Finding Peace in the Midst of Heartache

My brother-in-law, David, is one of the the funniest people I know. Not because he tries to be witty or is constantly cracking jokes, but as my husband, Jerry, likes to say, “He’s funny even though he doesn’t mean to be.” In David’s southern Virginian, gentleman drawl, he can turn an ordinary occurrence of his day into an entertaining story that anyone listening can’t help but start laughing. One of my favorites is when he tells about his dogs, or rather how he says it, his “dawgs.”

David and Marlene

David and Marlene

David loves to hunt. It really doesn’t matter what season it is, deer, dove, or turkey—and there might be others I’m not aware of—he just thrives on being out in the woods with his passel of hounds he has affectionately named “The Convicts.” Those beagles who live outside in a pen—more like a castle to hear my sister, Marlene, describe it—have over the years mastered the art and technique of breaking out to roam the countryside. When those mischief-makers are finally spotted by a caring neighbor or reappear conveniently on their own just in time for dinner, David will, with a great deal of respect, speculate incredulously, “How-did-those-dogs manage their escapes?” It always makes me laugh to hear him recount their antics, so-much-so when I talk with my sister on the phone I always tell her to give my love, not only to David, but also to his friends, The Convicts. You can hardly have one without the other.

The Convicts

The Convicts

Right now, though, David is not able to be out and about with his pups. Life as he and my sister knew it has changed leading them on a journey they otherwise would not have chosen. Cancer has come into their home bringing questions of why, heartache of the unknown, and suffering that does not easily go away. Continue reading

How Pride, Prejudice, and Judgements Easily Sneak Into Our Hearts

The first birthday party I ever went to was for a little black girl in my kindergarten class. Too young and tender to know there was a difference—that I was not black or that she was not white—we were friends. It was not until my dad retired from the Air Force three years later and we went to live in the South that I had my first taste otherwise. For it was there I saw bathrooms and water fountains for whites only, and it was there, four years later I saw a cross burning in the front yard of my very dear friend, Alonso Berry. To this day I don’t understand why those things were. I remember being sad, for none of this made, or for that matter makes, any sense to me. Continue reading

Why We Should Be Thankful New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

Why We Should Be Thankful New Year's Resolutions Don't Work

Why do we do it? Seriously, why do we heap boulders of expectation—because that’s truly what they are—on ourselves every January 1? Maybe it’s the lights, decorations, and happiness that goes hand-in-hand with Christmas. Our spirits rise and we think, “This is it. This is the year.” Hurrah! With gusto, we jump on the bandwagon of starting afresh and being improved. New gym memberships soar. The larder is emptied of food that is not healthy and is re-stocked with the latest and best-for-you ingredients. And with a Teddy Roosevelt “Huzzah!” we go charging into the sunset with the grandiose ideals of being a better person with a better body and a mindset filled with kinder and more gentle thoughts. Continue reading

When What Really Matters Comes Into Focus

My Aunt Ernestine passed away this New Year’s Eve. Leaving this earth in the same bed she was born in 83 years ago, this beautiful person left behind a legacy of kindness, of encouraging others, and one of the sweetest smiles I’ve ever seen.

Aunt Ernestine

Having walked this road more than once and becoming what I coined in my heart and head as one of the “walking wounded,”—someone who had lost that special person(s) whose passing flips anyone’s world upside down, changing its color from a warm fuzzy to the reality that life is ever-changing—I knew the transformation was already taking place. The heartache of her illness that her husband, my Uncle Roy, and her daughter, my cousin Mary and her family, husband Rick, and children Meredith and Matthew, were already experiencing will be one that will always remain. Continue reading