DEPENDence (Five Minute Friday)

Here’s my weekly link up of 5 minutes free writing with this encouraging community. If you’d like to read more, here’s the link: http://fiveminutefriday.com/2017/09/28/five-minute-friday-link-up-depend/. Anyway, this is what this week’s prompt word made me think about, although it’s based on something I wrote for myself last year:

Floating in the cool refreshment of our holiday villa pool, it strikes me how strong water is. It supports my weight as easily as it does the discarded pigeon feather a few feet away. All I have to do is relax back into it and it holds me up completely.

And that’s the secret, of course: to relax and trust the water. If you tense up or thrash about, you’ll sink through it.

It’s like water is the opposite of a Newtonian fluid, which requires force to cause it to ‘solidify’ and bear weight. The water is gently strong as it holds and supports me, moulding to my shape as it softly cocoons my underneath.

I feel, I am, at home in the water: peaceful, unselfconscious, relaxed.

And I am reminded of being ‘held in the everlasting arms’ where I also have the choice to try to hold myself up, fight, and end up sinking. Or I can let myself relax back, trust Him, and find myself easily supported by His fluid grace.

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ACCEPT (Five Minute Friday)

Seven weeks and three days ago my dad died.

So much of life has happened since then but I’m not sure if I’ve accepted it or not.

So I looked up what ‘accept’ actually means:

  1. To consent to receive
  2. To give an affirmative answer to
  3. To believe or come to recognise as correct
  4. To tolerate or submit to

No, I haven’t consented to, given an affirmative answer to, believed or recognised as correct, or tolerated the fact of my father’s death.

Now that doesn’t mean I’m in denial. Nor does it mean that I am in permanent distress. I am getting on with my routine, working hard, looking after my family, running Boys’ Brigade, even celebrating our Silver Wedding. I wake up ready to face the day as usual.

But then that moment of remembrance catches me – he’s gone. Or in the middle of the day, I come across someone who doesn’t know and have to explain why I’m not quite my normal self. Or I suddenly recall that I can no longer ask him any questions about our family history, or hear him tell his Air Force stories any more, or lean into his chest for another cuddle, or hear him say he loves me.

No, I haven’t accepted this new reality yet of a life without him. I don’t want to.

One day I will.

But not yet.

Buttresses of SUPPORT (Five Minute Friday)

I’ve had a lot of support in the past month or so since my dad’s death.

Among others, our church family has certainly stepped up to that mark.

Sometimes the support has been spiritual: Without a minister in post at the time, a friend (of ours and my dad’s) who is a local preacher agreed to take the committal and thanksgiving services, putting great thoughtfulness and care into both.

Sometimes the support has been practical: We have no catering team but a group offered and took on the task of buying, serving, and clearing up the buffet lunch after the funeral. It was a great weight off my mind with so much else to arrange.

Sometimes it had been silent: the presence of people has been a great comfort. My brother’s superintendent, who had never met our dad, took the time to come to both services and stay to the meal. He didn’t need to do that but it spoke volumes to our family about how much we were loved and cared for. When I gave my tribute, I needed to have my husband stood quietly by my side, to reach out to occasionally, to just have in my eyeline, as back up to help me keep going.

Loving support can be costly though. My sons, husband, and brother carried my dad’s coffin into the crematorium chapel. One had to walk with bended knees to match his height to the others. Another has a chronic back problem, worsened by being shunted by another car the day before. The others have their own health issues to deal with. All were bearing a great burden of grief as well as the physical weight of the coffin itself. But all were determined to carry out this one last act of love for a man they adored.

I watched ‘Time Team’ yesterday, a TV programme about short archeological digs. They were at Salisbury Cathedral and explained how architecture had changed over time. They used Lego to demonstrate brilliantly the development from simple walls to the inclusion of buttresses and even flying buttresses. These gave extra strength and stability to the building to withstand stress and enabled higher and more elaborate arches or roofs to be built.

It made me think how the people who’ve supported us recently have been our buttresses. They have enabled us to take the strain of bereavement and manage all the legalities and paraphernalia that death in the western world entails. They freed us to make Dad’s funeral truly special.

And I thank God for them.

Work, Rest & Play (FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY)

I feel a bit guilty writing on this prompt, especially having seen all the Back to School photos on Facebook. My boys are too old for all that (although we may indulge in Back to University and Start of New Job posts of them in a couple of weeks) plus I am in the middle of what’s proving to be a very relaxing two week break.

We’re on holiday in Cornwall at the moment, just my Beloved and I, enjoying lazy mornings, walks on the beach, and a chance to decompress after recent events.

No conversations about our jobs and the stresses involved mean we’ve switched right off from the world of work. Our minds are fully occupied by good books and great scenery; the only decision making required is which pebbles to pick to take home and when to stop taking photos of the views.

We’re feeling incredibly tired at the end of each day but from all the walking we’re doing, much of it hilly. And we’re both sleeping so much better than usual.

The trick is how to transpose this to our day to day working lives? We’ve talked of daily, or at least weekend walks, of physically going away more regularly – booking it in advance – and certainly we want to come back here, out of the seasonal rush again and away from the tourist hotspots. I must impose on myself the long thought of discipline of restricted evening television watching for other activities like reading and knitting. I need to not be afraid of the silence (or put music or the radio on instead).

Perhaps we could reinstate our Sabbath meal and I could bake Challah again. Maybe 24 hours later than tradition when my Beloved has to work Saturdays. Prepare meals for the following day in advance. Find a better balance between work and rest, practise relaxation rather than exhaustion, build it into our routine.

Because, as Rob Parsons wrote, ‘Who ever got to the end of their life and said “I wish I’d spent more time at the office”?’

NEIGHBOUR (Five Minute Friday)

I’m still getting back into the habit of writing regularly again. So here’s a memory from my childhood prompted by the link up to the lovely Five Minute Friday community at http://fiveminutefriday.com/2017/08/31/fmf-link-up-neighbor/

I remember being so excited as a child when a new family moved in next door, who had a girl only a few years younger than me.

Regularly I would place an old wooden ladder, spattered in paint, against the fence and then climb to the top in hopes of seeing Kirsty and getting an invitation to come and play. If she was there, we would chat, and occasionally we’d play together. Her mum didn’t seem to approve of my entry route over the fence.

It wasn’t the bosom friendship I’d pictured but we got on well.

I can’t say the same for our fathers.

My dad loved growing fruit and veg so couldn’t understand why Colin had patioed over their entire garden. My dad was a quiet man, getting up early to commute into central London, and his social life revolved around church. Colin was self employed, working to his own schedule, and loved to throw a party. Boy, did he love to throw a party.

He never invited us but several times a week held noisy parties long into the night. It didn’t go down well with my dad for his whole family to be disturbed so frequently. But Colin made no concessions to requests to stop or limit the parties to weekends only.

One night, Dad had enough. Another sleepless night and requests to tone things down once more ignored, he decide to take drastic action. So he turned our loudspeakers right up against the wall, put the volume to maximum, and played his favourite bagpipe music.

You’ve never seen a house clear so quickly.

Angry words were exchanged. But there were no more late night parties.