Was It Divine Intervention? (Part 3)

As Part 2 of this series concluded, we stood together at rainbow’s end while I spoke of that full spectral arc… believed it to be Divine Intervention… God’s validation of my Mom’s decision to “no code” her husband… free my Dad from his hospital ICU torture chamber… permit this terminally ill man the death our false hopes had denied him.

I now welcome you to Part 3. This installment has four subheadings titled:

A Time of TransitionA Time to Die… A Sliver of Sunlight… A Time to Reflect.

I’ve linked two of my companion blogs to this one… and… unless you’ve already read them… I strongly recommend you follow these links as they appear… I believe the depth they add to this posting to be immeasurable.

A Time of Transition…

On the eve prior to my Dad’s ill-fated surgery, the last words he’d ever spoken to me were… “Keep the home fires burning.” Ergo, from 1988 through 2003, I was caregiver to Mom… caretaker of her property… thereby allowing her to remain in her home sweet home for her final fifteen years.

During that time, Mom and I had oft regretted how Dad’s “full code” hospital status” had condemned him to “living” a zombie-like existence. No matter how many times we had rehashed this… each and every time we’d wind up looking each other squarely in the eye to solemnly vow we’d never do that to each other.

I was so glad we had had those frank discussions; too… for it was in early 2003… after Mom had fractured her femur and was convalescing in a nursing home… when pneumonia’s deadly chokehold would not permit her to rally.

With all reasonable, medical treatment options exhausted… with Mom’s quality of life steadily worsening with each passing second and her chances for recovery near zero… there I was… staring down at that nursing home “full code” / “no code” form.

Mere days earlier, a Judge had appointed me to be my Mom’s legal guardian and so her fate now rested in my hands. It would’ve been far too easy to feel the same false hopes for my Mom (the same type of false hopes Mom and I had felt for my Dad). But, I simply could not ignore Mom’s voice echoing in my memory… could not turn a deaf ear to her past impassioned pleas… “Please don’t EVER let that happen to me!”

While I hated “no coding” my own Mother… I hated the thought of her suffering even more. Choking back my tears… I signed on the dotted line and handed her fate off to God. After all… even if I had made the wrong decision… He could always intervene to let her recover and continue to live.

 A Time to Die…

My showing my Mom mercy had spared her untold misery and she had died a pain free, dignified death. The final chapter of her life can be read in my posting: Going Home… Going Home…

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying, once described it thusly:

“Watching a peaceable death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of the million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.”

Six days after Mom had gone to her Heavenly home, I presided over her Memorial Service. Having pasted on my bravest, public face, I had somehow managed to tearlessly deliver her heartfelt eulogy to a larger than expected gathering of mourners and well-wishers… a fifteen minute summation of her near ninety year long life and times.

With nothing else left for ME to do for my Mom… it was now time for ME to go home… to consider what I’d be doing for ME… in whatever time remained for ME on Earth. And after thirty years of helping my folks… how odd it felt to be prioritizing ME at the top of my to-do list.

A Sliver of Sunlight…

On the one-year anniversary of my Mom’s death, I began what was to become my annual ritual to honor her and keep her memory alive. My honoring her request that she be buried in her family plot in Minnesota, had meant I’d be paying my respects from afar… in two special, serene locales within my Michigan, hometown’s city limits.

It was seven years into my newfound family tradition, when something magical happened… my third “Oh Wow” moment… a jaw dropping, astounding, meteorological event which I could not interpret to be anything other than Divine Intervention. I tell more about my experience in my posting: A Sliver of Sunlight

A Time to Reflect…

So here I am in the here and now of 2016. I certainly intend to keep my eyes wide-open to see if any other episodes of Divine Intervention will come my way. Since, so far, they’ve all been weather related… I know my gaze should focus skyward… and since I’ll be already looking up… I’ll be certain to thank our Creator for having never let me down.

