Best Day of My Life — Daily Devotional

Below is a blog post from June 2013 I wanted to share as we close out Thanksgiving 2015, not because I am sad, but because I am thankful.  I have grieved the loss of a child (ironically on Thanksgiving Day 1998), the loss of my daddy and brother within six weeks of each other, and my mother less than two years later.  So, I am no stranger to the searing pain that grief brings with the loss of someone you love dearly.  Through it all I have remained thankful to a God that has carried me on days I didn’t think I could walk, held me when I didn’t think I could stand, and filled me with hope when I was empty.  I’ve walked through darkness and I know I will do it again someday.


When I have someone like my mother Earnie, who was the best example of everything I could hope to be in a wife, mother and friend, I am thankful for each day I have to love as fully as I can.  Mother was a faithful servant of the Lord.  She welcome each new day in prayer, meditation and reading the Bible.  Everyday, she would recite the same devotional.  I know it would make her happy if you shared it with someone you love.

   Best Day of my Life


Today, when I awoke, I suddenly realized that this is the best day
of my life, ever! There were times when I wondered if I would make it
to today; but I did! And because I did I’m going to celebrate!


Today, I’m going to celebrate what an unbelievable life I have had
so far; the accomplishments, the many blessings, and, yes, even the
hardships because they have served to make me stronger. I will go
through this day with my head held high, and a happy heart. I will
marvel at God’s seemingly simple gifts: The morning dew, the sun, the
clouds, the trees, the flowers, the birds.


Today, none of these miraculous creations will escape my notice.


Today, I will share my excitement for life with other people. I
will make someone smile. I’ll go out of my way to perform an unexpected
act of kindness for someone I don’t even know.


Today, I’ll give a sincere compliment to someone who seems down.
I’ll tell a child how special he or she is. I’ll tell someone I love
just how deeply I care for them and how much they mean to me.


Today is the day I quit worrying about what I don’t have and start
being grateful for all the wonderful things God has already given me.
I’ll remember that to worry is just a waste of time because my faith in
God and His Divine Plan ensures everything will be just fine.


And tonight, before I go to bed, I’ll go outside and raise my eyes
to the heavens. I will stand in awe at the beauty of the stars and the
moon, and I will praise God for these magnificent treasures. As the day
ends and I lay my head down on my pillow, I will thank the Almighty for
the best day of my life. And I will sleep the sleep of a contented
child, excited with expectation because I know tomorrow is going to be
the best day of my life ever!

Best of Earnie: Susan Boyle and Brunswick Stew

This is a post from November 2012…part of my “Best of Earnie” series..

We like to come up with all sorts of engaging activites for our
residents at Windwood Trail Haus.  Earnie’s homework, and activity in
the Day Room on Monday, was making her famous Brunswick Stew. 

When I was growing up Mother made this all the time.  It never occurred to
me that when I be-bopped into her room Sunday night to give Earnie
her little last call cookie that she would look at me blankly when I
suggested she make it for Monday’s dinner.  She said it had been so long
since she made it she wasn’t sure what the ingredients were.  Actually,
I don’t recall her making it since she and Daddy came to live with us back in 2007.

Earnie has a stock pile of recipes in a box.  All kinds, mostly ones she
has cut out from the paper over the years.  I suggested she take a look
see in her box of recipes and maybe that might trigger it for her. 
Good brain work going on here, I was thinking.  She found the recipe,
although I am not sure it’s the actual one she used to prepare.  But,
it’s pretty close.

Apparently, Earnie stayed up until 2 a.m. looking for the recipe. 
Meanwhile, she was doing something to her computer.  It was about that
time that I was woken up from a sound sleep hearing the musical stylings
of Susan Boyle down in Earnie’s room.  I had all four cats on top of me
and even they were jolted from sleep.  They flew off the bed, while I
sat straight up thinking maybe I had died in the night and this was the
introductory song they sing as you enter the gates of heaven.  I’m sure
my hair looked a fright, too.   I didn’t see Jesus anywhere, so I
figured I was still alive.  After about 3 minutes of this musical snack,
I got out of bed thinking, “I know Earnie has hearing loss, but geesh,
this is loud.”  I started to make my way out of the room and she must
have figured out how to turn it off.  When I left for work, I left her
this note:

Back to the stew…We had hot, steaming bowls of this last night for
dinner with Miss Bee’s cornbread.  The cool front had blown in so it was
a perfect night for Earnie’s stew.  Susan Boyle didn’t make an encore
performance last night so it was a good night’s sleep for everyone.

