Wade Holy Ground

It’s Easter Sunday, and I hike once again to that old cemetery—the one that’s in my neighborhood. I want to see if the lilies-of-the valley are blooming yet. They weren’t last Sunday.

In Wades Grove where Lequire Lane abruptly ends just past its intersection with Dubose Court, there’s a field full of dandelions and clover off to the right. Across the slope is a wide path that goes up a hill between saplings and tall trees just barely getting their leaves. I trudge up the steep incline, going higher than the houses on Dubose. A blue heron flies over.

She’s a solitary bird, looking for peace within. The great blue heron brings the message that I should listen to the inner callings of my heart, follow my own unique path in life, and co-create my own circumstances. And then rise and soar when I choose.

wc2gate

At the top of the hill is the cemetery surrounded by an old rock wall. A black iron gate is the way in. The Wades and Duboses who used to walk this land now reside here under it, yet above all of us who have houses down in the real world in a subdivision named for their family.

The ground is covered with periwinkle, little blue flowers everywhere. Snowdrops are just beginning to bloom in tiny, white, bell-like flowers. Daffodils stretch in a long line, tossing their yellow heads in the wind. I wonder if someone from an olden age planted them here. It used to be this way long ago when all old homeplaces had daffodils around their yards, and little children laughed and played inside them and trees towered over them, and when the folks died off and their house rotted into oblivion, the daffodils remained, returning every year and lining up in a square to announce the season of rebirth and new life.

wc6lilies

Now old trees rise up inside that gray stone fence—trees that speak of long life. Three giant walnuts, maybe a century old. An ancient spruce and two dogwoods in bloom. In one corner, a magnolia stands the tallest with its thick gnarled limbs stretching out over the people here. Someone cut down another magnolia in front of the old one, and five new trunks have grown up from it. No leaves, but the tree has long slender velvet tips at the ends of each branch ready to bloom out in fragrant satin flower.

wc4magnoliadogwood

The gravestones are all lined up, like school children getting into formation to go outside for recess. Patty Ann, Elizabeth, George, Harriet, Henry, Mary Lou, Lucy, Carolyn—Wade people, adults and children, who lived and died in the 1800s and early 1900s, a century ago. The last time someone was buried here was in 1936.

I walk by Lucy Wade and her husband William Dubose. Lucy died at thirty three, leaving an eleven-year-old daughter, Carolyn. Carolyn, born in Spring Hill in 1883 and died in Atlanta in 1912, was “A Perfect Woman,” according to her tombstone. She was only twenty-nine and didn’t have a chance to become colored by life. Henry Pointer Wade, 1828-1907, was “A Good Man.” That’s what my Charlie wanted people to remember about him.

I sit on the bottom concrete ledge of Burke Bond’s tall spire. Burke died in 1889, and according to his inscription, he knew that his Redeemer liveth.

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.” Job 19:25-26 NIV

The sun filters in through new spring leaves. I watch the shadows fall—the old walnut and spruce lay across the aging, blackening tombstones inscribed with names and spans of years people walked and worked and played here.

I walk over to the eastern wall of rock and look out over all the newly built houses in Wades Grove. Earth in the distance has been cleared of old trees—cherry, cedar, crab apple, sweet gum, sycamore—for even more homes. And farther out beyond the neighborhood’s reaches is the school our children are zoned for.

wc1gravesandschool

Children here inside the stone fence, children over there in the brick building. People up here under obelisks, people down there on grazing land mowing grass. Land that moves forward.

I think of my own family land down in Mississippi. Five generations have owned that red-clay dirt. I’m up now, and when my time comes, I will pass it on to my children. I imagine the Wade children played on this land like I played on ours during summer visits to the grandparents when I was a little girl. I wonder if the Wade children went with their grandpa late afternoons to bring the cows in. I imagine the children played in Aenon Creek—maybe they even dammed it up and built a pond like my cousins and I did on our stream. I wonder if the Wade children ever tried to dig up a grave with a tin can here, like my cousins and I did in the family cemetery on our land. I wonder if their grandma took them to the cemetery and showed them the stones and told them the old, old stories of the ones passed.

There is peace here in the sleep of the old. And quiet, except for a lawn mower on the court below. The lilies aren’t blooming. Yet.

Sometimes this is my church. I come here Sunday mornings, sit, meditate, think, write, silently sing a song. “When I walked through the door I sensed God’s presence . . . And I know that there are angels all around . . . I am standing in His presence on Holy Ground.”

From up here high on the hill, I can see how it was, how it is, and how it will be.

