Friday, July 3, 2015

Why the Church Has Lost Its Power

            As a born-again Christian who has studied the Bible, I am confronted with two churches: 1) The Ekklesia of the book of Acts, which demonstrates power (thousands saved, healings, people speaking in tongues, prisons opened and other miraculous events), and 2) The modern church, where I haven’t seen any of that happen. If I’m honest, the modern church is often filled with sickness, a lack of intellectual curiosity and passivity. Why is this?

DEFINING THE MODERN CHURCH
            Let’s take a few moments to define the key characteristics of the modern church.
1.  Sermon-centric. The key event of the modern church is some regularly held religious event that focuses on a lecture. Special events on the church calendar often incorporate this lecture, which is given the grandiose title of “sermon”. In many churches, the sermon is the central component of the congregation’s life, although many would balk against this analysis.
2. A hierarchy. Modern churches often resemble businesses. The pastor is the CEO and the board (or elders, may be given different names) serves like a board of directors. Some churches lean more towards a pastor-led style, similar to the governmental forms of a monarchy. Some lean more towards a small group of leaders, similar to the governmental form of an oligarchy. Few function like a democracy. In all churches I’ve experienced there are leaders and followers—an over/under style of management.
3. A campus. Most churches today either have a building or are hoping to purchase one. A large chunk of the church facilities goes towards the sanctuary, which serves as a gathering place for worship services.
4. The worship service. This may go by different names, but it is a regularly scheduled meeting of the body. Some churches have one a week. Some have several. There are a wide variety of flavors, but key similarities include: 1) Often run by an individual or team, 2) Often has two or three key components: a musical segment, a liturgical segment and the sermon. Some churches don’t include a liturgical portion. In almost all churches the musical block is seen as secondary to the sermon, which is usually given near the end of the service.

THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH
            Let’s consider for a moment the Biblical mission for the church. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) gives a strong focus on teaching. Fellowship with other believers is seen throughout the New Testament. Helping those outside the church with needs—visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, helping widows and addressing other social problems is commanded. There are also New Testament commands on various spiritual disciplines—reading the Bible, prayer and living a godly life. Most churches (at least Bible-believing ones) will agree with this general list. However, there are other key components to the mission.
            First, there is the component of figuring out God’s will. A study of Romans 12:1, 2 will clearly indicate this as a corporate function. I’ve never seen a congregation that figures out God’ will corporately. And, I’ve had many struggles where I’ve been trying to figure out God’s will! People are willing to pray for you or give advice, but each person decides for themselves what is God’s specific will for their lives.
            But, what about God’s will for the congregation? Again, I’ve never seen a congregation that does this corporately. At times decisions are made by a single leader or group. At times a single leader or group will decide upon a list of options and then put it up for a vote. This is similar to our presidential elections, where We The People don’t choose the president. We simply choose between the options given us and often those options are poor ones! Our country is a republic as opposed to a democracy. In a similar fashion, even the most “democratic” of churches often function as a republic instead of a democracy. Is this Biblical?
            The word translated “church” in English is the Greek word “Ekklesia”. It refers to an assembly—not just a group of people, but a political body with decision making ability. In the historical context of when the New Testament was written, this would suggest a body that was equalitarian—functioning like a democracy as opposed to a republic. This is consistent with the New Testament idea of the priesthood of believers. I believe a key component of the mission of the church is every member fully functioning in a democratic manner.
            This fully-functional, democratic priesthood of believers is a cornerstone of all the other components of the Ekklesia’s mission. When everyone is pulling their own weight, more good is done. When some are functioning less than fully, less good is done. So, does the current model of church hinder the Ekklesia from functioning as it should? Notice, I’m using “church” for how things currently function and “Ekklesia” to represent how they should function.

HOW THE KEY COMPONENTS OF THE MODERN CHURCH HINDER THE EKKLESIA

The Sermon
            The quicker we kill the sermon, the better. Yes, I’m attacking the sacred of cow of Christianity that was established in the 2nd and 3rd centuries and further bolstered by the Protestant Reformation. The sermon is held in almost magical regards, but the sermon weakens God’s children.
            Now, before I go further, let me explain what I mean by the sermon. I am referring to a regularly scheduled lecture generally given by either one or a small group of people. I’m not referring to a special event where one person addresses an audience. There may be special circumstances where a lecture is justified. But, a regularly scheduled lecture is definitely detrimental. It needs to be eliminated.
            You may wonder why I say that. The various terms translated “preach” in the New Testament do not refer to a sermon. They refer to a proclamation of the truth. They represent what should be done as opposed to how it should be done. It’s church tradition that has defined the how as a regularly scheduled lecture—not the Bible or common sense.
            In terms of teaching (which is a key part of the Ekklesia’s mission) lectures are the worst forms. Studies upon studies prove this point. They produce much lower retention of material than more active styles of teaching—such as dialogue or hands-on application. A sermon is a passive form of learning. It requires little from the listener. Since little is required, little is learned. When one compares it to other forms of learning, it’s a waste of time!
            Sermons (as I previously defined them) aren’t Biblical. Jesus discipled his followers—teaching primarily through dialogue and hands-on application. And, wouldn’t Jesus be considered the prime example of preaching? The church’s model doesn’t represent Jesus’ model in the slightest. It also doesn’t represent the model of the 1st century Ekklesia, which was an open, participatory model.
            The “clergy class” preaching sermons conditions people to think there are Bible experts and the rest of us. In truth, every believer has access to the Word of God and every believer has the Holy Spirit. The New Testament doesn’t have a concept of “laity”, which would completely contradict the priesthood of all believers. Every believer is supposed to preach, not a select class. The modern sermon conditions people to passivity.
            The sermon is also contrary to human nature and revelation. As we learn things, our understanding doesn’t come in regularly scheduled intervals. Our understanding comes in waves—some waves being big, some small and with widely varying intervals between waves. Sometimes it takes years for the aha moment to happen. Sometimes it comes in minutes. But, it doesn’t happen at the regularly scheduled pace of the factory floor. Yet, the sermon expects someone (or some group) to operate that way.
            In any congregation, there are some people who are receiving revelation at that time and some who aren’t. I’ll use “revelation” in the sense of coming to significant understanding of something. Revelation could come through study, dreams, visions or life experiences. Doesn’t it make sense that the ones who should be sharing in a congregation are the ones who are receiving revelation at that moment? An open, participatory, dialogue-based form of teaching allows for that. A sermon does not—when the pastor is going through a dry spell of revelation, everyone is going through that dry spell.
            The biggest problem that exists with changing the paradigm is that people don’t know how to function without the sermon. People don’t know how to study the Bible on their own. And, people have been conditioned by our education system and work place to be passive—follow the leader as opposed to taking charge and expressing their own ideas. The fully-functioning, democratic priesthood of believers is contrary to American culture. If the church in America is to become what it needs to, then it will require Christians overcoming years of conditionings and the fears they have in operating in ways they’re unaccustomed to.

