May 07, 2005

Another step in the dance

This is the first day that Dad has had pain. His stomach is bothering him, but it is blessedly relieved by medication that allows him to rest. The nurse will be visiting today to check in and see what the best options are for comfort. The hospital bed has been ordered. It's just too hard to get up and down stairs for bed. I think it will be a relief to wheel into the next room, or even stay in bed all day if that's what's comfortable. Time spent with Dad the last couple of days has been quiet just enjoying his presence and letting him know that we are here if he needs us.

Matzo ball soup arrived in perfect time for a light, soul-full lunch for dad. Blessings continue to pour in from friends and you are all appreciated!

It's a hard step to take. Every step seems to be another challenge and adjustment, but we've been thankful for the time to get used to each stage of progress (or I guess I should say regression). Dad seems to move to a new state, one step removed from his physical life here and one step closer to his spiritual being. We all re-learn and adjust to this new level of relationship and being. It's tough to see, and yet, what a blessing to be able to learn to accept Dad's death one step at a time, giving up what we know and love in pieces rather than suddenly and all at once. The message that we really have no control over this process is loud and clear, and continually reminds us that we must cherish, literally, every moment.

Posted by Jeni at May 7, 2005 12:19 PM

We're with you in this stage, too. We're reading the blog and loving Donel and praying. We're re-learning, too, some of us from a great distance. The lessons are life-altering. Thank you so much for taking us with you.


Posted by: Sherri at May 7, 2005 08:12 PM

Dear Donel (and family),
Thanks again for so beautifully and generously sharing your journey with us. It is so appropriate that you, who love online communication and who did so much for Ecunet, should be able to share this journey you're on via the internet with so many people who love you. I've been thinking lately about the meeting you created, "Miles City," on Ecunet when I asked you to be my pastor for awhile when I was having trouble in my first chuech. I asked you how you came up with that name for the private meeting & you said you drew a line between Decorah Iowa and Bellingham and the midway point was Miles City, Montana! I did survive and the meeting was no longer needed, but I'll always remember and appreciate your willingness to be there for me as I grew into my calling as a UCC pastor. I served 8+ years there and have now been 5 years and 8 months here at Faith UCC in INternational Falls, MN. IT's a good, healthy church and we hope to retire here because it seems God has brought us "home" to this place. Both kids even live in town now - something I'd never have expected.

Anyway... I didn't mean to go on so long, but felt the need to communicate with you tonight. I appreciate your sharing and read the blog regularly as I think of and pray for you all. I know God is with you, and you walk this journey with grace and trust.

Blessings and love, -- Sue Hamly

Posted by: Sue Hamly at May 8, 2005 12:01 AM

Dear Jeni,

How kindly gentle you write, about what must be so difficult to experience. I am embarrassed by my own awkwardness with acceptance. And here you write with grounded grace. Thank you for your modeling.

And of your Dad, I can only behold his enormous capacity for spiritual living and dying.
'Tis one thing to preach it, quite another to live it. His amazing journey will be a beacon far and wide for us to follow... a long path of bright wings. God is leading the procession.

With deep gratitude for the open love of your family to share the gift of Donel with us.

Lovingly I pray with you,
Jennifer (the Orcas Island one)

Posted by: jennifer johnson fralick at May 8, 2005 12:46 AM

Donel, Marilyn, and Family,

A friend once told me "character is not made, only displayed in times of personal crisis." I think of that often as I read Bright Wings and gain so much strength and insight from all of you during this intensely personal time in your lives.

You have demonstrated how family 'works' when deep respect, abiding, unconditional love, and firmly rooted faith are the chief components that have always made up its character... in good times as well as difficult ones.

As Sue H. said above, the lessons you have all taught us have indeed been 'life altering'. I am eager to share what I have learned by the way I move forward with my own life.. the only way I know of to say THANK YOU for your gift of allowing us to follow you through "the dance".

Along with countless others, you remain in my constant prayers. May you be strengthened by the love and peace that are being asked for you from our Compassionate God.

~Marcia J

Posted by: Marcia Johnson at May 8, 2005 02:52 AM

Donel, I was interested in the notes about David P-J on Ecunet, and began to wonder again about the wonderful organization, Ecunet, which we, and many others had a hand in building.

