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Mon, 04 Nov 2002

I'm not dead yet!

And as long as I can stay away from the man with the cudgel, I should be able to remain that way!  You might ask yourself where I've been.  Well, I've been a little SAD lately (see this from 23 Sept 2001 and this from 24 Sept 2001) and as I had hoped from last year, things have been exceptionally mild.  Well, I have work to do so I'll write more at lunch.

This entry authored by Tyran at 06:41

Tue, 12 Nov 2002

No, really...I'm not dead!

Apparently, I don't take lunch as often as I should (see this).

There have been a lot of things happen in the last month.  Just so I can remember what I'm writing about, I'll list them here:

  • The Power of the Written Word.
  • A New Hire
  • McKenna's Tooth
  • The Stove
  • Jonathan's Birthday
  • A Stark and Painful Realization

I'm sure I won't cover everything here today and I'm also sure that there is much that I won't cover regardless of how much time I have.  I've had plenty of time to write, when I think about it, but I've had no desire to write.  I know that's an odd statement considering this post but that the way the last month has been.

The Power of the Written Word

What I had wanted to write about last week was something that absolutely amazed me.  I mentioned that I have been dealing with a mild case of SAD and I referenced a couple of posts from late September of last year that deal with that (see this from 23 Sept 2001 and this from 24 Sept 2001).  I read the poem and follow-up entry I wrote on the 23rd and the first two posts on the 24th and I was absolutely astounded.  I've had a number of people express appreciation for my writing, but it's only very rarely that I experience much feeling from my own writing when I read it.  When I read those posts and even as I reread them today, I marvel at the power in those entries.  The   The poem runs rough-shod over the feelings of that day but as rough as it is, I can still feel the tendrils of those emotions reaching out to swirl round me.  I was especially moved by the following passages:

[speaking of my depression] This time I shall let my spirit soar on the ashen wings of sorrow and speak freely the dolourous tones of my heart.

And

I can see him standing there on the edge of hearing beckoning softly for me to join him in his somber feast but he has come too soon.  It is too soon and I cannot hear clearly the silent song he sings.  I heard him, as he walked away, set a small gift aside and promise to return another day.

It almost feels immodest of to blow my own horn in this way, but the emotion and imagery in these two short passages is so potent that I am left speechless.

A New Hire

Now on to something a bit more mundane.  We have finally hired a third wheel for the MIS department and he starts next Monday.  That was truly the most excruciating experience I've had here at work.  Firstly, I had to shatter people's hopes via The Test.  As one victim...I mean applicant put it, That's a nasty thing.  He was one of the few that actually passed the thing!  I was sure that administering the test would be the worst part of the whole experience.  I was wrong, interviewing applicants is even worse.  We quickly discovered that two of the applicants were our best candidates for the job.  One was a contractor that had been working with us for three weeks and the other was a vendor we had known for 18 months.  It was, to say the least, a very tough decision.  Anyway, now that all of that nastiness is over, I'll soon be able to return to programming instead of putting out user fires at work.

Well, that's enough for one day.  Look forward to the McKenna's Tooth and The Stove tomorrow.

This entry authored by Tyran at 12:31

Thu, 14 Nov 2002

Well, I should be shot.  I can't even manage a post for two days in a row!  Of course, I do have a some what decent excuse:  I watched Attack of the Clones  with the kids last night.  Shanna was there too, but she slept or managed to be out of the room most of the time.  She can't stand the horrid acting of Joe Stiff-as-a-Board (Hayden Christensen) playing the ultimate whiner, Anakin.  I whine, sure, but people actually enjoy my whining!

I won't get a chance to write about the next entries in my Blog Recap, the Missing Month, until tomorrow as my copy of the extended version of LotR:  The Fellowship of the Ring was delivered to the house today and that means I'm obligated to watch it tonight.  Until tomorrow then. . . .

