Texts from the past #8: dogs

Loretta
Ruby

As much as Chuck always said our dogs, first Loretta and then Ruby, were my dogs, I think they were really loyal to both of us.

We got Loretta when we became “empty nesters”. She came with the name Loretta Lynn and was fully trained. Described by her previous owners as an “old soul”, she fit smoothly into our now little family of two.

When our grandson Everett was born, we left her for over 14 hours and she never had an accident. That girl had a bladder of steel! Then Juliette came along and adored her, calling her “The Doretta”. We had her for ten years, until she died suddenly, with only a few hours notice that something was wrong. We went to bed that night with her asleep on our bedroom rug, and we both woke up about 2am. We got up to check on her, sitting on the floor next to her. She breathed two breaths and she was gone.

I didn’t plan to get another dog so soon, but it was sad coming home from work without a sweet dog to greet me. We went to the county shelter looking for a specific dog, but ended up with Ruby, who if you just saw her face you would have thought we’d cloned Loretta. Ruby turned out to be the cuddliest dog I’ve ever been around. And I thank God that I have her still to cuddle with and play with and just be with everyday. She is my constant companion.


May 12, 2017. C: Loretta  may be having a rough time right now. Bad storm in our area. (Loretta was scared of the least storm noise, fireworks, and even banging pots in the kitchen).

April 3, 2018. C: Oh my, we have an Earl sighting (This was our code name for Squirrel)

April 26, 2018. Me: I just saw a baby Pearl. C: Must’ve been tiny. Turl. (Since we now had chipmunks, we began also calling them Pearl)

November 7, 2018. Me: Bringing up the garbage can without Loretta running her little route was hard. C: I’m sure. I think about her when I leave for work and not having to close the study door.  Me: And even though she never said a word it sure is quiet around here this afternoon.  C: Sorry.

We got Ruby right after our 40th “Ruby” anniversary, hence the name.

Dec 27, 2018 (I Sent pic of Ruby) Me: She is so gentle natured. I think she’s already asleep.  C: Maybe she’s relaxed from both the surgery ( being spayed) and the loud shelter. She looks like a sweetie.

Dec. 28, 2018. Me: Somebody pooped outside. C: Did she let you know or did you just take her out? Me: I just took her out. C: That’s still progress. (We were like parents with a newborn).

Texts from the past #7: I Corinthians 13

” vs. 5… does not seek its own…”

There were so many times that Chuck did things for me, not to gain anything for himself but just to make me happy, or to make my life easier.

April 18, 2017

Me: Thank you so much. You didn’t have to. Especially in that horrible traffic. C: I know but I wanted to and I could, I had time.  (He brought me something I forgot, probably my phone. I was subbing at Pelham High School that day.)

August 1, 2017

C: Your gas is very low. Do you want me to fill it?

Feb 27, 2018

C: Hey, would you be interested in eating out tonight since you’re going to be gone this weekend? Me: Sure, I’m going to get fatter anyway. C: Anywhere particular? Me: Either Beef O’Bradys or you can just bring home Jim n Nick’s. C: Hmmm, prolly bring J & N, my goal was to give you the night off.

July 13, 2018

(I was on my way to meet my cousin, Paula, in Arkansas.). C: Diagnosed diabetic. (I don’t remember this!!!!!!!). Me: Made it. C: Praise the Lord. You two enjoy.

April 5, 2019

(Discussing the poetry meeting in Orange Beach) C: I’ll go with you unless you happen to know someone who might want to go. Me: Let me think on it. It would probably be boring for you. C: We’ll talk about it. I just wanted to help you enjoy it.

April 10, 2019

C: I was going in order to support something you love and because I hate to see you spend 8 hours driving on top of 6 hours of meetings. I was willing to do Driving Miss Angie.

Oct. 2, 2019

Me: I’m already planning to go to Tampa in January for Grandparents’ Day. Could I go in early November, too? C: Why not?

It’s the big and little things I miss. Having someone who will bring you your phone or fill your car with gas. Someone who offers to accompany you to something they have no real interest in so you won’t be alone. Someone who hates to see you leave, but knows your heart’s desire to see the grandkids or meet your cousin. Someone who seeks your happiness.

