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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 288 - Embracing God's Will {FMF}

Back again with Kate Motaung' Five Minute Friday, the timed and keyword-driven writing challenge that always yields a bumper crop of literary talent...please visit!

As things have been a bit ghastly (almost died again, two nights ago...this is getting to be a habit, and not a good one) I'm writing ahead of time in the hope that I can edit in The Word Of The Week.

We'll see.

(It's EMBRACE.)

And so...

Accepting this as God's will has been a hard process.

I mean, being at least nominally a writer, I see some folks talking about God's Blessings in their lives, in the form of getting agents and contracts and multi-book follow-on deals.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to evade incontinence's effects by never straying far from a lavatory.

What's the deal, here? Is God dumping this on me because I need to be made better or stronger? Am I that bad that I need the 'smash course' in character-building?

There are those who have suggested that this is saving me from a worse fate, like Alzheimer's. To be honest, I am kind of glad that I won't grow old, but the theological basis for that 'comfort' is pretty sketchy.

I mean, if He could deliver me from this, He could deliver me from Alzheimer's, too. Right?

The more rational view (to me!) is that illness is a byproduct of the requirement for free will, and for God to 'take it away' would be something of a negation of purpose. Having to choose to believe when you're lying on the floor, your bowels voided because you collapsed on the way to the lav, is something of a test.

(This doesn't proscribe miracles, but I think that a careful reading of Scripture shows that miracles were brought for a larger purpose than to benefit the individual or individuals involved, but I may be quite wrong.)

At any rate, somewhere in this mess of blood and puke and faeces (sorry) is God's Will, and what am I to make of it?

The answer's pretty simple. I have seen enough love and grace in this life that I am willing to take everything else on faith, and that includes a purpose in suffering.

I don't have to know the purpose, now or, really, ever. The only thing I know is that my job is to tell of God's Mercy to my dying breath.

Why?

The only thing I can do now is to reach out with my words, to you who are reading this, and to say that while gems of grace in life may be rare, their beauty is enough to fill a heart.



When I look back with honesty and not an egocentric prejudice, I can see that I have been blessed and loved, by God and His ministering angels (in canine and sometimes human form) far more than I would have had a right to expect.

And I've lived the grace of trying to return that love in full.

I can deal with another needed change of underwear, another sleepless night of pain.

And I don't need to know why. I can embrace His will, and that's enough.

Just for fun, here's a lovely song, Who I Am, sung by Jessica Andrews. I hope you enjoy it!


A bit of news..."Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" has come home! Tate Publishing has gone south, and I regained the rights, so it'll soon be available in both Kindle hardcopy versions once again. In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait (!), you can still get used copies from Amazon.


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.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

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.























Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 287 - Spiritual Buoyancy

We're linked with Messy Marriage's From Messes To Messages - please visit Beth's site for some great wisdom and resources.

When things get dark, either for you as a caregiver, patient, or concerned friend or relative, how do you keep your spiritual buoyancy?

How do you keep your head above the roiling sea of despair, and how do you find the strength to reach for Christ's hand and walk on the waves with Him?

I think it's very much an individual thing, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution. We can take suggestions, and follow advice, but in the end we have to find in our own hearts that hope floats.

I've been both caregiver and patient, and I can tell you what I do. I hope that it will help you or someone you know in some way, or at least give some hints of where you might look.

As a patient -

  • I try, every day, to accomplish at least small things, like writing this blog (and Starting the Day with Grace)and leaving comments on others' blogs. My writing is driven by faith, and particularly by a desire to help bolster others' faith...so helping other folks helps me.
  • On weekdays, I email a prayer to Barbara, timed to reach her as she arrives at work (I can't talk on a phone any more, so email's it). The prayer's specific to what she's facing at work). At lunch I email her some Scripture, and I do take some time over finding something appropriate. It has to be short - she has little time - but the effort to help her, again, helps me.
  • I am ruthless about eliminating faith-damaging media. If a book or movie gives me the wrong feeling, I'll drop it without a qualm, however 'valuable' it may be. And the only news outlet to which I listen is Fox. I've got no interest in hearing my faith assailed.
  • While meditating on individual Bible verses doesn't help me, I do think about Jesus' human life, His message, and His divinity. The total picture makes more of an impact on me.
  • CIGARS. There is something spiritual in the way the smoke from a cigar rises, something ethereal. And no, I am not making this up. When I smoke a cigar I feel a little bit closer to God. Economy generally forces me to smoke cheap ones (which aren't bad), but the creme de la creme, for me, is the Drew Estates 'Acid' Blondie Belicoso. It has a hit of vanilla, and a smoothness that soothes the pain in my pancreas.
When I was a caregiver -
  • I tried to attend church regularly. It could be hard, and often I had to pick the closest...which happened to be a mosque. The imam was cool, and made me welcome to pray in my own way, in a setting of reverence.
  • I read a lot of Christian apologetics, beginning with C.S. Lewis. I read anything and everything I could find to define and strengthen my faith.
  • And I held onto the thought that there would be a life after caregiving. It made me uncomfortable, because the caregiving would end in death, but I was sincere about carrying the revelations I received into the new life that would open, and occasionally I did just that.
What about you? What do you do when you find faith fleeting?

