Blog on Thanksgiving, my father in law's death and gift giving


November 27, 2006 

Happy Holidays! 

I hope you had a wonderful, peaceful and family friendly Thanksgiving!  (Or at least had it the way you chose.) 

Iím glad itís over, and I want you to remind me not to attempt such at home shenanigans again!  (Grin)  Next holiday, letís let the restaurant experts fix the food and weíll just sit down to dinner and pay them a nice tip. 

I donít mind the cooking really, it can be exciting, but I HATE deadlines.  I donít like to be pinned down to a certain time to have it on the table.  Then I donít like having my mind on what I have to DO, instead of being with the people I love.  I guess I would have been a Mary, and need to stop trying to be a Martha. 

Last Tuesday my father in law died in Florida.  I had been asking for prayers for him for some time, his name is Lavern Tyler.  He left a wife, Marlene and daughter Phyllis and her family.  He had been in the hospital awhile, had kidney failure, diabetes and heart problems.  His passing wasnít wanted, but it was a relief from suffering for him. 

The funeral was so lovely.  It was small, only a handful of close family members even got the news that he had died, since the holiday was in the middle of the preparations.  Reverend Eddie Humes and his wife did the service and I have to say, I canít imagine a nicer word spoken, or more sincerely, than Brother Eddie gave.  He had us laughing, crying, and looking forward to Heaven. 

At the graveside, there were 3 people in uniforms that said, ďhonor guardĒ.  One lady played the bugle, (I think it must have been ďtapsĒ), and two men who folded the flag that was over the casket.  I was amazed at how crisp the colors of that flag were.  (All the flags Iíve seen were bleached in the sunshine and rain.) 

Iíve never seen this done before, and it really moved me.  I thought, how nice it is to cry over something meaningful.  You know, we cry over sad movies, or when someone hurts our feelings, and when weíre angryÖbut most of those tears donít mean anything.  To cry over something because it touches you deeply and you appreciate what is happening, that feels really good. 

The two men held the flag up over the casket, and then stepped to the side.  One man began folding it from one corner to another, and after each fold, he ran his white gloved hand down the fold to crease it flat, and when the flag was folded all the way that it could go, the other man tucked in the remaining 2 or 3 inches so it was a package that would stay folded.  Then the man who had done the folding, held it against his chest and with the same ceremony and respect he creased each of the 3 sides of the flag, turning it before he smoothed each side.  It was so beautiful. 

Then the other man took the flag and knelt before my mother in law and presented it to her with a memorized speech.  

In times when people are turning against war and the military, and when all you hear about is the number of both sides killed, itís really nice to see the honor and the glory the uniform represents.  Not the country, but the best of the heart of man. 

I wish every person who dies could have someone stand at attention and give respect to his memory. 

When my first husband died, as the funeral procession drove through town to the cemetery, there were police stationed at each intersection, standing at attention.  That really impressed me too.  Some cars remembered to pull over and stop as the funeral went by.  My son Daniel asked me how anyone knew these things, because they arenít taught in school, and no one talks about it.  Itís not in the motor vehicle handbook. 

Yes, thatís one of the things society has failed in.  It was the duty of grandparents and parents to pass down traditions like this, and then one day the family fell apart and now we all live far away from each other, so we can have ďelbow roomĒ.  

Today we fuss about immigrants and blame them for diluting our morals and traditions and taking away benefits that our old folks need.  How foolish.  These are but our poor brothers who knock on our door asking for bread.  Didnít the Lord say to feed the hungry, and to clothe the naked, and to give to anyone who asked?  I thought He said that  He provides the supply, and we are to be His ambassadors on earth. 

If our children are not taught itís not because someone I never met came from a land Iíve never visited and asked to do a job I wouldnít stoop to do. 

If my family isnít receiving benefits, itís not because they gave it to the poor, itís because the money was spent by people wearing suits Iíll never be able to afford, who live in houses that make mine look like an outhouse for slaves.  They voted and found us expendable. 