Of course there is that “Good things come in threes” adage so… might I have already maxed out my Divine Intervention limit? If that’s the case… then this makes those I’ve already experienced all the more precious. For sure, I’ll treasure these special days and events for the rest of my mortal life… and throughout eternity…

November 9, 1973 ~ The sunbeams breaking through the wintry cloud deck after I had narrowly avoided a fatal head on crash with a semi on that iced over, US-23 overpass. I believe God had spared me so I could carry on till tomorrow… live on through three more decades worth of tomorrows… just to be there to help my folks when they had needed me the most.

November 1, 1988 ~ The rainbow, which told Mom and me that my terminally ill Dad’s storm was finally coming to an end… had assured us both that only death could bring his agony to an end.

April 16, 2011 ~ The sunbeams, which had acted as a Heaven to Earth conduit… streaming my Mother’s love, eternal, upon me. After an eight-year long silence… it had sure felt so good to “hear” my Mom, once again, “say”, “I Love You!”.

 

 

All Creatures Large and Small

Admittedly, I had briefly considered titling this posting: “A Cute Cuddly Puppy & Kitty”. But the actual title you’ve just read is a bit more honest… for, on this new day, the “creatures” I’m talking about are none other than our world’s religious sects. These “creatures” can and oft do exert forces upon our society, which are both too large and too small.

Terrorist cells and Theocratic societies draw their energy from too large religious ideology. Blue and white collar crimes can trace their roots to too small religious influences. Either way… humanity loses.

Clearly, the polarizing, extremes of religion are not working towards the betterment of our global society. So might the solution to dealing with our world’s ills be found in a moderate, middle ground faith?

While I’d never be so arrogant as to claim I have all the answers and MOST ASSUREDLY I am NOT on a mission to ram my own religious beliefs down anyone’s throat… here’s what my CommonSenseFaith is all about.

1. I do believe in God and cannot help but base such a conviction upon some of my own life experiences. I’ve shared two of those special moments in my posts: Going Home… Going Home… and A Sliver of Sunlight. I believe, if folks stop to really think about it, some might realize they, too, have had similar “oh wow” moments in their own lives.

2. I fully accept that God may not be a wizened, old man with a long, flowing white beard… that He could even be a She OR… in lieu of that… simply be the elegant and unifying universal laws of Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

3. I do not believe in organized religion and haven’t been a regular churchgoer since I was a preteen. That’s because I feel living my religion in my day-to-day life is far more meaningful than living the lie of “Only on Sunday” “morality”. Now, this is not to say that I’ve not had lapses in my own good behavior. But key here is to learn from our transgressions and then self-correct.

4. I also believe that agnostics can be and oft are paragons of virtue 99% of the time. Why not 100%? That’s because nobody is perfect.

5. I feel living the Golden Rule provides us all the structure we need… i.e., the perfect, rock-solid foundation to build a non-violent, loving, flourishing society upon.

6. I may even be like you… you, who feel that want-to-puke-revulsion every time we see fraudulent, parasitic, gold-plated, stain-glassed televangelists “fleecing” their flocks. This breed of “religion” likely ranks right up there with the pumped up on steroids, bulked up, too large sects I spoke of above.

7. While I do insist that each and every one of America’s elected leaders be a humane, humble (wo)man in possession of a moral compass, I also concur with the U.S. Constitution that religious services ONLY belong in our Houses of Worship… that they MUST NEVER be convened in the White House Oval Office, on the U.S. House and Senate floor and, MOST ASSUREDLY NOT with the U.S. Supreme Court bench serving as a rickety, makeshift altar. True… the church government mash-up a.k.a. Theocracy may work out fine in Iran… but that’s not what America is all about.

Since too large and too small religious sects are failing… I believe my seven tiered, CommonSenseFaith philosophy sounds compelling. Hell, this could even work without bringing a Supreme Being into the mix. Might such an moderate approach pave the path towards a better world? Let me know what you think.

