Tag Archives: love

Happy 84th Birthday Dad!

6 Feb Our Family Photo is complete!

It seems fitting that today, on the occasion of my Dad’s 84th birthday, that I revisit the amazing experience my family and I shared four years ago when we gathered together to mark Dad’s 80th birthday.  Time always marches on, and we tend to let important events slip into the recesses of memory … until something happens to trigger then.  I think that is why I have done so much writing in the past 12 years.  Once you write something down, you can let it take a back seat to every day life.  But, on those occasions when you want to bring back the memories, all you need do is look back on what was written and the feelings come rushing back. 

GIFT FOR GRANDPA

I was excited as I awoke early that Sunday morning. Today all of my plans and preparations would come full circle. In a short while we would begin to celebrate my Dad’s 80th birthday. Dad doesn’t like a lot of fuss, but he good-naturedly went along with all of our plans.

I had managed to get his birthday celebration on our local 10 pm news. I had slept right through it, but many people let Dad know that they had seen it. A picture of Dad was in today’s paper announcing his milestone birthday. And there were flowers on the altar at church …. all in honor of Dad.

Our family would gather at a restaurant later in the day to celebrate Dad and honor the role he plays in so many lives. I had hoped to secure a private room at the restaurant, but when I checked early in the week, nothing was available. I was disappointed, but I knew the party would still be the grand celebration I wanted it to be.

We arrived at the restaurant and followed the hostess to our table. Much to my surprise and amazement we had somehow managed to get our own private room after all. We were free to talk and laugh and carry on without disturbing anyone. Two of my favorite cousins – Dawn and Beth, were also joining us. They loved my Dad and were very close to him.

As we finished our meal with an extravagant chocolate dessert we all raised our glasses and toasted Dad. He smiled from ear to ear and got a little teary as he told us how proud he was of his family and how much he loved us.

Beth worked for a photographer and she busily snapped photos throughout our time at the restaurant. As we got ready to leave, we all stood proudly around Dad and took a family photo — something we had not done for a very long time.

Despite the happiness of the day, I couldn’t help but be sad. If only Elizabeth were here I thought to myself – then this day would be perfect. Our 20-year old Elizabeth, our first-born daughter and granddaughter, had died in a fire while attending college in 2003. Even though almost nine years had passed there would always be an empty chair at our family table that no one but Elizabeth could fill. And, it was especially difficult today when we were celebrating such a happy occasion.

The next day I received an email from Beth thanking me for inviting her, and she included some of the photos she had taken. She told me she was concerned when she downloaded the photos and brought the first one up, only to see a large white spot just above my head and on my husband’s arm.

Beth was dismayed and she wondered how this could have happened – would this spot ruin all of the pictures?

As she slowly viewed each picture, she was relieved to see that the white spot was found only on that first photo of our family. As Beth stared at the photo, suddenly it dawned on her – if Elizabeth had been here she would have been standing in the exact place where that white spot had been. Could it be she wondered?

I didn’t have to wonder — I knew. What a wonderful gift Elizabeth had given to her family, especially her Grandpa. I printed off the photo and excitedly asked my Dad to stop over, “I have one last gift for you I told him.”

He came into my kitchen and gently scolded me – “Kimmie, he said, I don’t need any more birthday presents! Everything you gave me yesterday was wonderful.” “Oh, I think you’ll want this one Dad, I said, – but you’d better sit down first.”

He sat down at the table with a quizzical look on his face. I laid Beth’s email in front of him, which said:

Here are 2 pictures from yesterday, I have to correct the lighting on some of the others and then will send more. Can you BELIEVE the first one? I’m not kidding when I tell you that I have NEVER had a white spot show up like that before. Dawn was with me when I downloaded them and we were looking through them. When I first saw it I said “darn it look at that spot on there”, totally expecting it to be on a whole bunch of them….then i go to the next one and it’s gone and it didn’t show up again. Dawn and I looked at each other in disbelief and said “Liz was there too!!”

I quietly laid the photo down and Dad stared at it for a few minutes and then was overcome with emotion, as he realized the significance of the white spot. We both shed tears of joy at the thought that our beloved Elizabeth had been with us yesterday on such a special day. Love never dies, and the bond we all share with those we love is never broken …. not even by death!

