Showing posts with label grief and loss. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grief and loss. Show all posts

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Supermarket Flowers by Ed Sheeran - A Review of An Incredibily Moving Song that Will Bring You to Tears

More Songs for Mom Here - Photo via Pixabay
Have You Heard Supermarket Flowers by Ed Sheeran?

If you haven't heard this song, and you've lost your mom or a mother figure, you're going to cry.

During my research for a unique list of songs to honor moms, I tripped on 'Supermarket Flowers' by Ed Sheeran, and was shocked by it's incredibly touching mood music and personal story telling lyrics that most of us can relate to.

At least thirty times; that's how much I've listened to this song since yesterday. Being one of the fortunate ones who still has her mother living, it caused me to pick up the phone to call her again today!

The song gets right to the story with painful lyrics that describe clearing out the room of someone loved and recently passed:
  • I took the supermarket flowers from the windowsill
    I threw the day old tea from the cup
    Packed up the photo album Matthew had made
    Memories of a life that's been loved
    Took the get well soon cards and stuffed animals
    Poured the old ginger beer down the sink
    Dad always told me, "don't you cry when you're down"
    But mum, there's a tear every time that I blink
By the second line, "I threw the day old tea from the cup", you know exactly what the song is about, and it hurts in a beautiful way.

If you've ever had to pack up the belongings of someone recently passed on, you know just how incredibly emotional it is. Everything holds a memory, there's a time marker on each of item, and as your hand touches each piece, you remember, and you cry.

Hidden amongst the pain is a hopeful message, "Oh I'm in pieces, it's tearing me up, but I know, a heart that's broke, is a heart that's been loved".

About Supermarket Flowers:

You'll find Supermarket Flowers on Ed Sheeran's 2017 Album, 'Divide'.

In an interview with MTV, Sheeran revealed that the song is about his grandmother.

He said she was in hospital close to the studio and had passed away during it's production. He wrote the song as a personal tribute from the point of view of his mother, and it wasn't initially intended to be included on the album.

However, when he sang the song at this grandmother's funeral, his grandfather encouraged him to include the song; and so it was, as the final track.

Get the Tissues Ready, As Ed Sheeran himself Said, "It Was Written to Make You Cry"






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Grief and Mourning for Those We've Lost

Review This! Is Mourning the Loss Of Our Fellow Contributor, Susan Deppner. 

It's hard to get back in the groove of writing a normal review. Losing Susan has affected me deeply, even though I never got to meet her in person. I felt I knew her better than many of the people I have actually met. When you work together online for years, read each others heartfelt posts, share each other's joys and sorrows, and pray for each other, you form a deep connection. So all of us here at Review This! still have fresh grief from losing Susan last week. 

Encouragement for Those Who Mourn
Photo © B. Radisavljevic


Cancer is a Thief

Cancer has stolen many I have loved from my life. It took both my parents. Dad was gone within days of his diagnosis. Mom had more notice -- a whole eight weeks. I had the privilege of caring for Mom in those weeks with help from Hospice. Here's my story of that time with a tribute to Mom. Being with Mom when she passed into the next life was precious. I wanted to see her off and I did. 

The same kind of cancer that took Susan from us also took one of my very best friends in 2010. A year earlier, the last time I'd seen her, was the previous Christmas. She lived five hours away from us, but we were in the area to see my brother on Christmas Day. 

Sandy and Her Mother Making Mochi Together for the Last Time
Photo © B. Radisavljevic


Sandy invited us to spend the morning and early afternoon before we were due at my brother's sharing a special annual event in the life of her extended family. Sandy's family is Japanese and traditionally met on Christmas each year to make mochi -- something I'd never heard of. I happened to have my camera so I documented the activities for a Squidoo lens that still lives on HubPages: How to Make Mochi. This is not a recipe, but a look into the home of a family that has been making this traditional Japanese food every Christmas to get ready for their New Year's Celebration. It was especially meaningful for us to be included because it was the last time we saw Sandy alive. Ironically, the next year, we attended Sandy's memorial service the day after Christmas. 


Both Susan and Sandy had friends and family who loved them. Both fought hard with faith and hope in their hearts. Both wanted to see their grandchildren grow up. Neither had the opportunity. Both were examples of living out the verse shown on the mugs below.




When God Calls a Loved One Home

We are never really ready for someone we love to leave our lives here on earth. Some leave us suddenly with no warning. Some linger for years fighting an illness like cancer. Maybe we have prayed they would be healed. We wonder why God did not answer that prayer in the way we hoped. Instead we've watched someone we love suffer. Was God not listening?

Many with strong faith, like Susan and Sandy, did not win their battles with cancer. Surely they did not die because they and their praying friends did not have enough faith. Yet some try to lay blame on those very people and tell them they just didn't pray with enough faith.

Edith and Francis Schaeffer founded L'Abri Fellowship, based in Switzerland, to help young people or any others who came to stay in their community find answers to their questions about faith. They were very strong Christians who served God with all they had. Though people all over the world were praying for him, Francis died of cancer.