A Sliver of Sunlight…

On the April 16th, one-year anniversary of my Mom’s passing on, I had realized that since she had been interred in her home state of Minnesota, this Michigander living on a shoestring budget, would need to pay his respects from afar. But… where could I go, instead?

Well, I believe after we depart this earthly realm, we do become part of something much bigger… part of everything in nature. With that in mind, it dawned on me that the very locales I needed could be found in two very special places… all part of nature… all within walking distance. Even better, I had already been there before.

So, on that early spring morn, with my shoelaces tied tautly, I went on a hike.

My first stop was the very same, out-of-doors nursing home bench where I’d gone to mourn… on the morn of Mom’s death. There I sat, once more, in solitary, silent meditation.

From there I proceeded onward to a nearby park on the west side of my hometown.

Though my words won’t do it full justice… we’re talking about 50 acres of rolling terrain, wetlands, nature trails and the calming “white noise” generated by a long winding river.

This is the home turf for a diverse ecosystem of flora and fauna… this serenity beckoning all free spirits to… wander beneath towering pines, elms, oaks and maples… traipse through fields of clover… behold a vast variety of wild flowers and groundskeeper planted perennials… hear the buzz of bees… the honks of geese and quacks of ducks… the birdcalls of sparrows, robins and countless other feathered species… eyewitness the occasional visiting deer, foxes and waddling woodchucks.

Well… I wound up walking away from this experience feeling so emotionally uplifted that, on my way back home, I vowed this would become my annual ritual.

Amazingly, for seven successive years, the fair weather ruled… but not so in 2011.

The overnight torrential rains had persisted well past daybreak. But then… just as my usual 9 a.m. departure time neared… the downpour abruptly ceased. In nearly jaw-dropping disbelief, I was out the door and on my way.

Of course… about halfway to my destination, the rains did return… but… even that had held off until I was passing under a dense canopy of trees… had been short-lived… simply turning off as I was emerging into the clearing ahead. God was not raining on this man’s, one-man parade.

The storm clouds then started to break and brighten. My own shadow dimly appeared before me on the sidewalk. By the time I had reached the nursing home and sat down on the bench, the sunbeams broke free… in their full radiant splendor.

Barely fifteen minutes had passed when, just as I was emerging from my deeply contemplative state, the clouds were beginning to roll back in… these overcast conditions persisting as I journeyed onward to the park and as I made my way back home… that blue / gray gloom eventually dissolving into the inky black of nightfall.

So, how could everything, in our normally buy-it-off-the-rack world, have been so tailor made, just to suit me?

Well, I believe this fleeting “Sliver of Sunlight” had been a bridge to the Great Divide. On that April 16, 2011 morn, I believe the warmth of Mom’s love, eternal, had been tightly interwoven in those streaming Earthward sunbeams.

It’s Oft Best To Say Nothing At All

As of late, the three words to best describe me: Emotional Train Wreck. While that’s not my preemptive excuse, your knowing this will bring something useful to the peace table… in this blog… on this day.

To Long-Story-Short the situation… after posting my response to a comment on one of my blogs… upon rereading it… I realized that I was sounding more dogmatic than diplomatic. Ugh!

While what I had said was essentially true… I could’ve said it far better than I had.

While it’s OK to be passionate / opinionated… carrying this to extremes is NOT productive.

In our severely divided world… especially in Blue State-Red State America… where finding agreement on much of anything is getting more and more difficult with each passing nanosecond, I don’t want to be fanning the flames of rancor.

Finding common ground… even if it is measured in mere inches, not acres, is what I am actually attempting to promote.

I do consider myself fortunate that my comment was posted on my own blog, for I was able to delete my own immoderate words. Indeed, that comment is now in the trash… right where it belongs.

From this day forward, before I express myself, be it posted in a blog or in a comment section, if I am emotionally impaired, I plan to first put my words through my “Verbal Breathalyzer” and “take a reading”.

If I’m “BUI” (Blogging Under the Influence) I’ll shut up. Conversely, I’ll only click a post button if I am sober.

