The Deaths of precious Family Members

It was in the spring when Jemimah, the family Brittany spaniel began to exhibit some odd behavior. She had been with the family for over 10 years and Julie had trained this extraordinary dog with many commands. H, speak,crawl, roll over, and a few others. She was really good at begging for food too. Many a meal around the oval oak table would have family plates the focus. The pooch would be on the floor gazing with a fixed stare at those plates. Jemimah loved chewing on ice cubes and when Norm would clink one or two in his favorite glass, she would rush in to the kitchen. Just in case one cube would fall. Norm made sure that would occur.

Jemimah’s odd behavior was physical and worsened rapidly. The DVM was puzzled but saw on an XRay a strange thing with her heart. There was an antibiotic already being used and it seemed to help but one morning the dog could not get up, could not eat nor drink. She would wag her tail lying down whenever told her favorite words: “good dog, good girl” that was all she could do now. She convulsed several times and it was decided to have her “put to sleep” When Julie and Toby came back from that event, the whole family lost it. Crying, sobbing and praying for release of the anguish of loss. Surprising emotional collapse really, Jemimah was loved by many friends as well. She had a way of staring into your eyes and then shutting them halfway when scratched just so: under the collar or in her ears. She was buried that evening up on the hill overlooking the home and a small lake on the other side of the ridge. Impossible. Sweet pain,with her favorite rope toy in the blanket as the small handfuls began gently dropping down into the grave. The next day, Norm took a big load of rocks to build a cairn and put grandfathers rock in the middle with some astounding blue and white wildflowers just picked nearby. More tears as they sat on the hill below the grave.No one really slept well. Most of us know this experience. It comes to us all.

The family wondered why there was such a strong, palpable grief with all of them. It seemed it perhaps was the first time that the loss was a loss of total love and surrender. More than all the loss’ previously of people. Stunning and healing beginning of broken hearts among them all. Realization of what total devotion and love really looks like. Decisions to close off their hearts in the past and then being delighted that they had indeed opened their hearts and it was once again, possible. A parting gift from a devoted companion. Loving and loved.

Why is this memory and grief not felt when a sometimes a family member, a father or a sister not felt the same? There were several deaths in Norm’s family, one fairly recently of his sister. The relationship was broken some time ago with her. She was deeply offended when Norm and Julie last saw her. She felt judged and perhaps thought she was less loved. The only memory that Norm has of that decades ago visit was the presenting of the truth to his sister. by Norm and his wife, Julie. They remember that there was a very brief moment of mild flirtation that sis gave to Julie. It was apparent that Diana had embraced same sex attractions and relationships. That’s a mild way of expressing it. Politically correct in these times. The rulers of Sodom now our rulers.

Later, when Norm worked hard every week taking care of their mother there was little communication or any kind of support from Diana. The usual winding down of a life; assisted living, nursing homes and funeral. A funeral that resulted in Norm becoming a Christian man. Property given and sold and a splitting of the money. Sis was living far away on the west coast and could not help with these things. There was bitterness conveyed over the phone and eagerness to get ‘her share’ of the sale monies. The loan mom had made to Norm for a needed mound system was not quite paid off and sis dismissed it as “that’s your deal” Payment to a merchant that delivered food to mom was still needed to be paid.” If they didn’t bill you for it, then why pay it?” she also said. Anger came from the phone when sis stated she had been cheated when Julie told her she had been overpayed a few thousand more. Sis demanded Norm “Stay away from my kids!” and she also wanted ½ of Moms’ ashes.

Puzzling, astonishing and anger. Just before these unpleasant rages, Norm had embraced Christianity and it was apparent that sis had rejected it. Years later, unable to discover where his sister had moved to, Norm got a Christmas card from Dianas kids.In one sentence of the card, there was mention of the death of Diana and also of their precious dog as ‘difficulites’ they had gone through recently. It was shocking, and yet, a communication between Norm’s and his nephew’s family. It was a start of truth revealed to Norm’s family. The same way Norm was notifed of his father’s death. The postal service bringing news. An extreme feeling of rejection that was apparently a family tradition. Greetings from Diana’s son, to her brother and my uncle. Seasons greetings. You are worth a few words of events of perhaps some importance. The death of our precious pet and your sister.

These days there is the decline and immenent death of Julie’s father and all Norm could think about is the inheritance which would help his family survive their financial decline. The recession and reliance on loving sons and their social security to endure the times. Remembering the truth of life and the giver of all things brings him back from fear of loss and he is realizing the world’s fears of loss and destruction. An unexpected vision which gave him release. The photo of her dad embracing their first son, Bjorn, was the only time that Norm had seen love from her dad. The vision of her dad on death’s door being able to embrace his grandsons and know what was happening would be more precious than gold, more precious than silver. It would be enough for Norm. It would be enough when Julie’s dad passes into eternity.

Something similar happened to Norm in a dream.He was with his father. There was Norm’s dad on a subway. Norm was seated and dad was a straphanger right in front of him. Norm asked, “have you seen the boys?” With a smile, a big smile that had never seen by Norm, his dad nodded yes and it was beautiful. It made things right.

Norm has been given the ability to forgive along with his family and that is the stong assurance of Christ who lives in them, Julie and their sons. Also in their oldest’s wife.There is now a glow of forgiveness does not come with forgetfullness but it comes with Grace and peace and comes with assurance of an inheritence. The teasure of life eternal with the creator of all things. Norm and Julie are praying and thanking for that Holy embrace from Jesus. That promise has indeed been given to their family. It also was spoken by Norm’s friend Chuck.when he died. Thousands of miles away. A treasure to him that endures and that event is told to many who desire that testimamony. It was indeed, a gift of God. Eternal and beautiful. That assurance is a guidepost that Norm’s family can remember and grounds them on solid ground. Blessed assurance, gifts from God are pure Love.

In the end, it’s pretty good. Norm Peterson, the Gator

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