 

I Am So Grateful ….

1 Nov

Here is my latest piece on Gratitude,  written for THE EDGE magazine  ….

There are many things I am grateful for but what I want to focus on here is the gratitude that I have for my oldest daughter Elizabeth.  Our relationship has weathered so many emotional experiences for both of us – from total elation on the day of her birth, complete awe and exhilaration during her growing up years, to anxiousness and outright fear and complete despair during her teenage years, to absolute shock and total sadness at her sudden departure, and finally the learning and growth we have both experienced as we sought to establish and maintain our present relationship on both sides of the veil.  I often wonder which one of us has learned the most through our experiences of the last 29 years.

 

I have come to believe that Elizabeth and I made a soul contract before we both came into this lifetime.  We each agreed upon the scenario that was put before us, always with the understanding that we were each free to exercise our own free will to change the agreed upon learning scenarios that we had set up in Spirit.

 

What also brings me to my knees many times over is my deep gratitude and appreciation for the role that The Divine has played in our lives.  Spirit truly has been the third person behind the scenes in so many ways.  God opened the doors for both of us and presented us with many opportunities to learn, grow and love.  What more can one ask for on a return visit to this earth plane? It has always been our own choice as to whether we would accept the challenge put before us, or to decide that no, this is something I’m not willing to do.  And saying no is never right nor is it wrong– it is merely a different choice.

 

The times when I doubted myself, doubted Liz and even doubted the Divine were all learning experiences.  When I said, “Yes, I’m in” and I prepared in earnest and was able to complete the divine task given me, I was rewarded by a complete sense of love, validation and confirmation that what I see and feel is real.  The feeling that you have pleased The Divine is a feeling of exhilaration like no other; it is as close to pure joy as one can achieve on this earth …. I can scarcely comprehend how wonderful this feeling must be in Spirit.

 

Gratitude appears in many forms.  Once a task has been completed, I anxiously await my next assignment.  However, my next assignment may not present itself for some time.  Continuous communication through prayer and meditation with The Divine is reward in itself when it becomes a daily practice.  You no longer feel alone – but you are guided every minute of every day by a force more powerful than any other – Love.  When you learn to live in love, view the world and everyone in it in love, life becomes a joyous adventure.

 

To check out more from THE EDGE – click this link:  http://edgemagazine.net/2012/11/i-am-so-grateful-2/

Eight

9 Sep

The number eight has been rolling around in my brain for the past few days.  I assumed it was because we will soon be marking the eighth anniversary of my daughter’s death.

However, it dawned on me yesterday that there was more to it than that.  I realized that September 12th would have been her 28th birthday and eight days after her birthday is the 20th – the day she died – eight years ago.

As all of those realities sank in, I began to see the number eight in my mind’s eye.  And I began to pay attention.

Notice that once you put your pen on paper you can make an eight in one fluid motion and you have two circles that intersect one on top of the other.  This is a metaphor for the relationship that Liz and I continue to share.

Our lives will always intersect.  She will always play a part in my life and I will always play a part in hers.  Each circle represents one of us.  The top circle represents Liz because she is now on a higher plain than I am.  Her energy vibrates at a much higher level than mine does.  She has moved on to a higher plain of existence or heaven, so she is the top circle – I continue my work here on earth so I represent the bottom circle – we are in different worlds – but yet still solidly connected.

Look again at the eight — it is like a path that can be followed.  You may start out at the top and work your way down (to earth) and then continue to go back up — Liz did that.  Or you can start at the top and continue down and follow the same road as long as you need to and then you switch lanes and move up — but whatever your path you always remain connected.

Whenever September rolls around I try to make sense of things — but most of the time there is no sense to be made — it just is.  Choices were made and consequences followed — for both of us.  But what gives me comfort and solace today is the gentle nudge that I believe Liz is giving me to remember that just like the number eight our lives will always be intersecting with each other.  And one day, when my job here is complete I will move to that top circle and we will truly be together – two balls of love-filled energy.

That knowing makes me smile and it is what will make the days of September just a little bit easier to bear.

Thank you Liz — once again — you never cease to amaze me!

Love,

Mom

PS – I just realized – today is the 9th – I should have paid more attention and made this post yesterday! Oh well.

