Tuesday, January 19, 2021

(Better late than never) Happy New Year 2021 - lovely memories in the making

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The calendar page has flipped and we're still here. How did you start your New Year?

Not much seems to have changed from 2020. We're all still in "careful due to C-19" mode. The past month, Americans have been eyeing their presidential inauguration on Jan 20 with mixed emotions. Some are happy. Others consider it apocalyptic. (Reminds us of fears during the potential digital crash of 2000. That never happened; do you remember the food hoarding and conspiracy theories back then?)

We spend the first week of the year in Canada with my mom. We commemorated Dad's passing with services in person and online just before Christmas. W visits his mom nearby almost daily once he's out of quarantine. We have a delicious meal courtesy of his sister and get to see their cute grandkids.

*****During three weeks together, Mom and I find treasures and make discoveries around the house. A hand-colored wedding photo of Mom and Dad turns up under a stack of 1980s women's magazines. 

Isn't this cool? Mom and Dad were married for 67 years! Their love has been the bedrock of our family.

Fun memories are attached to kitchen and household items, too. I remember this salt and pepper set from when I was young. Mom always made nutritious meals from scratch. Family dinner was the anchor point where our parents transferred stories and spiritual values.

In one book Dad had earmarked, we find his own grandpa and uncles listed among ministers in Russia and Poland.

******On a lunch visit with W's auntie, we eat a yummy meal together. It's great to see his cousins there, too. Then AuntieM brings out her most-requested dessert, a home-baked Black Forest cake. It's so good that I have to ask for the recipe.

She smiles, "It's easy!" Auntie M tells us to stir together a cake mix, 4 eggs, and a can of cherry pie filling - and then bake it. (I'm going to try baking @375o for 45 min. We'll experiment from there.)

Oh my,  it tastes better than any expensive bakery treat.
*****Most days Mom and I enjoy a few long walks along the slough, A letter of permission is tucked into my pocket, allowing me to join her outside during the initial 14-Day Canadian quarantine.
She lives in a beautiful area.
I snap pictures on our walks.

This is the view I enjoyed every day as I walked down our street toward the high school. Mount Cheam is the same after all these years.
Her friends and neighbors meet for their daily walk along the river. It's fun to see the ladies again, even when accompanied by the misery of a cold rain.

*****One afternoon, Mom and I drive up Little Mountain to visit Dad's grave. Brrrr, it's cold up there, but beautiful. At least there's no snow, like on the day of the funeral.
We also find the tombstones of my grandparents and other elderly acquaintances. My dad's mom has the first plot by the upper entry. Oooh, she would not like that: she was quite shy and retiring, never wanting to be up front. Makes me chuckle.

*****During our three weeks in Canada, we keep working remotely. But I love the mealtime hangouts with Mom, and frequent calls with my brothers and our kids. That's where we exchange great memories and old photos. Here, Dad was playing violin with one of our sons. He sure loved music and encouraged each of us to play an instrument or two.

January 8
We say goodbye to Mom and Norm's family to fly out of Vancouver. The trip to the airport is courtesy of Norm's driving. It's been wonderful to spend time with family. Mom's getting tinier by the year. She's doing pretty well for 85 though!
When we get to Seattle, the kids greet us. Waaaaa, how GOOOOOD to see them!

*****This week, Makenna has her 3rd birthday. The kids have decorated the room in pink for her Pink Birthday them. She's wearing a pink crown. YAY, it's the first time we get to celebrate with her in person. (Among the unearthed mementos at Mom's house, my own 3rd bday card. below.)

******On Saturday evenings, (= Sundays Indonesian time), we watch the BICOnline gathering together. It's really fun to have the kids with us.
We join their own service on Sunday. The grandkids set up a mike and their instruments. They worship, read the scriptures, and allow time for discussion. Kinsey's in charge, including the setup and teardown.
When they come downstairs, the children know where their toys are. They play hide and seek in our flat. They are creative in where to hide. It's fun to watch them.
When they leave, Oma and Opa clean up, with big smiles on our faces. Each kiddo can be described as,
Oh how peaceful it is when they go back upstairs. Haha (Every grandparent knows this feeling, right?)

