Finally Home

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generations

My mother-in-law is finally home. She passed from this life to eternity early this morning. For years she had been saying (my paraphrase) “Each night I ask the Lord to just take me home and then I wake up in the morning and have another day. I don’t know why God still has me here?” Before she moved to assisted living I would answer that question with “I don’t know Mom but I think it is so we can go to Friendly’s together”. After she moved to assisted living I would say “I don’t know Mom but I think it is because there may be someone here who doesn’t know Jesus loves them.” My mother-in-law was 97 years old last September. She served in her church until she was in her 90’s. She picked up friends and drove them to church until she was in her 90’s which to be honest was always a little scary to me but what an example of servant hood. My mother-in-law truly practiced the gift of hospitality. She was always inviting people over for Sunday dinner. She hosted more missionaries and random people overnight in her home than you could believe.

My mother-in-law lived alone since her husband had died over 20 years ago. She outlived just about every one of her contemporaries. All of her siblings and their spouses are deceased. Many of her friends are deceased.  The one death that she told me time and time again she couldn’t understand was her son, my husband, Bruce Van Hine. Through the 14 years since his death, I would remind her that Bruce was a firefighter and he died in the line of duty doing a job he loved. I would say “It is the wrong order of things for a parent to bury a child.”  I would change the subject to remind her about her daughter and her husband and her 5  grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Naming each member of the family and mentioning where they lived and any stories I could think of. Showing her photos on FB.

My mother-in-law and I didn’t always see eye to eye. Surprisingly we actually became closer after Bruce’s death. We both lost someone we loved dearly. I realized that after a point you just need to cut people slack so a change in my attitude improved our relationship. Also I think if someone is in their 80’s or 90’s what the heck give them a break.

I had the privilege of being with my mother-in-law in her last days. I held the fort down until my sister-in-law could arrive from Kansas. I have to chuckle because last Thursday was the first day I ever wore knee high boots with jeans tucked in and because I didn’t have time to go home for a change of clothing I wore jeans with knee high boots for 4 days straight. I went to CVS and bought underwear, socks, toiletries and t-shirt. On Saturday my daughter drove in from PA and brought me some clothing but wow! my mother-in-law used to call me that dancer girl and here I am in an outfit she would never approve of or understand.  But on the bright side I played church hymns for her on my iPhone, held her cup so she could sip water, feed her one or two spoonfuls of yogurt and told her “if you see the hand of Jesus reaching out to you, grab it.” I prayed for her and read Bible passages and told stories. I left her on Sunday morning in the care of her daughter and I can honestly say “we” were good.

So today I am saddened but I am also rejoicing because my mother-in-law is home and she is reunited with her hubby and son. I am currently visiting my daughter who brought the clothing and her social work expertise on Saturday. And I had to smile because on her way home from work today she stopped at the grocery store and bought shrimp, cocktail sauce and blueberry muffins. All items in memory of her grandmother.

“Don’t worry Mom we are saving the muffins for breakfast. Mom, God answered your prayer. It took longer than you thought it would but He answered it. I love you. I will see you again. Give Bruce a hug from me.” Love Ann, that dancer girl and your daughter-in-law. 🙂

 

Wonderful story about this not being our home. http://www.ugandamission.net/ministry/teaching/homecoming.html

David Bowie and the Concert for New York City

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When I read the news that David Bowie had died I was saddened not because I was a super Bowie fan because a talented creative human being had died from a terrible disease that kills so many. I am saddened for his family and friends as they grieve their personal loss with the world.  David Bowie was a public figure but more than that he was someone’s dad, business associate and friend. Please take a moment to pray or send a good thought or whatever you do to those who truly knew him.

As I looked at the posts on FB of people sharing their “personal” Bowie stories, I was reminded that I had seen David Bowie perform at the Concert for New York City in October 2001. After seeing the clip I remembered his performance. To be honest I don’t remember much about that concert partially because it was over 14 years ago but mostly because I believe I was still in shock when I attended it.  I don’t think I was even functioning on auto-pilot as of that point.