Best of Earnie: One of the times she made me laugh

When I started my blog in 2011, it was a wonderful forum for me to journal my thoughts, both funny and touching, on being a caregiver. While my parents challenged me at times, mostly Daddy with his fierce grip on independence and seeing it slip away, I would say most of our time living together was a joy. Earnie, my mother, was funny without knowing it and always quick to laugh at herself.

So, as we close out 2015 and I start a new chapter with my blog, (stay tuned for something new and different), I wanted to pay tribute to best of Earnie. Everything I am, is because of her.

I hope you enjoy That time when Earnie went missing…

Have a fab Friday!

Go Ask Your Mother

I had my first reminder the other day at CVS when I saw the Mother’s Day card section.  It hit me that after making or buying cards for my mother, this would be the first time in probably 45 years that I won’t be able to do this for her. 

There have been moments this past year that I’ve wished I could ask her a question.  Either about one of her treasures and how it came to be in her possession, or how to make her rice pudding, or why she loved birds so much?  We get busy and we think we’ll always have tomorrow to ask her.  In my case, I don’t have tomorrow.

Several years ago I read an article in Oprah magazine.  Oprah’s friend, Gail King, was at a dinner party and someone asked Gail if her children knew things about Gail’s mother who had died a few years previously.  Becoming defensive Gail told her acquaintence that of course her children were very familiar with her mother, knew all about her.  After she got home from the party she tested her theory on her kids asking them things like, “what was Grammy’s favorite color” or “what was Grammy’s favorite food.”  When her kids told her they had no idea, Gail was devastated.  Did her kids really not have any memories of their Grammy? 

After I read this it really struck me.  Miss Bee, I think, at the time was around five.  I made a point from that day forward to teach her all about Grandmother.  Now as a teen the only time I have with Miss Bee is really while she’s with me driving in the car.  So I try to make the most of our commuting with stories about her Grandmother or about me.  Something I am doing for Miss Bee this Mother’s Day is to write her a list, in my handwriting, of all the reasons why I love her.  It will be a thank you note to her for giving me the joy of being a Mother.  Her mother.   Hopefully, she will grow old with children of her own but if something were to happen to me, she will have this love note from me.

So this year, instead of searching for a tangible gift to buy, give your mom a journal with questions you want answered.  What are things you want to know that no one will have the answer to if your mom leaves you.  After all, Mothers are the keeper of all the family history and secrets.  She’s the one who knows who was born where and when.  She’s the glue that keeps the family together.  If she’s not able to write the answers, then set up a time where you can “interview” her.  You pretend you are Barbara Walters and write down her responses — better yet, record her voice on your iPhone.  I wish I could hear Earnie say one more time, “Hello, Precious.”

To help you get started, here are 10 Questions to Ask Your Mother Now from Real Simple magazine.
Now, go kiss your mother.

Earnie was my Zip

I am sure you’ve noticed my less frequent blog posts lately.  Since Earnie passed away, I’ve kinda lost my “get up and go.”  Fun, inspiring ideas don’t pop up as much.  She was such a big part of my daily life, and the subject material for my blog.

I have to take one day at a time.  Some days are fun and I am able to do business as usual.  But, there have been alot of moments lately where I am quiet.  Thinking about Earnie.  Missing her.  A part of me is missing.  A big part.  Most days, Earnie was my mother.  But there were frequent days when she was like my child.  She needed my constant attention, physically and emotionally.  I loved every minute of it.  She made being her caregiver a true joy.  So, when you take all that away, it’s hard for a person to recover and jump back into life with the same zest and zip.  Earnie was my zip.

Don’t give up on checking in or reading my blog.   I’m not giving it up.  On days when you don’t see me, just pray for me.  Give me an imaginary hug.  Like Frosty the Snowman said, “I’ll be back again someday.”

Today, I had the opportunity to attend a luncheon at work.  A group of us earned the luncheon as a reward for a project we excelled at.  This photo is the cake we had at the end of the meal.  Cake makes everything better.

*For you foodies out there — this cake was the bomb.  Cinnamon apple cake, with cream cheese frosting smothered with toffee bits and a giant scoop of vanilla icing. 

Best of Earnie

Flash back Tuesday, to a best of Earnie segment from her birthday two years ago.  Pretty much sums up how I feel this week.

