Not even a hint

Another three-month segment is finished. As Bud says, for us life is measured in quarters marked at the end by a progress report from a team of oncologists.

The report at this time is good. I think, very good! The oncologist indicates that there are no worries, actually there is not even a hint of anything to worry about. The radiation oncologist who follows the issues in the brain indicated everything there looks good, as well. All sights are totally dormant. The neurologist did not need to see him and feels that there is no need to connect again until the next three-month review.

Once again, I share with you a report that brings thankfulness to our hearts. We rejoice that God has chosen to work this way for us. Even so, we are very aware that there are those in our community who are grieving at this time as a dear loved one has gone to heaven. God loves each of us with an everlasting love and I know that He grieves along with this family during their heartache. We are sad as well as the loss of a friend is difficult; but there will be a glorious reunion of friends and family in a future day. This friend will be there to greet all who love the Lord as he did.

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Pooh said it . . . (1)

I love quotes. I enjoy concise statements that hold profound thoughts. I have quote signs in my house. I believe that these little signs help keep us focused and on track all through out the day. I have lately become aware of numerous quotes by a loveable bear, Winnie the Pooh.

journey

“Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved.”

So what’s in your today or tomorrow? Lots of problems that you have been staring you in the face for some time now? That’s the thing about problems, they just hang around and we feel like we always have to be conquering them. And once one is solved, it seems there are always more to fill the space.

We are all on the same page about the latest problem of Covid-19. This problem has been stealing quality time for weeks and weeks. It promises to steal away our summer, and our autumn and maybe even our winter by affecting our vacations, our harvests, and our employment. Obviously, I have no answers to this problem—lots of opinions, but nothing of substance.

But the journey–I am so encouraged by those of you who are still making a wonderful journey for yourselves and your families. On Facebook, I asked for people to share “one great thing the little people in your house did today!”

The responses were truly delightful and included:
Molly JT – Belly laughed…with one another, again and again. Time together is bringing them even closer.

Kimberly – They actually got along all day and hung out together.

Jordan – Read a story together like we do every night before bed and with the little babe, snuggled.

Katrina – Helped clean up the kitchen.

Joy – He wanted to talk about Jesus a lot at bedtime and wanted to pray on his own. Without prompting, he prayed, “Jesus, You are Lord and God.”

Chris – Sang the entire Hallelujah Chorus with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on video.

Tricia – Our little girl has been saying “I love God” all on her own, many times a day!

Aimee – He climbed up in the chair with me and cuddled for a half hour before bedtime.

And I love Tara’s contribution:
My kids brought all their outside toys into the turkey coop and set up a little amusement park so the turkeys could have fun!

Such entertaining and creative things happening in your homes! Remembering that we are on a journey together may be just the thing to help us focus on the good experiences rather than the problems. We all know that our problems are always going to be with us, but how easy it is to forget that the other people in our homes are what makes the journey exciting, fun, and memorable.

When we each come to our own journey’s end, we will not be thinking about all the problems we solved or the many that were elusive. We will be thinking about those dear people who experienced with us the joys and heartaches, the triumphs and the tragedies, the moments and the milestones. May we each find ways every day to celebrate our journey and experience the great things that are in our homes, just waiting to be noticed.

Celebrate your life and cherish memories!

Feel free to add a comment about some good things happening in your homes . . .

 

Not about the works . . .

Bud is home.

It is pretty amazing that he only arrived there Wednesday afternoon and is home today. He has seen a great deal in these few days and he was prepared to stay longer. In the last 24-hour period he was there, he noticed a significant slow-down in the number of calls for initial transport, so it seemed like a good time to transition out.

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The vehicles in this lane are waiting for entrance into a hospital morgue area for transporting bodies.

During his time there, he did have opportunity for interaction with people in various settings. While waiting in line to pick up a body, he visited with a Muslim chaplain. The man shared that he felt that this is a good time for people to be doing good works so that their good can outweigh their bad in hopes of going to heaven. Their conversation touched several topics which Bud found interesting to learn about from the man’s perspective. And where he could he tried to lay a little seed. He pointed out to the man that we can all know for sure if we are going to heaven and it’s not about what we do, but about who we know.

