On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

BettyBetty Brendle, David’s mother, was born 86 years ago today. Yes, she was born on Halloween, and I’m sure she heard every witch joke ever written and received lots of pumpkin-covered birthday cards during her lifetime. Her children swore that her love of sweeping had something to do with the connection between her birth date and brooms.

Betty passed away in August, but we’re thinking of her today. In fact, we’ve been thinking of her a lot this week. David and I drove over to Louisiana on Sunday, and we’ve spent the week with his sisters, going through the “stuff” that a person accumulates during eight decades of life. Betty was a very organized person, so there’s not a lot of junk to deal with, but there are lots of memories.

It’s a good thing we weren’t on a tight schedule, because memories tend to slow things down. David and I spent several hours on several different days going through the tool shed and store room. Some items were packed quickly, but many became the focus of a story. This was Granddaddy’s hammer…Daddy and I built that gun rack when I was in the seventh grade.

When the sisters arrived each day, progress slowed down even more. Each photo album or box of pictures evoked more memories and conversations about people I never met but who were a big part of the family history. There have been tears and even a few sibling spats, but mostly there has been a sweet sense of Betty’s presence as we go through the grieving process together.

We don’t have a big celebration planned for today. David and I will finish packing the trailer we rented to take home some of his memories, and the sisters have plans of their own as life goes on, but each of us is remembering Betty on her birthday.

As I remember, I wonder if there is birthday cake in Heaven. If so, that raises a host of other questions. Does each person get a personal cake, or is there one communal cake for all who share the same birthday? Is a candle added for each earth year, or does the number remain static at the age at which the person died? Either way, that would be a lot of candles.

From there, my mind wandered off on a writer’s tangent. I thought of all those twinkling birthday candles, and then I thought of the multitude of twinkling stars in the sky. What if, instead of lighting candles on a cake, God places a new star in Heaven for each birthday? I like that idea–a lot.

Happy Birthday, Betty. I hope you enjoy your 86th star.

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Psalm 147:4



winding road Cover 25 percentA LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos

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