Hello Can You Hear Me?

Tonight’s post is another in my Vintage Stories series. The featured item rests on one of my bedside tables, a unique lamp that did not begin its life as an illuminator. Its original purpose was to magically connect people, allowing them to communicate even though they were miles apart.

Hello Can You Hear Me?

Greg’s dad, Bob, gave me this unusual piece shortly after Leta Moore passed away. My children used to play with the lamp that was a telephone, when they visited their grandparents, talking into the mouthpiece to imaginary friends.

My grandchildren, in turn, played with the lamp. Although to them a phone was a device small enough to fit into their hands, and had fun games downloaded on it, they instinctively knew to place the receiver to their ear and lean forward to speak into the mouthpiece.

Hello Can You Hear Me?

I knew a little bit of history about the lamp. Bob acquired the phone from the Noel Telephone Exchange, in the tiny town of Noel, Missouri, and repurposed it into a lamp, in the late 50s or early 60s. When the receiver is lifted, the lamp lights up. When the receiver is hung up, the light goes off. Clever, huh?

Tonight I removed the lampshade and studied the heavy phone. I was excited to find a company name engraved around the top of the receiver: Stromberg Carlson Telephone Company. I had something I could research! And, engraved on the back of the mouthpiece were these dates: November 26, 1901 March 19, 1907 April 14, 1908 with the additional words, Patent Pending. I’ve never noticed this vital information before. It was time to Google.

Hello Can You Hear Me?

The Stromberg Carlson Telephone Company was founded in 1894, in the US, by Swedish inventors Alfred Stromberg, on the left above, and Androv Carlson, on the right. The company was one of five that controlled the national supply of telephone equipment, until after World War II.

Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patent expired in 1894. These enterprising men, employees of American Bell Telephone Company in Chicago, seized an opportunity. Stromberg and Carlson each invested $500 to establish a firm with the purpose of manufacturing telephone equipment to sell to independent telephone companies.

The model I have is a Stromberg Carlson Kellogg Candlestick Telephone, made in 1908. This 110 year old telephone is vintage, indeed!

Hello Can You Hear Me?Stromberg and Carlson are credited with bringing communication to rural America. This advertisement is for one of their wall models.

So how did Bob Moore acquire this old phone? Greg remembered that the Noel Telephone Exchange, which no longer exists, was owned by Fred Cartwright. Back to Google we went, with a Greg now caught up in the hunt for info.

He discovered that the Cartwrights purchased the Noel Exchange in 1947. On May 27, 1955 the Cartwrights installed a dial telephone system in Noel…the first in the county…after losing their contract with Stromberg Carlson in late 1954. The old phones, with ear and mouth pieces, were no longer needed.

The Moores moved to Noel in 1956, after the dial system was installed. Bob and his dad, Bill, opened a drive in, south of Noel, that featured hamburgers and barbecue sandwiches. They drew hungry customers from McDonald County and the neighboring Arkansas county of Benton. The Cartwrights were patrons of Moore’s Drive-In. At some point, Fred gave, or sold, one of the old Stromberg Carlson phones to Bob.

Hello Can You Hear Me?

The part of the story that I don’t know is how Bob came up with the repurposing idea. Greg, who was just a toddler when his family moved to Noel, can’t remember the transformation from phone to lamp. He and I both believe Bob did the work.

We had Dad Moore with us for a good long time. He passed away three years ago, at the grand age of 94. I talked with him for hours, in his twilight years, as we sat together in his porch swing. I tried to ask him the questions that I knew I’d want answers to later. However, I did not at that time know what I was leaving unanswered. Why didn’t I ask him to tell me again the story of the telephone lamp?

The lamp sends a soft glow into my room at night, chasing away darkness. I think of Bob and Leta Moore when I look at the lamp, and I think of my kids and grandkids who have playfully enjoyed the lamp as well. It sparked their imagination, as it has mine. And apparently, long ago, the telephone inspired Bob as well.