A bit of news..."Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" has come home! Tate Publishing has gone south, and I regained the rights, so it'll soon be available in both Kindle hardcopy versions once again. In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait (!), you can still get used copies from Amazon.


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.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

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.



















Sunday, March 19, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 286 - Songs For My Funeral

This will be short, because the past few days have been awful, and it's still awful. More pain than I could ever have imagined enduring.

Wow, sounds like I'm trying to be noble. I'm not; self-defined nobility is a luxury about which I don't care a bit.

It just hurts, and I'm glad I didn't know this was coming. And I fear tomorrow.

But anyway...I have been given to understand that some folks have definite ideas for their funeral, their 'farewell to this wold' event.

Weird. Or maybe not so much.

I doubt there will be much a service for me, for practical and financial reasons. Too bad, really, because the one after-funeral-reception I organized had an unexpected feature...the dogs got out of the back room where a hippie chick was supposed to be keeping them entertained (she stepped out for a 'smoke').

They thundered through the guest, helped themselves to the food, and launched out into the neighbourhood.

And all these people, dressed in somber mourning clothes, put on some big smiles as they wrestled the happy beasts back to the house.

That's the way it should be.

probably won;'t happen here...Barb does know how to keep the critters contained...but I do have my choice of music. She promised.

So...no sad stuff. Some AC/DC, some Def Leppard, and my favourite of all...Van Halen's Jump.

So, here's David Lee Roth and the crew with some final words for today!



A bit of news..."Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" has come home! Tate Publishing has gone south, and I regained the rights, so it'll soon be available in both Kindle hardcopy versions once again. In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait (!), you can still get used copies from Amazon.


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.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

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.


















Thursday, March 16, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 285 - The Brutal Flickering {FMF}

We're back with that wonderful flashmob of writers at Kate Motaung's Five Minute Friday; please visit to be inspired and awed!

I'm writing ahead - again - because I don't know if I'll be up to writing when the week's keyword is revealed. I'm not entirely sure I'll be alive, because I stopped breathing again, and had to be revived.

Being conscious during the process is scary.

So, here goes, and I'll try to work in the keyword later if I can.

(It's FRIEND.)

The past few days have been physically the roughest yet. If you'd like to know what it's like, imagine the worst flu you've ever had, chest pain and fever and shortness of breath and fatigue, with two strong men punching you, one just below the liver, and the other from the back, corresponding to the same spot.

Pain does not come as a friend.

You don't get used to this, ever, and life becomes episodic. Life flickers.

Caught between now and some other place, I sometimes hear distant music, too faint to even characterize in genre but infinitely appealing.

In the midst of the dreadful smells of vomit and worse, there's suddenly a smell of flowers under a bright springtime sun, and the cool tang of a sea breeze.

The pain will pull me back...but them something forces it to loosen its grip.

Is it God? I think so, though I'm not having visions of Jesus or hearing Scripture or seeing any golden streets.

There are those who would call these buried memories, dredged up when the body weakens and consciousness wanes. Oxygen deprivation and all that.

Bless their pseudo-scientific little socks, but these folks are all wet. I've been oxy-deprived; this ain't that.

I've been unconscious (badly concussed many times), and it's not that, either.

And it's not dreaming; my dreams are generally unpleasant memories involving getting shot at, or pleasant memories of shooting back. With visible results.

These flickers through the brutal facts of life are coming from outside.

They're not a road-map or a prophecy or a promise, as near as I can tell.

They're a brief balm, gently administered to keep my head in the game.

But that's just the what. What's interesting is the why.

I think it's pretty simple; I'm kept in the game so that I can say, without a doubt, that even in the midst of ferocious pain and fading hope, life is still worth living.