 

God At Work

31 Mar

A couple of weeks ago we had a speaker at our Compassionate Friends meeting.  Mitch Carmody lost his son Kelly to cancer in 1987 and he’s written a book entitiled, Letters to My Son.  I had read it several years ago and have wanted to meet Mitch for a very long time.  I contacted him last Fall and we set in motion his coming to town to speak to our group on March 14th.   Our local paper did a really nice front-page interview with Mitch that ran the day before our meeting.

We had a great turn out and the article brought out many more than our CF membership.  We had one couple attend who had not lost a child, but were about to.  The Harlicker’s have a 7 year old son, Tyler, in the final stages of a cancer battle.  When they read the article in the paper about Mitch, and the fact that he also lost a son from cancer, about the same age as Tyler, they felt compelled to attend as they said they felt it was a sign from God.
 
Everyone in town knows about Tyler and his cancer battle.  We have been praying for him for over a year in church every week.  Roger and I met Tim & Sue for the first time that night and they are amazing — very strong and we both were very touched at the openness with which they have dealt with this painful journey in ther family.  They have also talked very openly with Tyler and his brothers and sisters about his impending journey to heaven.
 
When Mitch Carmody’s son Kelly was in the midst of his cancer battle, he clutched a rosary and it brought tremendous comfort to him and his family.  Several years after Kelly passed Mitch came upon the rosary and began to lend it out to other people who were also fighting cancer or some other life crisis.  Some  were healed and sometimes the rosary became a very comforting symbol that helped them through the journey.
 
The rosary had been out on loan for the past three years.  However the week after Mitch spoke and met the Harlicker’s, the rosary was returned to him.  And, he immediately knew that it needed to go to Tyler.  The next day the Harlicker’s took a road trip with Tyler to meet Mich and his wife Barb and accept the rosary.  Tyler was able to see pictures of Kelly – who he knew would be his new friend in heaven.
 
Tyler completed his journey this past Tuesday and the rosary served the purpose for which it was intended.  Here is the heartbreaking but amazing account written by Tyler’s Dad, of Tyler’s transition from this world to the next.
 
http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/tylerharlicker/journal

Father’s Day Reflections

20 Jun

  June 20, 2010

Father’s Day Reflections

Today is a day to honor our fathers. But I don’t need a special day to honor my Dad. In my world, every day is Father’s Day.

Learning values

When I was growing up, my Dad worked his tail off to support my Mom and his  four kids. If I ever needed a definition of hard work, all I had to do was watch my Dad.

The most important thing in my Dad’s life has always been his family. I like to think he instilled that in me as well.

Closeness

I’ve always had a good relationship with my Dad. We are very much alike, and I’ve always felt like we were kindred souls. When I got married and had my two daughters, I was fortunate enough to live only a block away from my parents. It was – and continues to be – a blessing to have them so close. I’ve enjoyed watching my Dad, over the fifteen years since his retirement, enjoy the life and fruits of his labor. He taught himself to play golf, which he does at least two or three times per week. My siblings and I get him a golf pass every year for Christmas.

At least three or four times a week, Dad stops over. He doesn’t stay long – just time enough to say “hi,” pass on any news he has, and see if I have any. After giving our dog, Murphy, a quick pat and sharing a quick smoke with my husband, he is off again. I love this little ritual so much!

Memories

Just a couple weeks ago my parents joined my husband and me on a fishing trip to northern Minnesota. We are all avid fisher people and we spent four days together on a houseboat. The weather wasn’t the best and the fish were not very hungry, but in a year or two, we won’t remember those details. The most important thing was the time we spent together. We will always have the priceless time spent together.

Time versus stuff

Do I give my Dad a Father’s Day present? You bet I do. The common conundrum on Father’s Day is often what to give someone who doesn’t need any more “things?” I address this by giving not things, but time. Dad and I go golfing together and share a meal together. And at the end of the day we will hug and tell each other how much we love each other, even though that doesn’t need to be said in words … each of us knows how much love there is between us.

I am well aware of how blessed I am to have such a wonderful relationship. There are many, many fathers and daughters who will never be as close as we are. But even if you’re not as close as I am to my dad – even if you  haven’t seen or spoken to him in a very long time – it is never too late to pick up the phone or send a card. Don’t pass up your opportunity to reach out and let those you love know it.

