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The Summer of Love & Death … A Wedding!

Mike&DawnWedding

My brother, Mike, and bride, Dawn.

Mom was so excited for Mike and Dawn to be married!   It was time!  They had been happily together for 6 years.  Dawn brought Mom with her when she bought her wedding dress.  What fun they had!  It was a special time for Mom and Dawn.   There was a perfect space in a closet at the folks, to store it safe and sound.  That way Mike couldn’t sneak a peek!

hanged white applique corset wedding gown in between white window curtain inside room

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A big concern Mom had, was getting an annulment with the Catholic Church, before they were married.  Despite Mike and Dawn’s attempts in trying to do this, it wasn’t going to happen.  They talked with a Pastor and found out there is a time-frame of 9 months to 2 years for the annulment process to be completed, and just because one goes through the process, does not mean you will get one.  The cost of it, not a huge deal, was enough to add another piece of angst in the midst of things.  There was also Mom’s time-frame.  Her lung cancer diagnosis and hospice, was definitely speeding up the wedding date.

Mike was beginning to feel overwhelmed and worried.  Both he and Dawn wanted the folks to be pleased.  Mike came over and talked to me (I’m the big sister),  expressing concern, not knowing how this wedding was going to happen.  They simply loved each other and it was hard having it be so difficult – on so many levels.  I asked him if he trusted me – of course he said yes – it’s the ‘Big Sis’ thing!  I became a licensed Wedding Officiant/Minister through the Universal Life Church and our local county.  I would work with them on a beautiful ceremony and file their wedding license.  Then … Dawn, Mike and I talked with the folks, explaining it would be a legal wedding and spiritual … and at some point in time, Mike and Dawn could go through the annulment process and get the marriage blessed in the Catholic Church.  All in all, it was a special conversation and the wedding was on!

person writing on white book

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Jake was on the music, Rochelle was on the flowers, Mike was on the venue – Lum Park, Tim was on set-up, Rick was on tools and electrical stuff, Patrick and Darlene were on host/hostessing, Nicky and William were on photography.  Laura, Jake’s wife was on helping us all be cool, calm and collected – ’cause that’s how Laura is.  We-all were on food.  Kyung was still on her work gig/assignment in Africa.

In the midst of all of this, the folks were getting new shingles on the roof.  Mom would ask me to go out and see how it was looking.  Check on the guys, make sure they had enough water …. She enjoyed all the activity.  In spite of her determination, Mom’s breathing was becoming  more labored.  She was using oxygen all the time.  Her strength was weakening.  We all loved her hospice nurse, Kelly.  She and Mom had a very special relationship.  One day, Kelly said we were going to have to look at a different way for Mom to be at the wedding.  Outside was not an option.  I sat close to Mom and told her, she would have the best seat in the house – either with live video – or in heaven.  The boys would know how to set the video stuff up, and some of us would be at the house with her and some would be at Lum Park.

Going outside with Kelly, she said the cancer was progressing much faster than we thought it would.  It was time to call Kyung home.  I needed to tell Mom.  One of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  Then Dad.  Then the rest of the Fambly.  Then close friends.  Life is real.  So is death.

There was talk of having the folks renew their wedding vows with Mike and Dawn. The wedding date moved up and in the house with Mom and Dad.  Kyung arrived. It was early evening.  She and Mom had precious hours talking and being together.  The very next morning, Mom began her journey to heaven.  The wedding would wait.  Her life was celebrated, with tears and joy.

close up of purple flowers

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The next weekend – was The Wedding.  I was nervous about being the Celebrant/Officiant and hoped it would go over ok. The preparation with Mike and Dawn was so special and included both her Mom and our Mom in the ceremony.  When we were finished, Dad’s home-care nurse came up to me and said Dad wanted to talk to me.  I took some deep breaths … knelt down in front of him in his wheel chair … he took my hands and with tears in his eyes, he said it was a beautiful ceremony, he was so proud of me and it was a job well done.  Oh my goodness … MY prayers were answered!

Yes … Mike and Dawn are living happily-ever-after.

And Mom … Still has the best seat in the house!

FamblyMike&DawnWedding

Fambly Wedding Photo – Cheers to Mike & Dawn!

A week after Mom’s funeral and a week before Dad’s.

Mom’s Story                Dad’s Story

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The Summer of Love and Death Continues … Dad is Dying

Dad Us Last Camp

Dad’s last visit to Camp Confidence

With some of the ‘Fambly’ …

And Jeff Olson and Mary Harder – They are part of our Heart Fambly & Camp Confidence 

The Sunday after Mom’s funeral, some of us kids were sitting at the breakfast table with Dad.  He cleared his throat, which he did when he was nervous, and told us, he was not going into the clinic in the morning for dialysis.  He was done.  He was tired.  He was ready to die.  He would follow Mom to heaven.  We knew this was coming, but, like my brother Patrick shared with me later – it was like a bomb going off in our hearts.