The Hierarchy
            While churches often resemble businesses, in some ways the business world is ahead of the church in resembling what the Ekklesia should be. In creative businesses, some employers are collapsing the leadership structure. Communication then becomes horizontal (cross communication between equals) as opposed to vertical (superior-subordinate relationships). The reason some businesses have done this is that this horizontal communication allows for greater buy-in and participation from everyone. It is more organic and more open to generating ideas.
            Less creative companies often lean towards hierarchal chains of commands. This arrangement functions for one primary purpose—control for those at the top. Those at the bottom are less empowered. They go through the motions, put in their time and then go home.
            Which should the church resemble? A more open environment, one that leads to creativity, seems more consistent with people being created in the image of God. God is infinitely creative, so shouldn’t we strive towards creativity as opposed to conformity? There is a conformity all Christians should strive for—conformity to Christ. Doesn’t that seem more likely to happen in an assembly that removes human control and allows Christ to be the head?
            The hierarchy evident in church replaces the headship of Christ with the headship of an individual or small group. I can hear all the “buts” out there, “But, doesn’t the Bible set up a leadership structure with apostles, pastors, evangelists, . . ?” Well, no, it doesn’t. Think about it. Does it make sense that every believer is a priest (with full access to God), yet some believers are more of a priest than others? Seems a conflict, doesn’t it?
            It might be better to think of pastors, apostles, evangelist, elders, deacons, prophets (or whatever other terms people may use) as functions. People can function to pastor others, offer words or prophecy, evangelize, etc.
            Do people naturally know how to operate as a fully-functional, democratic priest? No! So, God has given certain people to the Ekklesia to help teach people how to function in that way—not so these certain people become a “clergy” class that rule over others, but so everyone can learn to function fully. That might be why Paul and the other apostles were itinerant. They moved around, serving to equip, as opposed to establishing themselves in one place and taking an office. Maybe their goal was to equip the Ekklesia in various geographical areas to function without them? That seems the exact opposite of how the modern church functions.
            In the modern church, pastors move on, but not because the congregations become self-sufficient. They move one, because they become burnt out. I’ve seen it over and over. Good shepherds become burnt out, because the system conditions people to look to them for the answers. They aren’t equal partners in the ministry. They are considered super Christians.
            Bad pastors tend to use the system to abuse people and rule over them. The hierarchal system evident in the modern church is corrupt. It hinders the fully-functioning, democratic priesthood of all believers. It puts people into castes. That’s Hinduism, not Christianity!

The Campus
            To be completely against Christians or congregations owning property would be illogical. What about food shelters, homeless shelters or Christian rehab centers? There are legitimate reasons for Christians to own buildings—reasons that fit within the Christian mission.
            But, how much money simply goes towards a large sanctuary just so people can come and listen to the weekly sermon, which has already been shown to weaken people? The truth is, much of the money spent on campus is spent to make Christians comfortable or to allow people to put on the regularly scheduled show. Unbelievers readily see through this lunacy. Believers, due to the conditioning they’ve received through church, cannot see it.
            The early Ekklesia met from house to house. They didn’t build edifices that required a great deal of money and upkeep. They followed a lean model. The modern church follows a bloated model, building structures that hinder its abilities to meet the needs of the society around it. In many cases the money spent on rent, utilities, upkeep and other expenses would be better spent feeding the hungry, helping widows, visiting people in prison or meeting the needs of congregants. The modern church wastes much money on comforts that detract from its mission.

The Worship Service
            Everything I’ve said about the sermon also applies to the worship service. This weekly ritual has a large mass of people passively following a small group of leaders.  Does spectator in any way resemble the fully-functioning, democratic priesthood of all believers?
            I suppose there’s nothing wrong with Christians enjoying a Christian concert or watching someone perform liturgy, but at best it’s Christian entertainment—nothing more!
            Now, I can hear all the “buts”, “But, I learn a lot from the sermon?”, “But, I really experience God’s presence during the singing?”, “But, I feel uplifted by the liturgy?” Yes, you do. Your feelings and experiences are genuine. God does work through these things. But, he works through these things not because they are ideal, but because he wants fellowship with his people. The church system throws up roadblocks to God functioning as he would like to function. If someone wanted to give me a hug, I could cross my arms in front of my chest. I’d still receive a hug, but it wouldn’t be a good one. Or, I could open my arms and receive a full hug. The current church model puts the arms in front of the chest.

WHY THE MODERN CHURCH HAS LOST ITS POWER
            The New Testament talks about Christ being in the midst of his people when two or three are gathered. In the Biblical model of Ekklesia, these two or three are equals and Christ is the head. In the modern version of church, one in the group pushes the others to the side and operates as the head—Christ, clergy and then laity.
            In the New Testament model of Ekklesia, there is power when two or three are in agreement or when a congregation seeks out the will of God. How can people fully come to agreement or how can a congregation seek out God’s will if only a few know how to make decisions? In the Biblical model, everyone is part of the decision-making body. In the modern model, only a few make the decisions. The masses don’t know how to function in God’s power, because they’ve never been given the chance. The leaders don’t know how to function in God’s power, because they are missing crucial support from the body.

            The modern church, with its: sermons, hierarchies, buildings and worship rituals, hinders the fully-functional, democratic priesthood of all believers. That is why the modern church operates with limited power and the early church was dynamite.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Dreams

In this post, I thought I would do something different. I’m going to share some significant dreams I’ve had. It’s only been the past few years that I’ve been having dreams that I would consider either prophetic, or somehow trying to communicate a message. It will be interesting to see if others have opinions about these dreams and what they mean. I’ll share the dreams and also give some of my thoughts on their interpretations.

DENVER—January or February 2013

I was dreaming and asking the Lord where I should go. I was flying over mountains (maybe I was being carried, I can’t say for sure) and there were some strange monuments. I vaguely recall one looked something like the statue of a head. One was a white building complex. I think there was another, but I can’t completely recall. Then I heard a voice say, "Denver".

After having the dream, I searched through images and monuments of Denver to see if any reflected my dream. The only one I could find was the white building. It wasn’t in Denver, but looked like Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem. I think this means I’ll eventually find a place of ministry in Denver. It may also be a place of permanence—where my life will have its greatest impact.