 During the time Francis was ill, Edith wrote a book about the reasons we have suffering and affliction in our lives as she watched her husband slowly leave her. She helps us grapple with the "Why?" of the pain in our lives. She explains why those prayers for healing may not be answered the way we like.

 I highly recommend this book to all who are trying to understand why they or their loved ones are suffering. I have owned the book for about thirty years now, and I've passed it to many friends who've had cancer and wanted answers. They fought, but they did not all win.

Knowing Why Doesn't Do Much to Make Grief Go Away

Jason's Grave: A friend made the wreath. © B. Radisavljevic
 


I've had my share of grief and bereavement. Both my children preceded me in death. I lost both parents. Our best friend took his own life when he believed cancer would steal his mind. Another very close friend died of cancer in 2013. I should have earned a doctorate in the school of hard knocks for dealing with grief by now. One can and does get through it, but it always leaves an empty place and a scar in the heart. Here's what I've learned through my grieving experiences: How to Grieve and Go on with Life.

Our country music contributor, Barbara Tremblay Cipak, shares part of her grief journey after losing her dad in The Incredible Power of Love. The video she shares there is a fitting end for this post.

Grief and Mourning for Those We've Lost: Encouraging words and help for working through grief
© B. Radisavljevic


Have you lost a loved one recently? What helps you deal with your grief? Feel free to comment or ask questions below. 




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Monday, October 2, 2017

Reviewing How It Feels When A Parent Dies

How It Feels When A Parent Dies by Jill Krementz
With the recent passing of our fellow contributor, Susan Deppner, it is clear to see how the ripples of such a loss go on infinitely. I am not in the mood to write or review products as thoughts of Susan's beloved family members are on my mind. As I have thought of them, especially the children and grandchild she doted on, I have remembered a book that has been helpful in my work with children who have experienced this type of profound loss. Instead of skipping my Monday post, I feel as though I must share the title How It Feels When a Parent Dies at this time. 


How It Feels When a Parent Dies by Jill Krementz


Everyone grieves at a different pace and in different ways. That's okay. That is a truth that is often misunderstood. Sometimes humans judge how others grieve. Of course, we have to be mindful of times that grief has over-taken us for too long of a period of time. And in those moments, professional help can help ease us back into the level of functioning we deserve. But otherwise, it is fine to grieve in the way that is best for us.

It is much the same with children. Children will grieve at a different pace and in many different ways - often in many different ways in the very same day. Sometimes an adult will wonder about the actions of a child who has lost a loved one, and not be able to make sense of the behaviors. Sometimes adults have a perception of how the child "should" be feeling or behaving.

Jill Krementz interviewed children about the death of their parent - allowing the children a place to tell their own story. As a result, this book is filled with examples of the different ways grief is experienced and the different things that are perceived helpful (or not) by each child. It is through listening to their voices that we can become more helpful.

To date, I have not found a book that is more enlightening about how children experience such difficult loss. I've had older children borrow the book and then read to me the stories that resonated. With younger children, I have either read a story to them or I've used my understanding from the book to let them disclose grief at their pace and help me to know what questions to ask.

In the introduction, Ms. Krementz wrote:
"One of the things I've realized while working on this book is that often a child whose parent has died doesn't know anyone else this has happened to, and feels particularly isolated and "special" in a very distressing way. I hope this book will help such children to realize that they are not alone...."
Ms. Krementz interviewed 18 children, ranging from age 7 to 17 about the loss of their parent. The words in each "chapter" are that child's words - their own story. The causes of death range from sudden medical emergencies, long-term terminal illness, accidents, and suicide. The children's reactions include helpfulness, avoidance, confusion, guilt, disbelief, and more. Some children found comfort in being surrounded with visiting adults and others found the comfort of strangers intrusive and anger-provoking.

The book was first published in the early 1980's. My copy was published in 2000. Each chapter includes photos of the child telling the story. The photos are clearly dated - fashions and hairstyles long gone. But the stories are just as meaningful as the day the ink hit the page.

I think I'll close with a wonderful summary of the book by Bishop Paul Moore Jr. He wrote:
"To hear the voices of children speaking of death with innocent beauty is a rare and heartbreaking privilege. I wish I had read Jill Krementz's book when I moved alone with my nine children in the shadow of their mother's death. There are no rules. Some are angry with God. Some love the peace surrounding their mother's grave. Some want to hear all they can from their parents' friends. Some are jealous that anyone else knew her in a way they never could. If you are a widow, a pastor, a helpless-feeling friend, listen to these voices and learn to be strong and wise to these courageous young people."


Note: If you feel that someone is demonstrating their grief and loss in ways that are life-threatening (such as drugs, alcohol, physically risk behaviors. or self-harm) or if the daily functioning of children has been altered for a significant period of time (changes in school functioning, changes in behaviors, continued depressed or withdrawn behaviors) please consult the professionals to help assess the situation. While everyone experiences grief differently, some benefit from the assistance of a professional.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Review: Two Biographical Novels about Theodore Roosevelt for Middle Schoolers

These Books Bring Theodore Roosevelt to Life

I loved reading biographical fiction when I was in fifth grade. I still enjoy it today. I recently reread Bully for You, Theodore Roosevelt by Jean Fritz in order to review it and to compare it with an ebook I had just purchased,  Bully! (The American Hero Series) by Ryan Stallings. Both books are aimed at middle school students. Both books will help students learn more about Roosevelt, since the details of his life are accurate. They just use different techniques to introduce "The Colonel" to young readers. 

