Posted by: Jim E | May 26, 2018

Memorial Day, I Remember…

Memorial Day, I Remember…

(This is something I wrote in 2010,  for Memorial Day…thought I would post it again…enjoy and if you can,  fly the flag…and remember how fragile our freedom is…how precious our liberty…and though it seems impossible, how easy it would be to lose it…we have come close in our history a number of times, who knows we could be close to it now…so this is not the time to forget that or to lose hope in this special and exceptional country…)

Another Memorial Day…and I don’t mean, “just another Memorial Day”…I do mean, “It IS another Memorial Day”…I am humbled by the day itself…this is not, as even some presidents mistakenly view it, a day to honor all our men and women in the armed forces…(though we do honor them)…there are other days set aside for that…Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day, days to honor the different services…this day is for the fallen…those who have given their lives for this great country of ours…

On the way to church this morning we went by a sign in front of Parkway Automotive, an auto repair shop, it said…”Closed Memorial Day…to honor those who have fallen”…that pretty much says it all…across our country there are ceremonies to remember what it takes to be free…it takes men and woman who are willing to give their lives to make sure we stay free…I have our flag flying outside our house all year…but as you can see, I add a few others to honor Memorial Day…

Arlington National Cemetery, just outside Washington D. C., is very well known…it was the family home of Robert E. Lee before the Civil War…but it was basically “taken” because of he fought on the side of the South during the war…(there is more to that story if you would like to Google it)…and it was turned into a cemetery during the Civil War…and after…many famous Americans are buried there…this song by Trace Adkins may make the story a little more personal…

But Arlington National Cemetery is not the only place our fallen are buried…my Dad, who served in WWII, is buried in Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN…and because of his service, my Mom was is buried right beside him…this picture of Fort Snelling is so beautiful…I remember very well the day we buried my Dad and then the day we buried my Mom…and I remember exactly where it is…I think I could drive right to it…but all those markers sure tell a story…they all served, many of them died far before their “time” in wars that keep us free even today…and many others were able to live full lives because others gave theirs…and my Dad knew the difference…he often told us that the real heroes never made it back…

He served in the south Pacific in the Navy…saw more than he ever wanted to…didn’t talk much about it…but was so proud that he served…and he wanted us to know, when he and Mom died, they wanted to be buried at Fort Snelling…along with all those who went before…he lived to be almost 83…and he along with so many that I knew, were forever changed by The War…and much like that war, men and women who serve today are changed in ways the rest of us cannot know…

One more picture of Fort Snelling…my Mom and Dad are there…I honor them today…but not only them…all of those who served and died to keep us Free…We honor them today…

 

Advertisements
Posted by: Jim E | May 8, 2018

I Took My Mom To Lunch…

I Took My Mom To Lunch…

Mother’s Day is this weekend…I will post this as I did last year…and try to do every year, in honor of my Mom…I wrote this years ago…April 2006, it was over a year after Mom died, but I had to “get it down” so I wouldn’t forget it…enjoy and if possible call your Mom…it will make her day…as my Mom did mine, on the day I describe below:

                                           

“Something reminded me this morning about taking my Mom to lunch…who knows how memories are jarred loose in our minds…but this morning this memory randomly arrived…

It has been only a little over a year since Mom passed away…but most of the memories of those days are still fresh…I know they won’t always be, so I decided this one I would write down before it becomes irretrievable…that happens to all of us as time goes by and other experiences take img070over…this lunch happened a few years ago…after Mom’s stroke and after Dad died, but before Mom slipped away from all of us…she was handicapped by some of the remnants of her stroke but still lucid enough to remember things of the past…she still knew everyone, though sometimes she called me “George” (her husband, my Dad)…and though she knew that wasn’t quite right, we both just let it go…it really didn’t matter to me and it was okay with her to let it go…just seemed like too much work for her to change it after it came out…if you don’t know what I mean, you will soon enough…

That day Mom had a doctor’s appointment…and so I picked her up…and off we went…first to her appointment, then to lunch…I really hadn’t planned to go to lunch but Mom was so “with it” that day…we talked and laughed as we drove along…she was so enjoying the ride, she commented how she would just like to keep driving…so I drove passed things that she would remember, pointed out things that were changing…she was so interested…she was always interested in what her boys thought and were interested in…that had not changed…I often wondered if that was real…was she as interested as she seemed???…I never could see anything to make me feel otherwise…and that day it was more than usual…it was a high point in these last years of her life…

I asked her if she wanted something to eat, “My treat”, I said…she laughed and said let’s go somewhere easy…I knew what she meant, she had lots of trouble getting in and out of the car…”Where do you want to go?”, I asked her…she didn’t know…so I made some suggestions…and she picked the one with the golden arches, she wanted some French fries…andPond with willows and cattails 3 of course, a drive-thru…I knew one not far away and we drove slowly to get there, talking along the way…we got our meal and parked behind the McDonald’s…so let me paint the picture…behind us was one of the busiest roads in the north suburbs of Minneapolis…but in front of us was a large swamp (called a wetlands today) and we were parked on some of the fill that had been put there to build the McDonald’s and paved…there were still piles of fill beyond where we parked…it was a warm sunny day…cattails waved far into the distance…birds flew here and there…the small willow trees along the bank moved to the motion of the wind…and here I was with my Mom…just talking, eating…sharing French fries…me watching to see if she needed help…it was perfect…Elmquist family WW II 1944

We talked of things she remembered, of things she wanted to talk about…I told her how much she meant to me…she waved it off as she often did…and talked of times past…her folks, my grandparents…she loved them…and now in her 80′s, she still honored them…they, like the rest of us were not perfect, but to her and to me…that didn’t matter, both of us agreed how wonderful they were…she remembered the days of her youth, before all this…and all that was before her…we laughed and some tears were shed…but overall it was a wonderful time…right there overlooking that beautiful swamp…

It’s a picture I will always remember (now bear with me)…from 50 or 100 feet above…do you see it???…looking down you see a McDonald’s, next to a busy highway…and behind a large swamp…and there behind the McDonald’s…right there in the parking lot…an old white Buick and inside…can you see them???…a son and his Mom, he in his 60′s, her in her 80′s…eating, talking, crying and laughing…but enjoying for one of the very last times, each other…

