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Post Sixty-Two

Theo Leads the Way

June 22, 2013

It's been six months since I last posted a journal entry.  Winter has come and gone. A new season of camps at Lake Louise is underway. Mary and Andrew are leaving New York state and moving back to Michigan.  Anna has passed her boards with flying colors.  Carl has begun his tenth year of Motown Mission.  

The winter at Lake Louise was dark, cold and long.  At one point I would have told you that it was not possible for the snow piled up around my cottage to melt away.  I really thought that there would still be snow on the groung through the end of May. But the snow is gone.  And summer is upon us. Life moves on.

I still think of Terry all the time.  There are still moments when I expect her to walk in the door.  But I also am finding real joy in my job as Executive Director of Lake Louise Christian Community and I truely feel that I am making a contribution to its future.  Life moves on.

Theo lives that statement.  He is no longer the slightly premature infant he was on the day he was born. For six months he has made it his business to adjust to his radically new reality of being born.  Everything he does is an exploration of the world around him.  He gains new capability everyday.  He discovers joy in the crinkle of paper and the squeek of a toy.  There is no holding him back. Theo leads the way by engaging his new reality.

I have decided to follow Theo's example.  What was is now gone except for cherished memories and our adult children who are making their own way in the world. Those will remain with me for the rest of my life.  Now I too must learn to live in a new reality.  The only way I can do that is to engage with the reality, explore the possibilities, and embrace joy wherever it may be found.  Perhaps this is one way to be, "born again."


Dave Gladstone


Post Sixty-One

Dancing In The Dark 

Jim Rule is a friend and colleague who also lost his wife of 38 years to cancer.  The experience moved Jim to write a book entitled, Letting Go of Forever.  I did not understand that title for quite some time. Now I get it.  Jim knows, and I am learning, that death means letting go and finding out who you are in a life without the one with whom you have shared an identity.  

I have a friend.  Her name is Jane.  I am making room in my healing heart for her.  We come together having both experienced loss and finding ourselves in a life situation we never expected and never wanted.  We are each discovering who we are as individuals without the identity we once had. We have made a pledge to each other that we will be kind, honest, and tender as we make our way through this unfamiliar lifescape.  We have kept our promise to each other.  As a result we have experienced joy and found a lightness of heart we thought was lost forever.  It is a kind of turning, a redirection of focus from what was to what may yet be.

Dancing in the Dark is an old song that expresses this moment well.  This is Dancing in the Dark from 1931 by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz rather than the song recorded by Lady Gaga or Bruce Springsteen.  Jane and I have come together in the darkest of moments and have joined in a new dance.  We are determined to appreciate the moment and to find happiness in the here and now.  Consider these lyrics:

Dancing in the dark till the tune ends
We're dancing in the dark and it soon ends
We're waltzing in the wonder of why we're here
Time hurries by, we're here and gone

Looking for the light of a new love
To brighten up the night, I have you, love
And we can face the music together
Dancing in the dark

This is a new dance with a new partner in an altered circumstance.  What I know is this - Life is shorter than one might expect.  There is wonder yet to be revealed. Facing the music is best done together with one you love.

We're waltzing in the wonder of why we're here
Time hurries by, we're here and gone
And we can face the music together
Dancing in the dark


Dave Gladstone

 Click here and listen to Bing Crosby sing the song. 

Dancing in the Dark


Post Sixty

A Blessed Intrusion

It was to be a different Christmas. Daughter, Mary, was 34 weeks into her pregnancy.  She had made it known that she and Andrew would be staying home in Utica, New York and that any family gathering would have to happen at their place.  They were in no mood to venture far from the doctor or hospital.

I was in no mood to stage our traditional Christmas gathering either. This was my second Christmas since Terry's death and as we entered Advent I could tell that I had no heart for decorating or planning a big event.  Last Christmas was just six weeks after Terry's passing. Last year I embraced the holiday through a haze of shock.  Last year's Christmas gathering was a defiant snub at an unwelcomed reality.  This year reality reasserted itself.  This year I learned that my heart would have to embrace a new understanding of Christmas.

I arrived at Mary and Andrew's home on December 23.  On December 24 I accompanied Mary and Andrew to a routine doctor appointment.  My video camera rolled constantly but modestly through the exam.  The doctor affirmed that all was well and that he would see Mary again in three days. "We are getting close." he said. "But, you still have two or three weeks to go." I imagined how much fun it would be to edit the video into a record of this experience.  It was good to have this new focus to the holiday.  That evening I accompanied Mary and Andrew to Christmas Eve service.

