Tag Archives: Grief

Beach Therapy

19 Sep

Be at rest, once more, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
Psalm 116:7

With great excitement, she leaned across the dinner table and asked me if I had ever been parasailing.  I giggled as I quickly responded with a ‘no, but I would love to!’

For you see, on August 9, I stood in the surf on Fenwick Island Beach, Delaware watching a boat pull a pair of parasailers.  I allowed my mind and heart to daydream about how fun it would be to someday parasail in Florida with my best bud.  That day, just 8 days after her husband’s death, Becky and her family were part of my every breath and thought as they were celebrating Joe’s life in Crowley, Louisiana … some 1300 miles away.

Back to the dinner table in Florida on the evening of September 11th … with great animation, I told my story to Becky, exclaiming over the fact that her invitation to me to join her for some beach therapy was not presented for nearly another 2 weeks later after my Fenwick Beach moment.  In fact, it was the same day I finally took a small zip lock bag of sand that I had gathered from that weekend on the beach and mailed it to her, the sand representing her hope of getting to Florida soon for some much needed rest.  I placed that sand-laden card in the mail … and later that morning I chuckled out loud as I read Becky’s email invitation to me to join her and her momma in Florida in September.

God does things like this in my life quite often.  I guess He knows He must keep it somewhat simple, but yet for me they are Red Sea moments.  Sand in a zip lock bag, just picked up by the mailman, followed by an immediate invitation to Florida.  Thoughts and hopes of parasailing with my dear friend on the same day as her husband’s memorial service  …  to be parasailing with her a month and 3 days later!!  Also, my airfare was provided by a frequent flier charge card that had accumulated enough points to send me to Florida for a minimal fee.  I do not believe in coincidences … my steps are ordered by the God Who loves me in every way possible.

A man’s mind plans his way,
but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.
Proverbs 16:9 amp

I flew on September 11th.  I arrived in Tampa without incident and was warmly welcomed by the hug of a lifetime … one that expressed deep sorrow and disbelief, but a gratefulness and excitement for the few days we had together.  Two friends reunited after tragedy and loss … together for some beach therapy.

Therapy comes in different forms – for Becky, the beach has always been a place of relaxation and respite.  Her parents retired several years ago in Florida, giving her the perfect setting for fun vacations with her family.  Now just one month since Joe’s death, Becky and her momma planned a short time to get away for some much needed quiet time and rest.  Becky and her family have been extremely busy in the past few weeks while they sort, toss, organize, box, and donate items that have accumulated over the past 22 years of living in the church parsonage.  A much smaller place just down the road is where Becky and Pauline will call home … anticipating a move-in date of early October.

Our days together in Florida were full – leisure morning time with coffee and a simple breakfast followed by a couple hours of beach time.  Most early evenings were spent with Becky’s extended family who also live in the area, giving me a chance to see people I had not seen in many, many years, and to meet others who are newer additions.  Hallmark movies were the choice of late evening entertainment, sending us to bed with hearts full of gratefulness for another blessed day.

Enjoying the surf and sun

Enjoying the surf and sun

The highlight of those days together was the beach therapy.  The white sandy shore of the Gulf of Mexico welcomed us as we slathered on protective lotions and creams and enjoyed the late morning sunshine and the silly antics of the birds.  The original email invitation requested my presence and a listening ear … so every time I heard the name Joe, my heart smiled, knowing that she needed to say his name.  I needed to say his name … and we both needed to hear it.  We talked about their family, their kids and grandkids.  We talked about our past … mentioning people of years gone by and laughing about those days in our shared childhood and teen years.  She shared moments of heartache as she recalled Joe’s last days, things said and events that took place, painting a mental picture for me of those personal and intimate moments in her life.  Tears mingled with our sunscreen and sweat as we laid there on the beach for those brief hours each day, tears that were soon to be washed away by the salty waves of the gulf waters.  How refreshing it was as we enjoyed just being in the water, rolling with the tide and swimming … all the while we continued to share hearts, thoughts, and chatter.

Parasailing fun!!

Parasailing fun!!