She was and is in my memory…loved and honored…”

 

Maybe I should be saying sorry for writing another post that deals with Jeremy…but on the other hand, things just keep coming up…and also, everyday we live, he somehow is a part of it…everything reminds us of him…where we go shopping, if we go out to eat, what we prepare at home…it doesn’t really matter, he was with us all his life, 47 years, and we are drenched with his memories…it feels good…he still makes me smile when I think of him…so it’s all good, I guess…

Jeremy's one year visit, mom and dad 2

Last year when Jess and Jennifer where here, they gave us a miniature rose…I thought right away to plant it at Jeremy’s cemetery…he is buried in a mausoleum so the only place that came to mind was behind the building, just outside the “mowed” grass…I thought we could do it there…most would think it should be near the building…but something in me thought…you know, Jeremy would want it “planted”, just outside the grounds, but seen from his grave site…I agreed!!!…

Jeremy's rose from Jess and Jennifer

But after we took it home and Judie began to think about it…she wanted it right outside her window by her desk, so she could watch it grow and bloom…so plan changed…we planted it right where she wanted it…this picture is from last year…it had many blooms on it…and this year it is growing larger and with four buds on it already…but what about Jeremy and my plan for his cemetery you ask…I made it known that we would still do that…well, a week ago or so, Marisa bought a rose bush to plant and Jared, Marisa, Judie and I went down to the cemetery to plant the rose bush…we chose a spot that as you walk down the sidewalk toward Jeremy’s grave site, if you look straight ahead…

Okay, in your minds eye now…look straight ahead…back, way back of the mowed grass…if you look close, Jared “weed whacked” a small clear spot…see it, yup, that’s it right there…he dug up the ground and planted it right there…I know you can see it…and when you come again, it will be growing, even more green than now…and maybe a red rose or two…Jeremy would love that you see what we see…and I have two more picture of us there…Jared is watering the rose bush…and there is a “selfie” of the four of us and…if you look close, you can see the rose bush…right there…between us…what a great day…Hey Jeremy, we done good…finally got our dream in place…planting done…rose bush can start blooming…what a great day…

We’ve been going though “all things Jeremy”…I should say, Judie is going through all things Jeremy…Heaven’s, she knows where those things are…on shelves in closets, in albums…so every once in a while she will put one of those things in front of me…when I see him, really look at him in a picture…it hits me, I really miss him, and think of something to write about him…that is good for me, maybe not so good for you…

Like, Judie showed me some pictures of family, back a few years…well, many years…we must have gone to a portrait place to have it done…and there is all our family at the time…Jared and Marisa must have been married…but then again they look like they are in high school…we forget how young we once were…but anyway, there was Jay, Jared and Marisa, Jess and Jeremy…and Judie and I…heavens, we look like we were in high school!!!…

Jeremy and family before surgery

But there we all were…and there is Jeremy, this was before he had his major jaw surgery with Dr. Keller, at Mayo Clinic…I will show you the miracle of that surgery, if I can find a picture…Jeremy stood proud, as he always was, his teeth protruding…but there he was in all his glory, proud to be Jeremy…and all of us, honored for him to be part of our family…the picture I will add is one that Judie put together to show the difference jaw surgery made for Jeremy…

Jeremy before and after surgery in the 90's 2

I can remember back when Jeremy was in high school…hey, by the way, see that hand on Jeremy’s shoulder in the first two pictures???…my hand…yup, hard to think of all that…tears in my eyes…but that was a normal pose for us…me with my hand on him…okay, back to the story…he was the basketball manager for the team in high school…I mean, he was “in charge”…he took that job seriously, he served with pride for 7 years…

So, one game night he was running here and there taking care of the coaches and team…of course he was different…short, noticeably different in looks and so on, but did a great job…when the game was over, a teacher that I knew from the other school came up to me…she asked me if I knew the young manager, and described him…I immediately told her, it was my reaction when anyone wondered about Jeremy…I said, with pride, “He’s my son.”…and we talked about Jeremy for few minutes, and how she thought how great he did his job…Jeremy stood out…and not only because of his looks, but because of his character…and up to the time he died, he never wavered from his unusual courage and character…

Judie and I miss him…he brought to our home, humor and humility…strength of purpose…love of God and love of family…he knew right from wrong instinctively…and loved life…

Jeremy, Mom and Dad

I complete this year of posts, on our Son Jeremy’s life, with some sense of closure…closure of one year since he died…one year that we have lived without him…and one year, as we determined last year, would be one of celebration of his life…I think we have done that…lots of things have come and gone…you can read some of that in the 15 posts I have written during this year…

It all started with last Sunday…last year Jeremy died on March 19th, which was a Sunday last year…so we began our special time on Sunday…we got up and went to church…came home and went to Chinese Kitchen to get takeout for lunch…it was one of Jeremy’s favorites…so that began our Sunday, the way we would always start our Sunday with Jeremy…then we went to the cemetery where he is buried…

Jeremy's cemetery 2017

Jared, Marisa and Marla wanted to go with us…and then Jared and Laura decided to come along…we had a great time talking, laughing, crying and remembering Jeremy…it was a good time there…it’s beautiful and peaceful…just the way he would want it…at least to Judie and I, it is a perfect place for him…well, for us too, we have a place there too…

On Monday, this year it was the 19th, so it is the actual day of Jeremy’s death…we watched the slideshow that Will, Jessica’s husband, put together for Jeremy’s funeral service last year…it was so well done…some of Jeremy’s favorite music and some of our favorite pictures of Jeremy…it was a wonderful way to start our special day…we also watched the video that Jared made on the morning that Jeremy died…he set up his IPhone in the hospital room and videoed when we walked in and how it all went…it was a hard video to see again…but at the same time, it was, as we decided that morning…the starting of a celebration of Jeremy’s life…and his new life in heaven…

Jeremy Peace Dove on door. March 19, 2017

Judie just came into the room and showed me the album of pictures she put together for Jess…it is priceless…they really grew up together…they shared the same room for years…often during the early part of Jeremy’s life, he ended up in Jess’ bed many nights…Jeremy was recovering at the time from his surgery, radiation and chemotherapy…He and Jess have always had a close relationship…