TEACHING IN THE STADIUM—probably sometime in 2013

In this dream, I was in a large stadium. I was teaching the Bible. I was clearly quoting Scripture, but can’t remember what exact passages. I wasn’t up front. I was walking through the crowds—stepping over people, not on them, but it was like I was stepping on the armrests.

I went into the upper deck and everything was frozen—like some sort of ice storm or blizzard had gone through. I’m pretty sure I was still teaching.

My interpretation of this is that I will eventually have some sort of large teaching ministry. But, it likely won’t be preaching in a standard way. It will involve more intimate communication—not pulpiteering, but more personal and one-on-one. I think the upper deck represents the leaders in the religious community. I suspect some will be cold to my ministry, but it won’t stop me from doing what the Lord has called me to do.

BLENDER FROM THE PULPIT—sometime 2013 or 2014

This was one of the stranger dreams I’ve had. I was seated in an auditorium. Up front, where the pulpit would be, was a strange shape. The best I can remember, it resembled some sort of Dr. Seuss tuba like instrument. It became a vortex—somewhat like a blender. I rose from my seat and left the auditorium.

I think this might be prophetic and also my brain processing the teaching common in church. I don’t think the sermon-centric paradigm is a correct one. It’s a passive style of learning and I think the church needs to move to an active, dialogue and hands-on centered style of teaching. I think this is prophetic that I will be involved in a new way of doing ministry—a rejection of the old form.

DRIVING—probably late summer or fall 2014

At the time of this dream, I had a possible job opening to teach English in China. My dad was recovering from cancer and looked like he was on the mend. I think the circumstances surrounding this dream may help interpret it. I don’t recall the exact details, but vague images.

I was driving a car, but I wasn’t in the driver’s seat. I was some distance behind the car and was having a hard time controlling it. I have had similar dreams before this with the same imagery. The car was in some sort of parking lot that appeared to be a gas station. It lost control and went sliding down a grade. It eventually hit something. No one was seriously injured.

After the dream, I interpreted it that I was trying to control my life, but really wasn’t in the driver’s seat. I decided not to take the job in China. I thought the dream was showing me I was making a decision that was a bad one—with the image of sliding down the ice and then hitting something. Turns out, this dream and my interpretation was accurate. Dad appeared to be getting better, but it didn’t end up that way. Mom and dad needed me to stay in the area to help them out through dad’s illness and eventual passing. It confirms for me the idea of paying attention to dreams.

DENVER SEMINARY—probably October 2014

I didn’t remember having this dream until recently. I think I may have forgotten this dream, because God needed to keep me in the area to help care for dad. So, it may be something I need to act on, but not back when I originally dreamt it.

I don’t remember the exact order of events, so let me describe it in terms of different scenes and impressions. I’m basing this on a post I made immediately following the dream. In the dream, I was consciously aware of things. So, I’m not only sharing the dream, but the thoughts I was having during the dream.

Several scenes happened in a library. In one scene, there was a giant brochure. It looked like one of those old foldout maps people used to keep in their glove box, but it was much bigger. It was set up like a display. It must have been about 4-5 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide. I think it was in front of some shelves. It was standing upright and was semi unfolded, so the folds gave stability for it to stand. I started looking at it. I somehow knew it was a brochure for Denver Seminary. As I was looking at it, it was coming apart and I was folding up the sections coming off. I remember at one point someone who appeared to be on the library staff briefly helping me.

I remember having this impression that seminary doesn’t make any sense. However, it didn’t need to make sense to me. It needed to make sense to God. I somehow knew the program I would be involved in was an M.Div program. I was there to get a degree to obtain a credential so Bible scholars (not sure if this is the best word, since it was an impression) would listen to my message. So, I wasn’t there to learn. It was more about getting a credential so others would listen to me.

In another scene, I was bouncing around the library. I was thinking about the preaching classes and the fact that I understood speaking better than my teachers. I was thinking how useless such classes are since sermons are the most ineffective way to teach.

During another scene in the library, I was teaching a group of people. They were seated at large wooden desks, the type quite common in libraries. As the teaching went along more people were there. I don’t remember them coming in, but they were there. In terms of teaching, I was more leading people in a discussion—just facilitating how the Spirit was leading as opposed to leading the discussion. I told everyone we would look at whatever they wanted to look at. They were a little surprised by this. Someone brought up the issues of animals, but I don’t remember their exact question or comment. We got into a discussion about Numbers 22 and Balaam and his donkey, but I don’t really remember what was said in detail. I do remember my mind immediately thought of Numbers 22 and before I could even speak it someone else said Numbers 22. I do remember thinking something about the fact that God loosed the donkey’s tongue, but didn’t put the words into his brain. At one point the topic of my teaching skills came up. I mentioned that I had about 20,000 hours of teaching experience, presenting in front of audiences, which was likely more than everyone else combined including ministers.

During another scene, I stepped outside and I was trying to fly. I really couldn’t get much height and I’m not sure I even made it off the ground. I was really looking to see mountains to verify I was in the Denver area. After that I did some walking around, apparently not having a car. I saw different buildings and one I knew was a dormitory. So, it was somewhat like the campus was really spread out.

During a couple scenes, I was playing basketball. I was making amazing shots, steals and making the tall guys look completely embarrassed. One tall guy did eventually block one of my shots and I gave him a big high five and willingly admitted he got me good. At one point, I was thinking about the money I was making playing ball. I remember it being eighty dollars an hour, which was far more than the other players. There may have been some gambling going on with the games, but I’m not sure.

I remember at one point thinking about my health. I then realized the fantastic shape I was in. I had to be to play ball like I did. It was like the condition I used to be in many years ago. My brain was somehow making that connection—that I was now no longer fat, but was an athlete like many years ago.

In one scene, I was out in a mall. I was being wheeled around in something like a wheelchair, but I wasn’t hurt. I think I may have been conserving my energy for the basketball games, but I’m not sure. I remember the distinct impression that I was still strong and healthy and the wheel chair wasn’t necessary.

I don’t remember all the exact details and the various parts of the dream are a little disjointed. I do remember asking God to verify if he wants me to go to Denver seminary, but I was coming out of the dream. I was somewhat hopeful I could get back to sleep and receive an answer on that.

My interpretation is that God may be leading me to Denver Seminary. I am going to see if I can schedule a visit. I’m curious to see if the campus resembles me dream. I have this feeling that I’ve already been on the campus—in my spirit at least.

