Mea Culpa

I am always impressed by the many bloggers who write regularly, thoughtfully, and on time. I set out to write two blog posts a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays at approximately 1 p.m. Eastern time. Alas, Today is WEDNESDAY. I was on the road yesterday and was unable to publish a post.

I was dealing with an inheritance of sorts — a medical condition I came by honestly, inherited from my Maternal Grandmother and my Mom. So that no one goes off the deep end with worry, let me say that there is nothing serious going on. I am in fine fettle. The problem is that I inherited their feet. They are not pretty to look at, and they cause a great deal of pain when wearing ordinary shoes.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I moved to Ohio from Arizona. We bought a house built in 1855 in a town with about 6000 people. Occasionally, that means driving to other towns nearby for goods or services. Yesterday I went to Fostoria to see a Podiatrist regarding my great inheritance. He explained the surgery and recovery time should I have my feet fixed. After hearing him out — I am convinced that I do not want to pursue it. However, he was kind enough to do some maintenance so that my feet are much happier than when I arrived at his office.

When I left, I had a lovely drive home — farmland for as far as the eye can see, punctuated by an occasional small town,  and a few wispy clouds in a beautiful blue sky. I can’t tell you how the land cheered me. Occasional hills, but mostly flat farmland, freshly mowed or harvested, with some of the staples of farms — barns, silos, equipment, farmhouses, straight rows. It was a lovely conclusion to a worthwhile appointment.

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An Excellent Evening

Some weeks ago, I wrote a post about visiting long time friends on their farm. You can read about that here:  When the River Won’t Flow: A Delightful Getaway

While visiting, I saw a picture in the Tractor Supply Catalog of a Christmas pillow I just had to have. It just spoke to me! But they did not have one in the local store — so I ordered one. Last night, my brother and sister-in-law picked me up at home, and we drove to the next town to pick up that pillow.

They then took me to a German store with an adjoining restaurant that I had never visited before.

That was great fun. I got to have bratwurst and sauerkraut (and alas, veggies), and it was all delicious. Their market was great—all kinds of beers from the old country and all manner of foods. What a terrific evening we had!

Since I wrote this in the wee hours of the morning (sometime after midnight), I hope you will forgive my brevity!

Prost!

 

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Courage in the Public Square – 2

In the United States, there is a conflict going on. One of the bloggers whose posts I follow has dared to weigh in on the current battle over who will be our next President. The few responses that I read were extreme in both directions. I laud her courage.

Donald Trump was a well known public figure for years. But no one expected that he would become President. Now that he is President, the reports of what he has done are quite different, depending on who you listen to and what news you read. I was a grant writer for quite a few years and am a capable researcher. I have heard speeches that President Trump gave and later read news reports of those speeches. Interestingly, some news sources carefully edited what he said to make it appear that he said almost the opposite.

I have heard President Trump compared to Hitler. Since I voted for him in 2016, I don’t have to think too long before I can guess what some people think of me. I have had friends of long-standing unfriend me on social platforms because of posts supporting the President.

Right now, we are waiting to hear the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. As we all know, the contenders are our current President, Donald J. Trump, elected in 2016; and President Obama’s former Vice President, Joseph R. Biden. Although many news sites quickly pronounced Joe Biden the winner, various election irregularities have led to lawsuits to verify that only legitimately legal votes are counted.

When that is work is complete, we will be able to have faith in the election outcome. Whoever is the winner, we can move on as a country.

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Dr. Elton Lehman Amid the Amish of Wayne County Ohio

Please allow me to offer a pleasant distraction to the current political wrangling that seems unending.  

Recently, on October 30th, I wrote A Delightful Getaway about a visit I spent with friends on their farm. For this grieving woman — it was just what the doc ordered. A chance to be with friends, visit some notable sites in the area, kick back and relax.  

