Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Dec. 5, 2002

A time for joy, a time for sorrow

"To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven."

I love that verse from Ecclesiastes, and I truly believe that there is a time for everything. I just wasn't prepared to have several "seasons" happen in such a short time span.

In mid-November, we went to the high school's production of "See How They Run." Director Keith Miller and the cast did a beautiful job. It is a farce, and I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard.

The Monday after the play's matinee, Dad died. We were expecting it, but not quite so quickly. My sister was on her way home from Bolivia to tell him "goodbye." The plane arrived close to midnight and I had to tell her at the airport that Dad had died about 12 hours before. The joy of seeing my sister was muted by the sad news. We talked and cried on the drive home from Kansas City.

That whole day, our friend Nedy was in labor with husband Tom at her side. Their son Christopher Daniel was born the next day. Nedy's and Tom's mothers died several years ago, but Tom said that his Mom, my Dad and Harold - another Burns friend who died several years ago - were probably in heaven saying, "I didn't think Tom would ever get married, and now here is that baby coming along!"

Tom described Dad's death and his baby's birth as a sort of "changing of the guard."

"I like to think of Edgar reaching to Nedy and our baby and saying he is leaving now, and he will be able to rest and watch all of us as the baby is born and all the joy surrounding that," Tom said in an e-mail message to me.

During the days following Dad's death, many other friends and relatives expressed their sympathy. Our friends Matthias and Arlette in Germany had welcomed their daughter into the world just a week before. "Isn't this strange?" wrote Matthias. "On one side of the world there is so much happiness and at the same time a loved father is lost" on the other.

The night of Christopher's birth, our Bolivian "daughter" Cecilia arrived after much anticipation and preparation. We've been trying to help her adjust to a new culture, new language, new food and new people. The poor girl was thrust into a whirlwind of activity as we made plans for Dad's funeral.

We also were in the middle of planning Katie's 10th birthday. She had talked about it for months, and she wanted this one to be really special.

"Mom, do you realize I'll be double digits from now on? Until I turn 100, of course - then I won't be any more," she added.

I hadn't really considered 10 to be a milestone birthday - not like 30, 40 or 50 and above - but in Katie's mind, it is.

Ten years ago on a snowy Thanksgiving Day, I arrived home from the hospital with two-day-old Katie snuggled in my arms. Art had cooked a 21-pound turkey with all the trimmings, and the wonderful smells wafting through the house made our homecoming even sweeter. A tradition was born that day. Every Thanksgiving since, Art has prepared the meal at our home and it is always as big as he is. Over the past decade, my parents and my brother and his family have shared the holiday with us.

But each year has been a bit different. Our old friend Teddy attended one of our celebrations, but ill health made that her only one. Now she is gone. My first husband's parents attended once or twice, but after Rita died, Ken quit coming as he doesn't like to drive alone.

This year my Dad wasn't at the table when we sat down for our Thanksgiving meal. The words from a Civil War song kept playing in my head. "We shall meet, but we shall miss him; there will be one vacant chair."

Although the passing of loved ones leaves a vacant spot in our hearts, the addition of new family members and friends helps. One such addition was when my nephew brought his then-girlfriend and now wife for Thanksgiving a few years ago. This year my sister and Cecilia joined us.

Although it's sometimes difficult to accept, "to everything there is a season."

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