Then with a cup of coffee, we went to the Arkansas River to listen to the funeral service, it’s only 10 minutes from our house, and a favorite place for Jeremy to go…(a boat ramp…picnic tables and campsites)…the church makes a audio disc of the service…so we took that to Maumelle Park and overlooking the Arkansas River, we listened to the entire service…we enjoyed all of it…all of our boys spoke, Jay, Jared and Jess…Judie and I spoke too…it was great to hear all of the feelings our family shared with everyone who came…this picture is from over a year ago, enjoying a picnic lunch, at the park, overlooking the Arkansas River…

Jeremy picnic Arkansas River 2015029

All of these memories brings me to something I have not said in so many words…Judie and I want to say “Thank You” to everyone…those who have done so many things for us during this year…those that came to the funeral…we were dumbfounded by the love shown our family…and the love shown to Jeremy…Dr. Keller, Jeremy’s doctor at Mayo Clinic, who did so many miracle surgeries on Jeremy, he came…he told me when I greeted him, “I could not, not come.”…and there were others who came from far away, we appreciated it…and there were many who worked with Jeremy that came and they and others sent cards, flowers, and messages on the funeral home site…books about mourning…they all were so appreciated…

Then there were our neighbors, whom Jeremy so loved…they were wonderful during this time…those that Jeremy worked with at CUB Foods in Minnesota…Kroger, here in Little Rock…so loved by Jeremy…and he was so loved in return…we just replaced the fern that one of his co-workers sent to his funeral last year…it lasted until the frost last fall…we still have some plants from his funeral…

Jeremy fern memory March 2018

But our thanks goes on and on…I am not able to mention everyone who has touched Jeremy’s life here and in Minnesota…doctors, teachers, coaches, the job coach who got him his interview at CUB Foods…and Joey from Easter Seals, here in Little Rock, who got him his interview at Kroger…the person at Arkansas Disability who helped him get hearing aids so he could work…so, so many to thank…

And our neighbors, who adopted Jeremy as their own…provided friendship of someone who many times they could not understand…but treated him like their own…talking and swinging on porch swings in the summer, ball games with one…backyard talks with others…sitting with neighbors who owed him nothing…but gave their all…we thank all of you…

Jeremy and Don, a neighbor 2013

Let me take a sharp turn at this point…let me go back to 1972 for a moment…Judie and I were 30 years old…parents of 4 boys…our youngest, Jeremy, developed a tumor in the back of his head, that needed to be taken out…the operation was successful…and Jeremy had a life as full as he could make it…but I remember some days when we didn’t know…we just told ourselves that we would enjoy him and love him for as long as we had him…it was almost 47 years…Wow…what a great and wonderful time we had together…

I remember when he had radiation…I was the only one who could get him to hold still…he was about 2 1/2, but he and I had this bond, this trust in one another…I was outside the radiation room talking to him over an intercom…but he, inside the radiation room, had to lay still the whole time alone…or else he had to be “put under”…that was too much for me, to have him put under everyday for a month…so we two, developed over time…to understand, we could trust one another…he did it…that young…amazing…

Jeremy and Dad cardinal jackets 1990's049

I remember after he had a shunt put in his head about 3 years old…to drain excess fluid…he developed a enlarged area in the back of his head…the shunt didn’t appear to be working…so they wanted him to have the fluid taken out…they were going to put a syringe needle in the back of his head to drain it…I don’t know if they would allow anyone else to help…but Jeremy and I worked out this “thing” we had together…I held him on the gurney…and talked to him, held him still and when it was done…as he told it…it was a piece of cake…he was something…did I ever say, he was my best friend?…he was my example of a man…Dr. Keller once told us, “Isn’t it wonderful the Lord chose to use your own son to bless your lives.”…it was so…

So many memories…he was so courageous…he showed me what it was to be a real man…

One more story to tell in this post…back in 2005, Judie had a double mastectomy, because they found cancer…I wrote this post back then, and want to show you now, what Jeremy was, all his life…Judie went to see her doctor for a check-up…Jeremy and I went along…the post will tell the story…I called it “How’s Mom”…he was special…he loved with a special kind of love…it was unconditional and active…and he loved his Mom…enjoy…

How’s Mom

Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2005 6:09 PM

Subject: How’s Mom???…

Many of you know our son Jeremy…some of you very well…some of you not so well…but most of you know his background…and he is a man of few words…(unless he is talking about Cub Foods or his collections of old movies and 1/64 scale trucks)…but mostly he stays in the background…makes sure things are in order…along with his few words, he is a “bit anal” about “stuff”…(we are trying to figure out who he takes after…but this is still a mystery!!!)…

Underneath this seemingly aloof young man, runs a very caring, generous, sensitive and emotional side…one which “pops it’s head up” at appropriate and mostly private times…Judie and I get to see it more than anyone else…but it is there and many people get the benefit of this quiet and mostly unacknowledged and unnoticed part of Jeremy…let me tell you a story about Jeremy in the last few weeks since Judie found out about her breast cancer, surgery, etc…not a man of a lot of words…but I titled it, “How’s Mom?”…  

When we told Jeremy about Judie’s diagnosis…he listened…didn’t ask a lot of questions…just brought home flowers…(as he often does)…he quietly listened when Judie and I talked and cried…so he knew what the situation was…through all of the surgery…the stay at the hospital…at home…not a lot of talk, he just listened…

 We went to Cub Foods where Jeremy works and Liz, one of the managers, came up to Judie and told her that she asked Jeremy how his Mom was…he said, “Wonderful!”…and when Mark Allison, the “big boss” came in from Cub’s main office…Jeremy went up to him and said, “Ask Liz about my Mom.”…so Liz said Mark came right into a meeting she was in and asked about Jeremy’s Mom…Liz told him and he said to tell Judie that his prayers are with her…(Mark Allison’s dad, Bob Allison, who played on the 1965 Minnesota Twins World Series Team…died sometime later of Lou Gehrig Disease…so he understands personal pain)…

 A few days later Judie had to go into the doctor to look at a problem that was bothering her…(fluid was gathering under the surgery site)…Jeremy was along, it was his day off…and after we saw the doctor…and we went out in the hall…Judie went to the restroom…and we were looking for the men’s restroom…I was making small talk that it must be out in the entrance area…Jeremy stopped me…looked up and said, “How’s Mom???”…

