Logic sometimes seems to be completely useless in trying to figure out what to do.  In my last post, I was pleased with myself for keeping Mary Ann moving during the day to assure that she would sleep well.  In that post I reported that the hallucinations had diminished and she seemed to be down for the night.  So much for that observation.

After I finished that post, she started moving around.  The animals were back.  She was restless and we battled the animals for a couple of hours.  The next day was not much better.  There was a Volunteer in the morning who read to her.  I needed that break.  I headed up to the lake, listened to music and checked for wildlife.  As soon as I got back the usual issues that emerge when neither of us have gotten enough rest kept us at odds for much of the day.  Last night included some restlessness, but we both got a decent amount of sleep.

Today has gone reasonably well.  It is the day exactly forty years ago that I was Ordained, the day I became a Pastor.  We got out to a late lunch and splurged a bit, at least as much as can be done at an Applebee’s.  Our town has far too many restaurants, but few that are elegant and expensive (almost none).

There was a Volunteer tonight with Mary Ann.  I used the time to head up to my favorite spot nearby to watch the sunset and the wildlife.  A momma turkey and five young’uns provided some entertainment.  A doe settled down for some cud chewing about 200 feet way.  She seemed to enjoy the organ and choral music on a John Leavitt CD as it drifted out of the open window of the van.  She got up and left when the CD was done.  She has good taste in music.

There has been some nostalgia, maybe a bit of melancholy today.  The contrast between my life now and my life a couple of years ago is pretty dramatic.  During the years of ministry, most of my time (at least 60-70 hours a week) was spent connecting with other people face to face or via email.  Even when I was at home with Mary Ann, most of the time I wasn’t responding to her needs, I was at the computer interacting with people.

Because of the nature of my profession, there was lots of opportunity for being a part of people’s lives with the goal of making some sort of difference for good.  Whether I accomplished that or not is another matter.  That determination lies in the judgment of others.  All of that ceased completely at the end of the day on June 30, 2008.

I am grateful to have lifted from my shoulders the load of responsibility that goes with the role of Senior Pastor of a fairly large and very active congregation with hundreds of people serving as Volunteers as well as a substantial (and very capable) paid Staff.  I felt responsible to at least try to consistently do good work.  It was hard work.  As is always the case, the hard work is what produced the most meaningful accomplishments.  Gratefully, the central commodity we deliver is forgiveness.  It is a good thing, since I certainly needed lots of it for the things I did not get done or did not do well.

Today, it settled in me a little more deeply that that part of my life is over.  I found myself wanting to connect a bit with folks I have served over the years.  While my ministry has not been about me, but the One I follow, I would be lying if I claimed utter selflessness.

Today, I also recalled the most magnificent celebration I could have imagined when the congregation gathered for a retirement party a few weeks over a year ago.  What a party!  There was a sea of almost 500 people spread out in that room.  There was great food, great coffee, great ice cream, spectacular decorations, thoughtful gifts, and kind words that were way beyond anything I deserved (that’s not humility but honesty).  I will never forget that day.  No matter how bittersweet the day was today, I do not feel underappreciated.

Mary Ann is now in bed and on the monitor appears to be settled.  I will not predict how the night will go.  There was no napping today.  Logic would suggest that she would sleep.  Logic is irrelevant.  It will be what it will be. Actually, she has just had a trip to the commode and is now (seeing her on the monitor) moving about as if she is seeing things.

Tomorrow is a routine (three times a year) trip to the University of Kansas Department of Neurology’s Parkinson’s Center (Movement Disorders).  Hopefully Dr. Pahwa will have a suggestion for improving Mary Ann’ ability to rest at night with fewer troublesome hallucinations.

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