A message I heard this morning pointed out that our good works are not about the deed, they are about the heart and the relationship. I understood that God does not see the deed, He sees the heart, because of the relationship. So, I surmise that if God does not recognize the person doing the good work the deed goes unnoticed.

How often do I perceive the good things that your child does? Not often, especially if I have never met your child. But just let my child do something kind or thoughtful and I take notice! The two children could have done the exact same thing, but because I have a relationship with one of them his/her deeds mean something. The same way with God.

But our good works are not what has ensured our entrance into heaven. They are a reflection of the relationship that we have with Him. The faith part was first, and then the good works come forth from there.

Perhaps Bud planted enough of a seed in this meeting to inspire more investigation.

This is where Bud worked while he was Downstate.

Last Responders

Most of them don’t feel like heroes. They are normal, flawed people just fulfilling their purpose in life. Most of the time, their purpose isn’t spotlighted by the world. Most of them are usually chagrined by the attention and just want to serve. Bud is one of those people. He went to the NY epicenter because 1) he is able — many of our hometown heroes must be here to serve locally, or to care for growing families, and 2) because serving families is his purpose. And he is one of those people who does not count himself as a hero. When you just want to serve an amazing God, you know who the real Hero is.

But there come those critical moments in history when these people, in “doing what they do” are understood as a crucial component of our society. People are finding thoughtful ways to show their appreciation for the service received from the responders — first, middle and last. Here’s an example of what one business in Queens is doing for the “heroes”:

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Sent via text from Bud today.

In my feed came a posting from Pat McGowan, one of my instructors from Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary science. I have permission to include it here:

 

“Some days all that can be done
is to salvage one sadness from the mass
of sadnesses, to bear one body home,
to lay the dead out among their people,
organize the flowers and casseroles,
write the obits, meet the mourners at the door,
drive the dark procession down through town,
toll the bell, dig the hole, tend the pyre.
It’s what we do. The daylong news is dire—
full of true believers and politicos,
bold talk of holy war and photo-ops.
But here, brave men and women pick the pieces up.
They serve the living, caring for the dead.
Here the distant battle is waged in homes.
Like politics, all funerals are local.”

And Pat concludes the post with a heart-felt greeting:

Thank you to my friends and colleagues who are the “Last Responders”.
Stay safe and stay strong.

 

Not in Kansas

IMG_0446This is a photo that Bud sent me via text, with the caption that said, “Verrazano Bridge – not in Kansas anymore.” He took this on his way to Coney Island on Wednesday.

Navigating the City was nothing like usual. This photo was taken during “rush hour” but the normal rush was nonexistent. It appears that the situation held a similar surreal quality such as when Dorothy found herself in the Land of Oz.

The purpose of this trip to Coney Island is to answer a call for assistance with the many death cases occurring in the area. In September, 2001 there was a call for funeral directors in New York City.  At that time, Bud did not feel that he was in a position to help.

Once again, there is a call for funeral directors. The providers there are overwhelmed with the number of cases and need help with transporting the deceased, embalming or cremation prep, and many other tasks. Bud has been thinking of going for a couple of weeks, as this time he feels he should be there.

One of the funeral homes he contacted had, at the time of his initial contact with them, 109 cases to work through, with more calls coming. For comparison, funeral homes that are members of the National Funeral Director’s Association handle, on average, 113 cases per year. This one facility is working to serve one hundred and nine families, and their call rate is currently about 30 new calls per day.

On his first partial day, Bud has simply been transporting decedents from the morgue at Mount Sinai Hospital to the funeral home. The photo below was captioned: Ramp to temporary morgue, Trailer 2. (The temporary morgue is not the house in the background, rather it is the white trailer.)

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In my reading, I’ve learned that most hospitals in the area have morgue capacity for about 12, but there are some that can handle up to 25. This has resulted in the installation of the temporary morgues.

As you consider the situation in New York City, whatever you may think of the entire Covid-19 scenario, please remember that grief is running rampant there. Vast numbers are managing grief every day and their pain is deep and real. Please pray for those families and friends who are navigating the valley of the shadow of death.

Please pray for Bud. It may be that he will be the most help by transporting, but whatever his assigned task, it will be challenging simply because of the sheer numbers involved.

