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CURRENTLY......SEEKING PEACE AND SAYING THANK YOU




Today's post for Farley's April CURRENTLY linky party does not contain any ideas for classroom lessons or school-related musings..... 

APRIL CURRENTLY LINKY PARTY


Instead, it is a tribute to one of the best teachers I have been blessed to learn from.....my father.




As I sit wrapped in my favorite quilt on this cold and wet April evening, sipping hot apple cinnamon tea and nursing a cold that has now lingered for two weeks, I am thinking of my my dear Dad.  A bag of Luden's Wild Cherry Cough Drops is next to me, and reminds me of the boxes he used to bring home from the the five-and-dime store near his office when I was a little girl.  They are still my "go-to" comfort when I am sick.  I know that they are not the most "medicinal" ones out there, but in the words of Junie B. Jones, the other kinds are just plain "yucky!"

I have spent a great deal of time this week being overcome by nostalgia and remembering the simple, selfless moments of my life with him.  Last Wednesday, he was diagnosed to be in the final stages of congestive heart failure and moved to a hospice care facility in Florida. After yet another pacemaker episode, his heart continues to weaken and he will  pass on soon.  My two older sisters and brother are with him now, and my two younger siblings and I  (along with a huge gaggle of grandchildren and great-grandchildren) send strength and prayers from afar.  I continue to receive texts and and e-mail updates saying that while his body is failing and he sleeps most of the time, his attitude is one of calm acceptance and readiness.  

Last weekend he had all dietary restrictions lifted and most of his meds discontinued, and was allowed to enjoy foods that he had not been able to eat for many years!  Salt has always been his nemesis, but last Friday night he indulged in tomato soup, a grilled cheese sandwich, and potato chips!  On Saturday morning he ate scrambled eggs, sausage, and grapefruit with honey. On Sunday evening, he relished a few bites of yellow cake with chocolate frosting--his favorite.  After being on a severely restricted diet for so long, his new meal motto was "May salt and sugar be damned!"  These are the simple things that have made these closing days of his life more special.   

The priceless and pleasant moments I have shared with my father far outweigh the painful ones.  He has always been a patient mentor and wise guide, despite the fact that I was not always an easy child.  A strong will and creative spirit often made me prone to stubborn behavior and crying jags.  I made a million mistakes and many poor choices before finding my way to a profession and place in life that I was well-suited for. 

My father never judged or criticized, he just quietly watched and waited, and was always there to rescue me if needed.   During my sophomore year of college, I was struggling with health issues and roommate troubles, and would often call and ask him to "please come bring me home for the weekend."  The trip to my campus was a four-hour drive one-way, but he would always just get in the car and come south to pick me up. 

He has always been a straight-shooter, never mincing words and believing that "honesty is always the best policy."  As I was muddling through my mid-twenties I had dated a few "wrong" men, and he succinctly said one day while we were sitting out on his patio,


"You know, Jen.  Those boys you bring around
are just spending your money and drinking your beer!"

It was not my proudest moment as his daughter, but it still makes me chuckle.  When he and I chatted in his condo living room at Christmas, he shared this perspective on the waning quality of his life as his illness progressed.....

"You know, Jen--
sometimes even just walking out 
to the mailbox makes you tired 
when you're 89..."  

He is such a character, and well-loved by so many.  When my daughter visited him last month during her college spring break, she messaged me that 
"Papa is a celebrity around here!"  


Here is a picture of our gentle, curmudgeonly patriarch looking very dapper at my niece's wedding about five years ago.  I keep it on my fridge.  It makes me smile while I wait for my morning coffee to brew, and reminds me that I come from strong, good-humored stock.  It is next to a quote that he included in a birthday message that says.....


"Always and never are two
words you should always remember
never to use."



To reference my favorite picture book, he is to me what Mr. Falker was to Patricia Polacco.....




...my mentor, my role model, my advocate, my advisor, and my biggest fan.  He was also the best grandfather my children could have asked for.  We were lucky to live only fifteen minutes away from his house before he retired and moved to Naples full-time.  "Hayley-Bailey" and "Eamonn-Bamon" spent many Sunday afternoons following Papa around his yard, making a mess in his basement, raiding the bread bin (where he kept the Hershey chocolates), and disrupting his dinner hour.  It is that time that I am most grateful for.  

As I close this post, I must express how thankful I am for his amazing grace, loyalty, and fortitude.  One of my fondest memories is of him sitting in the second pew on the left side of church while I played in the folk group at Saturday evening Mass.  This song was a favorite meditation that I used to sing and play lead guitar on. May the lyrics travel softly across the miles on a wing and a prayer, and may he hear them and find peace as he leaves us.....

Amazing grace,
how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost,
but now am found.
Was blind,
but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieve.
How precious did that grace appear,
the hour I first believed.

When we've been there
ten thousand years, 
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days
to sing His praise
than when we first begun.
Jennifer Reynolds
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8 comments:

  1. Currently I am crying. Your post was beautiful. It hit very close to home. My uncle, after a long battle with Alzheimer's died this past week along with my closest cousin's father in law. It is beautiful to remember special memories of our loved ones. My prayers are with you and your family. I stopped on by to see your blog...saying that I loved your posts seems weak at this time. I will be stopping back soon. I am glad that I was linked to you. It is awesome to see a family and their love.

    Renee at the science school yard

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments, Renee. I appreciate them. It helped to put what is in my heart "on paper"--or in this case--cyberspace.
      Gratefully,
      ~Jennifer

      Delete
  2. Your post is a beautiful tribute to your father. Much of what you said about your dad resonated with me. My dad is a straight-shootin', much loved, curmudgeon, too. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Jenn! It has been a roller-coaster of a week! Prayers and warm thoughts are appreciated. My father's decision to go with dignity and in "his way" has been a courageous example for us all!
      ~Jennifer

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  3. What a beautiful post. You have my sympathies.

    I do have to say, on a side note, I love you blog and we have something in common... I love Pandora too! Healing hugs darlin'.
    Mels
    Ms. K/1 ELL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your "healing hugs" are most appreciated! My Pandora music mix helps soothe my soul, especially at times like this....
      Gratefully,
      ~Jennifer

      Delete
  4. Your blog post was absolutely beautiful and so very touching. I am sitting on my couching crying by your words and your honesty. I will pray for you and your family as you go through this very difficult time. Find strength in your faith...and keep sipping that apple cinnamon tea (it sounds DELISH!) =]

    Hugs from NY!!

    Angela
    http://theorganizedplanbook.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much or your kind prayers and sympathy, Angela. It is much appreciated.

      And apple-cinnamon tea is like apple pie in a cup....only without the calories!
      Gratefully,
      ~Jennifer

      Delete

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