It’s been exhausting just going through her bedroom, bathroom and closet.  I can’t imagine how overwhelming it must be for children having to go through an entire house.  My advise to those of you out there with older parents is this:

  • Ask questions about the things in their house that are important to them.  Like where did this come from?  Why is it important to you?  There were many times over the last week that I wished I had known the story on some of Earnie’s pretty things.  Just these little bits of information may help sustain you in the days when you are missing them a lot.  
  • If your parent is up for it, ask them if you can help them go around and mark or make a list of who they would like to have their things go to.  Earnie was good at this.  Not only will it have meaning to the recipient that Earnie picked it just for them, but it helped me in knowing what to do with it.  Just today I was looking at a figurine in her cabinet, turned it over and she had written my brother’s name “Jim” on the bottom.  I put it aside in a box of things I am preparing for his son, my nephew Bryan.
  • Encourage, a little at a time, for your parent to give their things to people now while they can tell the person the story behind the item and how important that person is to them.

Some people may think this is a morbid topic and that it makes the person feel like you’re ready for them to pack it up for heaven.  Quite the contrary, they are sharing the gift of the present.  They are helping make things easy for you while leaving a treasure for someone they care about.

One of my favorite quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt sums it up best, “Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, that is why it’s called the Present.”

My Mother Dear.  Enjoy.

 
Earnie and her beloved brother, George.

Earnie’s Volcanic Lipstick

One of the first things I did when I came home from my trip with Mr. Bee was to go into Earnie’s bathroom.  I sat down at her vanity.  Her room is exactly the way she left it that Wednesday she became ill.  It’s like a ghost town.  I feel like there should be a velvet rope to prevent the general public from intruding into her space.

An empty coke can, a bottle of Miralax (you know the funny story about Miralax and ear wax), her makeup.  I suddenly became very overwhelmed by all of her things.  Thinking about how sweet it was that she sat down each day at that vanity and put on makeup.  How getting older, she thought, had betrayed her beauty.  But, she was wrong.  She was still beautiful. She had the prettiest skin.  I touched each of the small, sample jars of creams she had in the drawer.  Opening each one, imagining her using them.  I opened a tube of eyelash product that was supposed to make your lashes longer and fuller.  Reeves women didn’t inherit long eyelashes.  Long, slender fingers yes, but alas not eyelashes.  I picked up her comb that she used to lift the back of her hair up.  Then, I opened all her lipsticks.  I marveled at the bright colors she picked.  She boldly wore lipstick.  Especially the coral, pinkish orange variety.  As I was opening each tube, I noticed the shades were very similar.  I kept thinking I was picking up the same tube over and over again.  Then, I realized she had four tubes of the same color.  Specifically, L’Oreal’s Volcanic.

This gentile, southern lady was a firecracker in the lipstick department.
 
When I have moments of tears part are because I miss her physical presence beside me and the other part of me cry tears of thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving for a God that made a woman like Earnie to be my mother.  Thankful she taught me so many important things that I have used all my life.  God loved her enough to give her grace not only throughout her life, but he orchestrated the last week of her life to be filled with lots of church, outings with friends and her last meal to be pizza.
 
Today, Mr. Bee and I were talking about Earnie’s last moments.   She had a smile on her face as she drew her last breath.  I always thought it was because she probably saw Daddy or Jesus taking her hand.  But, today Mr. Bee said he thinks it was because she was smiling down at her family.  Seeing us all together.  Loving her.  Proud.
 
Back to the Volcanic lipstick.  I picked something a little more subtle for her to wear with her favorite purple dress….passion pink.  She can probably pick up a tube of the former in heaven.


Earnie: The Best Last Week of Her Life

 

I said goodbye to my dear, precious Earnie last week.  Many of my blog entries have been about the funny things we have experienced living as Mother and daughter in the same house.  When God presented me with this opportunity seven years ago I had no idea that the journey she and I would go on together would be just as much as a gift for her as it was for me.    I am only on the tip of opening a well of emotion that stirs inside me.  My sister put it very well, “I feel like my heart is broken open.  With love flowing out.” My hurt over missing her is cushioned by the fact that I know she is with Daddy.

I spoke at her funeral last week. It was my last goodbye.  Honoring all that is good about her.  Here is her story of the best last week of her life. 