 And when we later told him that we would not be able to do the things we planned (previous to all this) on his vacation…he said “Hey, at least I’m not at work.”…

 Not a lot of talk…but a lot of thought…as I told Judie later, through tears…that the first thing on Jeremy’s mind…was his Mom…”How’s Mom”…I love that…

Jeremy, Mom and Dad025

 

 


 

 

 

There is no doubt, I am wrapped up in little things…like most people, most of those things are memories…and those memories are usually tied to people we love or are close to…so it is with Skippy peanut butter…stay with me now…almost everyday I have peanut butter on toast in the morning…when I get out the peanut butter, I know it is Skippy, because that it the kind I buy…you may say, “Have you lost your mind?”…no…it reminds me of my Mom…she worked for Skippy during WWII…it’s a little thing…but thinking about my Mom is a good thing for me…she was one of a kind, I still love her…Skippy, just a little thing, helps me to remember how wonderful she was…

And with Jeremy, there are so many little things, so many memories…all tied up with who he was…he, too, was special, a wonderful son, my best friend…who had a wonderful life…full of great experiences…and Judie and I shared in all of them…47 years of memories, little things all tied up in Jeremy’s life…

Ecclesiastes 3

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14, starts with verse 1: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:”…and then for verses 2-8, the preacher gives a list of those things, “a time to be born and a time to die,”…to plant and to uproot…to kill and to heal…to tear down and to build…to weep and to laugh…to mourn and to dance…to scatter stones and to gather them…to embrace and to refrain from embracing…to search and to give up…to keep and to throw away…to tear and to mend…to be silent and to speak…to love and to hate…a time for war and for peace…

Ecclesiastes beautiful in its time

And verse 11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart;”…this it what we have been doing for almost a year…celebrating Jeremy’s life, because God has made everything beautiful in its time…and the fact that eternity has been placed in all our hearts…we celebrate Jeremy’s Home-going, as well…let me in the next few minutes share what we have come to understand, that Jeremy had a wonderful life, full of all the things he was suppose to experience…and we were here to make sure they happened…

Now I will not pretend to put everything down on paper…but how about a taste of Jeremy’s life…some of the things he loved and made him what he was…

Did I ever tell you Jeremy had a dog?…yup, he did…Muffin was his name, a black and white Shih Tzu…he was his dog, not my dog, not Judie dog…Muff was Jeremy’s dog…they slept together, sat together, did everything together…just before Jeremy came home from work, Muffin would be waiting for him…by the door or if outside he would lay on the grass-covered little hill by the tree, watching down the street waiting for his truck to come into view…Muffin would see it and get excited to see Jeremy…Jeremy would honk the horn…Jeremy would come out put down his lunch bucket and stuff…and he and Muffin would, as they say here in the South, “love on” one another…it was a special relationship…

img049

When Muffin was first with us, he went outside and got lost…lots of sadness…but on that one Thanksgiving Day…as I looked out the kitchen window…I saw a black and white thing bobbing out in the field behind our house…”There’s Muffin”, I yelled…Jess ran out in the field and returned him to Jeremy…I will add a picture of that time, that my Mom took…as I remember, the “preacher” said, a time to search and a time to give up…the lost was found…Jeremy had 12 years of “lovin’ on” Muffin…and visa versa…

Jeremy loved to work, around the house, at school, at church, job program, or at his permanent job…he was, as my Dad used to say, “A workin’ fool”…he loved the responsibility…love pleasing his boss…committed to doing a good job…so when an opportunity came to be a manager of his brothers basketball team…he was on board…he was a basketball manager for 7 years…all the way to the State Tournament his senior year…I can’t say for sure, but all the team loved Jeremy, because of the kind of person he was…he never forgot them…the coaches, really all the people around the program knew and respected Jeremy…I don’t think he ever let them down…he saw it as a chance to serve…and they honored him, when they won the Regional Tournament, and asked him to make the “first cut” in cutting down the net…I will add a picture… 

Jeremy makes the first cut at regions064

Little things, simple gifts…they all flood my memories…like the year Jeremy got to see the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans…he got a free trip to Disneyland because people just thought he should go…one year when the doctors thought he would not make it but a few months or weeks, he got over 250 birthday cards in the mail…but he fooled everyone and lived the full life he was given…

He got to see Florida, and Disney World, Epcot and so on…and go with Jess, the brother who he grew up with…saw the Space Shuttle lift-off to the moon…spent time in the Rocky Mountains, Devil’s Tower, saw Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, the Badlands (both in North and South Dakota)…saw the outdoor Medora Musical at Theodore Roosevelt National Park (he even ran the lights that night)…how he got inside that booth and got to do that, I will never know…but on the other hand, I do know…he was a special person…

Medora Musical, Medora, North Dakota

Jeremy loved Branson, Missouri…he especially loved the Presleys Jubilee…he, as he did with everyone he loved, he went right up and talked to them like old friends…and they didn’t know any better than to believe he WAS an old friend…Oh, and Jeremy loved Pasties…we traveled many time to Michigan going the Northern route…the UP (Upper Peninsula) is famous for Pasties…and in particular Lehtos Pasties near the Mackinaw Bridge…and Mackinaw Island…he just loved to travel…any road trip, look around, he was already in the car…

Mackinac Bridge

And how about the Minnesota State Fair…most people don’t “get it”…what is so great about the State Fair…there is no way to explain it, without going…Jeremy loved the food there…Footlong hotdogs, and on and on…just being there…Machinery Hill, with all the tractors…and then The Farm in Illinois, how he loved The Farm…fishing in the pond…

Speaking of fishing…we fished for 20 years or so together…we went to the Boat Show in Minneapolis…and we came home with a fishing boat…he bragged to his Mom…he couldn’t wait to tell her…”Dad says this is my college tuition.”…and we enjoyed his “college” for all those years…and yes, he did “out-fish me”…

I’ve got to stop…but there are a myriad of memories…Judie and I share them all the time…Jeremy was one of our great gifts in this life…and now in the last years of our life, we will share the wonderful memories we have…as we get close to the end of our first year without Jeremy…there is still profound sadness but an effervescent joy in all memories we are able to remember and share…