The dream does seem to confirm some sort of teaching ministry for me. It also suggests a restoration—of both health and finances. Right now I just don’t understand all the various images in this dream.

DREADLOCKS AND FISHING POND—Probably October 2014

I'm not sure if these two dreams can be considered separate dreams, since they both happened in the same night and both had a similar meaning. It might be better to consider them two chapters of the same dream.

In one dream, I had hair. I don't mean normal hair. I mean thick black hair, thicker than I had when I could grow hair. At one point in the dream it was long dreadlocks. I see a theme in that dream of growth and prosperity--the kind I cannot bring, but only God can bring.

In another dream, I was fishing in this manmade pond. Again, not something I had created, but something that had been created for me. Every time I cast my lure, I seemed to either catch or get a bite. My brother was there. He couldn't catch a thing. That's how he normally fishes by the way. The first fish I caught was a strange creature, not quite a fish. It actually started with me hooking what appeared to be a large bass. Apparently this larger creature ate the bass. I wanted my brother to take a picture of it, but he just wasn't getting it done. I'm not sure why, since he's normally Mr. whip-out-his-phone-and-take-a-picture. When this larger creature was cut open it was full of fish. There was the theme of growth--one fish ends up bringing a bigger one; and prosperity, where I just kept catching fish. I know to pay attention when two dreams have a similar message.

I was then shown how the pond was created. It was a huge construction project. It began by creating the outer shell of the pond. This involved huge construction equipment. Some of the equipment was being brought in by rails. I was somewhat frightened by this equipment. I suspect this may be a picture that God has been building something in my life for a long time—maybe something that if I had completely understood what he was doing would frighten me.

The foreman, for lack of any better term, was explaining things to me. They started by stocking this pond with bluegills. That seemed about right, because this pond was so small I could cast from one side to another. Then pigs were brought in. I know that sounds weird. I even saw one of them eating a bluegill. I'm not sure what they represent, but pigs represent impure things. The pig excrement floated to the bottom and created fertile soil for seaweed to grow. Maybe that has to do with God using some of the things in my life that have seemed evil, but was being used for growth.

Anyhow, the foreman was explaining they wanted sandier soil and was showing all kinds of things they could plant on the bottom of the pond. He also brought me to this lift and he went down. I didn't get on it correctly and seemed to be caught, but I wasn't hurt. He came back up and then after that my memory of the dream became a little fuzzy.


So, there you have it. Those are some of the strange dreams I’ve had. Are they prophetic? And, if so, what do they mean?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

An Abnormal Grieving Process

            Today, June 23rd, 2015 is Dad’s birthday. He passed away on June 13th, 2015. Surprisingly, I’m not filled with grief on his birthday. I think part of this is that Dad never made a big deal of his birthday. He was a simple man. He usually wore the same clothes. He never was into fancy things. So, I can’t recall any huge celebration for Dad’s birthday or significant gift I bought for this day, other than the heated mattress pad I discussed in another blog. Maybe memories of gifts will come later.
            I think my grieving process is abnormal. Dad’s fight with cancer started in earnest in October of 2013. I think both Mom and me accepted through the process that Dad could die. So, I think we already did some of the grieving before he passed. Around Spring 2014, I removed myself from organized religion. I also didn’t read the Bible much through that time until now. I’m not sure I was angry at the church. I definitely was frustrated. When I read the book of Acts, I see miracles. I see people healed. I see a priesthood of believers. When I look at organized religion, I see sick people everywhere and I see an ecclesiastical structure. I believe that structure inhibits God from moving like he should. The Ekklesia needs to go through a radical transformation. I’ll have to examine that in future blogs. Dad’s death is causing me to work through my faith and my purpose. I’ll also have to think through the whole process I’ve been through the past few years and see if I was grieving and didn’t even know it. The grieving process is strange, but I need to understand it. So, these are things you’ll see me working through in future posts.
            The grieving process is one of extremes. The last few days I’ve been facing extreme exhaustion. I’ve noticed since Dad’s death, everything is extreme. One minute my stomach is upset. The next minute I’m starved. Or, I’ll feel starved and then only be able to eat a few bites. One minute I’m extremely happy. Then, I’m overwhelmed with sadness. Then, anxiety. Everything is an extreme. It’s like my body, heart and spirit have all the possibilities they can experience on a giant wheel—like Wheel of Fortune. Every now and then the wheel is spun and then whatever it lands on I experience full force.
            This is a strange post. I’m not sure I’m so much working through anything as I am just working through what I need to work through. Anyhow, I’m working on lunch, so I’ll have to end and attend to my physical needs.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day was Stolen

            Today is Father’s Day: June 21, 2015. My Dad passed away a little over a week ago on June 13th. From the title, you may believe I’m talking about this Father’s Day. But, I’m not. Most children outlive their parents, so most face those special days (holidays, birthdays or whatever) after death. The Father’s Day that was stolen was in 2014.
            I went over to see Dad in the morning. I’m not sure if I brought him a gift or not. He was so sick, there was really nothing I could do except be with him. When I arrived, Dad was extremely anxious. He thought he was dying. I tried to talk him down, but I couldn’t. Dad was jittery and out of sorts. He couldn’t focus on anything but bad thoughts.
            As the day progressed, I found out Dad had been given Phenergan. Dad had been given that in the past to help calm his nervous stomach. He reacted poorly to it. It threw him out of whack. When I found out he had been given that, I was concerned. I was forceful with the caretakers that visited and also went out to the desk to make sure the situation was handled. His reaction to Phenergan should have been on his chart and I was questioning why it wasn’t and demanding that it was. According to Mom, I was angry about the situation. I don’t think I lost my temper, but I was forceful.
            Throughout the process of Dad’s sickness, I saw how terrible our medical system could be. I say the system, because many of the people are wonderful. I’ll go into more detail about other situations in further posts, but the system adds unnecessary stress and hardship to people who are elderly, sick or injured. The system stole the last Father’s Day I had with Dad, because it missed an important detail. I don’t want to dwell on it, but people need to understand these things happen and it’s unnecessary.
            Dad did have many wonderful caretakers. To close this post, I’d like to share an email I received from Kim Dalton, his nurse at Pebble Creek Nursing Home. She helped bring joy to my Dad’s life. Right now mom can't look at the pictures of Kim and Dad. Last night I showed her a picture of Kim and Dad and she burst into tears. In this picture, Dad is with Kim and there is happiness on his face. Mom will be able to look at it in the future, but right now it brings her to tears.  Mom and I talked to Kim for about an hour on June 19th and I asked if she had anything she’d like to share as I am putting together memoirs of dad. She sent me an email with three pictures attached at 10:06 p.m. Here is Kim’s email:

Brett,

It was great talking to you and Bonnie tonight.  I shared with you many of my memories of your dad on the phone, but what I didn't say is what I'd like to share for your memoirs. 