In the first, Bully for You, Theodore Roosevelt, Fritz introduces our 26th American President by telling the fascinating story of his life. In the second, Bully!, a fully grown Roosevelt enters the modern world from the past to interact with a grieving boy and his father. 

Review: Two Biographical Novels about Theodore Roosevelt for Middle Schoolers
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States in his private office, White House, Washington, D.C., courtesy of Library of Congress Public Archives, Copyright Expired

Bully for You, Theodore Roosevelt

Jean Fritz is known for writing biographical fiction for young people. I have a page of mini-reviews of Jean Fritz's books here and some biographical information.  In Bully for You, Fritz shows us how a weak child disciplined himself to overcome the physical odds against him to become strong. His father had challenged him to make his body, telling his son, '...without the body, the mind cannot go as far as it should.' Young Theodore took this to heart, working out regularly in a gym his  father built for him. It took strenuous effort, and he had to exert himself, but he did become strong. He continued to push himself against all odds in his adult life. 

Review: Two Biographical Novels about Theodore Roosevelt for Middle Schoolers

I believe Fritz does a good job in capturing the reader's interest with her humorous and action-packed account of Theodore Roosevelt's life and accomplishments. But the book is more than plot and action. It is full of ideas.

For example, young Roosevelt had read that you could  conquer fear by acting as if you were not afraid. He decided this might also work in conquering unhappiness. When he was working through his grief after his father's death, he acted happy in the only way he knew how. He threw himself into activities he enjoyed. It helped somewhat as he grieved. 

One can learn much in this book about politics and how things are done in both the state and national governments. The chairman of the Republican party called "Teddy" a madman and a dam*ed cowboy when it appeared he might be nominated for Vice President. Any of that sound familiar? 

After William McKinley was assassinated and Roosevelt became president, his friends reminded him that McKinley had been the most dignified president ever, and they urged Roosevelt to act in a more dignified manner. They didn't like the way he dressed for his walks or the way he charged full steam ahead through his agenda and activities. Roosevelt decided he would continue to be himself. 

I would recommend this book to any middle school student who needs to read a biography of an American historical figure. It is entertaining and offers much insight into American politics and history. Even adults who don't want to work at reading history will learn much from this book. Find a more detailed review of the book here. 



Bully! by Ryan Stallings

In Bully! we meet exactly the same Teddy Roosevelt presented in Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt. We just meet him in a different context. He enters the modern era as a transformed teddy bear to help a grieving father, Senator Paul Douglas, and his son Jamie, through a terrible time in their lives. Jamie had just lost his mother to cancer.

If one reads the Fritz biography, first, one will see why "The Colonel" as Roosevelt asks to be called, is uniquely qualified to help the family heal. He also knew grief and loss, and although he was a weak boy, as was Jamie, he determined to become strong and he succeeded. He knew how to help Jamie face and defeat the bullies who were assaulting him. As a family man, he knew how to make Paul understand he was failing at his most important task and to help him find a way to succeed.

Before Jamie's mother died, she bought him a teddy bear she had planned to give him for his eighth birthday. Paul gave it to him in the limo as they were going to drop Jamie at school after the funeral service. Paul thought they should resume their normal routines as a way of dealing with grief.

 It was a horrid day for Jamie, and you can read more about it in my longer review of this book. After his traumatic experience, Jamie comes home to an empty house and his father stays away all night working. Jamie sits the bear on a rocking chair facing his bed and tells him 'I wish I had a real Dad.'

When Jamie woke up the next morning, the bear was gone. Instead, a man he did not know was sitting in the rocker. Jamie was scared to death -- so scared that he screamed. So did the man in the chair, and he had a very high voice. They both kept screaming, but when they were out of breath Jamie finally asks the man who he is. He soon discovers his intruder is none other than Theodore Roosevelt, who says he came because Jamie asked him to. He asks Jamie to call him "The Colonel." Jamie stopped being frightened and was soon happy to have the Colonel as his friend.

Both Jamie and Paul learn a lot from Roosevelt to help them cope with loss and go on with life. Colonel shares many of his own experiences with the two and becomes part of their lives until he is no longer needed. Although the author means for the readers to learn about the life of Roosevelt, he also addresses in words and actions how to deal with grief, how to deal with bullies, and how to be a good parent. In addition, Roosevelt (as the Colonel) helps Paul make decisions about his political future.

Although this book is supposed to be for children 7-15, I think a child should be about ten before reading it independently. It might work as a read-aloud for younger children, but parents would be wise to include discussion as they read it. The transformation of the bear into the colonel can be confusing, though no more confusing than the transformations common in fairy tales. The big difference, though, is that Roosevelt is a historical figure many children have studied.

