Spring has Sprung!

I worked all day on my garden yesterday. Unlike other provinces that have been basking in warm weather and greenery aplenty, here in Alberta, we still have frost warnings! Our growing season is so short I know there’s always a risk in planting too soon. I’ve jumped the gun a few times desperate to see flowers after a long, cold winter, and regretted it when my efforts were ruined by a killing frost in mid June. I’m praying that won’t happen this time.

This is my most favourite time of year. Early morning sunrises, warm rain showers, the occasional afternoon thunderstorms, and brilliant red sunsets. Sitting on our deck, with our Rocky Mountain view before us, my husband and I drink in the scenery and season, and count our blessings. It is pure contentment.

It is easy to feel contentment when all is well in our little corner of the universe. No calamities, no real hardships burden us at present. After three years of health issues, Covid, and isolation, it is like merging from a chrysalis into a whole new world. We don’t want to take it for granted, but cherish these idyllic times when they come because we also know “winter is coming” and life can change in an instant.

We have grieved this year the passing of loved ones and friends, and have prayed and continue to pray for many who are facing challenging times. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. If I’m not careful I can fixate on all the negativity and become cynical and hard-hearted. It’s important to stop and praise God for the mountain top experiences too.

So today, I invite you to join me in watching the sunrise. Take a few minutes to listen to birdsong around you. Be captivated by something joy-inspiring. Open God’s Word, and let His presence fill you with peace.

Psalm 104

Praise the Lord, my soul. Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty. The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messengers,
flames of fire his servants. He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.
You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
they flowed over the mountains,
they went down into the valleys,
to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross;
never again will they cover the earth. He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.
The trees of the Lord are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the junipers.
The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the hyrax. He made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.
You bring darkness, it becomes night,
and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
The lions roar for their prey
and seek their food from God.
The sun rises, and they steal away;
they return and lie down in their dens.
Then people go out to their work,
to their labor until evening. How many are your works, Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.
There the ships go to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. All creatures look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.
When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.
When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground. May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works—
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke. I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the Lord.
But may sinners vanish from the earth
and the wicked be no more. Praise the Lord, my soul. Praise the Lord.

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Open Doors

We have a sticky screen door. A combination of a latch that befuddles my little grands when they want to go in and out of the house, and their fingers usually covered with some kind of goo. We celebrated birthdays last night and it was the first warm evening to be outside with the entire family. Snow last week, and temperatures in the 20’s this week. Springtime in Alberta is a roller coaster ride.

Our four year old birthday boy, Atti was excited to be the centre of attention. His uncle Jack, a little more subdued, shared the well wishes, because their Birthdays are only two days apart. Watching my five grandbabies run around the yard, my adult children gathered around me, laughing, conversing…well…it just makes my heart happy. My daughter, Carmen and Jack are expecting their first baby in July. People always say expectant Moms “glow”, well my daughter BEAMS! My arms are already longing to cuddle my sixth grandchild.

But, back to my sticky back door…

I remember when I was a kid my Mom had a common mantra to mine now: “You’re either in or you’re out! Don’t keep going in and out!” She obviously had sticky doors too with my brother and I entering and exiting the house all day long. Birthday boy, Atti with cupcake icing on his nose and fingers was determined to go inside the house, but was just a smitch too little to reach the latch. His Dad, sitting by the door refused to open the door for him. I watched the exchange and laughed.

“Open the door!” Atti demanded.

My son ignored him.

“Dad! Open the door!” My son scowled at him, but refused to acknowledge the demand.

Atti’s oldest cousin thought perhaps asking more politely would help the situation so Jaxon called out, “ What’s the magic word, Atti?”

Atti glared at both his Dad and Jaxon, and then as if a tiny lightbulb blinked on over his head, he smiled and yelled, “Open the door…NOW!”

Too funny!

Atti did eventually gain entry when he finally remembered the correct “magic” word was “please”. After the kids left, I followed the trail of sticky fingers around the house and couldn’t help but smile.

A perfect handprint was on the window at the back door. I touched it and breathed a quick prayer of thanks to God.

“Thank You, Lord for sticky fingers, sticky doors, floors and walls. The memories of life stick to my heart as permanent imprints. As I lovingly wipe down walls, and mirrors after the visits, I am reminded that one day there won’t be little fingerprints gracing my home like artwork. You have blessed my home with these little “artists” for such a short time. Keep me mindful to always have an open heart and an open door to each and every one of them!”

Amen!

Thank You Lord, 
For these little fingerprints
On my windows and wall.
They are precious masterpieces,
I see along the hall.
One day they will be gone
And Grandma’s art gallery will be no more.
No sticky prints and licky lips will grace my walls and doors.
So, make me thankful now to see them as gooey works of art.
They have left their imprints in my home
But more so on my heart!