Did we go parasailing?  You betcha!  A bright yellow smiley face chute carried two best buds high into the sky where we chatted some, but also found ourselves quiet, lost in the moment.  I’m sure we were both thinking about Joe and why we were together, doing what we were doing.  Just like a camera captures moments in time, I wish there was a way we could’ve captured the emotion of those minutes together … the exhilaration and blessing of flying so effortlessly through the salty air of the Gulf, high above all of the noise and commotion of life … up near the heart of God and the one we just lost.  It was a special time that ended all too soon.

I don’t remember a specific moment or at what age Becky and I first met, but sometime in the mid 1960’s, two little girls found themselves next to one another and must’ve felt a kindred spirit. A spirit that grew deeper as the years clicked by …  Barbie dolls and board games, her house or mine, Bible quizzing and memory verses, nail polish and curlers, alto and soprano, piano, reading, sewing, sleep-overs, boys, … all the way to Joe and Tim.  The two boys that stole our hearts … along with our own love and devotion to the God Who set the course for the rest of our lives.  Many miles have separated us through much of our adult lives, focusing on family, ministries, and the busyness of life.  Often I am finding that it takes crises to pull hearts back together ~ hearts that sometimes do not fully realize the distance that had crept in.

People all around us are hurting.  Some are grieving the loss of a loved one.  Others are in financial trouble while others are terminally ill with no hope of recovery.  Unresolved matters have been left to fester, leaving pain and disconnect in families.  Marriage relationships are dissolving or an accident has turned someone’s world upside down.  In the midst of our everyday, someone you know and someone I know needs therapy.  Therapy comes in different forms … on purpose, be creative and offer some much needed attention to someone today.  Be a listening ear, a warm body to hug, a heart full of compassion that will laugh and cry, and just be there.  Pray. Be there for whatever it takes for healing of their soul to begin.  Won’t you join me?

Until next time,
Debbie

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“Please excuse the mess … site under construction.”  In the midst of our recent move, our domain name expired causing us to unexpectedly and immediately change email addresses … causing a crash to my morselsofmercy site and its format of family pictures.  There is a fix to all things, but I simply have not felt like I could justify the time needed to put everything in its proper place again.  So, please excuse the mess.  At least there is new verbage and an update to my crazy but blessed life. The pictures on the sidebar will be a pleasant surprise for another day.
 
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** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from my trip to Florida
that I posted on Facebook,
feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not … enjoy!!
 
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In Memory … Scottie

5 Jun

Satisfy us in our earliest youth with your loving kindness,
giving us constant joy to the end of our lives.
Psalm 90:14  TLB

Four years ago today,
Our family’s 15 year-old Miniature Schnauzer,
Scottie, passed away…
In memory and celebration of his life,
this was written a few days following his death
**  June 5, 2008  ** 

Scottie not feeling well
May 28, 2008

The other evening, I took it out of my purse and very tenderly clasped it back together.  I lovingly touched each shiny little black bone that decorated the red plaid print of the fabric.  I gently shook the jingles that had always represented life and activity, reading the information listed on the bone-shaped tag.  With a heart filled with gratitude for the gift that has been ours for so many years, tears from a broken heart filled my eyes as I hung Scottie’s collar on the corner of his picture frame.  Our precious Bubby Dog went home to Jesus on Thursday afternoon around 2:45 pm.

Scottie ~ shaved for better health

Scottie Von Schultz Van Hook was purchased on a discounted price tag by our family from an Amish kennel on March 20, 1993 at the age of 4 ½  months.  The runt of his litter, he had contracted ringworm from a fellow cohabitant, so our new pet was quickly taken to the Hershey Veterinary Hospital where they shaved him down and stripped him of his Schnauzer identity.  Looking like a mangy gray Chihuahua, he spent the next 6 weeks in a strict regime of being bathed and dipped, all the while we were very careful to wash our hands as we loved and nurtured our little pup.  We were greatly successful in correcting his skin condition, bringing health to his young body and staying clean ourselves.