As an adult, I had to keep asking myself how other characters in the book would deal with meeting Roosevelt. Jamie's teacher and many others thought he was an actor. There was no way people were going to believe he was really the historical Roosevelt back among them. We can see how this might work if only Jamie could see and interact with him, but everyone saw him when he was with Jamie or Paul. He even got arrested and jailed a couple of times. If readers are willing to accept this convention, the book is an educational and enjoyable read. I think it would be best used as families or classes read and discuss it, especially if a child is dealing with grief or bullies.

Shirts with Theodore Roosevelt Quotes

Theodore Roosevelt is very quotable. He was a wise man. Below is a sampling of shirts from Zazzzle that capture some of his wisdom and advice. If you click through, you can find shirts with the same quotes available for women or children and in many styles and colors. 


I couldn't resist adding this one last quote I found on a bumper sticker. Enjoy!
Roosevelt on the Senate Bumpersticker
Roosevelt on the Senate Bumpersticker






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Remembering 911

Memorial Plaque
 & Country Music Songs about Loss Here
The loss, the pain, and the memory of that September morning remains fresh in our minds. It will never leave us, and for those who experienced personal loss, we know the burdens you carry are for as long you live, and the loving hearts in this world hug you tight.

We all have a story of what we were doing that day, and when you ask someone what they were doing on September 11th, they remember. It's a painful moment in time we all share.

That morning, where I live, just outside of Toronto, the sky was clear, the air was fresh, so I bundled up my baby Jesse to go on our lovely long morning walk. Jesse was just over a year old and a little bit into the walk had fallen asleep. I remember looking up to the sky thinking, 'what a gorgeous day', and also thinking how lucky we were to live in this part of the world (I honestly had that thought on that day at that time). Of course, that moment of peace would end quickly. As I parked the baby stroller in the garage, my husband came to the door and said 'the US is under attack!' I screamed what! and ran to the family room to look at the TV ... and like the rest of the world at that moment.... my heart fell to the floor. Even typing this brings back those tears.

Nothing we say can make it better for those who have suffered loss. Loss never heals, we simply learn to live life differently, with that loss.

Blessings to all and to this world ... love thy neighbor - Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning, by Alan Jackson




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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Day Before 911: A Review

September 11, 2011 (911) Changed the Lives of All Americans


The Day Before 911 reflects on how 911 changed a DOD teacher overseas and the students he served and their families. It begins in 2011, ten years after the terrorists took out the World Trade Center. At that time Elliot was teaching in Germany. He hadn't expected to be back in the classroom. He had cleaned it out at the end of the previous year when he retired to become a writer. But life happened, and he returned to teaching after all. Although he had been teaching high school students in the previous year, he is now facing sixth graders because that's the grade that needed a teacher.

Ground Zero, Public Domain  Courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/ground-zero-world-trade-center-63035/
Ground Zero, Image License CCO, Public Domain

As he enters the class, he sees he needs a way to build rapport with these new students. He decides to use the school’s coming commemoration of the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 as an excuse tell them a story about a hero named Tony who loved baseball and stood a very good chance of being drafted into the big leagues. Then terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York and brought down the Twin Towers, killing over 3,000 people,  Tony quit baseball and joined the Marines. He was blown up eleven times, but still kept going back to fight.
Elliot’s students found this hard to believe, but he explained that the qualities that made Tony good at baseball were the same qualities that made him a good Marine. He had learned teamwork in baseball and would have done anything for his teammates. Elliot told his students that Tony had “loved baseball and his teammates so much that he joined another team and put on a different uniform just so he could protect the way of life that he was giving up."
As Elliot was beginning his story, one of the girls raised her had to say that her birthday was (September 11.) It hit Elliot that she had never been able to celebrate her birthday on the actual day she was born. The terrorist attacks had happened on her very first birthday. After that, they always celebrated her birthday on September 10, the day before 9/11. It struck Elliot that since he’d taught high school before, this was the first history class he’d taught that had not remembered 9/11. 
Sources: All quotes used here are from The Day Before 9/11 by Tucker Elliot. I noticed after writing this that Amazon also featured some of these quotes readers, including me, had highlighted, on its Kindle edition page.

9/11 - The Filmmakers' Commemorative Edition


See What Happened on that Horrible Day in American History


This documentary film was shot as a result of videographers being at the right place at the right time. They were there to record the training of a firefighter at a firehouse a short distance from the World Trade Center when the first tower was struck.




Child Abuse in the Military

One of he undercurrents in The Day Before 9/11 was child abuse in the military. Elliot blamed himself for the death of two sisters, Angel and her little sister Grace. Angel had many absences from school he should have investigated in person. He also didn't read an email Grace sent not long before her death that might have motivated him to intervene.
He was at a family gathering after burying his grandmother. He was to fly out the next day to speak at a conference. His mother had ordered take-out pizza and he was supposed to pick it up. While waiting to go, he was scanning his email and saw the header of an email sent a few hours earlier by Angel. By this time his nephew was screaming loudly for him to go get the pizza. He deleted the email, not realizing its importance, and had gone to pick up the pizza.