Forgive me for jumping on the David Bowie band wagon but here is my David Bowie story:

The FDNY had invited my teenage daughters and myself to attend the Concert for New York City at Madison Square Garden.  The Concert for New York City was to be my first “rock” concert. I asked my brother and sister-in-law to come along. My little brother https://missannsays.com/2012/06/05/my-little-brother/ was a rock concert veteran and very tall. Both things I assumed could come in handy.  As we walked from the parking garage to MSG the streets were quiet. It seemed all wrong – this is NYC on a Saturday – quiet isn’t normal. Quiet gave way to loud as we entered MSG. Our seats were on side so we could actually see into the wings/ backstage so we could see who was up next. Thankfully my sister-in-law brought earplugs. The concert opened with David Bowie sitting on stage. The word that comes to mind is humble or humbled.  http://davidbowienews.com/2014/04/america-concert-for-new-york-city-2001/

There are three other things that resonate with me  about the concert:

  • The firefighters trying to make sure my daughters were having a good time. Escorting my daughters so they could have a front row view for part of the concert.
  • My 17-year-old and myself having an Abbott and Costello type conversation about “who” is on stage and me saying “The Who” and her saying who???
  • When former President Bill Clinton came on stage the atmosphere totally changed to a mob like mentality that was scary. My brother and FDNY escorts positioned themselves to protect my daughters, my sister-in-law and myself. Thankfully things calmed down but there was a few moments of raw emotion, too much beer, and lack of sleep that could have got bad. The only thing scarier than that was watching the Concert for New York on MSG network years later and hearing the announcer say “the Clintons were cheered.” I was dumbfounded and started yelling at the television. Really we can just change events like that. Not good. To the best of my memory neither former President Clinton or Hillary were cheered.  Wikipedia in their description of the Concert for New York mentions the dubbing in of cheers – what?!? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Concert_for_New_York_City

Thank you Mr. Bowie for sharing your talents and teaching us that we can always reinvent ourselves. Rest in Peace. May your family and friends find comfort in the memories and hope for the future.

 

 

 

 

My ABC’s from 2015.

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Golden glitter

 

A is for adventures. A week in Florida Keys, a weekend in Chicago and being a tourist in my own city all qualify.

B is for ballet. I taught one class a week at a Modern Dance studio.

C is for Colton James. He was born on April 29, 2015.

D is for Dunkin Donuts. I drank quite a few cups of coffee.

E is for Eagle Rock Resort. Enjoyed my cabin and the amenities.

F is for faith, family and friends. I can’t do life without them.

G is for Grammy. My new title thanks to Colton James. 🙂

H is for hope. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I is for interview. I did a couple of those.

J is for Joy.

K is for kindness.

L is for Library Book Club. Still going strong on the first Tuesday of each month.

M is for my Mum. She is doing well even though she is confined to a wheelchair.

N is for nieces and nephews. 7 plus 12 “grand” nieces and nephews. 🙂

O is for opportunities. I am blessed with many.

P is for published. “Unexpected Blessings” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteer and Giving Back edition and a devotional in The Upper Room.

Q is for quizzing. After 19 years, Eastern Regional Quiz at ENC was my last hurrah as Metro New York Children’s Ministries director for the Church of the Nazarene.

S is for shore. Spent a few days at the Jersey Shore with the Bowers.

T is for tea with Miss Carol. Always a treat.

U is for university. I spoke on two campuses.

V is for volunteering at the 9/11 Tribute Center.

W is for writing.

X is for eXercise.

Y is for year. Hard to believe another has come and gone.

Z is for zero. The number of regrets I have.

In 2016, I want to read and write more. I want to be present and not distracted. I want to be who God intended me to be.

 

 

 

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At the first anniversary there was a sense of needing to do the “right” thing, the appropriate thing, the expected thing. I am so grateful to a friend who said “do what you want to do” and we did. Meghan and I traveled to Quincy, MA to be with Emily who had just started her freshmen year of college. We attended chapel on campus, then drove down to the waterfront and sat and talked about Daddy (Bruce), we prayed, we cried and we wrote in our “things we would have told you” book – a recap of the year. Later, we ventured into Boston for lunch. I remember we stumbled upon numerous television crews at Nathaniel Hall and not knowing if we should laugh or cry, we kept our distance. We wanted to just be a mom and her daughters missing their dad/husband not 9/11 family members. There was something surreal about the day as there has been something surreal about so many days.

As the years have passed the advice of that friend “to do what you want to do” has proven to be excellent advice. Some years I have taken part in local ceremonies in Greenwood Lake or Rochelle Park or attended unique opportunities like ringing the bell at the NASDAQ or the concert at the Beacon Theatre.  I don’t venture to the National September 11 Memorial ceremony because I don’t think I can take on the grief of all those people. We don’t always write in the “things we would have told you” book anymore. We aren’t necessarily physically together because one daughter lives in Seattle and the other in PA.

This Friday will mark the 14th anniversary. I haven’t decided what I want to do this year. This year is a tricky year because my one daughter has now lived 14 years with her dad and 14 years without him and that breaks my heart. It seems harder this year because I have so many Tribute Center friends and I carry their stories as well. A few things that were true on the first anniversary are true on the 14th. I will talk to my daughters and I will tell them how very proud their Dad would be of them and I will remind them that he loved them so much. I will ask them to remember to pray for the other families, and the Squad 41 firefighters.  I will thank God for His faithfulness, my family and friends. And we will wish that we were just a mom and daughters missing their dad/husband who died in the line of duty and not 9/11 family members because a personal loss in the midst of a national tragedy adds so many layers.

