May 20, 2013

Essay titled "Rain" by guest blogger, Jill Sanders

By Jill Sanders

    As she headed for her sister’s funeral three hours south and three days away Barbara said to me, “I hope it doesn’t rain.”
    Understanding the mood that rain sets, especially during a funeral service, I replied, “I hope it doesn’t rain for you, too.  I’ll be thinking of you.  Have a safe trip.”
    Three days later, near 2:00 pm – the hour of the funeral, I stepped outside to feed my cats across the yard under the portico of the unattached garage.  The sky overhead suggested rain may fall.  As I emptied the bag of cat food into their bowl, the rain droplets began.  “Oh, no,” I said as I thought of my friend; hoping that the rain had not traveled south.
    As I walked back toward my house I noticed the raindrops gently falling on my arms.  I remembered a saying that was shared with me, “Some people walk in the rain and get wet, others feel the rain and know joy.”  I realized that I had been thinking of getting wet.  I stopped myself from that thought and decided to feel the rain; something I had not done before.  As each drop splattered on my arms, I noticed the cool sensation it produced.  I thought of the miracle of rain as it watered all of the growing life surrounding me.  I looked up toward the sky and let the water sprinkle my face, as I opened my mouth to catch a few of the thirst quenching droplets.  I noticed the leaves on the trees turned upward as if to capture and cradle the drops for their own vitality.  Rain, such a wondrous miracle I thought as it began to rain harder.
    I noticed a hole in my graveled driveway capturing a small pool of water.  With my flip flops on my feet, I splashed my foot down into it; and thought of my childhood days when I would splash about in the warmed summer puddles after a rain and be quite happy.  I scurried up the driveway to the road remembering how rain would coax worms from their underground tunnels.  To my delight there were three worms squiggling around on the pavement.  They were reddish brown and plump.  Along the side of the road there were narrow trenches recently dug out by the county road workers.   Soft gurgling noises emanated from them as they channeled the rain downward with the sloping road, delighting my ears.  Further up next to the road, in a divot made by a tractor, a small pool formed where speckled wood frogs were soaking as they made high pitch croaking sounds.  With the drops hitting the pavement as if creating a gentle back beat, the song of rain permeated the air. 
    I was getting wet; but I didn’t care.  My husband yelled out to me from the front door, “What the hell are you doing out there.  Have you lost all sense?  Come back inside.”
    “I’m feeling the rain!” I yelled back.
    “You’re doing what?”
    “I’m feeling the rain.  Come on out and join me.  It’s great!”
    Well, he just stepped away from the door back into the house.  I am sure he was thinking I had plumb lost my mind.  I saw the clouds sporting all shades of gray and purple roll by.  There was a hint of sunshine poking through one small area as if it were saying, “I’m still here.  Just wait a bit.”  Then it disappeared back into the grayness.
    The ripple of thunder could be heard in the far distance.  The storm was picking up steam.  Suddenly a wide bolt of lightning lit the sky and a large cracking noise filled my ears; as if Thor himself had cracked a large whip through the stars.  I knew when to quit; not wanting to be among the trees of the surrounding forest as the heart of the storm would pass by.
    I came inside bearing a big grin on my face.  I had felt the rain.  My husband looked at me as if I was crazy.  As I stood soaking wet on the welcoming mat, I motioned for my husband to come to me.  I am sure he was expecting a big old wet kiss.  Instead, I shook my body as violently as I could to allow some of the clinging drops to fall upon him.  “What’s wrong with you?” he said in obvious un-appreciation for the gift.
    “Nothing,” I replied. “Nothing at all.”
    “Well, I don’t know about that,” he muttered as he picked up a nearby dish towel and wiped the few droplets off of his arms.
    I scampered upstairs and donned some sweats.  Once again warmed, I joined my husband on the couch as we watched some NBA tournament play.  I couldn’t get the thought of my friend out of my mind as I watched the rain through the window, now gentle again, fall softly from the sky.
    The rain is a metaphor, my brain talked to me.  It is a metaphor for your friend and all of her emotions.  The sad side of rain pours forth for her loss.  It usurps the tears from her eyes and takes them back into the fold in a cleansing motion.  It comes from her sorrow. She cannot know sorrow unless it has been built on the foundation of great love. Love breeds sorrow, as the illusion of love’s loss weaves its way into her soul.  The rain takes her painful loss, and moves it away from her.  This is the wet side of rain.
    The feeling side of rain will remind her of all the joys and the happy tears. There were the times when she was so glad to see her sister that she cried.  And there were the times that they were so happy or silly in the moment that they laughed together until they cried. They shared tears of happiness at births, graduations and weddings.  The rain was reminding her of her tears of joy, not just her sorrow.  The momentary sunburst spoke to that.  
    It all moved me.  Yes, my friend was experiencing a great loss; but the sadness was hers alone, not the departed’s.  For, in fact, she had not lost her sister at all.  Her sister had only been momentarily displaced in form and was actually dwelling more snugly and closer within her heart than before her transformation.  Her sister would be there with her more often than when she was on Earth with her body.  Her sister would speak to her more frequently in the quiet and still moments of oft remembrances.  They would bond again, even more tightly, as her sister was now free to walk with her in joy day to day.
    Her sister freed my friend of all of her worries for her; for now she was safe, free from pain and dancing as never before.  She was not gone; she was merely waiting and preparing to greet her again, to embrace her and care for her as she had done so many days earlier on Earth.
    Now I see rain differently.  I do not see the cold wetness it can bring.  I see the life giving properties it holds.  I will smile as I think of it as tears of joy spilling from the eyes of our loved ones, gone before us, as they check in with us from the heavens.
    Yes, I thought.  Rain is good, if we can only feel it. 