*****I'm ready to quilt a top and backing cotton brought along to give a friend. I take out a piece of batting that Mom sent along, found in Dad's workshop. 

What is that? Right in the middle is a hole. Well, it's true that Dad passed along his love of a quick fix to me. This must have been one of his practical solutions for working in his cold basement: the batting has a jagged neckline cut into the center, making each side 4" too short for me to use it for quilting. 

It's perfect for working in my own chilly office. Thanks, Pop! I order the quilt batting from a shop instead.

*****Sidewalks around our Seattle neighborhood are scattered with storm-blown leaves, mosses, and little pine branches. The streets are so empty! We may see 4 or 5 people outside and the same number of cars on our 3-mile trek up one street of house and down the next.
One day, I pick up a cotoneaster branch for my desk. The pop of color energizes me.
Another day, I pick up odds and ends and put them on a 24" tray. The aluminum tray was made by a company with my family name of Daher. Every time I pull it out, I remember the Ebay purchase while we lived in the UK (for W's doctorate).

*****Most mornings, I make a traditional breakfast. We add a scoop of Hungarian paprika to jazz up the taste one day. The oranges disappear one by one. Yum.

*****One day, the kids come down for tea. From my teapot, I fill their animal "teapots" with tea. (Each chooses an animal creamer - doggie, cat, cow, or chicken - and yes, the grands have distinct preferences.) They like to pour tea into their miniature teacups.
The little china cups were given over the years by my mom and my Winnipeg uncle. Everything I touch brings up old memories and creates new ones. Also, I believe china and other "good things" are meant to be used and enjoyed. So we love this traditional teatime, every time Oma is back.

The days are full and the nights short. God is good.

Read more:
*Turn my eyes away from worthless things. Psalm 119:37 NIV

*The Lord has sent me to comfort all who mourn. Isaiah 61:1,2

*Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

*As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith. Colossians 2:6-7

Moravian Prayer: Comforter, be with those who are grieving. Guide them under the fold of your wings and keep them safe from the world’s questions and judgments. Their lives and concerns matter, so we lift them up to you.

Christ Jesus, we pray that our faith stands firm like a mighty oak! May we be rooted in you. Even as the storms of life attempt to toss and shift us from our place, let us not be moved. We remain yours, Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Hopeful celebrations, cherished memories

In the 2 weeks between last post and this, we have buried my dad and celebrated Christmas. The combination of his hope - that he is seeing what he believed, in the presence of Jesus - and the joy of Christmas has made this a wonderful season of prayer and thanksgiving. It's a strange thing, this craving to go Home to be with God.

It was a snowy day when we celebrated Dad's life. The sun shone, the mountains were a stunning backdrop as he was laid to rest. 
The family gathered at the graveside to hug Mom and offer our love and support.
Then we met in a gathering restricted to 10 people but filmed and shared online. We "Zoom"-ed the traditional family viewing of the body, the burial, and had a virtual reception on Zoom after. It was a treasured time when family and friends offered their condolences to Mom and spoke of my father's integrity as well as his encouragement, good counsel, and generosity.
The  flowers in the memorial spray were beautiful - orchids, pines, lupines, hydrangeas, pinecones, thistles, and more. As they began to fade, we recombined them into four bouquets.

Best of all, it's lovely to be with my mother. W and I had to apply for special permission from the Canadian government to be allowed to stay with her and to attend the funeral and graveside. Because of her age, I am permitted to accompany her on her outdoor walks. (For that, I needed a letter from her doctor.)

We celebrated a quiet Christmas and lit the central Advent candle together. The four "hope, joy, peace, and faith" red candles were lit earlier. We had only the Christ-candle in the center to finish. We've had them lit most days - and they are almost burned to the green base.
After a few days of snow, it was possible to go out to walk along the river.
Mom received many cards, calls, and flowers of condolence and tributes to Dad. She cherished each one.

