Epilogue…

This… is the Epilogue to the story of Sandra Grosswiler.

Sandy has made it to the finish line.

I returned to the hospital about 4 o’clock this afternoon.  Eric and I held her hand and practiced the finer art of being a human “being.” Not doing, not distracted, just being with Sandy.  Helping here forage her way home.

We left for a quick dinner and as we made our way back to room 343 Sandy was ready to go.  The last precious few yards of her 81 year journey.

I wrote earlier today that I truly believe that death is every bit the miracle as birth.  These two human “transactions” are woven together — there is not one without the other.

Sandy finished her race.  I will love her always.  I will always be grateful for the man she raised that is my husband and I will do my level best to walk with him through the coming days… at his pleasure and with his heart in mind.

May God Bless and Keep YOU, Sandra Oxford Seeley Grosswiler

06-28-1935 — 02-01-2017sandy-birthday

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Miracles… Still Happen.

Today is day three of Sandy’s end of life journey.  She had a very peaceful night and now more than anything looks resting and when she makes the small sounds she is, it’s more the sounds of a someone reacting to a sweet or pleasant dream.  For that, I am grateful.

I had an epiphany of sorts yesterday.  Sandy’s journey from where I sit is resounding proofs that miracles…still happen.

miracles-in-johnWhen we, as people of faith think about miracles and the context of them, I think we often reflect on water turning into the finest of wine, or perhaps loaves and fishes sustaining the multitudes.  We think BIG.  I know, this is true for myself so much so that we miss the little miracles that happen. Every. Single. Day.

Sandy’s life and her forthcoming death are two sides on the same miracle coin.  Birth and death are indelibly tied to the miracle of life.  Sandy arrived in the world on       June 28, 1935 the date of her birth — a miracle that happened some 81 years ago.

And I stand in waiting…given the gift of helping her on her final journey through her life and assisting her in the miracle that will be her death.  Miracle?  Yes.  It is miraculous to me that our Creator, our Maker knew the exact hour that Sandy would enter the world, leave her mark on the lives she touched, the lives she birthcreated… and that our same Creator is applying the finishing stitches that are her life and is the sole determiner of her life’s end.

These past few days have been perhaps one of my greatest gifts.  The ability to support Eric in this journey, the gift of providing Sandy with the comfort that she needs to feel ready and ultimately able to leave this world with a destination of seeing dearly departed loved ones, and an eternal life free of pain.

Miracles…Still Happen.

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There Are Things That Lip Gloss Won’t Fix…

I’m sorry.  I’m sad to say so… but there are things that lip gloss won’t fix.  Ever. We are in day two of Sandy’s end-of-life journey.  She’s a fighter.  It’s one of the things when I reflect drove me crazy — she’s a fighter.  She looks more peaceful than I think I’ve ever seen her.

But… Eric still hurts.  There are probably one million things, at least, that we wish we would have done, would have done differently or would have done longer.  One more Coke at Chili’s?  One more movie at Chez?  Sure.  But there are things, that lip gloss just won’t fix.  It won’t add time to the clock, nor will it turn back the time.    Lip gloss, and I have tons, won’t take away the incredible pain that Eric is feeling.

It’s moment to moment, breath to breath and the most important thing is not the gloss… it’s being here. For Eric, for Sandy.

Sandy story… Eric and I got married in May, five years ago.  And Sandy just wasn’t sure that she wanted to go… it’ wasn’t horribly high on the priority list.  Last minute phone ring and Sandy wants to go.  Big. Win.sandy-at-wedding

Here’s where it gets funny… at our reception we had center pieces that contained a photo of Eric, a photo of Liz (that’s me), and a photo of us in addition to some beautifully crafted truffles.  Sandy strolled from table to table “lifting” the photos of Eric, the beautiful truffles… leaving me just behind.  In the days that followed Sandy and I were able to take some turns.  Each turn brought us a step closer and then another.  Maybe, it was the lip gloss?

Sanwedding-trufflesdy and I were recently able to spend some time Christmas shopping for Eric and Daniel (he’s my young man).  I was particularly touched that Sandy wanted to get Daniel a gift and of course some new shirts for Eric.  We were blessed with a beautiful day in the middle of December, we started with lunch at Chili’s and shrimp salad and chips and the best guac ever and followed with a Target shopping jaunt…Sandy likes to shop.  And we left with some new blouses and sweaters, some charming sweet gifts Alfred Hitchcock and Ugly Christmas Sweater Mugs…. we sent holiday cards and had Starbucks.

