anyone down an insanely emotional period…but my calm and dependable Dad was a rock for his three siblings. (His Mom died two years ago.)
That same week he has to act as comforter to my cousin whose best friend drowns the day after my Grandad’s funeral. On the drive home from Arkansas, he and my Mom and a sister locked themselves out of the car for an hour…

The next week he acted as comforter to two families in the church who both lost family members to cancer. He also shells out another $400 to fix the AC…which broke while he was in Arkansas working on his Dad’s funeral arrangements.

On Father’s Day the truck died at church…and he and my Mom and a sister were stranded for a few hours. His lunch was delayed until almost 3pm! Then that evening, he took me to the phone store to cancel my phone which I lost the night before… It was such a memorable Father’s Day…

Lastly, today our water heater exploded in the attic and caused a LOT of water damage in three different places of our house- and he spent several hours cleaning up the damage and trying to do as much as he can before calling in the professionals.

Loss is something that I am learning about…but most of my lessons are through observation of my incredible Dad!

Happy Belated Father’s Day!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Emergency Room Saga- Age 8

Because my Dad was in the Navy, they would occasionally request that he work on a ship for an extended period of time. The longest stint that I remember occurred the year I turned 8.

My Mom had to deal with an 8yr, 6yr, 4yr, and 2 month old all by herself during that time...

I did not make it easy on her. She didn't know about my climbing out on the roof all the time- I did my best to spare her that knowledge. :)

It was a normal weekday evening there in San Diego, CA. The weather was great, I had just finished a fun game of "hockey" using my Dad's tennis rackets and basketball with the neighbor kids. As I was picking up, I noticed some toys that belonged to my friend, Kevin, across the street.

Obviously, I needed to return them while it was still light. So I headed across the street. I was wearing my rollarblades and didn't want to change into tennis shoes- that would take too long and it was almost dinner time. (We had a lot of problems with rattlesnakes there in CA and going barefoot was NOT an option.)

I climbed the cement steps to my friend's house and delivering his toys began my descent. However, several factors prevented me from safely making it back home:
a) cement stairs and rollarblades just don't mix
b) leaves will make even a professional blader land in a heap
c) exasperated Moms who are trying to get dinner on the table and herd four little girls by themselves for 6 months...are a little distracting

Combine those three and ANYONE will fall. It's a miracle I only broke my wrist! A random leaf was sitting on the stairs. I was so busy trying to explain to my Mom that I was coming and did not see it. My wheel caught, slipped, and down I went catching myself with my wrist.

A neighbor came with some awful old plastic "wrist mold" and tried to force my wrist into that unnatural thing. When it was finally limply lying in that mold, she offered to watch my 3 little sisters so that my Mom could take me to the ER. sigh*

A girl in my 3rd grade class had just broken her wrist on a desk during school the week before, so I was a little excited...all that pain it had BETTER be broken. I wanted a "trophy" in the form of a cast too!

After all the x-rays, as I sat in the hall with my Mom, I bounced back and forth between excitement about my first broken bone and terror at having to wear the cast for a LONG time...I mean a couple of days, sure! A couple of months...sigh* I would laugh one moment and cry the next.

I got my cast. It was my right wrist- but I happen to be a lefty so it did not impede my writing or schoolwork. I was proud to have a cast at school, but the other girl (not a lefty) had also broken her right wrist and so the teacher would kneel at her desk and help bubble in the answers...I was a little jealous.

Not only was I not the "cool" one in school for all of this pain, but we had to make a second trip to the ER and shave some of the cast off. It was cutting off the circulation in my thumb.

Oh well. At least I have a neat story with many people can say they broke their wrist while rollarblading down stairs?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Extraordinary Gentlemen

Well, I know my last post was not exactly fun to read. I apologize. Life is not always fun- or fair. Had to say it.

I just want to say that gentlemen seem to be scarce, but they come out of nowhere when you need them most and least expect it! I was blessed by two special strangers a couple of weeks ago and just wanted to "pay tribute" and, of course, share a story. :)

After my last post and a rough night's sleep, I was headed to work! I made it to the post office, picked up the school's mail, and drove through the neighborhood still under construction and full of empty lots (this will be important in a moment) to the freeway.

I am not really sure what was on my mind. I know that I was not paying attention to the road. It's a miracle I made it onto the feeder road of the highway. But, I got distracted. One of the hotels near our building was having some trouble with plumbing (a large geyser was bubbling on their lawn) and I focused on that. Unfortunately I missed my turn.

Oh no! What was I thinking?! I told myself to pull it together as I AGAIN drove through the deserted neighborhood back up to the feeder road...only I never made it out of the neighborhood.
As I was making my last left turn (I hate left turns) I didn't turn sharply enough. There was a loud pop, the whole car shuddered, and leaned to the right, and one of my nice hubcaps rolled around from the passenger side to the middle of the road by my window. The hubcap did it. It was a physical image of how I felt...removed from the vehicle, from the day, from life in general.

Fighting tears I called my boss, desperation, disbelief, and discouragement filling my tone. "Do you need help changing the tire?" "Yes! Or something, I don't know." "Do you have a service you can call? USAA, AAA, something?"

"Oh. Yes. I will do that!" but I sat there for a moment. Numb and dejected. Normally I would've called my Dad- but he was 9 hours away and dealing with his dad's death at the moment...I wanted to talk to a male that I knew, someone I trusted. Like an idiot I dialed one of my best friend's numbers and got his voicemail:
"Hey! I just exploded my tire and I don't know what to do! I don't know why I'm calling, it's not like you can come help right now. Could you pray for me?" And I ended the call mentally berating myself. What was he going to do if he'd answered? Drive an hour from work and try to find me in the forsaken unbuilt neighborhood?! No.

Next I eased out of my sagging car and assessed the damage. Seeing something leaking, I removed my Bible and purse to the scraggly field I was next to. (Normally it would be grassy, but this drought is just miserable!)
Unfortunately I set my stuff in fire ants and gained some lovely bites on my toes for it. The day was going wasn't even 8:30am yet.

By the time I got ahold of a USAA agent, I was sobbing. My grandad was gone, my car wasn't moving, ants hated me, I had been very thirsty and hungry but trusted to a swift arrival at work and had nothing to eat (if you take away the two bites of pie the night before...I'd had nothing since 1pm the day before). The VERY concerned agent doubted me when I said it was just car problems and that I was fine.

Now, about 20 minutes into my conversation with the USAA people, one of the painters for the houses being built about 200 yards away approached. In between my phone conversation we played charades and he got out my spare and attempted to put it on the car.

Did you know that you need to have the parking break on when you change a tire? -Well, you do!

Twice that man got the car up on the jack and twice it rolled off when he tried to fit the wheel to it! I watched with hope each time and felt as deflated as my tire when I saw it roll off the jack and slam to the ground. He finally realized that the parking break was not on and once he applied it, fit the tire to the car with ease. Thankfully I do not have donut tire spares, but because I had seen leaking, my insurance company would NOT let me drive the vehicle.

It was a LONG morning, but I finally was able to explain to my tow truck driver where I was (thankfully they have the foresight to name streets even before houses are built on them!)

My favorite quote from him was: "I've been towing for 39 years and I meet most people by ACCIDENT" and it made me laugh for the first time that day. I am SO grateful for the unsung gentlemen working as ordinary painters and tow truck drivers. You are incredible and blessed me deeply when I least expected and so desparately needed it.