The Gift of Time

So when we were growing up Kel and I would ask my mother what she would like for her birthday, and Christmas – her response would always be “the gift of time”. So being the smart ass that I am one year I went to our library and got about 24 old copies of TIME Magazine wrapped them up and put them under the tree. Not quite what she was talking about but I certainly thought I was funny.

As I have grown older, and moved away from loved ones I am slowly but surely understanding what is meant by this very simple statement. Yesterday was the funeral day and well for someone who is only 36 I have been to my fair share of these things. When my uncle Mike passed away my sophomore year in college – the priest that gave his send off sermon, almost belittled my uncle for not being the “catholic” man that my grandmother thought that he should be. Then he went on to praise her and how wonderful she was. Apparently he didn’t know her as well as he thought he did because that woman was certainly not an angel.

Then at yesterday’s service the priest again reminded me of why I started to doubt some of the principles of catholicism. A send off should be just that sending someone off to a better place – people are not fools, no one lives a sin free life so why in the passing of someone must everyone who came to mourn their loss be reminded that this individual wasn’t perfect? I struggled then, and I struggled yesterday with that.

When my friend Coco’s grandmother passed a few years ago I went to her send off celebration. It was in a Baptist church and I was one of 3 white people. However, at no point in time did I feel out of place. Everyone there was there to remember her grandmother and cherish the time and memories that they shared with her. When I left I was truly sad that I never had the chance to meet this wonderful woman. That is how someone should feel when they leave a funeral service – like “shit heaven is getting a good one and they will be missed down here”. Needless to say like mom always said “if you don’t have anything nice to say – don’t say anything at all”.

After the service we drove to the cemetery which is honestly what really took me a while to bounce back from. Russ was in the service, I am not sure which branch but he spent a lot of time at the VFW. When we arrived at his space – there were the 7 soldiers that were going to do the 21 Gun Salute. I had kind of prepared myself for this, as when one of my great uncles passed years ago they rang the fire bell one last time for him (he was a fire fighter). What I did not prepare myself for was what happened before the guns went off.

There was the leader of the group who did not have a gun and he yelled “it is now time for role call” he rattled off the rank and then the name of the officer standing in line – they replied “present”, when he got through the 7 men – he then yelled out staff sergeant Russell Thacker – there was no response, he yelled it out again – same silence, then a third time and one of the officers in line responded “Staff Sergeant Russell Thacker is no longer with us sir” and then taps started being played by a bugler. Every time I think about it or tell the story I get the chills.

After the conclusion of taps – the two officers standing close to the coffin folded the flag with precision and handed it to Sharon. My heart continued to break for her, and because we were behind her there was no way to see her face. At the end of this the funeral home guy did something neat by asking everyone if they wanted to come up and touch the casket and leave an imprint on it the way Russ did to them. I thought that was a nice thing to do.

We then walked over to Sharon and talked to her, she was still standing strong. Giving everyone hugs, and when I got up to her she said “awe my Kimmie – thanks again for the lemon cookies we are still eating them they are so good”. I just wanted to hug her forever. Dwight told her that having the military send off was a very nice touch and that was the first time that I saw her get choked up. She said Russ spent a lot of his time there and clinching the flag ever so tightly she said we were even supposed to go do something this week with them.

We all said our goodbyes after that, then the crew said that we were going to meet up at The Old Mohawk and have dinner and drinks. Well seeing that I had already told Dana that I would make her a birthday dinner – I said that I would come over for a drink but that I would probably have to leave early. This is where it really started to set in about giving the gift of time and having the conversations that are totally random with strangers.

What does it hurt to be nice, to throw your schedule off just a little bit to make sure that you aren’t that person that everyone thinks is an asshole? Nothing it cost me $8 to go hang out with the crew after the cemetery last night – and I can’t replace any of that. They are all my elder by 20 years at the minimum and for many 30 years. We don’t have our cell phones out when we are together and the conversations range from what new recipes I am doing to all the places that they have traveled.

I left feeling truly blessed to have been brought in to this group as they are amazing. I came home quickly mowed the grass and started getting D’s birthday dinner ready. Dana watches the girls when I am out of town and does such a great job that I just wanted to show her that I appreciate that. So since she had never had scallops before, I pan seared 2 of those bad boys up for her with some polenta fries for the appetizer. Then for our main entree I did the recipe of the week which was Coconut marinated flank steak over broccoli and peanuts (as you know I added more heat to mine – cuz Im a spicy girl). Her dessert was from a cookie cookbook that she gave me last year for my birthday. I made her mark off cookies that she would like and one happened to be this margarita cookie. I have everything including the tequila that it needed for the frosting!

She seemed to like everything – I was going to do s’mores also but the damn log I bought burnt out before we were ready to use it! BUMMER – next time!

Today was a fairly regular day – I was thrown yet another curve ball in the office that if it happens I will have a lot of rethinking to do and life will probably change even more than it already has. When I came home Qtip Karen dropped off some fresh basil (making pesto tomorrow night), some rainbow chard (will sauté later this week) and some fresh tomatoes! As you can see from the pictures I made some tomato salsa for the fish taco stack!!! The maters were so damn good I could have honestly just had that for dinner and been happy!

My work hubby scored me a reclining chair for my backyard at one of the garage sales he was at this weekend. He likes to go garage saling so I jokingly said if you find a chase lounger send me a pic! Well he didn’t send a pic but he did grab me the chair! They gave it to him free with his other purchase! SCORE!!!! It is perfect and matches the stuff already in the yard!

Tomorrow is the 4th or 5th annual SASSO at the Fair Day – hopefully the rain will hold off because we are all really looking forward to it – and well I have already purchased our tickets so I will be pissed if we don’t go!

Ok well 5:30 comes early and I am ready for bed – must work out extra hard in the morning if I am going to eat at the fair tomorrow night! Make sure to share your gift of time with someone soon, there isn’t a 5 minute warning that life is going to drastically change!

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