I walked into Pebble Creek last March as green as they get.  I had been a nurse less than a month and I truly had no idea what to expect.  I learned many things such as how to pass pills, how to insert a catheter, and most definitely how to efficiently clean up poop.  What I didn't expect was for my very first patient to touch my life the way he did.  As a nurse, I may have thousands of patients.  Some I will remember, some I won't, but from the moment I met your dad, he had me wrapped around his little finger.  I can't really say it was one specific thing....I think it was just his presence.  The way his eyes lit up when your mom walked in the room amazed me.  It gave me hope that true love does exist.  I cared for Marv when he was really at his worst.  He was in such pain, but always found a way to put a smile on his face when I came in the room (even when I was there to scold him for getting out of bed without help!). On my birthday, he was all smiles, all day. I knew he had something up his sleeve.   I was sitting at the nurse's station and I heard him talking on the phone to your mom....he didn't know I could hear him....but he said to her "Bonnie, don't forget to bring Kim's birthday present!".  Then a little while later, I heard him again...."Bonnie....don't forget to bring Kim's birthday present when you come".  Then again later......"Bonnie....when are you coming up here with Kim's birthday present??".  I was just tickled pink that he was so excited to surprise me.  I cherish those two bracelets, two necklaces, and two pair of earrings as though they are priceless gems.  Well, to me, they are.  Marv made those with his own hands, and he thought enough of ME to bestow them upon me.   I know I'm rambling at this point, but I wanted to let you know that Marv was so much more than my patient.  He stole a little piece of my heart (as did your whole family).  He confided in me about things and we had some very intense heart-to-heart talks.  He was a good man, a good husband, and a good father.  I consider myself priveleged to have cared for him and to be welcomed into his family and his home.  Attached are the picutres I took the day he left Pebble Creek and one of the bracelets he gave me for my birthday last year.  I'll keep it forever and will always cherish my memories of Marv.  

Good night.  Rest well my friend.

