Grace & Dementia

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My good friend T.P. took this picture on Friday, June 22nd, our last day of vacation. I am standing on the shore of Lake Huron, where we’d been looking for a few rocks to take home with us.  The choices were many, of all different shapes and colors, so we took our time before driving on to our respective destinations.  T.P. would be heading south, to one of Detroit’s many suburbs; I was heading due west and then south for Madison, Wisconsin, looking forward to my daughter Chana’s baby shower.  It was hard to end a vacation on such a beautiful day!

It’s hard to believe the above picture is already six weeks old.  Or, as my brothers would say, just 46 weeks to our next vacation!  Little did I know that in those six weeks, Cookie and I would engage not one, not two, but three different moving companies before we finally made it to Lewisville, TX.  Thank goodness for Two Men & a Truck, they did an outstanding job!

Had I known all that was going to happen, I might have safely stayed on the shore of Lake Huron!  But I know that lake pretty well, and how it can change in a moment.  And being up north, its rare that the lake really ever warms up to temperatures we might be used to.  As a boy, my body could take it, but I’ve grown soft as I’ve aged!

I must admit, the process of moving drained me.  Not just the lifting and packing and all that, but the details that always come with a move.  We had planned on moving the last weekend of June, and everything was set up for that date.  Not just the move itself, but money transfers and banking, being out of our duplex on that date, and things we had set up in Lewisville.  Delaying the move until July 10th & 11th meant paying for another ten days in the duplex, in addition to rent for our new place in Lewisville!

It was really hard for me to keep track of the details.  I would write myself notes and lose them, or even worse, couldn’t figure them out.  We had already done most of the packing, but I couldn’t remember where things had been packed.  If it wasn’t for Cookie, I don’t know where I would be!

The picture, above on the lake looks really inviting.  In truth though, the road we travel is rarely that easy.  We are challenged at times, sometimes stretched to our limits.  After they’re over, we look back at those times, and say, “How the heck did I ever do that?”

For me, it’s all about grace.  It’s about seeking grace, moment by moment.  Sometimes I find it, and well, sometimes I don’t.  When I can’t find it, I do my best to try to keep searching, because I’m a better man when I do.  Grace, we might say, is the most amazing currency;  You can share it with others, but you can’t keep it yourself.  Grace only works when you give it away.  We must always be searching, for the need in this world has never been greater.  Remember, grace isn’t grace unless you give it away.

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Moving & Dementia: The Aftermath

silhouette of teacup on saucer during sunsetPhoto by samer daboul on Pexels.com

As I write this, it’s 109 degrees in Lewisville,Texas at 5:20 in the afternoon.  Needless to say, we’ve gotten a very warm welcome here.  We’re also getting some fine sandy dust blowing over from Africa.  All in all, today has been a pretty much average day, temperature-wise, since we arrived.  But I’m happy to report the essentials are mostly all in the house, and the air-conditioning is splendid!

The guys from “Two Men and a Truck” did a fantastic job with our move.  There were actually 4 men and two trucks, both of which were completely packed by the time they left.  They finished up around 7:30pm and arrived in Lewisville the next day’ right on time, and got us moved in.  After the first two moving companies we hired dropped the ball, they really took good care of us!

We left our house in Odessa on Tuesday, the 10th, and Cookie drove all the way to Lewisville.  We didn’t get to Peter and Jen’s until three in the morning, 3:00am, and had to meet the movers at noon.  The dogs weren’t really sure what was happening, but they were glad to be in their crates.  They’d had a busy day, keeping after the movers!

I have to say that moving has been a real challenge with my dementia.  When the movers had questions, I wisely sent them to Cookie, and tried to stay out of their way.  They were all young and muscular, and we let them do all of the lifting!

I bought a lawnmower, but it’s been too darn hot in the garage to put it together.  Since it’s not going anywhere, I’ve been watering our lawns before they turn Saharan on us.    The dogs are pretty much settled in, assured of their couches and a ready food supply.

Jen and Peter came over after and helped us organize the house, and they did a great job!  Jen and granddaughter Ari came to visit today, its so nice to not have that 5 1/2 hour drive between us!  We miss all the great folks from Midland-Odessa, but it was time to move closer to family.  My memory lapses are getting more frequent, and I am worried about that.  We are connecting with new Physicians here in the Lewisville area, and are making appointments and such.

There’s an old saying that the Lord never gives you more than you can handle.  Whether you agree with that premise or not, I’ve done a fair amount of praying over the past couple weeks.  We were so blessed to get here safely, and to get mostly moved in.  I’ll take that as a definite yes, and move on to the next challenge.  Which won’t be moving, I can promise you that!

Father Dave

 

 

 

 

Blooming and Dementia

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While on my morning walk, I happened upon this sunflower, or whatever they call them in the desert.  It had taken root on a twelve foot deep, rock-filled terrace, between the privacy wall and the sidewalk.  It was an amazing sight, even for Odessa; it was the only growing thing among the rocks that filled the terrace.  It reminded me of that old saying, “Bloom where you are planted.”