As I left Baptist Hospital where Jeremy was taken care of and ultimately died…I remember one of the times I walked into the hospital…I was weary and probably a little down…Jeremy was in one of the rooms there…we really didn’t know what was in the future…but I looked down at the sidewalk…and there were two verses inscribed there…after all these years…the Bible is still comforting to me…

Jeremy Baptist Hospital sidewalk verse August 2016 1Jeremy Baptist Hospital sidewalk verse August 2016

Posted by: Jim E | January 12, 2018

Sometimes With Jeremy…I Had To Marvel…And Laugh…

Sometimes when I write about Jeremy…I think people may feel I exaggerate his positive traits…but when I think about that, and go over what I say…I am more convinced my positive description is correct…heavens, we lived almost 47 years with him…both night and day…let’s just agree, he was a special kid…I know he was a man, but remember, he will always be “my kid”…both Judie and I use that term…like, “what a great kid”…

I thought about this the other day…it just popped into my head…how Jeremy got along with adults, though he was handicapped in many ways…Jeremy graduated from high school in 1990, he was 20…he went to vocational technical school for one year…the next year, he told me that he wanted something different, something closer to home, he hated that long bus ride to his school…

Shannon Square Shoppes

So I talked with one of our job coaches at the school where I worked…she helped Jeremy get a job interview at CUB Foods near our home, in Andover, Minnesota…I will never forget the proud look on his face, when he came out of the interview…as he told his Mom and me, that he got the job, it was 1991…from the outset, he loved working at Cub Foods…a great group of people that took him under their wing…he really grew up there…learned to do a job well, meet expectations, and get along with adults…and interact with those above him, in other words, learned who was boss and how to please the boss…he never forgot who paid his wages…he was thankful and loyal…

The thing that popped into my head a few days ago, was Jeremy’s 10 anniversary working at Cub Foods…they invited him, and others, to a dinner to celebrate their years of service at the store…there were a few others too…10, 15, 20 years…I really didn’t know what to expect…I had just retired a year earlier…the dinner was to be at a country club in the Western suburbs of Minneapolis…in other words after 40 years of “dressing up”…and determined not to do it again unless I had to…here again, I had to…heavens, it was for Jeremy…and he had to put on a jacket and tie too…

Jeremy, and Mark Allison 10th year at CUB060

As I said, I didn’t know what to expect…and the longer we were at the dinner, the more I wondered if I shouldn’t have gone through what “may happen” with Jeremy…I need not of worried, as you will see…after the dinner part of the affair,  Mark Allison, (above) who was the multi-store manager got up and started the program…my heart dropped at bit…not knowing what was ahead…he started by telling everyone how they valued their staff and all the other nice things to be said at these kind of things…and then he said he would introduce each honored guest and tell how long they had been at the store…and they would ask each one to tell something about themselves and something about the store…something like that…

Jeremy, Doug Windsor 10th year at CUB059

At this point, I wondered how Jeremy would do with this…I couldn’t take him out and help him through this…so we just waited…Jeremy’s turn came…he stood up and for about 5 to 10 minutes he did a stand up routine that completely took my breathe away!…there were about 40 or 50 people in the room…he got up and started telling stories about his bosses…about the store…about his job…and on and on…he had all of the room laughing (and not at him, with him)…

Both Mark Allison and his store manager Doug Windsor (above) took the brunt of the fun…and Jeremy took some of his own self-depreciating humor…he had the room in his hands…I on the other hand was Wowed by his ability to handle this situation…I will add pictures…notice, he was completely comfortable in this situation…of course he was “with his work family” and he was at home with them…but as his Dad, I just sat there stunned…and notice the after program picture…they just kept up the humor…and there is Jeremy “holding court”…can I say Judie and I were honored to be his Mom and Dad…

Jeremy and Mark Allison 10th year at CUB061

It made me think about another time, where Jeremy “held court”…it was in a court room…for a period of time he was on SSI…which is a Social Security program for handicapped who are looking for work…so when he got his job at Cub Foods, I contacted them to tell them he was working…they said his monthly check would still be coming until he made a certain amount of money…I told them he did not need it any more but they insisted and so we just went on…about a year later we got a letter that he owed not only that money, but other money too…it came to about 3 thousand dollars…I sent in a challenge to that, with explanation…long story short, it ended up that Jeremy had to go to a Social Security Court and plead his case…

Jeremy SSI courtroom

I was totally surprised by the court room…heavens, it was a court room…I thought it might be just a room that a person would come and listen and make a recommendation in this situation…but no, it was a “real court room” with a real judge…sitting behind the bench…so when it all started, I was ready to go up with Jeremy to help him through this situation, since I was the one whom they dealt with to this point…but that was not the way it was…Jeremy was asked to come forward…I got up to go with him…but the judge told me that only Jeremy should come forward to the bench…

And Jeremy did it again…confident, even bold…he told the judge he loved to work, he worked hard and knew who paid his salary…and worked hard when he was on the clock…he was humorous, straightforward, honest, and won the judges heart…kind of like he did with everyone he met…and worked with…the judge, after he was through with questioning Jeremy, came off the bench and congratulated us on what a great son we had…congratulated Jeremy on his work ethic and his confidence and wished him good luck…later in the mail we got his findings…Jeremy did not have to pay back the money…old Dad was not needed here…Jeremy held his own…it was a pattern in his life…

Lastly, Jeremy and his locker room speech…Jeremy was the basketball team manager at St. Francis High School for years…all the years his brothers Jared and Jess played ball…and then until he graduated from high school…and I think for a year or so after…the following email is from his brother Jess…it will be self-explanatory…showing Jeremy’s ability, beyond what would be expected…

Jeremy, Jeff Fink story018

He was an adult in a small body and one of the things that does come home to me…is that in these last few years, where he was so hard to understand because of his strokes, it was not always that way…he could be articulate, could carry on a conversation, and in fact hold a group of young or old, and move them where he wanted…he was special…I still am honored and impressed with this “kid” of ours…

Jeremy State Tournament patch062

 

 

From my vantage point, Judie and I had a wonderful Christmas…based on a decision we made many years ago…that we would make Christmas, not only a time of family getting together for eating  and gift-giving…but one where the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ would reign supreme…it has always been a great time of celebration…a family time, but also a spiritual time…and from my vantage point, looking from my chair to the Christmas tree, it was as good as it gets…