Scottie on the back deck
1995

The new friend and playmate for all weighed in at 7.4 pounds on that very first trip to the doctor in Hershey.  By the time he was nearly 6 years old and eating treats from the Work & Witness teams along with chips and salsa in Albuquerque, he tipped the scales at 12.7 pounds!  But within the next few years, he and I began to take morning prayer walks along the ditchbank road that ran beside our home, so he became quite fit and trim.

Our children
1995

Scottie loved the outdoors!  In his earlier years in Pennsylvania, he would insist on going out in the snow with the kids … and I mean snow!  Deep snow!  Snow that would engulf him as he tried to run through it, always coming back inside the house with ice chunks hanging from his Schnauzer fur.  In the summer, he even enjoyed going for nice refreshing dips in our friends’ swimming pool  ~  doggie paddle, of course!   In Albuquerque, we all learned the hard way about sticker burrs and goat heads.  When we first moved there, Ryan and Scottie were out playing and began chasing each other around the house.  Before long, Ryan turned around and wondered where the silly pup had gone.  Not too far!  After a few laps around the yard, he began to slow to a dead stop.  He had prickly thorns and stickers in the bottoms of his precious paw pads and all in his under belly Schnauzer fur!  Once again, it was a great identity icon for the boy, but he was always a portable Velcro strip!  A few years later when our daily routine included the ditch-bank road, we visited with the cows, horses, lamas, other canine-type creatures, and birds.  Scottie always thought he was bigger than he really was, so when a cow or horse was up against the fence row munching on the tree leaves, Scottie would stand there kicking out his back feet and would growl, as if they better take notice that HE was there.  Since moving from the desert to Indiana, we adapted to our new outdoors.  Here he barked and got all upset at the many deer that would visit our front yard and surrounding areas.  They were big enough for his aging eyes to see.  The squirrels, rabbits, and wild turkeys would usually go unnoticed.  He had become an old-man dog …

On the back of his favorite chair
2003

In his earlier years, Scottie was well-known for his yappiness.  He wasn’t a yippy dog, but a yappy one.  One that loved to bark.  After comparing notes with other Schnauzer owners either at the vet or at the groomer, we found that this breed of dogs was quite vocal.  So much so that when camping at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with all of our friends, the campground officials requested us to come to the office one day when we returned from the beach.  Apparently, our yappy pup didn’t like being cooped up in the camper all afternoon and announced this continually to anyone willing to listen.  Needless to say, in order to finish our vacation at the ocean, we had to quickly find a dog kennel and board Scottie for the remainder of the week.  Much to my dismay, a few other times he had to stay in a kennel overnight.  No matter how nice the kennel mom was or how many interesting yard ornaments she had for him to pee on, I just couldn’t stand the thought of him sleeping in an out building with only a fence between him and a strange dog.  Thankfully, after that when he couldn’t travel with us, he was able to stay with friends or family.Scottie was the happy and excited door greeter!  Just taking the garbage out and coming back into the house 20 seconds later you would get the royal treatment!  He was the rug under the table that picked up the crumbs.  He was the one that snored first in bed every night.  He was the one that left dirty paw prints across the floor when it rained.  He was the one that when aggravated because you were gone too long, got into the bathroom trash.  In his failing health and picky appetite, he loved the food brought home from Higher Ground’s dining hall ~ BBQ meatballs, prime rib, chicken strips, hamburgers, pulled pork, roast beef, etc.   He was the one that would always come looking for you if he woke from a nap and didn’t see you nearby.   He was all of these and more  ~  but to me …

