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Yesterday (or was it the day before? Or the day before? We’ve spent three days in a row in Marquette and we have no idea what day it is any more) we paused by the cemetery between doctor appointments for a brief respite.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We weren’t being morbid.
The cemetery in Marquette is a very lovely place to pause, to walk (or to limp if you have knee surgery scheduled next week) and to perhaps attempt to photograph ducks, geese or graves.
The ducks proved semi-cooperative. At first they refused to comply to the photographer’s wishes and lingered in the shade. They played hide-n-seek. But finally–finally–one or two of them approached the sun and posed in the reflected autumn colors.
The geese, on the other hand, refused. They played in among the headstones. They scattered as the photographer approached. They were not compliant. (Geese rarely are, are they?)
Barry had good news from his last appointment on Friday, the best that could be expected. (Kathy’s opinion.) The electrocardiologist specialist has decided he has a low risk of stroke, and will let him stay in A-Fib (irregular heartbeat). The docs have taken him off the Coumadin and put him on a daily aspirin. They are keeping him on his heart medication, designed to slow the heart beat, but are simply going to continue to monitor him for the long-term, unless other symptoms develop.
FINALLY, more than two months since he tried to have his arthroscopic knee surgery, he’s ready for the next procedure. Phew… (Except, of course, the additional two months of limping and over-using his left knee now probably necessitates left knee surgery, too. But we won’t say that for sure until he’s talked to his knee doc.)
The cemetery was a nice place to visit. Neither of us are ready to stay, though. Not for another 30-40 years, wouldn’t you say? If we’re allowed to decide, that is. **smiling**
Thank you for all your kind wishes after Barry’s heart catheterization. We both hope the blog might put a reader at ease if they must have a similar procedure.
Have been contemplating death–and life–since yesterday’s visit to the cemetery.
How hard it can be to say goodbye to those we love. How hard it is to watch our loved ones die. How hard it can be to let the earth claim the bones of our precious friend or family.
I think how death is our constant companion–whether we are aware of its presence or not.
I think how we cannot walk in the woods without killing ants and insects.
How death walks alongside life, daily.
How we are forced to let go of things we love all the time. We become attached to people, places, things. Life moves on and death dances in–and life changes all around us.
We hurt with the passing because we have loved the old form so much. We hurt because we’re scared of our own mortality. Because the old was comfortable, familiar, precious, dear. Because the new is still uncomfortable, unfamiliar, disconcerting.
We take a deep breath and allow ourselves to love the new.
Sometimes it takes time.
Life is always changing, dancing. Every in-breath follows an out-breath. Every sunset follows a sunrise. Every winter follows an autumn. Every flower follows a seed.
Life teaches us–oh patient teacher!–to release as surely as we grasp. To kiss goodbye as surely as we hug hello. To allow “letting go” to be a precious practice, a precious love.
This morning the sun rises–whether we see it or not. Flakes of snow may blow on the horizon. How gracefully can we release autumn’s golden splendor? How gracefully can we surrender to precious white, icy cold, twinkling snowy beauty?
Will we fret or will we allow the new to show us its gifts, its still-hidden possibilities?
Thank you, death, for teaching us to live more fully. To taste more exquisitely. To feel more intensely. To appreciate what we have–while we still have it.
To death, dear reader. To life!
Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
It was good to visit with you yesterday.
To visit with all the grandmas and grandpas lying in the earth beneath their headstones…
Not a visit like in yesteryear, when we sat down at your houses and talked. When we told stories about our lives and you told stories about your lives. When we saw each other face-to-face and shared our thoughts and feelings.
No. It wasn’t like that at all yesterday.
I stood at your graves and remembered you. Remembered the beauty of you. Honored you. Told you the living had not forgotten you.
Grandpa Orton~~you left us first, back in 1988. Remember how you came to visit us that November with Mom and Dad and Grandma? Remember how you guys got the car stuck and you helped to push it up the slippery road? You were 78 years old. We laughed and laughed at you helping to push the car up the road. But Barry and I looked out on the driveway as you walked one afternoon. You were etched in black and white against a black and white landscape and we shivered. Something in us knew we would never see you again. And you were dead and buried within two months.
The night you died–at the very moment of your death–I suddenly threw down the book I was reading and began to talk to you in my mind. Your life went in fast-forward before my mind’s eye. Like a life-review, I remembered the plastic coin purse you gave us as children; the way you and Grandma would urge us to eat all our food “until you can see the rooster at the bottom of your bowl”. Then Dad called with the news. Grandpa had passed away at the exact moment the book hit the bedroom floor. Oh, Grandpa, how I loved and admired you.
Grandma Sheldon, it’s been a few years, hasn’t it? How are you doing now? We miss you. We miss your bright and cheerful laugh. I remember how you told me, as a child, to eat more. “You eat like a bird!” you would say. You made meals which filled the table high: roast turkey, baked beans, rutabaga, jello salads. Your country farmhouse was filled with smells of serious cooking. Remember how you taught us simple tunes on your piano? Thank you, Grandma, for the gifts you gave us.
Grandpa Sheldon, remember when the four of us–Barry and the kids and I–visited your winter house in Tampa? Remember how you made us rutabaga? You took us for a tour of your orange and grapefruit trees and we marveled to think you could pick fruit from your front lawn. You were such a kind grandpa. Thank you for everything, dear grandpa. I hope you rest in peace.
Grandma Orton, how I loved you! So many memories…remember when we visited your condominium and Christopher played his saxophone for you? You so patiently admired all the notes, but later we realized that might have been a bit challenging with your hearing aids. You came up to visit us so many times. Remember how you held Kiah on your lap? Remember all those visits to the Upper Peninsula and how you used to take us out for dinner? Remember the time you cleaned my frig and how mortified I was about it? Please come back and clean my refrigerator again, Grandma! Please come back and share yourself with us…
Thank you, dear grandparents, for the roots you provided for future generations. You gave the gift of yourselves to all of us. The gifts of your precious beings. We could never appreciate you enough at the time.
We do now.
Blessings to you, dear grandparents. Thank you for everything.