Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In the Path of a Gentle Giant

A soft spoken gentle giant has left us for greener pastures, or more
Dan VanDam
accurately phrased, a Righteous Palace. Standing well over 6 foot tall, Dan Van Dam’s height was never intimidating because he was such a kind and patient person. He always had time to talk and never seemed to be in a hurry. He was concerned about others first, their health, their happiness, their needs or wants. He enjoyed hearing stories about others’ families because to Dan, family came first. 

He proved that over and over when he would tell me about his children or grandchildren who were so special to him. He was proud of each one of them and was available to them always.

Dan was someone you could talk to, knowing that you could trust him to tell you the truth. He offered simple but good advice when needed, being the level headed, patient, and wise man that he was.

I always felt that he truly cared about me and my family. Seldom did I see Dan that he did not ask how my husband was doing. Forget the fact of his own sometimes fragile and ill health, he cared about others.

Dan was the owner of the company that I work for part-time. I can’t say that I referred to Dan as my boss, not that I didn’t respect him as such, but because he didn’t act like a BOSS. If he wanted something, he would quietly ask me to get it, ‘when you have time’. Another thing that always amazed me about Dan is that he always would say, “Thank you for coming in.”

Thank you for coming in? I was being paid to come in and he made it sound like I was doing him a favor. This too was part of Dan.

His soft heart led him to give much more than he probably ever received and I have a feeling he was okay with that. While working for him, I wrote many checks for donations to organizations and people.

 “Those people need meals to eat, especially on the holiday,” he would say as he told me to write another check to the Rescue Mission. “The Rescue Mission does great work.”

“We have to support our veterans. Send money to them.” Giving just came naturally to Dan.

Dan spoke softly. He spoke so softly that oftentimes I would have to walk closer to him and ask him to repeat himself. “Dan, you speak softly like me and I can’t hear. We could be a comedy act!” I remember telling him.

I marveled at Dan’s patience. I often heard him talking to customer service representatives from companies such as the cable or electric or a credit card company. Most people would grow impatient with being put on hold, but not Dan. He would just say something like, “Okay, take your time. I’m not going anywhere,” and then he would sit there patiently waiting to get an answer to his question.

So yes, I had the good fortune to cross paths with a most gracious, giving, kind and patient gentle giant and I have been blessed more for it than I ever gave back to Dan. Rest in Peace Good Man. We miss you already but still feel your presence in our lives.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Like a Mourning Dove

I once saw a video of a mourning dove standing in the street next to another dove who was dying. The healthy dove, never left the side of the sick one.

The video was heart wrenching, seeing the devotion of one dove to the other.

Like a mourning dove, I have been lucky enough to find my soul mate that I plan to spend the rest of my life with. Given the chance, I plan to be there until the end with him - whether that is me going first, or being there with him on his way out to a better world.

Like that dove, I have stood beside him, watching him suffer through experiences beyond his control -surgeries, sicknesses, pains, spells and

Like that dove, I would do anything I could to alleviate that pain, take it away from him. Switch places if I could.

I will urge him to keep trying until I know he has no more to give. Until I know his time has come and I have to let go.
Likewise, I have watched "my dove", my soulmate, hurt so badly when I was down. It was an earth shattering event for him when I was in the hospital earlier this year and as I recuperated at home. Like that mourning dove in the street, he stayed by my side, crying on the inside and the outside, never wavering to help me in any way he could.

Like Mourning Doves, a couple so close and involved as one, we will make it together to the end.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Grandma's Bible

Has there been someone in your young life that you respected and looked up to, someone that was extra special to you?

For me, that is my grandmother. She lived only a couple of houses away. I had the opportunity as a child to visit often. She usually had something baked to offer and always an ear ready to listen. I can’t remember her giving lots of advice, but she always seemed supportive.

For me, one of the reasons she is so special is that she was the person who took me to church. I knew by the way she acted that she believed and carried out what she read in her Bible. Sometimes when I would visit she would be reading it.

As a teenager I thought that owning her Bible someday would be great. If she had marked it up in any way such as I have mine, maybe I would learn something new about the Bible or about what was important enough to her to mark a certain passage. I thought owning that Bible would be like having a piece of Grandma’s heart and soul with me.

So, I asked her one day if I could have her Bible after she dies. “Of course you can!” she remarked, somewhat surprised by my request.

Grandma has been gone now for seven years. The person who has her Bible is not me. I have requested getting it several times, have been shown it by this person who possesses it, but it has not been turned over.