In its former life, the lamp was a communication device, allowing people to talk…and ask questions…across great distances. Perhaps as I lean in close to the mouthpiece, I can ask Bob about creating the lamp. Hello, can you hear me? I will listen for a reply.

Hello Can You Hear Me?

Surrender 53: Saying Goodbye to Papa and Mimi’s House

Today my son Nate had the opportunity to join his dad and me at the house in Arkansas. Because he had to work Saturday, he was unable to join his sisters on that day, as they walked through their grandparents’ house, selecting momentos to take home. They graciously allowed their brother the opportunity to visit, before claiming anything else. 


As it was with the girls, it was interesting to quietly follow Nate as he moved from room to room. The house is full of stuff, and yet empty, missing the bright sparks of life that were Papa and Mimi to Nate and Elissa and Adriel. Memories linger there though. My son smiled as he picked up items that stirred recollections from his childhood. 

Although he selected several small figurines for his kids, his focus was on photos, such as the one posted above. Nate and his sisters were frequent visitors to the hangar containing the small airplanes that Papa Bob flew for Peterson’s. They had fun climbing into the cockpits and pretending to fly. Their vivid imaginations took them around the world. 

And Nate sorted through stacks of sheet music for piano. Mimi Leta was a gifted pianist, who passed her musical ability on to her grandson and younger granddaughter. Nate has her piano already, in his house, and today he collected an assortment of music to take home as well. Some of that music is vintage, as Leta played the piano in various churches throughout her life, from the age of 16 onward. 

Saturday Elissa found this scrap of paper, with a drawing by 5 year old Nate. She snapped a pic and sent it to her brother, with the remark that his artistic ability had certainly improved! We looked at the little sketch today. I will save it, as Papa Bob apparently did. He and Mimi Leta kept artwork from their grandkids. They are more than kids’ drawings, they tell stories. They capture a moment in time as accurately as a photograph does. 

 Nate’s latest drawing, given as a gift to his wife. 

I enjoyed spending a good portion of the day with my son, as I did Saturday with my daughters and their sweethearts. As we prepared to leave, Nate asked if he could first walk around outside the house. “It may be the last time I see this place,” he quietly explained. I let him walk around, accompanied by his dad, while I closed up the house. 

Nate’s words made me aware of the reality of what’s happening. In the midst of sorting and packing, tossing and keeping, laughing and remembering…and preparing to sell the house…I’ve overlooked the fact that it will be gone soon. This house. This place of memories. My children and I never knew any of the other houses that Bob and Leta Moore lived in. This was home. 

Soon memory will be all we have of this place, and those years of being together here. Except for the photos. Except for the momentos and the few pieces of furniture that have gone to new homes. I’m so grateful that those cherished items will carry memories forward, and that the stories around them will continue to be told. I’m especially grateful for my beautiful children, who have a rich appreciation for family history and the desire to hold it close….and then pass it on. 


Surrender 51: Heavenly Birthday and Earthly Treasures

Today is Bob Moore’s birthday. He was not a world renowned man and yet I felt a sense of wonder and loss, realizing that for the first time in 95 years, a century nearly, this unique person was not present in his earthly body on this day. There was no party, no birthday lunch as there was last year, no massive slices of chocolate cream pie to laugh over and devour. Surely the world noticed the absence of this bright, beautiful soul. 


All three of his grandchildren and his son noticed. They were aware that this was his first birthday celebrated in a heavenly way, with a host of family members on the other side of the veil. By Divine appointment, Greg and I, Elissa and Josh, Adriel and Nate Pugh, spent part of the day in Arkansas, at Bob’s house. Nathanael had to work today and couldn’t join us, however he communicated by text, and he will go with us to Arkansas on Monday. 
 Papa Bob with Elissa, who was 9 months old.  

As we are preparing the house for the market, Greg and I have been sorting through all the items left behind. We are ready to empty the house so Greg can paint and new carpet can go down. It was time for the kids to walk through the only house they remember their grandparents living in, and decide what they wanted to take to their own homes. 