Two of my three brothers are in lockdown in Europe and could not return to Canada. The other brother is taking care of the end-of-life paperwork and Mom's affairs. So I am just visiting and helping her sort through the house. It's an adventure through good memories.

W remains indoors on quarantine for the rest of this week. After the weekend, he'll be able to see his mom in the next city. Strange times. We had already purchased tickets to come see her. Before our arrival, my father died. God worked out the details for us to be here now.

Walking in 2oC calm weather is fine - but 5oC with a wind is too cold. We pull on sweaters, scarves, gloves, heavy socks, and coats.

Someone hung ornaments on one of the little trees in the riverside park.

I've been wearing the hats my father left behind to keep my head warm. I will take my favorite with me.
We talk to the grandkids who are nearby but unable to visit. We'll see them soon.

Dad became a luthier (string and violin craftsman) after retirement. This year, he began clearing out his workshop, donating and selling tools, supplies, and instruments. There is almost nothing left. It's like he was saying goodbye to things here and transitioning to heaven.

Quite amazing. I want to be as ready as he when my time comes.

Read more: 

*For you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. Malachi 4:2

*He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God. John 1:11-12

*[Jesus said,} “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:1-3 NIV

*In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28 NIV

Moravian Prayer: Christ divine, how blessed we are that, through you, we are adopted into God’s family and are called “Beloved.” Of this we are certain: God loves us today and always, thanks to you, O Savior. Amen.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Preparing a "Farewell, until we meet again" for my beloved father

In a day or two, many things can change. My dear dad dies on Sunday (Vancouver time). He has a peaceful and quiet passing into the Presence of God. Within a few hours of reaching the hospital, he's transitioned to his heavenly home. As a family, we are grateful to God that he can experience and see what he believed and taught us. What hope we have in our God.

Friends send Christmas treats, which we receive with thanks in a week that changes our lives forever.


Monday, December 14, 2020

It's night here in Indonesia, while it's Sunday morning Vancouver time. Mom calls me on her Saturday evening, worrying about Dad, who hasn't felt good, can't eat, and is sleeping a lot.

"I'm at peace," she tells me. "Whatever happens. I feel God's peace."

We pray together and hang up. She goes to sleep as I go about my day, praying over Mom and Dad. During the night (here), there are 2 more video calls with Mom and my brother. The first is that Dad's being taken to hospital in an ambulance. The second is that the news is not good: the doctors says it's just matter of time, because Dad's body is shutting down.

"Come here if you want to say goodbye," they tell Norm and Mom. So they do.

Norm calls each sibling from the emergency room, giving us a chance to say to Dad, "I love you" and "godspeed." He's already not responding but we hope he feels the love in our voices.

I stay awake for a few hours, checking my phone every time it pings. Finally, I flip on the light and write down my hopes for the night in my journal. I add what I remember from recent conversations with my parents.

I fall asleep at 1:30am, not knowing if he'll survive the night. When I wake a few hours later, the first message says that Dad's slipped away. My first instinct is to praise God that he didn't suffer long. The next is concern for our mother.

It's my turn to do the BICOnline video this morning [click here to watch it.] Only a few hours have passed since Dad left. But I get to celebrate him and talk about the hope he taught us as followers of Jesus. How cool is that?! For us, death means a joyful home-going, into God's presence. Now we have one more beloved person waiting to welcome the next one to the other side.

I've always felt homesick for God and heaven. For me, the transition of death holds great anticipation, not dread or fear. That's been true since the first funeral I remember attending, standing beside my grandmother. Was I five years old at the time? I cried with envy because the person who had died was with Jesus. Why did I have to stay back?

Grandma was fiercely blowing her nose with a hanky. When I asked why she was crying, she said the same thing I was feeling: Bald, Kind, bald gehen wir Nachhause! ("Soon, child, soon we're going Home.") I feel really lucky to share her hope and that strong pull toward eternity all my life.

