Monday, July 09, 2007

Final Gifts (from Patty)

My father once said, "Don't wait until I am dead to send me flowers!" His comment has always stayed with me and on occasion I have remembered and sent him flowers for a birthday or for father's day. They have always been appreciated. The sad thing about our culture is that often we wait until a person has died to lavish them (or their caskets) with flowers, to speak eloquently about them at the funeral or memorial service, to appreciate all the love and joy we received from them. Yet we miss (or don't take) the opportunities to appreciate our loved ones, to offer them our gifts before they die, while they are alive.

I have been thinking a bit about "Final Gifts" these days. For one, because a friend Jamie gave me a book by that title (Final Gifts - understanding the special awareness, needs, and communications of the dying by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley) and it is giving me a lot to chew on and second, because of the way all of you in our home community and out there in blog land have been showering Lynne with gifts both tangible and intangible. Your words are like flowers and our rooms and hearts are filled overflowing. (I know that sounds kind of corny but that is the sort of mood I am in!)

I am still reeling (in a good way) from a gift we received this weekend. The church choir of North Congregational Church (the church where I am pastor) came by and sang to Lynne in our living room. Twenty voices strong sang "You raise me up" by Josh Groban. It was wonderful! For the seven years we have been in Middleboro Lynne and I have sang alto in the choir together. Lynne always said that when she sang with the choir, she would feel the presence of God, the spirit of worship. And so the choir sang and sang and sang. After the song was finished the choir said nervously that they were sorry about the mistakes and in a week or so they would really get it down. With tears in her eyes Lynne responded, "I didn't hear any mistakes ... I only heard the voices of angels." What a gift the choir gave to Lynne.

Some day at a memorial service all our eyes will be filled with tears as the choir sings "Your raise me up!" What a day it will be to celebrate a woman whose life has touched us so deeply. Yet until that day I want to offer Lynne all the gifts I can - companionship, a hand to hold on a stormy night, an ear to listen, a laugh, a reassurance that I will take good care of our kids and I will promise to make sure they floss! Like my dad said, "don't wait to offer your final gifts" - not just to Lynne but to to anyone who has touched you, helped mold you, nurtured you, loved you.

As I write Lynne is resting. The hospital bed will come tomorrow and we will set it up in a downstairs room. She is getting too weak to make the trek up and down the stairs. Home health aides will start coming tomorrow as well. Friends and folks from the church are scheduling time to be here to help and so I can get out and get the kids where they need to go. Her body is slowing down but her smile seems to be getting bigger and brighter. She is filled with grace and peace (most of the time). She will still laugh at my feeble attempts at humor and just for laughs, if you ask her who is the president she will say, "Hmmmm ... Geraldine Ferraro?"

I hope Lynne feels well enough to post soon, if not I will keep you up to date. Keep the prayers, good thoughts and kind words coming. There are no words that can express the depth of our appreciation for all that you have done. Love and bunches of flowers to you all!

Patty

29 comments:

Julie said...

Dear Patty,

Thank you so much for the update, for your eloquence, for your loving presence not only to Lynne and the kids but to your community as well. I feel so grateful that you and Lynne keep "letting us in" through this blog - those of us not there in your innermost circle. It seems like the circle keeps widening via this blog, sending ripples and waves of grace into so many, many lives.

I treasure this experience. I love you both. I share your grief and your joy.

Julie

Sienna said...

...and from a stranger in Australia god bless you all and please thank Lynne for sharing so much and being, for me, such an inspiring person...I will never, ever forget any of you.

Peace and love from Australia

(love the little fish pillow), :) and you are so right Patty, Lynne's smile makes the whole world shine...just an amazing person.

Pam

Anonymous said...

watch out, lynne- patty may be upstaging you soon in this blog !!!! patty- your words tonight are so incredibly eloquent !!!! and yes, i have been thinking about you, lynne, and the legacy you will leave behind- and i think it is not only your ability to nurture deep friendships that i most admire (besides your hearty laugh, of course), but MOST importantly, it is your ability, lynne, to foster deep community bonds- you have utilized your illness to build a new spiritual community, to help many of us grow spiritually and to know each other- you have shared your closest friends with all of us, and welcomed that sharing with open arms- you have made us all more than we would have been without knowing you- that is a immense gift, and that, to me, is the legacy you will leave-
i love you, lynne-
love, alice

Beverly Lacey said...

Dear Patty and Lynne,

Patty, thank you so much for keeping all of us updated. Your touching post brought tears to my eyes and the wish that I could have stayed one more day to hear the choir.

