Monday, February 22, 2010

More reflections on An Holy Season

Awhile earlier, I’d indicated that a few weeks before Thanksgiving the wife went to NOLA to visit the daughter. Son-in law was out of town at a debate tournament with his students so it was just wife, daughter and the kid’s cats. I stayed and took care of home, hearth and dogs. That Friday evening I received a phone call from one of wife’s sisters (in fact, though not by birth). Long and the short of it was that the caller’s older sister (even closer to the wife) had experienced a reoccurrence of her Cancer and if experimental treatment wasn’t successful, she was terminal; so, I was required to make an uncomfortable phone call that evening. Early the next a.m. daughter called to ask if I’d received any more bad news. Answering: “No”, daughter said that more was probably coming. She was right. Seems the son of a family very close to us had died the night before, tragically. And thus began a journey of incredible grace and holiness.

Al was 36, an oral Surgeon, over-achiever and all around good guy. He was found dead at his desk around Midnight that Friday, and No, it wasn’t self-inflicted. Later, a Tox Report confirmed accidental death. Al’s sister Stel, one of the daughter’s two BFF’s had called daughter early Saturday a.m. and left a message to call her back. She was distraught but didn’t say what was going on. Daughter could tell that whatever it was, it was bad, hence the “more’s probably coming” comment. Monday of that week we began keeping our friends company as they worked their way through a process culminating in Al’s Memorial Service on Thursday. Al’s Mom, though close to the wife had her BFF come in from Dallas and spend the next few days with her, ministering to her throughout the process. Al’s parents made it through everything by their trust in the promise of God with lots of help from the extended Church family and Al’s mom’s BFF.

Following Al’s Memorial Service on Thursday we immediately switched gears; our concern shifting to Poll, the Cancer victim. Not sure when we found out, but experimental treatment wasn’t successful. Poll was a twin, living in Dallas with her sis and sis’s husband. The other younger sis and her Mom were in Austin. Everyone was going back and forth. Guess it’s time to explain the Poll & her twin are Christian; while younger sis & Mom (in Austin) are Sufi Muslim (it’s a long story). The weekend following Thanksgiving weekend all the girls (Poll & her twin from Dallas, the wife and Poll’s younger sis from Austin) met at our house in Waco to have “Girl’s Time” and celebrate the twins 59th Birthday.
Suppose I should explain the closeness of the wife and her “sisters”. The twins’ Dad was the partner of wife’s Dad and a brilliant Architect, a true talent. Wife’s Mom was pregnant with her at the same time that her “sisters’” Mom was pregnant with the first set of twins (identical), Poll & her sis. They went from birth at the hospital to homes within a block of each other. From that day thru High School all lived in those same homes and grew up as close extended family. The twins Mom had another set of twins (fraternal) within two years of Poll & her sis. This time it was a boy & a girl. Non-related folks just don’t get any “tighter” than they all were.
While at our home, though weak, Poll was still in OK shape and Saturday they all went out for a burger at a little hole in the wall burger joint that no one but then everyone goes to. While there, they ran into a friend from childhood whose Mom-in Law owned their old home. The Mom-in-Law was along and unknowing of the circumstances, invited them to revisit the home. It was virtually unchanged. My Jan. 02 post goes into more detail but suffice to say for a short period of time “Poll, did go home again”. My rather spiritual wife said it was a “Holy moment” and that God was obvious in His presence for that time.

That’s also about the time we found out Al’s mom’s BFF’s husband of 43 years had suffered an aneurysm. They performed surgery, thought things would be OK, but such was not to be. Several days after the procedure and relatively positive prognosis, he began going down hill. Inserting a feeding tube and performing other heroic measures Jim was kept comfortable. On Christmas Eve day, with both their girls in town, Al’s mom’s BFF and her daughters went to visit the ICU Doctor on call who indicated things really wouldn’t get any better. Jim could be kept going indefinitely, but at what cost and what quality of life. A day or two after Christmas we received a forward of the most grace filled email I have ever read. Written on that Christmas Eve, Jim’s wife explained that she and the girls had given Jim the most precious gift one could offer another loved one. Earlier that day they had made the decision to transfer him to Hospice, remove the feeding tube and let him "go gentle into that great Goodnight". It would seem to be that only by faith could someone do such a thing at such a time. Or, was it possibly made easier given the timing?

The day after Christmas Poll and her twin sis stopped by our house on the way back to Dallas from Austin where she had been since the girls visit in Waco. Our kids were all there and it was obvious Poll was having a much harder time, physically as well as emotionally. They stayed for a short time, got to visit the “nieces” & “nephews” and exchange feelings of care and love. While everyone was getting ready to leave for Dallas, I walked Poll to the car by myself. Got to tell her “Goodbye” alone without anyone else being there. It was emotional. My one regret was I couldn’t bring myself to ask her to become our Guardian Angel. Have to hope that she knew what was in my heart and accepted the task anyway.

It was the following Sunday that the wife traveled to Dallas to see Poll again. I’d gone to Church that morning and was coming back to drive her, but while I was gone Poll’s Mom (from Austin) had stopped in on the way and asked the wife to caravan with her, so she did, leaving me with the dogs. No problem since I’d already made it clear that I was down for whatever was required, go or stay. It was a good thing she went ahead because shortly after they arrived it became clear that Poll was near the end of her journey and had I been along I’d have had to leave wife there and come back to deal with animals. Being at home I was able to email some of the “Prayers at the Time of Death” to wife from the BoCP for her use. I was where I needed to be, when I needed to be there, Thanks be to God!

Poll passed away while her twin sis, Mom & the wife were with her. Each had quiet time alone to offer their individual prayers (both Sufi & Christian) for release and peace and grace along the journey. Later after she’d passed, the wife helped sis and Mom bathe, dress and prepare Poll for transport to the funeral home, where she was to be cremated. The wife was struck with how Holy an experience it was to be able to prepare one for their committal.

The next Saturday, all the family met in Austin in Zilker Park where we planted a tree in Polls’ memory, Sufi prayers were offered that day. I see them as no less Holy or to any lesser God that He who I know, the same Entity, just experienced in another way. Oddly, returning home, I saw yet another hawk on the way back. Wife stayed in Austin with Poll’s younger Sis that night so I was again alone. We had committed to attend the Wedding of friends daughter later that evening and as we’d missed their last Daughter’s Wedding 6 months earlier, I felt a need to attend. While there I ran into Lyndy, the childhood friend who’s Mother in Law owned the house Poll grew up in and enabled them to revisit their old home. Took some time to explain to her how much a ‘God Moment” the visit had been for Poll, the wife and her sisters. She understood.

The next Saturday there was one last goodbye for Poll’s family and friends at the Belmont in Dallas. The Belmont is this old restored upscale Motor Hotel in South Oak Cliff. It bills itself as: ”modern luxury, local flavor and mid-century swank” and really is. Built on a landscaped stone bluff, the views of Downtown Dallas and the Trinity River are gorgeous. We all met in the Bar where Poll had recently enjoyed several consecutive birthdays with friends, family and clients. Knowing her, I could understand why this place held so much importance. Late that afternoon, with only a few faithful remaining, remembrances were offered, stories told and final goodbyes said. As I looked out towards Downtown Dallas I could only think such was: “meet, right and our common duty and service, so to do.”

Rest in Peace Sis, you will be long missed and forever treasured.

Monday, February 01, 2010


Saw a Church sign that read: “Jesus walks in when everyone else walks out.”

Had to take exception with it, because I believe He’s always there from the “git-go”, bidden or unbidden.

Maybe it should have said: “Jesus is still there when everyone else has walked out.”

I’d have much preferred that.