Christmas day was quiet and very pleasant.  Andrew's parents were with us.  We all talked with anticipation about baby Theo's coming in mid January. The next day Mary rested at home while Andrew took his father and me to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. On Thursday Utica was hit with a major snow storm.  Andrew and I spent most of the day digging out and joking that Mary was using her pregnancy as an excuse to avoid shoveling snow.  On Thursday Andrew's parents left for home.  That evening I took Mary and Andrew to dinner and then we went to see Les Miserable.  I planned to leave for Michigan on Friday morning.

I was deep asleep when Mary knocked on my door at 2:00 am.  "Dad.  My water just broke.  We have to go to the hospital. Theo is on his way."  At 3:45 on Friday afternoon Theo Glenn Gladstone-Highland was born.  It was my distinct priviledge to be with Mary and Andrew.  They had named me as a second attendee to the birth.  My holiday funk could not withstand the unspeakable joy of being present at the birth of my first grandchild.

I was wrong.  I did not need to embrace a new understanding of Christmas.  What I really needed was to reopen my heart to a very old understanding of Christmas. "Love was born at Christmas. Love all lovely. Love divine. Love was born at Christmas. Star and angel gave the sign."

Dave Gladstone


Post Number Fifty-Nine

Let Us Celebrate the Feast of Love

One year since her death. Three years and six months since the battle began. Forty years years since we met in Cantata Academy of Metropolitan Detroit.  Today I left the office early and came home knowing that I had to do something to recognize the agony of my heart on the first anniversary of Terry's death.

I thought I would take time to place a little more of her ashes in the ground around the Peace Pole in front of our Lake Louise home.  As I made my way to the spot I looked to see the tree that Carl and Anna, Mary and Andrew planted in honor of our 35th wedding anniversary. That was the better location I thought.

I moved the mulch away and dug a small hole in the ground.  I wanted music so I programed my iPod to play a song from Carl's Cd The Wesley Project:

Hands and hearts and voices raise
Sing as in the ancient days
Antedate the joys above
Celebrate the feast of love.

What a thought.  What we shared was nothing less than a feast of love; a foretaste of perfection. It was a feast filled with sweet delights and savory treats.  It ended too soon, but I am left with a satisfaction of heart and a longing for more.

I have worked hard today not to make this a day of deep sadness.  I found great joy in voting for President Obama this morning because I know how much joy casting that vote would have brought to Terry.  There is the pleasure of working at Lake Louise and being a part of moving that great ministry into new vitality.  I thought of how Terry would have loved the new ideas and the increased numbers.  Tonight I will rehearse with the Little Traverse Choral Society and remember our days in Cantata Academy.  These things remind me of her and the spirit she brought to my life and our lives together.

Satisfaction in the abundance of love that we shared, and a longing for more.  There is life to live and love to advance and perhaps another feast to prepare.

Dave Gladstone


Love Feast


Post Fifty-Eight


Terry's mother, Mary Niles, died this morning at 1:30. She broke her hip ten days ago and was moved to a hospice nursing home eight days ago.  She did well at first but her condition worsened rapidly in the past twenty-four hours. I was called to her side last night and stayed with her until the end. This afternoon I went to Independence Village in Petoskey to break the news to Terry's father, Harold. Harold and Mary were married for 69 years.

Mom's death was not unexpected.  Her passing was difficult for me at first mostly because  it took me back nine months to when we were sitting bedside with Terry. Once I put that aside in my mind I was able to negotiate the night.  It was somber, but it was not difficult.  I was also deeply moved by the compassion of the hospice nurse as she tended to Mary though out the night.

Who knows what Mary's passing will now trigger in Harold.  The news of her death cut right through his dementia.  He knew and he understood.  He may not have been able to keep the flow of events quite straight, but he understood.  He kept repeating, "My wife is gone.  My children are gone. My life is getting short."  I regret that I could not arrange for him to visit her before she died.

As for me and what lies ahead - I feel like I stand in the final measures of a classical symphony; that part where the composer stretches out the final cadence by repeating a V (five) then I (one) chord progression over and over until the audience demands that the great work be brought to a conclusion.  Such a moment comes to every classical symphony no matter how noble or inspiring.  Such moments also come in life when one knows deep down that what once was must now be brought to an end.  Harold's passing, when it comes, will be the final tonic stop of what has been a wonderful, challenging and surprising family opus.  It will be left for me to discover another composition in my life.  Perhaps the next opus will be more improvized and jazz like.  I doubt that it will be the master work that has been my life with Terry and her family, but it will be con espresivo.  Could I be so lucky as to have it be a duet?  That waits to be known until the tonic chord of the present opus is played.

Dave Gladstone