At the time I noticed the said flower, the sun was behind me and already frying the rocky terrace. Though I was sweating, the flower seemed as happy as a lark. I don’t know if the sunflower was where it had wanted to end up, but it had made the best of it.  And, it looked a lot more content than I was.

It is a valuable thing, to bloom where one is planted.  Not just for oneself, but also for those who live around you.  Like the flower in the picture, blooming brings serenity; when you bloom where you’ve been planted, your contentment becomes contagious.  You become the medicine that folks are always seeking.  It is exactly what our country needs right now..adorable animal bloom blossom

As most of you know, Cookie and I were supposed to be in Lewisville by now, hopefully blooming in our new location.  Unfortunately, we had moving problems once again.  The movers were in an accident on June 29th, as they were driving to our place here in Odessa.  Thankfully, they weren’t seriously injured, since it occurred on Interstate 20, three hours east of here.  However, the truck and attached trailer careened off the highway, causing substantial damage.  And so we had to say adieu to our second mover.

We have now contracted with the Dallas office of “Two Men and a Truck”, and they will be moving us on Tuesday, July 10th.  Actually, it will be “four men and two trucks”, a virtual moving army!  Fortunately, our duplex here in Odessa is still vacant, so we are renting day to day.  Daughter Jen and husband Peter are looking after things in Lewisville, until we actually get there.

Since all our things were packed and sealed in boxes, just waiting to be loaded, we’ve been slowly searching for those essential “needed items”.  And, we’re still blooming where we’re planted, albeit being somewhat worn out.  The good news is I never disconnected my computer, so at least there is that.  And, I’ve got that sunflower if I forget to bloom.  It reminds me of Our Savior, and all the blooming that he’s shared with us.

May you each have a safe and happy Independence Day, wherever you’ve been planted!

Blessings,

Fr Dave

 

 

Dreaming & Dementia

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In the past couple weeks, I traveled from Odessa to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  One would be hard put to find two more different ecosystems.  Going from the arid Texas desert to Michigan’s Great Lakes was quite an adjustment.  One would be hard pressed to find two greater contrasts in the weather!

I was thinking about this as I took my last walk through our Odessa neighborhood this morning.  Tomorrow, at the crack of dawn, the movers will arrive to move us to Lewisville, and the new adventures that await us there.  The final day of packing has arrived, which I’m sure most of you are familiar with.

The climatic changes over the past couple weeks reminded me of an ancient story from the Taoist tradition.  A man fell asleep, and dreamed about a beautiful butterfly.  The butterfly flew gracefully around the man, occasionally lighting on various flowers to feed.  The man watched the butterfly as he dreamed, enjoying the peace that it brought him.  Eventually, the man awoke, and realized he’d only been dreaming.

An ancient Taoist master told this story to a disciple.  He then asked his disciple a question.  Was the man dreaming about the butterfly?  Or was the butterfly dreaming about the man?

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My sense is  the Taoist Master was asking the man to think outside the box.  So often we think in a “this or that” fashion.  We search for “black or white” answers.  Such thinking blinds us to other possible options. It prevents us from seeing the other beautiful colors.

I believe our nation is stuck in this black and white cycle.  It’s certainly not the first time, and it won’t be the last.  Once again, we must learn from the wisdom of others.  Most of the despots in world history have thought in black and white only.  It has always been the language of tyranny.

But now, its time to fill up some boxes, and, to get on with our move.  New adventures await us in the City of Lewisville.  I will carry with me memories of the sandy old dessert, and many memories of good friends.  As I work, I will be thinking, “Did I dream of y’all or did y’all dream of me?”

Blessings,

Fr Dave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving and Dementia

What’s the worst thing that can happen to you when you’re moving?  I’m sure a number of things will cross your mind.  Damaged goods, tardy movers, pouring rain and blowing snow, the list is probably endless.  But yesterday, we topped them all.  We discovered that our moving company has gone out of business.  No notice, no phone call, no apologies, they just disappeared.  Our scheduled move on the last weekend of June was no longer in service.  6-Mark-36-Nuclear-Explosion

We had contracted with Red Carpet Movers a few months ago to have them move us.  I had a couple of phone calls with them, beginning in early April, and another in late May, to add some items to the manifest.  The woman I spoke with both times had added the items and assured me that the move was on schedule.

Yesterday, Cookie asked me to call them and add some more items to the manifest.  Called one line, disconnected.  Called a second line, disconnected.  Tried them again, both disconnected.  They were gone, and so was our moving date.  I began surfing the web, trying to find out what happened.  After a hour of surfing, we still didn’t know.  Grrrr!

As if moving isn’t stressful enough!  Red Carpet Movers is a national franchiser, but finding someone who knows something about it isn’t so easy.  I think the worse thing was that nobody called us.  On June 29th, we would have been waiting for the movers to come.  And waiting, and waiting, and waiting!

