Sunday, December 23, 2007

"Mr. George"

That's what my children called him. He was a lovely, gentle man, one of those who meant it when he said "I will pray for you." He and his wife married later in life, too old for children, but they took an interest in their friend's kids - we would often see him at a soccer game or a hockey games that one of the kids was in. If there was more than one child from our church on a team - he'd be sure to show up at least once in their season, and often his lovely wife would be with him.

Ten years ago, he was diagnosed with something I can't name - a cancer of the blood, I think. And in the long difficult years that have followed - I have never seen George or his wife complain. I have never seen a hint of bitterness at the life they have been called to. I don't think anybody ever has.

The end, when it came, was mercifully swift and yet still drawn out. In early November, it became clear that the options were running out - all the drugs had been tried save one, and George's beseiged body could not handle that one.

I think that's where trusting God makes a difference to my life personally - from a worldly perspective, all this was and is not fair. His wife - they married in their 40's, and had only 14 years together. George himself - a strong believer, a gentle man, a prayer warrior - how can these few short years be the number of days he was allotted?

And yet. I have no doubt that this, this, was God's good, pleasing and perfect will for this couple.

Pray for his wife, those of you who pray. There are some dark days ahead, which she will meet head on. She doesn't shy away from anything, and she will wrestle this grief to the ground until it blesses her.

"To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."

I wonder what that's like. I wonder how soon the joy starts. I wonder if it is tinged with sadness, initially, at the separation from those you love best.

I wonder if you have a body, in the presence of the Lord, the day you die. Do you still interpret your world through sight, taste, touch and hearing, smell? Do you see your wife, down here, gasping at the pain of parting, even while she is pleased that you are finally free from pain?

Rest in peace, "Mr. George", if resting is indeed what happens when you move "from mystery into mystery".

You will be missed.

Friday, December 21, 2007

But it seemed like such a good idea ...

1. Buying a book of "Very Easy Sudoku". I couldn't find "Sudoku for the Lobotomized" but apparently, that would have been more my level.

2. Telling my husband I'd get up and drive our friend to the airport at 6 a.m. (although shocking my coworkers by showing up 2 1/2 hours earlier than usual was a lot of fun.)

That's it, the whole post, unless I can just change the topic. Which I just did.

I called home at 10 to 8 to make sure the kids were up and had no last minute needs I could solve over the phone, and B monotoned and yawned into the phone and was generally his perky morning self. In the background, I could hear* the Christmas lights my Dad loved so much playing a Christmas carol and A chirping along - well, sort of. The lights were playing a song and A was singing a different one. I think the only reason the musical train wasn't on is she hadn't thought of that yet.

I love Christmas.

This year I have a surprise for my Mom that I was going to tell you all about but maybe my brother reads this blog, or maybe he never has, but would come here JUST TODAY because sometimes life is like that, and find out what I'm giving Mom and want one too, or realize he's getting one too, so - it's going to be a Hallmark moment. Bring tissue. I'll tell you about it some other time.

Also I've been playing Spyro on the kids GameBoy. (In order to have something in common with the children. It's not like *I* like games.) I found a walkthrough online, written presumably while someone was playing the game and writing down what happens when. A random excerpt might read like this:

Okay flame that ice crystal and you've freed the fairy. Go left from here, and jump up onto the platform where you'll find the key for the treasure chest. Flame the Rhynoc there before ...

You get the drift.

Here's my walkthrough. I wrote it just the same way I presume the other one was written, but it seems a bit different:

Turn the GameBoy on and watch all the pretty screens.

Hit Start.

Eeek! A Rhynoc! Push the A button. Again. Oh wait that's jump. Push the B but -

Hit Start.

B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B. *Phew* Okay go left but be careful not to jump in the wa -

Hit Start.

Hey the Rhynoc doesn't come back. Okay I've avoided the water - now I have to ...oh that's a cliff.

Hit Start.

It's very time consuming but there are fairies waiting to be freed!

* yes, hear. My Dad had a geeky appreciation for gadgets. Inexpensive gadgets. I keep the lights because my Dad would have been deeply gratified by how much my kids love the "music" they produce. Also they lit up when I plugged them in, which is somethng not all Christmas lights do.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Because some things should be remembered

I'd heard of this before, but not this much detail. It was the last few sentences that got to me.

This is straight out of today's Writer's Almanac.

It was on this day in 1917 that an accidental explosion destroyed a quarter of the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was the height of World War I, and Halifax was serving as an important port city for many of the ships carrying supplies for the battlefront. One of the ships coming into the port that day was a French supply ship called the Mont Blanc, carrying 200 tons of TNT, 2300 tons of other explosives, as well as ten tons of cotton, and thirty-five tons of highly flammable chemicals stored in vats on the ship's upper deck. On its way into port, the Mont Blanc collided with a Norwegian freighter, which started a fire, and the crew of the Mont Blanc piled into lifeboats and then paddled frantically away.

The fire on the Mont Blanc drew a crowd of onlookers along the shore of the channel. The docks filled with spectators, trams slowed down, people stood at office windows and on factory roofs to see the blaze. Then, a few minutes after the fire had started, the Mont Blanc exploded. It was the single most powerful man-made explosion at that point in human history.

The blast wave of water hit the shore, sweeping away buildings, bridges, roads, vehicles, and people. City streets split open. Houses, churches, schools, and factories collapsed. Virtually every building in the city had its windows broken. About a quarter of the city, was completely destroyed. More than 2,000 people were killed and more than 9,000 were injured. It was the worst disaster of any kind in Canadian history.

One of the only people who had known about the cargo of the ship was a dispatcher at the yardmaster's office. As soon as he'd realized what was happening, he began telegraphing warnings around the city, and he kept sending out warnings even though he knew that an explosion could come at any minute. He died at his post.