THOUGHTS OF HOME
Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
As I settle into my "golden years," I appreciate more and more the truth of these often-quoted lines. Few words strike a warmer spirit within than ‘home." I like the description of home accompanying "Home Sweet Home" in William J. Bennett’s The Book of Virtues: "Home is the place where we find comfort, security, memories, friendship, hospitality, and above all, family. It is the place that deserves our commitment and loyalty."
Each person carries his/her own image of home. Some may see a palatial building beautifully landscaped and located in the most ideal of places. Others may see a more modest house and surroundings. To still others, an unattractive building in a far-from-ideal location may come to mind. I have always felt strongly that building and location relate little to the home within.
Someone looking at photographs on my bedroom wall asked where the one of my little brother Matt sitting on crude but substantial steps as he throws corn from a lard bucket to chickens was made. When I replied that it was the house in which I was born and where we lived in 1939 when the photograph was taken, they appeared surprised. I said to them that ours was not the worst looking house in the community. Some of my happiest memories are of our home there and of other homes in which I played during those years.
Although the dictionary allows it, I am bothered to see a sign declaring "Home for Sale." In my mind, a house may be sold but not the home within. True, a home may be sold out to selfishness, a lack of love, a growing apart of those within, or some other undesirable circumstances, but it cannot be sold as an object. Although our culture may have overly idealized the visual image of home, those of us who have been blessed with a happy, Christ-centered home know the true warmth and love of home. We do not require an artist’s rendition of a cozy cottage with windows aglow.
Statistics support the importance of a happy, stable, loving home in the development of children. School systems attest to the achievement of children in relation to their home environments. Sadly, crime statistics likewise reflect on the home life of those committing criminal acts. Of course exceptions exist.
I have always felt blessed that God allowed me to be born into a loving home. To me, the words home and family seem almost synonymous. My mother, like many more women then than now, was a stay-at-home mother—although she seemed to find a number of ways to supplement the family income. She was a good example of a Proverbs 31-wife. I often wish I possessed larger measures of her admirable qualities, especially her diligence.
Another example she set for her children was respect for and total support of our father. Her death at an early age limited their time together to 32 years, but their love and devotion is an enduring example. I have heard, "The greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother." I believe it to be so.
Many families come to mind as examples of what God intended home to be. My childhood memories are of the happy, loving homes of my friends. As I grew older, the families which seemed to impress me were those which had God as the head and as an unseen guest always present.
Tom Brokaw in The Greatest Generation and The Greatest Generation Speaks cites numerous examples of soldiers who survived the hardships of battles and prison camps only by thoughts of their families and homes. Those at home also endured great sacrifices sustained by a spirit of patriotism and dedication to home and country that has never been equaled.
I could not possibly be more aware of the blessings of health and happiness in our own family. When our two families come together, my sister Ava and I are deeply touched by the visible outpouring of goodness between our children and grandchildren, with never cross words or unhappy exchanges to mar the joy we share. We both rejoice as our family circle continues to grow. My sister-in-law Carroll Waller and I comment frequently to each other about how greatly we are blessed in the health and happiness of our offspring. Close family ties among extended family members must be one of the most stabilizing forces in the lives of the younger generation.
We were deeply touched on the occasion of granddaughter Mary Beth’s wedding when relatives from far and near came and brought their children. This seemed to confirm that through the years strong family ties have been formed. It made our joy more complete to have all these with us.
Families who have close loving relationships are able to weather the storms of life with a greater strength. They support each other in the bad times and rejoice together in the happy times. As I write, I do not mean to take for granted that all homes are made up of happy, loving families. The reality is that this is not true, and I empathize with those who have dealt with and must deal with less than the ideal. And even in the happy homes I describe, life had and has its problems. I thank God for families and homes, and I pray He will help us in dealing with the problems in our homes and will sustain us all as we strive to live happily together.
INTRODUCING ROCKY KENNEDY
Rocky Kennedy joined the staff of Waller Funeral Home on October 1, 1999. Previously, he had been employed since 1996 in Georgetown, Kentucky, at the Tucker, Yocum, & Wilson Funeral Home and with the University of Kentucky Medical School Body Bequeathal Program.
Rocky's work in funeral service began as a part-time job while he was in high school and continued during college breaks while he attended Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky. He attended the Mid America College of Funeral Service in Jeffersonville, Indiana. He is now a fully licensed funeral director and is involved in all aspects of our funeral service.
Rocky is enjoying his life in Oxford and finds time for his outdoor hobbies of hunting and fishing often accompanied by his black lab Elvis. He is enjoying getting to know the people of the area and is eager to be of help to the families we serve at the Funeral Home.
We are glad to have Rocky as a part of our staff!
OTHER THOUGHTS OF HOME AND FAMILY
Build Me a Son
Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.
Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know Thee—and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.
Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here, let him learn to stand up in the storm; here, let him learn compassion for those who fall.
Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goals will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.
And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, "I have not lived in vain."