I call each of our kids. They will sure miss their grandpa. They were his joy and what he looked forward to. When they were little, he used to say with a grin, "Well, we love you kids, but we're really more interested in the grandkids." It was probably true. He used to pick up the grands for a day at their house, alternating boys' and girls' Saturdays when we all lived in the same town.

When we moved hours away, he would drive down to take a (homeschooled) child to their place for a week or two of undivided attention and skill-building (whether woodwork with Dad or cooking with Mom.) Talk about spoiling the grandkids. They'd be prince or princess for the week.

I've always thought that arranging a funeral is something like planning a wedding ... in a week. There are many details to decide. Norm, the brother who lives in our hometown, is coordinating everything. The rest of us are confident that all will be well in Norm's hands.

Talking with my brothers in Europe and Canada reminds me of Dad's legacy of love and logic. There's no screaming, fainting, or other hysterics among us. Instead, we exchange a lot of humor to lighten the heaviness of grief. We remember funny parts of conversations and how we were loved by our father. He encouraged us with "Of course you can!" any time we asked him about facing a challenge.

With Canadian COVID restrictions, only 10 people can gather in one place, inside or outside. The memorial will be small but we can livestream. We need written permission from every venue before we can step outside our quarantine house. Norm take the lead as we work through what needs to be done. We contact Mom and the others when we have questions. What about the funeral home? The church. The graveside. Order of burial and service. Participants. Documents. Obituary. Slide show. (The techie grandkids are happy to do this. Dad digitized a lot of his photos and sent them to everyone in the past few years. Thanks, Pop!)



Dad really encouraged the kids to try things and be mischievous but that's hard to put in an obituary.

Most significantly, from start to finish, running through all our memories, he loved Mom. That's the rock-solid foundation of our family.

Of course we're crying, too - sometimes together, but mostly on our own in those sweet moments when we remember the wonderful man he was. It was my honor to be his "favorite daughter." He often joked about that to me, with love in his voice. Mind you, I'm his only daughter among three brothers so that was a no-brainer. It was still nice to hear it and his teasing tone. I'll miss him. (That's me on the left with 2 of 3 brothers.)

Mom says how heartening it is to receive the flood of messages and condolences that pour in. We'll read through the FB posts and other social media later. Dad's kindness, love for God, care for others, his humor, and perpetual "You CAN do it!" ring through the conversations. He was a booster of imagination and dreams, that's for sure.

And he's been the most consistent cheerleader for each of us.

Tuesday

Preparations continue. We converse via phone, text, and video. My friends ask how it's going for Mom and for us. Most can't imagine the peaceful discussions, humor, and free exchanges of ideas as we make decisions. That's Dad's legacy also. He refused to plan a funeral. "I trust you. Do whatever you want," he would say. We plan what we hope honors him and provides a sweet farewell for Mom, our families, and their friends.

This morning, W and I walk the neighborhood. Feels good to get out. I skip Sunday walks (lazing around the house). Then yesterday, I was busy with family and friends. I'm a lousy walker - I will rarely walk if I don't get to it first thing. We're preparing the end-of-year talks for BICOnline, so besides recording videos, W is tied up with editing.

But we make time for a pause. W and I eat a breakfast  bubur ayam (chicken rice porridge) at Nara/Pino, after locking the dogs in our office. The Nara staff and Agus our server look after us even more than usual - we love these young people, who make everyone feel at home with their kind attention.

We've almost finished eating the delicious cake Paulina sent over last week from the Pino Bakehouse. We indulge in a little piece every evening, anticipating Christmas celebrations. Like my father, I enjoy a little sweetness after supper. Miss you already, Dad.

Read more:

*When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. Isaiah 26:9

*The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 40:5

*In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

 

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:26-33 NIV

*We have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

*He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:10

Moravian Prayer: Lord, freely have you given to us and freely may we bring your story of the good news to those who live in darkness and long to be free. 

Glorious heavenly Father, your unrelenting revelation calls to us, cries to us, sings with us, and speaks to us through all of life’s experiences. In the chaos of earthly life, your glory is seen, recognized, and honored. Amen.