Kim




Saturday, June 20, 2015

Dad's Hands

            My Dad was a man of few words. If I had to guess, his most frequent words to me were, “I love you” or some variation on that theme. He said those words a lot through his battle with cancer. I think our love grew closer through his struggle and Dad’s appreciation for me grew. He developed a fondness and appreciation for the man I had become. I remember him telling me within the past month or two that I was “the man”.
            Before Dad’s funeral, Mom and I talked. Let me share mom’s recollections of the families’ last words to Dad. My last words to Dad were, “Love ya, Dad. Sleep good.” My brother Lance’s last words were, “Love you, Dad.” Mom’s last words to Dad were, “Love you. Sleepy good.” Dad responded with some variation of the theme of love to me. So, our last words were kind and that is a cherished memory.
            I wish Dad had become more of a talker or writer, so I better understood his thinking. But, Dad primarily showed his love through his action. So, I want to remember Dad’s hands—the thing he used to show his love.
            When I was a kid, Dad had big hands. Mom on occasion would call them, “Meat hooks.” He was a small guy, but because of work (and working out through various stages of his life) his hands were strong. His hands were broad, but more than that they were thick with muscle.
            I can recall intertwining my fingers with Dad’s. He would jokingly straighten his fingers and squeeze them together. My poor hand (I think I was a teenager or maybe even in my twenties at this time) was helpless in his viselike grip. I remember doing this with my right hand, but probably did it with both. I think all this hand squeezing came out of some macho hand challenges boys that age do. I remember thumb wrestling and other stupid things boys do with other boys. Then, I would try those things with Dad. Dad was much stronger than the other boys. There was no way to beat Dad in thumb wrestling—at least I think I thumb wrestled Dad, but I’m not sure. But, either way, I doubt I would have beaten him!
            In his prime, Dad had a ridge of thick calluses just below his fingers. The ridges came up to a peak that was sharp. The calluses were rough and thick—like a type of padding that would add grip to a tool in his hand. Even the tips of Dad’s fingers had this type of texture. Dad wasn’t afraid to work until he had bloody blisters on his hands. Sometimes he did this when he was gardening.
            Dad loved gardening. I think part of it was his hyperactivity. Part of it was saving money. And, part of it was he liked to give food to his family—not any food, but food that he helped create. I suppose it was his part of the meal-making process. Mom was the official cook and we were glad of that.
            One time Mom was sick. I don’t remember her illness at the time, but Mom was and is faithful and hardworking. So, she must have had a bad bug. Dad cooked. His hands made us hamburgers. I think Dad feared undercooking them, so he did the opposite. Those burgers were like charcoal briquettes. I don’t ever recall Dad being chef again. I think I may have written some sort of funny story or poem about the day Dad cooked for a school assignment. Seems it was likely around third or fourth grade, but I don’t remember for sure.
            Wherever he went, Dad made some sort of garden. At our house on Massillon Road, Dad put in a large garden. I think it spanned the width of the backyard and was fairly deep. We probably had a big enough harvest to feed a neighborhood. I only vaguely remember what was back there. I can recall cucumbers, but I’m not sure it was that garden. I think there may have been corn back there. My foggy memories of that house (I was about seven when we moved to another house) are somewhat limited. I think there was corn, because I have a vague image of the garden having some height.
            I remember Mom telling the story how Dad dug around to help build the foundation of that house. I’m not sure why. It was probably to save money. Likely there was an expensive repair, I can’t recall, and Dad said he would do it instead of paying guys to come out and dig it out with machines. That was Dad—he was strong and could work like a machine.
            As a kid and young man, I thought Dad was a workaholic. I didn’t like that. I wanted more of him. But, now as I reflect, I can see Dad was giving us all of him in the way he knew best. Dad’s father died when he was only four-and-a-half. He had no role model to follow in terms of how to be a Dad. But, his great love allowed him to figure it out and he did good. He raised my brother and me right.
            Dad’s hands were outdoor hands. He loved hunting. He took my brother and me on a few hunting trips. It never took. I somewhat wish I would have feigned a hobby in hunting, just so I had a few more memories with Dad. He took us squirrel hunting on a few occasions. I remember Dad taking us to hunter safety courses. He made sure we were safe. I think we were only teenagers at the time.
            Dad’s hands played catch with my brother and me. I don’t have a vivid image in my head, but more of a feeling of throwing a ball back and forth in our front yard at Laura Lane. I think we may have also played catch in the lot beside my Grandparent’s (Mom side of the family) house. I remember having baseball mitts, oiling them up, putting a baseball in the middle and then putting it under the bed mattress and sleeping on it. I’m not positive, but I think Dad showed us how to do that to break in the mitt.
            In the front yard (on Laura Lane) we had this weird planter made out of a tire. I’m not sure Dad built that. I think it was made by cutting down the middle of the tread and the turning the rubber inside out. There were plants in there—planted by Dad, of course, but Mom may have helped. He did quite a bit of landscaping around that house—with bark and mulch. We had a drainage ditch to the front and side of that house. On the side between our house and the Meyer’s, Mom and Dad had a row of tall bushes planted. I think they had Donzell’s (a local nursery) plant those. There were low-lying shrubs behind them. I think Mom and Dad planted that part. Dad had a garden out back—not as big as the one on Massillon, but I’m thinking it was about six feet by ten feet.
            I know Dad planted tomato plants out there. I recall that clearly, because tomato plants attract grubs. My brother and I helped find the grubs and were paid per grub. I think it was only a nickel. We also put some pans out there with beer. It attracted the grubs and killed them.
            Dad also showed us how to hunt for night crawlers after a rain. We would use these for fishing trips. One time Dad took my brother and me snipe hunting in the backyard. In case you’re wondering, there is no such thing as a snipe.
            I can remember dad using his rototiller. Right now it’s sitting out in his garage. It is a John Deere. I think he loved that rototiller, because it helped him plant his gardens.
            Dad loved tomato plants. During our recollections over the past few days, Mom shared how Dad would love the smell of tomato plants on his hand. He would rub his hands together and smell them. Mom didn’t like the scent, but she did like the tomatoes. Right now out back of Mom and Dad’s house and in the garage are Dad’s tomato planters. I’m not sure any of the planters are out in the garage, but he does have wire tomato frames out there. He has something in the garage that looks like it’s made out of a five-gallon water jug. I suspect that either was a planter or one he was working on before he became sick. He used to like to create planters. There are some out back that are made out of blue plastic coffee cans. He also left behind several of the wire cages that help plants to grow upright. There are a few of his planters on the backside of his house that were made out of white plastic trash bins with trellises coming out of dirt. There is some giant red bin in Mom and Dad’s garage, which I suspect was something in the works. He also created hanging tomato planters. Dad’s hands liked to work and create.
            Dad loved fishing and he would take my brother and me with him. His hands showed me how to bait a hook. I think a few times Dad’s hand were impaled by a hook in this teaching process. You need to understand Dad’s kids. I was a quiet, relaxed kid. My brother was a hellion. Lance had (and still does) an internal, hyperactive motor that just won’t quit. In many ways, Lance is like Dad. So, Dad was in danger anywhere around Lance and a hook.
            I remember going out to Nimisila Lake Reservoir. I recall Dad with light fishing gear. He liked fishing for blue gills. As strong as Dad was, when he fished he used finesse. I remember sitting out at a slope near a tree. It’s weird—just a vague feeling. Maybe my brother and I will have to go back out there. Although, maybe things have changed and we won’t find the spot.
            Dad liked fishing with a fly rod. He taught me how. I picked it up pretty quickly. I also remember little casting weights we had to help practice spin casting. I have this vague recollection of setting up targets and trying to cast into them. I can’t say for certain, but I think one of these targets was a large, metal bin. With all these vague recollections, one thing is sure. Dad’s hands must have spent plenty of time teaching us to fish.
            Dad’s hands were the ones on the oars out at Wingfoot Lake Park. Maybe Lance and I rowed on occasion, but Dad was the captain of that ship. Dad was a strong oarsman. He made sure we made it to all corners of that lake. There were little islands out there. On occasion we visited the islands. Not for a long stay, but often to simply take a leak. Dad also took us shore fishing out at Wingfoot.
            I can remember the Canteen out there. It had an eatery and a bait shop. They also had good prices. Maybe that’s why Dad liked Wingfoot Lake! We also had some nice family picnics out there. There were some nice trails and a great miniature golf course. There were some outings where we spent time in the pavilions out there. I recall there being outings with a lot of people, prizes and events. It’s those strange phantom memories—just enough memory to give an impression, but not enough for a complete picture. I suspect these were Goodyear events, where Dad worked at the time. I remember a sense of camaraderie at these events.
            Out at Laura Lane, Dad’s hands built a basketball court. We had a blacktop driveway. Dad could have just put a hoop up and used the driveway as a court. He didn’t. He made concrete blocks—probably two feet by two feet. I remember him having mold pieces. I’m not sure whether he made those pieces or not, but he used the molds to make the blocks. I think the blocks were two or three inches thick. Using these blocks, Dad built up a place beside the driveway to give us more space to play. That little court was probably twelve feet by ten feet, but it made a huge difference. When added to the driveway, we had a nice place to play. I remember a backstop behind the court—in between the giant pine trees we had out there. It was reddish and about four feet tall by six to eight feet wide. I think Dad may have put that in as well, so we didn’t spend as much time chasing down errant shots.
            Dad spent quite a bit of time putting up the pole and the backboard. He found a steel pipe—probably four to six inches in diamater. He had someone (I’m pretty sure it was a buddy of his that did autobody work) weld little lengths of steel bar at various angles on the bottom of that pole. He wanted to make sure when he planted it into concrete, that it stood strong and wouldn’t twist or turn. I think he dug the hole about two to three feet deep. That pole was immovable—like Dad’s love for his wife and kids. I’m pretty sure he was somewhat meticulous to make sure the hoop was exactly ten feet from the ground. That was Dad. Sometimes he went a little overboard, but he wanted to do things right.