There were 5 things he wanted before he died:

  1. Be at son Mike and Dawn’s Wedding – Yes, we had a wedding in between Mom and Dad’s dying.  I was Officiating and Fambly was planning this celebration, too.
  2. To talk with Father Walsh and ask him to do his funeral (and convert us kids back to the Catholic Church!).
  3.  Connect with Mike O’Rourke from the Brainerd Dispatch, who had been asking to do one last interview with Dad about founding Camp Confidence/Confidence Learning Center.
  4. Take a bunch of the Fambly out to Camp Confidence for one. last. look.  Sharing memories and stories … Wow, THAT was a beautiful day.
  5. A BBQ Rib Dinner with all the sides!  (And his favorite cocktail – or two).

Whew …

Later that day, I took a break and headed to my apartment across the yard.  I needed quiet meditation time, and asked God for wisdom and support, as I was feeling exhausted and over-whelmed.

houseplant on coverlet

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Deep into meditation, I heard the word ‘Ezekiel’ … in a soft whisper.  Minutes later, again ‘Ezekiel’, and the 3rd time, in a normal speaking voice.

I opened my eyes … expecting to see someone – well, Ezekiel – but I didn’t.

I sat quietly … Ezekiel … hmmm.  I felt a comfort – something I really needed – Thanks, God … Thanks, Ezekiel – whoever you are.  I trusted the comfort I felt and was grateful for it.

I didn’t know anything about Ezekiel, so I looked him up!  Ezekiel is a Hebrew priest and prophet of the sixth century B.C. His name means: God will strengthenThat was reassuring – I needed all the strength and support I could get.

The next day, I walked across the yard to spend time with Dad and visit with Fambly.  He was in his recliner in the living room – “Hi, Daddy-o!” I said, with a kiss on his cheek.  “Hi Deb!  Say, I’ve been thinking and we’ve got to get my funeral put together, will you help me?”  I didn’t well up in tears, I remembered Ezekiel: God will strengthen.  I didn’t gasp.  God will strengthen.  Dad was clear with what he wanted, and asked me for help.  I took a breath, God will strengthen, and let it out.  I smiled and said, “You bet!  Let’s do this!”

The priest was called, the local parish was notified and the funeral home was given a ‘heads-up’.  Special people came to visit.  Once again, stories and laughter filled the house.  Wedding plans were being delegated, Dad still was beating Patrick at cribbage … We kids agreed to have Jake contact a neighbor in the cities who made pine boxes for his casket.  (I/We had suggested Dad make us Pine Boxes for Christmas Gifts, as every year he had to come up with a new idea for all 7 of us kids … Mom nixed that idea!)  Even though Dad was dying, there was a lighter air and not so sad as when Mom was crossing over.  He was very ready to go.

cribbage

There came a day we thought he was going off to bed and sleep his way to heaven. We took turns being with him.  I remember him opening his eyes hours later and looked at me, kind of confused … I smiled and said, “Hi there … Nope, Daddy-o, you’re not in heaven, yet!”  Then, he asked if there were any ribs left?!  Seriously, he never followed protocol, so why start now!!??

flat lay photography of grilled meat on brown chopping board

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Dad’s time had come – for real this time.

We called everyone together and gathered around.  I climbed in bed with him, Patrick shared ‘The Lord is My Shepard‘ by heart, and then we started to sing his favorite songs.  We got to Edelweiss and Dad took his last breath – we thought.  I had my hand on his heart – it had stopped.  Then he opened his eyes and took one LOUD BIG last breath – we all JUMPED!! – Jake boisterously started back in song, “Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow, bloom and grow forever …..”  (Some things you never forget).  I started laughing and crying at the same time.  Dad was a kidder and a prankster – and he ‘got us good’ on that one.  I could see Mom taking his arm as he was chuckling on his way, saying, “Ok, Dick, that’s enough now, come along!”

edelweiss

It was one awesome funeral!

We were wrapped in Holy, Precious Moments as we shared this time together.

Fambly.

Thanks Mom and Dad … Without you … We would not BE FAMBLY.

With a Grateful Heart.

Your Daughter,

Debbie

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The Wedding … It IS a Summer of Love!         Here is Mom’s Story.

www.debendres.com

A Summer of Love & Death – Mom

It was a tough summer for our ‘Fambly’.

It was a summer of Love.