And so this morning, after sporadic sleep, I woke up, brushed my teeth, washed my face and applied lip gloss.

 

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There By The Grace Of God Go I…

It’s likely, that maybe you are a person of faith, or maybe you’re not.  Just the same, I imagine we’ve all heard or said, “There by the grace of God go I.”  My mother in law has moved past the twilight years, and not yet to the end, though, it’s painfully near. Painfully. The kind of pain that makes every part of your body and soul hurt.  Physical pain.

And I think, there by the grace of God go I.  There by the grace of God we all.

Sandy’s life is a life full of events.  Some that are beautiful moments full of joy and laughter and some that create heartbreaking pain.  sandy-birthdayThe loss of a toddler son, the loss of an adult daughter, the transition into assisted living. Sandy has an incredible way of remembering the special moments of her life.  Growing up in Rye, NY moving to Colorado, determined to be a New Yorker until the very last.  Our trip to Disney World and guacamole at her favorite Mexican haunt, Sandy has a life that ultimately is well lived.  Not always joyous and certainly not always sad — I think enough of each, to appreciate the value in the other.

Where did it come from…?  The notion that we walk this walk by the sheer grace and presence of God, our Almighty?

A paraphrase from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15:8-10, which states, “Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me. For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am…”.

Enter John Bradford.  He was an incredible man of faith and credited to this iconic phrase.  A man of faith and jailed by Mary Tudor, John was relentless in his faith to God.  john-bradfordSentenced to death, in the cruelest of fashion being burnt by the stake. He remained steadfast in faith knowing that his life, his being, his death, were all ordained by the most HOLY. And until his very last of moments sought the forgiveness of those he’d hurt and granting that same forgiveness to those who had done the same.

So I wonder, as I sit here with Sandy just how often I take for granted that there by the grace of God go I?  I have to believe that my every moment is directed by his hand — and that HIS influence is always around guiding my decision-making and helping me to be the kind of human that is full of compassion, love and a heart for HIS service.

This is a difficult time.  There is seemingly little that I can do to offer comfort to Eric, except to be there for him… take his cues and sometimes just hold his hand.

There by the grace of God… go I.

 

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I’m at War…

It’s January 22, 2017 and I am at war. 

I am at war with my OLW (One Little Word).  Grace.  The word that I thought best suit the direction I’d like my life to take this year. I don’t seem to show enough of it, not to my dog, to my coworkers, my family, to myself.

The changing of the guard and the election and inauguration of a new administration has made it all the more clear that my word choice is, On. The. Money.tupac

Over the past weekend my social media feed has been chock full of every sort of anger, every sort of concern as well as every sort of unkindness.  I thought perhaps I’d delete my account, and then I thought — well, I’ll shoot back word for word and deed for deed what I am seeing from my “friends.”  And then… there was always the choice cleaning house on my “friends” list and freely delete, hide, unfriend, block, and otherwise ignore those who, on either side of my political fence, are just being nasty.  And let me tell you about nasty, it can sound well-intentioned or even poetic, but, it doesn’t stop nasty from being just that.

This is where grace enters.  First blog:  Grace is giving me not what I deserve, but giving me what I don’t.  Forgiveness, kindness, patience, humility, love… friendship, partnership and more.

And this, is what it boils down to:

Ephesians 4:29

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. NIV

The grace I believe is present in my life, should also be present in yours.  There is no greater gift, at least that I can give in this moment, than graceGrace to those whom disagree with me, and grace to those who may agree ideologically, but have been every bit as guilty as the rest of us in espousing nastiness. I will continue to give myself grace, because while it may not end up on my latest blog or social media post, I’ve let my inside self conversation be filled with nastiness and unkind thoughts.

We live in a very difficult time, but, I do believe we’ll get through this too…what does it say of us if we choose not to?

My parting thought, who among us will be the first?  The first to show that we have more in common than we don’t?  That we all want security, prosperity, kindness and grace?  We can go on, and on, and on for the next four years assessing blame, harboring ill will and some of us may, but I wonder…

Ultimately, where, if we continue that path, will we arrive?

