Lori decided to tag along with me today, and more than that, she drove me where I needed to go, and stayed with me, through the whole day. She has always been my sidekick. I treasure her a great deal. This morning is Canadian Thanksgiving Monday. Americans have theirs on Thursday, and we have it on a Monday. Americans get a four day weekend, and Canadians get short changed and get a three day weekend. That is one way to be uniquely Canadian. Lori and I had the day to ourselves. Caitlin was working, and Erinn and Alex were enjoying their day together. So, it was Lori and I and Morgan, together.
My appointment was later than usual and it was the only one I could get for the early morning, and it was for 9:30 AM. So I took it and I was thankful for it, as it allowed me to sleep in. Lori and I got up a little after 8 AM, and Lori gave me a sponge bath as now that my dressing is so large due to the growth of the mass, I can no longer shower or bath without assistance. It is a rather humbling thing for a man who normally feels he can take care of himself. In that situation I felt very loved and cared for by my dear wife Lori. She is such a compassionate and gentle soul, the perfect mindset and aptitude to be a mother and nurse, and she is both. She gently washed me and assisted me out of the tub and dried me off. I was overwhelmed with the love and gentle care she extended to me. I was honored and treated with the utmost compassion and care. I realized then and there, that there was a lot of revelation coming to me about the “fruit of the Spirit” that Paul speaks about in Galatians. I was getting a personal demonstration of many of them today.
One truth that is crystal clear is that you don’t develop character through adversity and trial, but rather adversity and trial reveals the quality of the character you actually have. I believe this to be very true. I hear people say things like “what did you learn through this?” There are things we learn, and then there are things that are already there that get honed and sharpened and developed as you become seasoned with living out your life. Such it is with character traits such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control [Galatians 5: 22, 23].
Your love develops and expands. Your joy manifests in ways and situations you did not expect, and often in what you would have considered abnormal circumstances. Peace comes upon you with a new ease without strain or striving for it. You realize your hands are not clenched but open and you release what needs to go, and peace floods your soul. You tap into forbearance, a patient self-control, a form of tolerance and restraint, something that many time you think you may lack, but you tap into it and it seems to deepen and widen as you keep walking out this attitude of forbearance. Your heart tenderizes you and as you express kindness it returns to you in kind. When you are to others as to how you wish others would be to you, you reap it back into your life and your situations you find yourself in. Your heart filled with goodness begins to overflow in acts of goodness that becomes as natural as breathing. You cannot help yourself, you just walk out a goodly heart of compassion for others, and the more you exercise this goodness, the more you find yourself desiring to express it with others. You find in your heart of hearts, that there are those people to whom being faithful is a given. You just are faithful to God and to other people. As you express that faithfulness and trust and acceptance of others you find that you reap that in yourself. You find that people express faithfulness in measures you have never known before, and people that you had no conceivable notion of being truly faithful, express faithfulness in tenderhearted moments and encounters that baffle you and astound you, but in their simplicity and beauty, that faithfulness reveals the heart of God to you and for you. As you express a gentle spirit toward others, you find again this universal principle of God manifesting in your life. What you sow, you reap. So it is with everything, from relationships, to finance, to developing Christian character. The one principle that is universal in both the Old and new Testaments is the concept of sowing and reaping. How you act and engage in life will be returned to you. You see it everyday in the news, and read about it constantly in the history books. It is a universal principle.
So, my character continues to change and become transformed, and for me that is a good thing. I am somewhat extra sensitive these days and I will take that for what it is. Something is happening, not just in my body, but in my spirit. I am undergoing change. You are never too old to change. You never in a position to not make changes. You can change. Most of us don’t like change, but change can be necessary and not much of an option, and we at times need to embrace change and be transformed in the process.
The dressing change went well. The nurse was compassionate and caring. Lori came in with me and took a few photos of my wound. It had grown some more since the 29th. The nurse was very good in her gentle care of the wound and in making the dressing, and Lori took note of how good the nursing care was for me, so much so, that she mentioned it on the way out to the car.
On the way home we realized the Thanksgiving Oktoberfest Parade was just winding down. It was 10:15 AM, and we had to take an adventurous route home. We passed a bunch of floats and the police had stopped traffic to let them through. The route was different this year because of the rapid transit system construction that our twin cities are going through. It makes life an adventure on a daily basis.
On our way home we took Margaret Street which had had some construction and was now open again, and came across the signage for Breithaupt Park. So Lori turned off and took Union Street to Breithaupt Park which was a childhood play area for our kids where we had many great times together, with our kids and our extended family. So many picnics, times in the wading pool and slides and swings. We turned into the park and while there were many memories that flooded our minds, there were also noticeable changes that had taken place over the years. More changes evidenced by new slides and new play areas, and a splash pad that replaced the concrete wading pool. But it was good to have all these memories flood my soul and remind me of the goodness and faithfulness of God and family and friends.
We went home and relaxed a bit and Lori took Morgan for a long walk. I relaxed a bit and did some thinking and reflecting. I rested some as I knew we were going to be going out for the 4 PM 80th Birthday Celebration for Lori’s mother, Joyce.
