If God Swore

Until then, I’d never experienced our church from the pulpit view. I’d done a reading once, down a tier at the presenters’ lectern. I once made a nervous mission announcement from there, as well.

I don’t know how many seconds passed before I began to speak.

There may have been no delay, at all.

Maybe my mind was moving faster than time. Or, maybe time truly suspended giving me a moment to catch up.

Being caught in that living still frame isn’t something I’ve ever been able to escape. Nor the feeling of being yanked back to the conscious present based solely on the physiological need to breathe.

This is what I saw: our church – our house of worship – filled. Surpassing Christmas, surpassing Easter. Standing room only, was truly that.

People lined the outer walls, the back walls, stood in the lobby, 2-3 deep in respectful rows, sat shoulder to shoulder. Hands clasped, eyes turned, a hush-filled quiet uncomfortably questioning what was about to happen.

So unexpected. So. Many. People.

I don’t know what I thought I’d see from up there, but that wasn’t it.

Someday, I want to paint the way I felt: far-away shadow figures, vague- shaped contours; impressionistic forms. It’s not that they don’t deserve to be individualized. It’s rather that they were one cohesive group, for the first time, for the last time, forever.

I’ve run the scene so many times; replayed when I need to feel stronger. I remember I did that and remind myself if I got through then, I can get through now.

I have an issue listening for God or to Him. I’ve gone way too long in some situations and found myself happily or unhappily God-smacked.

Like upside the head, like, “Hey, dammit (if God swore), pay attention!”

Like a physical push, showing me out of a situation that has long since run it’s course.

It’s easy to glance back and see the dozens of times the message almost got through to me. Last week, one actually did.

GOD: Dwelling. Places.

ME: (stubbornly) How. Many. Heavens?

Suddenly, I saw it so clearly. I knew.

In that sea of souls, right there in our Father’s house of worship, there were many dwelling places.

Down here, we call them hearts. Each person there, took him all the way Home in theirs.

Quote for the Week:

Music We Keep

There’s a lot to be said about the music we keep in our hearts.

There’s a reason we love the music we love.

It speaks to us on an intimate level, no matter cadence or rhythm or volume.

Jeff kept quite a few in his. Many of enthusiasm.

Funeral planning, I chose hymns he’d always comment on. “Oh, good!” Jeff’d exclaim when the church bulletin listed one of his favorites. He’d sometimes sigh, “Oh.” Thoughtfully noting hymns of importance. Those his mother Sally and grandmother Nannee loved.

“Oh, How I Love Jesus”

There is a name I love to hear

I love to sing its worth

It sounds like music in my ear

The sweetest name on earth

“Jesus Loves Me”

Jesus loves me!

This I know,

For the Bible tells me so.

I don’t think I chose this one. I’ve sung it before, and the pretty melody randomly pops-in to remind me from time to time.

“Hymn of Promise”

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;

There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.

I talk to time about my love; my greatest listener.

When music talks to me, I listen for the beats and counts; steady rhythms to regulate my heart, with words that understand.

Quote for the Week: 2020 08 25 what an amazing thing a song is jakorte

leaving home

Another snippet, someone asked me what they could do for me – maybe straighten up? “The kitchen is a mess,” I conceded, referring to the shambled breakfast I’d abandoned hours ago. “… and I wasn’t expecting company…” I sheepishly admitted.

Suddenly, there were dishwashers and a floor mopper, a dog walker and then the sound of someone vacuuming. And the suggestion that I should leave.

They were about to take Jeff out. The other ambulance that had arrived was solely for the purpose of extra hands to heft. They debated which door to use.

My feisty Oklahoma friend authoritatively spoke up. “She doesn’t need to be here for this.”

Then, to me, “You don’t need to see them taking him out, hon.”

There was a question about whether or not I had eaten that day. I hadn’t.

Someone herded me out to a car. I can picture myself in the back seat. There were two women in the front seat. I can’t say for certain, who those could have been. The people I knew best were still bustling around my home.

Another remembered oddity, the car I got into had been backed into our driveway. I think maybe the wife of the neighbor across the street was the driver, that would make sense. She’d have just backed across the street. Perhaps the other person was the slight neighbor acquaintance, one house past my next-door neighbor.

That one seems more solid because I remember taking the family cookies as a thank you. I don’t recall exactly what I was thanking them for. I think she was a bit touched and a bit appalled. “You made us cookies?” she asked. “Oh, my goodness, no! I should be making you cookies! But here you are…”

I know that in those few minutes it had taken me to get into the car, they hadn’t actually begun to take him. I also know I didn’t look back. In a way, we were both leaving home, in a similar time frame. Jeff going one way; me, another.

I was supposed to decide where to eat. I didn’t want to be gone too long, so I said McDonald’s. I didn’t want to eat, really, but went along with the insistence that it was the plan to feed me. I requested a Filet o’Fish sandwich. When asked if I wanted fries, I said, “No. I want to go home.”

“I think we still have to wait a bit…” was the reply.

“Ok,” I said, as I felt myself deflating. Of course, we’d all be going back, but I would never be going home, again.

Quote for the Week: 2020 01 21 home is where the heart is jakorte 01 21 2020

 

half-truths, whole lies, and the doubts that remain.

Reprise: The clinic visit biopsy result was clear.

Warning: You may not like what I have to say.

The container I discovered had a September expiry date. The package at the gas station,  also had a September expiration date; just a handful of days later.

The chew wasn’t old and I wasn’t angry. I was astonished and livid. I went directly to the den where the tv was blaring. Jeff was sleeping, so I startled him awake by shouting his name. “What! What?” he came awake, swiveling his head in a panic.