Christmas 2017 the first without Jeremy

So it would not surprise you that remembering Jeremy would be in that mix somewhere…and indeed he was…I remember just after he died, on March 19, I mentioned to Judie that we would make the funeral, in fact the entire week a celebration of Jeremy…we topped the off the day after the funeral, for all who could stay for that day, with a trip to his favorite barbecue joint, Whole Hog…it was a memorable event, he just had to be in room somewhere…it was a great time…

Jeremy's funeral Whole Hog031Judie and I talked about this Christmas, just this morning…we shed a few tears, as we remembered Jeremy and how much he loved celebrating Christmas…I’ve mentioned before how he was a Christmas Junkie…loved all things Christmas…he owned this time of year…made it his, like he invented it or something…he was pretty much a positive person…he just loved life but this time of year was special…

So when I got up early Christmas morning and started the Turkey, Oyster dressing, Down South dressing…he would have been right there with me…correcting me…reminding me…(Heavens, it was like we were out in the fishing boat, giving each other a bad time, i.e. “my fish is bigger that yours”…”I’ll catch the first fish”…”and on and on it went)…so there we would be…making the very best turkey, Oyster, Down South dressing that can be made…he made sure of it…

But this morning Judie and I talked about last Christmas…how fragile he was…I didn’t know if he would want to get up…I asked him before he went to bed if he wanted to help or not…he said, (as he always did), “Sure”…so that morning I got some things together so it wouldn’t take so long before we could begin…I went to wake him up…opened his door…the light was on, he was up, getting dressed…amazing…this was his day and he was not going to miss any of it…

Jeremy in six frames.jpg

As Judie and I talked about it, it would only be about 3 months and he would be gone…I love remembering how he would not let “his time of the year” go past without being involved…so for me, in 2017, it was hard…this was the first year he was not involved with making the Christmas dinner…he had been doing this for decades…somehow, I think he was checking on me…”Dad, did you do this?”…”Did you do that?”…you now know the drill…I think we laughed and joked though all those times…and still it was good enough to eat…I missed him for sure… 

Christmas this year was like all years, it involved the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but it also was hip-deep in family stuff…we had Lefse making night, birthdays in December, Christmas church services, family time of eating and fun, and of course Christmas Day, with gifts, and Christmas Dinner…a wonderful time…but all, in their own way celebrated Jeremy with us…Jared and Marisa’s Christmas Card this year was a picture of their family…but on the back, a reference to Jeremy going on to Heaven…

Jeremy, Jared and Marisa's Christmas Card

Our Grandson, Jared…at Christmas Eve celebration at our house…told me, he and Laura bought a bag of Milky Way, “Simply Caramel”…he said he wanted to keep the tradition going…back story: Jared loves “Simple Caramels”…when Jeremy heard that, he never forgot…he got Jared a bag of “Simple Caramel” every time a celebration for Jared came up…birthday, Christmas…or if he just felt like it…I thank Jared for that…it reminded me again of Jeremy, and that Jeremy was a giver…and he never forgot, even when things got bad…This Christmas there were many little things like that…all those made it special for us…

I saved a story from “Our Daily Bread”, a devotional I use everyday, this one by Tim Gustafson…he talked about his mother who was in hospice care, “held captive by debilitating age”…all those who have been in like circumstances know how difficult that is…watching some birds at a birdfeeder outside the window, he instantly thought of: “Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it” (Matthew 10:29)…(and later Jesus told His disciples) “You are worth more than many sparrows,”…My Mom stirred and opened her eyes. “Reaching back to her childhood, she used a Dutch term of endearment for her own mother and declared, ‘Muti’s dead!’…’Yes,’ my wife agreed. ‘she’s with Jesus now.’…Uncertain, Mom continued. ‘And Joyce and Jim?’ she questioned of her sister and brother. ‘Yes, they’re with Jesus too.’ said my wife. ‘But we’ll be with them soon!’…’It’s hard to wait,’ Mom said quietly.”

Judie got a standup plaque as a gift for Christmas, on opening it…and on reading it to me, she broke a bit and could not finish right away…but showed it to me, across the room…it had the same effect on me…we do miss him…

Jeremy, Judie's Christmas Gift Someone in Heaven

So Jeremy was very much a part of our Christmas this year…our memories of him…they are not only our memories but everyone he touched…when I say he was special…it is true…so now, he’s with Jesus…But we will be with him soon…and we say with Tim’s Mom…”It’s hard to wait.”

 

Posted by: Jim E | December 19, 2017

A Christmas Story…Well, Make It Two…

A Christmas Story…Well, Make It Two…

I wrote this in 2012, a Christmas story, well, two of them really…they take me back to Minnesota and my childhood…with a dear neighbor…and then a story from a teacher I worked with for years…both very important to me…and I hope will make you think of your life and memories you have…Merry Christmas…

At Christmastime, I reach back to memories of the past…and my childhood…when you get my age, most people that I meet everyday are much, much younger than I am…it gives you Christmas tree snow coveredpause…Oh, it is not a negative thing…it’s positive…I love the fact that I can remember so much more than most around me…that I actually experienced the history that most people talk about…and you know, I remember talking to people who were born just after the Civil War…who fought in WWI…who fought in WWII…these were actual people, who were there…and, of course, with my age comes the passing of most of those people…almost all of them have died…and just yesterday, Judie’s Mom died…she was 92, almost 93…so much history she experienced…and of course, all of that personal history is now gone…only what we remember of her wonderful life is still with us…all of us who knew her will try and keep that alive…

Age is a funny thing…it comes upon us while we are awake or asleep…it comes with or without our permission…and Christmas upon Christmas comes and goes…I remember so many…but in my 70 plus years, they all seem to run together…it is hard to remember each and every one…in fact what happens is we layer them, one upon the other, so we view them as a stack of slides…viewing them as a whole rather than separating them…only special circumstances make one memorable from the others…let me tell you of two memories…one that is many stories, stacked upon the others…and one that someone told me and experiences it over and over every year…these two stories are the same kind of thing, only different…stay with me here…