Our daddy died two years ago and sadly my brother took his life shortly after that. So, in six weeks time, our mother lost her husband of 64 years and her child. You can imagine her sadness. We were so proud of her bravery. She never complained. She just kept going. This past January, she lost her best friend, Margaret. Margaret was the perfect combination of a confidant, mother and friend. Since Margaret’s death, Mother lost a little bit of her sparkle.


Last week was the best week of our Mother’s life. Sunday, she came to church. She was responsible for the refreshments for her Sunday School class that morning. I could tell she wanted me to make something good because her reputation was at stake. She gave the devotional and offered the prayer in her class. Later that evening, she and Nancy and Jake Jacobs attended an organ concert in the sanctuary.


When she came home from church that evening, she lit up when she talked about how beautiful the Elizabeth Cramer Chapel was, especially the stained glass windows that came from her former church at Westcliff. She said she couldn’t wait for the first person to have their wedding or funeral in the chapel because she knew it would be glorious. Daddy is thrilled to know his beloved Earnestine is “the first.”


On Monday, she and her brother George — whom we lovingly refer to as Uncle G or the G man because we think he is a rock star — took her to the grocery store. They loved those weekly trips to run errands together.


On Tuesday, she was back at church for her Martha Circle. Kay Sherman always came to get Mother for their circle meetings and Mother looked forward to spending time with her and the other ladies in the group. When she got home she told me how proud she was of Joan Morris for being the Circle leader this past year and how much she was going to miss being in the Martha Circle next year.


On Wednesday, Mary Jo Springer picked up Mother and they went to the last Harmony Club meeting of the year. When she came home she looked so beautiful and shared what a lovely time she had.


Wednesday night is pizza night in our house. Mother always looked forward to it and I did too, because it meant I didn’t have to cook. As we were passing each other in the kitchen. She stopped me and looked at me and said “You love me don’t you?” Really emphasizing the LOVE part. I replied, “absolutely” and we hugged. Those were the last words she and I ever spoke to each other.


On Thursday, our Mother died. Surrounded by her family…and a priest. Which, if you want to take me to coffee sometime, I will tell you the amazing side story of how a Protestant family and a Catholic priest met one night. It sounds like the start of a great joke that our daddy would tell. But, I can assure you it was part of an amazing journey the Lord planned just for Mother.


Mother was a faithful servant of the Lord. She started each day in prayer, mediation and study of the Lord’s word. Everyday she would say the same devotional. As Mother’s last gift to you we want you to hear the words of Earnestine’s Devotional. 


Best Day of my Life


Today, when I awoke, I suddenly realized that this is the best day of my life, ever! There were times when I wondered if I would make it to today; but I did! And because I did I’m going to celebrate!


Today, I’m going to celebrate what an unbelievable life I have had so far; the accomplishments, the many blessings, and, yes, even the hardships because they have served to make me stronger. I will go through this day with my head held high, and a happy heart. I will marvel at God’s seemingly simple gifts: The morning dew, the sun, the clouds, the trees, the flowers, the birds.


Today, none of these miraculous creations will escape my notice.


Today, I will share my excitement for life with other people. I will make someone smile. I’ll go out of my way to perform an unexpected act of kindness for someone I don’t even know.


Today, I’ll give a sincere compliment to someone who seems down. I’ll tell a child how special he or she is. I’ll tell someone I love just how deeply I care for them and how much they mean to me.


Today is the day I quit worrying about what I don’t have and start being grateful for all the wonderful things God has already given me. I’ll remember that to worry is just a waste of time because my faith in God and His Divine Plan ensures everything will be just fine.


And tonight, before I go to bed, I’ll go outside and raise my eyes to the heavens. I will stand in awe at the beauty of the stars and the moon, and I will praise God for these magnificent treasures. As the day ends and I lay my head down on my pillow, I will thank the Almighty for the best day of my life. And I will sleep the sleep of a contented child, excited with expectation because I know tomorrow is going to be the best day of my life ever!


The last week of Mother’s life, her sparkle came back. She looked more beautiful and happier than we had seen her in a long time. Now we know that her glow was the light of Christ taking her hand for her journey home. Amen.

Helen Keller and her oatmeal

Earnie got her hearing aids last week.  Over the last year, Miss Bee has been administering her own brand of  hearing test to see if Earnie’s hearing is getting worse.  She sits in the back of the van and very quietly says “Grandmother”.  Miss Bee continues this routine until it is said at a decibel heard on Earnie’s level.  It’s quite scientific.