Screen Shot of Email Interface on my Computer

The deaths haunt Elliot through the rest of the book and he fights his guilt and his loss of faith because he believed God hadn't answered his prayers for his students. He knew his students were dealing with the issues these videos discuss. He especially saw the effect on the children of not only absent parents, but the fear of the children whenever a parent left to go to a new post.

These are some of the same issues faced by children Tucker Elliot taught.


The video above explains the unique problems children of military families face. 

Two Special Girls - Sami and Angel

Although this book will show you a lot about living as an expat civilian on a military base during wartime, you will learn much more about what it means to be a teacher and a human being. As Tucker Elliot looks at how his life and the life of his students changed after 9/11, he is filled with shame and guilt. Four girls entered his life -- Sami in Korea and the others, Angel, Grace, and the Birthday Girl, in Germany. Two of them died, and he believes if he'd followed his better instincts instead of withdrawing he might have saved those two who died.
The first special student was Sami. She walked into his life the year he was teaching in Korea. She loved soccer, and he was the athletic director. He used soccer to reach her and help her be strong in the face of change. When the school had to close for ten days after 9/11 for security reasons, Sami had missed Tucker. When she returned after the school reopened, her parents came with her. Sami hugged Tucker tightly and buried her face in his chest as she said she'd missed him. She introduced her parents. He was impressed with both. Her father was high on the chain of command, and Tucker could tell he was as good a father as he could be while gone so much. Tucker thinks:
I knew right then, my worst fear was going to come true.
Not letting the terrorists win means sometimes the good guys are going to die.
I thought, God no. Not this family.
When the classroom was empty, Tucker would go from desk to desk and pray for each student.
Marine looking at wall of Vietnam Memorial  Source: Wikipedia, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/
Marine looking at wall of Vietnam Memorial 
He himself came from a military family. His dad and uncle had fought in Vietnam. His uncle never came home. His grandmother said she had 'received a flag for a son.' Tucker had visited the Vietnam Memorial in the company of his dad, but he couldn't get his dad to talk about his war experiences. Then at the memorial, his dad's actions changed. As he walked along the wall he ran his fingers over several names and prayed. When he came to his brother's name, he fell to his knees, rolled himself into a fetal position and cried.
Tucker had been named after his uncle and felt the burden of needing to be heroic himself and live out the kind of life his uncle never had the chance to live. He saw it as a heavy burden and says he resented carrying that burden because he could never be as good as his uncle.
There is too much pain and wisdom in the book to share it all here. But I will try to share some of it.
He says:
Teaching isn’t rocket science. It’s about being engaged, listening, paying attention. Despite conventional wisdom, you don’t need to talk a lot to teach well. You do need to care, though. Not so much about what people think of you or whether or not they like you, but about the kids and doing what’s best for them.
Sami's family was transferred to another part of the world. She emailed Tucker, but he never opened her emails. When he got to Germany the next year, he met Angel.
It turns out Sami had been Angel's best friend, and was delighted to have Tucker as her teacher. By the time Tucker met Angel, her mother, whom he'd not yet met, was already suffering from depression. Tucker had visited Ground Zero by then, and he reflects, "So many lives had been lost on that day, but ... I'd come to understand that military children continued to be victimized by these attacks." They were constantly losing their parents to deployment, not knowing if they would ever see them again. He couldn't deal with seeing that pain. He had transferred to Germany so he could teach in a larger school and be more anonymous.
It didn't work, though. Angel found him and told him Sami was upset because he didn't answer her emails. Angel had brought a brand new mousepad. She put it down beside where Tucker's computer would go and wrote her name on it in big letters. When he asked what she was doing, she said, 'You forgot Sami. I don't want you to forget me, too.'
Tucker still hesitated to be involved outside of class hours and usually went home at the end of the school day. Compared to the way he had interacted with his students in Korea, in Germany he was almost aloof as he tried to maintain emotional distance.

