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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 324 - The Gates Of Mordor {FMF}

Yes, I'll admit it. I watch This Is Us.

Probably be drummed out of the League Of Hard Men for that.

(And this is my post for Five Minute Friday, written ahead. If I am able I will try to work in the keyword.)

(It's WORTH. And it's in there.)

My first thought on seeing bits of some of the initial episodes (Barb watched from the beginning) was..."OK, 'this is us', and so what? Why do I care if this is you or not?"

It seemed at first glance like waterboarding. A drip, drip, drip of drippy crises in the lives of a bunch of thirtysomething drips.

But I realized after awhile that I was starting to care about these fictional people; why?

The answer is that it's instructive even this late in the day to see art reflecting a life I never knew. I missed the family ties and the personal drama and the wavering but still treasured friendships.

The crises are perhaps forced, but they speak to relationships that are real. (Yes, Barbara did have to do some coaching, and she patiently explained a lot to me.)

Standing before the Gates of Mordor, it's kind of good to take a long last look back. I'm going where monsters gather for the next stage of my fight, and I won't be coming back, barring a miracle.

So it's good to carry a picture of normalcy (TV-land normalcy, to be sure) into the fight, even if it wasn't me.

I live in a world of black and white, life and death, pain and more pain. It narrows the focus, and makes one rather a bore...sometimes, even to oneself.

Black is becoming blacker, and the white of God's presence in my fight is becoming incandescent.

My life has been good preparation. Happiness for me has been largely rooted in being alive to greet the dawn. Everything else was a bonus.

So it wasn't a hard change, to be terminally ill. Death wasn't an unfamiliar face.

But I like the fact that people can be concerned with smaller things. I like looking through a window into a more nuanced and graceful life, a life of colours both pastel and vibrant.

Those gates will soon close behind me, and I won't be able to look back into a land of life and warm spring sunshine.

But I will remember, and the monsters will wonder, as I turn to face them, why I am smiling.

It'll be worth it just to see their faces ere they face my blade in this last of battles.

But I still do have some questions about This Is Us.
  • None of the characters seem to carry guns; why is that?
  • None of them seems to go to church either.
  • Where are the dogs? (Though the dying dude does have a cat.)
  • And why don't any of them drive muscle cars? Not the modern faux-cool junk...why doesn't anyone have a '64 GTO?
I asked Barbara this. After putting her head in her hands and moaning softly (I didn't realize she had a headache) she said, "Perhaps that is why they are so troubled."

Yep...get an Uzi and go to church. Have a houseful of Pit Bulls, and drive a Goat. No worries then mate, you'll be right!

Oh, dear, Barbara's face just turned a very unusual colour.

Clearly, the only musical accompaniment can come from Middle Earth...

Still hoping to get the new and improved version of Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart up and running in the near future. Just haven't had the energy to do it yet...but if you would like to read it, please say so in your comment and I'd be glad to send you a PDF (which should fit your Kindle).

I have another blog, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Mick Jagger) and a short commentary. I hope you'll join me.

Marley update... been moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.


And marley has a Facebook page! Please drop by to see how happy he is today.

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.


  1. Andrew, your words . . . they make me smile, even knowing you're in the deepest pain. I love your take on life. I have heard good things about, "This Is Us." I haven't gotten into a series in years. There's just not time. But I am very curious about this one. :) Especially now. How could they not have dogs?!

    You said: "Those gates will soon close behind me, and I won't be able to look back into a land of life and warm spring sunshine." No, you will look on a glorious new spring with colors more vibrant than your eyes can handle on this side of the veil. You are a warrior, and I can't wait to get to heaven one day, meet you face-to-face and see what work God has given you there. You are a precious friend, Andrew. And an amazing man. I am beyond thankful for the gift of your friendship.

    Oh, and on the last day of sixth grade for my youngest, all the students sang this song. Yeah, I teared up. This song still brings a lump to my throat. Sending you very gentle hugs.

    1. Jeanne, thank you so much for this lovely, life-and-faith-affirming comment. I really value your thoughts and words.

      This Is Us is worth watching if you can. I was really surprised that I liked it, because I ordinarily do not watch secular TV (except NASCAR and NFL).

      I am looking forward to that glorious spring. Today was just a hammering, and I am exhausted.

      Gentle hugs most appreciated!

  2. Dude! I'm rolling! You are a hoot! I LOVE "This is Us" and I never, ever, I mean never watch anything current. But the characters just beg to be watched even if they don't have Uzi's, muscle cars, pitbulls or church. Then again the Walton's and Little House on the Praire have been gone a long time and those are the last shows I remember where church had a prominent role.