Not so much for "me waiting for my miracle", but for the love I can spread. For the kindnesses I can offer through my hands and heart and eyes, even though speech is now beyond me.

For the love. Because, dear reader, I love you. It's not a Kumbaya let's-have-a-group-hug moment, and it's not an "I love my Christian brothers and sisters!" thing. I love you as much for being a Buddhist or a Sikh or a Muslim or an atheist.

See, we all share things; we all share the ability to be hurt, and to have relief from pain.

I love you enough that I want your pain, whatever it is, to be relieved.

I was once a hard and selfish man; I am still a harder man than one whose company you would find comfortable. Don't drop by for a visit; you would not like me.

But I want you to be happy, to find bright and shining gems of happiness in everyday sorrow and tragedy.

And I am honoured to dedicate my remaining strength to that end.

And, yeah. I would die for you. And I will.


A bit of news..."Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" has come home! Tate Publishing has gone south, and I regained the rights, so it'll soon be available in both Kindle hardcopy versions once again. In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait (!), you can still get used copies from Amazon.


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.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

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.

















Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 284 - Eating To Live

We're linked with Messy Marriage's From Messes To Messages - please drop by Beth's site for some great marriage resources and her own deep wisdom.

You probably wouldn't like my diet.

Breakfast is a couple of white-cheddar rice cakes.

Lunch is a bowl of rice with protein powder (rice-based) and lean chicken, mixed with orange juice and ketchup.

Dinner is a bowl of rice with unflavoured brewers yeast powder and a pat of low-fat margarine.

I think that defines the expression 'acquired taste', don't you?

What you can read into this is that it's a very low-fat and low-sugar diet, because my pancreas isn't processing either of them well.

I have to eat to live, and not for enjoyment. If I can tolerate what keeps me going, I'm not going to experiment, because culinary adventures that used to be fun can now cause discomfort, outright pain, or can trigger a serious setback.

And that situation, for a spouse-caregiver, can be sneakily frustrating.

Sharing meals is a cornerstone of every society, and most certainly every marriage. Our dates involved food; weddings always include a feast, and special occasions in a shared life are marked by breaking bread together.

Oops. Can't really stomach most breads any more.

So there's the problem; one of the strongest links between people, by custom and nature, is broken. We're not eating the same food (I mean, would you???) and even eating together's hard, because when you're sick you eat when you can. Dinnertime is when you can face a meal.

It's easy to resent this; it takes away something, and it's unfair.

When Barb can eat, it's hard for me to be there, because it's one of my worst times of day...and by the time I can stomach even a small meal, it's close to midnight and she's gone to bed.

There are some ways to make this less difficult and less of a relationship strain, though:

  • Be together at mealtime when you can. When Barb's eating, I try to be in the room, and at least have something available to drink (a shot of Jack...I wish!) so that the spirit of breaking bread together can be observed.
  • Find new ways to be together. I can't watch anyone eat, so I sit turned slightly away (and I sit on the floor anyway, because chairs hurt).
  • Share an activity during a mealtime...this is one case where watching TV during dinner can be a really good thing. The dude or lady who can't eat is distracted, but it's shared time.
  • When you have foods you can still share, make the most of them. I can eat nonfat low-sugar ice cream (whee) and Barb can eat the good stuff...but they're both still ice cream! We can have a bowl together, and at least share the experience.
What suggestions do you have, to make a shared meal possible in the face of adversity?


A bit of news..."Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" has come home! Tate Publishing has gone south, and I regained the rights, so it'll soon be available in both Kindle hardcopy versions once again. In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait (!), you can still get used copies from Amazon.


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.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

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.
















Sunday, March 12, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 283 - How Can I Help?

This post will be short and sweet, because I'm really feeling awful - and considered putting up a "too sick to write" sign.

However, there's something that needs to be said, a mistake I tend to make in being a good patient. So, dear caregivers, stick this one under the nose of your ill husband or wife...at the right moment.

Often Barbara asks me, "What can I do?"...or more wistfully, "I wish I could do something."

Being something of a fatalist, my stock answer tends to be, "There's nothing you or anyone can do."

It isn't meant badly, but I have realized that it can be a terribly hurtful thing to say. The desire to help is sincere, and even more sincere is the despair at not being able to do anything effective.

To have the hopelessness o the position underlined isn't pleasant. It may be 'bracing' for me, but it's also selfish.

Far better to say, "Thanks, I really appreciate it, your care means the world to me."