“Here’s what!” I slapped my evidence into Jeff’s hand. “The expiration date.” I clipped. Not completely awake, Jeff stared at me.

“Within a week of Speedway.” I continued. Jeff continued to look puzzled.

“I took it to Speedway, Jeff! It’s NOT old!”

Shaking his head from side to side, he rolled his eyes, and very rhetorically and quite dejectedly, asked, “Why’d ya have to do that?”

My reply was a throw-back, “Why’d you have to?”.

“Don’t do it again, Jeff,” I warned him. I didn’t specifically define which one he shouldn’t do – lie or chew. I assumed he knew it was both.

I have a weird sort of smile on my face as I look back at this one. My warnings were weightless, useless, and void of consequence. If he did it again, it wouldn’t result in any drastic action. I wouldn’t stop loving him. I’d never leave him. It happened. Again, and again. I’d be angry and he’d be sad. He’d be sorry. I’d be forgiving. That’s how it went. Every time.

The thing is… I can’t just leave it on that loving note. That’s not how the story ends for me.

It was a mission trip discussion that clued me in. I have no proof. I’m the only eye-witness. Everything I know, leads to an unpleasant theory.

One of the ladies I evening coffee’d with began a conversation about smoking that revolved around a male member of our team. I mentioned how I’d bugged Jeff to quit smoking way before I think he was really ready to. I shared that the next step for him, in order to avoid smelling like smoke, was a clandestine move to chewing tobacco.

I reiterated the mouth cancer biopsy story and how that’d turned out. Then, went on to share that he never did quit and that it became a sore spot between us. One of my friends asked, “Even after the doctor said it was benign? He didn’t quit?”

“Nope.” I said. “He just couldn’t do it.” I don’t think that he didn’t try. I think he truly did. It just took me a few years to recognize it for what it was; an unbreakable addiction.

Hours later, I thought about the word ‘benign,’ and the fact that I’d never heard it.

1.     Jeff went to the desk, he said, “To ask a question.” I assumed it was about the wait.

2.     He insisted on going without me. “You stay here.”

4.     Body language: as far across the room as he could get from us, arms crossed, looking at his feet, lips pursed, seemingly annoyed. 

5.     The doctor, curtly reporting, “The results were clear.”

6.      He never told us in what way, or which manner, they were ‘clear.’

6.     Those few words used did not include: cancerous, non-cancerous nor benign.

7.     The abrupt end to our meeting. One sentence, and we were dismissed.

8.     I hear the attending’s voice in my head in a different tone, now. A warningly sarcastic parting shot. “Good luck to you, Sir.”

Two years after Jeff passed, on a bunk bed in Slidell, Louisiana, I put two and two together and came up woefully short. I no longer believe we dodged a bullet.

I wonder if Jeff told the clerk that he didn’t want the doctor to say it in front of me if he did have cancer. I wonder if he maybe said, “I don’t want my wife to know the results.” I wonder if he already knew the results before we even got there. I wonder about the doctor visits he went to with his father. I wonder if he confided in anyone. I wonder if it didn’t matter anyway; if he was already too ill for treatment, or if it was just too late.

If it wasn’t for 8 years of tobacco half-truths, little lies and bigger lies, I wouldn’t wonder.

 

Quote for the Week:   (ps. yes, that’s a real onion. made a pot roast.)2019 02 26 You don't know what you dont know jakorte

 

 

Gingerbread (Hot House)

I can’t place the timing, which always irks me. I wouldn’t even be questioning the timing, if there hadn’t been that recent ‘50 years ago’ today newspaper story. That startled me into a memory, too.

I know what happened, but I’m not always sure how or why what happened, happened. So, on that note, I confess: I’m not at all sure how I got to the beginning point of the story I’m about to tell you. Obviously, some things had to have happened first.

Like the conversation, Jeff and I had. That’s easy enough to recall, because… Wait, wait. It could have been something that came up in a BNI meeting, but it would have had to occur at the end of September 2006. I can’t help thinking that would have been pretty far in advance. I suppose, though, as area business were looking ahead to the holiday season, it might not have been unreasonable announce plans for an open-house and contest.

It’s something Jeff and I talked about, were excited about and planned to do: enter a gingerbread house contest at a local, main street yarn store. I’m sure they carried more than yarn, but the first time I entered the shop wasn’t to shop. I was there to drop off our creation. Near tears, I didn’t linger.

Physically, it was only my creation, assembled in the weeks following Jeff’s death. I didn’t have much time, and I’d never made a gingerbread house, before. The ideas and enthusiasm were just as much shared as everything in our lives was.

Jeff started it, so I expected Jeff would be making it, too. But, there I was, a few weeks into widowhood, thinking about how much fun it would have been to do it together. Perhaps, well probably, I was still in a sort of shock. Functioning and trying to keep moving along. I decided to keep the plan, and set out into the internet world of gingerbread and patterns and royal icing.

My edges weren’t straight, my technique was terrible. My royal icing either didn’t harden fast enough or hardened too fast to use. Eventually, I baked and sugar-solder assembled on a plain cardboard base something that happily looked like a lot house. I stared at the pile of decorations I’d amassed and the naked shell for a while wondering, “Now, what?”

I decided to let the structural bones set-up overnight and dragged out the top of our Tupperware cake carrier to protect it.

Quote for the Week: 

2018 01 02 A good overnight set could either make a lot jakorte

Bonus Photo & Story:

Tecumseh Herald Gingerbread House Jeff and Eric 1967