 Papa Bob and Mimi Leta with Nathanael, who was 1.  

It was a sweet time today, watching the girls look through drawers and cupboards, stacks of photos and a vast assortment of momentos. They exclaimed over found treasures, full of memories. I heard them say often to each other, those magical words that have the power to unlock the past, “Do you remember…?”

 Papa Bob with newborn Adriel.  

One of the fun discoveries today was when the kids, all in their 30’s, uncovered the stereo. Adriel confessed she always thought that piece of furniture was a table! In a short time the top was cleared and the lid opened, revealing a turntable, a radio and an 8 track player. It’s been at least 20 years since anyone has peered inside, much less dropped an album in. 


The 8 track player was tried first, being such a novelty! It worked. The kids found a Sound of Music vinyl. After tinkering with the record player briefly, Julie Andrews’ voice sang forth. It was such an enchanting moment. 

The young men also discovered that the Japanese sake set, a gift to Leta years ago from one of Peterson’s traveling salespersons, actually had sake in the bottle. Sake is an alcoholic drink made from rice. For 30 years or more that set has been on display on a shelf, and I never picked up the bottle. In honor of the day, and Papa Bob’s birth 95 years ago, for the memories and the love and the joys, the four young adults each had a shot of sake, using a cut crystal glass rather than the little ceramic sake cup. I passed on having a taste, but I laughed, watching their faces, as they experienced the fire of vintage sake. 


It was a precious, memorable day, and a start to clearing the house. The girls experienced a bit of overwhelm, looking through so many items, recalling so many memories. I understand! Each sister took home a small collection of treasures, wanting their brother to have a chance to look before they make further decisions. The girls expressed gratitude for their family today, how love and compassion for one another governs our actions and flavors our words. There’s no greed or selfishness exhibited here…only cooperation and care. 

I was proud of them. I know Papa Bob was too. What an amazing birthday for him, to have his granddaughters and their sweeties laughing and remembering in his house, to have his grandson present Monday, to see his son there telling stories to the children. Happy heavenly birthday, Dad! I miss you, and yet I know you are not far away, watching over us all. I love you. 


Journey 218: Siloam Springs AR Historic District

Last year, during my year of firsts, I enjoyed experiencing something new every day. That journey changed me, shifting my perceptions about life and myself. I opened to infinite possibilities  and adventure, simply by being willing to try things I’d never tried before. 

So today, finding myself in the beautiful historic district of Siloam Springs, AR, I decided to visit a new shop and experience a restaurant I had not eaten at before.

Having a little time before a scheduled appointment, Greg and I stepped into one of my favorite types of shops, a junk store. 2 Gals’ Junk, located at 120 S Broadway, offers cozy cubicles and cubby holes full of interesting items, antiques, collectibles and yes, good ole junk. We spent a leisurely 15 minutes browsing and remarking over familiar items and new-to-us gadgets, interesting bits and pieces, all with stories attached. 

After the appointment, we wandered down the pretty street looking for a unique restaurant to have a late lunch. Fratelli’s Wood-fired Pizzeria caught our attention. Also located on Broadway, this charming little restaurant features 12″ speciality pizzas that are indeed wood-fired. 

We wavered between pizzas with interesting names such as 3 Little Pigs, Gorgonspeck and Bavarian. We settled on the Bavarian…tomato sauce, mozzarella, sliced Italian sausage, onions, and bell peppers on a hand tossed Italian  crust. 

As we waited for our pizza, I looked around at the earthy decor…exposed brick walls, intimate tables and comfy booths, wooden floors and art on the walls. I noticed for the first time the print hanging above our booth. It was a bi-wing airplane. Greg and I smiled. The airplane has already become the symbol for Greg’s dad. We were seated by the only airplane print in the restaurant. 

We enjoyed our meal when it arrived! The tasty 12″ pizza was the perfect size  for two people to share. Fratelli’s also serves gelato. We each purchased a small cup to savor as we left the restaurant…peanut butter chocolate for Greg and brown sugar pecan for me. 

