Awesome Support After a Loss

When you lose someone you love, you go through changes that you cannot control. Some part of you goes away for a while, trying to process it.  Some other part tries to maintain the status quo, to “be strong”.  You hold some of yourself in reserve, just in case, because the world is not the same and you might need those reserves.  It doesn’t feel safe to be vulnerable in any way.  And while you tiptoe through this dichotomous-quicksand-complex bog of feeling and numbness, all of your people reach out to support you, each in their own way.

Some people say things you will always remember and hold dear.  After my brother died a few years ago, my cousin the minister said:UntitledIndeed.  That was just what I needed to hear that day.

A customer of my Dad’s who had become a friend (because that’s how my Dad did business; he was always a trusted friend and never a salesman), a man who I had never met, sent me a card after we lost my brother that said:

he waits for youI can’t express how meaningful those words are to me.

And now, after my father’s unexpected death, the people around me, the stars in my sphere of being, are reaching out in their own ways to support me and my family. It is a beautiful and overwhelming humbling experience.  So many kind and thoughtful gestures, so many meaningful words and messages of support, so many gifts and acts of kindness and service; too many to name.

But a couple I will highlight; this beautiful gift of wind chimes, personalized with my Dad’s name and dates of life.  He was a woodworker by hobby and made me several sets of wind chimes, so it was really special that my colleagues at work gave me this gift. I brought them to Little House in the Rockies, our tiny cabin, and every time I hear them I think of Dad. Click the short video to hear the chimes.

 

Another “gift” was the sharing of this video made by son of a colleague. It is a lovely two-minute animation about the stages of grief, and is very comforting and peaceful.

More to come as this processing continues.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook (except the Stages of Grief video)

memory-honey (another poem for Dad)

i’m a bee right now, landing on memory-flowers
maybe i can make them into honey
maybe that’s a way to share you

with those to come
those you never knew
those like me who want more

an endless jar of memory-honey
sitting on the pantry shelf of my heart

halcyon father-daughter days
golden and sweet
transformed into words

you were the essence of goodness and light
that’s why I want to share you

with those to come
those you never knew
those like me who want more

~ i’ll be making memory-honey for the rest of my days

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This is just another little poem from a grieving and grateful daughter – I’m sure there will be more as I process this new life in the world without him.  Thank you for reading it and allowing me to share my remarkable Dad. For more about him and the amazing childhood he and my mom made possible:

A bittersweet note here is that many of these posts include comments from my Dad.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

ten times forever (haiku for Dad)

Readers of this blog will know that my Dad died unexpectedly less than two weeks ago. Like anyone who loses a loved one, I’ll be processing this for a while. Not in a maudlin or “poor-pitiful-me” way; its just that my world has changed forever. Aside from sadness and nostalgia, my overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude for the gift of having a wonderful Dad for so many years, one who loved me (and so many others) with his whole heart. And so, a haiku:

joy-sorrow feelings
how long will i love-miss you?
ten times forever

 

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Enjoying each other’s company at a party in 2007

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

 

Mourning the Loss of My Father and Muse

The Glover Gardens family suffered a huge loss last week when my father died unexpectedly. He was an amazing man.

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Obituary

Thomas Frank Harvell, 78, climbed the stairway to heaven on June 21, 2017. Mourning him while knowing he waits to be joined, are Lucy Harvell, daughter Kim Glover and her husband Tom, grandsons Thomas Wenglinski and Brandon Glover, granddaughters Melyssa and Joie Harvell and their mother Noemi Edington, stepson Matt Kiely and his wife Dawn, grandsons Everett and Ryan Kiely, and two-time mother-in-law Ruth Holt. He is also survived by his siblings Kenneth Harvell, Lynda Brashears and Connie Donnelly and their beloved families. Preceding Frank in death were his first wife, Nancy Harvell, his son, Steven Harvell, and his father and mother, Thomas Ezra and Memery Harvell.

Many others from all parts of Frank’s life join the immediate family in this complicated mix of sorrow and celebration: the extended Harvell, Smith, Cleckler, Holt and Hiatt tribes, lifelong friends from his childhood in hot and dusty Sweetwater, Texas to his many decades further south in various parts of hot and muggy Southeast Texas, a host of fellow believers from all of the churches where he was a member, and colleagues and customers from his years of technology sales with Motorola and Kay Electronics.

