Friday, February 23, 2007


My friend Candie is artistic, creative, full of energy, funny, and a wonderful friend with a true heart. She loves to scrapbook and loves to play with paper and embellishments. She works at Treasury of Memories enough to support her scrapbook habit with enough free time to play in her studio and have family time.

She taught scrapbooking for a MOPS program through church for four years and I convinced her (it didn’t take much) to teach scrapbooking to the girls at GRADS.

Candie came in the first day and introduced herself to the girls and told them a little bit about herself. In addition to their monthly scrapbook pages she brought bonus pages they could take home on work on. The girls previously had paid $3.00 a month for supplies to do their pages and while that may seem like peanuts to a lot of people who think nothing of buying the best paper and embellishments, these girls struggle with budgets that do not include frivolous expenditures when they are teenage mothers raising babies. Candie is supplying the paper and embellishments with a little help from her friends at Treasury of Memories and other scrapbookers who donate supplies. The Ladies of Harley which we both belong to have also agreed to a small budget for supplies.

Candie is teaching the girls to journal and try new techniques. Tearing paper, using sandpaper, and ink pads might seem second hand to most scrapbookers, but these girls are just learning. The world of scrapbook and altered art is crossing over and techniques are interchangeable for either art form. So with Candie’s patient coaxing, and my pushing the limits with altered art projects, I am sure the girls will grow in their art. Hopefully, some of them will continue after they leave school to record their lives and their baby’s life in pictures and words.

Shopping for scrapbooking or mixed media art projects finds us both wandering the aisles of Value Village, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and an array of local thrift stores. I’m introducing Candie to the hardware store and I’m sure her husband, Sky, will soon have to hide his toolbox or Candie will wipe it out. Dollar bins, holiday closeouts, everything has possibilities.

We sort of look for things we can surprise the other with as little gifts to use in our art. I gave her oversized fake money and Candie is determined to teach me to scrapbook so she gave me a Harley scrapbook.

Candie taught an altered paint can class to a group of women at her church last Saturday. What she really taught them was that there are no rules and then she put mounds of supplies in front of them, showed them the can she was working on, and then they all played. Candie told them, “I’m not trying to stretch the boundaries; I’m trying to kick the fence over.”

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Valentine - Making Memories

The very first Valentines Day that Larry and I knew each other was spent emailing. Larry and I had just become email friends through my sister Mary and his sister-in-law Jeannie. He had a date and I was at church doing childcare so parents could have an evening out. Fast forward a year and our first valentines as a married couple was spent at the Majestic Inn in Anacortes. Larry booked a room, I had a long red satin dress to surprise him, he escorted me down a sweeping stairway that curved from the second floor to the lobby and we had a magnificent five course dinner.

Year two as a married couple was memorable because Larry brought home red roses, chocolates, flowers, and Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner. Our daughter Kelly laughed and thought it was great for her but knew it wasn’t what I was expecting. Quiet dinners at home or dinner out, it really doesn’t matter as long as we are happy.

This year Larry gave me an option for dinner at the country club or poker at the Harley shop. I chose poker, even though I don’t actually play, I knew some our friends would be there, and it would be a fun memory. Dinner was pizza, poppers, and beef taquitos. There was wine and roses for the ladies. We watched our friends play poker and cheered them on. We did a little shopping and lots of laughing.

Rick surprised Angie when they arrived with a bear dressed in Harley leathers and holding a balloon. Dave and Rita stopped at Costco for their annual valentine’s hotdog before arriving for poker night. Others celebrated with chocolates, presents, or dinner before arriving. It was definitely a different valentines and I enjoyed it.

I sent the kids little mini teddy bear finger puppets and candy canes. They know mom always has to do something a little different. My brother Jerry and my sister-in-law Laura celebrated their thirty-second wedding anniversary. I am sure he whipped up a gourmet dinner complimented with the perfect wine. My oldest son Jim took his dinner break when his girlfriend Heather had a break in classes so they could have time together.

My two dozen long stemmed roses arrived a day early and I had two really sweet romantic cards from my husband. I surprised Larry with a card and dark chocolate covered dried cherries which are now his favorite.

It’s not all about spending lots of money or fancy restaurants to savor memories of special days. It’s the time spent together making the memories.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Love at First Sight

Preparing for my fathers funeral, my mother finally revealed the story of how she met my dad and when asked why she hadn’t told us before she said “you never asked.”

Growing up in rural Missouri there wasn’t much teenagers and young adults could do or places to go to meet friends other than church Mom said there was one little place where you could visit with friends and listen to music, but no alcohol.

My mom went with a date that night who introduced her to another couple he knew. Mom said that she knew when she met the other young man that this was the person meant for her. It seems the other young man felt the same way about my mom and the two couple’s switched partners and my parents were always together from that night on. They were married about eight months later on December 24th, 1938.