-Lynn Dove-



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Mother’s Day Memories

In 1990, I spent an eventful last Mother’s Day with my Mom. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989. After developing complications after surgery, she had battled hard, but the cancer had spread beyond what doctors could do for her. My Dad, exhausted from caring for her at home, was reluctantly looking at placing her in palliative care. I flew home to Victoria from Calgary, and spent a week giving Dad some respite, by allowing him to rest in their guest room, while I slept in his bed next to my mother. I had to wake up three times a night to give her medications that helped control her pain. Oftentimes, it was difficult to fall back to sleep afterwards. Dad had warned me that she still had a habit of talking in her sleep. It was something my Dad used to tease her about. Usually it was unintelligible, but lately, in between her med “feedings” he would listen to her carry on conversations in Danish with her deceased mother. It was starting to creep him out.

My mother was determined to be lucid during my visit, something my Dad told me months later, so she had purposefully decreased some of her pain meds that left her groggy and at times unresponsive. My mother knew that the conversations we would have together that week were too important for both of us. I needed to share the Good News with her one last time, and she needed to reassure me that she understood and had made her “peace” with the Almighty.

On Mother’s Day, my Dad and I were surprised when Mom declared she wanted to go for a drive. She had not left her bed or the house in weeks, so seeing her on her feet and dressed for the day made my Dad almost giddy with joy. I helped her put on a bit of rouge to put some colour in her cheeks, and she carefully put on some red lipstick. Reaching into her purse, she pulled out a delicate hanky my grandmother had given her, and folded the cloth between her lips, to leave a perfect imprint. My mother had chosen a new pant suit to wear for the outing. She loved her pant suit “uniforms” as she called them. This one was pale pinkish beige in colour. She had bought it after Christmas, perhaps hoping she would get to wear it to my brother’s upcoming wedding in June. Although we prayed she would be able to attend, she must have sensed that this Mother’s Day would be the one and only time she would wear the outfit.

My Dad dressed for the occasion too. Wearing a suit and tie, I caught the familiar scent of Old Spice as he held the door of his Oldsmobile Cutlass open for me to climb into the back seat, and gingerly helped Mom into the passenger seat.

“Where should we go?” he beamed.

“The Malahat Chalet!” Mom said without hesitation.

I suppose Dad and I should have thought about making reservations, after all it was Mother’s Day, and restaurants would have been booked weeks in advance, but it never crossed our minds. Dad put on his sunglasses, smiled brightly at Mom, and we made our way up island as if we had no cares in the world. The scenery was spectacular, the weather cooperating after days of wet drizzle. The cherry blossoms were raining pink snow on the ground. Mom seemed to drink in all the Spring flowers and colours as we sped by all the familiar landmarks we loved. Ascending the Malahat Drive, catching stunning views of the ocean through the trees, we reached the chalet and assisted Mom into the restaurant. As if planned, the waitress led us to the best table on the outside deck with the best view of the ocean. Hummingbirds buzzed around the red feeders, captivating my mother by their dive bombing antics. I don’t remember our meal, or our light conversation. I remember vividly Dad’s expression of pure joy as he sat beside my mother. His eyebrows raised in mischievous merriment. My mother’s laughter as he cracked a joke. After lunch, Mom wanted to visit the gift shop next door. Dad was more than willing to indulge this unusual whim. I followed her as she chose a little doll that I was to take home to my six year old daughter, her only grandchild. It was a late birthday gift she said, but her eyes glistened with unshed tears. I found three stained glass hummingbirds and she encouraged me to get them, one each for my husband, daughter and me, to remember this precious Mother’s Day that I couldn’t celebrate with them, but instead was able to share with my Mom.

The ride home was quiet. The day’s activity had taken a lot out of my Mom. She apologized that she felt extremely weary and retired to bed almost immediately. Dad and I sat quietly together, each in our own thoughts. I turned on the T.V. just for the noise, until I heard my Dad’s soft breathing as he slept peacefully in his lounge chair. I let him sleep, and went to bed early, knowing that I would be awakened again by the alarm for Mom’s med feeding at midnight. I awoke instead to her chatting pleasantly with someone in Danish. In the dark, I lay intently listening to the one-sided conversation. I understood many of the words, and pictured her having coffee in a garden with the buzz of hummingbirds all around. She giggled and said, “Mor” as she offered her mother “dansk wienerbrod” (Danish pastry). It was obvious they were enjoying one another’s company. I was sorry to interrupt them to wake Mom up to give her pain pills.

I returned home to Calgary a day later. I knew Dad would have to take on his responsibility again as Mom’s primary caregiver. I prayed he would have the strength, endurance and fortitude to handle the next few months on his own. On June 19th, my brother got married in Calgary and Mom went into hospice in Victoria on the 20th.

On July 8th, Mom passed away.

I helped my Dad go through her things in the days following her death. He was too emotionally exhausted to handle it all on his own. Donating her pant suits to Goodwill, was hard enough, but I dissolved into tears when I reached into her purse and found the imprint of her lips on the hanky she used on Mother’s Day. I have kept that hanky all these many years. It is as though aIl the memories of that day, were sealed with a kiss!

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