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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

On Showing Compassion

About twenty-two years ago, between our first two daughters, Julie had a miscarriage. In the weeks to follow, many couples shared with us that they, too, had gone through this experience, but until we faced the trial ourselves, we did not know that so many around us had gone through it. These days at death's door with Mom remind me of that time. So many people who have walked a similar path have helped us know what to expect, and more importantly, let us know that they are praying for us. Your support has been encouraging.
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The height of the human condition is not knowing passion but showing compassion. It is not about self but others.
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Julie made it back to the east side of the state Tuesday afternoon and she and I spent the night with Mom in the hospital last night. Her vitals are far below what is normally required to sustain life.
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I'm so glad I made it back from Thailand in time to look in Mom's eyes and "visit" for those two days before this time of sharing duties and grief with family has been a blessing, but if nothing happens soon, we may simply have to return to home and our duties at school until the days of the funeral.
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As we sat in that small darkened room last night, it occurred to me that this is that first week in February when I typically spend a weekend with Mom while Bob is traveling with Wertz Warriors. It was this week two years ago that I wrote the following little booklet which was originally posted April 1, 2006. I thought it might be of interest to some readers at this time—especially since the last chapter tells of a remarkable friendship that showed itself in kindness the day before my parents wedding.
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My mom had a "cake crisis" the day before their wedding, and she turned to her old friend Bob for help. Nearly fifty years later, that friendship was renewed at the PHHS Class of ’48's 50th Reunion. Mom and Bob married in 2001. It is the same compassion shown in the last part of this story that I see each day at mother’s bedside.
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Visiting Home: Preface to The Wedding Book
[1st in a series of 4, originally posted April 2006]
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My mother’s living room
still knows the meaning of its name,
but it’s a quiet sort of living to be sure.
Gone are the days of horsy-back rides,
our daughters’ song and dance upon the hearth,
and wrapping paper strewn on Christmas morn.
That sort of living in the room
has faded like the snapshot
left too long upon the kitchen windowsill.

But rising early and alone with a pad and pen,
I’m drawn to the davenport
(as Mother always called a couch)
and in the hush of daybreak's light
I see that life without us
finds a way to gather undisturbed
in corners where the carpet is not worn—
and countless numbers scrawled on torn
scraps and backs of envelopes in the nook
and scribbling in the margin of a book
left waiting on the corner chair,
and photo albums in the shadow of the stair.

The piano is now a desk of sorts, a place
to stack the hymnals and press like grapes
vintage sheet music in its overstuffed bench
that drops the unsung pages to the floor.
The room is long-since silent of their songs,
but the echo brings a smile
to me and framed familiar faces
forever looking on from every wall—
loved ones gone, and younger versions of us all,
and elementary pictures of children
(now grown and out of school)
still looking on and listening
from a dozen years before.

There is no clock to mark the time…
not even a metronome,
but the living room has heaps of living *
that make it feel like home.
© Copyright 2006, TK, Patterns of Ink

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*One of Mom’s favorite Guest poems begins “It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home...” Those who have read "Bringing Home the Duncan Phyfe" will understand why it's Mom's favorite. This preface was written from recollections of Mom’s living room over the past decade more than its appearance that morning in February. It provides the setting for the three chapters of "The Wedding Book" which follow.

This story-poem continues at these links: Part II, Part III, Part IV.

16 Comments:

Blogger heiresschild said...

hi Tom, i'm getting ready to read "The Wedding Book," but this post made me think of my husband, and how i was with him to the end--the hardest thing i've probably ever had to go thru, but i've always been glad i was there. i'm glad you got back from Thailand in time also. my continued prayers for you and your loved ones.

6/2/08 6:56 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I continue to pray for you and your entire family. The "waiting game" is a difficult process but hopefully a time of reflection, allowing all of those precious memories to flow your way. I had already read the archives but I enjoyed them again~ reflection for me too. Blessings my dear friend- may God give you the strength you need to face the coming days!

6/2/08 7:11 PM  
Blogger heiresschild said...

i've read them all, and i am so in awe. what a beautiful tribute to life, love, family and friends!

6/2/08 7:11 PM  
Blogger jewell said...

Continuing to lift you up in prayer!

6/2/08 7:51 PM  
Blogger SusieQ said...

Tom,I am so sorry to hear about your mother. As you know I have been inactive in the blogs for a couple of months now due to my grandson's needs and haven't been reading the blogs including yours.

For some reason I decided to pop in and read your blog tonight before going off to bed. I had no idea that your mother was this close to death. I am so sorry. You have written about her with such deep affection. Certainly I will keep you prayerfully in my mind in the days to follow.

I lost both my parents not many years ago. I watched them die. So I know what you are experiencing. God be with you.

