Thursday, December 22, 2011

Go-Carts in Heaven and Goulash too!

Last night our church held a “Blue Christmas” service.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a Blue Christmas service is, it is designed to be a special service for individuals who may find celebrating Christmas difficult due to a loss of a family member or perhaps they are just struggling with various issues in their personal lives.  I was the liturgist for the service.  The attendance was intimate, but it was a beautiful service and Jeff preached one of his best sermons, in my opinion.  It was something worth doing regardless of how many people showed up for the service.  Great things can come out of small beginnings!  And it isn’t about the numbers, it is about the meaning!

Like I said, Jeff had asked me to be the liturgist for the service, which I agreed to do, even though I knew it was going to be hard for me to be a participant.  This is the first Christmas without dad for me.  Add to that, the fact that the children just got word recently that their Omi had died.  Omi is my ex husband’s mother and Monica and Robert’s grandmother.  Wally, as she was called, was larger than life!  She was a very strong, opinionated German woman with a huge heart to match!  I have a soft spot in my heart for her, even after all these years and although the news was not unexpected, it was still hard to hear.  So needless to say, it’s been a tough year and Christmas will be celebrated in our house with a ting of sadness.

So short little me stood up behind the podium, with my head barely poking out over the top, and led the responsive readings and read the scripture.  My friends, Jill and Gail were in attendance and I had to make sure that I didn’t look at them because I knew if I did I would start crying with them.  Both of them had a similar loss this year.  I lost my father, they lost their mothers.  This service had special meaning to all three of us!

After the service was over, we exchanged hugs and conversation with each other and with Jeff’s wife, Patti.  As we were talking, I mentioned the fact that I had had a thought earlier in the day where I wondered what dad was up to up in heaven.  Patti said that she could see her mom and Gail’s mom chatting and exchanging recipes.  I thought of Wally and I could see her being in on such a conversation.  It reminded me of spending Christmas Eve at her house when she made her special Hungarian Goulash.  And I could see her saying in her German accent “you can’t use American Paprika because it’s no good!  German Paprika, it’s better!“  Wally’s Hungarian Goulash was the best!  I’m not sure what exactly was in it-I can tell you that it was a meat dish in a spicy gravy and she always served it with potato balls and egg noodles.  It was even better the next day because it had more time to meld the flavors.  And I guarantee you, if you had clogged sinuses-by the time you were done eating the goulash, you no  longer had that problem because it cleared out your nose and made your eyes water-in a good way!  I wish I had gotten the recipe from her but hindsight is 20/20 and I doubt I will ever have the chance to experience Hungarian Goulash again.  It is a treasured memory for me.

During the conversation and my walk down memory lane, I  suddenly had a  flash of dad riding around on a Go-cart.  Green grass, blue sky all around and there he was with a big grin on his face!  Years ago, dad had built a go-cart for the boys out of tubing and metal and he had put a lawn mower engine on the back.  Someone, I’m guessing mom, snapped a picture of my dad as he took it for a test drive spin in our yard.  There was this big adult man, on this little piece of metal, with the wind blowing through his hair and a little boy grin.  It is one of my absolute favorite pictures of dad!  For just a moment, that little boy that lived inside of him escaped from his big boy frame and he was having the time of his life riding that thing around the yard!  That image is what flashed in my mind as I wondered about what dad was doing in heaven and it delighted me to no end!  I could very easily see my dad doing just such a thing, riding a Go-cart, doing laps on the streets of gold and having the time of his life!

I felt very peaceful afterwards.  It was like dad was saying to me “I know you miss me but I’m okay.  And look, honey, there are Go-carts in heaven!  Isn’t that great?!”

Go-carts in heaven, how cool is that?  I miss you dad, but I’m glad you’re having fun!  Save a ride for me!  And ask Wally if she’d make some Hungarian Goulash when I get there, please.  And I’ll do my best to muddle on down here.  Merry Christmas Daddy!  I love you and I miss but I am so glad that you’re okay!

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