Sitting on a bench facing the street, we finished our dessert and watched the activities on the busy street. It was a quiet moment to pause and enjoy a treat and also consider what task we next needed to do. It continues to be a busy time as we settle Greg’s dad’s estate and make plans for dispersing property. 

At the end of a long life, there are cupboards and closets and drawers full of items, momentoes of the journey. Like the little shop we visited, full of interesting tidbits, Bob’s house is full of items with their own unique stories attached. Over the coming days and weeks, Greg and I and our children and grandchildren will sort through these special memory laden pieces and decide what to do with each item. 

It will be a beautiful journey through time and recollections. I’m sure there will be stories told, tears shed and laughter shared. And each person will take home what is dear to their hearts, a small part of Bob and Leta Moore to cherish. This afternoon, however, I enjoyed the beauty that surrounded me and a cold gelato and quiet conversation. The journey ahead will unfold in its own time. And that’s just perfect! 


Journey 216: Dad Moore’s High Flight

This morning we celebrated the life of Bob Moore…father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, friend…and gathered to remember him with stories, pictures, the sharing of a meal and an impromptu performance. Tears were shed, as the realization settled in that we will not see him again during the rest of our lifetimes. However, there was much rejoicing over a man who lived a full and joy-filled life, ever generous, ever patient and full of humor. Here is the day, captured in pictures, snapshots capturing the honoring of a man who was loved by many.

dads funeral crowd

Great group of people gather to remember Bob.

dads funeral pallbearers

Carried by love. Pallbearers: Greg Moore, Nathanael Moore, Tim Moore, Dayan Reynolds, Josh Adam, Nate Pugh

dads funeral flag draped

dads funeral at attention

Standing at attention. Thank you to the US Navy.

dads funeral daryl

Friend Daryl Hopkins shares stories from Bob’s days of piloting planes.

dads funeral Nate and Megan

Grandson Nathanael with his wife, Megan. Greg and me in background.

dads funeral Dayan

Great-grandson Dayan. So proud of him for serving as a pallbearer.

dads funeral military honors

Full Military Honors. Taps was hauntingly beautiful, played expertly by the young Navy man on the right. The folding and presentation of the US Flag was very moving.

dads funeral thinking of him

Thinking of you, Dad Moore. Gorgeous flowers from the Garden Gate, Gentry, AR. Lovely flowering plants, that can go into the backyard garden, from Greg’s cousins: Mark, Pam, Linda & Tim and their families, and Paul and Jean Palmer and their family.

dads funeral lunch table 1

23 family members sharing memories and lunch after the services. The “adult” table.

dads funeral lunch table 2

The “children’s table”. As Greg’s cousin Linda pointed out, you know you are getting older when the children’s table looks like this!

dads funeral neighbor kids

Back at Bob’s house, a very special performance by his neighbors. I was blessed by these kids as they played the violin and sang his favorite song.

I am so grateful, to so many people. Thank you to family and friends who attended the service today and shared your stories and your love for Dad Moore. Lloyd Luginbuel, of Luginbuel Funeral Home, Prairie Grove, AR, I appreciate all that you did. You provided excellent service, with professional grace, and made our tasks easier. Special thanks to the US Navy Honor Guard for your moving tribute, and First Baptist Church of Decatur for opening your Fellowship Hall so that we could visit after the service and for providing drinks and snacks. Pallbearers Greg, Nathanael, Tim, Dayan, Josh and Nate, thank you for your tender care and honor. Pastor Paul Young and Dad’s friend, Daryl Hopkins, I so appreciated your words of encouragement during the service, and your stories. Elissa and Josh Adam, and Dayan Reynolds, thank you for staying up late last night to create the power point tribute to your grandpa. Debbie, you were great to take pictures for me.