"There are some griefs so loud
They could bring down the sky.
And there are griefs so still
None knows how deep they lie." May Sarton

I'm old enough now to have suffered many different kinds of grief. It seems to me the older I get and the more grief I encounter, it buries itself deep inside my soul.
I feel fortunate to have my faith in Jesus Christ to combat the grief of losing a loved one whom I know  is in Heaven.
The afternoon that Sue died, shortly after her soul departed, my husband was standing in a farm field above our home, and he looked up. For a brief moment, he saw my sister dancing among the clouds. Our daughter came about that time to tell him my sister was gone. Her favorite hymn was played at the funeral.
"Dancing Shoes," by Squire Parsons.
"I'm gonna dance all over heaven in my dancing shoes." I know exactly where she is and what she is doing."
Have a blessed day whatever you are doing!!!


May 6, 2013

My Sister Donna Sue

 I haven't been on here for awhile because of issues beyond my control. BUT I've missed blogging and my blogger friends. Hope all is well with you!

I made a quick trip to Tampa recently to visit my sister "Sue" who was quite ill and in the hospital as well.

We were able to have five days together before I had to leave. While I knew she was gravely ill, we shared many light moments and many moments that we were just big sister and little, hugging and giving each other advice. She wanted to take me shopping while I was there, she said, "To buy you something pretty." My sister had perfected the art of shopping like no other human I know. She could tell you which was the very best mattress to buy. What household applicance would outlast all others and first and foremost she could tell you where the best clothes for women could be purchased in the very latest styles. She had one of each item in her closet.

I borrowed a beautiful white cardigan one day to wear to the hospital over a thin shirt because I often got chilled while there. When I entered her room she admired the sweater and said I believe I have one just like it. I said I believe this one is yours. Oh, she said. Well take it home. Nope, I said you might need it. She insisted I take it and I did. So I'm wearing it this week in her honor to keep off the chill of the rainy Ohio day as I read her obituary.

She was and will always be my special sister. She baby sat me from when I was six to about eleven. She looked out for me, loaned me her clothes, made sure I was all right while our mom worked.
We had a step dad but he was often gone, working shift work in the local plant.

I'll miss her for many reasons but the one most outstanding is that I'm not sure anyone will ever love me again as she did, unconditionally. She thought I was perfect. How many of us have a person in our lives like this?

Here's the poem I wrote for her birthday one year.

    DONNA’S BIRTHDAY               

Oh, Donna Dear, your Birthday's here,
Whatever shall I do? Dance without shoes?

Sing you the Blues? But, ugh, those reviews!

You're near to my heart, Sister. You gave me my start.
So here's a poem-present and I hope your day's pleasant.

I'll start with, "I love you, but, will that do,
For a sister who loaned me her white buck shoes,

And her very last bottle of Halo Shampoo?

You danced and twirled and my straight hair you curled.
A black-eyed beauty, you took serious this sister-duty,

While I spent my days in a summer haze
You walked us through that sister-maze.

Can you remember the smell of that sweet clover?
"Red Rover, Red Rover, Send my sister, Donna, on over!"

Oh, to spend one more day of my youth with you.
We'd even invite cousin Anna and cousin Sue.

For old times sake, fudge and popcorn we'd make.
And, to the Boogie Man an iron skillet I'd take!

Maybe we'll never make it to the moon,
But can you come over real ... uh, ... how do you spell SOON?

In memory of my aggravating ways
And our letter-writing days.

I love you still.
I always will.

Your Little Sister,   Bobbie

Obituary of Donna Sue Hoffman

Donna Sue Hoffman, 73, of Sun City Center, FL went home to be with the Lord May 3, 2013.
She was born in Beaver, WV to the late Cecil and Ollie Null (Bailey), and raised in Putnam County.  Donna was a homemaker and a member of the First Baptist Church of Ruskin, FL.
She is preceded in death by her sister, Maxine Snodgrass, and brother, Ralph Null.
She is survived by her loving husband of 57 years, Mr. James "Brownie" Hoffman; daughters Deborah Kay Stegner and Teresa Ann Vollmer; sisters Ella Warren and Barbara Whittington; grandsons Kenny and Kevin Grantham, and special family friend John Zuchowski. She leaves to cherish her memory many nieces and nephews.
A tribute to her life will be 2:00 pm, Friday, May 10, 2013 at Gatens-Harding Funeral Home Chapel with Pastor Delbert Hawley officiating. Burial will follow in Walker Chapel Cemetery.   The family will receive friends 6 to 8 pm Thursday at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to Life Path Hospice, 3725 Upper Creek Drive, Ruskin, FL 33573.

Rest in peace dear Susie and hold a place at the supper table for me. I'll be along one day...