Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Remembering Mary Ellen

Mary Ellen Louise Franzen Dahl Siegfried was born October 12, 1945 in Grand Junction, CO and joined her maker July 18, 2012 at Cornerstone Hospice Care, The Villages, Fl.  We are all gathered together to pay our final respects to Mary Ellen, our sister, mother, grandmother, cousin.  Each of us here this afternoon is filled with memories, observations, thoughts.  A memorial service such as this, for someone who lived and died younger than was expected, allows us a time to process and recall that which is sometimes not available to us when we are in the midst of immediate loss and grief.  We gather this afternoon to remember and celebrate.

As we each look back at the sixty-six years Mary Ellen shared on this earth, our memories will differ.  Recent brain research helps with some explanation.  To make sense, all of us remember by fitting memories into our own stories.  Memories are malleable, not precise.  We manipulate memories to make sense out of our own stories.  Memories are self-serving human constructions.  We all have selective memories.

Mary Ellen and I would sometimes rehash an event of our childhood or past and come up with completely different versions.  I could never understand why she didn't see or recount the story the same way as I did.  If our memories are twisted or molded to fit our own personalities, then this can explain why our sharing, even with all of you in the past few days, has brought up so many different versions of a story.

I looked up to my sister, Mary Ellen.  I saw her as an intelligent, bright person.  I admired her creative talents.  She could envision a room design, an art project or a garment, before the materials were even purchased.  She enlightened a creative spirit in me and I will always thank her for that.  As many of you know, Mary Ellen excelled in the baton twirling venue and was an avid lover of dogs.  I am sure Tiffany, Chloe and Sugarplum wonder where their master is.

I can only imagine how our parents must have felt, holding their tiny little girl.  How proud our father was to be part of her baptism at their first congregation in Grand Junction, CO.  To offer their first born to become "a child of God".  God accepted Mary Ellen as a member into his fold, and as all parents, God has loved her as His child through all her joys, her challenges, and now, through death, He continues this love as He accepts her into his kingdom.  I believe that God remembers us always and we are placed into God's story of grace, mercy and love.

Our sister is now free.  She no longer will grieve for the loss of her husband, Sel or of her brief union with Charles.  Her failing body will no longer hinder her spirit nor the fading of her memories be apparent.  I see her rejoicing in the reuniting with her children's father and sharing stories with our parents of her children and grandchildren.

We celebrate and give thanks this day.  We rejoice in the knowledge that God remembers us always out of His deep love and mercy.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

As the World Turns

Our week has been a time of great love. We celebrate the birth of our sixth grandchild. Connor James Moore, Monday, July 16th at 7:29. He is a beautiful, adorable little guy and we are thrilled to have him as part of our family. His big 2 1/2 year old brother treated it as just another day in his busy life. The "big kids", Tyler 20, Kyle 18, and Katie 15, are taking this gift much more seriously. No child will have a more loving family than this dear small child. He has four grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins that will watch over him with great enthusiasm. How wonderful this experience is for all involved. In Florida, part of my family is on a vigil with my older sister. She is transitioning to a better life as I type. Unfortunately, Mary Ellen's life has not been an easy one and I am sure she will be passing to a much better place. As we observe this world, we have to accept that both life and death are part of it. Our joy for one family and our shared grief for another makes us appreciate each day we havE. Please keep Mary Ellen's family in your prayers as they watch her struggle come to An end. Celebrate with Sean and Sarah and their family. Grandma Jan

Friday, June 22, 2012

Today is Yours!

The red, white and blue banners are up. We have celebrated Memorial Day with the neighbors. The first day of summer is here and we are looking forward to our 2nd annual 4th of July parade and pancake breakfast Steve and I sponsor for our neighborhood. The year is passing us by so quickly. I sit back and ponder if I am filling my days with what God needs me to do. I get so caught up in the everyday tasks of a woman at home. I have always felt compelled to maintain an orderly home. My mother instilled that drive in me, and I am a more relaxed person when things are in order. Nearly twenty two years ago, when I received my first life-saving transplanted pancreas and kidney, I felt such a burden. I carried the weight of the donor's spirit. I felt I must do something with my life to show that I was worthy of such a miraculous gift. At that time, raising my children, singing the praises of the Lord, being kind, etc. was my goal. Now again, I face the question of what do You, Lord, want me to do with my life. You have given me so much joy these past 22 years. I have had the privilege to raise my children, lend a hand when needed, to assist with our grandchildren. I have been able to support my husband for 43 years. My heart is so full of love for the people around me that I can only smile when I look back at my time here on earth. My heart is full of gratitude. I have been blessed in more ways than I can count. I still know there is more for me here. My days are numbered and only You know what awaits me and my family. I thank You for constantly giving me a "heads up" to our vulnerability here on earth. I am older now. I have a grand past to reflect on. My body is still getting me up each day and providing me another glimpse of heaven on earth. For all this I am grateful. I ask for guidance. Hold my hand and wrap your arms around me and those close to me as we once again await our next chapter. Each of us have trials in our lives and today I take another positive step in this life. Please allow me to pray for you. Let me know what your needs are and let me be you prayer warrior. Know you are not alone. Someone is by your side and thinking of you. You are important to God and you are important to me. Today is here for us to share and rejoice in. May you feel peace. Jan