Greg, the words you shared about your dad were so moving, so powerful. You not only revealed more of your dad’s shining soul, you pointed our awareness back to ourselves to remind us we all have shining souls as well. Every word that you shared about your father honored him. He had such an expansive soul, such love for others, such generosity of heart. Together we all combined our memories and our stories to create the legend that is Bob Moore. Thank you for sharing your dad with me. I am so proud of you as you journey well, just as your dad did. It is an honor to walk beside you. Dad Moore….thank YOU for loving me, for making me your daughter by welcoming me into your family, for teaching me so much about life.

As a pilot, Dad Moore soared high into the heavens. He learned at an early age who he was, and what he could do, even when those high-above-the-earth maneuvers pushed what was considered standard or even acceptable. He trusted himself and his instincts and he KNEW, beyond a doubt, what he was capable of. His great altitude. as he flew, allowed him to see the world in a way that few do, and it broadened his horizons and his soul. When turbulence shook him, he climbed higher, breaking through the storm clouds into light and peace and a calmness that settled into his heart and remained there. He never flinched from a challenge. He figured out how to meet it, head on, resolve it, and move on. Being in the air so often gave him a unique perspective that he carried in his heart and lived in his life, even when he was on the ground.

That’s the man I came to know. He was one of the most open, resourceful, playful, resilient and loving men I have ever met. And I loved him in return, as did many other people. Lloyd included this poem in the Memorial Folder that was handed out today. It is a fitting way to conclude my blog post, and end this time of celebrating a wonderful man who loved to fly.

High Flight\\ Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth. And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth\\  Off sun-split clouds, and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there\\  I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air…\\ Up, up the long, delirious burning blue I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace, Where never lark or even eagle flew.\\ And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

dads funeral heart

Journey 212: Passing into Legend

This week has been quite the journey with Greg’s dad, Bob. Last Saturday this independent, sweet 94 year old man had a heart attack which caused a fall. The gash on the back of his head, while alarming, was easily closed. The weakening of his heart was a different matter. For several years we his family have known that a time was approaching when Dad Moore’s heart would give out, due to an age related condition that had no treatment, no cure. In spite of the difficulties this week, watching as he slipped away, and the weariness that has accompanied daily trips to and from the hospital in Arkansas, it has been a precious time of sitting with Dad, chatting, listening to stories from his past and simply holding his hand while he slept.

Bob Moore with mom and brother Bill

The shadow of death that crept over his familiar features could not dim the smile that appeared each time we walked into his hospital room. Nor could it dispel his courteous concern for the welfare of everyone else around him, including the medical staff and the host of people who brought his meals, cleaned his room, changed his bed sheets. Until late last night, he was still thanking us, and others, expressing genuine gratitude for the care he had been given, whispering that he loved us. He even cracked a couple of jokes, giving us a last glimpse of his well known sense of humor.

Dad Moore as a young man

Early this morning, Bob K Moore’s earthly journey came to an end, and he shed the worn out body that had weighed him down. He soared, free. The thought that entered my mind at his time of death was that a great man had entered into legend. I think I must have retained that line from one of the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit movies, where mighty men doing good deeds pass from life into legend. Great stories are told of such men, and they are remembered for their acts, both grand and small. Today those stories of this mighty man began immediately, from tearful nurses who had known Dad a week, to long time friends and family members who have always had this man of strength and character in their lives.

Bob Moore and the statue

Bob was born February 20, 1921 as the second son to William and Ruby Moore. He had an older brother, Bill. On November 21, 1941, he married his sweetheart, Leta Mae Davidson. They had two sons, Ray and Greg. Bob served his country for a little over three years in the Navy, working as an aviation machinist. His love for aircraft, although already present before this time, bloomed into a lifelong passion. Moving their family to Noel, Missouri, Bob and Leta, along with his parents, opened and operated a drive-in south of town, specializing in barbeque meats and hamburgers. Later his love of flying led him to Peterson Industries in Decatur, AR, where he worked until retirement as an airplane mechanic and pilot, flying baby chickens and personnel all over the US.