Autumn and Winter, and Sami Again

Five months later Sami entered his life again. Angel missed three days of school just after Sami came back. He thought of checking on her, but Sami was draining his energy.
Autumn Leaves, © B. Radisavljevic
Autumn Leaves, © B. Radisavljevic
Tucker tells us autumn and the first part of winter seemed to move along with no visible problems, but then all hell broke loose. Sami's dad got called back to Qatar and Angel's dad was sent to Kuwait. Neither family was ever the same again, nor was Tucker. By this time he strongly suspected something was wrong in Angel's family, but Sami wouldn't betray Angel's confidence to tell him what she knew. Angel herself said she wasn't supposed to talk about "family stuff."
Sami kept nagging Tucker to go visit Angel's home to see why Angel was missing so much school. Instead of going, Tucker told Sami to send her mother over to check on Angel's family. When Angel's family was leaving for their new location, Tucker gave Angel his email address and encouraged her to get in touch with him if she needed help. He told her talk and email were two different things.
I got the feeling that Tucker had not opened his emails from Sami because he could see how dependent she was on their relationship and it drained him emotionally. It's obvious, though that he cared about her. He also cared about Angel. Angel finally did send him an email after she left, but he didn't see it until several hours later, and then circumstances discouraged him from opening it. I never could understand why he ignored the girls' emails. I wanted to yell at him to read the emails. His deleting an email from Angel (under pressure from his nephew) may have sealed her doom. (See introduction to video module above.)
It's tough to review memoirs sometimes. Novelists create the ending they want. One can't always control how one's own life or the lives of others will turn out. I don't want to spoil this narrative by telling you all of it. I have hinted at what changed Tucker Elliot. He carried the footprints of Sami, Angel and Grace in his heart. I believe they will always be there. Perhaps he will also discover who he really is and I hope he finds his peace with the God he seems to have lost faith in.
At the end of the book he is on his way to the place where his uncle died, wondering what he will think and feel when he arrives. He wonders if he will find God and forgiveness at the end of his journey. He wonders if he will be strong enough to be good. He ends he book with these words:
...pain is the harbinger of hope. You have to be alive to feel pain. If you are alive, then you have purpose. If you have purpose, then you have hope....God I want to tell Sami that....I want to tell Sami I'm sorry.


The Day Before 9/11


Don't miss this teacher's heartbreaking account of his emotional journey after September 11, 2001. We may have seen the photo of the jets hitting the Twin Towers in New York, but much of the damage done that day is not visible to outside observers. It damaged the spirits of many like Tucker and the families of the children he taught. It destroyed the lives of many who were not even in the United States that day. It just took more time.



See more of my  reviews of books for adults at Bookworm Buffet, the blog I started for that purpose. At Books to Remember, I review some of the best children's books and educational resources for teachers created before Common Core Standards existed. The books  I review there will supplement any honest curriculum and may not be politically correct, even if the companies that published  them now are.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Every Man Has His Place In Time - Reflections of Life in Song & Lyrics I Couldn't Accept

Read a Review of 'Go On Without Me'

Go On Without Me by Brett Eldredge Begins with These Poignant Lyrics - 'Every Man Has His Place in Time'...


When you've lost someone close to you, you understand that time only cements in the fact that you'll never see them again in this life. 

Of course, your own personal belief system may bring you comfort if it happens to include a knowingness that you'll see them again. Don't ask me how I know, I just know in my heart that we live on, just in a different way. However, I do respect the belief system of others who may see life and death differently. For me, there's no doubt, death is yet another beginning.

In my plight to understand the pain of losing dad, I've written a great deal about it and in fact have an entire category dedicated to him at Drageda.com - The Heart of Country Music. 

Even though I've already written an Emotional Review (I call them ER's ..lol) about this terrific song by Mr. Brett Eldredge, I feel compelled to re-introduce this song to those who may not have had the privilege of hearing it. 

Graduating to a Place Where Accepting These Lyrics Became Possible

When dad first passed away, other than what I had written for his funeral, I wasn't able to write for months about it. For me, it felt like writing about dad would cheapen his life. 

Sorry if that comes across wrong, it's just that the use of 'mere words' to describe this legend couldn't possibly convey who he was. And if I had to explain him 'in words', for me, it would have disrespected the grandness of who he was, who he is. 

I got over those feelings.

And the words poured out.

And I wrote and wrote and wrote some more.

In fact to honor him, I decided to write about him and dedicate a song to him on the one month anniversary of his passing for one full year

I lived up to that, and each month he lived again in words, and in my memory.

Getting over this kind of loss, the loss of someone so integral to who you are and who you've become is impossible. 

The truth is, we never 'get over it'. 

It doesn't matter how many months, years or decades go by, they live forever and who the hell would want it to be otherwise. 

To have known this kind of love, that's the eternal gift. 

The gift of love, the gift of having allowed yourself to be loved and to love with such depth that you dare the pain of loss back into your life ...why? ... because that pain reminds you how sweet and wonderful you had it and how much love you're capable of giving and receiving. 

Love with all your heart. 

My dad would say 'I love you' to people all the time. He was a large, tough man too. Yet his teddy bear heart was witnessed by many. Especially my brothers and I. 

He loved us so much, so so much that when he was passing away, I couldn't let him go, couldn't give him permission to let go, and I wouldn't say goodbye. 

He wasn't conscious near the end, and I would sit in silence by his bedside holding his hand just staring outside the window of his hospital room. Watching the swaying tall trees outside of that room, it's at that point I decided to create a life-marker. 

On windy days the tall swaying cedar trees in my own back yard bring me back to my dad: I couldn't say goodbye to dad, and now the swaying of trees remind me that I didn't need to. And I never will say goodbye. 

The trees have become my rocking chair; when they sway, dad is here.

Which brings me back to the lyrics of this song, 'Go On Without Me' 

After about one year, I was able to accept these lyrics. 

Sounds funny to say that doesn't it? ..'accept these lyrics'

The words 'go on without me' were words I had chosen to reject in that first year, and I'm 'not going on without you' dad ... I'm going on with you, with you forever being a part of me. Your love, your memory, your face, your voice, your hugs, all that is you, is still you, and having you with me in spirit is better than to have never had you at all.

