Do It Yourself

Funny, how so many of us become attached to objects because of the memories associated with them.  How many of us have concert or movie ticket stubs from a first date or first time attending such an event?  I know I do.

My father passed away earlier this year (see “Dad (Warning, He Cusses)”).  Between then and now my Mom has been going through his things inside the house and either giving them to family and friends or donating them.

A little over a week ago, my sister and her family arrived at my Mom’s for a visit and to aid my Mom in going through my Dad’s remaining affects.  This includes things in the garage – outside the house.  What’s there?

Tools.  A Lot Of Tools.

My040 Do It Yourself

My father was the consummate do-it-yourselfer.  Anything that came up around the house that needed repairs or renovation was completed by my Dad.  I can remember only three times when a ‘professional’ was called in to do a job.

When my Dad would work on a home project he would always include me.  When he needed a tool for a job he would say, “The money I save by doing the project pays for the tool.”  Consequently, his tool collection constantly grew; and so did my memories of time with Dad.

For me, what lies in the tool boxes in my parent’s garage is not really a collection of tools but is instead a collection of memories.  And for any tool named I can recall a project, or projects, in which we used that tool.

So it’s not easy hearing about the dismantling of this collection of tools; of memories.  Each time a tool is set aside for a family member, a few memories go with it.  It feels like small parts of me are going too.

My sister has asked me if there’s a special tool I’d really want in memory of my Dad.  How do I say yes to one and no to another?  Every tool is special to me.  I don’t need any tool in particular as I grew my collection of tools in the same way my father did; so I have no objective way to identify any tool in particular.  And it’s not like there was one project in particular where in a tool was used that I’d want.

Well, that’s not entirely true – my Dad and I built my stereo system’s speakers and they sound great!  But the tools used in that project are the same as those used in any wood working project and so no tool rises above the rest.

Perhaps that’s not entirely true either.  My Dad gave me a tape measure when I was in high school.  That tape measure was used not only by my father but by his father as well.  So with it came my father’s memories in addition to my own.  But is that enough?

The irrational part of me wants to claim all the tools.  I want to protect the collection of tools and memories.  But, the rational part of me knows it’s selfish and uncaring to make such a pronunciation.  I know other family members have their memories of Dad/Grandpa and his tools; I want them to have something to keep those memories alive as well.

I don’t envy my sister’s and Mom’s efforts in passing out all those tools among the family members.  I know they’re being as fair as they can be.  And I trust them.

I’ve told them I’d be happy with anything and that I’d appreciate about a third of the tools as I’m one of three kids (my younger sister, my older sister that passed away, and myself).  That leaves a third for my younger sister and the remaining third to go to the children of my older sister.  But the truth is, anything I might receive is really enough.

I wonder what my Dad would say or do were he with us.  I know he’d want them given in the way my Mom and sister are doing.  But I wonder if he’d see his collection of tools as a collection of memories as well.  He never presented himself as especially sentimental – except when dividing out the belongings of his parents and grandparents.  So what does that say about how he’d feel about his own belongings?  I’m not sure.  I only know that the rational, practical side of him would want his tools to get used by the family.

I miss you Dad and I miss working side by side with you.  We accomplished so much.  Perhaps those are all the memories I need. ~jdoe

Sketches, Reflections of Father’s Day

“Who needs fathers?  We all do.  We especially need our Father in heaven, who forgives our parenting inadequacies for Jesus’ sake and who enables us each day with a fresh start.  Just as the loving father in Luke’s gospel welcomed home his lost son, our Father will one day welcome us into heaven together with all others who love and trust in Jesus.” 

~ Dr. Rodney Rathmann

My040 Sketches Reflections of Father's Day

This is jdoe’s lil-sis.

I have been reflecting and sketching out memories, thoughts.   Sparked by father’s day and receiving the most recent blog written by my brother (to be posted next time).  The blog post talks about the impact jdoe’s illness and medication has had on him recently – and in it he talks about having lost his ability to see his future.

