Monday, July 16, 2012

No 'Aha' Moment

"Well, Mrs. Reisch!  I'd know you anywhere!" she said as Bob and I entered the funeral parlor. We had  come to the funeral of a 93 year old woman who was a member of our church, and I had no idea that this person was her daughter, Linda.  Embarassed, looking for clues as to why she'd know me anywhere, I asked her to help me to remember.  "My son, Steven, read a scripture at Jeff's funeral," she said. "They were good friends, about the same age."  I apologized profusely at my lack of memory, and sat down with the only other person, besides the pastor, I knew in the room.  Racking my brain, I asked this lady about the family formerly attending church.   But, no 'Aha' moment.  Linda came back to us with Stephen, and I said, "Nice to see you again, Stephen.  This is Jeff's dad, Mr. Reisch."  (I should have shaken his hand, but didn't.)  Turning again to my friend, I said, "I feel absolutely terrible that I can not remember Stephen taking part in Jeff's funeral!"  She smiled and said, "Times like that you're in a fog anyway.  You don't remember very much."  After the service I smiled as we shook Linda's hand, but left in another fog.  Thought about it for quite a while, but no 'Aha' moment.~~~Sometimes our lives make ripples we don't even remember, but for other people it's a long memory.  Lord, continue to bless the people whom Jeff blessed.  Thank you!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Advocates From Years Ago

 "Mrs. Reisch?"  Yes! We recognized each other at about the same time.  Chet Fery , known as The Bread Man, had just finished his presentation at our Lutheran Women's Communion Brunch program.  His audience listened closely to his stories - Breadtime Stories - about the people he has met while encouraging kids and adults to make bread.  He invited us to tell our own Bread stories, and emphasized the way the kindness of sharing bread (in the last 10 years, he has made over 30,000 loaves) can change peoples' lives.~~~As Chet Fery greeted the women afterward, he surprised me with his words, "Mrs. Reisch?  Yes!!  I knew Jeff!  He was a wonderful boy, full of love - unconditional love!"  Mrs. Fery had come with him, and she knew Jeff from his days at BOCES.  A double blessing!  It made my day!  Jeff's life has had a ripple effect 20 to 30 years later!!  Wow!  Lord!
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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Your Garden is Doing Fine, Jeff

Purple -- Jeff's favorite color!! The purple mums in our garden, and the purple bouquets on the altar Sunday morning joyfully celebrate Jeff's life among all of us. I've just finished reading, "The Garden Is Doing Fine," by Carol Farley, in which a young teen is fighting to let her dying father go. It's late fall and her dad wants to know how his garden is doing. She wants to be honest and tell him there is no garden any more now. When two painfully honest neighbors tell her that her father will be remembered for his caring long after he has died, she realizes that she is his garden, and the seeds he has planted in her will go on season after season. At the end, she can say, "Your garden is doing fine, Dad."~~~Jeff's garden is doing fine. He has planted his love, and the love of God in many hearts along the way. Jeff's life, and his going to be with Jesus in the beautiful month of October, will be celebrated with an awesome, thankful purple hue!!
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Camp Joy and Beyond

Sometimes a book will wait for a reader for many months, or, beckon one back. It will wait for it's own time. I'm thinking of the woman at the "Celebrating 30 Years of Camp Joy" Banquet this weekend. After the dinner was over, she came up to me to say she had just finished "Journey With Jeff; Inspiration for Caregivers of People with Special Needs ," and liked it very much. Her husband had brought it back to her from a synod-wide Lutheran meeting a couple of Junes ago. (I thought he looked familiar!)~~~Today a note came from a pastor friend who, a few years ago, had helped me decide the title of Jeff's book. He said, "I have been re-reading 'Journey With Jeff.' I was just thinking that if I was teaching pastoral counseling or clinical pastoral eduction it would be required reading. It's a wonderful book." ~~~Having this book be required reading in a college course would be ideal!!!~~~And, back at the Camp Joy Banquet, a woman read her poem about Camp Joy being a pool and the staff the ripples on the pool. Afterward, I mentioned to her that I was planning on sharing how Jeff's life had a ripple effect on the people in the pools around him. She asked where to find "Journey With Jeff" so she could read it for herself. (see Liftbridge Book Store in Brockport, NY, or The photo is Jeff enjoying his tube at Camp Joy.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Advocates for Jeff and Friends

Today I'm wearing a tee-shirt with the words, "Celebrating 30 Years of Camp Joy" emblazoned on the left shoulder. In 1981, Joan Van De Wall and I wrote a grant for a week of Faith-based Camp for people with special needs like Jeff who had aged out of other summer camps. How he loved Camp Joy!! At the Banquet Celebration of these 30 years of growth, and struggles, and blessings, Joan asked the 2011 Camp Joy Staff to share some of their stories of healing and blessings they'd experienced this year. The staff shared story after story of how they'd gained more from the campers than they'd given. Joan ended her thank-yous to all those who had served on the Camp Joy staff over the years by asking me to speak about Jeff's last days with Leukemia at the hospital. Since she had been there, too, she recalled that Jeff had been adamant about going back to his group house, even with a possibility of hospice care. Finally, "Yes, Mom!! Go back to Group Home!!" melded into, "Yes, Mom, I'm ready to go and see Jesus now." ~~~ Jeff has been gone 23 years in Ocotober. I haven't cried in a long time, but I cried at that Banquet. Thank You, Lord, for the people who cared so much for Jeff, and helped him be ready to go to see You!!
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Surprise Advocates!

"Please bring a copy of Journey With Jeff to the gathering for me to purchase for my daughter," wrote a far-away friend in an e-mail. Claudia and her daughter, who was visiting from North Carolina, gathered with the state-wide Lutheran Women at the Notre Dame Retreat Center in Canandaigua last weekend. When I handed her a copy of "Journey With Jeff; Inspiration for Caregivers of People with Special Needs," her daughter said a friend of hers also might want a copy. As Claudia purchased a second book she said, "I keep my copy on my coffee table in the living room, where people pick it up and ask about it." Here was another illustration of my friend Lynne's exclamation that "Journey With Jeff" has a life of its very own!" How wonderful to find Surprise Advocates!!