—General Douglas A. MacArthur
The Beautiful Home
I never saw a garment too fine for a man or maid; there never was a chair too good for a cobbler or cooper or a king to sit in; never a house too fine to shelter the human head. Elegance fits man. But do we not value these tools a little more than they are worth and sometimes mortgage a house for the mahogany we bring into it? I had rather eat my dinner off the head of a barrel, or dress after the fashion of John the Baptist in the wilderness, or sit on a block all my life, than consume all myself before I got to a home, and take so much pains with the outside that the inside was as hollow as an empty nut. Beauty is a great thing, but beauty of garment, house, and furniture are tawdry ornaments compared with domestic love. All the elegance in the world will not make a home, and I would give more for a spoonful of real hearty love than for whole shiploads of furniture and all the gorgeousness the world can gather.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes
I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give them, and that is the Christian religion. If they had that, and I had not given them one shilling, they would have been rich, and if they had not that, and I had given them all the world, they would be poor.
No other success in life—not being President, or being wealthy, or going to college, or writing a book, or anything else—comes up to the success of the man or woman who can feel that they have done their duty and that their children and grandchildren rise up and call them blessed.
—Theodore Roosevelt, 1917
Paradox of Our Times
The paradox of our times is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We buy more, but enjoy it less.
We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more advanced degrees, but less common sense; more knowledge, but less good judgment; more medicine, but less wellness.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We have higher incomes, but lower morals.
We have been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We’ve conquered outer space, but inner space is still a mystery to too many of us.
We have cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; split the atom, but not our prejudices.
We talk too much, love too seldom and hate too often.
These are times of steep profits and shallow relationships; world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; two incomes, and more divorce.
It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring a letter to you in seconds, and you can choose either to make a difference or just hit "delete."
— Author Unknown
Grief never goes away. The pain is excruciating.
The scars are permanent. You are forever changed.
—The above title and sentences and the two articles below are reprinted from a complication about grief by Jennifer Hansen in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of June 30, 1999. After her own experience with grief Ms. Hansen reaches out to others bereaved by the deaths of loved ones. We plan to include more of her personal story in a future issue of Seasons.
We are grateful to Ms. Hansen for her insightful material and for her permission to reprint it. Also we are grateful to Denise Wade for sending these clippings to us.
Respect the lonely sailor on that vast, dark ocean
Recently, two acquaintances were discussing a man whose wife died a few months ago. It was time he gave away her things, they said. It was time he got over it.
I listened, silent, but started writing this column in my mind.
Dear friends, we have such a small understanding of grief and so little patience with the bereaved. It’s time to find more of both.
Grief has no schedule. It would be so much easier on all of us if the pain of bereavement ended after three months, but it just doesn’t work that way.
Sometimes after three months the reality of the loss is just beginning to sink in.
Grief is neither a sickness that can be cured nor a stage one can outgrow. Like any other milestone, it’s a permanent addition to our self-definition. After the loss of someone we love, please don’t expect us to snap out of it and be who we were before. Our old self and our old life died with our loved ones. However prepared we might have been, when they died we stepped through a door that has forever closed behind us. We can’t go back.
Sometimes we feel like we’re just going through the motions for the first year after a loss. Each holiday, anniversary and birthday looms like a tidal wave and hits us about that hard. The weeks or months in between are simply recovery from or preparation for the next unbearable event.
We have to get through all these significant dates at least once before we can understand how we’ll get through the rest of our lives. It takes a full year to go through all of them, and then we still face the worst one of all, the first anniversary of the death.
Everyone grieves differently. Sleep, often elusive, is at least oblivion. Waking is dreaded. We may be clingy, we may have nightmares, we may be remote, we may cry often, we may never cry again.
We’re often told time will heal us, but time is the enemy. We want to turn back the clock but it goes forward. It slows down in the worst parts and speeds up through the easy parts. Some days are excruciating. Some seasons are endless.
Eventually, things do change. But each person’s grief takes its own good time. While a 1-month-old grief is unbearable and a 1-year-old grief is still raw, a 10-year-old grief is different.
Even after much time has passed, gently and caringly asking about a loss can be a kindness, especially when well-meaning friends have decided it’s a taboo subject. One of the hardest parts of losing someone you love is the fear that he will be forgotten. So many times, the people who recognize our need to talk are those who’ve been where we are.
There’s a strange kinship among the bereaved. We have lifetime memberships in a club no one wants to belong to. More than once, I’ve initiated conversations with near-strangers about subjects so private and painful others might have been shocked. But we understood each other. We recognized each other because we spoke the language of tragedy.
Everyone reacts differently to a loss. Some of us do things we’d never do otherwise. Please, be gentle in your opinions and understanding in your expectations. If you haven’t gone through what someone else is experiencing, then trust me, no matter how compassionate you are, you don’t know what it’s like.
People speak of grief as if it were a tide that’s come in and will soon recede. But grief is not the tide. Grief is what’s left when the unimaginable occurs. It’s the residue of horror, the aftermath of heartache, the uninvited guest who will not leave. It lingers, it hovers, it smothers. It’s unrelenting.
