Saturday I called grandpa to wish him Happy Birthday. Ironically it was also the day of his wife’s memorial service. His sad voice responded to my “Happy Birthday, Dad”, with the awful news that his little dog had just passed away.
But, instead of dwelling on the sadness, he talked of his friends who were there to celebrate and share the tears. He had made peanut-butter and honey sandwiches for everyone and he was so proud that four cars of friends would accompany him to the memorial service.
I had promised to be there but sickness and vehicle breakdowns prevented the trip. He didn’t scold or say anything to make me feel badly for not showing up although he did elect a promise to make the trip “sometime real soon.”
His rose garden is fading fast. He says he can’t get around like he used to and a trip to the emergency room last week almost ended up in the hospital with pneumonia.
A long-time loyal friend found her rose garden destroyed with the beckoning of her boss into his office and the words, “Your fired”. She had worked there 18 years and was expecting this job to last until her retirement. Instead of reassignment, she was let go with no benefits and just recently found that she had been ‘blackballed”. She has a handicapped child. Her husband is in ill health and can’t work full time. Now they had no insurance and very little income.
Her birthday was also this weekend and I almost dreaded making her birthday call. I can’t give her another happy rose garden or fix her problems. I dreaded to hear the most recent news that I knew couldn’t be good. Sure enough, her special needs child had developed a problem that required surgery and he had bad reaction to the pain meds.
But she was optimistic that the Lord would provide – even now. She is thankful for her grandchildren and hopes I can make a trip there to see them soon.
Some months back, my sister called to say there had been an accident. She was making supper and hubby was cooking steaks outside. He went out to turn the steaks and never came back inside. She went out to find out why he was taking so long and found him on the ground.
“Darlin. I fell and broke my neck. I’m paralyzed. Call 911.”
In an instant her world and her rose garden dissipated. He was rushed to the hospital where the doctor's didn't give kind care and no one helped her as she cleaned him up as best she could. Then she waited alone in a hallway for hours while they took him for tests. The good news is that he did regain most of his feeling and was able to return home in a few days, but the doctor said one wrong twist of his neck and he could be paralyzed for life. They live with that - always thankful for what they have now but never knowing how long it will last.
Today my garden is filled with the beautiful flowers of summer and one awesome Lady Diana rose plant. But, I remember those times in my life when it wasn’t so sweet.
I’ve heard many of the same gut-wrenching, garden-destroying words….
"We can't pay the bills this month."
”I’m sorry but I can’t live here anymore…”’
“You need a breast biopsy.”
“This is the Chief-of-Police. Could you come to the station?”
“I’m calling with some bad news about….”
“I’m sorry, but we need to do some more tests.”
"I'm home early because I lost my job today."
"Honey, I have something to confess..."
"You make too much to qualify for that."
A lovely warm-hearted friend of mine is also going through a very rough time. Her world was shattered with some words from the list above.
You feel all the emotions of a death. But there ‘s no memorial service or gathering of friends for support (except in small ways).
Perhaps you’ve been in their shoes. Even worse, you know your life is not what you dreamed it would be. Your spouse will never be the knight in shining armor. Your child will not be running for president. Your parents are never going to become the golden couple living in a 6-bedroom home in sunny Florida. The career that looked so inviting is now drudgery. Or, the career you planned never did come full circle. Pets die. Grandchildren are sick. Hard-earned money is gone before you get it. Collectors are calling; friends are not.
When my friends hurt, I feel their pain although it is not the same for me. I want to get rid of all the bad bugs, kill the fungus and dig up the root rot. But, we can't turn back the clock or fix the problems. We can offer a strong shoulder, warm hugs and unconditional love.
Or maybe your life is full of abundance and peace right now. I thought about that as I was making supper tonight. (Noodles and mushroom soup, sliced tomatoes from my friend Floyd's garden and brownies for dessert.) I don't know why the song, "I Never Promised You A Rose Garden" kept streaming through my mind, but the second line I made up, "...But I sure Did Want One!".
I called a friend in Michigan the other day and spent the first 27 minutes listening to exciting stories of trips with the grandchild, class reunions, weddings and graduations. Not a thorn in their garden. The couple are older but in good health. Both are retired but working part-time. We spend time with them in an immaculate home, perfect lawn, wild birds at the feeders while she plays beautiful music on the piano as we eat buttered popcorn and exchange stories.
At one time, there was heartache in their home as some of the very words listed above were uttered in heartache. There were ill feelings between parent and child. In fact, for years one did not speak to the other. But, they did not give up and continued to believe in a Higher Power. They know it is a miracle of God and they praise Him for such harmony today.
Maybe this posting will encourage you to know that you have a Higher Power on your side.
You have a friend who walks in my shoes - and One who walks in your footsteps.
Roses always come back after the winter of rest and change.
Take Care on the Journey,