Bob Moore wedding day

Those are some of the facts about Bob. And while they are accurate, they tell little about how he lived his life, about how much he cared for others, and how generous he was with all that he had, including his time. I love the quote that says, “It isn’t the date on either end that counts, but how they used their dash, for that dash between the dates represents all the time they spent alive on earth.” February 20, 1921 – July 31, 2015. It is the dash that matters, it’s where Dad’s life was lived.

Bob Moore pilot

I met Bob and Leta Moore when their son, Greg, took me to their home on a Sunday afternoon after church. At age 16, I didn’t make an outstanding impression, I’m sure, my shyness and thoughtfulness keeping me quiet, especially after “the incident”. I followed Greg into his bedroom before dinner, and embarrased when he said he needed to change clothes, stepped willingly into the closet and closed the door, while he changed. Long moments passed. When I heard Greg’s parents ask, “Where’s Cindy?” I suddenly wished that the closet would morph into the wardrobe in Narnia so I could make my escape. Instead, I stood there, eyes big, as the Moores opened the closet door and peered in at me, puzzled by my unusual behavior. What thoughts must have gone through their minds! They accepted me anyway, and loved me as a daughter when I became their daughter-in-law three years later.

Bob Moore drive in

Dad Moore has had a huge impact on my life. He taught me how to fish and fry them up, and how to make his famous peanut brittle. He chased away my fear of flying, allowing me to sit in the co-pilot seat several times during flights with him. His wit was already legendary when I met him. I heard tales of his adventures as a youth and saw the pictures, his face lit up in a wide grin as his gaze met the camera as he met the world, full of grace and good humor and an infectious charm. He taught me to see the world as a good place, full of people with good hearts, and to offer to others out of the goodness in me.

Bob Moore with nieces

His loving heart was as remarkable as his sense of humor. He cared deeply for others, and put actions behind his love. I can’t begin to list all the people that he has helped over the years, always without a thought for being helped in return, never with the expectation of repayment of any kind. Did people take advantage of this good man? Yes, they did. That didn’t tarnish his desire to help those in genuine need, it only revealed the darkness in some, while allowing his light to shine brightly.

Dad was a family man. He loved his sweet wife, cared for her at home until her death in 1999. Before her passing, they were one, truly….BobandLeta. You couldn’t say one name without saying the other, so often did they serve and work and play together. Her death from Alzheimer’s was surely one of the most difficult journeys in his life, and yet I never heard him complain or bemoan his fate. And then he was Bob, alone….the woman that was one with him gone from him for 16 years. One of the happiest thoughts I held today was imaging their reunion. They are BobandLeta once more.

Bob Moore the kiss

My children adored their Papa Bob. He played with them, took them fishing as well, flew them in his airplanes and when the planes were grounded, allowed them to play in the hangar. How their imaginations soared as they sat in the cockpit, pretending to fly. They have their own stories to tell, how Papa snored at night, making them giggle, how he and Mimi took them to the Wildlife Safari, and fixed them chocolate milk with vanilla ice cream in it for breakfast. I am beyond grateful that the children, now grown, spent Sunday afternoon with their Papa, hearing his stories again, loving on him, making memories.

Bob Moore with grandkids

I think Dad’s greatest life lesson to me was demonstrating how to walk with faith and hope and perseverance, believing the best about people, laughing at the joys that appeared, weathering the challenges that arose with grace and dignity. He walked with God without making demands. He expressed gratitude instead for what he had. He didn’t linger on what was wrong. He focused on what was right. He remained a man of integrity and hope, true to who he was, even when his physical strength began to fail.

The last part of the quote, that I wrote above, says, “And now only those who loved them know what that little line…that dash…is worth.” I know. Greg and our children and their children know. Friends and other family members know. So many years, so much life, so much love, captured in a beautiful lifetime, the life of Bob Moore. Thank you, Dad Moore, for all that you have taught me, all the love you have shown me. The world was enriched by your presence. I was enriched. Go brightly into the night and soar high into the Heavens. And shine on us until we see you again.


