(I wrote this on February 28 in honor of my father-in-law, Dee Dunagan, not knowing he would peacefully pass away by the end of the same day). Soon my two daughters will be bringing our two new grandbabies into the world. A boy is due end of April, a baby girl mid-August. I’m in that season of life when new grandbabies are soon arriving around the time that their great grandfather will be leaving us. The groaning of death and new birth intermingled is not lost on this baby boomer, soon to be sixty. It is the dance of my generation: such sweet joy of anticipation of new life coupled with the pain of saying goodbye to the father-in-law I first met when I was only twenty-one and falling in love with his son. New life beginning while old life ending has been happening for thousands of years, yet that doesn’t make it any easier for the goodbye that is coming so soon. Dee Dunagan will be joining the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us. Parkinson’s has been taking him from us the past few years. Hospice has now been called and soon he will enter Glory from the beautiful home he built on a lake in Nebraska two decades ago. His beloved wife, Roselan, will be by his side when he goes Home. Early this morning, she whispered, “I love you!” and he opened his eyes and whispered a slight smile back. Parents of four boys—my Rick is their second—Dee and Roselan Dunagan’s love story is what romance movies are made of . . . only better. They met in high school in Albion, a quiet town in Nebraska. After graduating high school, Dee soon got called to Japan to serve in the army during the Korean War. That very smart Nebraska man asked Roselan to marry him before he left and he wrote her every day during their two years apart. Roselan was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse and started planning their wedding so they could marry as soon as he returned home. While traveling home from the war to his soon-to-be-bride, Dee had debilitating sea sickness, and so his custom-tailored suit from Tokyo no longer fit him for their wedding, celebrated just ten days after his return. Now married almost sixty-five years, their death-do-us-part marriage has been like a beacon of hope to…Read More
I just discovered the beautiful song “North” by the group Sleeping at Last. It’s the kind of song that makes me want to get away in our mountains with my journal and write while the song plays quietly over me. Or, it reminds me of the songs that close epic films that truly move your heart to tears and you don’t want to leave the theatre until the song ends. It’s about Home. The song begins with these lyrics . . . We will call this place our home The dirt in which our roots may grow Though the storms will push and pull We will call this place our home We’ll tell our stories on these walls Every year, measure how tall And just like a work of art We’ll tell our stories on these walls Maybe it’s because we moved about every two or three years while our girls were growing up, or maybe it’s because we now have an empty nest that this song brings the tears. But mostly, they are grateful tears for this season—and Home—with my Rick. Home has changed a lot for us in the last four years. Both of our darling daughters married just three months apart in 2014, then they moved hundreds of miles from our Colorado home. Our nest didn’t empty gradually; it was more like a whirlwind swept it out. But we’ve never seen our girls happier as they pursue their new lives, and Home with their dear husbands. It’s what we hoped and prayed for them when they were little girls. And now . . . this Home is growing into our favorite season of our marriage. There were times in our thirty-four years together that we wondered if we’d make it this far, so it’s even more sacred to call this place . . . Home. __________ How about you, what makes you feel like you are truly . . . Home? I’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment! __________ (According to sleepingatlast.com, “North” is the first track of Land, inspired by singer/songwriter Ryan O’Neal and his wife moving into their very first home: “My wife and I recently bought our first house. In the first few days of moving in, I took a break from carrying boxes and wrote this song. It felt only fitting to write a song about our new home, as the first…Read More
I’ve been to many funerals where I’ve wondered if the family spoke words of adoration over their loved one while they were still living. Sadly, we often wait until someone is gone to speak praise about them. Oh, we might write encouraging notes, or say “I love you” or “I’m proud of you!” But how often do we push pause and speak paragraphs of praise over those we love the most? When my mother no longer knew me, or even her own name due to Alzheimer’s, I was speaking blessing over her one day. I told her what an amazing mother she had been: filling our home with her joyful singing, delicious meals, and compassionate love. She looked at me with a blank expression and said, “that sounds wonderful,” not knowing I was talking about her! Thankfully, I spoke much praise over my mother while she was still living and able to understand, but I wish I had done it more often than not. My husband would tell you that his favorite birthday gift ever was when our family shared what he meant to us. Months before, our nest had emptied quickly when our two daughters got married just three months apart and moved hundreds of miles away. Christie and Kelly Skyped their dad on his birthday and began to speak blessings over the father they adored. They thanked him for how hard he’d worked to save money for their college and weddings. They reminisced about their daddy-daughter dates where he’d take them hiking, four-wheeling, or dirt biking through our mountains. Both talked about how they knew what to look for in a husband because of how their dad treated them while they were growing up. We all cried happy tears together as we celebrated the man we love so dearly, and when the call was over my Rick said, “best gift ever” on his fifty-seventh birthday. What if we started a movement where we choose to speak blessing or praise over at least one person every day? . . . over a husband who works so hard to provide for his family. . . . over an elderly parent nearing the end of her life. . . . over a single dad, telling him he is a good, good father. Let’s take time to tell a middle-aged grandma she’s beautiful and a little girl that she’s brave. Marvel at a child’s…Read More
Rick and I have been married thirty-two years today! We were married on August 25, 1984 on a hot summer day in Sioux City, Iowa. We spent the first 20 years of our marriage moving every two to three years, including several years in Brazil and China for Rick’s job.
Now settled in the mountains of Colorado Springs, we can both testify that these are our favorite years together.
I love this season of our empty-nest-almost-grandparents life.Read More