 

a new landscape

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Grief-Quote-CS-LewisToday is a tricky day.(https://missannsays.com/2013/01/18/tricky-days/). Today would have been my husband’s 62nd birthday but it has been 13 years since he celebrated a birthday here on earth (https://missannsays.com/2012/09/10/r-bruce-van-hine/). Actually I surprised myself with a “good cry” this morning. The wondrous birth of my first grandchild back in April has made today harder than it has been in the past. Each year the number of things that Bruce has missed increases. I am grateful for the years we had and I am grateful for the life I have today but…

C.S. Lewis says “Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” My life is a totally new landscape now.  And in many ways that isn’t a bad thing but it is a different thing.  Happy Birthday, Bruce. See you again…

psalm 61

Appalachian Trail and Me

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app%20trail%20map

The Appalachian Trail and I have an interesting relationship. I am not a hiker. I have no desire to hike anywhere let alone the “A.T.” I will admit I enjoyed Bill Bryson’s book “A Walk in the Woods”. It was one of my husband’s favorite books.  My husband was a hiker and he enjoyed hiking the “A.T.”. Through the years I have played a role in making sure his car was where it needed to be so when he finished a day hike he could get home. Other times I dropped him off and at a set time picked him up. I have fed “through hikers” he brought home and welcomed strangers to take a shower and sleep in their tent in our yard. I purchased gallon zip lock bags so he could leave Bibles on the trail. And a few years ago I donated his trail guides to the National September 11 Museum and in June the Museum put his trail guide on display. Yesterday I had a telephone call from a Museum staff person telling me they had written a blog about Bruce’s story.

https://www.911memorial.org/blog/new-view-firefighter%E2%80%99s-appalachian-trail-guidebook

 

 

transported to a different place

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 farm

 

A couple of weeks ago I visited a Le Leche League meeting with my daughter. My intention had been to sit in the car as my daughter, a brand new mom, attended the meeting to learn more about breastfeeding her newborn son. My intention was to be just the chauffeur instead I participated in an amazing experience.

As we left for the meeting I mentioned to my daughter that I would sit in the car during the meeting. No worries I have a book I wanted to finish reading so take your time and learn a lot. She commented that she had mentioned her mom would be driving her and the leader was excited for me to attend as well. Okay, so now I am going in. I breastfeed my daughters many years ago but I never attended a Le Leche meeting. This was going to be a new adventure.

With my two-week old grandson safe and secure in his car seat and my daughter, his mom sitting next to him we embarked on our journey. My daughter read the directions from her smart phone and I followed. As we turned off the highway, my daughter said “turn right at the next road. There isn’t a street name?” pause “Mom, this better not be a dirt road” Yes, it is a single lane dirt road leading onto a lovely farm complete with barefoot children walking up the road. Did I mention my daughter lives in Lancaster County, PA – a beautiful area of farms, horse and buggies, Amish and Mennonite families, a kinder, gentler way of life. “Mom, turn around” “I can’t turn around until we get to the end of road”. I am not sure if I should laugh or cry. When we arrive at the end of road there is a barn, an out building and a farmhouse. Just then an older woman dressed in a simple long dress walks out the farmhouse door. My daughter and I exchange puzzled looks.  Not sure that we are in the right place, my daughter sheepishly gets out of the car and asked “Is this where the Le Leche meeting is?” “Yes! welcome, come in.”

We were committed now. We were the first to arrive and wondered what have we gotten ourselves into. After a few moments others arrived for a total of five moms and babies, two group leaders and two more grandmas – some were Mennonite and some were not.  My daughter’s questions were answered. Information was gleaned. Experiences were shared.  I smiled that the examples to explain different things were all from nature – like when kittens feed, or milk separates. I wondered if I was at a Manhattan meeting what the examples would be.

Let me tell you it was a remarkable morning. It was like being transported to another place/time. Me from NY in my black capris, flip flops with my Alex and Ani bracelets, Pandora rings and smart phone and our hosts with their simple long dresses, aprons, white small bonnets and bare feet. But here was never a moment when I felt like an outsider or an intruder. There was never a moment when I thought this was a mistake. When we left almost two hours later I commented to my daughter that the words “there is no condemnation” kept running through my mind.  Wow! I was surprised, blessed and challenged.

Do I live my life in such a way that when people spend time with me they don’t feel like an intruder even if everything about them is different? That is my new challenge for each day because I know I fall short and I experienced how great and amazing it felt to be transported  to a gathering where there was “no condemnation.”