            I can remember playing hoops with Dad out on that court. With Dad, hoops was just shooting around and having fun. Dad had a decent jump shoot. We (dad, my brother and I) would play games, like horse, where we’d take turns taking shots. I think mom came out there as well, but mostly it was Dad and the boys. If someone made a shot, the rest had to make the same shot or earn a letter. Once someone was a H-O-R-S-E, they were out. The games with Dad were relaxed. The games I played one-on-one with my brother were more cut throat.
            Dad’s hands put up a swimming pool in the backyard at Laura Lane. I remember he dug out a giant circle—probably about six inches deep, maybe deeper. I think our pool had a twenty-four foot diameter. So, you can imagine the size of the hole. He then dug out the center so the pool was deeper in the middle—probably 18-24 inches or so. He lined the bottom of everything with sand. I’m pretty sure he put up that entire pool with little outside help—maybe some from me, Lance and Mom, but Dad did the majority of the work. I remember him out there with a long piece of wood smoothing out the area for the pool. He also built a nice deck for that pool out of heavy wood.
            We had a swing set in the backyard. I think the swing set was before the pool. I remember when I swung really high the legs of that swing set would come off the ground. One time Lance got onto my shoulders and jumped off and tried to fly. He ended up breaking his arm. I’m not sure why that swing set was so dangerous. I’m sure Dad tried to build it right. Maybe he simply followed the instructions instead of his normal procedures of going over the top. I’m sure it was his hands that tore down that swing set—while I can’t say for sure, probably to protect my brother and me from serious injury!
            In the back corner of the yard we had a burn barrel. Dad took a fifty-five gallon drum and shot holes in it with his .22 rifle. I’m not sure where he went to shoot the holes. While my brother and I (probably more me, because I’m more the momma-boy’s type) didn’t take too much to hunting, we did like shooting. Dad took us out to target ranges. During Dad’s funeral service, there was a picture of Dad standing behind us as we were shooting at Skyview Ranch. Dad also liked bow hunting. I remember my brother and I had these little plastic bows. I don’t think they had much power. Dad had a compound bow. I don’t recall that I ever shot that. Growing up, the only time Dad was gone from the family was an occasional week or so for a hunting trip or the time he worked overtime to buy us a computer.
            The burn barrel was a place where we would burn papers. It was a fun place to get a nice fire going and poke and swirl around that fire with a stick. When my brother and I were little, I don’t think Dad liked us playing with the burn barrel. As we grew, and he knew we wouldn’t torch ourselves, he loosened up and let us burn the papers. As little boys we loved fire and matches.
            Dad’s hands worked on cars. I’m not sure he always enjoyed it. But, growing up a mechanic’s bill was an expense. So, he did his best to fix things. At times he would become angry at the car and yell at it. I remember one time he was working on the car. He couldn’t figure it out. I don’t remember what part it was, but I recall being in our kitchen-dining room area out at Laura Lane and examining it. He was turning the screw the wrong direction. That’s one way I’m different than Dad and my brother. They immediately put their hands into action. I’ll examine something and think about it first. Dad did various things around the house—plumbing, electrical, painting or whatever. During Dad’s funeral there was a picture on the slide show of Dad helping to paint the interior of Hillwood Chapel. We attended there for a while. The church moved and built a new building. They needed extra hands and Dad was there. I can vaguely recall being in the skeleton of the building as it went up and helping out as well.
            Dad’s hand helped to feed and care for stray animals. There was Spunky, a little painted turtle. I think we found him (may have been a her, we couldn’t lift the shell to check it out) at Nimisila Lake. I’m not sure if Dad was the one who found him. It might have been my brother or me. We took Spunky home and put him in a yellow plastic dish. It was probably about fourteen-sixteen inches in diameter and six inches deep. We put a rock in the middle. Spunky was probably only an inch or two in diameter when we found him, but he grew bigger. He may have been around six inches (or more) before we released him back out in the wild. His tremendous growth was no doubt due to the baloney we fed him. Between that and his “aquarium”, he probably had lost the will to live before we released him. I’m hoping we didn’t free him at Nimisila Lake, but I fear we did. I remember fishing out there and there were snapping turtles. At least I think it was snapping turtles that would eat our fish that we kept on the metal stringers. We would put them on the stringer and keep them in the water, so they would stay fresh. Sometimes, when we pulled them out of the water, they were eaten up.
            Out at Laura Lane, Dad’s hands started feeding Lady. She was a sweet, petite kitty. She was white with various tabby-like patches on her body. We noticed she started hanging around the house. We then discovered Dad was feeding her. No wonder she was hanging around! Lady started to gain weight—quickly, especially around her sides and lower belly. She was pregnant with a load of kittens. We ended up giving away most of the kittens and Lady, but one cat remained—Spike. He was a strange cat, which was probably why no one wanted him. He was both grouchy and loving. Spike resembled his mother only much larger—and longer. Spike was a tall, lanky cat. We think he may have been the kitten that received the least nourishment in the womb before Dad starting feeding Lady. In the slide show at Dad’s funeral was a picture of him holding (almost in a hug) Spike. That was Dad—wrapping his loving hands around a needy animal.
            Two cats saved by Dad live with Mom. There is Gizmo—a grey tabby. Dad found her underneath a rail car at The National Inventor’s Hall of Fame. For some reason, I’m thinking it may have been called Inventure Place at the time. Or, maybe Inventure Place was a part of the Hall of Fame. Gizmo was only about four-and-a-half weeks old when Dad found her. Her brought her home and she became Mom’s kitty. Dad was working, but Mom was at home. Mom cared for Gizmo, putting milk on her finger and letting Gizmo lick it off. Often kittens that young don’t make it, but Mom spent the time to nurse Gizmo back to health. We think Gizmo may have bonded with Mom as if Mom was her cat-mother. That cat loves to lay in Mom’s lap and purr. It’s good Mom has that companionship while going through this time of grief. She wouldn’t have that without Dad showing kindness to a stray.
            Mom also has Bootsie—so called for her white feet that almost look like she’s wearing high heels. She is a black and white cat. We think she may have been abused before Dad took her in. She has uneven pupils, her jaw doesn’t sit quite right and she has a weird knot near the bottom of her sternum. Sometimes she lays funny, on her back or side with her back legs sprawled apart. Sometimes she is on her side, but her back legs are twisted so that portion is more on her back. She has a hyperactive tail, even when relaxed and purring. Even though she has her problems, she has the sweetest temperament.
            Dad started feeding her about two years ago. She started hanging around the house. As the weather became colder, Mom and Dad built a fort for her to stay in. They laid blankets over the picnic table in their back yard. They put a box underneath there with padding for her to sleep. They put a candescent bulb to give her heat. So, Mom and Dad had an inside cat (Gizmo) and an outside cat (Bootsie). I mentioned to Mom that when the weather gets cold, Dad is going to take her in the house, which happened. I believe it was around January of 2013.
            At first Bootsie was nervous. She hid upstairs most of the time. Gizmo, who probably only weighs six pounds, was the boss of the house, even though Bootsie is a much larger (and thicker) cat. Over time Bootsie has healed and grown more adventurous. At times she’s the boss of the kitties. At times she demands attention. She is becoming an affectionate lap cat. She will be another companion for Mom.
            I remember for a period of time, Dad was away from home on a working assignment. I was probably in my early to mid-teens at the time. I don’t think he had to take this assignment, but it was an opportunity for overtime. Dad’s hands worked hard in that overtime to buy my brother and me a computer—an Atari 800XL with a five-and-a-half inch floppy drive. I remember we hooked it up to a TV for a monitor. I think Dad was working sixteen-hour days throughout the workweek and also some hours over the weekend. He was probably putting in 80-100 hour per week just to buy that computer. We did have fun with that computer. I don’t know that Dad ever fully understood that thing, but we wanted it and I was interested in computers for school. So, Dad made sure he found a way to buy it for us.
            Throughout the years, Dad’s hands changed. They were always strong, but as he grew older they became less meaty. In the late 1990’s (not sure the date), Dad had a stroke. He recovered quickly. I remember them testing Dad’s hands for grip strength. I think he was around a hundred-and-ten pounds of grip. I’m not exactly sure those grip strength tests were related to the stroke (it could have been for something else at a different time), but I’m pretty sure they were.
            Several years ago, Mom developed an interest in making jewelry. She would buy various beads and string them together. Dad became interested and also started making jewelry. Through the years Dad went through several bouts of depression that affected his health. This loss of vigor, along with age, took away some of his hand strength. But, he always found something to do with hands.
            One hard part of Dad’s cancer was he wasn’t able to do things with his hands like he wanted. Over time he grew weary. He just didn’t have the strength to go outside like he wanted and play around. I think the last tomato plants he had were last summer. I don’t think he had a chance to plant any this year. Cancer took away Dad’s hands.
            My last memory of Dad’s hands was touching them as he lay in the casket. His hands were ice cold. I was overwhelmed with grief at that moment. Through his bout with cancer, Dad became cold, and as he grew weaker, he grew progressively colder. He wore layers and layers of clothes and still couldn’t find warmth. I think the only true warmth dad received was from a mattress-pad heater my mother and I bought for him within the last few weeks of his life.
            In many ways, Dad’s hands were his life. It was one of the main ways he showed his love to me, Lance and Mom. His hands were his outlet for his creativity. He was involved in several patents while working as a lab technician at Goodyear. And, his creativity was evident in the tomato planters and jewelry he made. Dad’s hands represent Dad—a kind, humble, hardworking man. Dad’s hands were love.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Return of Appetite