Frank loved without judgment, with his whole heart. With his profound sense of loyalty, honor and integrity, Frank’s rock-solid advice was frequently sought and almost always taken. A believer, his faith sustained him through family crises and illness, and he never lost his hope or sense of humor. Frank’s character and sunny, sturdy, pragmatic attitude drew others to him, and he was a true servant leader. He was active in church leadership and taught Sunday school for almost all of his adult life.

“Family man” is an over-used phrase, and yet it is just right for Frank. His intense devotion to his first wife Nancy never waivered, from their early poor (and extremely happy) years, to their tranquil days at the beach in Gilchrist, and through her later decades of illness. Sometimes he was both father and mother to Kim and Steve while they were growing up, and he embraced this responsibility. After Nancy’s death, Frank was blessed a second time, this time with the sweetness of a late marriage to Lucy.

Not one to sit still, Frank worked as a part-time consultant for Kay Electronics and Motorola well into his 70s. (He didn’t want to retire until his last client did.) After retirement, he had more time for his hobbies, including travel (both with and without grandchildren), woodworking, vegetable gardening, reading, photography and following his grandchildren on Facebook so he could brag about them. Together with Lucy, Frank was a super-volunteer, serving various churches and charitable organizations. Over the past few years and until his illness, when they weren’t organizing food drives, or community repair days for shut-ins and the elderly, or fundraisers, Frank spent nearly 40 hours a week helping to revitalize and re-launch Tomball Emergency Assistance Ministries (TEAM).

In addition to his fundamental goodness and old-fashioned manners, Frank was downright funny. His gap-toothed grin and quirky quips will always be remembered. He loved music, old movies, southern food and grandchildren and was always happy to share a story from his innocent childhood, or a lesson he learned from the parents he revered. His smile and stories will be missed by many.

Frank is now at peace after his yearlong illness and is probably either playing the trumpet with the Angel Gabriel or enjoying a chicken fried steak with St. Peter. On Saturday, June 24, at 3:00 p.m. a memorial service will be held at Tomball United Methodist Church, 1603 Baker Drive in Tomball, Texas to honor his most wonderful life. And then afterwards in the fellowship hall, snacks will be served while we gather to comfort each other, share stories and celebrate this remarkable man. He declared recently, “When I go, hold a party!” Frank’s legacy is for us to laugh often, love without judgment, live with joy, and hold our families close.

More to come on this topic; my Dad was my muse. Did I say he was a remarkable person?  Here are some of the posts he inspired, either directly or because I knew he would take pleasure in them:

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Fondue Stories for You!

An article by Peggy Trowbridge Filippone posted on The Spruce From the Swiss Alps to American suburbs, fondue proves it’s always hip to dip Fondue headlined suburban American theme parties in the 1960s, then pretty quickly fell out of favor, as fads so often do. Americans briefly rediscovered the communal meal in the early ’90s, […]

via The History of Fondue — RecipeReminiscing

I’m on a business trip waiting to board my final flight home, keeping my waning brain engaged by reading posts by bloggers I follow.  This “history of fondue” post catches my attention and I am instantly transported back to Christmases past, with taste memories of my Mom’s wine-laden fondue flooding in and almost crowding out the loudspeaker announcing that my group is boarding. Now safely on the plane, I’m reposting this fondue story, out of season, but a welcome trip down Taste Memory Lane. Come Christmas, you can expect some fondue stories and recipes from yours truly. ‘Til then, enjoy these fun fondue facts.

my days by the water

i’ll never forget my days by the water
a childhood so perfect
it almost hurts to remember

seashells and crab boils, best friends and cousins
a brother so close
he was almost my double

sunburns and skinned knees and sand in our eyes
fishing and sandcastles
huge wide-open skies

potluck parties where parents talked politics
where active listening happened
and no one left mad

“beach bum” friends of my parents, ex-soldiers
recovering from war
found peace in the waves

bonfires, fireworks, beach birthdays and family
acceptance and love as
abundant as sunshine

i’ll always remember
those days by the water


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Image by Bikurgurl

I stumbled on the concept of “100 Word Wednesday” in a blog called Bikurgurl and decided to participate this week, Week 15 of the challenge. The prompt was this beautiful lighthouse, and the rules are simple:  write something 100 words long, use this image or another of your choosing, and link back to the original blog. The lighthouse made me think of my childhood living by the water on a very different kind of shore on the Bolivar Peninsula in Southeast Texas.