For nearly fifty years, since I was a teenager, I’ve been a big fan of the poet / songwriter / musician Bob Seger… have been in tune with the timeless wisdom his lyrics oft present. There’s no need to dig too deeply into his discography to find applicable passages when something isn’t going right in my day-to-day life.

With regards to my self-deleted comment… and any comments I may be about to post in the future… this verse to Bob Seger’s song, Wait For Me, will act as my Verbal Breathalyzer:

There’ll be times when I rise…

There’ll be times when I’ll fall…

There’ll be times when it’s best…

To say nothing at all!

 

Going Home… Going Home…

My Mother had enjoyed a remarkably healthy life for eighty-nine years. But after her heart attack in early 2002, things were never the same again. At first, my caregiver efforts (with a homecare agency assist) worked out fine. But the following year, after she broke her leg, she wound up in a nursing home. It was there that pneumonia seriously complicated matters.

My cell rang in the eleventh hour on that fateful Tuesday morning. Her doctor’s prognosis was grim…

“Your Mother is in the active stage of dying.”

The nursing home only a mere mile away, I was seated at Mom’s bedside within fifteen minutes.

What was to become my twenty-two hour vigil had begun. For the first six hours, Mom was talkative. We professed our love, prayed, reminisced, at times, even laughed. We reveled in our joyous, carefree mood where… had I not known better… I’d have believed she’d soon be homeward bound… homeward bound…

Late that afternoon, it must’ve been Mom getting her first glimpse of her Heavenly, family reunion that prompted her final words… among them… I kid you not… her spoken with awe…

“They ALL came!”

And then… she spoke no more.

As her vital signs waned, the twilight in her window faded into nightfall and the overhead light fixture’s pale blue fluorescence now suffused her room. Throughout the night, I was experiencing what Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of “On Death and Dying”, describes as “The silence that goes beyond words.”

Shortly after sunrise, I had nodded off in my chair but, somehow, did manage to open my eyes just as Mom was drawing in her final breath. “Wednesday’s Child” had made Wednesday, April 16th her final day on Earth. True to her lifelong morning person traits, twenty-three minutes into the ninth hour, Mom had reached Earth’s exit signs.

After composing myself, I, too, headed for the exit signs. Now standing outdoors, I had left that nursing home scene far behind… inhaled the onrush of sweet, fresh air… joined… already in progress… a spectacular, birds chirping, spring morn awash with warm sunlight.

I sat on a bench to mourn. As I looked up to the sky… I could envision Mom still lingering at Heaven’s threshold… her loving gaze upon me. I could almost hear her say…

 “My gifted son… I love you dearly and wish you continue to do well”*

I could practically feel her till-we-meet-again blown kiss touch my cheek… see her slow farewell wave as she reluctantly… oh so reluctantly… turned away… took those final steps to fade into the Heavenly mist.

On the drive home, I thought back to everything Mom had taught me throughout my lifetime. And how she had saved the very best lesson for the very last. To teach it to me, all she had needed were the three words, “They ALL came!’ Her way of assuring me that everlasting life really does exist.

My own mortality no longer seems quite so scary as it once was.  I know that when my final day on Earth arrives… Mom will be there to show me the way home.

* The actual message my Mom had handwritten inside the very last birthday card she had ever given to me.

A Goldilocksian Dilemma

It’s a given… most bloggers really don’t know me from Adam. That’s the likely reason why I’ve recently caught wind of something rather unsettling… that many of my April postings, where I’ve been exploring Divine Intervention, have been summarily judged to be “off-putting.” I won’t name this person’s screen-name because I’m a classy guy.

So… why do I blog about Religion? Well, to better understand where my head is at… thirteen Aprils ago, I watched someone very near and dear to me die before my very eyes. So forgive me for having undergone profound changes… forgive me if those feelings intensify at this time of year… forgive me for feeling close to God.

