Embracing Life’s New Normal

Embracing Life’s New Normal

My Tribute to Jim and Granddaughter, Laura’s, Tribute.

“Jim’s genuine, warm smile impressed me many years ago when as a group of new students—all strangers and a bit nervous from different states--were meeting for the first time. His inclusive spirit was evident even then as he welcomed anyone new to join our informal group.

Putting others first has always been Jim’s mode of operation as he quietly met the needs of family, neighbors, friends and church family no matter what the time or situation. Emergency calls never caused him to grumble about having to scrape ice from his car in the middle of the night. Many have shared their memories of his appearing at their hospital side. He even left our campsite family reunion to comfort a family and officiate at a funeral after a tragic accident.  No matter what help someone needed his favorite phrase was “no problem”.

Heart-felt thanks were given for any assistance with a car problem encountered on road trips to thanking me for taking care of him. Appreciation extended in the hospital and rehab for physicians, therapists, nurses, caregivers, and housekeepers with a thumbs up or writing A+ on his shirt when speaking was difficult. Seeing his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren brought tears to his eyes.

What a privilege for me to share his life, parenting our four children and ministry for almost 65 years. He was always kind and considerate. He treated me the same at home and on road trips as he did at our churches. He was always authentic, generous, kind, gentle, helpful and honest. He never doubted that the Lord called him to preach even though it would have been easier to work on cars or run a business given his God-designed Sensing preference. Putting sermons together was very difficult for him but he loved delivering them and teaching. His sermons were always practical, straight across and fresh. I never heard a reheated sermon.

“In Him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28 was one of Jim’s favorite verses and the theme of his last sermon. Most recently we found comfort in “May the Lord of peace, himself, give you peace at all times and in every place”. (II Thess. 3:16). And the last month “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah. 46:4

Loving, listening, praying, reading the scriptures, depending on God’s direction, ministering and walking with the Lord is the highest tribute--and Jim humbly excelled in all. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.”  How comforting and assuring.  Ps. 116:15”

Laura’s Tribute:

My Grandpa. A truly unique, gentle, and peaceful soul who I had the privilege of spending every Saturday night of my childhood with playing hide and go seek and every Thursday night of my adulthood with when he refused to eat his share of the salad. Now he's free of salad pressure and can enjoy all of the cake soaked in bean juice he wants. I promised him that I'd try it, along with peanuts in Dr. Pepper (to stay awake while driving, of course). Maybe he's on to something.

He graciously spent many hours with me building projects from pictures. If Anthropologie only knew how cheaply Grandpa could replicate their home decor! If something didn't exist that he needed, he made it. There's a reason my Grandma has had to follow him around for years with a notebook to record the unique ways in which their house operates!

I promise to always try and fix something before throwing it away. I promise to remember your most solid ping pong advice so I can beat Kurt! I promise to give Clara neck "buzzes" for you and bite on her shirt sleeve.

I will miss hearing, "Hello, Wards!" when I call the house (one of the few numbers I have memorized) and you asking if it's Katy or Laura. I will miss watching the TV on mute with you and sharing popcorn (Toby will, too). I will miss you reaching for Clara and your "growling" conversations. I will miss your Thursday night jokes, history stories, and sermon dry runs.

While following Grandpa around the church as a child, I not only watched him lock up every door and turn off every light (all while whistling "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" - year-round!), but most importantly, I watched how he put other people first. There's always time to help someone.

I'd give anything to have your chip crumbs on my kitchen floor again (and of course Toby seconds that). He'll be waiting for some ice cream to be dropped from heaven. Rest in peace, Grandpa. And may we all learn to be a little more peaceful like you here on Earth. I told Kurt that I doubt I'll ever be able to respond to frustration like you by laughing, but it's worth a try!

If you knew my Grandpa, I'd love to hear your memories: lbaldw3@gmail.com


Notebook: Our children and my knowing each other’s temperament provided understanding, appreciation and humor as we cared for Jim at home. Beginning with Jim, an ESTJ, we all knew how he disliked putting anyone to any trouble. Since he was cognizant up the very last, he expressed his appreciation for all the personal care he received from his family who loved him dearly. When he had difficulty speaking, he gave many thumbs up or outlined A-plus on his shirt.

Son, Roger, ENTJ, generally in charge of the whole operation, kept us on target, locating the best room for the hospital bed, led us spiritually, and also ordered on line what we needed; kept Jim’s iPod music playing and much more. His wife, Elaine ENFP, a professional Physical Therapist, was in charge of and managed the meds, advised and trained us on careful moving of Jim and dealt with daily visits of Hospice caregivers. I felt so safe with her expertise and tender attitude.

Daughter, Kay, ENFJ, and myself, ENFJ, assisted ENFP Elaine, in dressing and placing pillows where he wanted, answered calls and emails, received food from friends. Kay also ordered supplies on line and was in charge of meals. I mainly focused on just being with Jim, holding his hand, keeping him up to date about what was happening, who was coming, encouraging him, praying and reminding him of scriptures, giving baths, pills with applesauce, feeding him and making sure he had thickened water, milk, juice and Dr. Pepper. All Intuitives look for possibilities logical and emotional.

Son, David, ESFJ, and his wife, Jennifer, ESFP, excel in repetitious procedures. In fact, David came home while Jim was in rehab primarily to be with his dad and assist me to and from Rehab with bags of stuff. He learned from the nurses how to move Jim to the wheelchair listened to the Speech Therapist, accompanied the PT’s and OTs to the gym. Did you catch that we are all Extroverts?  We had to remind each other to be quite since his Hospice bed was in the dining room where we ate. David kept all beverages thickened. Roger and David kept ice chips handy day and night. Family MBTI dynamics is not only helpful but really fun. Try it your next gathering.

The stack of sympathy cards, tearful phone calls, visit with neighbors, and e-mails remind me that many people besides his family and relatives are also grieving his home-going. They need to be comforted as well. I’ll do my best to meet these needs.  I’ve also been alerted by several who’ve lost mates that my next endeavor will be to discover and embrace a new life’s normal.

Another new and different focus was becoming evident as I listened to my children discuss my safety and welfare and check the house for throw rugs and plumbing inside and out. Then, the warning about reducing trips downstairs (where my pantry, washer/dryer, books etc.) To always have my cell phone with me. A prompt to get enough sleep and don’t forget to eat. Added to these restrictions is the mandate to stay home to avoid Covid-19 virus. “Your age range is at risk”. I really hadn’t felt old, yet. “We will bring you what you want and need”, Kay pledged. And she is taking wonderful care of me. The boys call every day to check on me. I feel so honored, loved, pampered, and cared for like a royal elderly queen.