Journey 211: Father-in-Law Day

How amazing, as this journey unfolds with Greg’s dad, to discover that today is Father-in-Law Day. Bob Moore has been an important part of my life for 41 years. I’ve really always thought of him as my second dad. 

Bob is one of the most compassionate, caring people that I have ever met. He cherished his wife and his sons and always wanted a daughter. I got to fulfill that role. He not only spoiled his grandchildren…he spoiled me. It has been precious to me these past two years, especially, to sit with Bob and hold his hand, chatting or sitting in comfortable silence. 

He handles life as it unfolds, without drama, complaint or judgment. I’ve learned so much about graciousness and generosity, observing his well lived life and the way he cares for others.  

This week has been no different. As he nears the end of his earthly journey, he continues to express gratitude toward others, even in the midst of pain and frailty and confusion. He is well loved by the medical staff at the hospital. Every nurse, therapist and CNA has been the recipient of his kindness and thanked for every task that they have performed. The doctor called him a sweet, sweet man. 

I truly believed that I was going to say my last good-bye today, ironically on Father-in-Law Day. He crept very near to death early this afternoon. But he surprised us late in the afternoon, with a rally. He became responsive again. He said his I love yous, his thank yous, and his go home and rests. I know his time with us is growing short. I am so grateful for him, for his love, for his life. I love you, Dad Moore. 


Journey 210: A Thousand Words

This is a simple post tonight, having just arrived home from the hospital in Arkansas. Things seem to be shifting with Greg’s dad. He slept more today. Seemed more frail. Greg and I have talked so much throughout the day, about life and about death. There’s no fear. Just love and peace and an acceptance that this is a part of the journey we all must take. 

Greg’s cousins came by. Pam from a pretty little Arkansas town nearby. And Linda and her husband Dale from the rich farmlands of Illinois. Bob slept through most of their visit, occasionally stirring enough to say, “Don’t waste your time here. Go rest.” We smiled. And his words held truth for Linda and Dale, who got on the road at the break of dawn this morning. 

It was so good to see these wonderful, supportive family members. I appreciate them, as I know Greg does. They brought love and light into the room. This picture captures the afternoon perfectly. And it truly is worth a thousand words. 

Although the day was hot, there’s a nice breeze stirring in the garden tonight, and a full moon overhead. Greg lit a fire in the fire pit and we are sitting thoughtfully, watching the flames leap and dance. Tomorrow we are back at the hospital. Tonight, we are just being. 



Journey 209: The Middle Way

On my way to Arkansas this morning, to spend time with Greg’s dad in the hospital and allow Greg to go get some much needed sleep, I listened to The Untethered Soul, by Michael A Singer, on Audible. Chapter 18 is called The Secret of the Middle Way. It was perfect, listening to this chapter, thinking about Bob and life as I drove.

untethered soul pic

Writing of walking the middle way, Singer gives examples of living life at the edges, at the extremes. For example, one can never eat….or eat all the time. Both extremes can’t be continued, without disastrous results. The middle way would be to eat, when the body says it is time to eat, and to eat something that sustains and nurtures the body. Another example I thought of would be, I can never speak….I can talk all the time. Or I can find the middle way and speak when I feel compelled to speak and have something worthy and uplifting to share.

Trying to maintain the extremes takes massive amounts of energy, energy that isn’t available then for living a joy-filled, abundant life. Singer uses the picture of a pendulum. If it is pulled 30 degrees to the right and released, it will swing 30 degrees to the left. That’s a physics law. If you pull a pendulum one way, it will swing the opposite way just as far. We often live life like that. If I starve myself for days, I am apt to swing the other way just as far, and overeat when I finally give in and eat. It’s not healthy. It’s not easy to maintain, without massive effort. How long, Singer asks, will a pendulum stay at its outermost position? Only a moment, without continued forces moving it. How long can a pendulum stay at rest? Forever, because no forces are moving it out of balance.

middle way pendulum

To walk the middle way is to stay in a space with no energy pushing me to the edges, to the extremes. It is to stay centered, balanced, at rest within. If something happens….a car cuts me off in traffic….I can swing to an extreme and react from that place….and stay in that agitated place for an unreasonable long time. Or I can let go of what rises up, immediately, and stay centered, stay present. If I start to go off center, I can return, as often as I need to.