Bereavement puts us on a small boat in a great ocean. Time, faith, love, friends and our own inner strength are the tides that can carry us to shore. But grief is the ocean, vast and overwhelming.
Once you’ve seen the ocean, you never see the world the same.
Support is patient and kind, listening long after the busy world moves on
Hospitals, hospice organizations, funeral homes and churches are all good sources for information on bereavement support groups in your area. Bereavement coordinators like Paula Ellington of Fayetteville say finding a support group is often a grieving person’s most important step toward recovery.
In her work for Washington Regional Medical Center’s Home, Health, Hospice and Independent Living, Ellington avoids listing the stages of grief.
"There are so many emotions involved," she says. The recovery process is unique to each person. A big part of making your way through grieving is to take charge of the process and make it proactive. At the same time, everybody needs a little assistance."
Ellington lists typical symptoms of grief: fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath,
heaviness in chest, changes in appetite, stomachaches, weakness in muscles, skin problems, tightness in throat, changes in sleep patterns and a tendency to be accident prone. A physical exam is always a good idea for a grieving person.
"There are lots of different steps in saying good-bye to somebody fully and completely. That’s what we’re looking at," she says.
For family and friends who want to support those who are grieving, she offers these suggestions:
•Allow and encourage survivors to talk about their loss. A grieving person may need to "flush out" difficult emotions by telling his story again and again. Exploring memories is part of the grieving process, and it’s often painful when coworkers or friends don’t mention the loss.
•If a survivor is not ready to talk, establish yourself as someone who is willing to listen whenever that person is ready. Remember, tears can relieve a lot of pressure.
•Help the grieving person identify and accept the many feelings that make up the grief process. The grieving person may question whether his feelings are normal. Getting information and reaching out to others is essential.
•Give the bereaved permission to grieve in his own way. Grievers often have unrealistic ideas about how well they should be doing. Grief hurts, and hurts for a long time.
•Be available over time. The greatest need for support often comes at a point when offers of support have slacked off.
•Reinforce that grief affects health, and encourage self-care activities. Grief is emotionally and physically intense.
A PARABLE OF IMMORTALITY
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue lagoon.
She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until, at length, she is only a ribbon of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says, "There! She is gone!" Gone where? Gone from my side—that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull as when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to her place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her, and just the moment when someone at my side says: "There! She is gone!" other voices are gladly taking up the shout: "There! She comes!"
—Henry Van Dyke
TO MY CHILDREN
Look after each other.
Encourage one another.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Be kind. . .tenderhearted.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Keep your promises.
Live in peace with one another.
(1 Thessalonians 5:13)
Remember life isn’t always fair. . .but that’s all right.
Take up for each other—being loyal is a great treasure.
But remember most of all, love one another deeply from the heart.
(1 Peter 1:22)
We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from November 16, 1999, through February 6, 2000.
Mr. William Glenn Bramlett 11/16/99
Mrs. Maggie McLarty Brown 11/18/99
Mr. Earl Albert Truett, Jr. 11/21/99
Miss Merrill Short 11/21/99
Mr. John Thomas "J.T." Sparks 11/22/99
Mrs. Eva Tarver Bonds 11/25/99
Mrs. Bertha Gordon Gross 11/27/99
Mrs. Minnie Caldwell Parsons 12/8/99
Riley Andrew Lennard 12/10/99
Miss Lanora Kay McCoy 12/11/99
Mr. William Hope Evans 12/12/99
Mrs. Dean Turpin Bullard 12/14/99
Mrs. Annie Clyde Hellums 12/14/99
Dr. Robert Howard Hodge 12/17/99
Mr. Harry Paul Under 12/19/99
Mr. Austin Sandefer 12/20/99
Dr. Harry Edwin Rosser, Jr. 12/21/99
Mrs. Eva Patterson Smith 1/2/00
Miss Alma Cook 1/5/00
Miss Clara Faye Busby 1/5/00
Mrs. Alice Dale Cobb Jolley 1/6/00
Mr. Moody Dane Livingston 1/11/00
Mrs. Jessie Hathorn Hyde Coffey 1/13/00
Mrs. Floyce Crook Shaw 1/14/00
Rev. Morris H. Stocks, Sr 1/15/00
Mrs. Lila Mize Cole 1/16/00
Mrs. Patricia Moore "Pat" Miller 1/19/00
Mrs. Elsie Spears Ard 1/22/00
Mrs. Ida Weeks Bland 1/25/00
Mrs. Charlotte W. Bennett 1/25/00
Mrs. Robye Owens Allshouse 1/26/00
Mr. George William James 1/30/00
Mrs. Ethel Kunkel Smith 2/1/00
Mrs. Ruedell Champion Hudson 2/3/00
Mr. Frank Wayne Bailey 2/4/00
Mr. James Albert Young 2/5/00
Mrs. Karen Locke Mooar 2/5/00
Mrs. Elizabeth C. "Libby" Moorhead 2/6/00