Yes, your Blog reminds me of many earlier Blogs, which were not called that. I thought of "Prayer Chapel", of "Ecunet Chat", of "Memorial Service" and many other "chat rooms" we have been involved in.

I remember that "Speakeasy" didn't work out for me. I prefered the GRACE of notes which are shared in my own time and read in the readers own time.

Your Blog allows that Grace.

Donel, we had a wonderful Memorial Service for Miriam Smith, Marilyn's sister. It was a challenge in some ways, because it was made clear to everyone that there would be no religious words or prayers.

However the voices of those near and dear were wonderful, as was a Video presentation created out of early and late photos, with a musical background.

We all got a kick out of the music which accompanied the photos:

The early days was accompanied by: "Yesterday When I was Young"

The Young Married and children was accompanied by
Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk"

The "Special Events" was accompanied by Lawrence Welk's "Pennsylvian Polka"

and the last pictures of Miriam were accompanied by Nat King Cole singing "Unforgettable".

It was beautiful

With love, Gordon and Marilyn

Posted by: gordon laird at May 8, 2005 09:22 AM

Dear Don and family,

It's so good to read that you are receiving the healing that only a good bowl of Matzo Ball Soup can provide. My Jewish grandmother always had the soup ready whenever any of us were sick.

My wish is for all of you to keep savoring each moment together.

Love, Anita

Posted by: Anita Collins at May 8, 2005 03:17 PM

Dear Donel,Marilyn,Dani, Jeni, Martin, my heart is squeezed each time you write about new stages in this part of the journey you have all shared so lovingly with all of us, and kleenex toting, we read on as you "kids" write more and Donel has less energy to write. The eagles were especially a poignant experience. The day my cousins learned on Mercer Island that their dad, on a cruise in the Japanese islands had died, there appeared 2 immature eagles on the beach in front of the house,playing and inspecting and fishing along its stretch. They returned each day until Uncle Dick's memorial service, some 13 days later. They thought the eagles had gone on finally. As we lowered the ashes into the family plot at Volunteer Park, grandson Rick spotted two eagles flying overhead. After watching them in silence I realized they were mating and said so and we all felt comforted my the native legends of the eagles being heavenly escorts and earthly (celestial) messengers to the world after this life. I don't know of any legends regarding flamingoes, but that crowd of pink lawn aereators was pretty flashy, too. I'm so hugely grateful for the blog and sent a heartful of love to you all, taking step by step these days and gleaning every joy , moment by moment and loving yourselves in unexpected and grace-filled ways. YOu are so much in my thoughts and prayers. Love, Julie

Posted by: Julie Gorrell at May 8, 2005 05:21 PM

Donel, Some time ago you read a poem at church that caught my attention; I took the liberty of re-writing it to meet my own needs as one of my siblings read it at my Mother's Celebration of Life yesterday in Seattle. Just thought I would share it back to you:

The Kitchen Table

Life began at our kitchen table.
It was the center of attention.
Fresh flowers decorated it with hope.

It was a time to gather each morning, to greet one another as family.
The goals for the day were set at this table.

And for this table, food was prepared with caring hands
From the gifts of the earth outside the kitchen window -
Food that nourished our bodies and souls.

Dreams were shared and realized at this table
Somewhere between the Sunday chicken dinner,
The holiday pies, and the Saturday night popcorn.

It was a time for hearing life's instructions on how to be a good person,
Knowing right from wrong.
It was a school for review and a church for prayer.
A congress for debating the world's concerns,
And a desk for homework and creations.

The birth of children was planned at this table,
And it was around this table that our parents were prepared for burial.

This table has known joy and sorrow, heard laughter, seen tears,
Acknowledged accomplishment, built trust, and even met fears.
It was a source of strength for all who gathered 'round it,
And brought unity at the close of the day.

This kitchen table was not a thing,
It was not a place.
It was a memory with a face.
And if we keep it in our heart,
We honor those who must depart.

Thank you, Donel for teaching me how to dance with mixed emotions. I have learned so much from you, and it is your wisdom that has often given me the answers to in turn, help others. God's blessings to you, Donel. Tim

Posted by: Tim Shepherd at May 8, 2005 09:00 PM
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