The quote that ended jdoe’s last post, and opens mine asks “Who needs fathers?” … We all need fathers.  Our earthly father that God blessed us with, and our Heavenly Father God.

We lost our father earlier this year, so the months that have followed have found us with twisted heart when we read a card or letter from our Mom, now only signed ‘love Mom.’  Or the fact that we didn’t have to shop and send a father’s day card.  Our father for many years prior to his passing was locked in a prison of his own;  one that left him unable to walk, remember, and eventually talk.  For several years Dad was ever there, but darkening – his sun was setting.  This relationship we had with our father is not unlike the relationship my brother now has with his children.  My brother is locked in exile, physically removed from day to day family life and restricted in communication.  Yet, there is a fundamental difference – he is still fully available, and has life to look forward to – a new dawn over the horizon.

I thought I’d write this week’s post, remind my brother jdoe of the vibrant future that lies in-front of him with a strong family that he helped to build.  Remind him of the person he is.

Do you remember these words, bro?  Below is from an excerpt from an email I sent my brother a couple years back – I’d like to focus on the “Father” in him…

I thought about you a lot today.  And I was thinking, I cannot even start to imagine what it feels like to walk in your shoes.  All the feelings and experiences that lay behind you.  Looking out over what looks like very rocky ground infront of you. 

Then I started thinking about the man standing in those shoes, You, jdoe. 

This is the man I see standing in your shoes…

A devoted son, brother, friend, and father.  You have a deep well of love for family, friends, even strangers. 

A man that has raised four great children that have turned into wonderful, loving, hard working, respectful, fun, adults. You instilled family, just look how your kids like to be around each other. 

Your love for jane is deep and strong, obvious to anyone who sees the two of you together.  What an amazing example the two of you have set for your children and others.

Someone whom I, and others, look to for sound advice. 

Someone whom I, and others, can trust. 

You know what to say, and how to say it. 

Intelligent, hardworking, and dedicated to anything you put your head and heart into.  Through your daily demonstration, your children now also live these characteristics out.

Someone who has learned from his mistakes, and grown better from them.  Who now shares his experiences in hopes to help others.

You have a contagious smile and laugh, spreading joy and light.  Fun and playful, wise and thoughtful.

You are a talented artist, with cars, music, stories, painting rooms (lol), re-upholstering, well just about everything you touch.  You are willing to share your knowledge with those willing to learn.

You are thoughtful, tender and compassionate, strong and firm. 

A gentleman, kind and respectful.

Spiritual, believer.

Love Thou jdoe ~lilsis

Happy Father’s Day

“Who needs fathers?  We all do.  We especially need our Father in heaven, who forgives our parenting inadequacies for Jesus’ sake and who enables us each day with a fresh start.  Just as the loving father in Luke’s gospel welcomed home his lost son, our Father will one day welcome us into heaven together with all others who love and trust in Jesus.” 

~ Dr. Rodney Rathmann

My040 Fathers Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads

Happy Father’s Day to “My Old Man” 

Lyrics and Song by The Zac Brown Band

He was a giant
When I was just a kid
I was always trying
To do everything he did
I can still remember every lesson he taught me
Growing up learning how to be like my old man

He was a lion
We were our father’s pride
But I was defiant
When he made me walk the line
He knew how to lift me up
And when to let me fall
Looking back, he always had a plan
My old man

My old man
Feel the callous on his hands
And dusty overalls
My old man
Now I finally understand
I have a lot to learn
From my old man

Now I’m a giant
Got a son of my own
He’s always trying
To go everywhere I go
Do the best I can to raise him up the right way
Hoping that he someday wants to be
Like his old man

My old man
I know one day we’ll meet again
As he’s looking down
My old man
I hope he’s proud of who I am
I’m trying to fill the boots of my old man

My old man

 

“Live Like You’re Loved”

Because you are.

