Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wacky, Wonderful, Writer's Weekend

What a fun weekend we had when multi-published author Donna Fleisher (middle of back row) put together a writer's weekend for a small group of us. In the back row, left to right, you see me, Donna, and Miriam Cheney. Across the front row is Kristen Johnson, my daughter Christina Berry, and Judy Gann. We stayed in a lovely suite at the Sandcastle Beachfront Motel in Lincoln City, OR, about ninety minutes from where Christina and I live. Poor Donna lives right across the street from the motel, with the boring view of crashing ocean waves always available from her living room window! It's a shame the way some people have to suffer!

Our weekend consisted of talking about the various aspects of writing, eating, talking about how we'd eaten too much, critiquing some chapters, eating, complaining about how full we were, sharing life stories, seeing anew God's presence in the whole writing process, eating...

There is something special that happens when a group of authors get together. It must be that quirkiness gene one needs as a writer, and non-writers just don't quite understand us. They don't get what makes us tick and why we're so driven to pursue this life. (Sometimes I wonder myself!)

It was an invigorating weekend, while at the same time, relaxing. You don't often get that combination. Here's to many more such occasions.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Final Goodbye

My heartfelt thanks to those of you who have expressed sympathy at the loss of my dear mother-in-law two weeks ago. Your email notes, cards, and prayers have meant a lot.

Mom would have been pleased with her going away party. She had lived most of her life in Phoenix, AZ, until we brought her to Oregon three years ago when her Alzheimer's became so bad. She was laid to rest back in AZ beside her first husband, John's dad.

We were surprised at how many elderly friends of hers came out to the viewing that Monday evening. Most of them were from her old church, which has now disbanded because they had no young blood to carry on. They said the only time they get together now is at funerals. Sad.

I was moved watching my grandkids walk through the whole ritual of death. Both Andrea and Joshua were able to be in Mom's room and watch the proceedings when the mortuary came to remove her body. Not many American children are able to experience the reality of death at that level. They were in Phoenix for the viewing and then the graveside service the following day, sorrow evident in their tears and demeanor. This is something they will not forget.

John was strong as he arranged flights for the extended family to get to Phoenix, rented a house that all fifteen of us could stay at, and officiated at his mother's service. But I was glad to see him be emotional at times, not trapped in his role as her pastor, but able to experience it as her son.

This past Sunday we led a memorial service for her at the care facility here in Oregon. We were touched by the number of staff who came in on their day off to participate in honoring her life, who shared memories of their time with her. They don't often get a chance to say a final goodbye to residents they lose, so we were blessed to provide that opportunity to them.

This has been my first experience with the loss of someone so close to me. I know I've been fortunate in that respect. It has given me an even greater appreciation for salvation, family, and faith. That's a good thing.