This rough little poem came spilling out of me as I thought of those halcyon sand-ridden childhood days and so many memories flooded in.  Everything seemed so safe, so permanent, so lively-lovely in our tiny town of 600, Gilchrist, Texas.  My brother and I went to the beach almost every day, even in the winter.  My aunt and uncle moved just down the street from us, and our cousins became more like brothers. Beach birthday parties and fireworks spawned grass-fires and the scruffy men of the volunteer fire seemed delighted to be called out.  My mother made mirrors rimmed with sea shells and sold them at a local art gallery.

My parents, while definitely not hippies, had escaped the mind-numbing sameness and materialism they found in suburban life for the quirky, slower and sometimes downright backward way of life on the Bolivar Peninsula.  I didn’t realize at the time that the larger world was present, even there.  Mom and Dad hosted election parties and invited all kinds of folks from both sides of the political aisle, and taped the lively but respectful conversations to send to my uncle, who worked for Hamilton Beach in Africa and was on a plane that was hijacked on his way home (he survived).  A young man who was AWOL from the Army climbed up our stairs turned himself in to my Dad on our deck one Saturday morning while we were watching cartoons.  “Beach bums” staying in a cabin a few doors down from us turned out to be Vietnam vets, confused and weary guys trying to patch up their lives and come to terms with their experiences.  They were kind to an awkward tween-age girl; they paid me a few dollars to embroider peaceful sayings and seagulls on their frayed bellbottoms.  They remained friends with my parents long after they all left the beach for more stability inland.  Hurricane Ike took away the entire town in 2008.

So many more memories and stories, but this was supposed to be a post for 100 Word Wednesday.  So I’ll leave you with some links with related stories and a few pictures.

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In this photo, my brother was the awkward tween
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Mom on the deck; she made those macramé plant hangers
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My Dad and brother, fishing in the Intracoastal Canal, at the end of our road
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The view from the deck, some years after my childhood but before Hurricane Ike

 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

The Thankful Foreigner: An Award-Winning Essay from a Millennial

And now, as I keep a vigilant eye over the discrimination in my society, I wonder: When will the other people, blinded by prejudice, have the eye-opening experience I had that day?

This little story from a few years ago is incredibly relevant today.

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Let the adventure begin!

In 2011, an incredibly cheap last-minute Houston-to-London roundtrip airfare offer coincided with my son’s 14th birthday and a lazy Thanksgiving week in which we had nothing planned.

So we cooked up a weeklong Mom & Kid trip to give the young ‘un (our last milennial) an opportunity to experience his first international travel:  three nights in Paris, followed by three nights in London.  We left Houston right after school on a Friday afternoon, tickets in hand for our first adventure, scaling the Eiffel Tower less than 24 hours later.  I knew it was going to be a worthwhile trip when, dazed and tired from the overnight flight to London and a couple of hours of fitful sleep on the high-speed EuroStar (Chunnel) train on the way to Paris, he leaned over to me – before our adventures even began – touched me on the arm and said:

Mom, thank you for showing me the world!

We alighted in Paris, stumbled to our hotel, took a few minutes for a power nap, and set out to ascend the Eiffel Tower.  But I digress; that’s a story for another time. Today’s focus is on my son’s memory, captured in his award-winning essay, which he shared post-competition on Facebook, as follows (in his words).

From February, 2012:  The following essay is what I wrote at the Klein Academic Competition that won first place for 8th Grade Ready Writing. The story is non-fiction; these events did actually happen.


The Thankful Foreigner

The sounds of honking European cars, people of all kinds conversing in French, and muffled, slimly audible brakes from subway trains all formed a soundtrack to the beginning of my day.

Trying to force my eyes open, I sat up, told my mom good morning, and, after slowly rising to my feet, walked over to the window of our hotel room. Pushing the red curtain away, I looked down upon the busy Parisian street, where people were walking in and out of shops and cafes, waiting to cross the intersection, and riding on motorcycles or in cars.