            It’s 7:56 p.m. on Friday June 19, 2015 as I start this blog. Right now I’m trying to hold onto every detail of what is happening in life. I know it’s irrational. If I try to record every detail, then my life is about recording instead of living. But, after a loss, I guess thoughts are irrational. I received a nice email from my buddy, Dennis Deegan. He is going to be a great comfort to me during this time. He wants to meet with my brother. I messaged Lance, but haven’t seen if he’s willing. I suspect he will be. Lance may be handling things better than I am.
            Today we picked out dad’s headstone. After flipping through the books to see the choices, and talking to the guy at the funeral home, Lance and mom had come to a fairly quick decision.
            Right now mom and I are talking to Kim Dalton, who was dad’s nurse at Pebblecreek. She called in the middle of my blogging. I’ll discuss what she said in a later blog.
            Anyhow, we talked to Kim for about an hour and now I’m back. So, Lance and mom came to a decision on dad’s stone fairly quickly. It was one I liked as well. It was fortunate that the stone we really liked was one of the least expensive. I would have hated to really love a stone and it was so expensive that we needed to choose something we didn’t like as well. We picked a nice image of Jesus. It looked like he was praying in the garden. Later we’ll receive a penciled image that we’ll sign off on. So, before everything is carved in stone (pardon the pun), there will be a final approval process. The stone should be done sometime this fall.
            As we were back in the arrangement room, there were all the little boxes and urns for people’s ashes. I’m so glad we didn’t have dad cremated. He had mentioned that to mom, but I think it was just dad trying to save a dime. If we had his ashes in an urn, I don’t think we could ever throw them out. Well, maybe mom and Lance could, but I don’t know I could. That urn would be a constant memory of his death. I want to remember his life. I think even the funeral will eventually become a fond memory. There were some funny and touching things that happened. I’ll discuss that in a later post.
            I still have an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. But, today I was able to eat more normally. After the decisions for the stone, Lance, Mom and I went to Hamburger Station. I ate a gyro, fries and then was looking at a cheeseburger from the six-pack mom and Lance had. I mentioned it and mom said to take one. So, I also had a cheeseburger. We all enjoyed the fries. Both my brother and me had a root beer and mom had a diet cola. I remember we went to Hamburger Station with dad. Dad loved hamburgers. We talked about that a little at Hamburger Station. Through his recovery process, the one thing Dad would have liked to eventually eat again was a hamburger. He never did get back to it. I think the closest he came was some soft meat loaf.
            I’m not sure why I’m want to record every detail. I’m going to eventually have to stop doing that. I still can’t stop taking pictures of everything. Later mom and I went out to Hartville, and when we came back I went out to the garage and took pictures of things out in the garage. Many of the things out there remind me of dad. I’m having a hard time letting things go. I know it will pass, but right now it’s hard. I even opened the trunk of mom’s car and took a picture of the Frisbee golf game she bought for dad. He never used it, but I want the memory. Mom was hoping Dad would use it as part of his recovery.
            On the way back from Hamburger Station, Mom and I stopped at the house my brother and I stay at, and I picked up my toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. Lance was there. We parted at Hamburger Station. He drove separately, since he is going to be spending time with his girlfriend, Sarah. So, tonight I will brush my chomper for the first time since Dad’s funeral. It’s funny how one forgets to do these things when recovering from a loss.
            When Mom and I were back at her house, I took a nap. I keep wavering between nervousness and exhaustion. It’s like waves—waves of nerves, waves of peace, waves of happy and waves of sad. Waves of all kinds of emotions keep washing over me.

            At Hamburger Station, mom and I had talked about going out to Hartville. We’ve gone out to the Hartville Kitchen several times the past few weeks. But, I wanted to be adventurous, so we drove farther down the street and found a Lucky Star Chinese restaurant. It was great! I had beef Lo Mein. Mom had beef and broccoli. We remembered the guy behind the counter. I think he’s the owner. I talked to him briefly. He used to work at a Lucky Star in the Shoppes of Green. We used to eat there quite a bit with dad. After that, mom and I got groceries at Giant Eagle and then headed back home. I guess we are starting to move on. I’m still feeling all nervous and disoriented. I don’t feel like I know what to do with myself. I can only think about dad in spurts. Then my life moves on. And then, it’s like it goes back to dad. I guess this is all part of grief.