This is the way I am journeying. This is the path that brings me such peace and joy. Lived with such awareness and such simplicity, life indeed becomes simple as it unfolds in front of me. And I am always present, always there, as it unfolds. When I am swinging from extreme to extreme, life is exhausting, confusing, out of balance. In reality, I am the one who is exhausting, confused and out of balance.

I loved this section in Chapter 18: “When you stop being confused, everything becomes simple. If you have no preference, if the only thing you want is to remain centered, then life unfolds while you simply feel for the center. There is an invisible thread that passes through everything. All things move quietly through that center balance. That is the way. It is really there. It is there in your relationships, in your diet, in your business activities. It is there in everything. It is the eye of the storm. It is completely at peace.” Ah, yes. Peace. I’ve been very aware of peace this week.

I needed to hear this today. I wanted to be reminded. As I journey with Greg and his dad, I am feeling for the center. I am allowing life to unfold and being present with it. I am not demanding that anything has to be a certain way. I trust that the Divine has brought us all to this exact point in our lives, together, and we will walk through this, with no expected outcomes other than we will walk together in faith and love and joy and peace. I feel that invisible thread. It runs through the center of this situation. It loops around our wrists as Bob and I hold hands while he sleeps. It encircles the bed and the room, the hospital and the medical staff, the family and friends who love Bob. We are open to everything, and attached to nothing. Life is continuing to unfold. I don’t want to miss a second of it.

middle way golden threads

Journey 208: Peace in the Midst of the Storm

Today was day three spent with Greg’s dad, Bob, in the hospital. Greg arrived at the hospital early this morning. After taking care of business in Joplin, I too arrived to find Bob having a very rough day. 

His enzyme levels show that his heart is stabilizing  and that damage isn’t continuing. The next few days will show the extent of that damage. But he said he felt horrible and strange, the worst he had ever felt, and this is a man who survived two plane crashes! He was fretful and sad and he has not been able to sleep. 

Greg’s presence soothes him. Yet it is so difficult to sleep in the hospital during the day, with the busyness outside the door and the frequent checking of vitals. I love the quote that talks about not being pulled into other people’s storms, but pulling them into your peace. Greg and I had opportunity to practice this today, patiently answering Bob’s questions, assuring him he is not a burden, which is his greatest concern, holding his hand.  

When he felt so strange, heavy and hurting, and was hyperventilating, we turned down the lights, shut out the noise by closing the door, and laid our hands on him. Greg cradled a foot while I held his hand and arm with both my hands, cupping them lightly. I opened my heart and asked God to pour His Peace, His Light, through me, down my arms and through my hands, into Bob’s body. I grew hot, my hands became hot. The trembling body of this sweet man grew still. His breathing slowed to match mine, match Greg’s. And at last, his eyes closed. 

It was a beautiful moment. A time of navigating this difficult time with peace and quiet joy. I wish I could say Bob slept like a baby for hours. He did not. Noise in the hallway made him stir. This continues to be unknown territory for Bob, for Greg, for me. We will walk with this dear man, until the day comes that his path strikes off in a different direction. That was not this day. 

Greg stayed with his dad at the hospital tonight. He is learning new levels of caring for his father, with patience and acceptance and love. I came back to Joplin. There was just enough daylight left for me to walk in my garden. The air was hot and humid, but peace continued to surround me, and the stillness within me was echoed without. 

I bought two new chairs for the meditation area of my garden last week. Tonight I finally unstacked  them and removed tags and carried them into the garden. I love how they look there. For a few moments I sat in that sacred space and allowed all the events of the day to rise and pass through my heart. This journey with Bob isn’t easy, especially for him and for Greg. Yet it is the journey we are on right now and journey well we will. Peace and love will guide us.