6/2/08 11:44 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...

"A heap 'o living' is my favorite Guest poem.

It won't be long now Tom. We just went through this with my mother two years this coming April and all that you can hope for is a painless comfortable passing to the place of rest. It is that which I pray for.

You will find your comfort and solace when she is gone because of what she left behind, your mother's kindness and goodness seep out of everything you write and your honest affection for her is the result of that love.

Peace Tom

mark

7/2/08 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm praying for you and your family! That God's tender mercies would be manifested and felt during this time!

I have been struck throughout my experiences that are similar to this one...that it's reinforced that it is God who decides the time we are to go to be with Him! That He does hold us in the palm of His hand. I pray that however difficult this is for you and your family that there will still be a sweetness that happens as a result.

I pray to that you and your wife can do what you need to do both with your jobs and with your family. Blessings!!!!

7/2/08 12:25 PM  
Blogger Cris said...

I have been praying for you and your family.

7/2/08 2:33 PM  
Anonymous WSL said...

My sincerest sympathies to you and your family!! Will keep praying for all of you!

7/2/08 4:44 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

H.C.
Glad you liked that story about the wedding cake. It's been a blessing to see kindness modeled in such practical ways.

Nancy,
Thanks for your prayers. As you can see, Mom passed at daybreak the next day. Even today has been a blessing from morn till night.

Jewell,
It is such a source of strength to know all of our friends back home are thinking about and praying for us at this time.

SQ,
So good to hear from you after all these months. I'm so glad the Lord put it on your heart to look here last night. To fully understand the significance of the timing of Mom's homegoing, you may enjoy reading Nov. and December of the Story I started last August. Mom so enjoyed helping me with that and reading each chapter as it unfolded here at POI. Thanks for dropping a line.

TWM,
Thanks for your friendship, Mark. You were right. It seems like we were just eating with Mom at Izzy's down the road from your place. We went out to eat with Bob tonight. It was nice. We all miss Mom.

Anon,
Thank you, my friend. It's true, and even today in sorting through the details of life (as they pertain to such farewells), it has been a blessing to review Mom's legacy.

Cris,
Thank you for keeping up with this fellow Michigander through these months and recent days.

WSL,
Thank you for the uplifting comments this past week and again today.

All,
We spent the evening with Bob at "home." We've been sorting through hymnals for songs to use Monday, borrowing framed pictures from the walls for the funeral home, and gathering letters, photos, and other artifacts for the "picture boards" provided by the funeral home. It is a joy to do this as a family. The waters are a bit choppy. By that I mean that our waves of emotion are mostly in synch but sometimes a touch of sorrow hits one of us and we're reminded that our "waves of grief" will not always be in unison.
I for one was sitting in the very chair where Mom and I sat New Year's Eve looking at pictures just as were doing tonight without her. You remember the post:
http://patternsofink.blogspot.com/2008/11/photos.html

I chose to walk home to my sister's. It was good to walk alone on the snow-covered path that connects my sister's home to Mom's. I heard the old hoot owl that has haunted our woods since I was a kid.
These days will be "choppy" but they are not as hard as the seven days now behind us.
Thank you all for your continued prayers.
Tom

7/2/08 10:45 PM  
Blogger Lone Grey Squirrel said...

May God's Peace and Love hold and sustain you and your family over the next few days. God bless.

8/2/08 4:25 AM  
Anonymous WSL said...

It is such a comfort that we have the blessed hope..that the world doesn't have. While it is so hard to let go of our loved ones...we know, that we know that we'll see them once again. I can't wait for that day when we will sit at the banquet table together. :-) It's bitter-sweet on this side but oh, the joy we'll one day have!
Blessings once again to you and your family!

8/2/08 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. K -

My family lost a dear friend a couple of weeks ago - the evening after the funeral, his wife said, "I'm so happy that Roger is sleeping with Jesus tonight."

I'm so happy that your mom is sleeping with Jesus tonight, too. My prayers are with you and your family as you celebrate and remember her life, and mourn your loss.

Betsey

9/2/08 8:57 AM  
Blogger Dr.John said...

Glad the long night is over and your mother rests in the arms of Jesus. We will continue to pray for you and your family.

9/2/08 10:05 AM  
Blogger heiresschild said...

Tom, my continued prayers for you and your family as you continue to prepare for the homegoing services, and in the days afterwards.

9/2/08 12:54 PM  
Blogger Cris said...

Tom, I am so sorry for you and your family's loss. I know she will be greatly missed until you get to see her again in heaven. Until then, may you and your family find comfort in the one who gives us hope, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

((((((((HUGS))))))))

I will continue to pray for you and your family.

9/2/08 6:59 PM  

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