Granted… religion is a complicated thing. A Goldilocksian dilemma. Is it too soft? Too hard? Or just right? The most important things, here…

Whatever you believe is cool… even if you choose to believe in nothing at all. And by the same token… I’d hope you’d be open-minded enough to cut me the same amount of slack.

I’m not on a mission… repeat… NOT ON A MISSION … to convert anyone over to my religious beliefs. Be you agnostic or devout… I welcome you to my webpage. I’d hope you’d show me the same graciousness.

Does that mean we can’t compare and contrast our beliefs / disbeliefs? I would hope not. Cutting off the lines of communication runs totally counter to what a blogging community is supposed to be all about. If we cannot agree… then we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

Folks… I blog from my mind, heart and soul… I’m seeking life’s truths. I’m oft in that stream of consciousness mode… in hopes that… if lucky… I might stumble on to some of those truths… even if it’s just a microscopic portion of just one of those truths.

So… rest assured… re my blogs… there’s no need for you to rush off to your closet to grab your Hazmat suit. No need to take a headfirst plunge into a vat of anti-bacterial soap to wash your brain clean of my POV.

I oft come across as passionate… but that’s just my nature. To blog without passion? Why even bother!

Once again…

I blog from my mind, heart and soul. If in doing so I’ve offended the sensibilities of anyone… you have my heartfelt apologies.

Was it Divine Intervention? (Part 2)

In Part 1, I mentioned how my brush with death on an icy freeway overpass had been a stop and think about “IT” moment in my life… that I’ve experienced “IT” a few other times… that each time “IT” had hit me… I did get that jaw dropping, “Oh Wow”, feeling of awe.

I also claimed that “IT” has further strengthened my already rock solid faith in God… that “IT” had happened because He still had more important work for me to do on Earth. And last but not least, I made a promise to tell you all about “IT”. Now,  being a man who’s true to his word, welcome to Part 2!

To be sure here… “IT” is a rather inelegant way of talking about “IT”… that “IT” being none other than Divine Intervention. Hmm… maybe I should abbreviate “IT”? Sure… why not… let’s use the acronym, “DI”.

The DI I’ll be blogging about on this day took place just as the final paragraphs of my Dad’s bio were getting written. But… let’s first flip back a few pages… just to get you, my readers, on the same page with me.

Dad’s Life Story ~ By the time the dog days of summer, 1988, had arrived, the consequences from a lifetime’s worth of poor lifestyle choices had begun to dog him. Tobacco and a diet loaded with sodium and saturated fats had resulted in obesity, hypertension, heart trouble, diabetes and cancer.

Dad’s internist had advised him to do something before it was too late… but my father waited and waited… until it was too late. His need for an ambulance trip to the hospital certainly underscored his “too late” status.

It was after modern medical miracles had stabilized Dad’s heart issues when his doctor finally convinced him to surgically address his other problems, too.

I had visited Dad 12 hours prior to his operation. Although we both skirted the issue… opting, instead, for some pleasant small talk… we could both see the fear in each others eyes. We shared the unspoken dread that, come morning, things would not be going well. Dad’s parting words that night, “Keep the home fires burning.” I assured him I would.

Our worst fears had been confirmed in the OR… Dad’s cancer had become a raging, rampaging, homicidal, suicidal beast. Since he had intentionally left his “advanced directives” form blank, i.e., had not told what his wishes were in the event something went wrong, by default his status was “full code”… which meant he wanted doctors to do everything medically possible to keep him alive.

And something DID go wrong… everything went wrong!

The surgical team had to resort to heroics just to keep him from dying on the operating table… even though his chances for recovery were near absolute zero.

For six, long, agonizing weeks Dad laid in a quasi-living, Hellish limbo, while his doctor made repeated attempts to convince Mom, this was all to no avail. As the doctor’s frustration mounted, he even said, point blank, “This is like beating on a dead horse!” But, she just didn’t have the heart to… to put this crudely… “pull the plug”.

