Lessons from Lois

My friend Lois died yesterday afternoon of old age. She was 97 and a joyful person all the many years that I knew her. For the last dozen years or so, Lois was blind from macular degeneration. For the last 2.5 years, she was in memory care. Prior to that, she lived in her home lovingly cared for by her children, grandchildren and home Healthcare staff. I rarely heard Lois complain if ever.. She might say something self criticizing for her weight which was a struggle for her. Or,, I might hear her say “I could complain but what good would that do me”. During COVID-19 lockdown, I couldn’t see her but I could call her on the phone and chat. It was difficult to tell if she knew who I was or if the many questions she asked were her way to cover her confusion. I loved those talks. Lois was always an encourager, helping me to see the positives in the day. When I would say goodbye and wish her a good day, she would say it was a wonderful day already because I had called.

I met Lois when I met her two daughters Barb and Beth and the rest of the Higgins family as a teenager. Barb, Beth, and I have been lifelong friends. Lois was always cheerful, interested, listened with compassion and generally helped me to feel good about myself. She believed that you offer your advice only when it was really needed. I needed that advice on more than one occasion. My husband and I made it a practice to visit Lois and her husband Dick whenever we were in Des Moines, usually 3-4 times a year. When our children were young, they came with us and visiting the Higgins house is a good memory for them. We were always welcome. When I was in my 30s, I had a tendency to complain about my mother and my mother in law for one thing or another. Lois let me know that wasn’t ok. She said that she didn’t go for the “blame your parents” theme of the time and encouraged me to see that my parents were doing the best they could and I needed to be thankful. Lois rarely corrected me so I was taken aback. I hadn’t realized that my comments sounded so negative. I learned to appreciate my mother and my mother in law in a new way and developed a close relationship with each of them that I cherish. I thank Lois for that revelation and for guiding me to treasure the women that I loved so much.

My memories of Lois include how warm and welcoming her house always was. I always felt like I belonged. She remembered my birthdays and always asked about my parents, my husband, and my children. Lois and her husband Dick, who died in 2013 were a model of a good marriage to us. When my husband Michael and I coached engaged couples for 20 years, we used little stories of how we saw Dick and Lois live out a good marriage. I knew they had arguments like everyone else but they didn’t have those arguments in public. We learned to be supportive of each other and save tough conversations for private time

I lost both my mother in law and my mother in 2012. Lois was a comfort to me. In her later years, she forgot that they were gone and she would ask me about them. For a brief moment, they would be there before I reminded Lois that they had died. My dad died in 2019 the same day that Lois lost her son Doug. Their funerals were on the same day in different states. I couldn’t imagine her pain and hoped that her dementia would ease her pain as she lived mentally in earlier times.

While life has given Lois many challenges, she always focused on the blessings and a positive way to respond. She also always left others with a positive thought. She has been an important role model in my life and I will miss her. From Lois to all of us, listen with love, encourage others, do what you can, don’t take yourself too seriously, be willing to lovingly say what needs to be said, argue if you must and do it in private, look at the positives and live this day joyfully.

Love and prayers,

Mymom

Now that my dad is gone

I recently posted about losing my dad.  He was 90 years old and had lived a life filled with challenges and lots of blessings too.  He was raised during the depression.  He was a teenager during world war 2.  He experienced the promise of the 1950s, he voted for Kennedy, and he voted for Nixon, and he voted for Regan, and he voted in every election of his adult life.  He saw man first walk on the moon.  He watched his children grow up.  He watched his grand children grow up.  He even watched some of his great grandchildren grow into their teen years.  His oldest great grandchild was 17 and his youngest great grandchild was one month old at the time of his death.  My dad knew hunger, cold, joy, accomplishment, love, pain, work, and faith.  My point now is that he lived a long life.  I should be happy for him that he not suffer any more and of course I am.  I still miss him.

About a week before he died, I was able to have a priest from St Anne’s church visit him.  Father Tom stopped by on a Friday morning annointing with the sacrament of the sick (which includes forgiveness for any sins committed) and bringing him communion.  That day, dad was ready to see Father Tom, unlike the June visit at the hospital when he definitely wasn’t ready.  When I called dad that day, he was happy and told me to be sure to call Father Tom and thank him.  I did send a personal thank you note a few weeks later to let Father Tom know his visit and prayer had helped my dad to have a peaceful last week.

I feel gratitude for many things.  I’m grateful for both of my parents.  I’m grateful for the legacy of church and family.   I’m grateful for the lovely funeral that we were able to have for him.  I’m grateful for the people from St Frances who helped, the funeral home, my brothers and all my family.  I’m grateful or the birthday party that we had for him in October.  I’m grateful that we could bring our sons to see my dad on New Year’s Day that week and share the afternoon with him.  I’m grateful for each family member.  I’m grateful that I could visit my dad so often, even visiting the day before he died.

My sadness comes from a place of gratitude for having been his daughter and missing that relationship.  I believe he is with Jesus now.  I believe that although he wasn’t perfect, God forgave him and welcomed him into Heaven where he met my mom and so many relatives and friends that his joy would be overwhelming.  He was my dad.  I hope that he forgives me for needing the help of a long term care facility for his care.  I hope that he is praying for each of us and interceding for our needs.  I hope he will be able to oversee our steps as my brothers and I figure out how to be real grown ups without him.   With our mom and dad with our Father in Heaven, maybe we never really need to be grownups.  We can always be God’s children.

Oh God, please alow my my father and mother  to rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon them.  Please bless my brothers, my sisters in law, my husband, our children and our grandchildren.  Help us to remember our parents with great love forgiving any failing as you have forgiven them.  Help us to work together to continue to be a loving family through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Love,

Mymom