The beautiful lyrics to this song are lyrics I know my Dad or any lost loved one would want to say to us...
"I'll always hear the prayers in your head late at night,I'm walking right beside you when nobody's by your side,I don't want you to cry over my memory, 
So go on without me, without me,
Every breath of life is short and sweet so glad that I'm up here and I got to see you go on without me"


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Something I've Written For Dads in Heaven:



Love Barb


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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review of the Rose Harbor Inn Novels by Debbe Macomber

Introduction to the Rose Harbor Series


I'm a sucker for stories with a bit of romance that leave a lot to the imagination . I like watching people in complicated relationships work through their problems. I am drawn to beautiful settings. I especially like having protagonists I wouldn't mind inviting to sit around my own dinner table. The books I have read so far in the Cedar Cove Rose Harbor Inn Series are Book 1, The Inn at Rose Harbor, Book 2, Rose Harbor in Bloom, and Love Letters, Book 3These books by Debbie Macomber, all have the elements I mentioned above.



Reviews of Two Rose Harbor Inn Novels by Debbe Macomber



Meet Widow Jo Marie Rose, Innkeeper 


The Inn at Rose Harbor opens with Jo Marie Rose, recently widowed, introducing herself. She is still grieving over the loss of her husband Paul, who had gone down in a helicopter while serving in Afghanistan. She had purchased a bed and breakfast inn in Cedar Cove off the coast of Washington as sort of therapy to keep her busy and involved with life. She hired a handyman, Mark Taylor, on the recommendation of a friend, though she knew almost nothing about him, to help her make a sign and plant a rose garden. He turned out to be very competent in helping her make the necessary repairs, but he was gruff, often a bit rude, and never wanted to talk about himself or his past. 

Review of the Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber
Buy The Inn at Rose Harbor
In the The Inn at Rose Harbor, the first book in the Cedar Cove Rose Harbor Inn series, Jo Marie meets her first two guests. Neither wanted to be in Cedar Cove, but both felt obligated to be there and were dreading what they had to face. Both had grown up in Cedar Cove and left. Joshua was back to tend to his step-father who hated him but was about to die. A neighbor who had been looking in on him, Michelle, an old high school friendof Joshua's, had called to say he was needed to help get Richard, Joshua's step-father, signed up for Hospice. 

Richard resisted  help from anyone. Richard didn't even want Joshua to be there. Michelle had suggested she go with Joshua for his first visit or he might not even get it. Richard had kicked Joshua out of the house just before he had graduated from high school. He had been good to Joshua's mother, who had loved him, but she had died of cancer not long before Joshua left. He loved his own son, Dylan, but seemed to hate Joshua, with whom Dylan got along well. Richard had accused Joshua of stealing two hundred dollars from him, would not listen to Joshua's denials, and had kicked Joshua out. The one who really stole the money was Dylan. Dylan had later died in an accident. Richard had been alone ever since, seeming to hate everyone and everything. He started neglecting his house, and even the yard he had always cared for. Joshua dreaded the reunion, since he knew he would be unwelcome. Joshua was hoping he could retrieve some of his personal belongings he was not allowed to take when he had to move out, as well as his mother's Bible and some other parts of his family history before his mother married Richard. 

Abby was coming to Cedar Cove for her brother's wedding. She hadn't been back since she had left for college after a car accident had killed Abby's best friend, Angela. Abby had been driving. She blamed herself and believed everyone in town blamed her, too. Angela's parents had made it clear they hated her and had called her a murderer when she tried to see them after the accident. They had not even let her in. She dreaded seeing anyone she knew, and she hadn't even seen her parents much since they had moved to Arizona and she had moved to Florida when they began to feel rejected by the their friends in Cedar Cove. 

While her guests go about their business, Jo Marie is learning more about the town and meeting new friends, including the librarian,and the owner of the other bed and breakfast in town, who gives her some tips. She also lets readers know how she met her husband Paul, and how he died, and how he sometimes still seems to be right there with her. One of her new friends encourages her to adopt a dog from the shelter, and she comes home with Rover, who seems to have chosen her, and is a very different sort of dog than the one she had intended to bring home. 

By the end of The Inn at Rose Harbor, Jo Marie is feeling more secure about being an inn keeper and believes Paul approves. Mark is working on her sign and has promised to put in her rose garden in the spring. Rover has settled in. Joshua stays a couple of days longer than he had planned after Richard's death with the intent of getting to know Michelle better, and Abby had not only been welcomed by some old friends, but has picked up a relationship with a friend of her brother's she had dropped along with everyone else after the accident. 

The body of the book deals with all the details, heartaches, and steps to healing that took place, details which readers won't want to miss. It's not the end that's important, but all the action leading up to it. This book is the perfect preparation for reading Love Letters,the third book in the Cedar Cove Rose Harbor Inn Series. Each book can stand alone, since only the residents of the town, Jo Marie, and Mark, remain the same. The guests are always different so that the readers don't have to remember them from book to book. When I read Love Letters, I actually thought it was the first book and that The Inn at Rose Harbor was a prequel. That's why I read the third book first. Amazon set me straight, so this afternoon I got the second book, Rose Harbor in Bloom, I read it, and I enjoyed it as much as the others.

