On the Edge

In ten days I turn 96. Let’s review what’s with me:

Balance is gone, keeping me close to home. I move leaning on Old Red, my four-wheeled horse. Falling is the foe. If I wind up in a wheelchair, they will boot me out of Woodland Garden.

I seldom leave the building save, for an occasional social event and medical/dental appointment. Friends and STRIDE, our public handicap service, get me about. Love their power ramp. Getting in and out of a car is a pain, and car riding exasperates problems we need not discuss.

In a restaurant I pull Old Red to the table, never really comfortable, ever mindful of the two-hour rule. I pray a dawdler doesn’t occupy the geezer cell.

County-funded health aid and laundry/cleaning persons keep me afloat. Son-in-law Dale Rogers does chores I can’t handle. The building maintenance crew stands ready.

I can no longer attend church. Friends from near and far visit with me in my apartment, with sorties to 313 for refreshments, where Norma lives. She is my go-to person. She does the shopping. Her kind presence keeps me at Woodland Garden.  WE meet each night for two hours of TV and supper, the highlight of my day. Read And She Wasn’t Laughing to learn our story. www.lloydsstortreecom.

Though nights are long, my spirits remain high. I realize I sit on the edge of eligibility to live at Woodland Garden. I hope to sit here a long time.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Playing the Back Nine

I’m reading Doug Manning’s Back Nine, a small book Joe Grove put me onto. The subtitle:  Life Beyond Retirement. The book likens life to golf. I take his word—golf wasn’t my thing. Manning wrote with a sharp pen. He was a life-long golfer, pastor-counselor, and writer. He specialized in on retirement and end-of-life issues.

Manning wrote Back Nine in his 80s as he lived out the counsel he had given to thousands. His life paralleled mine in many ways, past and present. My four sons are visiting during August, my birthday month. Ninety-six is generally considered old. No dramatic clan conflab–they are coming separately. Keith left last week; Dave comes next week, then Joel.

We talk easily about my move to assisted living someday then to great beyond and whatever comes between. We waste time on estate division—a few harmonicas and books.

I highly recommend The Back Nine to all who caring for aging parents or grandparents. Too many face related issue with little or no forethought. Manning’s book provides a common sense approach to the inevitable. Geezers should read it too. After all, we are part of the act. Manning points out ways we can make life easier for our caring kids.

Thanks, Joe, for the heads up.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Thin As Onion Skin

Loser’s dilemma and apology: my copy/paste lost the source of this good piece, then I lost the original! But  I’ll break the rules and share this slightly-tightened slightly version anyhow. He/she wrote:

This week I took a three-day writing retreat at the beach here in NC. The ocean is medicinal for me. It helps to quiet the noises in my head, the swirling worries, fears, obligations and bad news. I waited to head down until late in the day when most people had headed to their houses and hotel rooms. This usually allows me much of the beach to myself.

I stepped through the dunes with a backpack and canvas chair, fully expecting to see an expanse of open sand—and instead was greeted by a forty or fifty people stretched in a line from the dunes to the shoreline. I had stumbled upon a sea turtle hatching.

I found my place and knelt shoulder to shoulder with strangers, my head inches from the narrow trench volunteers had carved out. For nearly two hours there was no  movement. Suddenly, an infinitesimal shift in the sand, then another; dozens of tiny black shapes lit by the moon broke through and made their first awkward journey toward the ocean. Fifty strangers cheered until the last exhausted straggler reached the water. There were tears and hugs, high fives and applause.

I didn’t get much writing done; I didn’t get much alone time. This was better.

Religious people have often talked about thin places, moments when the wall between humanity and divinity is like onion-skin. This small patch of sand and water and moonlight was that transparent: a holy moment, sacred, a clearing in the cloudy.

Without a hymn, prayer, pew or minister, God was present and close. It was a “religious” experience. I hope you get surprised by beauty this week, have your plans changed enough to get what you need. I hope you see something that clears the cloudy.

Thanks, whoever wrote this.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Kick the Can!

Susan Kline is one of my favorite devotional writers. Read her August 12 Fresh Start piece and you’ll know why:

Isaiah 61:1 (NIV): “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners. “

Hidden deep within the waist-high grass, I watched as the captor passed nearby. Everyone else had already been captured and put “in jail.” I was the only one remaining who could set them free. Timing was crucial. I had to wait for the captor to get far enough away from the can so I could sneak from my concealed position and rush to kick it over before getting captured myself. The moment arose. Heart beating wildly, I sprang up from hiding and ran with all my might, arriving just in the nick of time to kick the can and free the captives!