I'm missing being with all of you, but as Patty predicted, Keith saved "a few weeds" for me, so I've been busy in the garden, despite our heat wave. Oh what I wouldn't give for those cool ocean breezes!

Thank you again for allowing me to be part of your time in Provincetown. It was a gift.

Love and hugs to both of you,
Bev

Anonymous said...

Dear, dear Lynne and Patty,

It was such an honor to come into your living room to sing for Lynne yesterday. Her beautiful smile lit up the room. Thank you both for the opportunity to share a song and some hugs and moments to tell you, Lynne, how very special you are to all of us. You are so full of grace and such an inspiration. You have touched my life and my very soul.

You, too, are an inspiration to us Patty. You are leading us through this journey and sharing as you learn. Many would have withdrawn and not included us you have. Thank you.

Love and peace to you both.

Sondra

Anonymous said...

toss and family,

right now i hate living in CA!!!

i'm stomping and cussing and angry as hell!!!

when i picked up your earings and my reiki channel this morning, i got the feeble conection feeling; hence, why i'm cking here and will call later. FUCK

love you all--- as always
spazz

Anonymous said...

Hi Patty,
I feel such love in your words and such wisdom. Thank you for keeping us all updated.

Colleen and I were in Peru from the end of school until yesterday, so we missed Lynne's 60th birthday (which is the next one, 2 yrs from now, that I'm a bit focussed on!).

So Lynne, Happy Birthday!
The time we spent together working, so many years ago, stays with me. I learned from you, loved the work we did, and we had some fun! I remember laughing quite a bit.

I send you prayers and love and I wish you and your family peace and a deepening of all things beautiful.

Love
Chris

Anonymous said...

Patty and Lynne what strength and faith you both possess. Many people would hold all these thoughts and memories tightly. They would not share them. You both have shared everything dear to you. Your love, pain, joy and sadness. I only hope that we all take a part of your testimony and use it in our times of need. God is getting a gem when Lynne goes to be with him. He too will laugh at her wit. Maybe your feeble attempt at humor will sound better there. Wish we could lessen all that is to come. Remember that all of us are sitting near when you need support. Love Mary

Anonymous said...

Patty and Lynne,
I am sitting to type this morning, finally realizing what it is that is so special about this experience, this blog, this transition of Lynne's from this place to eternal life. I have experienced the death of loved ones many times, as we all have. Somehouw, this journey of yours touches me in a way in which I have never been touched before. In the almost 6 years I have known you,you have been showing us all, Patty, through your official ministry, and Lynne, through your unofficial ministry, how to love each other. What a gift!! Now through this difficult and frightening journey, you both have opened your hearts and minds, sharing something so deeply personal that it allows and encourages each of us to explore those deep places in our own souls - places that we are sometimes afraid to explore. Lynne, with your kind and beautiful eyes, and you Patty, the love of her life, are showing us all how to live. A great big virtual bouquet of flowers to you both!
God's peace,
Mary McCarthy

Anonymous said...

Patty and Lynne,

I wish I were closer (than VA) to lend a hand, and help in any way I could. Please know that the four of you are on my heart night and day. I hear so much peace in the posts from both of you. Thank you so much for letting us into this time.

Love
Sasha

Elaine Pascale said...

Patty,
I am grateful to you for keeping us updated on Lynne. I certainly miss her presence at Suffolk and am sorry that the students and our collegues are missing out on her wisdom. I sat with Lynne for many, many moons on an Integrated Studies committee and was always impressed with how she would offer just the right suggestion for grappling with curriculum, or student issues. She was always so patient and kind (and, yes, she always offered that brilliant smile when we needed it). Then she served on my dissertation committee and was so supportive. I'm missing that support already.
I am also grateful to you for your willingness to share your spirituality, your love of family, and for allowing us to bond as a community.
With love
Elaine

Anonymous said...

Dear Patty & Lynne
Hugs (gentle ones, of course) and prayers to you all.
Patti Flynn-Harris

Anonymous said...

Dear Lynne and Patty,

I have been so touched by the messages these past few weeks. My mom seems to be on a parallel existence with Lynne--her cancer has been speeding up its awful work, and the pain has steadily increased so that it is a challenge to get it under control. I expect she will soon be too weak to make it up the stairs as well.

I continue to learn so much about peace and grace from you and your experience with cancer...your love is clearly a solid and strong support. I wish you all continued peace as the days' challenges continue to change, flow and hopefully ebb sometimes. I will keep checking in and I will continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

crow

Nancy F, Suffolk said...

Lynne, Patty, and family,

While I am sad in reading this journey, it truly puts a perspective in how we lead our lives. Lynne, you are an inspiration to all of us. Although I only worked with you on a professional basis, I feel I have learned so much from your writing. I think of you often and wish all of you peace and prayers.