 

Valley of the Shadow

Click here to take a look at this video:  I love the message of this song. Never alone.

valley

Life in the valley. What valley? The valley of the shadow. We always think of this phrase in terms of the “valley of the shadow of death” as referenced in Psalm 23. But this world is beset by shadows of all types and sizes . . .

Shadow of sorrow
Shadow of disappointment
Shadow of betrayal
Shadow of misunderstanding
Shadow of smarminess
Shadow of doubt
Shadow of hurt
Shadow of isolation
Shadow of separation
Shadow of criticism
Shadow of castigation
Shadow of humiliation

In order to have a shadow there must be light. In this light, some obstacle must insert between the observer and the source, stopping the light — resulting in an area of darkness. Too often, the obstacles are us.

Perhaps you are the obstacle between me and the light. Perhaps I am the obstacle between you and the light. Perhaps I am the obstacle between me and the light – meaning, I can even create my own obstacles. Did you ever hear someone say “I can’t get out of my own way?”

The obstacle always results in an area of darkness. Never have I seen a bright shadow, or a glowing shadow, or a radiant shadow. Just like no one ever really saw a radiant pig; sorry, Charlotte, to shine the light on that myth. Shadows are dark—and darker.

Never have I seen a luminous shadow, but I have seen a shimmering reflection. A reflection happens when light bounces off an object. The surface of the object determines the directness or the amount of diffusion the reflection has. But never does bouncing light result in darkness—only light.

You know where I’m going with this. Jesus is the light, the Light of the world. Those who know Him have a daily choice to make. Will I be an obstacle that results in darkness? Or will I choose to pass the light along, reflecting brilliance from Him? Some days this is a moment by moment choice for me. I struggle with attitude; I struggle with purpose; I struggle with motivation. Let’s face it, I struggle with so many things that it might be easier to list what I’ve mastered.

Here’s the list:             .

This is why I have to constantly strive to turn those shadows out and allow the light to shine. I want to turn those shadows above into something other.

reflections of joy
reflections of contentment
reflections of loyalty
reflections of insight
reflections of sincerity
reflections of certainty
reflections of healing
reflections of community
reflections of unity
reflections of approval
reflections of praise
reflections of affirmation
Reflections of grace.

reflection

Not cancelled . . .

I’m feeling it, so I’m sure that you are as well, that it would be wonderful if we could move on from the current health crisis. COVID-19 has hijacked our entire existence and even our deaths, and as such, we all need to adapt. Yet funerals still happen and need to happen. Mourning does not stop for a virus. Grieving continues, and in some families, is amplified because of the virus.

We continue to offer viewings and funeral services for the immediate family. For years we have offered free webcasting services. This service is even more valuable to you now in the midst of the current crisis. Given the private nature of funerals, our streaming is password protected, giving you total control over your guest list. You choose your password and give it to those friends and family that you’d like to participate.

I love these words by  Jamie Tworkowski from the TWLOHA blogsite:

“Conversations will not be cancelled.
Relationships will not be cancelled.
Love will not be cancelled.
Songs will not be cancelled.
Reading will not be cancelled.
Self-care will not be cancelled.
Hope will not be cancelled.”

Adding to the list:

Mourning will not be cancelled.
Compassion will not be cancelled.
Encouragement will not be cancelled.

We are here to help and offer hope. Click on the image below for a story of hope . . .

Promise-Blog

 

Winter Wonderland

Friday was a beautiful snowy day in Andover — and in much of the state. Alfred University and State both called snow days and area schools were closed.

But in Manhattan, Bud was scurrying down to get a report on the MRI and CT scan that he had scheduled the day before. We had decided that this time, I would stay in Andover and “tend to business.” I know that many of you know just how fidgety you can get in the days leading up to progress scans and reports. Though we were not expecting bad news, we also don’t want to presume upon God. We ask Him, in faith, to heal completely and, in the absence of that, to work effectively through the medication.

Part way through the morning I got the text “Everything looks good.” There were good friends here when I got the text and we rejoiced together. Later, when I had a minute, I put the news on our prayer chain and more of you rejoiced with us.