If you’ve ever played “kick the can,” you know how exhilarating it can be! It requires a certain skill set of bravery, speed and strategic timing. The goal of not being captured rivals only the ultimate goal of setting the captives free.

The prophet Isaiah prophesies in the above verse to his people about the One who will come to set the captives free. I have to believe it was rather exhilarating for him to be the designated messenger. Imagine getting to be “the person” chosen to deliver the news to people in captivity that there was Someone coming who would release them from their bondage, bind up their broken hearts, and set them free!

Have you ever experienced that kind of exhilaration? Have you ever been the kicker of the can, the messenger to someone of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? Do you consider yourself to be chosen for such a task? It may take some similar skills of bravery and strategic timing, but not to worry. If Jesus is your Savior, you carry the power of His Holy Spirit within you. If you are willing and available, He will empower you at the right time with the right words. And when He does, be prepared for elation like none other!

Thanks, Susan.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

 

Just Walking

Last Hole News looked at the translator-turned-interpreter problem. Today I’ll tell you why I think the King James translator was dead wrong when he change life to soul in Matthew 16.

Jesus was talking about becoming his follower. Here are his words, unaltered by the interpreter: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their life? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their life?

That young rich guy who came to Jesus asking what was needed to be perfect is a case in point (Matthew 19:16-22): If you want to be perfect, Jesus said, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me. When the young man heard this, he went away in sorrow, because he had great wealth. The poor guy couldn’t bring himself to part with his goodies.

Some of us can’t part from our religion. Following Jesus has nothing to do with being religious. Religions are man made, all of them. Jesus didn’t found a religion. Jesus came to set people right with one another. That’s the gospel—good news. By reason of old age, I rarely go to church anymore, or anywhere else. Getting in and out of a car is comedy on wheels; riding in a car can be miserable. At a restaurant, I must sit on Old Red, my four-wheeled horse; I can’t get up from a regular chair.

But I still do Jesus work–near and far and have never sensed his presence more, not even when I was wearing myself out with gospel busywork. The arena has changed; the battle goes on; I want for nothing.

Jesus’ words to Peter there at Caesarea Philippi freed me simply to walk with the Master. When you walk with God, you get where he’s going.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

Trouble in Bible City

 

We have a problem with the Bible, a problem that lies in how our blessed book came to us.

About one third of Earth’s population identifies with Christianity—taking thousands of forms. How come such diversity? Well, most forms claim to follow Christ. But his name was Joshua! Jesus is an Anglicization. Other languages do the same. Of necessity, translators must be interpreters, and interpretation lies in the mind, not the text.

Let me give you an example: In Matthew 16: 24-26 Jesus said to his disciples, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

In Greek, the same word is used for life and soul, depending on the context. So who decided to change life to soul in the closing verse of this passage? The text hints nothing of change. The translator became interpreter, and I think he was dead wrong.

I’ll tell you why next time.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Readers and Nibblers

I can’t imagine life without books. I’ve been reading since grade three, when a circus elephant led to my first pair of glasses, a story for another time. I wrote my first book in 1962. My last book came out in 2003. No more books, but reading never ends.

I keep two kinds of books by my lounge chair–readers and nibblers. Readers I peruse page by page; nibblers, I dip into here and there. There may be several nibblers

My current reader book is Alaska Sourdough by Richard Morenus, copyright 1956. Next in line: Heidi by Helen B. Dole, copyright 1899, a book I read 85years ago. My main nibbler is The Writer’s Life by Annie Dillard, copyright 1989. Other titles slip in and out.

Alaska Sourdough tells the story of Slim Williams, a city guy who joined the horde of hopefuls early in Alaska’s gold rush. He headed out from Valdez, a raw, grim, true tale. Slim found treasure greater than gold

I love Alaska stories.  Elsie and I launched our Wordshed Mission with Alaska titles, one telling the adventures of Don and Lorene Stump, pioneer missionaries to the Lake Country; the other about , Aleut Paul Boskoffsky. Those books are my favorites among the nine Wordshed titles.

Tucked around the books are several thousand short wrings: blogs, fiction, poems, articles, columns. Now, it’s mostly the Hole News and Facebook.

Read! It’s good for soul and mind.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

So Close!

As I approach year 96, I reflect on God’s providence over the years. There were several occasions when I came really close to death. I guess the closest was that afternoon at Lake Ellen Camp in Upper Michigan when I was serving as interim director.

The offices occupied a multipurpose building with a hot water heating system. The boiler was under the office section. As fall approached, our head maintenance man Mike Wilig brought in a heating guy to check the boiler—the U.P gets really cold. He worked an hour or so and declared all was well.

