Mary Beth Writes

I found a plaque at Goodwill (I lost the photo I took of it...) that made me laugh out loud.

I asked Jesus, "How much do you love me?"   

"This much." he answered.

Then he stretched out his arms and died.

I understand the heartfelt statement of faith and gratitude, but wow, if you are going to laminate your faith statement onto a plaque – maybe run it past a writer first?

This sounds as if the Son of God was doing okay until he encountered the Sins of You.

So anyways… D is for Death.

Oh yeah, this will be short and easy.

Central statement of this essay; death sucks.

But also; death brings weird clarity.

What you miss after a person dies is a black light that will tell you what you had.

When my dad died when I was a young teenager I realized I was no longer afraid of getting yelled at. There’s a legacy, huh? I also lost family meals at the dining table. (It was just mom and I after Dad was gone. We ate a lot of hamburgers and pie at the Swedish Coffee Pot. ) I lost an exacting person who possibly, if I had excelled, I could have pleased. I never got to have a dad who said, “Hey that was good!” I missed those stories one wonders about when you start living your own adult life, when you try hard things, when you try to be a leader, when you parent your own kids.  I would have liked to ask what becoming an adult was like for him. I have clues, but I don’t really know what he would have said. So death shows you what you miss, what you don’t miss, what you forget to ask, what you didn’t get.

Let’s talk dogs, not dads. It’s easier. Not easy, just easier…

When older pets die, invariably the first thing one doesn’t miss is the strain, work, and expense it was to take care of them in their decline. The lack of responsibility is a relief. 

But as time goes by there comes that day when you are standing in the kitchen talking to someone and you fall into that old story about “that night it was freezing cold, and you were slow on the walk, and you were also busy talking with our son, and Becky casually brought a frozen bunny head into the house, a snack she had found for herself along the way…” And now you are laughing so hard you are weeping.  

When those sad and hilarious tears hit – there is one of the mysteries of death.

You always knew you loved that wonderful dog but most of the time your love was a pleasant background hum in your life. In that retelling of a great old story, that old  love piles up like snow in front of a snowplow. Suddenly it is all over and around you, a great big wash of clear, sweet affection.

Death also seems to take all the love there was and reduce it into itself like a Haute Cuisine French sauce. And every once in a while you will be surprised by the steam, aroma, and the pungent glorious taste of that remembered joy and love. It messes you up bad (bring on the hankies) but you could care less. Your grief is right here now – but for this bit of time, grief is also joy, thankfulness and a profoundly deep need to laugh and be happy.

I don’t know why this is. Certainly not everyone we lose affects us like this. But some of them, blessed be, stir us still. The hole where they are gone demands to be filled with something good and that’s about as close to “love never dies” as I can understand.

Logically, you wouldn’t hurt this badly and you wouldn’t be wiping snot and tears off your face if you had not shared your life with that goofball mutt for 14 years. But who’s kidding who? She was one of the shiny ribbons woven into mortality. Even now, years later, telling Becky stories is STILL a happiness that vibrates in me when I remember her. Nothing in my regrets the day our gangly son brought home this gangly pup who would raise our kids and then break our hearts. Death took her, but left us bigger and better.

Death cracks and breaks us. Sometimes I think that is the point. The cracks are where light comes in and shines out. 

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" She was one of the shiny ribbons woven into mortality" . What a beautiful way to put it! And I love your new website. Congrats to you and LEN!
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks. And thanks for letting us know this wasn't working at first. And yeps, I am thinking of your mom, also. Shiny ribbons through our lives.

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Happy Birthday to Len

11/30/2022 

Today is Len’s birthday. I told him this morning I might write about him but I would let him read whatever I said first. He said not to run it past him, he’d like the surprise of reading it when you all do. Let’s see what I come up with.

1. This is cute. Len was born in Chicago’s Passavant Memorial Hospital which was the grandparent hospital to Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital - where two of our grandkids were born.

Stories, Q Club, Us

The photo is not by Len or me, its from I Love Canada on FB. I've seen a sky like that just once. 

11/21/2022

Last week I read two books about young people who left their homes. They experienced some good and too many rough experiences and they couldn’t go back until they figured out how to not be who they used to be. Both novels knocked my socks off.

The People You Keep by Allison Larkin

Covid Diary #979 - Still Paying Attention?

11/17/2022

Yes, it’s been 979 days since Friday the 13th, March 2020, when everything changed.

Last Saturday one of our kids visited for several hours with their kids. It was fun though our kid looked tired. They said they’d taken a Covid test that morning and it was negative. They figured it was the wine and rich foods they’d shared the evening before with friends at the end of a very busy week.

Next Day - What Are You Seeing?

11/9/2022

It was a late night last night, wasn’t it? Len worked at a polling place 6:30 AM until 10:30 PM. He said the actual experience is a lot like working retail (which he has not done since he was 22). Stand up most of the time, pleasantly say the same thing over and over. Wonder if lunch is soon.  

Professional reporters and pundits are talking a lot about “what just happened”, but heck, we are noticing interesting things, too.  Let’s talk about what We The People saw and heard and are watching now.

Here are some things catching my attention.

Election Day

11/8/2022 

So many times I’ve thought things were going to be okay, and then they weren’t. My dad had that heart attack and the kid who was MB back then told herself to not overthink the drama because things always turn out more or less okay. Then the next day he died.

We lost a pregnancy far enough along that we had a name picked out and a crib in which to put that child. For a week I had all the misery and cramps that go with miscarrying and I still thought somehow it was going to work out okay.

That Beep-Beep-Beeping Moment.

In spring Len got a $100 traffic ticket when he turned right at a corner we’ve been turning right at for seven years. However, construction had started and there were orange barrels and cones everywhere – plus a small sign NOT facing the street Len was on, telling drivers to not turn there.

Len went back later that day and took photos. Len called the city to mention that if they posted a sign that actually faced the traffic, the city could save the cost of the cop parked there ticketing drivers.

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