When I was born on February 3, 1942, Jim Burton was about 70…about my age now…and 26 pendulum clock Jim Burtonyears later, I officiated at his funeral…now that may not seem strange to you…but it does to me…he and his wife, Mary, were great friends of our family…Mr. and Mrs. Burton (as I respectfully called them growing up) were our neighbors…they lived next door to my grandparents on the south, separated by two lots and we lived next to my grandparents on the north…that neighborhood was two generations old when I was born…Jim Burton was the real estate agent who sold those small lots to people like my grandparents…all during my youth, because Mary was blind and they were aging, my mom took care of them and their needs all the years I can remember…this was a close neighborhood and everyone knew Jim and Mary Burton 1everyone…

On Christmas Eve my mom and we three boys walked over to Burton’s (many times on the way home from Christmas Eve services at church)…to spend some of the evening with them…I wish you could have seen the inside of that small house…Jim had been in the jewelry business and the house was filled with clocks (in fact I attached a picture of the clock he gave Judie and I for our wedding, almost 50 years ago)…to a young child they were beyond counting…10 or so grandfather clocks, wall clocks, mantel clocks, “Regulator” clocks…just all kinds…large and small…and it certainly fascinated a young child…inside, it was reminiscent of a “Charles Dickens” scene…dark but welcoming…the furniture was from another century it seemed…overstuffed, worn and it had that “old” look and smell…and there on the table was their Christmas tree…lights and decorations and a fewChristmas lights in dark presents…and we would relax there with a cup of tea and goodies…settle back and listen again to the stories they told…the stories of other Christmas’ in other countries (she from Norway, he from England)…and stories of their time in America…there in the dim light…dancing over our faces…this couple, whom we loved and had become such an important part of our lives…weaved the stories of a lifetime into our lives on those Christmas Eve nights…

On the way home in the darkness, with the snow crunching under our feet…we asked mom questions and rehearsed things we heard…so much of which I have now forgotten…I miss the stories of Jim and Mary…from another age…from another time…

Christmas Tree at nightAnd so with that story of Jim and Mary Burton…in reality, many stories stacked upon each other year after year…I go to a story of someone who grew up on the plains of North Dakota…we worked together in my former life…a friend and a great teacher, who sent me this after I told one of my Christmas stories to the staff…it is a keeper…you will understand after you read it…he virtually re-lives this every year…

“That takes me back to my youth on the plains of North Dakota, when on Christmas Eve afternoon, my mother packed a shoebox of items to give to an old bachelor neighbor who lived by the river a mile south of us…I can still see the box and its contents: cookies, a Christmas napkin, a new handkerchief and a tin of Prince Albert pipe tobacco…About four o’clock, my dad and I walked to his place and gave it to him…It was a Hallmark scene and I can still see the snow falling and hear and feel the wind as it made small drifts on the path in the pasture…That was a long time ago, but I still take a walk on Christmas Eve afternoon around four o’clock…Even though my father has been gone for seventeen years, he still goes along just like he did on that special trip so long ago”…

With that I wish you Joy and Peace…and wonderful memories…Merry Christmas…

Posted by: Jim E | December 16, 2017

Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…A Gift To You…

Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…A Gift To You…

 

I wrote this about 1995, give or take a few years, I really can’t pinpoint the year…I think I have shared this every year since then in some form or another…with some audience or another…read it to the students at school over the intercom…gave it as a Christmas letter…Oh, all kinds of ways…I always thought it was about my Grandma and her fruitcake she always made…but in the end it became something more…I don’t really know what it will be for you…but enjoy Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake and all the love that always came with it…

There are all kinds of jokes and stories about fruitcakes…there is one that says…there are only so many fruitcakes that have ever been made in the world and they are the same ones being given away every year…or the one that fruitcakes are good for something, like a doorstop…and another, that the post office this time of year puts out a warning…if you get a package with no return address, it is over 5 pounds and it smells funny, be careful, it may be a fruitcake…and it goes on and on…

But I can tell a story about fruitcake and about a woman who made them…it was my grandmother…Grandma Reggin, my mom’s mother…she is the only one I know who made fruitcake and did what is suppose to be done with them…gave them away…

Grandma was born in 1896…in fact she would have been 114 years old last July…she lived a little over 72 years…and she could cook and bake…and she made fruitcake…every year, I always ate a little fruitcake but never cared much for it…the candied fruit was a little much for me…but my Grandpa Reggin, he loved it…he loved the candied fruit, the nuts, the spices and the dark cake, full of flavor…he loved everything about fruitcake…and because he was a hero to me…I tried to eat it…but just couldn’t get into it…

My Grandma, at Christmas time, when people visited, would put out ample slices of fruitcake, and I would watch while the Hungry Boy cookies, the decorated sugar cookies and the date-filled cookies, that my Grandma was famous for, would disappear…but much of the fruitcake was still on the plate…

My Grandfather, as I said, loved fruitcake…and he really liked it with a real cup of coffee…(Grandpa was a coffee roaster for McGarvey Coffee Company in Minneapolis…I use to go and watch him roast those green beans that had no smell…into those dark beans we know as coffee beans…full of aroma)…and by a real cup of coffee, I mean he wanted one that, as he put it, “That I can stand a spoon up in.”…and maybe a little cream…and he would savor that fruitcake with that “real cup” of coffee…I can see that picture in my mind, and “I savor” that time with him…

So Grandma would make fruitcake…I mean she made fruitcake!…we lived next door to my grandparents and I went over there everyday…and close to Christmas every year she would begin to bake in earnest…she made pounds of fruitcake…wrapped them in waxed paper, “tin foil” and ribbon…and put them on the unheated covered back porch to keep fresh until she gave them away…she also made Hungry Boy cookies by the hundreds and other cookies to give away…she would give them to the paperboy, milkman, mailman, at the gas station, the meter reader…just anyone who provided service to her during the year…and off they would go with some cookies and of course a fruitcake to share at home…it was her gift of love at Christmas…

No doubt I loved Grandma very much…her modeling this love at Christmas…her unselfishness and devotion to others came out often…when anyone would criticize someone…she would say, “You just don’t understand.”…the idea was, if you only understood, you would not criticize…never an unkind word came out of her mouth, at least in my presence…she was without peer in that area of life…

I remember getting in the car with her and going down to pick up my Grandpa after work…I would go with her often when I was quite young…and especially the day or so before Christmas, when she and I would load up the old Plymouth with all the precious cargo she had made…go down to McGarvey’s and take the bounty into the office area and the giving would begin…

