Monday, July 9, 2012

The circle of life...

One of my MOPs friends just posted that she is wondering how to talk to her children about death. So it has inspired a blog post.

My girls are very inquesitive about death. Betsy has lived through a dog dying, and my Grandma's death, so for a while she just kind of naturally had a lot of questions. Felicity hasn't really experienced death, but she thinks about it a lot. She often says to me, "Mommy, I don't want to die." And I just try to talk to her about the fact that everyone dies at some point, and then, because we are Christians, we talk about Jesus and the fact that he died for us and what that means.

I have some books that I really enjoy on this subject. Please note that they are not all Christian in theme. In my life, I am more than willing to read someone else's point of view on things, and then I always remind the girls what I believe. I want them to always understand that we can hold onto our beliefs, and still learn from other people who are questioning, or who have found a different answer.

My favorite of these books is Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley. In it, Badger dies and the animals all get together and remember all of the things that Badger taught them during his life. When my grandmother died, this was my go to book for Betsy and we would talk about all of the things that Grandma loved, all of the things that she had shown us, all of the things that she had pressed on our hearts.

What's Heaven? by Maria Shriver is a book talking about what heaven may be like. I like to use this as a starting point for a conversation about what I think heaven is like, and ask the girls what they think heaven is like. This is not an explicitly Christian book.

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst is another very good book that is quite secular in nature. The child in this book questions the idea of heaven and God and he doesn't really get answers. That said, it is an excellent book about dealing with the crummy emotions that come with the death of a loved one.

Kadish for Grandpa In Jesus' Name Amen by Catherine Stock is a combination of Jewish and Christian beliefs about death. It is a very good book for understanding that the two cultures do different things when someone dies, but that ultimately they are both about remembering and loving the person.

And finally, When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers is an excellent resource for that specific loss. Mr. Rogers is gentle in his explaination of the loss of a pet and about the idea that someday you may be ready to get another pet.

Talking in our house is prized above nearly all else. I encourage questions, even if I don't really know that answers, and I flat out say if that is the case. We read our Bibles every day, so my kids definately have an understanding of Jesus and our values. But I let them know that we will still grieve and hurt just like everyone else. I hope that they grow to understand death as a part of life, not to be feared, but to be anticipated as a continuation of the journey.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Garden of Eden (aka Rix Mills)...

So, just now I was outside calling my dog and I was listening to many things. The lambs, the birds, the rooster. Plus, I was enjoying my own light show with the fireflies, or, as we in southeastern Ohio call them, lightning bugs.

It is quite unbelievable to me that there are people who don't open their backdoor to these sights and sounds.

Rix Mills is in my bones, in my blood. I love Rix Mills like it's a living, breathing person. I have no idea how far back in my family Rix Mills goes. My great-grandmother, Kate Tom, grew up in Rix Mills, and I have no idea how much further back it goes.

I utterly cannot imagine living anywhere else. It is the most beautiful place on earth to me, and to many others who have shared with me how much they love the view from Terra Cotta Vineyards, which is just up the road.

My kids live in the world that I grew up in. They smell the honeysuckle every spring, they watch the lambs nursing in the backyard, they feel the wind blow through like a tornado in the fall. They attend the Rix Mills Presbyterian Church every Sunday, just like I did, and my mom, and her mom, and on and on. They play outside with the Baughman kids, just as my sister and I played with those same Baughman kids' dads.

I'm sure that to many (perhaps to most) Rix Mills is too remote, too far out. I understand that best in the winter, when our road is like a sled ride to town. But even then, I would never want to wake up anywhere else. I have always wanted to live in the very house that I live in, for as absolutely as long as I can remember.

Rix Mills Remembered by Paul Patton, and featuring his wonderful paintings, is a wonderful book about the history of Rix Mills that I highly recommend. You can even read it at the library, as they have it in the reference department. My grandmother is the piano player in the painting "The Pig in the Parlor."

Reading it is like having a conversation with my grandma, who I miss every single day. She called Rix Mills "the Garden of Eden" and passed all of her love for it into my heart.