Yesterday morning I woke up early from a night of unsettling dreams. I immediately had a sense that something was wrong. It was too early to call anyone to check on them so I went back to sleep. I didn’t awaken again until about ten o’clock. Harold came in to wake me just about the time I headed toward the kitchen for coffee. “Are you okay,” he asked.
I said, “No.” I didn’t feel okay. I didn’t feel rested and the rainfall contributed to my full body ache. After my first cup of coffee, I realized it was April 17, Easter morning.
April 17, 2005, was the day that was the beginning of the end of my first life. It was the day we knew for sure that Jim wouldn’t be with us much longer. It was a day of sadness, trying to give comfort to him as he lay dying. We played tape after tape of his favorite music, held his hand, and stroked his brow.
Jim always said that death was closing one door and opening another. In the early morning hours of April 18, he closed the door on his earthly life and opened the door to eternity.
Life Goes On
Excerpt from Indelible
One time on my way back from Kansas City, I pulled off the interstate when I saw the sign for the Missouri Veterans Cemetery at Higginsville. I stopped at Walmart hoping to find some flowers and instead settled for a colorful plant in a pot decorated with two birds facing each other. As I left Walmart, I drove through McDonald’s and bought a cheeseburger and fries.
A few miles out of town, I pulled through the gate into the cemetery and drove to the columbarium. I had the peaceful, quiet cemetery all to myself.
I shared my water with the plant and placed it beneath Jim’s memorial. I sat on a bench and ate my lunch while I reflected on our life together. Jim would have looked forward to my impending retirement and trips to see family and friends. He would have wanted to spend time animal watching in the Rocky Mountains he grew to love so much. He would have been so proud of our children and grandchildren. He would have loved showing the grandkids his childhood places and sharing his stories and memories. That was what made Jim, Jim.
We would have spent time having those soul-searching conversations about life, death, and the time between. Time. We ran out of it.
We were always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up. I remember when Rob was young, he used to say, “Curtis and I want to go to Colorado and be mountain men.” One time my granddaughter told me that she wanted to be “Barbie” when she grew up.
I saw a TV show where grownups were saying what they wanted to be when they “grew up.” One person said, “When I grow up, I want to give more than I get.”
Well, I never wanted to be Barbie or a mountain man, but I certainly admire the idea of giving more than I get. It’s only natural for us to look out for numero uno. After all, we’re looking at the world through one set of eyes and from one perspective. With our limited vision of the world around us, some find it easier to be selfish than to be selfless.
Does it do any good to measure what we have accumulated against what others own? Coveting another’s possessions creates a miserable existence. Those who have little might envy those who have more, or those who have a lot might look down on people who have less.
Some people are innately generous, for example a child who gives his or her favorite toy to a friend. More common are the children who grab a coveted toy out of another child’s hands.
The odd thing is that often people who are the most sharing are those who have the least. Maybe it isn’t so strange after all. People who have accumulated a lot of wealth sometimes do so by pinching each penny until it screams. They’ve worked hard for what they have, and they don’t think anyone else deserves the fruit of their labor. Wealth can be a prison of fear and anxiety.
I came from a home with two hard-working parents who struggled to provide for a family with eight children. We never had a lot, but Mom and Dad instilled into each of us that a person’s worth was not tied to how many material possessions he had amassed.
Instead of telling us to go out into the world and try to be rich, our parents guided us toward being independent, hard-working adults who took satisfaction in being good people. We were taught that we weren’t better than the less fortunate, and we weren’t less than the wealthy. We were raised in a share and share alike environment, and it has lasted each of us for a lifetime. There is not a selfish member in my family!
One of the most generous people I’ve known in my lifetime was Jim. He would not only give someone the shirt off his back, he actually gave my brother the buttons off his uniform. He gave away a priceless tater bug mandolin and a valuable Gibson guitar. I would say throughout his life, he gave much more than he received. Greed wasn’t in his vocabulary.
Although dementia greedily snatched him away physically, he left an indelible impact on the lives he touched. Throughout his life, a circle of family and friends surrounded him with love.
was one of the people who gave more than he got during his lifetime. No, he
didn’t leave a monetary inheritance. What he left was a richness of memories,
stories, and love of family. That is admirable in itself, but I think even more
important is that when he left this world, he left more than he took.
Copyright © April 2022 by L.S. Fisher