Scottie and his Mommy

He was by all means, my third child.  I am now, for the first time, an empty-nested mom.  Kim got married in 2005.  Ryan just graduated from college & will soon be starting a new job in Seattle, WA.  Up until now, I still had my 15 ½ year old.  Sigh …   Scottie was also my exercise partner ~ we walked many miles together in many places.  He was my confidant ~ always a great listener and never tried to interrupt.  Many times, he was my altar.  I would kneel beside wherever he was resting and I would pour my heart out to God with him right there.  I’m sure he felt the cry of his mommy’s heart and his precious little spirit joined me in prayer…he was my prayer partner.  During difficult days, Scottie’s love was faithful.  In the midst of transition, Scottie’s love was steadfast.  When the home was filled with tension and turmoil, Scottie’s love was authentic and constant.  That little being gave me companionship, joy, purpose, and an assurance of knowing that I was very, very special to him … and that he loved me.   Dr. Gaston prescribed stronger meds for Scottie on April 17, knowing that his aging heart was tiring.  I began whispering words of love into those precious ears that couldn’t hear very well anymore.  I would tell him that he’s been the best gift God has given to our family.  I would talk of Heaven and the fact that Jesus was there, along with his Grandpas and some of his friends.  I even told him that when it got too hard to breathe, it was ok to go.  I promised to see him again soon.  Thursday afternoon as Tim cradled Scottie’s near-death body in his arms, I smothered his little face with teary kisses, breathing in the sweet, sweet smell of his skin for the last time.  Within moments, he was finally at peace.  Real peace.

About two weeks ago, Scottie became very restless during the dark night hours.  I felt him chilling at the foot of our bed where he slept.  I tried to console him by reaching down and petting him for a few minutes, but to no avail. My Mommy heart couldn’t stand the distance between he and I, so I pulled him up to my pillow and snuggled him close to my heart.  He curled up tight and nestled his tiny face up under my chin until the warmth from my body took the chill from his.  It wasn’t very long at all before I heard the quick shallow breathing of my precious love begin to slow down, giving him some relief and rest.  His body relaxed and he began to snore.  I laid there overcome with praise to God for this gift.  The gift of love, of life, and of need.  Need for one another.

One of my favorite songs came to mind that night  ~  and I softly sang it to Scottie …  Click on this link  Christ For the Nations Institute to listen to Kari Jobe sing …

The more I seek You, the more I find You.
The more I find You, the more I love You.
I want to sit at Your feet,
drink from the cup in Your hand,
Lay back against You and breathe,
feel Your heart beat …

This love is so deep,
it’s more than I can stand,
I melt in Your peace,
it’s overwhelming.

God is love.  That’s why we can love a tiny Miniature Schnauzer for over 15 years and experience pain and sorrow when he is no longer with us.  Scottie knew and understood love.  That night two weeks before, Scottie melted in my peace and it gave him the comfort he needed to rest.  Thursday, June 5, Scottie sat at the feet of Jesus, then jumped up in His lap and laid back against Him  ~  and breathed!!!    Then, he melted in the peace of Jesus …

Until next time,
Debbie

Scottie

3 Jun

Satisfy us in our earliest youth with your loving kindness,
giving us constant joy to the end of our lives.
Psalm 90:14  TLB

 
June 5, 2008, our family’s 15 year-old Miniature Schnauzer, Scottie, passed away.  In memory and celebration of his life, this was written a few days following his death, 2 years ago… 
 
 
 
   

Scottie not feeling well ~ 5/28/08

The other evening, I took it out of my purse and very tenderly clasped it back together.  I lovingly touched each shiny little black bone that decorated the red plaid print of the fabric.  I gently shook the jingles that had always represented life and activity, reading the information listed on the bone-shaped tag.  With a heart filled with gratitude for the gift that has been ours for so many years, tears from a broken heart filled my eyes as I hung Scottie’s collar on the corner of his picture frame.  Our precious Bubby Dog went home to Jesus on Thursday afternoon around 2:45 pm. 

Scottie, the shaved rat

Scottie Von Schultz Van Hook was purchased on a discounted price tag by our family from an Amish kennel on March 20, 1993 at the age of 4 ½  months.  The runt of his litter, he had contracted ringworm from a fellow cohabitant, so our new pet was quickly taken to the Hershey Veterinary Hospital where they shaved him down and stripped him of his Schnauzer identity.  Looking like a mangy gray Chihuahua, he spent the next 6 weeks in a strict regime of being bathed and dipped, all the while we were very careful to wash our hands as we loved and nurtured our little pup.  We were greatly successful in correcting his skin condition, bringing health to his young body and staying clean ourselves. 