Before leaving I took Morgan again for a little walk to do his business. The sun was radiant and the fall colours were spectacular. I was overwhelmed by the goodness of God and the beauty of the world which He created. I felt all these emotions rising inside of me, and it was a mixture of really deep emotions. I was joyful and I was thankful, and I found myself saying out loud as I gazed into the beautiful clouds,
“Lord, you know I am ready to die, and you know that I really don’t want to die. Not yet. I have so much more to look forward to and experience and celebrate. I really do not want to die. I yield to Your will and call on Your healing for me. I know you make all things well, and it is well with me. I love you. I hold on to you.”
I got changed and Lori drove us out to Rosebank BIC where the pastor, Lori’s cousin, Tim Harden had arranged to host the party and provide a meal for those who came. I know change is going on, because I normally find such situations awkward for me. However this time I was fine with it.
Lori and I and our girls, Caitlin and Erinn, and Alex, all got to see extended family members, some of whom we had not seen in a long time. It was so good to see people, mix and mingle, have a lot of hugs and kisses, and emotional moments of contact and conversation. News of my situation had spread far and wide within the extended family. Having my mother in law and Facebook and Twitter has a way of getting the word out to people. I had quite a few extended hugs. You know the kind, the hug that refuses to let you and you get absorbed into each other. I had quite a few of those, shed some tears and had some laughs. It was all good.
We were all fed this superb meal, prepared by Tim and Jackie Harden, our hosts for the evening. They were incredible. We all got salad, veggies, roast beef and roasted potatoes and corn and gravy, and apple pie and ice cream for dessert. You can’t beat that for a birthday meal. There were plenty of seconds for people if they had any room left. It was a feast, and the best kind of feast. It was a feast among family and friends. It was so good for me to be there.
Joyce had friends from different towns where she and Bob had lived and pastored over the years. As far as Owen Sound and Meaford, to Guelph, Cambridge, Listowel, Palmerston and Kitchener Waterloo, all these people came to honour 80 year old Joy Ramer Rolston Wright. It was a fine evening filled with stories, humor, and lots of laughter and joy. For me, it was a great occasion to reconnect with extended family, some I had not seen in a year or longer. There were many embraces and words of encouragement for which I was very appreciative. I am particularly thankful for Sandra and Dave Bridle, who six years ago battled non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and is healthy today. He embraced me and told me he was there for me. There were countless others who reached out to me and poured out love and affirmation and encouragement to me.
My sister in law, Becky, was deeply emotional, and hugged and kissed me and spoke words of encouragement and comfort. Her daughters, Ally and Melissa were the same. The three of us hugged tightly, I could hear and feel sobbing, and words of love and comfort and encouragement. Melissa had a prophetic edge on her words, and exhorted with the words “you’re going to kill this cancer Uncle Sam!” Both Ally and Melissa poured out so much love on me. It was incredible.
My brother in law, Rob and his wife Tracy and daughter Olivia were so much of a blessing to me. They hugged me and kissed me and loved on me and continued to speak words of encouragement and blessing, words of life.
My mother in law came to the table where I was seated and put her arm around me and told me how much she loved me and was praying for me. She has mobilized people to pray for me. She is so supportive of me, and she has always been that way. She has been a real mother to me. I leaned over and asked her if she wanted to see a picture of my wound from earlier in the day. She smiled and said sure. Lori was hesitant for me to show her mom. Joyce said to go ahead, and I did. There was a stunned look on Joyce’s face as she looked in shock at the size of the mass. She had no idea of what I was dealing with. She was quiet and she hugged me.
The evening moved along nicely after the meal, and Tim opened up the floor for any words of greeting or any memories or speeches. Our family got into it. Erinn played her well known rendition of Amazing Grace.
Caitlin gave a moving speech from a grand child and a lovely tribute to her grandmother.
Lori gave a daughter’s tribute to her mother.
I could not be left out, so I got up and gave a tribute to Joyce, who has always been there for me and for my family, just as she is standing with me now. Others came and shared, including Tim who sang Because He Lives accompanied by Sandra on the piano.
Joyce’s sister Helen and Harold Dinsmore from Owen Sound shared words and sang a Gospel song.
Susan Falle, Joyce’s niece spoke as did her sister Sandra, and recalled memories of spending time when they were young with Bob and Joyce.
Joyce’s sister in law, Doran Rolston shared about their many adventures together throughout the years and even now.
Some other shared, making the evening all the more special for all of us. It was such a blessing to be with family and friends and to celebrate life together. Tim asked Ron, a nephew of Joyce’s to pray a blessing on Joyce. We all joined in the prayer of blessing asking God to pour out His love and affirmation upon Joyce this year.
We all gathered around as Joyce opened gifts and cards from people. As we were closing off the evening, Joyce asked Tim to lead off in prayer, and to pray for my healing and a miracle for my body. I sat on a chair and the people around the room gathered around me as Tim prayed and they echoed his words in agreement that we would all put our trust in God first and then medical science, and that we would ask for a miracle. I was overcome with the love and grace I experienced.
As we left at 8:30 PM and walked into the parking lot to our cars, there was a tremendous sense of being blessed and gratitude overwhelmed my heart. I was thankful that we could celebrate the life of Joyce and her 80 years of waking this earth. I was touched deeply by the thought that I am walking with God in the land of the living, and those who are walking with me are holding me up each step of this journey. I am not walking alone. I am not forsaken. I am loved. I am truly loved.
My incredible family. I love these guys. Thanks to Ally for taking the group selfie.