Carrie said...

Dear Patty and Lynne,

Thank you for sharing so much. Thank you for being who you are, each of you.

Laughter, reminiscing on happy memories, hugs, gentle cooling soft cloths, foot and hand massages, reading out loud, music....these all matter and help. I had a similar book to guide me in caring for Mom. As well as the incredible instruction and advice from nurses and doctors in our home. The best advice I was given though was from Mom - do what she wants/needs and don't push. Don't press her to blog, or talk, or remember. You do that for her. Pray with her, for her, out loud so she can hear because she may not be able to remember her favourite prayers herself. Toxins mess with the brain. So just be what you are, both of you. Gentle and loving and keep an eye on Lynne. She may not always be able to articulate her needs or wants. Keep a close watch. Comfort matters.

You probably know all of this Patty but just in case some of it is new... I hope it helps.

Love and Gentle Hugs to you both,
Remember, angels are in the room with you and will guide you right.

Carrie

Anonymous said...

Patty, Lynne and kids. Can't wait to be with you this week-end. It has been three weeks and we know things are escalating rapidly now and need to be there for both of you and kids.
Patty, I know you well enough to know that your blogging at this point is not only a ministry for Lynne, but yourself as well. You are doing a great job and a better care giver and partner Lynne could not have, especially at this very moment. I am so proud of you and your strength. Where once I felt Lynne was the organizer and director, I see she has passed the baton to you and you have graciously kept things moving, without missing a beat and all the while battling and sharing the same disease.

You are an example for us all and Lynne has been a trip for us that we have all been on together and wish would never end. But we are sure glad we took that trip and we will never forget all the great memories.

Please give Lynne some hugs from Henry and I until we get there this week-end to do it ourselves. Oh, and give yourself a hug from us, as well.

Miss you, love you, and need to be with you both this week-end.

Karen

Carlos ("Carl") said...

Beautiful writing, Patty. God's peace to all of you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patty and Lynne,

Thanks so much Patty for your words of reflection and love. Your Dad is a wish man and so is his daughter.

What a beautiful way for me to start my day, reading your message on "Final Gifts" Patty. I began reading with apprehension as to what you were going to say but I finished once again with a heart filled with grace and gratitude for both of you and the children. I have found music to be a wonderful healing calming gift. I can just imagine the grace that filled your home with song and love as your church friends sang. I just wish I was there to experience it with all of you.

My prayer for each of you is to continue to be together in so lovingly, were ever Lynne rests in your home. May the children be close by her side too in whatever way they can. Maybe they are singing too.

When there were no words to express what was in my heart while my father laid in ICU, I softly sang to him. I don't have a great voice but I love to sing and threw out any thoughts of what people thought of my sing during one of the most precious times with him.

And my message to Lucy and Nathanal is that my dad was in a coma but I believed he could hear me.

Love to each of you and abundant thanks from beautiful P-town.

Donna

Anonymous said...

You are all in our thougths and prayers. Laurie and I offered up a prayer for you all on the upper deck of the cruise ship while we were visitng Key West. The stars were out..a great breeze. Know that we are sending our xx and oo s

Love Emo, Laurie and Lea

cori said...

Patty and Lynne,
I'm afraid this blog entry will be one that is short for me...(I know..hard to believe that I could be speechless, huh? )
I am reeling from the sudden death of my dear brother. He was a sick man and yet we didn't even know. He went into the hospital ten days ago feeling "lousy" and never recovered.
He went peacefully in his sleep after fighting valiantly for ten days. Yesterday as we sat and watched his eyes moving under their lids we wondered what he was seeing...and the dr. said he was 'talking to God'...and you know...I believe he was...and still is.
Yes..life is fragile and we are so blessed to have the gift ...and the gift of this loving circle of souls that surround us in life ...and through our entire journey until we are left standing on the shore watching the footprints trail off to a more peaceful place where we cannot follow until it's our time.
We love you and are here with you as always,
Cori

Anonymous said...

Patty, Lynne, Lucy and Nathaniel....God's grace and peace be with you all at this most precious, bittersweet time. Patty, you set an example of God's enduring strengths in the face of death. I think of you all, Friend. Jamie

Anonymous said...

Dear Lynne and Patty,
Patty's recent update makes me think of the lines from the hymn "He will lift you up on eagle's wings,bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of his hand." And gentle hugs to you, Lucy and Nathaniel too.
Maribeth Flynn

Teresa Hartman said...