Scottie on back deck ~ 1995

His salt and pepper coat began to grow back in lush volumes, and we realized that in order to truly retain the Schnauzer identity and not lose it again, but this time to the likeness of a bear, we needed to groom him.  Being the adventurous people that we are, we bought doggie clippers.   I think for being total amateurs at pet grooming, we did a wonderful job!  There was a time or two that we were thankful that his hair grew back quickly, but for the most part, he looked really nice!  Eventually we began taking him to a qualified pet groomer.  It was much easier, quicker & less traumatic for everyone, especially the client.  The clippers?  I used them for years on Ryan and Tim.  In fact, I just got them out last week and gave Tim his summer haircut. 

The new friend and playmate for all weighed in at 7.4 pounds on that very first trip to the doctor in Hershey.  By the time he was nearly 6 years old and eating treats from the Work & Witness teams along with chips and salsa in Albuquerque, he tipped the scales at 12.7 pounds!  But within the next few years, he and I began to take morning prayer walks along the ditchbank road that ran beside our home, so he became quite fit and trim. 

Our 3 children ~ 1995

 Scottie loved the outdoors!  In his earlier years in Pennsylvania, he would insist on going out in the snow with the kids … and I mean snow!  Deep snow!  Snow that would engulf him as he tried to run through it, always coming back inside the house with ice chunks hanging from his Schnauzer fur.  In the summer, he even enjoyed going for nice refreshing dips in our friends’ swimming pool  ~  doggie paddle, of course!   In Albuquerque, we all learned the hard way about sticker burrs and goat heads.  When we first moved there, Ryan and Scottie were out playing and began chasing each other around the house.  Before long, Ryan turned around and wondered where the silly pup had gone.  Not too far!  After a few laps around the yard, he began to slow to a dead stop.  He had prickly thorns and stickers in the bottoms of his precious paw pads and all in his under belly Schnauzer fur!  Once again, it was a great identity icon for the boy, but he was always a portable Velcro strip!  A few years later when our daily routine included the ditch-bank road, we visited with the cows, horses, lamas, other canine-type creatures, and birds.  Scottie always thought he was bigger than he really was, so when a cow or horse was up against the fence row munching on the tree leaves, Scottie would stand there kicking out his back feet and would growl, as if they better take notice that HE was there.  Since moving from the desert to Indiana, we adapted to our new outdoors.  Here he barked and got all upset at the many deer that would visit our front yard and surrounding areas.  They were big enough for his aging eyes to see.  The squirrels, rabbits, and wild turkeys would usually go unnoticed.  He had become an old-man dog …  

Scottie on the back of his favorite chair ~ 2003

Scottie loved to travel!  It’s a good thing, because we did, too!  Whether we drove to see the Van Hooks & Parks or to Indiana to see the Wells gang, he always settled down for the trip and slept.  Of course, back in the day, he was simply gearing up the energy to pester Princess and Snickers, who tried to snip and snap at him to put him in his place, but he usually ran them both either under the couch or into another room.  The pup in him was frisky ~ and to him, they were grumpy girls.  Many years later, the tables turned.  Those in Indiana now have frisky pups, along with his nephew in PA, Tadpole Arndt.  Scottie then became the grumpy one.  More times than not, he might have snapped at them a time or two, but they got use to the fact that the old man didn’t want to be bothered.  He would simply sprawl out underneath a table for safe keeping (therefore he acquired the nickname ‘THE RUG’) and nap through the pups’ silly antics with one another.  They learned to respect him for his stately condition and usually left him alone. 

In his earlier years, Scottie was well-known for his yappiness.  He wasn’t a yippy dog, but a yappy one.  One that loved to bark.  After comparing notes with other Schnauzer owners either at the vet or at the groomer, we found that this breed of dogs was quite vocal.  So much so that when camping at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with all of our friends, the campground officials requested us to come to the office one day when we returned from the beach.  Apparently, our yappy pup didn’t like being cooped up in the camper all afternoon and announced this continually to anyone willing to listen.  Needless to say, in order to finish our vacation at the ocean, we had to quickly find a dog kennel and board Scottie for the remainder of the week.  Much to my dismay, a few other times he had to stay in a kennel overnight.  No matter how nice the kennel mom was or how many interesting yard ornaments she had for him to pee on, I just couldn’t stand the thought of him sleeping in an out building with only a fence between him and a strange dog.  Thankfully, after that when he couldn’t travel with us, he was able to stay with friends or family.

