One to Keep

 Dad's obituary is here.  I wish we could have filled the whole newspaper page, but it'll do.

If Dad read this one, he would have grabbed scissors and snipped away, stored it on top of the microwave for several weeks, showed it to any children who dropped in, and then bundled it into the basement in a mad rush while preparing for company. 

If we're lucky, he might have found it compelling enough to store in his Bible for a time. 
I like to think he would.



Any local folks who aren't on Facebook to see my brothers' and sisters' posts can send me an email at leftymylou at gmail dot com if you're interested in the times/location for calling hours and the funeral service. 

Dad's obituary will run tomorrow, and in honor of the man who faithfully read, cut out, and stored hundreds of obituaries over the decades, we gave him a plump one.

I sincerely thank you all for your prayers and messages of love to my family during this initial time of loss. I'm out of words tonight, but thank you.



This morning, a brilliant sky burned away the darkness as I watched, and at 6:18 a.m., my dad entered into full communion with his Father God. 

You might prefer this snapshot, Popsy, because you look distinguished and handsome, 

but I'm going with this one, instead, because this is who showed up on my doorstep every week.

Gary Alden Johnson
June 8th, 1943 -- November 10, 2014

You weirdly wonderful man, the ache of your absence just now begins, and we look forward to the joyful reunion.  All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. 


Before Bed

Dad just finished his last round of chemo tonight.  The next few weeks, the risks are bleeding to death or succumbing to infection, as his body has no immune system from the white blood cells and platelets being wiped out.  Please pray, if God wills, that his body will gain strength and be protected from internal infection and bleeding as it recovers.  They also found a clot today right near his main line, which was used to cycle the blood out of and back into his body during pheresis, so please pray that it will dissolve without doing any damage. 

Mom and Dad have had a fairly good week.  They're having some sweet fellowship together as husband and wife, without the distractions and to-do's of home life, and they've already met many people with whom to share and celebrate the Good News.

I apologize for the mechanical post.  I'm awfully tired and heading for bed, and though I don't have enough energy to flesh out a proper post, I wanted to update those of you who are faithfully praying for him.  Thank you. Your prayers are precious, and knowing that others care for Dad, many of whom haven't even met him, is a comfort.  The unity of the universal Church is clear when such as you love across the miles. 


All Scattered About

The only art class I've ever taken was a hurried plunge into ceramics that lasted three weeks.  The final week of the course, a friend said that she liked it when our professor asked me to explain my pieces because I saw the world in symbols.  I realized she was right.  My responses to the professor weren't as much explanations of my clumsy art as they were fumbling attempts to translate private symbolism into a common tongue.

Another way I process the world is through words. John won me with a string of them that led straight to his heart, I read and sing them to our children, I feel the urge to plunk them out here from time to time, and they rattle around my head throughout the week, grouping themselves into phrases and sentences that never form an orderly line, let alone make it to paper or screen.

Over the last few days, I've come to myself with a start, realizing that for who knows how many minutes, I was composing a poem in my head that no one will see.  Poems about all that can't fit into a space of two weeks, poems about an ermine in the freezer and piles of notes on a microwave and bottles of peppermint, poems about a jug of cold water on a wood wagon and my father's camouflage hat.   They wink in and out, barely begun and quickly forgotten, but they're a silent salute to my Dad and a way for me to untangle things too large to understand.

I've never liked November, but this year, the landscape is a perfect counterpoint.  September's bustle of birds and insects, that riotous color of October-- all have slowed into long, bare stretches of sky and a span of quiet. 

The girls and I just got back from doing animal chores for my parents.  We fed, watered, and walked Ruger.   We fed and watered Mr. Brutus.  We rounded up the escaped horses, moved their sly bones back into the pasture without mishap, and slap-dash mended the fence.

And my heart was so full.  I don't understand the human condition.  I don't understand the tangled web of family and its immutable bonds.  I don't understand death.  I don't understand the resurrection of the body.  I don't understand forgiveness and grace and love-- oh, such great Love.  These are too large for me.  But, yet, I do understand.  Their truth shakes my bones and their presence brings peace.

My Dad starts chemo treatment tomorrow in a city three hours away.  My thoughts and prayers are with him and my mom.  I find myself walking around the house, too distracted to remember why I'm walking.  The tears suddenly dropping into my salad surprise me, because I didn't realize I was crying.

The statistics are impartial: a 20% chance that the short course of treatment will send his weak body onward to his waiting Father; a 50% chance of it doing little or nothing, in which case, he will come home to us to die.  The other percentage is what we hope and pray for, but God is above all of these.  If he chooses to gather my father in His arms before then, there is peace-- a reservoir of peace and so much gratefulness for what He has given our family in the last week.

And then there's my youngest sister Debbie, who seems to take the hay-strewn thoughts out of my head, and orders them beautifully.


More Words (Mere Words)

My dad underwent leukapheresis Thursday and Friday which allowed his WBC count to decrease below 100,000 (it was at nearly 300,000).  The doctor gave Dad a two-week prognosis if he didn't receive immediate treatment, so last night he was transferred to a hospital better equipped to treat him, and right now he's being moved to their ICU, where he'll receive even better care.  He and Mopsy and we children are grateful for the prayers covering him.  So much to say and nothing at all.  God's mercies are here.