In a recent article Behind The Song: Hawk Nelson Shares The Heart Behind Their New Single “Live Like You’re Loved” written by FreeCCMAbby for FreeCCM we read these wise words from Hawk Nelson’s lead singer Jon Steingard:

“God’s love for us is not based on how good we are, it’s based on how good He is and what He has already done for us. This song is an encouragement to wake up everyday and take a hold of the truth of what Jesus means in your life. And live like you know that you’re loved, because you are.”

Lyrics to

“Live Like You’re Loved”

By Hawk Nelson

You’re not the only one that feels like this / Feeling like you lose more than you win
Like life is just an endless hill you climb / You try and try but never arrive

I’m telling / You something / This racin’ / This running
Ohhhh You’re workin’ way too hard
And this perfection you’re chasin’ / Is just energy wasted
‘Cuz He loves you like ya are

So go ahead and live like you’re loved / It’s ok to act like you’ve been set free
His love has made you more than enough / So go ahead and be who he made you to be
And live like you’re loved

Live like you know you’re valuable / Like you know the one who holds your soul
Cuz mercy has called you by your name / Don’t be afraid to live in that grace

Oh I’m telling you somethin’ / This God we believe in / Yeah He changed everything
No more guilt / No more shame
He took all that away / Gave us a reason to sing

So go ahead and live like you’re loved / It’s ok to act like you’ve been set free
His love has made you more than enough / So go ahead and be who he made you to be
And live like you’re loved

Live like you’re loved / Walk like you’re free
Stand like you know / Who you’re made to be
Live like you’re loved / Like you believe
His love is all / That you’ll ever need

My Five Loves

Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone.  I didn’t want it to slip away completely without saying something about the five Valentines in my life:  my mother, my two sisters, my daughter, and of course my wife.

When I think of these five women I am humbled by their strength, loyalty, and acts of love where I am, and others are concerned.

my040-my-mother

My Mother is the sole care giver for my Father who is, sadly, an invalid suffering with dementia.  Being sole care giver means she does everything from arranging in home health care to bathing and cleaning my Father daily.  If you know a care giver, hug them and tell them what a wonderful heart they have.

My Mom writes me faithfully.  I receive a letter each and every week.  Her letters are really a love story about her and my Father.  Her letters are structured such that she writes a paragraph each day, so they’re really little diary entries about their daily life.  I read each week about her daily care activities for my Dad and his occasional periods of lucidity when he lets her know he appreciates her.  She closes each letter with love from them both and an inspirational bible scripture reference.

My Mom also puts money on my commissary account regularly.  This allows me to buy necessities like hygiene products and treats like Pop Tarts.  I also use this money to pay for phone calls home and email service.

Beyond my Father and me my Mother reaches out to cancer patients by crocheting hats to cover their hair loss and making blankets to keep them warm – all of these things are donated to the local hospital for chemo patients receiving treatment there.

Thank you Mom for everything you do.  Thank you from all those you touch.

my040-my-little-sister

My younger sister is a bit of a dynamo, though she’d say something to the contrary.  Like most parents with school age children she’s constantly on the run with sporting events, concerts, other kid functions, and a part time job.  Unlike most parents, however, she also homeschools her kids.  My sister invests a great deal of time being a parent and teacher.

Where I’m concerned she also writes regularly.  Her letters are often what she calls “illustrated.”  They are typed and have photos inserted into the body of the text giving me glimpses into her family’s daily life.  I feel a little more connected to her, my niece and nephew, and my brother-in-law.

As you already know she also facilitates this blog.  In fact, the idea that I’d write for a blog came from my sister and wife.  They saw something in my letters home that might possibly be worth posting for others to read.  It was their faith in me that started me on this journey.

Thank you sis for having faith in me.  Thank you from all those you touch.

my040-my-big-sister

In memoriam, I want to say a little about my older sister who died just shy of her forty second birthday due to breast cancer.

She and I were very close and I often felt like her twin though she was almost three years older.