Texts from the past #6: Pop Culture/Iconic phrases

Most of us have favorite movies, cartoons, shows that we like to quote. It’s fun when someone “gets” your reference. Chuck and I had a lot of quotes, especially from Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, Napoleon Dynamite, Seinfeld, Perfect Strangers and Frazier, to name a few. And Scooby Doo. As evidenced in our texts here…

Apri 6, 2017

C: Hey dearie, don’t forget to transfer the $1k from your savings. Me: Ok. My list of classes to avoid is getting longer…. (I was subbing that day) C: Ruh roh

April 27, 2017

Me: Didn’t know this was band class (I was subbing that day). C: Ruh roh. C: Hey I’m using the new microphone feature. It’s pretty cool. C: Just call me George Jetson. Me: Call me Jane

September 4, 2017

C: I’m about to eat something bad. Me: Ruh roh

I miss all the silly little conversations we had.

Texts from the past #5: Supper

November 23, 2017

When it came to cooking for Chuck, it was a pretty limited menu. Many of our texts consisted of options/discussions on what to have for supper. Here are just a few examples from 2017:

February 15

Me: Supper – chicken, pizza, eggs or soup?

C: pizza

March 2

Me: Supper – leftovers, pizza, eggs, soup?

C: pizza

March 29

Me: Salad and baked potato or bacon and eggs?

C: Bacon & eggs

April 26

Me: Supper – leftover chicken, leftover spaghetti or eggs?

C: eggs

I have been branching out the last few months, cooking a lot of new dishes. Some I have taste-tested on my brother and sister-in-law. They have been very gracious. But, as much as I’m enjoying my culinary experiments, I’d give it all up to make eggs or roast or burgers just for Chuck.

Hymns of Grace #1

words by St. Francis of Assisi – “Thou burning sun with golden beam, Thou silver moon with softer gleam”

I had a very special aunt – Great Aunt Marie, and I am named after her. She lived in the Baptist Village in Waycross, GA, in her later years. I have several hymn books in the house, and one used to belong to her. The front page is stamped Waycross Primitive Baptist Church. I’ve decided to start going through them, singing the ones I know, reading the ones I don’t. Today it was All Creatures of Our God and King.

There are numerous versions of this song out there, but this one is my current favorite.

My heart, part two

Oregon – September, 2018

“The God who made the galaxies knows the hairs on your head, the fears of your heart, the events of your life, and the details of your future.” – John W. Tweeddale, Tabletalk Magazine

I’ve been thinking about the fears of my heart. Sometimes I think I don’t have any, but I’m just fooling myself. I feel like I’ve had the worse happen last year and so what do I have to be afraid of? Fear and anxiety aren’t exactly the same. An article in Psychology says “Fear makes people run for cover. We become self-focused and on high alert…The ambiguous nature of anxiety makes it difficult to overcome. If we don’t know the source of our anxiety, it is difficult to deal with the problem. It is possible to be anxious about things that will almost certainly never affect us.”

Anxiety seems to stem from our thoughts. My anxieties now revolve around decisions to be made concerning moving. I don’t really feel fearful, but I get anxious thinking about all it entails. Thinking about how houses disappear before I can even get a look at them in person. Thinking about making the BEST decision. Thinking about all the changes this move will bring. See? My thoughts are often such a mess. I KNOW in my head and heart about God’s providence, but I still stray into the “what Ifs”.

I found a very comforting statement by Samuel Rutherford. He said, “When I am in the cellar of affliction, I look for the Lord’s choicest wines.” I still feel I’m in the cellar some days. So, I’ll do my best to look for those choicest wines. And the choicest house I can find.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? – Psalm 27:1

You can read My Heart (part one) HERE.


Our true home, part two

Our home – Bham – 12/8/17

“Smiling at each other, we realize we have the same song stuck in our head, a new song, neither of us have ever heard before. His humming of it sounds like flowing water. The robins and morning stars are singing the same tune. I feel a pulsing stillness. I don’t even notice that the usual sounds of sirens and cars aren’t there anymore, the static of news, the vibrating of phones, or creepy songs about seducing a santa baby. That all burnt up forever. The old order has passed away. Instead, I hear a pulsing stillness.”  –  by Fr. Jack (Priesthood from the Inside Out blog) in his thoughts about meeting St. Francis in heaven. He continues with thoughts of those he expects to see – “To my left, the kid I picked-on in 5th grade waves at me. I wave back shamelessly. He’s holding the hand of his daughter…I realize I’m holding someone’s hand as well, warm and smooth. It’s the unborn child I buried yesterday. He’s taller than me and has wild flowing hair. I’ve never met him before, but I know him. I know him. He only lived 12 weeks invisible in his mom’s womb, but I’ve known him ‘like a thousand years.’ He laughs.”