    And I'll just ditto Jeanne T's 2nd paragraph. It's everything I want to say and more...so I won't reinvent the wheel.

    Hugs, love and prayers!

    1. Christy, thank you so much! And I do agree, the characters really beg to be watched...and I think we can all recognize aspects of ourselves. Though me without something like an Uzi is kind of a stretch.

      Thanks so much for the love, hugs, and prayers...appreciated, and needed.

  3. Excellent ... that I would have that grace and courage ... and humor ... when the time comes for me to have it. And how did you know that was my favorite song! There is absolutely nothing better than hearing Dwarves sing of loneliness. nothing

    1. Rachel, I knew it was your favourite song because I have spies EVERYWHERE! Seriously, I'm so glad you like it!

      Thanks so much for this comment; you've warmed my heart.

  4. Ha! The only musical accompaniment can come from Middle Earth! :) I never noticed they didn't go to church. YOU are so observant!! Sending love and hugs and stop giving your Barbara a headache! LOL. :) Have a beautiful weekend, friend. xoxoxo

    1. Carolina, I promise, I WILL try to stop giving The B a headache. May have to duct-tape my mouth shut, though...

      Hope your weekend is wonderful, and XOXOXOXO from all here!

  5. I'm in the minority not watching that show and now a real fan of Lord of Rings movies either. That would be my spouse with his head in his hands. I do know of sadness, loss and the emotions that threaten to rule. And I believe there is a great joy on the other side of this mortal coil. Though I wish you joy through your pain and peace eternal.

    1. Debby, thank you so much for this...it did take me awhile to warm up to This Is Us, and it took even longer to consent to watch Lord Of The Rings. My in-laws were on me for years about it.

      Thank you so very much for the kind wishes!

  6. This sounds like my husband's reaction to my daughter and I watching Little Women (the Winona Ryder version) the other night. He walked through our room to use the restroom, and commented your watching a chick flick with a British guy? And I said "Yes, and you don't have to watch it you can keep on walking through the room if you want to." :-) Your posts make me smile, and also give me something to think about everytime I read your blog. I am praying for you and Barb.

    1. Mom To 3, I have another confession...I'm a Hugh Grant fan! Love his movies, and wish I had the persona. It's not only chicks who appreciate chick flicks!

      I'm so glad that my writing has found resonance with you, and we so appreciate the prayers. The past few days have been vicious.

  7. This is funny. I enjoyed This Is Us, and I have not noticed they didn't go to church. Should of, but didn't. Poor Barbara!! My hubby probably is rolling his eyes seeing all the stuff I have recorded to watch - still watching Christmas movies and it's almost 100 degrees here today.

    1. Deborah, if it's any consolation I have been watching Christmas movies too...and it's now topped 100, I think.

      I'm so glad you enjoyed this...and I shall convey your sympathies to Barbara.

  8. I have never watched This is Us, although I've heard so much about it; it probably does touch on something that all viewers long for whether they recognize it or not.

    Thanks for your words, esp. the LOTR references. "This day we fight" -- and when you defeat those monsters and it's time to lay that blade down before the King I know you will do so with dignity.

    1. Jeannie, you've got it exactly. This Is Us does touch on something for which we all search, a sense of connectedness with family and community.

      And yes, "This day we fight!"

  9. Replies
    1. Jan, thank you so much! There are times when I realize how far I have come, and how much survival of the current and next minute occupy my thoughts...it wasn't always like this. Once, I had the leisure to dream.

      I'm so glad you're here. Thank you.

  10. Andrew,
    I must look for this. I haven't heard of the series. I don't do much TV. I am rather under a rock in that Dept., although I do Netflix
    English murder mysteries with my son and one on my own, Father Brown, based on characters from the mind of G.K. Chesterton. There is an effort to bring redemption in every episode, which justifies my watching it. The answer to your questions is "because this is us is not you. It is them. I wish sometimes I could be occupied with the smaller trivial matters also. No terminal disease, as you, but more disintegrating situations with no terminality in sight. I don't know if one is better than the other in a sense. But your words give continual life thus propelling me to not abandon hope. One day we will look back and we will say "Hey, it was worth it"! Praying for you. #66 this week.

    1. Mary, I love Father Brown! Those are mysteries the way they should be.

      Being occupied with the trivial would sometimes be so very nice...even Kara Tippetts felt that way.

      I'm so very glad that you're here, my friend, and that you find meaning in my words.

  11. This was a nice slice of life! You even threw in some jokes at the end. I enjoyed this post. I still have to hit up FMF this week.