Lynne, you called your blog "Life Changing Cancer", and I want you to know that you have changed my life since I found your words after my own cancer diagnosis. You and your family have been in my prayers, and I send you all the foot rubs I can from Omaha through this electronic connection. You are and have been a star to me to steer by.
Patty, my grandma liked bluegrass, and one of her favorite songs matches what you said (I included the lyrics here). I have always tried to follow the message of the song, and even more now. Please know that your words have blessed my family. Thank you for sharing your experiences. -Teresa

Give Me The Roses While I Live

Wonderful things of folks are said
When they have passed away
Roses adorn the narrow bed
Over the sleeping clay

Give me the roses while I live
Trying to cheer me on
Useless are flowers that you give
After the soul is gone

Let us not wait to do good deeds
Till they have passed away
Now is the time to sow good seeds
While here on earth we stay

Anonymous said...

Dear Lynne and Patty,

Surely, you are blessed with your love for one another and your children. Likewise, we are blessed to receive the lessons, words of wisdom, and examples of grace each of you have shared with us.

I thinking today about your marriage and how lucky you are to have lived in this time and place.

I remember seeing Lynne by the mailboxes in the EHS office for the first time after the decision was made. I asked if you had plans to marry. She said something. But, the words were irrelevant --her face spoke volumes of love. She was radiant and beaming from ear to ear.

I turn to Luciano, a reggae artist for much of my spiritual guidance; he is very uplifting. Lynne has probably heard his music coming from my office on several occasion. His "Love Will Make It" brings me to tears and sends chills down my spine each time I hear it (so much so that I have to skip the track while driving).

I would like to share a few lines of that song with you:

"Peace will linger in the distance,
as justice sees it final dawn.

Not that surprising,
look where we're going.

Love will make it through the night,
knowing everything is allright
as angels come to my rescue.

I know that,
I know that,
love will be there."

I continue to hold you and the children in my thoughts and prayers.

May angels continue to bless you both during this time,

Sarah Carroll

Cori said...

Patty and Lynne,
It was so comforting to hear your voices this morning. Imagine! You calling me to see if I was ok!
But then...that is just the way that you both are! So caring and loving and selfless.
I love you guys and am thinking of you and sending my love and energy.
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of you and your lovely family and say a prayer that God hold you in the palm of her hand.

Anonymous said...

Patty, thank you for the beauty of your words and the strength and love and vulnerability behind them. Reading this blog has become a daily event for me, and I echo the others in our gratitude to you and Lynne for sharing this experience with us in all of its parts.

When I was in high school, lo these many years ago, I read an article in the Saturday Evening Post on Friendship. One paragraph of it was so amazing to me at the time that I memorized it:
"When I have a friend and he has me, each of us is a little less alone in the vastness of time, less afraid of the dark, the unknown. We are still children in the woods at night, but we are holding hands".

Thanks, Lynne and Patty for holding all of our hands. Love, Kali

Anonymous said...

Patty and Lynne,
I send love and peaceful thoughts....you are all in my heart.
Sue C.

Deb said...

Dear Patty and Lynne,
Precious moments.

"As we bless the source of life, so we are blessed. And the blessings give us strength....."

I had the most profound and healing laugh with you Lynne many years ago. I am so grateful for that.

Thank you.

May you be at peace. May you always be surrounded by love and may you know that the love you have shared will always be in the hearts of your children, Patty and all those who you have been in community with.

Blessings.
Deb Barsel

Anonymous said...

Dear Patty and Lynne,

My last night's comments didn't post, but I will try again. I was very touched by your "final gifts" post, Patty. It reminds me how very special you are - wise and caring and spiritual - how you reach out to nurture and support others even when you are faced with such overwhelming challenges yourself.

Lynne, from the moment you came into Patty's life, I knew that you were a special gift for her, as well as for all of us who have come to know you. Your generous, caring, grounded presence is so genuine and engaging. I will always think of you as the "Christmas Cookie Angel" - so symbolic of your nurturing, giving self.

I remember you and Patty at your commitment ceremony with awe and wonder as you stood together in your silk cocoons - the beginning of a very special relationship. You and Patty are an amazing power of example of what love, trust, and commitment are all about. I feel honored and humbled to be able to be even a small part of your lives.

I have been putting a pond in my backyard this summer - a dream that began when you showed me your first pond on Waltham St. I am bummed that you aren't able to mentor me, but I do feel your guiding presence in the water's reflection and musical song as it trickles over the rocks.

I do hope that you can feel the depth of my love and caring for both of you and for Nathanial and Lucy as I join in the community of friends and loved ones circling you with support and love and gentle hugs. Peace and love, Deane