Happy Fathers Day, Dad!

Blessings & Love,

Kim

Signs

30 Jun

I’ve been asked a lot lately if I still get signs from Liz.

I’m happy to report that I do. But it’s not like you might think.

I have no control over when a sign will come. Early on, I was obsessed and would wake up each day wondering if something would happen.

That’s very normal for new grief – and I’m certain that Liz needed to send me signs just as much as I wanted and needed to receive them.

And I have to state the obvious here — I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know why I have received so much when others in similar situations feel they have received no communication from their loved ones.

Alot depends on the loved one on the other side. Alot depends on the openness of the people left here on earth to look beyond what they can see and touch.

The signs she sent in those first days, weeks, and months were not always for me. In looking back, that was a very good thing. It brought validity to them. If I had been the only one to receive signs I and others probably would have questioned my sanity.

But she reached out to her friends and her family and spread it around. Those she chose really “got it” and most importantly were not afraid to share their experience. That is huge.

I went through a stage where I tried to get her to do something on a particular day and time. It didn’t work and was particularly frustrating and just plain made me mad.

But it made me realize and finally accept the fact that I can’t control this. It is completely out of my control. Once I had that realization, I was able to come to the conclusion that I had to be thankful for the experiences I had already received. And, eventually I was able to accept the fact that even if I never got another thing from her, it would be ok.

I knew without any doubt whatsoever that Liz lives on. Not only does she live on, she’s extremely happy and she is doing important work. I no longer feel any need to worry about her. As a parent that is HUGE!

So, getting back to signs. No, I never know when one will come. But they pop up every now and then – usually when I least expect them. And, they are a wonderful surprise.

I was told early on to “expect the unexpected” where Liz is concerned. That certainly was true when she was physically here … and it still rings true today.

We have a bond that is unbreakable. I feel now, after almost six years without her physical presence, that we are closer than ever.

We are a team – stronger than we ever would have been together on earth. She knows what I do not. God is the playwright and we the actors – and by sharing our experiences with others, it promotes hope, promise and healing.

We’ve all heard the statement that “everything happens for a reason.”

From my perspective that is essentially true. Although things happen that we don’t like and that are completely and totally unfair … but that is life.

What we do with those losses are what counts. And it is always our choice.

We can be sad, angry, resentful and unhappy for a time or for the rest of our earthly lives if we choose to.

We can also learn from our pain, use it for good and reach out to help others.

We can choose to live our lives in love or in fear.

Make good choices — choose love!

Dr. Louis LaGrand

30 Mar

Dr. Louis LaGrand is a world-renowned grief educator and author of eight books as well as numerous articles on the phenomenon of “extraordinary experiences of the bereaved” also known as after death communication.

I first learned of Dr. LaGrand’s work when he was a guest on Carolyn Carlson’s radio program, Life After Loss.

Since that time, I have had the opportunity to share  many of my own personal extraordinary grief experiences with Dr. LaGrand, and it has been a real blessing.

Dr. LaGrand also publishes monthly ezine articles that deal with the various aspects of grief, mourning, death, and dying – but most importantly he focuses on how to heal and live life in joy.

The topic of this month’s ezine was “What To Do If You Uncover A Secret About Your Deceased Loved One.”

Reading this article reminded me of an anonymous letter we received shortly after Liz’s death.

Dear Family of Elizabeth Wencl,

I know you must be feeling incredible amounts of grief right now, and I am so sorry about your loss.  But I never got a chance to sincerely thank Liz, so I want to thank the people who brought her into this world.

When I was in high school, Liz was a senior.  Liz didn’t know me, but I guess she knew my older sister a little.  I had a crush on one of Liz’s friends.  One night at a party he decided to take advantage of that.    I was very scared and very sad, and I was crying hysterically.

I knew nobody because they were all two years older, and the guy was too busy making fun of me to care.  Your daughter saved me.  Liz asked me if I was ok.  She sat and held me and talked to me and told me that it would be ok.   The next morning she took me out to breakfast and gave me her phone number and told me if I needed anything I could call her.

To some people this may not seem like a big deal, but it was to me.  Your daughter, without knowing me, took me in under her wing.