And better also, to ask for and graciously accept a small favour, like a glass of water, or a light for my cigar (yes, they still help against pain and nausea!).

The point here is that caregiving is interaction; it's not a 'job', it's the continuation of a relationship, and the required courtesies and kindnesses still apply...on both sides.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

A bit of news..."Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" has come home! Tate Publishing has gone south, and I regained the rights, so it'll soon be available in both Kindle hardcopy versions once again. In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait (!), you can still get used copies from Amazon.


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.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

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.















Thursday, March 9, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 282 - For Love's Sake {FMF}

We're back with Kate Motaung and Five Minute Friday, the writing flashmob working from a time-limited keyword. Please drop by for some really great faith-filled and excellent writing!

I've written this ahead of time to try to document what has been a heartbreaking week, and I'll try to work in the word when it's revealed. (It's ABANDON.)

When Barbara is at work, we communicate by email at lunch, to check in. (As I've mentioned, talking is hard for me now, so a phone's of little use.)

Anyway, the other day she asked me how I was doing, and this was my reply:

"Pancreas and tooth are giving me a bit of trouble but I take a certain
pride in my infirmities and pain, knowing that they are given me to
glorify the Lord and to bear steadfast witness to His Love and Mercy.
He is my rock, my deliverer, and my comforter. He is my Friend.

"So I am OK."


She said that was worth publishing, so here it is.

This is my heart and faith written to a God-sized canvas.

But it can be written smaller, from the macro to the micro.

We lost one of the dogs this week; Dukee, a very large and lovable Pit, everyone's friend. In the morning he was right as rain, playful and waiting for breakfast, but when I brought him his food he had suffered a heart attack, and shortly after noon, he died in my arms.


This hurt; Dukee was my go-to pal for hugs when the pain got scary, or the PTSD memories became too much to bear. He was calm and loving, and never shied away from a hard hug, and never turned his face from my tears.

He wouldn't abandon me in my despair. Ever.

He was my heart's security, though I didn't fully realize it.

When he died I felt that my heart had been torn in half. I wanted to just stop. The sun had gone in, and it seemed a long night was beginning. The thought of moving forward, writing, and continuing my life, leaving this sturdy cherished memory diminishing in the past, seemed the worst of disloyalties.

I wanted to quit, and to stay in the valley of the shadow.

But what kind of legacy would that have been for him? What kind of honour would it be to take his example and use its loss as an excuse for my own self-destruction?

No.

The only way to honour love is to carry the memory of it within us as we move forward, and to let the sparkle and joy infuse, all the more, every waking moment.

Only love hoarded is truly lost.

And so we go on as we have to go on, our hearts broken by circumstance, and sutured back together by love.





A bit of news..."Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" has come home! Tate Publishing has gone south, and I regained the rights, so it'll soon be available in both Kindle hardcopy versions once again. In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait (!), you can still get used copies from Amazon.


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.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

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.
















Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 281 - God's Glory In Caregiving

We're linked with Messy Marriage's From Messes To Messages - please visit beth's site for some amazingly good marriage resources!

Caregiving can be a very hard and lonely road, and sometimes it can seem like God can be very, very far away.

Dealing with the physical mess, memory and cognition issues, and the sheer despair of watching someone you love slip further and further away toward a door through which you can't yet pass...all of those can beg the question, "Why, God? Why is this happening, and where are You?"

It's not a bad question to be asking...after all, Jesus asked God why He had been forsaken, when He was on the Cross. You're in good company.

But as there was glory in Jesus' facing that which He was compelled to face, there is glory for you, dear caregiver.

First, like Christ, you're doing what you have to do. As the husband or wife of a mate who's terminally ill, you're fulfilling the promise you made before God...the "in sickness and in health" bit.

Second, you've very likely learned to accept help. Like Jesus on the Via Dolorosa, His Cross carried by Simon the Cyrene, you have - I hope - found that there are people who will support you, carrying your cross - and sometimes you - when your strength fails.

And as Jesus took the drink offered on a spear-borne sponge from a Roman soldier, I hope you have been fed by those you least expect.

Third, even though the person you care for may be impatient and quarrelsome at times, there will be moments when you will see and hear genuine thanks.

And fourth, "when you do these things for the least of My children, you have done them for Me."

A bit of news..."Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" has come home! Tate Publishing has gone south, and I regained the rights, so it'll soon be available in both Kindle hardcopy versions once again. In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait (!), you can still get used copies from Amazon.


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.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

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.