This entry authored by Tyran at 12:24

Mon, 18 Nov 2002

In Loving Memory:  Fay Fordham 27 OCT 1916 - 17 NOV 2002

Yesterday morning at 5:18 AM, I received the phone call that I've both dreaded and eagerly anticipated:  It was my mother calling to tell me that my grandmother, her mother, had passed away at 5:00 AM.  Mom had called Saturday night to have me stop by her home and pick-up an over-night bag she had left at home (she's spent more nights at Grandma's the last five weeks than at home).  I took a moment to talk with my father and give the dog a good scratch before heading to Grandma's with the bag.  When I arrived, I found the house full of people:  Three aunts, two uncles and a cousin.  We are fairly noisy people when we get together but as I walked through the kitchen door, I was greeted with a loving yet stern look from Uncle Todd that clearly said I was to not make a sound.  I didn't need such such a reminder but no one was taking any chances, Grandma had asked for quiet and that was what she was going to have.  As such, in a home that has always seemed a place of quiet laughter to me one could only hear the creak of the floor boards and a voiceless murmur as people whispered to each other.  After a moment or two, I was ushered into Grandma's room where my mother was sitting in bed, holding up her mother so this dear lady wouldn't have to struggle so much to breath.  This dear old woman, that I love so tenderly, had spent an hour with me two nights previous doing a crossword puzzle as was our habit when we had time alone together.  Now she didn't recognize my coming into the room, her only response was to open her eyes and stare longingly out the window as I lifted her frail arm onto a pillow and held her delicate hand in mine.  I watched as her heart struggled to beat and her breath stopped only to hear her heave a great sigh and begin breathing again.  It was obvious that the answer to our fervent prayers was not far off.

As I said, the phone rang at 5:18 AM yesterday morning and my mother informed me that Grandma had finally left us.  She called again around 8:00 AM and spoke to Shanna.  Shan told me that mom sounded like she was just putting on a good face and that I should go down to the house and offer my support.  When I arrived, I found the same group as I had left the night before minus two of my aunts and Grandma.  The mortician had already taken Grandma's body.  Her room seemed so empty and cold after all the commotion that it had seen every day for the last four weeks.  The sounds in the house were as muted as they had been the previous night.  Mom took me back into Grandma's room and she wept openly for probably the first time.  After a couple hours, my father arrived with a letter he had written about Grandma and I left shortly following his arrival.

My excuse for leaving was that the bishop was due to arrive soon to discuss the funeral and more of my aunts and uncles were arriving, I didn't want to be under foot.  There was another more persuasive and deep seated reason:  Granddad Fordham died 1 May 1985.  Dad was out of the state at the time and his military duty prevented him from returning until mid-June or so.  As the eldest son, it fell to me to join mom's brothers and brothers-in-law as a pall bearer.  It was also on my shoulder that she cried.  Heavy burdens for any son to bear, let alone an unsure fourteen year old.  For another fourteen years those few days haunted me and while that ragged wound has finally healed, the memories of it are still quite painful.  I found those same painful memories and feelings flooding back, threatening to overwhelm me.

I am terribly thankful for my wonderful mother-in-law and my marvelous wife, both of whom have given me great comfort during the past 24 hours.

This entry authored by Tyran at 04:19

Wed, 20 Nov 2002

She taught us how to look at life and live it and how to look at death and do it.

These past four days have been some of the longest of my short life.  There have been long moments of bitterest sorrow as I've begun to truly realize that my dear sweet Grandmother has left this life behind.  As the sun set upon her and death gently closed her eyes, she looked forward with confidence to a continued life with her loved ones who had already departed this mortal journey.  Don't be sad for me Ty, she said, because I'm excited for this to happen.  This is my next great adventure and I'm looking forward to it.  Gram has a sign on her fridge that says, Thou shalt not whine.  Needless to say, I never actually told her the name of this site nor why I named it the Whinery!  She wasn't sure it was a good idea for me to even be publishing such a thing as an online journal.

Last night was the viewing with well over three hundred people who came to express their own sorrow, share in ours and express gratitude for the life of this lovely lady.  While at the mortuary, I remembered an early May night seventeen years ago when we had gathered for a similar viewing.  Granddad had passed away on 1 May 1985, I was grief stricken as were the others there.  In hindsight, we should have known that he had completed all that had been required of him and been better prepared.  We were not in any way prepared and his death came as a shocking blow to us all.  Grandma's death was vastly different and was highly anticipated.  This has not lessened my grief for I loved her dearly but it has made my grief easier to bear as I only grieve because I miss her and not because I would have wanted her to stay longer.

The viewing lasted until about 8:00 PM last night.  After the viewing, all of the cousins went to Grandma's home.  She collected bells and before she died had left instructions that we were to gather together and each select a bell.  As always, she was thinking of us and wanted to help make her death just one more memory of this fine lady that we could treasure.  Each of the grandsons was then told to go downstairs and take one of Granddad's tools and one of the thousands of rocks that he and Grandma had collected.

