Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Glad Bags

Consider this a free-for-all on my thoughts at present since it's been way to long since I've touched this blog. My last entry was one of the songs we sang at my great-aunt's funeral last month. (The long story that I won't tell here is that part of my absence from blogging was back to back weeks of out of state funerals in the month of August.) I don't want to dwell on the song because it really makes me cry, but I do want to say a few words in remembrance of my Aunt Pat.

Many of you know that my dad's mom has Alzheimer's disease. It's really hard to face the fact that my parents, siblings and I are virtual strangers to my grandma, but I'd always been blessed to have my dad's aunt as a close relative - in distance and relationship. (She's actually the only relative on my dad's side of the family that made it to my wedding.) In July we got word that she had been diagnosed with an aggressive and metastatic form of lung cancer that quickly spread to her brain. She was placed in hospice care when she didn't respond to treatment and though the doctor's said "weeks to live" I don't know that any of us knew just how literal the "weeks" part was. Just over a month from the initial news, Aunt Pat passed away.

I won't deny the sadness that comes with losing a dear one in such a short time - even with the chance to mentally prepare for her passing, it was still a shock to hear that she died - but I think Aunt Pat, given the option, would prefer not to have had her illness anymore drawn out. This was a woman who lived the essence of "carpe diem". As a former Detroit police inspector her life was marked by fast cars and adventurous vacations and I can only guess that she would have wanted the end of her life to be equally expedited.

At the funeral I had the pleasure of meeting some of her friends that she often travelled with. Oddly enough I heard several of them introduce themselves saying, "I'm one of the Glad Bags". Thinking only of Ziploc, I inquired about the name and it was explained to me that in WWII there was a popular comic strip about an unfortunate private called "Sad Sack" and many groups of men returning from the war called themselves The Sad Sacks. Taking a twist on this and wanting a positive spin, the group of ladies that included my great aunt titled themselves The Glad Bags. The name and their friendship has lasted ever since.

During the funeral service, the priest remarked on their group and noted that it is a rare and beautiful thing to make the choice for joy - to choose to be a Glad Bag in a world populated by Sad Sacks. I think that's a lesson that Aunt Pat taught with every day that she lived and even in death she speaks it still. I feel like I've been saying a lot of goodbyes with this blog lately, so in the spirit of The Glad Bags I won't say Goodbye Aunt Pat.

Instead I'll go with Sayonara - translation: Til we meet again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Hymn Remembered

You shall cross the barren desert but you shall not die of thirst
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand,
You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid
I go before you always
Come follow Me,
And I will give you rest.

If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown
If you walk amidst the burning flames, you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow'r of hell and death is at your side
Know that I am with you, through it all.

Be not afraid
I go before you always
Come follow Me
And I will give you rest.

Blessed are the poor for the Kingdom shall be theirs
Blest are you that weep and mourn for one day you shall laugh.
And if wicked men insult and hate you all because of Me
Blessed, blessed are you!

Be not afraid
I go before you always
Come follow Me
and I will give you rest.

~Robert J. Dufford, Based on Isaiah 43:2-3; Luke 6:20

Monday, August 04, 2008

Feeding the Addiction

I told myself I wasn't going to do it.
I tried to resist.
I couldn't hold out for long.
I suppose it was inevitable.
Peer pressure has always been a weakness of mine.
Family pressure even more so.
And sometimes it is true when they say "everybody's doing it".
I gave in and joined the crowd.

I'm now on Facebook.