Now I knew it was true. The previous day had involved exhausted scrambling through airports and train stations, causing more of a feeling of trauma than that of a vacation. But now I was sure; I was really in Paris.

Within about a half hour, both my mom and I were dressed, clean, and ready to hit the street. Our first stop, as we had already discussed, was going to be a nearby cafe. We needed breakfast.

It called out to us the second we stepped out the door; across the street, a nice neon-red sign reading “La Porte de Montmartre” flashed out at my eyes. Immediately, I asked, or, I should say, STATED: “We should go there.”

So we took a risk; we waited for a pause in traffic, then dashed across the street.

It looked even better from up close. All the tables occupied by regular French citizens who all looked like some character in a classic movie…we had to get coffee here.

So my mom and I walked straight through the cafe to the bar, where we instantly mounted ourselves upon two vacant stools, and at the bartender’s acknowledgement, ordered two cups of coffee.

I noticed soon enough that this man was very young and handsome, yet obviously exhausted. He also, however, seemed like the kind of Frenchman that one of my less considerate classmates would sneak snide comments about back home. I knew about the unfounded views other countries have of the French, but…I knew that not ALL the French people were pompous and arrogant.

As he came back from the kitchen with our two cups of coffee, my ever-so-inquisitive mom asked what I’d been wondering: “Where are you from?”

The second she asked that, his face brightened up. “You tell me first,” he said through his grin, his French accent indeed present.

“We are from Texas, in the USA,” I said. “And you, sir?”

He stood up straight and said, rather proudly,

Normandy Beach. The ruins of the D-Day attack. All of the American liberators are buried there…Many of my people are not as grateful to the Americans as they should be. I mean, thanks to your country, we are all still French. So, personally, I thank you and all your people.”

Within two seconds of his ceasing to speak, I knew that any anti-French sympathies I could’ve had prior to this day would be gone.

It was obvious that this man was at least 30 years too young to have experienced the historic World War II battle that had brought recognition to his hometown. Yet he had the heart to honor and respect a foreign country and its military for the well-being of his own.
Since then, the “French” slur and stereotype has been something I make a goal to avoid. I now see the prejudice and ignorance behind many comments that, before that sunny Parisian morning, I might not have seen.

And now, as I keep a vigilant eye over the discrimination in my society, I wonder:  When will the other people, blinded by prejudice, have the eye-opening experience I had that day?


 

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The Thankful Foreigner, himself
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The wise 14 year old, our last millennial 
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We’ll go back to La Porte Montmartre when next we are in Paris

Back to the Present

Back to the present, back to my voice…Wow.  I’ve experienced this story in a myriad of ways:

  • When it originally happened; I realized that the young French man would be someone we remembered forever.  “Because of you, we are all still French!” is how I remember him proclaiming his appreciation for the American and Allied liberation of France.
  • When my son’s name was called at the UIL district competition award ceremony as the first place winner…I I lost my self-control, rose from my seat in the uncomfortable gym bleachers and screeched “Woooooo!” before sitting back down, red-faced and yet unabashedly proud.  Then, a few minutes later as I almost strangled him with hugs, he told me the topic of his essay, and we reminisced about that morning, that young man, that authentic gratitude.
  • When I actually read the essay after he got it back a few weeks later and understood what the magical moments with the young man in the coffee bar had meant to my son, and wondered at how he translated the ridiculousness of petty prejudices into this insight:  “I now see the prejudice and ignorance behind many comments that, before that sunny Parisian morning, I might not have seen.”
  • And now, more than 5 years later, as our country struggles with immigration, our place in the world and how we interface with those who are “foreign”.  Perhaps I’m biased – well, heck, of course I’m biased – but I find my son’s final statement in that little essay truly profound:

And now, as I keep a vigilant eye over the discrimination in my society, I wonder: When will the other people, blinded by prejudice, have the eye-opening experience I had that day?

What’s that old saying…”out of the mouths of babes”?  How about:  “out of the mouths of millennials”?

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook; The Thankful Foreigner printed with permission of the author, Thomas Wenglinski