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's Our Pleasure

Steve and I have diligently been working to finish a huge project. I have always known I was married to a very handy man, but these last few months, my admiration has grown even more. Our son Sean, and daughter-in-law Sarah, have a large home. With a fifth child on the way this summer, they seem to fill every inch of their home. Therefore, when you have a whole unfinished space staring you in the face, the only logical thing to do, is put a plan together and get 'er done. The above realization began well over two years ago in the fall of 2009. The planning and figuring were set in place and a few steps took place. Then we hit a snag. January 2010, was the month I had brain surgery, and all priorities took a different turn. Recovery from the initial surgery, a detached retina and surgery to try to correct that, chemotherapy to attack the lymphoma in the brain, plenty of lab appointments and MRIs, all took lots of time. We also buried my mother, so that was another delay we managed. Steve's time was to spread so many directions. My heart went out for him. I could no longer drive, so my ability to help certainly cramped both our styles. Fast forward to this January 2012. We were returning home from a two week stay in Arizona. During our return trip, both of us decided it was time to get this project off our plate and get back to retirement. Steve had finished the storeroom, which included a walk in closet, a gift wrapping station and 30 feet of storage shelves. He also had the majority of the electrical work and studs in the 1000 square foot main living area completed. Drywall was the next step. Our second grandson, Kyle, graduated May 20th and I am proud to announce that his guests enjoyed the beautiful new space. The kitchenette did not have water, but Sarah had sweet talked the granite people into installing the counter just in time for the event. We've had friends who have asked us why we do what we do for our children. I can only say, we do this because we can and we enjoy the process. I have been able to refinish and restore old furniture and also sew accessories for the basement design. I was able to also make drapes for the main floor family room and am currently sewing drapes for the office upstairs. Why? I can only say, it's our pleasure! May you find your passion and enjoy sharing it. Jan

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day!

Happy May Day! Did you hear the ring of the doorbell this morning and find a treat left for you on the doorstep? Those were the days when you could roll the paper doilies into cone shapes, add some ribbon, and fill them with homemade popcorn and candy. Now, we dare not share anything that is not hermetically sealed and prepared under stringent rules prepared by the Dairy Council, FDA, FBI or something that regulates how we prepare food. Life used to be so simple when all the regulations weren't in place. I don't recall anyone dying from cupcakes, made by MOM, making kids sick in school. Now regulations require all treats being delivered to a school, be purchased and individually wrapped. Back to the simpler time - how about if we all start a friendship chain. I'll start the process here and you follow in your neighborhood. Let's take some time to bake a treat and share it with a neighbor or two. Include a note instructing them to do the same. May could be a favorite month of the year if we all do our part in making it just a little more special. May your day be filled with happiness, Jan

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Am I there yet?

How do you know when you have arrived at a particular place in time? There are so many stepping stones in our lives. Yesterday I wondered if I had finally met one of those milestones. Here's a few of my symptoms. When I awake each morning I notice it's a lot earlier than the alarm would go off when I was working. Getting out of bed takes a little coaxing, not because I'm not ready to get up, but because the muscles don't move as readily as before. I find it harder to see my eyebrows. I know my sight is not what it used to be, but it seems as if my eyebrows now blend into my face. When I look into the mirror, sometimes I catch a glimpse of my mother. She's be gone now for a few years, so I know she's not here. During our outing watching our grandsons golf, no one thought we were his parents. Shopping for good shoes always ends up with me buying another pair of tennis shoes. Steve and I have more silent conversations. I seem to be ready for dinner much earlier than a few years ago. I guess I need time to digest it before I head for bed at 8:00. My darling daughter continually badgers me to color my hair. I kind of like the "ash blonde". Work no longer interests me. I am content keeping up with my home and family. I never seem to speak clearly. Steve always asks me to repeat what I just said. Outings always include a doctor's appointment. Why do all my pictures seem to have wrinkles on my face? Inside I feel the same as I always have. Why do people assume I qualify for a senior discount? Perhaps it's not me, maybe society has just changed their perspective on what "senior" really is. I have not arrived there yet, I'm pretty sure. Young as ever, Jan

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Life Signs!

My blog is entitled "Signs of Life". How appropriate, for each day, I accept and appreciate. This week has had so many life signs. We attended a funeral for a dear friend's father. Kermit was a very close friend of my in-laws, so we were honored to pay our respects. Death is a part of life. It is easy for to accept the reality when a person has lived a full life. A life not only in the amount of years, but also the love they have shared with friends and family. God was a part of Kermit's ninety years. What a bonus to know he will spend eternity with the Lord. Our dear, little Arieanna, finally returned to school. She was restricted from activity for eight days, after her surgery to reattach both of her retinas. Thank you to the doctor and staff, who with God, performed an intricate surgery which restored her sight. She will need to refrain from some activities, but has only a 20% chance of a detachment. Yesterday, we were honored to attend a Rotary luncheon which honored one top senior from each high school. Our grandson, Kyle was a recipient of the honor and a scholarship. Kyle has matured into such a wonderful young man. He is well rounded in activities, golf and academics. We are so very proud of his accomplishments and very excited to see where this will lead him next. I am delighted that I am still able to see enough to design and sew draperies. I am busy refurbishing furniture to work in the basement Steve has been finishing for the past two years. I can't believe we are finally at the point we can actually decide on furnishings. Very exciting! Wish us all luck that it will be ready for Kyle's graduation party only one month away. Our neighborhood dinner club tonight. How fortunate to be able to meet with friends for over eight years. Life is so good to us. Live, Jan