A day or so later, my office grew chilly and I went downstairs to turn on the boiler. I flipped the switch but nothing happened. Then a Propane smell hit me.  The boiler guy had failed to complete the gas line connection! When I flipped the switch, gas flowed freely into the basement. Stupidly, rather than evacuating the building and shutting off the gas at the tank, I connected the open coupling, hand-tightening it with Propane drifted through the furnace room. The slightest spark would have blown the building and everyone in it to kingdom come.

I reported the incident to Mike, suggesting he check my work. He said No way! and phoned the boiler guy. He came in a hurry. I didn’t catch Mike’s conversation with him, but it was heated.

So I lived to fight another day.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Oh Happy Day

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6

My life is so good it’s almost wicked. I just honked out O Happy Day! on my harmonica. Never mind its 2:40 A.M. I nap when I want.

Yes, my balance is shot, but my faithful 4-wheel horse Old Red gets me where I need to go. Distant travel is no more; local trips grow fewer and fewer; but twice a month a bus hauls us to shopping centers–free to us geezers. STRIDE gets me to appointments. Both have elevating ramps.

A laundry/cleaning lady comes every other week and a health aid assists with showering and my belly bag weekly. The mailman brings my meds—two prescriptions. Woodland Garden maintenance guys fix anything I want.

The girl from 313 cooks suppers with left overs for lunch–I’m a Micro Wave grand master. Breakfasts even: sausage and eggs. Mr. Coffee serves the beverage. Frequent socials and dinners for residents welcome me.

I live mostly pain-free; no pending surgeries. Excellent medical and dental professionals serve me. Pension and Social Security cover expenses with a little over. HUD Section 8 provides a cozy apartment in a wooded setting a duck pond—six duckling survived thus far. Edmond’s Realty takes marvelous care of Woodland Garden. I call the 64-resident mix Sociology 101—one of every kind.

Best of all, dear Norma, the girl from 313. She calls herself my S.O., Superior Officer. With no viable family nearby, she’s my go-to gal, shopper, and companion. I am blessed beyond measure. My soul is at ease. My blog and Facebook reach lands near and far. My family are kind. What more could a guy ask for? On August 29 I turn 96.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

No Dirge at Kenwood Lutheran

Only once in my life did I march to a funeral dirge. I was pastor in Michigan’s U.P. The soldier son of a community member had died of a highly contagious disease. Handsome in his officer’s uniform, the son laid under the sealed glass cover of mahogany casket. I was asked to conduct the Christian rites at the gravesite service. Mourners gathered at the funeral home to march to the cometary.

I marched with aging legionnaires who wore bits of ill-fitting uniform. A make-up band with tarnished horns and a bass drum struck up a funeral dirge. We moved out following the casket on an open farm wagon pulled by a pickup. It was a bleak affair.

In contrast, there was no dirge at Kenwood Lutheran as smiling, hugging family and friends gathered to remember Ruth Hansen, older sister to Norma, my special friend from 313, who had suffered a debilitating stroke. Norma’s brief tribute set the tone. She said:

The past days are what Ruth and I have talked about for a long time—the final phase of our lives. As per her funeral directive, Norma will talk.

I was with Ruth almost 80 years. We were a formidable pair. But she didn’t always want me. I came home, a new- born and Ruth hid under the kitchen table. She had had the undivided attention of our grandparents, parents, and older brothers and sisters. The new interloper wasn’t needed.

When old enough to tag along, I’d beg to go with Ruth to cousin Lorraine’s. She would say to Mother, do I have to take here with me? But fast forward 20 years. Ruth would call: Do you want to come with me?

Ruth took good care of me. We shared a bed. I suffered from growing pains and she’d come home late from a date to find me crying. She would rub my legs until we both fell asleep. Two weeks ago Ruth was crying–her leg ached. And there was nothing I could do.

We talked often of the time we could have become a semi sandwich. We were in Kansas City heading south in the left lane with a huge semi on our right just outside my window. Another semi came down the ramp, horn blowing. Ruth gripped the steering wheel: Norma, this is it!  Then we were tooling along; no semi in front or back. It wasn’t our time. We had things yet to do, quilts to make.

Others envied our relationship. We even finished each other’s sentences! Five years ago, when her stroke took Ruth’s spoken word away, she would write it and I could finish the story.

Ruth’s daughter Pat spoke the words that will sustain me until my turn comes. She said, after Ruth’s last breath, Mom, now you are breathing in heaven.

Old Grandpa Lloyd