When I think of her, I remember most her contagious laughter and kindness to all she met.  She was the lady who adopted all the stray cats.  Her house was always open to those who were hurting and her profession as a nurse was well suited to her personality.

I can make no tribute to her as great as that given at her funeral when several hundred people came to pay their respect.  There were so many there that a good portion stood outside the church waiting to say goodbye.  To say she touched an entire community would be an understatement.

I miss her.

Thank you my sister for your laughter and kindness and togetherness as children.  Thank you from all those you touched.

my040-my-daughter

My daughter has grown into one of the most amazing women I’ve known.  Everything she does she does with focus and to high standards.  It’s humbling to watch her take control of her life with such alacrity.

My daughter is going to be married this year to a fine man.  I’m thrilled to know she’s found the love of a lifetime.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad to no longer be the “man in her life.”  Like most fathers and daughters we share a special bond, and it’s comforting to know that bond won’t be broken regardless of our situations.

My daughter and I share a love of literature.  When she was small she’d bring me a book titled The Fussy Little Princess to read to her.  I must have read that book to her a thousand times, and I loved every opportunity.  When she was in high school we began reading books together and then talking about our views on what we’d read.  We’d split the book into chunks and then have our discussions.  This actually was set aside when she went to college and I missed it.  When I was taken into custody she asked me if I’d like to start doing it again.  And for the last 17 months we’ve enjoyed this time together again through letters and email.

Thank you my daughter for letting me be Pops and keeping the special bond intact through all things good and bad.

my040-my-wife

My wife and I have been together 36 years this coming March.  How she’s put up with me all those years is a mystery to me.

I could write about my wife every day for a year and still not convey the true and total meaning of her presence in my life.

Together we raised four of the most amazing people I’ve ever known.  And to be truthful, our children are the people they are due mostly to my wife’s love, support, and guidance.  Yes, I know I helped, yet, when I look at what they’ve accomplished and how they went about achieving what they have – I see my wife’s fingerprints in each goal they’ve gained.

My wife also gave me one of my most cherished blessings – my faith – and she’s done it twice.

When we first started dating I was a “Holiday Catholic” meaning I went to church only on holidays like Easter and Christmas.  She however went every Sunday and lived her faith daily.  She asked me then if I’d go every Sunday with her and I said yes.  I was moved by my experiences and stayed with the church for the next 30 years when I turned away due to my internal disagreements with a new priest in the church we were attending at the time.  She gave me my faith a second time after the investigation started into the activities that brought me here.  One day while I was breaking due to the stresses of that dark time she handed me my rosary and said, “maybe you’ll find some peace in this.”  I took the rosary and have been back into my faith deeper than ever before.  What greater gift can one be given than their faith?  I can think of none.

The good Lord knows I’ve put her through many trials; more than any one person should have to endure.  My addiction was always present and understandably hurt her and left her feeling inadequate.  Yet she stayed with me because she saw in me what I, until recently, couldn’t see in myself: a good man.  Her faith, love, support, loyalty, and commitment to our marriage is a thing of beauty and a life lesson I am only now learning how to live.

When I think of my wife I see her smile and expressive eyes.  I hear her laughter and feel her touch.  I know what total commitment and unconditional love are.  She is my rock and the light of my life.

If someone were to write a book about our life together it would be as tragic and uplifting as Romeo and Juliette and would endure all because of the woman my wife is.

When I search for words to express my admiration and love I can find none capable of communicating what is inside of me.  “I love you,” and “Thank you,” are so inadequate for the scope of my emotions are so much deeper.

As I said, I could write forever about my wife and not even begin to tell of her worth.

Thank you my wife for your belief in me and know that my love for you is genuine.

my040-my-five-loves

To all five I want to say thank you for all you do.  Thank you from all those you touch.  Every one you meet is the better for knowing you.

And finally, I love you all every day but most especially on Valentine ’s Day.

Tell someone special in your life how you feel about them and do it today.

~jdoe