Love Letters



Review of Love Letters by Debbie Macomber
Buy Love Letters
At the beginning of Love Letters, Jo Marie introduces herself again, sharing some details that were not in the preceding book. She tells us about an old sweatshirt of Paul's she often wore for comfort, and a letter he had asked a friend to deliver in case anything ever happened to him. She had read the letter once, and put it away, since it made her miss him all the more.

It still bugs Jo Marie that she cannot find out even the simplest facts about Mark, even though it appears she found out a bit more in the first book than she seems to know in this one.  He tells her nothing in response to her many questions and beats a hasty retreat if she keeps asking   

As the book begins,Jo Marie is expecting two parties who made reservations, and she is mulling them over. The first, Ellie Reynolds, had made a reservation, then canceled it, and then rebooked. She wondered why Ellie seemed to be so indecisive. Maggie Porter, on the other hand, seemed wonderfully happy and appeared to be looking forward to celebrating an anniversary weekend.

Rover, Jo Marie's comfort dog, has by now, become Jo Marie's friend and constant companion. Rover always lets Jo Marie know when someone has arrived, and he gets along well with the guests, who often enjoy petting him. He and Mark also get along well.

Mark is in the process of building a gazebo, and Jo Marie worries that he will take his time about completing it as he did with the rose garden. She gets the feeling that Mark does as he pleases and that her jobs often seem to be last priority with him She is determined to find out more about his past and plans to drill him again next time she bakes cookies to bribe him with.

As the new guests arrive, Jo Marie learns that Ellie, who is happy to talk, is meeting Tom, someone she met on the internet and has been corresponding with, for the first time. She also learns that Ellie has a very controlling mother who texts her and calls every few minutes and who was against her meeting Tom. Ellie's father, whom she hardly remembers, left her mother, Virginia Reynolds, when Ellie was very young. It seems Virginia's parents thought he wasn't rich enough to marry Ellie, and they had already picked out someone else. Ellie has always wondered why her father never wrote to her or tried to see her. She believes he has abandoned his family, and Virginia has given her that impression.

When Maggie and Roy Porter arrive at the inn, Jo Marie can tell from the beginning that something is wrong. Roy seems angry and abrupt. Maggie apologizes for Roy's bad mood, saying he hadn't want to take the time off work to come. The reader learns the truth watching them talk in their room. They have come to try to save their marriage. A few months ago, Roy had been emotionally intimate with a sales rep for one of his suppliers and Maggie had found out. She was so upset she had left, gone to a bar, gotten drunk, and had a physical affair with a stranger who bolstered her wounded ego. Neither Roy nor Maggie can get past that.

Maggie has brought a love letter Roy had written her after she had first broken up with him when they were going together. She had learned he'd gone to a strip club with friends. It had crushed her and destroyed her trust in him, while he considered it just fun that didn't mean anything. Roy's letter had caused her to weep because she really did love Roy, and they got back together and eventually married.

This weekend at Rose Harbor Inn was the first time they had been away together since their two young sons had been born. As the book moves on, it appears Maggie and Roy may resolved their differences, until another complication appears that Roy seems not to be able to handle. It is the usually silent Mark, strangely enough, who turns the tide.

When Tom picks Ellie up, it appears the two are really connecting. Their first dinner date goes well, followed by a romantic walk on the beach. Tom has invited Ellie to go sailing with him the next morning, and he says after that he has a surprise for her, and in spite of her begging, he won't give her a clue as to what it is. Alert readers may pick up a few hints, but when the surprise is revealed, it completely shakes Ellie's world and she wants nothing more to do with Tom, whom she thinks had just used her. She is blaming herself for not listening to her mother.

Jo Marie and Rover provide a listening ear and comfort to both Ellie and Maggie. Then Virginia Reynolds appears to complete the party. Overall, it is a healing weekend, but you'll have to read the book to watch the characters put their lives back together. At the end, only one relationship has not resolved itself the way I would have liked.


My Recommendation


I recommend these books to anyone who likes well-written romances that could actually happen. The complications seem natural instead of contrived as they are in some novels. Instead of existing only in the character's minds, they are real obstacles in relationships instead of the “He or she could never love me because _________” variety, where a character has seen or heard something that plants a wrong idea. 

These books are free from steamy explicit scenes. They are about love and romance and genuine relationships rather than casual sexual encounters. 


I am eager to read the next books in the series, Silver Linings, and Sweet Tomorrows, which is brand new. I hope it will resolve the relationship that was left up in the air in Love Letters. If you're ready for the perfect romance to read on the beach or on the plane or when you just want to relax at home, order The Inn at Rose Harbor today. You won't be sorry. Better yet, get the five book series, now out in Kindle form.


Please share this review with anyone else you think might enjoy these books. There are sharing buttons just below this last photo, which is just the right size for Pinterest.











Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.