It seems that given the current political climate, it would be nice to offer my readers a pleasant distraction. So, I would like to share a book with you published in 2004. It is called House Calls and Hitching Posts Stories from Dr. Elton Lehman’s career among the Amish, as told to Dorcas Sharp Hoover, 2004. 

Ohio has many Amish and Mennonites, and many live in the parts of Ohio beloved by my parents. My Dad had family in the Dover/New Philadelphia area and generally loved any excuse to head in that general direction. I’ve often been to see Earnest “Mooney” Warther’s carved trains at the Warther Museum and Gardens in Dover.

But most of all, my parents loved, as do I, the rolling hills of Ohio’s Amish country. All the town names in that neck of the woods are old friends: Wilmot, Winesburg, Berlin, Trail, Charm, Sugarcreek, Strasburg, Stone Creek, Millersburg, Walnut Creek, Apple Creek, and not far away, the little town of Sherrodsville. Sherrodsville holds a special place in my heart as that is where my dear Mama entered the world.

Should you ever go to see that part of Ohio, be careful driving down Amish country roads.

Remember that there may be a horse and buggy just over the next hill.

This book tells about a doctor who served the Amish around Mount Eaton, Ohio, for his entire career. He and his wife decided to build a medical office.  He was beloved by them because he respected their beliefs, often making house calls to deliver babies or dealing with horrible farming accidents. Dr. Lehman would deliver more than 6,300 babies before “retiring.”

Let me give you a small taste of the book from chapter 2 — A Country Boy Come Home:

“A ministry awaited Dr. Lehman. The plain people needed doctors who understood and respected their convictions for living simple, separated lives. If the young physician’s first calls were any indication of the future, his life as a country doctor would be far more unconventional and exciting than he had ever imagined.”

“As a general practitioner, the young doctor imagined delivering a few babies each year in the nearby hospital delivery room. He certainly never thought of delivering a baby in his Jeep at a stoplight, or delivering twins by the light of a kerosene lantern in an Amish bedroom. He could see himself stitching lacerations — but gunshot wounds? The thought never crossed his mind.”

Have you ever soaked a wound in kerosene? Well, all of his Amish patients did. The good doctor was sure that it would be full of infection when he looked at the injury a week later. It also went against everything that Dr. Lehman had learned in medical school. But the kerosene did just what the Amish said it would do; it killed all the germs. The wound was healing nicely.

Many of the true stories told in this book are amazingly heartwarming, but some are crushingly heartbreaking. Dr. Lehman received many accolades for his work, but his life was a ministry of service to his patients.

This book is still available for purchase in many different formats. I think I can guarantee that you won’t want to put it down.

 

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Thoughts on 1517 and 2020

On October thirty-first, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 theses on the Castle Church’s door at Wittenberg, Germany, to voice his concern and objection to some of the church’s practices. He chose the day because the faithful would be attending church the following day and see what he had written.

November first is when the church celebrates All Saints’ Day, which is when my story starts. When I woke up on November first, I grabbed the coffee mug appropriate to the day. It was a mug adorned with a picture of Martin Luther’s wife, Katarina von Bora Luther. It seemed a worthy choice.

When my Mom was born, she was called Katie and named Kathryn after Martin Luther’s wife, Katarina von Bora Luther. So, thinking of my dear Mom, who died more than a decade ago, it cheered me to drink my morning coffee in a mug portraying her namesake. I didn’t have a lot of time to dawdle over breakfast, but I managed a few cups of coffee before heading out to church.

When I was getting ready for church, I thought I would wear my Grandmother’s gold cross necklace. I think my Grandpa bought her the necklace. I am cheered whenever I look at it because my Mother was no biblical or theological slouch. Her Father, a Lutheran Pastor, made sure she studied the Bible and theology. My Grandmother let her baby daughter cut her teeth on that cross necklace. There is a pretty floral pattern on the front of the cross, and on the back are tiny dents where my dear Mom did her teething. My Mother, both literally, and figurately, cut her teeth on the cross. How fitting is that?

