Looking Beyond …

thoughts and deliberations .. a theme is too restrictive


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No need to wait until it is too late…..

Pusing up the daisies

This week started with a thanksgiving service for the husband and father of friends of mine.  He died quite suddenly aged 70 whilst out in the garden.  I was struck by the poignancy of one of the things his wife said to me when we were chatting some days later – she only wished that he could have heard all the nice things that people were now saying about him, when he had been alive.   I certainly shed a tear at the thoughtful and moving reflections written by one of the daughters at the service on Monday.

I have since been pondering on how after a death, family and friends speak with great sincerity and affection, extoling the virtues and happy times spent with their loved ones. Tributes given always focus on the positive and the good and choose the truths that edify that person and show them in a good light.   And yet that same person will rarely have heard these carefully composed encouraging words and received such appreciation whilst they were living – not unless they have come into the public limelight for some reason and have found themselves on the right side of the media.

I wonder why we are so bad at recognising the value of relationships whilst we still have them?  It seems so easy to pull a person down in conversation, to focus on their faults and failings.  It happens all the time.  It happens in the public forum, and privately – most frequently in relationships that would benefit greatly from the same shift of focus that happens when someone has suddenly gone from our lives.

After pondering on what the effect would be if I were to write my tributaries for important people in my life and let them read them before it is too late, I came across the following challenge from Jeff Lucas, the very next day:

“Who are the people who have impacted us?  Paul (he is speaking of Paul the Jewish convert in the New Testament) let his friends know, loud and clear, that they were important to him: he was very willing to express his love freely, without hesitation.  We should go out of our way – before offering a tribute at a funeral – to do the same”

And so, my idea for a series of blog entries was cemented in my mind.  After all, eulogies are given in public.  I have no idea how difficult this is going to be -I suspect it could present a significant challenge – but I am up for giving it a go.

Watch this space ……..

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By way of Surprise

Photo by Gavin Vincent

Photo by Gavin Vincent

The suggested generosity ambush didn’t quite happen yesterday.  The truth is, that I wasn’t feeling that generous with my time any more!   A Saturday which just a few days previously had been a deliciously blank canvas, was now to include an hour’s drive each way to pick up a new car and I was additionally being challenged with the idea that we really ought to put in a visit to my father-in-law.  As I was wondering how to achieve the ‘Devise a Surprise’ task in an uncontrived and meaningful way, I found myself suggesting that the visit to father-in-law should be a surprise.

And whilst it did feel a bit like cheating, it meant that instead of being resentful about giving up my time, I was able to focus on ensuring that the surprise would be a pleasant one.

It seems incredible to me, that in all the 30 plus years of knowing my parents-in-law, a surprise visit would have been out of the question until recently.  But since losing my mother in law to cancer, the rules have all changed – despite the extent to which my father-in-law is trying to honour his much treasured wife and his longstanding marriage by following the same routines and practices that were (so it turns out to be) the strength and beauty of their existence.

I am so glad we went.  He was having a difficult day and needed to share his grief, and sit and talk.  I was able to do a little ironing – of no consequence to me but representing a hurdle climbed to him.

We talked about the surprise of losing a partner.  Of how difficult it is to be left alone and genuinely believe that the whole reason for living has suddenly been taken away. And then strangely enough, for reasons I can’t quite remember, he started talking about the CS Lewis book ‘Surprised by Joy’.  And I am left thinking how to be surprised by joy must be the best kind of surprise possible, and how of all the things I might desire most right now, being surprised by joy is what I would wish for my father in law struggling to live at home alone, and for my own father with so many battles at home alone, and for my mother having to come to terms with being in a nursing home and not at home.

One delightful surprise as we drove home through the open farm land – a barn owl sitting on the lower branch of a tree by the side of the road.

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