Reading the above I felt comforted. I like to think that Chuck is rejoicing with Mom and Dad and holding little Wyatt in his arms. That he was there to greet Tim and Ed when they joined him. I don’t know, I can only wonder.


Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. – Psalm 23:6

my heart

I often take song lyrics to suit my circumstances. And I think that’s okay. Music and song soothe my soul, make me think, make me cry, ease my pain and bring me joy.

I’ve taken these lyrics as my own:

What do I get when I find out I am nothing?
Who am I without my name?
How do I stop this emptiness from growing?
The dumb instructions coming from my brain

I go to my heart on my knees

I know I am not nothing, but I feel like a half these days. I still have my name, but it’s no longer wife. And yes, there are a lot of dumb instructions coming from my brain.

I go to my heart, frail as it is. On my knees in prayer.



My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

Our true home

View from our front door – Bham – 12/8/17

“…Help us to avoid getting too immersed in the things of this world, for we know that we are just passing through on our way to our true home with You.” – Pocket Prayers for Women – Simple Prayers of Hope

As I continue the fun/not fun task of house hunting, I have to remind myself that though I hope this will be my last earthly house/home, it is not my final home. I’m looking for a front porch, a walk-in shower, a nice kitchen and a decent backyard. This all pales in contrast to the heavenly home that awaits.

Which leads me to thinking about death and that transition from earthly life to heavenly life. Believe me, I’ve thought a lot about it the past six months. All the platitudes about Chuck being in a “better place” don’t help when I am not in a better place. Yet, I know these people saying it mean well and they really are telling the truth. I just can’t wrap my head around the whole process. I’ve talked to a pastor and former pastor about these things. They have both been helpful and patient with my questions. I know much, but have so much to learn. But I do know that “The secret things belong to the Lord our God…” Deuteronomy 29:29.

I’m not the only one who ponders these things. One of my favorite writers, Sean Dietrich, had similar thoughts a few days ago. From his blog:

But, like I said, what if I have death all backwards? What if this earthly life is only a glorified batting practice? What if the real ballgame awaits?

And how about the concept of time? What if within the next realm, time ceases to exist? And if there is no time, this means no future or past, either. Which means that calendar years won’t matter, now will they?

… I’m praying that when we pass from this life into the next, our left-behind loved ones understand that we are not leaving this universe, but we are unfolding two bright, colorful wings, soaring upward into the undiluted sunlight of Joy.”

For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. II Corinthians 5:7-8

“…

“Lord Willing”

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” – James 4:13-15

Today I came across Chuck’s Field Notes 56-week planner. There was a binder clip on the week of May 11. That was the week we moved back to Jacksonville. He’d written Mayo Clinic 8:10 appt. for May 14th. and Move in Banyon Bay for May 16. Those were probably the last things he wrote in the notebook.

It’s a notebook that you fill in all the dates yourself. So, it began December 23, 2019 and went through THIS week, the last date being January 10, 2021. He wrote every month and every date in it by hand. He was so organized and it was not full of fluff like my calendars and notebooks are (except for his notes about Bosch). He’d written all the late shifts and backups he had scheduled for 2020. Then after he’d made the final decision to retire he’d put in that date (June 1), then his last work day (April 30).

All the family birthdays were in it, even our parents who are no longer here. Some anniversaries, too. Even on the day he died he’d written my brother’s birthday and late shift.

The hard part is seeing the plans that were made but never fulfilled.

  • April 24 – Avett Brothers
  • June 22 – Bell Camp
  • September 14 – Maine Trip
  • December 16 – Anniversary 42

But, Lord willing, I’ll see the Avett Brothers in concert again one day. And, though Bell Camp wasn’t when and how we’d planned, I did have a mini-camp with the kids. And one day I hope to make that trip to New England. And, always, I’ll remember our anniversary. Lord willing.