From the Heart of a Hospital Chaplain

I just read Pastor J S Park’s latest post and realized that NO ONE blogs from the heart more than he does. Chaplain in a Florida hospital, he deals with life and death and grief every day, and writes about it in an open, compassionate way.

This morning’s post is a perfect example. We Say Goodbye, One More Time. What does a parent finally do when the prodigal child refuses to give up a life-threatening habit? Take a moment and read it — it will definitely touch your heart.

Then read his post Five Husbands. All the loving words we wanted to say! One day it will be too late to express affection and appreciation.

Note: Be sure there’s a box of of tissues handy before you start.

The Broken Drum

Drum

THE BROKEN DRUM

by Edgar Guest

There is sorrow in the household;
there’s a grief too hard to bear;
there’s a little cheek that’s tear-stained
there’s a sobbing baby there.
And try how we will to comfort,
still the tiny teardrops come;
for – to solve a vexing problem–
Curly Locks has wrecked his drum.

It had puzzled him and worried,
how the drum created sound;
for he couldn’t understand it.
It was not enough to pound
with his tiny hands and drumsticks
and at last the day has come
when another hope is shattered,
now in ruins lies his drum.

With his metal bank he broke it,
tore the tightened skin aside,
gazed on vacant space bewildered,
then he broke right down and cried.
For the broken bubble shocked him
and the baby tears must come;
now a joy has gone forever;
Curly Locks has wrecked his drum.

While his mother tries to soothe him
I am sitting here alone.
In the life that lies behind me
many shocks like that I’ve known.
And the boy who’s upstairs weeping
in the years that are to come
will learn that many pleasures
are as empty as his drum.

From the book Just Folks,
by Edgar A. Guest
© 1917 by The Reilly & Britton Co.

My response to the Ragtag Daily Prompt: CHALLENGE

I really enjoy prompt words like this; they can call up such a variety of responses!

Book Review: The Face of the Earth

When Does A Spouse Move On?

A friend once told me of an elderly gent who visited his wife everyday in the nursing home. She had advanced Alzheimer’s and wasn’t responding to anyone at all anymore.
Finally someone there asked him, “Why do you still come and sit with her every day? She doesn’t even know who you are?”
The old man relied, “But I still know who she is.”

At what point, if ever, are you released from your marriage commitment when the one you made them to is absent, either literally or mentally? For some people a marriage is simply an agreement “for as long as we feel like it.” A Christian, however, promises “before God and these witnesses…to be faithful…for as long as you both shall live.” Are there circumstances where God releases a spouse from that promise?

I just finished this amazing story where the author sets up this scenario and demonstrates a sensible, faith-based response to the question. I really admire the scruples of the characters in this book! While these are people who embrace Christian principles and seek direction through prayer, I’d recommend this book to anyone.

The Face of the Earth

© 2017 by Deborah Raney
(First published in 2013 under the same name by Howard Books/Simon & Schuster.)

Friday, Sept 3rd:
Principal Mitchell Brannon pauses on his way home from work to call his wife Jill, a third-grade teacher who’s driving home from a personal development conference in Kansas City. He’s happy he persuaded her to go, now they’re planning a relaxing evening at home. They’d just delivered their second child to University and are starting their new life as empty nesters. Jill has been feeling blue about this change, but Mitch is rather looking forward to being “just the two of us” again.

He gets her voice-mail, so he leaves a message: “Just wondering where you are. Give me a call so I know when to put on the steaks.” She hasn’t arrived yet when he gets home, but she’s left him a message on their house phone at 1pm saying she’s leaving the hotel and should be home by six at the latest. She sounds upbeat, ready to be home.

Mitch fires up the grill at 6pm and takes out the steaks. Calls and gets her voice-mail again. That’s odd. At 7:30 he shuts off the grill, calls the hotel, verifies her leaving time, checks the weather to see if there’ve been any storms along her way. At 8pm he stops pacing the floor to call her best friend, Shelley Austin, a divorcee who lived next door. Shelley hadn’t heard a peep from Jill that day. By 9 pm he’s calling everyone who might possibly have heard from her.

Mitch calls Highway Patrol. No reported accidents. And they seemed reluctant to get involved — after all, she may have chosen to not come home. Mitch doesn’t buy that; he knows he and Jill have a good marriage. She’d never worry him like this. Has she been in an accident? Shelley comes over to help Mitch in his search, calling all the hospitals in KC and along Jill’s route home. The next morning they head out and drive the route she’d have traveled, hoping to find some clue.

Saturday Sept 4th :
Highway Patrol officers pay a visit. They have no news, but bombard Mitch with questions. Is she choosing to stay away? Did she seem depressed? Had they quarreled? Can anyone verify where he was during those hours when his wife went missing? Obvious insinuations.