On November 1, 1988, Mom and I had one more confab with Dad’s doctor, where she had asked him… no… from the tone in her voice I could hear it more as her desperate plea… “Is there any chance you can save my husband’s life?” He simply nodded no.

Well, at that moment… Mom had seen the light… and as a result of her changing her husband over to “no code”, Dad had finally been liberated from his torture chamber ICU. At long last he would get the opportunity to “see the light”… albeit in a different sense…

Whether Dad would live or die was now up to God to decide.

Mom and I passed through the hospital exits in silence. Our slow walk to the parking lot was amidst a misty rain. Just as I was unlocking and holding the car door open for her, Mom turned to me to ask, “Did I just do the right thing?” At that moment the sun broke through the storm clouds and a rainbow appeared!”

To answer her, all I had to do is point upward and say, “Would you look at that!”

Well, as we all know, rainbows usually signify the end to our storms. To be sure… Dad’s post-op experience had been the medical equivalent of an F-10 tempest. But did this rainbow mean he’d be making a miraculous recovery or…

On the drive home, Mom and I had both been stunned into silence by the sudden appearance of that rainbow. As I drove, I recalled one of her favorite stories, one she had told me many times… one that I had never grown tired of hearing…

In her home state of Minnesota, there had been torrential rains for the entire week leading up to her Wedding Day in 1948. Then just as she and Dad had said, “I do” the clouds broke, and sunbeams lit up the entire church.

As we pulled up into the driveway, we both agreed we were physically and emotionally exhausted. Our number one priority was to get some much-needed sleep. We also made our plans to return to the hospital, early the very next morning… but…

Just as we were heading out the door… the phone rang. It being only 6:30 a.m… we knew this could only mean bad news. The disembodied voice informed us that it was too late… Dad had died… died alone.

I’m including the Mike + The Mechanics video “Living Years” even though the story told by lyricists Mike Rutherford and B.A. Robertson is not a “perfect fit” to all elements of my own story. The lyrics, which resonate with me the most are as follows…

I wasn’t there that morning… when my father passed away,

Didn’t get to tell him… All the things I had to say.

To be sure… nobody should ever die alone… and, for not being there… I do feel I had let my father down. The very last thing he had ever said to me turned out to be, “Keep the home fires burning!” And I would not let him down in that regard… that I had solemnly vowed.

So… while I regain my composure… let’s adjourn for about five minutes to give a listen to “Living Years”. Scroll down to meet me at song’s end… for my parting thoughts…

While we were listening… a thought did come to mind… and I’ll bet some of you also thought along these same lines…

Don’t postpone that long overdue visit and/or phone chat with your parents… do that soon… before it’s too late.

Now… to wrap up my story…

I realize that a doubting Thomas or secularist would dispute my claim that the rainbow, which Mom and I had seen, had any significance at all… let alone it being Divine Intervention. Such naysayers would merely chalk it all up to “total coincidence”.

OK, it’s true… God had not actually cured my Dad of all his ills. On that technicality… I’ll cede the skeptics a bit of ground. But it’s in the realm of the intangible where He worked His miracle. He had slightly eased both Mom’s and my own anguish over the decision to go “no code” re my Dad.

Consider that rainbow, too… the perfect timing of it all… had Mom and I delayed exiting the Hospital by even one minute, we would’ve entirely missed seeing that short-lived meteorological event. Think about the similarity of how the sun had come out at just the right time on her Wedding Day. “Till death do us part” is part of those vows… and this 40 year later similar weather pattern appeared to be ushering in that impending, “till death do us part” moment for this husband / wife couple.

All of this transcends happenstance, which does bring us back full circle to Divine Intervention.

For sure I know it further strengthened my Mom’s rock solid faith in God…

For sure I know it further strengthened my my own rock solid faith in God…

The Good Lord willing… I shall share with you one last experience I’ve had with Divine Intervention… in the days ahead… stay tuned…