When we took Earnie a few weeks ago to her initial screening exam, the audiologist asked if we’d like to be apart of the hearing test to see what it would be like for Earnie.  If Miss Bee were a homeschooler — she would have gotten extra credit in learning the anatomy of the ear drum because they stuck this camera in Earnie’s ear and projected it on a screen.  As I suspected, she had a giant ball of wax in her ear, which only made Miss Bee nauseous.  For having a nurse as a mother, she’s awfully squeamish.

Then it was the isolation booth — like they have at the Miss America Pageant (I secretly always wanted to be in an isolation booth!).  The audiologist sat in in the next room behind a window with her mouth hidden so Earnie couldn’t have any visual cues and had to rely on just hearing the words.  So for about 20 minutes all Miss Bee and I heard was…Say bat, say fat, say noisy, say dog, say cheese, say chalk, say fly, say oink, say milk, say bird, say fish, say wash, say wax, and this went on and on and on.

Some of the words Earnie got, but most she missed.  Earnie is a really good sport and laughs at herself all the time, which is good, because I laugh at her too.  Miss Bee and I were trying real hard to not laugh.  But when they started the part where “when you hear the ringing tone raise your hand” we almost had to leave the booth because the ringing was so loud and to the point of making our ears bleed, but Earnie still had that look on her face like “no, I don’t hear ringing.”

Once fitted with her new, sporty hearing aids the audiologist explained that the volume would need to be adjusted a little at a time over the next several appointments.  Her brain has become so accustomed to not hearing words that she will have to learn sounds again.  When we walked out of the place into the parking lot, Earnie looked like Helen Keller from the movie when she learned how to sign “water” to Miss Sullivan.  You could tell Earnie was hearing sounds she’d been missing for a long time.  It was really quite sweet.

On the way home Earnie told Miss Bee and me the story of how she took her own mother (we called her Little Tiny Grandmother because she was, well really little) to get hearing aids.  Back then they were not as technologically sophisticated so the devices were the size of a deck of cards that you had to stick in your front pocket, or in my grandmother’s case, in her undergarment.  Earnie said the first time Grandmother heard the sound of water running out of the faucet she was annoyed at how loud it was.

As we were passing a Braums Earnie said let’s go there and get something cold.  Miss Bee ordered a hot-fudge sundae, I got a large cherry limeade — the best I ever had — even better than Sonic.  Earnie, well, she got oatmeal.


 
Never an unfunny moment with my gal pal, Earnie.  Hear’s to you!  Stay tuned (ha, ha) for more fun stories of the hearing aid chronicles.


So long purple, silly bears, and all things little

Miss Bee is done with purple.  She is also done with My Little Pony, rainbows, and Disney dvds.  Entering middle school this fall, she’s wanting to transition to a “big girl” room.  While away on her mission trip, we transformed the room…

Summer Dragonfly on the walls.  The chair was a gift to Miss Bee from Earnie’s friend Margaret.  It’s a vintage silk, tufted slipper chair in a beautiful shade of green.  Sophia, the calico, approves.  The nightstand is from Pier 1 and has three drawers for all of Miss Bee’s treasures.  The cobalt blue lamp is also from Pier 1.  On the shelves are Miss Bee’s collectibles of dachshunds, family photos, and a pencil sketch of an English cottage drawn by her granddad.

The iron bed, which was a hospital bed, was purchased by Earnie back in the 60s at a flea market.  I painted it a soft yellow back before Miss Bee was born to use it in her nursery.  The blue toile bed skirt and pillow sham are complimented by a soft green coverlet that I already had.  The curtains are Pier 1.

Sister Bee has them in her guest bedroom and I just love them.  I have several Pier 1 curtains in my home.  They use heavy, good quality fabric.

Treasures on the bedside…handpicked seashells from our trips to England; Miss Bee’s “Moon” artwork she did with her cousins.  If you’ve followed my blog you know that the Moon has great significance in our lives since the death of our beloved Daddy and Papa; and a little sign I found for Miss Bee on a shopping trip.

I’ve noticed this last year that her lovey, Millie the bear, is going on fewer trips with Miss Bee and usually ends up spending the night in the chair, rather than in bed. But, last night when Miss Bee laid her head down exhausted from her week, she asked for Millie…

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together keep me in your heart.
I’ll stay there forever.”  Winnie the Pooh

Seems like as much as we want things to change, they sometimes end up the same.  Have a fab Friday!