The longest my parents were ever apart was when my dad took a carpenters job in California for several months and then he returned and moved our whole family to California to live. Mom occasionally took me to Missouri with her to visit family but that was only for a few weeks but most of the time we drove non stop with mom and dad trading off with the driving duties.

They never spoke an angry word to each other, never argued in front of us; they never cussed or called anyone names, setting an example to live by. They were perfect partners with mom taking care of the home and day to day family life and dad working to provide a home. They fished on the banks of lakes and rivers together, camping and cooking over an open fire and traveling in their fifth-wheel trailer. Mom quilted and dad built the quilt frames. Dad would work on a project and need help and call out ma and mom was right there to provide another hand.

It was love at first sight and they loved each other with all their hearts.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

My father and grandfather with me and Mr. Daisy May the cat

My Dad

My Dad

I wrote this poem for my dad in 2005 for his birthday.  On November 16th, 2006 my dad, Harry O’Neal turned ninety years old and on December 24th 2006, he celebrated sixty-eight years of marriage to my mother, Clella Jewel and on January 18th, 2007 my father passed away.

My dad is the best dad in the whole world
Yes he is, because he’s my dad
He taught me how to fish and roller skate
How to use a hammer and power tools
He loved me enough to let me learn for myself
Then picked me up when I stumbled or fell
He led by example day in and day out
He knew the impact of his actions
Even when I couldn’t see or didn’t want to see
He loved me when I made a wrong choice
The same as when I made the right decision
When I called and said daddy I need help
He always knew just what to do
Never hesitated said I’ll see what I can do
My dad could fix the car, the dishwasher,
Leaky sprinklers, electric cords,
Read Bruce’s loose tooth all over again
And again and again
If the grandchildren said please grandpa
He was a carpenter by trade
Following in his saviors steps
He doesn’t just talk the talk
He walks the walk
Everyday, seven days a week, 365 days a year
My dad, my example

Happy trails to you until we meet again

January 23rd

It wouldn’t matter what the weather was today, it just isn’t a good day.  As long as I keep busy greeting those who have come for the service or comforting family members I am okay.  It keeps me from thinking and crying.

My oldest son arrived and he had a chance to spend a few moments before they closed the casket and the service began.  My aunt Dot arrived very shaken having only lost her husband, my fathers brother months before.  

The service was a celebration of my fathers love for my mother, family, and his belief in God, Jesus Christ, and the word of God.  

All nine of the grandchildren participated in honoring their grandfather with six acting as pallbearers and three escorting the casket.  I watched these grown men and women with hearts breaking lay their gloves and boutonnieres on the casket and say their final farewell.  

My brother led my mother away and my sister and I laid a flower on the casket at the graveside.

My dad was a true fan of western novels and cowboy movies.  I grew up with Roy Rodgers and Gene Autry as my heroes.  Saturday night my parents took us to the drive-in movies with popcorn from home and candy from Woolworth’s to watch the latest western.  

Happy trails daddy.

Some trails are happy ones, Others are blue. It's the way you ride the trail that counts, Here's a happy one for you. Happy trails to you until we meet again. Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then. Who cares about the clouds when we're together? Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather. Happy trails to you 'till we meet again.

Goodnight daddy

January 22nd

My husband, son, daughter and my nieces and nephews have all arrived.  The arrangements have been made and tomorrow we will bury my father.  The viewing made us face the reality of our loss.  

My daughter kept telling me that granddad needed his glasses.  They forgot to put his glasses on him and she knew he needed them.

The family left that evening with some resting a hand on the coffin and spending a quiet moment saying good-bye while others placed a farewell kiss on my fathers forehead.  

My father would playfully tease the grandkids and sometimes give them a noogie and occasionally they would give him one back.  My daughter gave her grandfather one last noogie and a kiss goodbye as she left.  

Goodnight daddy.

Harry O'Neal (H.O.) November 16, 1916 - January 18th, 2007

January 18th, 2007

My father hasn’t eaten in two days or had anything to drink.  It is only a matter of hours that we have left with him.  My brother Jerry and sister-in-law Laura are on their way from Arkansas, but I am afraid there isn’t enough time.

Pastor Ken came to pray with my parents and read passages from from my fathers well worn bible.  