Evidently the person who now has this Bible feels a need of her own to keep it even though she knows how badly I would love to have it -not for the material possession of it, but for the emotional and religious reason.

I have given up the hope of ever owning Grandma’s Bible. But I will not surrender my memories of Grandma, the good times taking rides in the car, the things she taught me, the time we spent together mostly doing nothing except talking, occasionally baking a cake. I will remember her serving me cookies and a drink while we sat on her porch, she in her chair and me on the glider, watching what was going on in the neighborhood while we chatted. I will remember sitting around her kitchen table reminiscing about the good ole’ days when she grew up or when she met my Grandfather. I loved hearing stories of her playing basketball way back when. I had been amazed that girls were even allowed to play basketball when my grandma was in school for you see she was born in 1905. She also was not a tall woman, only about 5’2” or so. To think that my sweet grandmother had enough guts to play on a team amazed me.

But she had determination all through her life. She didn’t quit when times were tough nor did she give up hope. She was a joyful woman and people liked being around her even when she was in her 90’s and early 100’s.
Her life had been put on hold for several years while her youngest son recovered, not fully, from a car accident when he was in his 20’s. He lived with her the rest of his life, dying only a couple years before her. She cared for him throughout his life without complaining. That’s the kind of spunk she had.

Her belief in God and the way He chose things to take place in her life was evident. She trusted His word and knew He would guide her.

I may not have her Bible but I will always have Grandma in my heart. That is way more important than being able to hold onto a material thing.

Thank you Grandma for being the wonderful loving woman you were.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Thank you Coaches Nick and Nate Jacubec

Coach Jakubec,

As the grandmother of a special young man, I want to thank you.

Thank you for taking on the 9th grade basketball team.

Thank you for the respect you showed to your players and for earning their respect back. It showed throughout the season. I watched as you remained cool, never screaming or degrading any of your players, never showing disappointment in the way they played, and showing pride when any of them excelled.

I appreciate all the time you gave up in your personal life for practices and games.

Thank you for teaching -teaching the game to the team.  I know you put in a lot of hard work.

Thank you for learning -learning how to coach; learning about the guys on your team and recognizing strengths and weaknesses in each boy. Learning how to utilize those strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Learning how to instill pride and confidence in each player.

Thank you for giving each boy on your team a chance. A chance to be on the team, a chance to grow, to play and to shine. Thank you for creating a "TEAM".

I am proud of the season our team had and how well they played together. The boys deserve a lot of credit as do both of the coaches who worked with them.

I hope you enjoyed our family chant when my grandson was put in the game:

"Hey McCullough's, what time is it? "

"It's ANDREW.......time!!"

One more thing, a special request from  me....Can you guys move up with these boys and become their JV Coaches?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Manners, Morals and Pride

I can't get over the great feeling that was with me all day Thursday. Those feels are still washing over me today.

Feelings of pride in my grandson, Andrew. You see, his 9th grade basketball team finished playing their last game Wednesday evening. He didn't anticipate getting any playing time since it was a play off game.

Andrew has wanted to be on the basketball team for the past several years. He tried out for three years but this was the year he made it on the team. The coach told him straight up when he put him on the team that he probably wouldn't get a lot of playing time.

The coach told him he was a hard worker and a nice kid. Both are true. Andrew has had to work hard for most things in his life from the first day of his premature life. Things don't always come easy for him. He has struggled through a lot of things in life that most people take for granted - breathing, eating, bad eyesight due to having been given oxygen as a baby. He has gone through more surgeries in his young life than most people go through in their entire life.

Yet Andrew is such a positive, caring, and kind person. He has a commitment to God that he lives in his life everyday. He sets the bar high for his friends and teammates, sometimes reprimanding in a nice way when their language or words are not the best.

Andrew is grateful and not ashamed to show it. He thanks me always when I do things for him, take him places, give him things, etc.

And grateful would be a good word to describe how he felt when he was put on the team. When the coach told him he wouldn't play much, he told the coach he didn't care. He just wants to be on the team. He worked hard during the practices and would have gone for more or longer practices if he could.

What makes me swell with pride over this special young man now is his manners and gratitude. After the game was over, he told his coach, "Thank you for having me on the team."

To that, the coach replied something like, "I would have you on my team any day, Andrew!"

How many kids take the time to thank their coach period? Probably not many.

You Go Andrew. You are my Brave Heart as you always have been!