The funeral was today and was completely planned by Grandma.  Uncle Todd had not wanted to speak at Grandma's missionary farewell years ago and thought he had pulled a fast one by promising to speak at her funeral instead, silly boy.  He read a passage that Granddad had written about his own mother, whom Grandma had never met, to describe Grandma Fay.  It was almost as if Granddad were there speaking himself.  After Todd, six of us (Nila, an aunt; Robert, her son; Greg and Heather, my cousin and his wife; Shanna and myself) sang Grandma's favorite hymn, How Great Thou Art.  For the first verse, Robert sang the melody (he's a great tenor), Nila sang the alto and I took the bass.  As the other three joined us for the chorus, sound filled the chapel and multiple harmonies echoed the notes we sang.  We sang the second verse as written and Shanna read the third as we hummed.  The final verse we sang as written with the chorus acappella.  Words fail me as I try to explain that experience and I can't even begin to describe the crystalline music that filled that building as our voices blended with the choirs behind us.

My mother and her two sisters followed us.  They read the life history that Grandma had written about herself.  With Todd we heard my Granddad speak of his wife and with the moms, as we call them, we heard my Grandma speak of herself.  Following the moms, all the grandchildren (40 of us) and great-grand children (48 of them) sang I Am a Child of God  and Families Can Be Together Forever.  These are the same two songs that we, the grandchildren, sang at Granddad's funeral.  Uncle Don followed us and shared some of his fondest memories of Grandma and finally her bishop shared a few remarks with us.

One of the last times that I spoke with Grandma, she gave me the greatest gifts she has ever given me.  She told me how much she loved me and what she thought of me.  Money could never buy me gifts as great as these.  In return, she gave me instructions to take care of my little family and, as was mentioned at least once today, what Grandma wanted she got.

While I have learned that death need not be a fearful thing, I have also learned that life is a terribly precious thing and not to be wasted.  The next time you see someone that you love, tell them and tell them often.  Cherish the time you have with those you love and with those that love you.  Life is too short even for the oldest among us to do otherwise.

This entry authored by Tyran at 19:02

Tue, 26 Nov 2002

Life is an interesting mistress.  As you may well remember, my maternal grandmother died on Sunday the 17th, a little more than a week ago.  Shanna's paternal grandmother died this last Sunday, one week later to the day.  We had just returned from celebrating my youngest brother's 22nd birthday and there were a slew of calls waiting for us.  Before Shanna could return the latest and most urgent call from her next older sister, she showed up on our doorstep.  She told us that Grandma Louise had died about 45 minutes earlier.  She and Shanna went up to spend a few moments with Grandma before the mortician arrived.

This has been an anticipated event for us but not by Grandma Louise.  She often expressed a hesitancy about her own death and has held on for much longer than any of us believed she would.  Don't get me wrong, I want my grandmothers to stay with us for a long time but I don't want them to out live their own enjoyment of life.  Grandma Louise's sight was gone and her hearing was running a close second.  More often than not she could do little more than sit in her chair and wait.  Everyone tried to be loving and encouraging when we would visit and for a long time Shanna would take up a number of books on tape each Saturday.  It was terribly painful to see this noble woman reduced to such sorrowful suffering.

There is no sense in prolonging life when it brings no joy, no dignity and no pleasure.  I would much prefer to allow nature to take its course than to add two, five or even ten years to my life if those years would only be spent waiting for death to finally find me.  I have lost the sense of fear that often surrounds death and dying.  It is only a step into a great unknown, the very definition of adventure.

I have asked myself today, what if I'm wrong about death?  What if there is no life after death?  So what!  My belief allows me to live life without worrying about or fearing my own death. Without my belief, I would have died by my own hand long ago and if I hadn't, I'm sure that the seduction of illicit living would have swallowed me whole.  Neither result looks to be very enjoyable over the long haul and one if not both options would have seen my life end by violence.  With that in mind, even if I'm completely wrong and there is no God, no afterlife, and my actions have no consequences beyond this short existence on Earth; so what!  That belief, which I hold so dear and know to be true, has given me seventeen years of life.  It has brought me together with the most beautiful, most tender hearted woman I know.  It has allowed me to see three, and soon four, beautiful children join my family.  It has helped me be a caring husband and father.  Either way, right or wrong, I win.

This entry authored by Tyran at 22:24

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