small pieces of joy

pieces of joy in each day

words of remembrance

As I’ve been working through my grief, I’m saddened I wasn’t able to give words of remembrance in the days following Dad’s passing from this life to the next. I’ve found that I wish I could have said something to everyone who came to his visitation. I wish I could have said something to everyone who prayed for his soul at this funeral mass. I wish I could have given tribute to dad with words from my heart.

Looking back I know there were many reasons why it didn’t happen. Everything worked out the way it needed to in those moments. Some people, myself included, were able to say things to Dad at his Celebration of Life party. That just wasn’t enough for me, especially since he was driving his electronic wheelchair away from me as I spoke!

I guess it is never too late to write the words I would have liked to share with everyone eighteen months ago. And it is fitting that I will speak about his life on this day, March 8th, the day he entered this world in 1959. Here goes.

“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”

These words from Clarence Budington Kelland sent goose bumps running all over me when I read them recently. I silently whispered, “That’s what my dad did.”

I didn’t really have a lot of heart to heart conversations with Dad about living life. But I really didn’t have to.

Dad taught me about life by living it.

By taking us on inexpensive, meaningful family vacations.

By showing me how to put a worm on a hook when fishing.

By helping me oil my glove, and always being my catcher.

By building our swing set and deck with his own hands (and a few helpers).

By helping us fly kites in the open field behind our house.

By showing us how to ‘box out’ at basketball practice and yelling a few intense instructions during a game.

By watching a Chiefs game with the TV announcer muted and the radio announcer blaring. (And yelling a few intense instructions during the game).

By clapping proudly after every sports game and band concert—especially after my adult dodge ball games!

By playing board games with the family and working his business skills to trade one wheat for two sheep.

By claiming every sports movie is his favorite because he loves the underdog. And watching them over and over and over and over.

By playing in the parents band, proudly banging on the drum that gave him so much joy.

By taking leadership positions even when the job is not easy and sometimes goes unnoticed.

By making the difficult call because it is the right one.

By being a man of few words, but making those few words speak thousands.

By respecting and working with people of all nations, creeds, and backgrounds.

By saying his name with confidence, followed by a strong handshake.

By lying down on the floor next to his crying daughter, reassuring her that things will get better.

By letting his daughter move into a shady apartment during college, even though he had huge reservations—and then letting her move out of the house before having a job!

By saying, “I’m proud of you buddy” after he spent a few days with his brand new grandson.

By allowing people into his cancer journey, accepting all forms of help and encouragement, and at the same time paying those gifts forward. And buying lottery tickets for the radiation nurses!

By going to confession for the first time in over 10 years, and then speaking to me about forgiveness.

By letting me teach him to pray the rosary when he couldn’t remember anymore.

By gracefully letting God take him Home.

As someone wrote in a sympathy card to our family, “He was honest, thorough, and trustworthy. There were only two types of people—those that didn’t know him or those that called him friend.”

I do not believe it was God’s will for Dad to have cancer. But God sure did use the fact he had cancer to show us more good and beauty in this world than I ever thought possible. All of our friends and family were God’s hands and feet on earth, showing His love during the most difficult time of our lives. We are now able to see how God used Dad to teach us loyalty, friendship, leadership, and LOVE.

I miss you, Dad, everyday. I’m working hard to continue the legacy you began and I hope to teach George and my future children the way you taught me. By living.

“I came so that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.” –John 10:10

If you have some memories or words of remembrance you’d like to share with my son, George, so he will know his Papa better, please send them to george.j.ashley@gmail.com. I know he, and my family, would be forever grateful for your sharing of memories!

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forgiveness

Small thing for yesterday: going to confession


I know. It sounds crazy but let me explain.

Confession for me has always been a scary and infrequent practice in my life. And all of that is because I didn’t understand it. Confession is often portrayed as someone going into a tiny claustrophobic room with some old boring priest who sits there looking bored waiting to say his prescribed words and the person walks out not looking or acting much different. Why is something like that important, or even necessary? This was a question I have often asked, as well as been asked, many times. After today I was reminded why its so important.

My new awesome friend here invited me to a gathering of women who read the gospel for the day and discuss it’s implications for our lives. After that a priest comes over to hear confessions. Of course I was looking for the nearest exit, waiting for my friend to say she already went yesterday and needed to get home. As if on cue she nodded towards the door and we started walking out, but then she said, “let’s just go downstairs for a minute and say hi.”  I was thinking to myself, um, we already saw everyone upstairs, we’re going into a basement…but then as we walked down the stairs I saw a beautiful chapel set up, in the basement. Chairs, altar, tabernacle, the whole shebang. So of course I’m ok with hanging out with Jesus for a little before we actually leave. But then then it happened…I saw a door open and realized there is a priest hearing confessions. She tricked me!!

I looked around and we were the only two people there, and she quickly went into the confessional, telling me I could go after here. Ah, I was TRAPPED. So I knelt down, praying, telling God I was already sorry for everything I had done and couldn’t that just be enough, can we be cool without me talking to the guy with a collar in the probably scary room a few feet away?

And here is where the necessity of confession comes in…

I walked into the room and started telling the priest how long it had been since I’d fessed up to my wrongdoings and then the laundry list began. As I started listing off the big and little things I did that hurt my friends, family, strangers, and of course God, I started to see how much I didn’t like those things. It was easy for me to ignore all those things without listing them out loud. They became REAL when I was telling this holy man. The priest was awesome and even laughed with me as I described my craziness. He then gave me some wonderful advice about how to fix some of the things I was struggling with. Then he absolved me of those sins. Ok, HE didn’t, but acting in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) I had truly been forgiven. God, the Divine Psychologist, knows that we need to physically say our sins to someone and physically be told we are forgiven by someone, so that our human self can feel that power of God’s forgiveness. Plus, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to want to have to tell a priest again about some of those things…so maybe I will try really hard not to do them!

I seriously was glowing after I left.

Thank you, good friend, for knowing I needed that yesterday.

I thought about asking all of you what is a sin you’d like to confess, but then I thought that’s probably not the best plan. 😉

When have you felt the power of forgiveness?

 

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