Monday, February 19, 2007


The one year anniversary of Dad’s death will be here in a couple of days. I have been thinking about that more recently than I have in the last several months. It seems that, in my case, losing my spouse to death has preempted losing my Father. I suppose that’s natural. Dad was buried on the Wednesday before the Monday I took Carol to the hospital. Lately I’ve been thinking “Have I grieved for my Dad enough?” How does one grieve for two people simultaneously?

My Dad was 81, just a couple of weeks from his 82nd birthday, when he died. He had some significant health problems for many years. We were happy that he lived as long and as well as he did. We considered it a gift from a faithful God. Most of the time Dad was compliant, not ornery; he was funny, not depressed; he was content, not restless: he was faithful to his God, wife, and family, never closing us out. He was gracious and appreciated the help that was offered him. In the later years he knew he could not care for himself and accepted help with dignity. His wit and humor, while sometimes embarrassing, were always entertaining. He modeled faithfulness and aging well and taught so many other lessons to all of us who knew him and loved him.

Mom and I have talked many times in the last year about how, while we miss Dad tremendously, it was really his time. There is no arguing with God about His timing with Dad. We have both questioned God’s timing regarding Carol’s death but Dad was at the end of many years. We all still miss him. When a parent is no longer living there are so many times you’re just wanting to call and talk to them, or when you stop by their home, you expect them to be sitting in their usual chair. You still want to hear those same stories about being in Italy during WWII, etc.

Like a quote from one of the books I’ve read says, “Death is the Devil’s calling card”. It will get us all sooner or later. It remains a tremendous comfort knowing that death is not final. Love conquered death. The devil has no answer to Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. We will see our loved ones again. The circle will be unbroken. We do not know who those already in heaven will greet next but they are there and will most definitely greet whoever it is.

Dad, we miss you! Mom you’ve been so brave.
You are both forever loved.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Another day, February 14th, Valentine’s Day, it will be here in a couple of days. I know of those who have referred to this day as “singles awareness day” and now I can relate to why they do. It is a day to celebrate love. That’s cool, if you have someone who loves you. This is the first time in a long time when I’m on the outside looking in on this particular day. The church I belong to is even hosting a “Celebration of Marriage” dinner this Wednesday. Great timing! Oh well, ours was a marriage worth celebrating.

In the spirit of love and marriage and Valentine’s Day, following is another of the “poems” I wrote a around six months out.

"The worst thing about being a widow/er is the loss of love….When you have a great marriage, it becomes something that goes far beyond friendship. It's having someone who knows you." Tamsen

August 5, 1977
The happiest day of my life
I was 20 and
In love

I was doing the most
Correct thing
I would ever do in my life
I was marrying
Carol Ann Haagsma

On a hot August night
We were married
By her uncle
Before God and
Our friends and family

We together
Wrote our vows
And memorized them
And spoke them to each other
Holding hands

“I take you, Fred, before God and everyone here to be my husband until death parts us. I promise to love you and be faithful to you. I promise to share with you all that life brings us, its burdens and sorrows as well as its joys. With God’s help I will be open to you and try never to take your love for granted. I promise to be sensitive to your needs and help you work for the goals you have set for yourself. I will join with you in seeking God’s will for our lives together praying always that He will guide us and strengthen our love.
Fred, I give you this ring as a reminder of the promise and prayers I have just made, and as a symbol of our union in Christ.”

“Carol. I love you and take you, before God and our friends here, to be my wife till death parts us. I promise to love you and to share my entire life with you. Our life will include many joys and I will rejoice in them with you. It will also include sorrows and I promise to comfort you. I promise to be faithful to you always. I promise to be gentle and considerate and open to you always and I ask your help in this. I pray for the Lord’s help keeping me sensitive to your needs and for never taking your love for granted. Carol, I look forward to our laboring together in God’s kingdom.
Carol, I give you this ring as a reminder of the promises and prayers I have made and as a symbol of our union in Christ.”

Thank you
My dearest sweetheart
You kept your vows
With God’s help
Till death parted us

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Nine months today, seems like yesterday!

Thursday, February 01, 2007


You know how certain events or days on the calendar trigger memories of the past? This week the Super Bowl, of all things, has triggered memories for me.

Carol had always been a bit of a football fan. She mostly would tolerate it, but did have a tiny bit of interest whether she would admit it or not. So, when Super Bowl time came along, for years we would invite somebody, friends or family, to watch it with us. She/we would prepare lots of food, dips, etc, and we would have a grand old time even if the game was a stinker.

Two years ago, we decided to visit her Mom and Dad at their “winter” condo in Texas. For several years they have been going to Port Aransas in southern Texas. It is right on the Gulf of Mexico and is “muy hermoso”. This was the first trip we had taken “sans” children. We had a great time. What does that have to do with football and the Super Bowl? Well, we left snowy Grand Rapids on the Saturday before “Super Bowl Sunday”. We arrived to warm breezes and palm trees. On Sunday we went to one of the local churches and explored the town and the beach and then settled in to watch the “big game”. I really don’t even remember which teams were playing; I just remember thinking how fantastic it was to be sitting in a condo on the Gulf of Mexico, watching the Super Bowl, at the beginning of a great vacation. That’s why my memory of that vacation was triggered again this week.

Fast forward one year. Last year the Super Bowl triggered a lot of melancholy feelings because we weren’t in Texas. Each day was an anniversary of the great time we had while there. Sunday was the Super Bowl. Monday was the trip into Mexico. Tuesday was the trip to San Antonio (my favorite), and so on. Each day I was stuck at my desk daydreaming about the previous year and the great time we had.

Now fast forward one more year, this year. Some of those same feelings have been triggered by this “Super Bowl Week”. I’ve been thinking about the week in Texas and so many other great vacations that we have enjoyed. I’m missing them. I’m thinking they’re over. I know there will be others (the kids and I even went on one this past summer) but they are only shadows of the good times we had as a whole family.
Now my thoughts are not merely about missing the trip, the great times and the beautiful sights, now there are about missing the reason I wanted to go in the first place. Carol and I looked so forward to many trips we could take together. We would talk about possible destinations. Thinking about going somewhere together was great “day dream therapy” for me. Now if I allow my mind to wonder it definitely is not dreamy.

I never want to forget the years we spent together. “They” say the time will come when I will remember good times with fondness and not be struck by the pain. I can honestly say that maybe I have moved that direction a little bit. After nine months, though, I know I have a long way to go. Times like this can still be overwhelming.

If you’re a football fan, enjoy the “big game”.