Scottie was the happy and excited door greeter!  Just taking the garbage out and coming back into the house 20 seconds later you would get the royal treatment!  He was the rug under the table that picked up the crumbs.  He was the one that snored first in bed every night.  He was the one that left dirty paw prints across the floor when it rained.  He was the one that when aggravated because you were gone too long, got into the bathroom trash.  In his failing health and picky appetite, he loved the food brought home from Higher Ground’s dining hall ~ BBQ meatballs, prime rib, chicken strips, hamburgers, pulled pork, roast beef, etc.   He was the one that would always come looking for you if he woke from a nap and didn’t see you nearby.   He was all of these and more  ~  but to me …

Scottie & his Mommy

He was by all means, my third child.  I am now, for the first time, an empty-nested mom.  Kim got married in 2005.  Ryan just graduated from college & will soon be starting a new job in Seattle, WA.  Up until now, I still had my 15 ½ year old.  Sigh …   Scottie was also my exercise partner ~ we walked many miles together in many places.  He was my confidant ~ always a great listener and never tried to interrupt.  Many times, he was my altar.  I would kneel beside wherever he was resting and I would pour my heart out to God with him right there.  I’m sure he felt the cry of his mommy’s heart and his precious little spirit joined me in prayer…he was my prayer partner.  During difficult days, Scottie’s love was faithful.  In the midst of transition, Scottie’s love was steadfast.  When the home was filled with tension and turmoil, Scottie’s love was authentic and constant.  That little being gave me companionship, joy, purpose, and an assurance of knowing that I was very, very special to him … and that he loved me.   Dr. Gaston prescribed stronger meds for Scottie on April 17, knowing that his aging heart was tiring.  I began whispering words of love into those precious ears that couldn’t hear very well anymore.  I would tell him that he’s been the best gift God has given to our family.  I would talk of Heaven and the fact that Jesus was there, along with his Grandpas and some of his friends.  I even told him that when it got too hard to breathe, it was ok to go.  I promised to see him again soon.  Thursday afternoon as Tim cradled Scottie’s near-death body in his arms, I smothered his little face with teary kisses, breathing in the sweet, sweet smell of his skin for the last time.  Within moments, he was finally at peace.  Real peace.

 About two weeks ago, Scottie became very restless during the dark night hours.  I felt him chilling at the foot of our bed where he slept.  I tried to console him by reaching down and petting him for a few minutes, but to no avail. My Mommy heart couldn’t stand the distance between he and I, so I pulled him up to my pillow and snuggled him close to my heart.  He curled up tight and nestled his tiny face up under my chin until the warmth from my body took the chill from his.  It wasn’t very long at all before I heard the quick shallow breathing of my precious love begin to slow down, giving him some relief and rest.  His body relaxed and he began to snore.  I laid there overcome with praise to God for this gift.  The gift of love, of life, and of need.  Need for one another. 

 One of my favorite songs came to mind that night  ~  and I softly sang it to Scottie …

The more I seek You, the more I find You.
The more I find You, the more I love You.
I want to sit at Your feet, drink from the cup in Your hand,
Lay back against You and breathe, feel Your heart beat …
This love is so deep, it’s more than I can stand,
I melt in Your peace, it’s overwhelming.

God is love.  That’s why we can love a tiny Miniature Schnauzer for over 15 years and experience pain and sorrow when he is no longer with us.  Scottie knew and understood love.  That night two weeks before, Scottie melted in my peace and it gave him the comfort he needed to rest.  Thursday, June 5, Scottie sat at the feet of Jesus, then jumped up in His lap and laid back against Him  ~  and breathed!!!    Then, he melted in the peace of Jesus …

Until next time,
Debbie