Mitch & Jill’s son and daughter come home from University and join in the waiting, the rushing to the phone. Always hoping. There must be some reason… Then Jill’s cell phone is discovered on the floor in the parking garage.

Mitch and Shelley are two vulnerable human beings thrown together in a time of high emotions time and you know the connection is sometime going to produce sparks. Shelley’s trying to not betray her friend. Mitch intends to be faithful to his wedding vows and keep hoping, “Til death do you part.” Eventually, though, he wonders: at what point are you released from those vows when the one with whom you made them has vanished from the face of the earth — and may never return?

This story is masterfully written and played out in a totally realistic way. You ride along with these people on their roller coaster of hope and despair, feeling with them through their painful vigil, the nightmares, the (finally tiresome) expressions of sympathy, the flashes of hope when some new detail is uncovered, the suspicion, the gossip. I appreciate that Mitch respects the Bible admonition to “avoid all appearance of evil” even though he needs Shelley’s help and support.

Cautionary Note:
Don’t start this book after 9 pm unless you can afford to be up half the night. It’s very hard to put down.

Flashing Lights in the Night

We never knew why the train
came to a stop and idled so long,
blocking our crossing
a few hundred metres west —
and the highway a mile south.
We never heard the frantic horn,
the bang. We never knew
what the train hit. Or who.
But now we do — and we still feel
the impact three days later.

Flashing red and blue lights.
“Accident on the train track,”
people whisper as they arrive for
an evening at church. “Pickup hit.”
Half a dozen first responders
missing from our service — serving,
directing traffic, setting up lights.
Dense fog rolls in to muffle,
yet amplify, red and blue flashes
flickering on our windows for hours.

A night of tears for someone’s parents
and his young fiancée, newly engaged,
grieving over hopelessly shattered pieces.
A toddler who can’t understand why
Daddy doesn’t come home. And whatever
does it mean: “Daddy’s gone?”
Puzzling words that will echo on and on
through so many tomorrows.

C.G.

I haven’t felt like posting for a few days; this verse will explain. The young man killed was an acquaintance; my husband knows the the young fiancée from his workplace and we’ve met the deceased at several staff Christmas parties. Such a pleasant young man, age 33 according to the news.

The north-bound train wasn’t going fast at all. Some have guessed that, since the pickup was heading west into the sunset, maybe the brilliance blinded the driver. But we can only speculate; the driver died in the crash. No doubt there’ll be a thorough investigation. Our hearts go out to the family.

Janey’s Future

Time for another Friday Fictioneers tale and as usual, I can’t resist putting in my hundred words worth. In spite of the fact that Sandra Crook has donated the photo of a friendly looking old tree, there’s been murder and mayhem, death and accident in a number of tales this week. (Oh, and one hugging tree. Trust Eric to squeeze his alien in somehow. 😉 )

This Charge of the Write Brigade is being commanded as usual by Major Wisoff-Fields, DFFA, ATP. If you’d like to contribute your own tale hop over to her blog and click the Blue Frog, which will morph into a trusty charger on which you can ride into the fray.

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

JANEY’S FUTURE

“Wish he’d listened. Ditched that rotten ladder!”

Janey stared at the tree. “Chan never was one for taking advice.”

I looked around. “Can you run this place alone?” With two tykes and another due soon? Dumb, but what do you say?

She shook her head, overwhelmed. “I should sell.”

I reached for her arm. “I got an idea… You been a good wife to Chan, Janey…and a good mom. He was so lucky. I know I’m some younger than you, but…do you think…”

She considered me awhile; my heart pounded something awful.

Her eyes sparkled. “Yeah. I think.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Historical fact:
It wasn’t a park but a prairie homestead, and the suddenly widowed Mary was riding home from her husband’s funeral with her single brother-in-law, who also lived on the farm. Seeing her desperate situation, he proposed marriage. She saw the wisdom in this; in those days he couldn’t stay helping her on the farm without raising a LOT of gossip. So they turned the team around, headed back to town, and found the preacher. Tough times call for some quick decisions.

Personal note:
I’m putting the finishing touches on a pdf of my book, Silver Morning Song, and would like to give some away in exchange for some honest feedback. (And hopefully generate a few reviews on Amazon or Kobo.) If you’re interested and have the time, please let me know. I can send pdf, mobi, or epub.

Silver Morning Song is a collection of poems and short stories that consider the delightful world around us and the trials of home and family as well as Christian life. In a voice sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, in short stories and parables, the writer tells of folks facing issues, decisions and temptations. These are interspersed with accessible poetic descriptions of the natural world and the changing seasons.