This morning, I was to play for worship. I chose prelude and postlude music, and on Saturday went over to practice the pipe organ. Unfortunately, I discovered that the organ had many ciphers — notes that were stuck and sounded without anyone pressing them. So I ended up having to play the piano for worship.

I was initially quite pleased to be playing for this service because it has always struck me as a festive day — the saints of God. The redeemed, gone home to the Lord. The hymns were very familiar, and as I played, I read the words that the congregation was singing. But then the words hit too close to home. Thinking of my husband, who died earlier this year, it felt as if the flood gates opened. As I played, the tears began streaming down my face while I followed the words of the hymns.

I don’t know how other people experience grief. With me, it often seems as if a sunny and happy day can turn on a dime. That is what happened as I played for worship this last All Saints’ Sunday.

Thinking about this some days after the fact, I would like to add something that my Dad wrote in a letter to my Mom, which you can read about in an earlier blog post here: When the River Won’t Flow: A Decision Born of Grief

I often pray that God will grant me many more years on this earth, as there are some promises I would like to have time to fulfill and so that I may watch my grandchildren grow up.  That being said, God’s time is different than our time.  So let me echo my Dad’s words to my dear Mom.


To my Lord Ron: the parting shall not be long.

You are my beloved,

and I shall stand arm in arm with you

before the THRONE ITSELF.

 

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A Delightful Getaway

My parents loved any opportunity to flee their hometown and head for the rolling hills in Ohio. Beyond the beautiful landscape, I suspected my father enjoyed seeing horse-drawn buggies, and he certainly had a weakness for Amish baked pies. I find that I am most definitely his daughter! Decades later, the urge to escape into the countryside is hardwired into my heart.

Last week I accepted a most timely invitation to visit friends who own a farm a few hours drive south of me. (Which is why, if you noticed, I did not publish a blog entry on Friday, October 23rd.) Rather than jumping on the highway, I took backroads through small towns. It was wonderful. But their welcome was even better. I remembered a couple of things about their home, which I was last in probably twenty years ago.

I toured their beautiful home, watched as the combine harvested their corn, and took a little drive to see more of their farm and some of their cattle. After the fact, Jan told me I should have taken a ride on that combine. Nah, I don’t think so. But she did answer my question and reported that they have 29 cows, three heifers, and one Bull. I also learned a few things about meat!

We had a great visit, which included a few intriguing antique shops, a delicious lunch out, a working mill, a covered bridge, and the best tasting pie I’ve had in quite some time. This pie was homemade by my incredibly talented friend.

Grief is a hard taskmaster, but friendship and visits are blessed respites. I cannot sufficiently thank my friends for the relaxing, fun, adventure-filled weekend they gave me.

(Raspberry Buttermilk Crumb Pie)

I have given them fair warning that I have no intention of waiting another two decades before escaping to their blessed haven of a home again!

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A Literary Wedding Anniversary

It is perhaps a character flaw, but I am a keeper of lists. Among other things, I have a roster on my computer of important birthdays and anniversaries. It is updated regularly, and it reminded me that today is the birthday of a nephew. But, today is also the wedding anniversary of two literary characters out of the annals of Sherlock Holmes. One of those is Sherlock’s excellent colleague, Dr. John Watson.

That may not instantly ring a bell for you, but as a child, I read every story that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about his famous sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. In my estimation, these stories were perfectly depicted in film with the casting of Jeremy Brett as Doyle’s detective.

In the episode of the Sign of Four, Miss Morstand contacted Mr. Shelock Holmes regarding the communication that she received and the latest pearl annually sent to her. It was then that Mr. Holmes and his colleague Dr. Watson first became acquainted with Miss Morstand.

On October 27, 1888, Dr. John Watson married the thoughtful and beautiful Miss Mary Morstand. I raise my glass to them.