    1. Red, thank you so much! I truly appreciate this, and will be watching FMF for your post.

  12. You really know how to bring humor in the midst of describing intensely painful and sorrowful situations.
    Sometimes it is nice to escape to a different scenario. Helpful to take a break and sit where someone else does. Especially when your life is treading deep water.
    You made me smile

    1. Summer, your words really mean a lot to me this evening. And yes, it can be very good to escape where we are and sit next to someone else, and observe their life. It's a mini-vacation.

      I am SO glad I could make you smile! :)

  13. I've never heard of This is Us but I'm thinking, guns, church, dogs, and a cool car? That should be an improvement to nearly anything! :) I love your reference to the Gates of Mordor ... the Valley of the Shadow of Death (for a Biblical reference) and yet, the light is always there somewhere.
    Psalm 84 comes to mind:
    Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
    As they go through the Valley of Baca
    they make it a place of springs;
    the early rain also covers it with pools.
    They go from strength to strength;
    each one appears before God in Zion.

    Returning your visit from FMF! Planning on visiting your blog more often!

    1. Jennifer, you gave me a smile...thank you! I always tell my wife we should organize some Southern Sundays...church, friend chicken, shooting, and drag racing. The dogs are a part of it all.

      Thanks so much for the lines from Ps84, and I am so glad you're here!

  14. Andrew, I love how you can joke around even though you face such trials every single day. We are blessed to have you among us. I am praying for you and Barb in this time you have together. May God comfort and bless.

    1. Gayl, one thing I told my doctor - which left him speechless, quite an accomplishment - was that if you can't joke about death, then why bother dying?

      I am so lucky to be a member of this community; your prayers mean the world to us.

  15. Andrew!!! No guns? No dogs? No church? Things that make you say "hmmm?" Anyway, love the show... and loved reading this!!

    1. Tondra, I'm so glad you like the show as well, and even more so that you enjoyed this post. And I LOVE the heading picture on your blog.

  16. Andrew, i have to admit, you had me laughing when i read your questions re THIS IS US. none of those questions ever popped into my head re that show...particularly re the guns:) great post! thanks for dropping by my spot too:)

    1. Martha, I am so glad I could give you a laugh...your comment made my day!

  17. Oh Andrew! I never know where you're going to go. But loved this. And I have to admit that I'm a from the very beginning "This is Us" fav! Your questions made me laugh though. Continually thinking of and praying for you and Barbara!

    1. Tara, unpredictability is my middle name...much to The B's horror. She never quite knows what's going to happen either.

      So glad you're with me on This Is Us, and we are so very grateful for the prayers.

  18. I really loved watching This Is Us as well, the characters drew me in and I love the development of empathy for people of different walks of life through fiction - so amazing...

    1. Emma, you've got it exactly right, and your words very much mirror what Barbara told me about the aspect of the show that appeals to her.

      Thanks so much for being here.

  19. Andrew,
    so glad to see that you had stamina to comment on these! :)
    I've not watched "this is us" yet, but I am so glad to hear it from your perspective.
    Life has been very tender for me. My mom lost her older sister when I had just turned 8. I still remember coming around the corner as it was very early for visitors. The policeman had his hat in his hands and my mother was in her robe sitting on a stool, my dad behind her with his hands on her shoulders. She kept saying "no, no."
    My cousin had just turned five and he became my brother in 1989.
    As an adult in my thirties, I'm seeing this loss through new eyes. I visited her graveside today (we are the only nearby relatives and happened to be in my old hometown). I could not hold back the tears.
    My own sisters are all in their thirties along with me and I cannot fathom the loss of any one of them.

    So, though we quarrel at times, that relationship of love and that strength that comes from having close family is very real. We have sacrificial love.

    So grateful you and Barbara are enjoying this series together. Your heart has grown so many sizes since first you began this blog!! (okay, maybe I'm making a comparison to the Grinch, but only a small one. And I do think it fits in some degrees.)

    With great prayer and care,

    P.S. We're in the '67 Plymouth Barracuda clan over here. :D

    1. Tammy, thank you so much for sharing the story of the loss of your aunt...I can only imagine the shock and then the grief.

      And the description of the sacrificial love-bond in your family is wonderful. Thank you for this, too.

      The comparison to the Grinch is spot-on. I'll freely admit it, and The B says that sometimes I am a similar shade of green.

      B's Dad had a Barracuda! I believe it was a '67.

      Thank you so much for the prayers. They are needed; these are difficult days.

  20. what an amazing show with an astonishing perspective! who knew? and God's increasingly incandescent present... Hugs and hope and love

  21. Yes! That is what they need - church and guns and dogs and great cars! My husband and I got a good laugh out of this. Thank you! Will (my husband) is a car guy, so he was excited to tell me about the '64 GTO. He says it is a great car!