Ooops, Iím delving into politics and opinion.  Back to the weekend.  On the way home the traffic was horrible.  Iíve never experienced driving on an interstate during a holiday rush either.  That was quite an educational experience.  (Again, remind me not to be so stupid again.)  Just because we want to have a Thanksgiving holiday, who says we all have to do it on the same day? 

What would happen if we chose our holidays and scheduled things when it was convenient and took turns driving on the roads and buying gifts? 

What would happen if we stopped doing things altogether that we do because we feel obligated and just did what we truly believed was important and would give our families lasting memories of us? 

Itís not that they donít get lasting memories now, but some of the things our grandchildren will remember about some of us, shouldnít be printed. 

I wondered if my family would postpone the funeral until the week after Thanksgiving, but it seems there is an urge to hurry and get it over with and move on.  Maybe there was a superstition years ago that the last generation remembers vaguely or maybe itís from intense marketing campaigns by funeral homes in the 50ís and 60ís to turn the preparations over to them and let them make it convenient for us. 

I didnít feel that way about my husband.  I wanted it to last forever.  In fact I would have kept him in the living room in a glass coffin if I had found such a thing.  We had two funerals in two states and even then it was over too quickly. 

Either way is all right, and Iím sure we wonít have many funerals during holidays to make it become a real problem.  

It was WONDERFUL to see my family, those I hadnít seen in 10 years, and some longer than that.  I saw nephews and nieces grown into fine men and women, beautiful and confident. 

I found a new love and appreciation for my mother in law, and my respect for my brother in law deepened greatly as I saw him stand by her side.  He has always been more like a son to them than an in law.  He wasnít even born in this country or in this religious belief, but he has personified the ideal of a good father, good husband and good steward all of his life. 

I donít know how I could love them all any more than I do.  Only being able to show it, thatís the question. 

Flattery is cheap; gifts are silly if you canít afford them, and we live so far away we donít spend much time together.  I shall think on these things. 

Last night God gave me another dream, and showed me some areas of my life I need to focus on.  One is teaching my grandchildren the important things, spending time with them, and showing them that I worship the Lord. 

Another is to look to the Holy Spirit for the ďrainĒ in my life, and not to the earth waters only.  Thatís a spiritual thing.  I was so preoccupied with trying to fix the old well that I ignored the rain heavy clouds in the heavens. 

In other words, remember Ė remember Ė God sends the supply and abundance, look to the Lord and be thankful! 

So we turn our thoughts towards Christmas, to the pretty lights and making lists of things weíd like to do for our loved ones.  Chris is noticing the lights more this year as we drive by them.  I promised he could put up his Christmas tree in the kitchen when we got home from the trip.  Maybe tomorrow.  I also have to cook the Thanksgiving turkey tomorrow, because itís finally thawed in the fridge.  (Tee hee) 

I really want this year to be all about things that count, what really matters most to my heart, and what people REALLY need.  Iím sick of longing to buy presents and having to get junk because there isnít money to buy the nice things.  Instead I think Iíll copy Thoreau and do nothing rather than something imperfectly. 

The babies need their gifts, in moderate amounts, and MUCH more attention and in person fun time.  Grandparents and parents NEED to make tapes or written journals of where they come from and what the past was like, and what they believe, to leave to their descendants. 

Those of us who happen to have money, should spend it wisely and invest in something that will be meaningful or helpful for years to come.  Collections of expensive useless decorations will become junk that somebody has to hire a crew to haul away. 

The beautiful things you bought may not mean anything to the ones you would give it to.  So think of service coupons, personal chores to do for someone, and home made things that tell of the past. 

If you have a gift or talent to teach and can pass it on, youíve given of yourself and protected the human race.  Thatís a gift inside of a memory that will keep on giving for generations to come. 

(PS, be sure to wrap that gift in laughter and label it with forgiveness.) 

(PPS:  next year letís join the Christmas club!  Or go back to the way it was for centuries.  All year long adults and children made simple little things, like doilies and dolls, towards Christmas and nobody planned on it being a "cash in" party.  What's wrong with giving hand embroidered pillow cases?)

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