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green [1] pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest [2] my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Psalm 19
To the leader. A Psalm of David.1The heavens are telling the glory of God;   and the firmament* proclaims his handiwork. 2Day to day pours forth speech,   and night to night declares knowledge. 3There is no speech, nor are there words;   their voice is not heard; 4yet their voice* goes out through all the earth,   and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens* he has set a tent for the sun, 5which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,   and like a strong man runs its course with joy. 6Its rising is from the end of the heavens,   and its circuit to the end of them;   and nothing is hidden from its heat.
7The law of the Lord is perfect,   reviving the soul;the decrees of the Lord are sure,   making wise the simple; 8the precepts of the Lord are right,   rejoicing the heart;the commandment of the Lord is clear,   enlightening the eyes; 9the fear of the Lord is pure,   enduring for ever;the ordinances of the Lord are true   and righteous altogether. 10More to be desired are they than gold,   even much fine gold;sweeter also than honey,   and drippings of the honeycomb.
11Moreover by them is your servant warned;   in keeping them there is great reward. 12But who can detect their errors?   Clear me from hidden faults. 13Keep back your servant also from the insolent;*   do not let them have dominion over me.Then I shall be blameless,   and innocent of great transgression.
14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart   be acceptable to you,   O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
When the last word was read from psalm 19 my father took two small breaths at 6:26 PM and left this world and his pain behind.

"Oh Lord, please don't let me do this anymore"

January 17th, 2007

Tonight two of the pastors both named Ray from Bethel Baptist Church came to visit my parents and offer their support and prayers.  The worship pastor sang the following songs to my father:  Precious Memories, Where He Leads Me I Will go, I come to the Garden, and Amazing Grace.  He said this was one of the hardest things he had ever done.  My father made a few noises and we knew that he heard the sweet sounds of the hymns.

My dad cries out in his sleep and it is almost too much to for me to bear listening to his pain and being unable to do anything for him and yet my dad endures day after day finding strength in God.  Last night he cried out in his sleep “oh Lord, please don’t let me do this anymore.”  

I cry out to God please don’t let him hurt any more.

Keeping Watch

January 15th

I arrived in Oakland and my sister picked me up at the airport and took me to my parent’s home. My dad looks worse than I thought he would. My mom has been trying to prepare me for this moment but how do you really prepare someone to see their parent dying.

I put on a smile and tried to sound happy and went in to give my dad a hug and kiss. He knew who I was and tried to talk me into getting him out of his hospital bed. They man who could do anything while I was growing up was now confined to a bed and could barely move.

He sleeps most of the time so visiting with him is done minutes at a time. I kiss him on the forehead and smooth his hair back then slip quietly out of the room so that he can rest. A tear slips down my face as reality finally sinks in.

My mother sits in a rocking chair keeping watch; ready to jump up at any little sound my dad makes to care for him.

Only Days Left

January 14th, 2007

My aunt and uncles have all passed away except two aunts who both have Alzheimer’s.  My parents are both the eldest in their families.  My father has been fighting prostate cancer for sixteen years.  Now it appears the cancer is winning and we are in the final weeks and days.

I don’t want to lose my dad and I know he will always be with me in my heart but I don’t want my dad to suffer any more.  He has endured more pain from his back and shoulder injuries, kidneys, frostbite as a child, and prostate cancer than most people could tolerate.  To listen to him moan in his sleep from the pain and it is almost more than I can bear and yet my mom says he hums or sings in his sleep the Old Rugged Cross.  Even in the worst of times and pain, God brings him comfort.

It’s a long dark night waiting for a phone call telling me to come home.  Wondering how I am going to tell my children that their grandfather only has hours to live.  How will I comfort my niece and nephews in their grief?  How will my mother live without my dad?  How will I comfort my brother and sister?

When my sister died I was married but had no one for support to lean on or share my grief.  I had no church family to share my sorrow with.  I have a loving husband now and in those first few hours when I laid down in our bed, he held me and let me cling to him for support.  I have a church now and my small group will pray for my family.  My friends will also pray for my family and offer kind words because that is who they are.

I believe in God and have since I was seven years old and accepted Jesus Christ as my savior.  But believing and practicing are different.  God watched over me and held me when my sister Suzie died but I didn’t understand it.  God held me when I walked through the valley of death after a car accident, but again I didn’t understand.  Now I know and find comfort that God will hold me, surround me, carry me, heal my hurt, and make me stronger in my faith as I struggle with my breaking heart in these last days with my father.

I keep remembering the words to a beautiful song by Natalie Grant, Held and it brings me comfort, if only for a short time before the tears come again.

Two months is too little. They let him go. They had no sudden healing. To think that providence would Take a child from his mother while she prays Is appalling. Who told us we'd be rescued? What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares? We're asking why this happens To us who have died to live? It's unfair. Chorus: This is what it means to be held. How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life And you survive. This is what it is to be loved. And to know that the promise was When everything fell we'd be held. This hand is bitterness. We want to taste it, let the hatred know our sorrow. The wise hands opens slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow. (Chorus) This is what it means to be held. How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life And you survive. This is what it is to be loved. And to know that the promise was When everything fell we'd be held. Bridge: If hope is born of suffering. If this is only the beginning. Can we not wait for one hour watching for our Savior? (Chorus) This is what it means to be held. How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life And you survive. This is what it is to be loved.
Related Posts with Thumbnails