There’s something about standing here on holy ground between heaven and earth and seeing who used to be here and who is here now, and there’s a sense of comfort that life’s long lines go on.


Asbestos Awareness

I grew up in a house with asbestos shingles. Most of the houses on my street were built with these hard, brittle tiles. It was common for builders in the 1940s and 1950s to use asbestos shingles. My parents bought their house in 1949 and lived in it until they died in 2006 and 2009.

Asbestos became popular among builders in the late 19th century because of its tensile strength, resistance to fire and heat, and affordability.

The prolonged exposure to and inhalation of asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer.

EVERY YEAR AROUND 3,000 PEOPLE ARE DIAGNOSED WITH MESOTHELIOMA. On average, they are given 10 months to live. That’s 300 days.

HeatherHeather Von St. James

Fellow blogger Heather Von St. James was one of those who got the diagnosis in 2005. Her daddy was in the construction business. Asbestos fibers were on his clothes that he wore home from work, and she would sometimes put on his coat. Heather was diagnosed at the age of 36, three months after she gave birth to a daughter. Now she is a 7-year survivor and has made it her mission to spread awareness and hope.

Please visit Heather’s page and learn about asbestos today.

A few facts:

1. About 30 million pounds of asbestos are still used each year.

2. Asbestos can still be found in many homes, schools, and commercial buildings.

3. Asbestos was once used in more than 3,000 products, including toasters and hair dryers…some of which may still be in use.

The house I grew up in that is covered with asbestos shingles is still there, housing people. So is the house next to it and the one across the street and others on down Deering Street.


Silent Peace, Part 2

This is a followup to yesterday’s post, “Silent Peace.”

How do you know? How do you know when your deceased loved one comes to visit you?

One way…

When out of nowhere comes a snap remembrance of him, maybe on an important day, and the tears come immediately, not in drops but in cupsful, and you can’t stop them, and you are overwhelmed in the scope of a few seconds, and your heart pounds…the spirit of the person is there for that brief moment.


Silent Peace

Hard to believe how fast time passes, but tomorrow is eight years since Dad took in, let out his last breath.

Dad

Since that Friday evening March 31, 2006, I’ve learned a lot about death. Shy of two years after Dad left this earth, my husband died. Then a year and a half later, my mom.

I’ve told these stories many times, but I think they need to be told and re-told, and I think they bring comfort. Here is what I believe based on what I have experienced.

The person who crosses through the veil between this realm and the heavenly realm of the after-life can visit with his loved ones and even take care of them for some time after death. He doesn’t just go away and close the veil door behind him.

A few weeks after Dad died, I went back home to visit my mother. After a six and a half hour drive, I pulled into her driveway, and my tire went flat right then and there. It would have been a blowout on the interstate, and I would have been stranded and possibly involved in an accident. Dad? I thought so. He was taking care of me. But even more compelling — and funny — was the night before I left my mother’s house to go back home.

I was packing my stuff, and I could not find the dog’s favorite pillow. Mama and I looked under furniture in every room of that house, and it was nowhere. I told her I’d just buy another one at PetSmart. It was cheap enough, no big deal. And we all went to bed. The next morning I woke up and there was the pillow in the middle of the room in plain vision. No explanation. You have to know my father to understand this. He didn’t like any unnecessary spending of money. He would have been appalled that I would pay three dollars for another white fleece pillow!

You may think these are silly little things, but they’re not to the person who has experienced loss.

My experience at the moment of my husband’s death is beautiful and telling, and I tell it often, too. I was sitting in the waiting room at Vanderbilt Medical Center, and he was in his third surgery in a thirty-seven-hour period. I was trembling all over. I knew this was critical.

I looked up at the ceiling lights. I felt a warmth approach me, soak in to me, literally wrap around me and cover me, and I felt a peace like I had never known. Then I heard my husband say, “I’m going, I’m going.”

It was my husband coming to me to tell me he was dying.

This takes on more meaning, however, when you consider the last two lines of our wedding vows we wrote: “I want to endure all things with you. I want to walk home to God with you.”

He was walking home to God. Was God, the Holy Spirit, walking with him at that point? Was I in the presence of God? Were he and God fulfilling that holy promise to me? It was a holy peace.

I don’t have the answer. You can decide. It doesn’t matter. I was in communion with something heavenly and holy and powerful, a force that gave me silent peace.

Many times during that first year I felt my husband’s presence. I always knew he was there with me. And because I asked for him to, he came to me briefly on the fifth-year anniversary of his death. I could write a book on the ways he spoke to me and came to me! Oh wait, I did. (You’ll have to read my book to know more…Remember the Dragonflies: A Memoir of Grief and Healing).