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The Roller Coaster of These Days

I have lost people dear to me before: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncle, and my dear Godparents. Through divorce, I lost my first husband; even though I was the one who sought it, it has never stopped being a weight and sorrow upon my heart.

But the weight of grief upon my heart when my dear husband died this last spring has been, at times, crushing. It is no longer the only thing I see in my life. Now, there are ordinary happy events. Meals out with my eldest brother and sister-in-law, who live about four miles from me. Plans for a visit with a nearly lifelong friend whom I haven’t seen in eons. Pictures of cats sent to me daily by some married friends who both seem to adore their furry friends. Lunch out recently with an old friend, which I wrote about in my last blog post called When The River Won’t Flow: Stones and Letters

Oh — and those Letters! They proved to be extraordinary gifts that I hadn’t looked at in years — letters between myself and my friend, who became my much-beloved husband.

Perhaps due to our love’s riches, the feelings of loss are crushing and overwhelming at times. At times those shifts of emotion seem to happen within nanoseconds. All I know to do is to keep on keeping on. God’s hands hold even this.

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Stones and Letters

Earlier this week, I drove about 85 miles north to meet a friend at a cemetery. To be precise, I went to the cemetery where I had purchased some plots and where a recently engraved headstone and markers are in place.

My friend had a shorter drive and was waiting in the parking lot when I arrived. I knew where to look, and we quickly located the two plots not far from where my parents and my mom’s parents are buried.

The stones I was looking for will eventually mark the graves belonging to my husband and me. Right now, all they identify is space. I was pleased with what I saw. I took some pictures, and then we searched for my friend’s grandparents, buried in another portion of the cemetery. We discovered that quickly enough, and relatively close by, my paternal grandparents’ graves.

By this time, we had seen what I traveled north to see, and the two of us left the cemetery and went out for a bite of lunch. We had a delightful lunch at a famous eatery, Tony Packo’s,  caught each other up on decades of our lives, and then we said goodbye, and I began the drive home.

After arriving home, I stayed up a bit past midnight. Finally, feeling a little sleepy, I decided that I better get some shut-eye. Maybe five minutes later, something unexpected happened. A strange feeling came over me that I needed to get out of bed and get a box down from a shelf in the closet.

That box was filled with letters between my husband and me. We exchanged letters when we were just friends, courting, and continued writing during many years of marriage. I read dozens of those letters until the wee hours of the morning.

A strange thing happened as a result. In some ways that I can’t quite explain, reading those letters put the heart back in me. At the end of my darling’s life, it became increasingly more difficult for him to speak. The most cherished was the last I love you that he managed to say to me, shortly before he died. These letters reminded me of the richness of our life and gave me new courage for the days ahead. The box has not been far away from me, yet I didn’t think about it until late at night.

Perhaps I was nudged to open that treasure box and feast my eyes.

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Tough Love

Last Friday, I was a soggy mess. I couldn’t stop crying. I was missing my best friend and husband so much that I couldn’t see straight. For those of you who don’t know, my husband died earlier this year. But that happened sufficiently long ago that it seemed to me that I shouldn’t be so teary-eyed. I was pretty much an emotional wreck. I whined about it to my FB friends, and everyone was thoughtful and kind.

I guess the thoughtful and kind response made me want to tell one more person. That is where I made a tactical error! I whined about it in an email to one of my dearest friends — and she read me the riot act. It was a swift kick via a short return email.

Generally speaking, I don’t hope to be on the receiving end of a swift kick. But I have to say that in this case, it was just what I needed. Sometimes what helps us the most, or motivates us to change, isn’t warm and cuddly.

I am grateful that I have friends and family members who remind me, who and whose I am. I am a baptized child of God, and that same God granted us eleven wonderful married years together. I am thankful for that.

Looking forward, I hope that I have many years ahead of me to watch little ones grow, have more adventures, visit with friends, and, in memory of my dear Ronnie — to stir up some good-hearted mischief. Thank you, LY. You delivered just the medicine that I needed.

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