It was an large open office area…with all the desks in a row…and down at the far end, behind glass walls, were the offices of the president and other officers…and in we walked…Grandma in front and me trailing behind carrying my share…as we passed each desk, she would place some cookies, all wrapped up…and of course, a fruitcake at each desk…they all thanked her and talked to her as we went on with our Christmas giving…

And as we inched toward the president’s office, I was apprehensive…but my Grandmother was not…she was a simple woman…as people would look at her today and even then…but not to me and to those who knew her…she was kind, generous and loving…and did not hold a negative thought about anyone…nor that they would ever think anything negative about her…that was her attitude and it was disarming then as it is today…it didn’t really matter what the president or those in the other offices were doing, she would stand there patiently…and they would always stop what they were doing and come out to wish her “Merry Christmas”…talk for a while…thank her for her gifts and we would leave…I don’t know if anyone else could have got away with that…but she did…

So this wonderful woman, who spent some of her growing up years in an orphanage, because her mother could not take care of her…had four children…all raised in a house 20 feet by 40 feet…and out of that kitchen in that house came a legacy which I share with you today…one of giving and love…it was Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…

And at the end of her life…I sat on the hospital bed next to what had become a frail body of this marvelous woman…and leaned over and took her beautiful face in my hands…kissed her and told her again, the wonderful gospel story of Jesus…who came as a babe, who lived and died for her…who was waiting for her…to escort her home…and for the last time told her I loved her…and let her go…

I wish you Joy, Peace…and wonderful memories…Merry Christmas…

There is no question, this Christmas will be different…all kinds of people talked, warned, that it would be so…and it has been, thus far…Jeremy was a Christmas Junkie…he started with Christmas music, then Christmas movies…he had over 100 of them…he started watching them earlier all the time…he used to start them at the beginning of November…but the last few years, it has been the first part of October…I told him, you will be done with them before Thanksgiving even gets here…but it didn’t seem to sway him…and so by the beginning of November, he had watched them all…and snow or no snow, he love this time of year…

Jeremy 2011 in the snow023

You would think that would have cured him of doing it the next year…well, you would be wrong…or you may think it would have curb his enthusiasm for Christmas…wrong again…it never dampened his love for this time of year…he just filled in with all his plans for the season…”making his list and checking it twice”, certainly helped pass time…and since he was a “giver” not a taker…he spent time giving away what he had in abundance…himself…outside Kroger, the grocery store where he worked, the Salvation Army workers loved to see Jeremy every year…he planned his “Hungry Boy” cookie giveaways…who gets what, so to speak…his gift list was always long and this last year, because he was not working, he had to curtail his giving a bit…it broke his heart, that he could not “over-do” as he did every other year…but we tried to help with some of that, and to replace some the the cost, with other meaningful things on his heart…

Let me add something here that I sent to friends to describe him during this time of year…this was “his season” of the year…he loved everything about Thanksgiving through Christmas and New Years…he didn’t focus on “getting” but on giving…for someone who didn’t “make much” he sure gave it away…when passing by the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle by the door of his store, in and out with helping people with their groceries…he would just reach in his pocket and pull out his “coin purse” and dump it in the kettle…(he always had a bunch of change, he never counted out his coins to pay for anything…too hard or too long for him to do…he always paid for things with bills, therefore he always had lots of change)…it was always bulging with coins…it didn’t matter to him, he was a giver…and “in” they would go…every year the “ringers” always looked for Jeremy to come by…he always was a giver…great memories…

Christmas 2017 the first without Jeremy

So here we are…(this is a picture from my Lazy Boy looking toward our Christmas Tree this year, and toward where Jeremy would have been sitting in his Big Joe, beanbag chair, in front of the fireplace, in normal years)…celebrating the Christmas season, and celebrating Jeremy too…sooo, we started this by watching some of his favorite Christmas movies…now, we will not watch all 100 plus movies, but some of his most favorite…we started last week with one he loved, “A Dog Named Christmas”…a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie…to clarify, we loved this movie too…so seeing it again, even with tears, about a boy, handicapped but with such an upbeat view of life…and how he effected the lives of others…it wasn’t hard to make the comparison with Jeremy’s life…Judie and I talked about it after we saw the movie, the different way we saw the movie this year…and ones we saw since, we felt the same way…I guess, we have changed in a noticeable fashion, even in our own eyes…

  Christmas movies A Dog Named Christmas

Last night we watched two movies…some of you may know them…”The Christmas Box” and it’s sequel “Timepiece”, both excellent films…both about Christmas, both about life itself…Jeremy loved these two movies…and as usual, so do we…as we watched we again saw things we had not seen before, or at least understood before…

Christmas movies Christmas Box, Timepiece

Both movies have very good actors…professional in every way…both written by Richard Paul Evans, and takes you through the lives of these people…”The Christmas Box” takes Richard Thomas’ character through the story and challenges him to find the answer to the question, “What was the first gift of Christmas?”, the question put to him by Maureen O’Hara’s character…at the end he found the answer (and I’m really not spoiling the ending here)…he guessed, that the first gift was “a child”…and she said, yes…and quoted John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”…

In “Timepiece”, the message of the film was forgiveness…in this case forgiving the very person who took the life of someone you loved…the father in this case had to not only forgive that person but to forgive himself for failing in his responsibility as a father…it struck me then, something I have dealt with since Jeremy died…I know it is not healthy, nor wise to feel this way…but when I first went into his hospital room that early Sunday morning, and looked at Jeremy…felt him, kissed him…and told him, “Oh Jeremy, it was not suppose to end this way.”

Jeremy Peace Dove on door. March 19, 2017

…but was completely helpless to do anything to change the outcome…what could we have done differently…what else could we have done…after all the 47 years of taking him safely through all his surgeries, and other serious issues of his life…as his Dad, I was suppose to do it again…and I failed in this most final situation…Oh, I have dealt with this many times over these months, going into his hospital room and seeing him there, and helpless to change what was…but last night, I found an answer…I have to forgive myself…

So if Jeremy’s movies bring this much enjoyment…and closure in our lives…then I guess we will “watch on”…and continue to celebrate Jeremy’s life…and his clarity in how to live life to the fullest…

 

Older Posts »

Categories