All this to say, I learned in experience and not just by faith that there is life after death. We do go somewhere. At least my husband said he was going. And death is not the kind of finality that is abrupt. We can see, communicate with, and comfort our close ones; we can find ways to cross that veil and touch our precious families. Sometimes they may be aware; sometimes they may not be. I believe all this, and I am counting on it.

So now, here’s to Dad. Thanks for holding that tire together and thanks for finding that pillow. And thanks for all the many ways you have spoken to me and taught me things — alive on earth and alive in heaven.

I will always remember that final Friday at sunset as my sister and I stood in the front yard and watched the hearse take my dad away from our family home. Yes, the sun went down. And then the sun came up.

Life is that way.

 

 


Spring Forward

I set the clocks forward last night before I went to bed, all except the clock in the bedroom, which I never changed last fall when we were supposed to fall back an hour. So now, it’s right.

Just as now, the world is right because it’s warming up after a brutal winter, the most brutal I can ever remember in my long, long life. Plants in my yard that are supposed to make it through the cold months are burned brown. The lenten rose, for example. It sits in wet dirt with scattered and faded mulch around it left over from a year ago, and its leaves are dried and toasted . . . and yet there are new fresh blooms, winter white, tender, vulnerable. I feel like that, too.

lenten rose

As the world grows ever toward the newness of spring, I feel a surge in my spirit. I cleaned up my deck yesterday. My favorite things to do this time of year are: eat breakfast on the deck, eat lunch on the deck, eat supper on the deck, build a fire in the chimenea on the deck, read on the deck, take my laptop outside and work on the deck, sit on the deck and look at the yard and figure what else I can plant out there, look at the Medicine Wheel herb garden and feel a need to go out there when the sun is warm enough and refresh it to look like the first chapter of my book, Remember the Dragonflies.

As the world grows ever toward the newness of spring, I want to get my pink fingernails in the dirt. I want to plant tomatoes. I want to plant more vegetables, berries, and flowers. I want to plant. Period.

I want to spring forward in the newness of spring.


Stop Pulling My Chain!

I just realized something. My desk lamp is coming on by itself. I swear it is.

I have a nice little Staples lamp with a chrome base sitting at the right of my office desk next to the window. It has a chain pull. I rarely use it because when I come up the stairs, I turn on the office ceiling light. It’s always early-morning dark, and I need to get to my desk without stumbling and spilling my coffee.

Staples lamp
Yesterday, I worked a bit at my computer and then went down to get coffee. When I returned to my desk, I noticed the lamp was on. I frowned and shook my head. I didn’t remember turning it on. I didn’t think I did.

This morning, the same thing. I went downstairs to make toast with peanut butter and honey and get a fresh cup of coffee. When I returned to my desk, the lamp was on. I did not turn it on. I know I didn’t.

I remember something like this happening five years ago, only it was the garage door opening, and I wrote about it in a blog titled “Things That Go Bump in the Night.”

Maybe it’s starting. Maybe I’m losing my mind.

I’ve got to collect my wits.

Who’s pulling my chain?


Resolutions. Now?

I’m thinking about resolutions. It’s January 12, you say. Too late to be thinking about resolutions.

Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something.

Before New Year’s, I did make a few resolutions. Even wrote them down. Two of them, I’ve kept.

Walk every day, or at least five days a week. The second part took the heat off.

Keep better financial records. “Better” is the word that saves me here. Because I can’t keep worse records than I did in 2013.

But there’s no goal on my list. Nothing I plan to accomplish in 2014. I don’t know how to live without a goal. I can tell I don’t have anything pressing on my slate when I wake up in the morning. Instead of popping straight up out of bed, I lie there and ask myself what it is I need to do, or want to do today. In years past, I’d know and jump up and get right on it.

That makes me think that people who don’t believe in resolutions will achieve nothing.

You know what you want to do. But are you committed to doing it? You didn’t resolve to do something toward achieving that goal on a regular basis? You don’t have weekly goals or monthly goals? Mark my words: come December 31, you won’t have anything done to reach what you think you want to reach. You might as well pack it up and forget it.

I don’t want to be in this bunch. I’ve got to sit down right now before the Ides of January and figure out some exacts, some reasons to get up at five in the morning and get going, some goals to better my life and position.

climbing ladder
I need resolutions. With them, I know I am making progress. If in the end, I don’t reach the top of the ladder, it’s okay. I’m at least halfway or three-fourths of the way up. And that is good.

What about you? Do you have them? Are you keeping or breaking them? Are you at least making progress?


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