And so grace, I give to you.

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Isn’t Grace… Amazing?

In western culture, whether or secular, I am pretty confident that most people either know or would recognize Amazing Grace, a Christian hymn published in 1779.  And isn’t it?  Isn’t Grace…Amazing? 

Over the past weeks and developing my OLW, I’ve found myself wondering where did Amazing Grace come from?  What’s the story behind the story?

The lyrics were written by an English poet and Anglican clergyman by the name of John Newton (1725-1807).  Newton, like many people, grew up without any formal religious practice or influence, but rather had his life shaped and formed by the twists and turns that occurred typically, as a result of his unapologetic disobedience.   Newton had a pattern of near death experiences and being forced to examine his relationship with God, only to relapse into his same old habits.  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?   As a sailor, he denounced his faith after being influenced by a shipmate who discussed Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, a book by the Third Earl of Shaftsbury with him.

Like an unwary sailor who quits his port just before a rising storm, I renounced the hopes and comforts of the Gospel at the very time when every other comfort was about to fail me.”

Newton’s disobedience rendered him to the service of the Royal Navy.  Often taking advantage of opportunities to overstay his leave he finally deserted to visit Mary Polly Catlett, a family friend that he was smitten by. After suffering the humiliation of deserting Newton left the service of the Royal Navy and became involved with the Atlantic slave trade.

Newton finally found his faith in 1748, when a violent storm battered his vessel so severely that calling out to God for mercy was the only thing he could do.  He continued working in slave trading until 1754 – 1755 when he finally ended his days at sea and began his study of Christian theology.

So Newton’s story is exactly what makes grace amazing even today.   It is often the least likely of us, those that struggle with belief, or simply don’t believe at all, and those who’ve lost their faith who need grace most.

The message of forgiveness and redemption being possibly even for the least likely and regardless of the sin committed the soul can be delivered through the mercy of God.

 

Amazing Grace….

And that… is why Grace is just Amazing….

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What Is Grace??

I usually don’t unveil my new OLW (One Little Word) until January 1st.  This year, I am making an exception.  I hope you’ll go along for the ride.  I picked my word a week, maybe two ago and it’s time to bring it out to consider.

What Is Grace?? My OLW for 2017 — GRACE.

In my mind, grace, and in a very Biblical sense is not giving me what I deserve and instead giving me exactly what I don’t.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

This year has been like none other.  I find that I say that most years, but this year is no different.  Life on the home front has been generally good. My husband continues to excel in his career and that’s awesome.  Daniel if finding in his adultness the need to gain direction and build his adult version of who he wants to be.  Me, well, I’ve had a great year with respect to my career and of course continue to love all things Aurora Central.

But I also learned some pretty tough lessons this year.

My expectations don’t match, at least always, match people around me that I live, work, or play with.  My expectations of myself, I’ve learned are sometimes just unreachable. And, I’ve learned that more than anything, I could really use to give more grace, to others, and just as importantly to myself.

My friend, and great business coach, Kim Eickhoff has recommended a couple of books that I’ve been neglectful in reading.  On Purpose.  The first is Letting Go, by David Hawkins and The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown.  Okay… so here’s why I’m not reading them.  To me, it’s coming to grip with life being imperfect and that letting go is the suckers way out.  And… I’ve only turned a half-dozen pages in either book.  So instead, I picked up Productivity Ninja, by Graham Alcott.  Isn’t that just so me?  I can productive my way out of anything.

Except. Grace.

So this year, 2017, my focus will be on accepting more easily and giving more freely, GRACE.grace I have no doubt it will be difficult, and I am guessing, I will fall short many times.  I hope I’ll learn to be more accepting of that.  I hope that as the year rolls along, I will too.  Be a bit gentler with myself.  I’m tough.  When I fall or fail, I tend to have a tough time rebounding.   When people around me fall short of what I think should happen, ouch, it’s hard.  I think it’s largely because I think settling for less, or “phoning it in” is a huge character flaw.  Of course that comes from my perspective and how I view someone else, or myself and it’s dangerous.

So my intention with OLW for 2017 is to look at an area in my life that could stand a little improvement and get to the work of making it better.

Maybe a touch of grace will help.

 

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