Both my folks were dying …

Let me share about our Mom …

Mom&Dad50th

Mom, Dad & The Big Kids

“Fambly”

We, Fambly = Mom & Dad, 7 Siblings/Spouses/Significant Others/Children & Little Children, filled the consult room, waiting for the oncologist to talk with us and share Mom’s diagnosis.  It was the day after Mother’s Day.  Apprehension, faith and love were holding us together like a superglue.  Mom had lung cancer.  The wonderful oncologist, tenderly held Mom’s hands, looked her directly in the eyes, and said with her permission, Hospice would be contacted that day.  It took our breath away.

Life is real.

In 2 months, she was gone.

Before she left … We sang to her, shared silly stories … maybe a secret or two.  We painted our toenails with her.  She had a dress to show us girls – she hoped wouldn’t be ‘too fancy’ for her funeral!  The rosary was prayed.  We cried.  Lots and LOTS of tears.  A Priest came to visit.  Mom and my little brother, Jake, planned the music for her funeral – so special. (He was amazing singing through. it. all.  Making Mom proud ’till the very end!!).

Rosary

In the middle of the night, she left us.  We were with her.  Dad made it very clear he wanted to be with her at her last breath.

Everything became still. 

Silent. 

Peace-filled.

Before we called the funeral home, we made a Fambly Circle. (Every night after supper, Mom would have us go around the table and say something we were thankful for.)  In our circle of love for Mom, we each shared a story, or something we were grateful for, or got in trouble with/lesson learned – ’cause life is real with Mom.  More tears, then laughter!!  After we shared, we started singing some of her favorite songs – someone(s) got out their phones to get all the words right!  We ended with Silent Night … the harmony so precious.

 

It was a silent, holy night …

We love you, Mom!

(She’s still dropping feathers to say ‘Hello’!)

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With Love and a Grateful Heart,

Your Daughter,

Debbie

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Dad’s Story     The Wedding Between 2 Funerals

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“Skippy” … A Soul Connection

 

dog running on seashore under blue sky and white clouds

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I’m sharing stories I’ve personally experienced with connections to Spirit and the affirmations they bring into my life and the lives of clients.  In doing so, I hope you recognize ways God/Spirit is connecting with you.  Little signs of intuition, a premonition, a whisper or a nudge, a sign of synchronicity, a dream … there are many ways we are shown signs that can protect us, reassure us, or bring us peace.

I understand – ‘Oh, that’s just your imagination!’, ‘Don’t go there ….’, ‘Are you kidding me?’!  I’ve thought those things, too.  Over the years, these connections have become a part of my life.  Sometimes, a part of someone else’s life ….

Skippy …

Before a client comes, I settle into quiet meditation/prayer.  It helps me bring into greater awareness of Spirit/God and the client coming in.  One early afternoon, after centering/quiet time with a client, I began my energy session with her on the massage table.  I had barely started, and in my mind’s eye, there was a smallish brown mutt of a dog that was jumping on my leg and then jumping and skipping around the table – one energetic little mutt, for sure.  Sometimes, he jumped high enough to reach the top of the massage table – and did his best to distract me.  I was just beginning to be brave enough to share things I ‘saw’ with clients – but that day, I wasn’t brave enough and didn’t say anything to her about it.  We finished our time together and she left.

A few weeks later, she came in for another session.  Guess what?  The little brown mutt of a dog was back.  I knew from the last time, this little guy was going to be persistent.  It was obvious, he wanted to be seen AND acknowledged.  I took a breath, and told my client I had something to share with her and she could take it or leave it – no worries there!  Then I told her about this little brown mutt of a dog, skipping around the table like crazy.  She burst into tears.  She shared her story – a bit of it summed up here – When she was a little girl growing up, she had a little brown mutt.  They loved each other to pieces.  That dog went with her, everywhere.  He listened to her stories, he knew her friends and family, he knew her secrets, he knew her best of anyone.  He was her faithful companion, indeed.  And …

close up photo of furry dog

Photo by Aleksa Bujišić on Pexels.com

… His name was Skippy.

I laughed out loud!  Skippy – of course!!

She was so happy to know he was there with her.  For the rest of the session, Skippy sat calmly on the floor.  No more jumping and skipping around.  There was just a wonderful sense of contentment and quiet joy – for both of them.

Skippy never made his presence known to me after that.  And, it’s ok.  It was the first time an animal had ‘come through’ for me.  I’m so grateful, I threw fear out the window. It was important I shared seeing Skippy with my client.

It was a gift for all 3 of us.

Skippy was a Soul Connection for her.  Yes, he is her dog.  And, it’s ok …

Spirit/God doesn’t limit love and connections with only people!

As I’ve shared in the past, stories connect us, and help us realize how amazing life is on so many levels.  You may get nudges, or hear the whispers of Spirit/God, you may not.  I don’t know when/if I will get insight, or a word, or image on any given day, week, month. It’s ok.  We’re all here, sharing the journey … quirky and amazing as it is!

Blessings and Love,

Namaste

Debbie

www.debendres.com