But the Lord was with us.  As I was surfing the web, I discovered another company called “Red Carpet Moving”, with an office in Dallas.  I dialed them up and explained what had happened.  The guy that I spoke with was familiar with Red Carpet Movers,  but hadn’t heard that they’d closed.  Thankfully, he is able to move us.  He did tell Cookie this morning that he confirmed that the other mover had gone out of business.  Thankfully, we hadn’t had to put down a deposit!j0446419

Needless to say, today is much calmer.  Yesterday at this time, our heads were pretty much up on the ceiling.  Can I confess to you that each of us had a moving experience?

Blessings, and now back to our packing!

Fr Dave

 

God-Things & Dementia

20180308_163815You might recall our earlier campaign to sell our Toyota Camry a few months back.  After a few nibbles and some inquiries as to whether “we took payments”, we decided to hang on to the car for the time being   The new plan was, we would use it to help with the move, and then sell it when we were settled in Lewisville.  It seemed like a pretty good plan, since we would be hauling three Chihuahuas in their crates. But the Lord had other ideas…20180310_090945

A few days ago I received a note via Messenger, asking if we had sold the Toyota yet.  I replied that we hadn’t, and asked where she had seen it for sale.  Well, it seems that even though I had cancelled the car ad on Facebook several weeks ago, it was still wandering around on the Web.  In chatting with her, I learned that it was actually her younger sister who needed a car.  The younger sister lived in the greater Lubbock area, and their house had been damaged by softball size hailstones.  The hail had damaged their house and roof, broken out windows and caused various other problems.  On top of all that, the hail completely totaled two of their cars!

The younger sister had picked up her kids from their sitter, and had driven into their yard just as the hailstones arrived.  They escaped without serious injury, but the cars and the house were heavily damaged.  They are dealing with insurance adjusters and bankers and such, trying to keep up with the pile of paper work.

There are times in one’s life when one feels that certain events occur for a reason.  Perhaps we might just call it faith.  It occurred to Cookie and I that perhaps the car hadn’t sold yet because it was going to be needed by some other family, that we would eventually meet.  I sent them plenty of car pics, and the two sisters and their father drove down yesterday and picked up the car.  I have to tell you, hugs were exchanged!

I think it was a powerful moment, in all of our lives.  I had never talked to the new owner until she picked up the car.  Her older sister and I messaged and emailed, consulted with our respective families, and everything worked out.  We were glad we could help with one of their challenges-Lord knows right now they have many!

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Of course the Chihuahuas weren’t able to vote.  It’ll be a tight ride with dogs in their crates and both Cookie and I.  But I suspect such things have been figured already and we’ll get to Lewisville just fine.  In the church, we sometimes call them “God-things.”  I hope that each of you all know that they can come anytime!

Blessings,

Father Dave

Walking & Dementia

It’s hot here in West Texas.  Our high today will be 106, already following several days of near or over hundred degree temperatures.  Our forecast for the coming week is 107, 107, 106, 98, 104, 106. 107, a  “warm spell”, as the old-timers say.  I’d be profusely sweating, if there was any moisture in the air.  But its a dry heat, a desert scorcher.

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Photo by Bradley Hook on Pexels.com

I’ve had to push my daily walks into the evenings, to coincide with sunset.  Even then, the temps are still in the mid to high nineties.  The constant heat has greatly reduced the number of walkers, bikers and joggers; the last two evenings I’ve only seen one other walker.  Even the birds seem to be mostly listless.

Yesterday, I thought I’d try to do some mall walking.  Those of you who know me well, know that I’m allergic to in-store shopping.  But the heat has been so darn intense, I thought I’d try it.  It was 103 already as I drove over to the mall; I searched the entire mall parking lot, seeking shade beneath a tree.  I got lucky and finally found some, though I had to share it with a grumpy old protective bird.

The mall in Odessa is a good-sized one, complete with their own ice rink. There were a number of younger skaters, taking advantage of the cold.  The mall has a nice, long walking path, for walkers much like me. As per usual, there were many shoppers walking around, but I was one of just a few that actually were “mall walking.”  I made it two times around the mall, but my doing so about made me go berserk.  For a guy who depends almost entirely on Amazon,  two spins around the mall were all that I could take!

I gratefully walked out to my car, and turned the a/c to stun.  When I got home, I gave a contented sigh of relief as the house was like a freezer.  Cookie asked me how it went; she’s been a bit unhappy with my taking late evening walks.  Not so good, I replied, “Mall walking drives me insane, as you surely know.  I’ve grown even more allergic to the act of shopping.”

And so, at 8:30 last night I left the house, just as the sun went down.  It was still so warm, that even the birds looked peaked.  I walked a couple miles, about all that I could handle.  As I walked, I got to thinking about Jesus and his disciples.  The latitude they had traveled in was much the same as ours.  And yet, they had no malls to walk in, and none of the blessed air conditioning.  And yet, they walked from well to well and town to town, spreading Christ’s loving message.  Perhaps the Word they both lived, and spoke, gave them the strength and grace to do it.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Blessings,

Fr Dave