Bud arrived home later in the evening and gave me the more complete report — but the end result is still the same — “Everything looks good.” Thank you for your prayers — there is nothing more meaningful to us than to know that our friends and loved ones are praying on Bud’s behalf.

Likewise, we continue to pray for those of you who are also walking through difficult medical situations. We may not have the same diagnosis or the same disease, but we are learning, just as you are, what it is like to live under a cloud. We want for each one to remember that the sun is still shining further above the thunderhead that you’re facing.

For us this is a beautiful reminder that no matter what the trials are that beleaguer us below, God is still at work in ways that we cannot see or imagine. He is good all the time, friend. You can trust that He loves you.

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We don’t sell you flowers . . .

Recently a lovely lady approached us during calling hours to ask about the flowers she ordered. She indicated that she had purchased them from our website and the order said that the flowers would be delivered in time for the visitation. Her flowers were not on display and she was dismayed that we would make a promise like this and then not fulfill.funeral flowers

As I began to talk with her, I realized that it would be better to ask her to show me how she had ordered the flowers. We went to the office and I showed her our website. I took her to the obituary and I clicked on the “Send Flowers” link. This link is shown on every current obituary page. The link takes you to a page that shows some local florists from whom flowers may be ordered. But there is no order form, simply phone numbers and names.

She said this is not where she got the flowers; in fact, the page she used had flowers shown and choices to make and could be ordered directly from that page.

I then did a search on the obituary, which brought up the Legacy.com version as the top option in the search. I clicked on the obituary and she was very excited to see the exact page she had seen earlier.

But this page has nothing to do with us. We do not support it, nor do we benefit from it. In fact, we usually are harmed by it–as are our local florists. What we would like for each person to understand is that Legacy.com is big business.

From Wikipedia:

Legacy.com is a website founded in 1998, the world’s largest commercial provider of online memorials. The Web site hosts obituaries and memorials for more than 70 percent of all U.S. deaths. Legacy.com hosts obituaries for more than three-quarters of the 100 largest newspapers in the U.S., by circulation. The site attracts more than 30 million unique visitors per month and is among the top 40 trafficked websites in the world.

Legacy.com is a privately held company based in Evanston, Illinois, with more than 1500 newspaper affiliates in North America, Europe and Australia . . . .”

As you can see, newspapers are primarily responsible for the success of Legacy.com. Our local papers jumped onto this platform many years ago because it took away the need for them to support websites to hold myriad obituaries for their local community. They found a way to allow someone else to carry the cost of perpetual maintenance of the life stories of the people in your hometown. And that was just fine with Legacy.com because they had a larger vision.

Now you can search for an obituary from your community and land on a national clearing house that looks like it could be a page from the funeral home down the street. And on that page, they will be offering to sell you flowers, candy, balloons, chocolates, and various other comfort items.

But they are not us. They are not even the local florist. They are not even in our state. And Legacy.com makes promises that cannot be kept because they do not understand the economic and customer service dynamics of our region.

And if they cannot deliver, as was the case in my opening story, they don’t care. The lady of the story did not receive any kind of customer service call telling her there would be no flowers. She just arrived and was totally disappointed.

So, why do we allow this to happen? Shouldn’t we be the top response when someone searches for an obituary. We learned a long time ago that Legacy.com has resources that we cannot match–literally, a business has to “buy” the opportunity to be at the top of the results when a search is performed.

So “Caveat emptor” — that web site that you’re clicking on might not have anything to do with a local business. When searching obituaries, you can be sure that Legacy.com is not a “local” company and they do not support local businesses.

If you must search for a place to purchase flowers — start on the website of the funeral home handling the services. Some of those do, in fact, have ordering platforms from which you can order flowers. In these situations, the florist is not getting the full cost of the arrangement as the funeral home receives a commission.

On our site, you will find referrals to our local florists.  These establishments are in the business of flowers and provide wonderful services directly to you. They answer to you and you can bring your concerns and questions directly to them. And from them, you can expect and receive excellent service on the arrangements you need for funerals in our area.

(And please, read the other postings about bloomstoday.com, flowers.com, and other flower gathering services….)

(Just for fun – I looked up the ranking for our website. In the United States, there are 1,727,216 sites that get more traffic than does ours!)

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