Liz was an amazing girl.  Maybe someone in heaven needed her, like I needed her that night.  But like I said, I never got a chance to truly thank her, so I want to thank you for bringing her into this world and for bringing her up to be such a wonderful and caring girl.

The world will truly miss her.

To this day I have no idea who this girl is.  And although I am so sorry she had such a traumatic experience, I am so thankful that she was brave enough to send us such a wonderful letter.

Everyone who knew Liz, knew she loved to party … way too much.  But the fact that she was able to help someone else as she did, says alot about her true character.   As her family we are so blessed to have had her in our lives.

To learn more about Dr. LaGrand, his work and his books check out:

http://www.extraordinarygriefexperiences.com

Make Your Day Great!

When in Doubt — Choose Love

20 Mar

When everything is said and done, there are really only two emotions that we have:  love and fear.  How we choose to react to people and experiences in our lives is with some form of either of these two emotions.  Hurt, anger, lonliness, are all forms of fear.  Compassion, faith, helpfulness, are all a part of love.

We always are free to choose how we respond to everything in our lives.  And however we respond sends ripples out into the world to other people and other situations.

Consider for a moment how different our world would be if we all chose love instead of fear.  It would be a heaven right here on earth.

Consider also that everyone on the planet is important and has a purpose.  Whatever we do, no matter how small or insignificant we feel it to be, changes our world.

We’ve all heard the saying, you change the world one person at a time.  What if, we each tried to respond in love … we could change the world. 

Check out this you tube video by Susan Apollon … have a great day – YOU are important … choose LOVE!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW0ViDkEoyE&feature=email

Planting a Seed … and It Grows!

31 Jan

Raising my children has been the most rewarding, fullfilling experience of my life.   It has also been  extremely frustrating and agonizing at times as well.  In the end, I learned to accept the difficult along with the good.  What always remains constant and unchanging is the love I feel for my girls – it never waivers … even in the most difficult of times.  For those of you who know me, know that I have seen both sides of the spectrum.

The brightness and love  outweigh any darkness and sadness, and in the end you accept it all just as it is in gratitude for blessings received.

Every now and then though, you do get a glimpse that maybe … just maybe you’ve succeeded in a small way as a parent.  I got one such glimpse this week, when I read my daughter, Anna’s blog post.

http://ifonlyforaday.wordpress.com/2009/01/28/spoiled-beyond-belief/

Opposites Do Attract

29 Dec

December 29, 1979 … 29 years ago today Roger and I were married.  I remember the day … I was so worried that the weather would keep friends and family from sharing the day with us.  But my worries were for naught.  It was a beautiful day … the sun was out for a time and the trees were frosted in snow.

I really can’t imagine what life would have been like had I not met Roger Wencl.  Our courtship was rocky at best and there was a time when we went our separate ways.  But in the end, love won out and here we are. 

That old saying that opposites attract is very true for us.  We are very different people, and there have been those  who wondered if we were indeed still married because we very much go our separate ways at times.  But at the end of the day, we both know where we belong.

The things I love about Roger Wencl:

1. Roger can talk to anyone about anything at anytime. 

This is a quality that I very much admire.  I just can’t do that … but I must admit I am getting better at it.  It does have it’s downside, but we won’t go into that today!

2.  Roger’s work ethic is like no other. 

He works so hard with so little downtime … just a quick 10 minute snooze and he’s ready to go again.  

3.  He cares about people.

Roger spends countless hours volunteering at the Salvation Army.  In addition, he is a Big Brother to Omar. 

4.  He can do just about anything – from fixing a car to taking a coffee pot a part … and then putting it back together again  … he’s unbelievable … and most of it is all self-taught.

5.  He is a complete trivia buff and can give you countless amounts of  useless information on a moments notice.

6.  He always sees the best in people … no matter what they’ve done in the past.

7.  He is thoughtful.

8.  He is Mr. Neighborhood.

These are just a few of the endearing qualities that I have been lucky enough to enjoy over the past 30 years.

Oh we’ve had our moments … but in the end,  our love and relationship, our family, and our time together are stronger than they’ve ever been.

Happy Anniversary Honey!  Here’s to 29 more years together!

Love always,   Kim