Remembering my brother,
Gordon Eugene Longenecker,
on the 9th anniversary
of his death at age 49.
Nov. 6th I wrote about The Gift of Fall in a Season of Grief.
Today I continue the remembering with smiles.
It’s been nine years since losing him and it seems like a good time to remember the Gordon we all loved and who drove all of us slightly crazy at some time or another.
Over 500 people attended the memorial service to remember and honor their friend. The photos in this post were taken the day before his memorial service as we made a list that would be the basis for what Galen would share the the Memorial service as a family tribute.
* Stitches, of the Emergency Room type. (LOTS of them)
* Comfortable with people and engaged easily with them. (He never met a stranger)
* Interested in everything and had an opinion about it all.
* Very verbal and gregarious with a wacky sense of humor
* Loyal – Lois Jones, his Mother-in-law elaborates: “He’d see things that needed fixing and would do them for me, but often got the wrong thing from the store first, before he actually got the right thing and fixed it!”
* When he needed to figure out a job, he’d lay on the couch with a pad of paper and pencil and stare at the ceiling until he figured it out.
* He insisted on doing things right and wanted things to be visually pleasing, taking the extra time it took. He wasn’t a duct tape kind of guy!
* Got a fish hook caught in his eyelid, sitting in his truck, trying to get it out of the seatbelt, where it had gotten caught!
* Fell off a ladder while he was at work when Carol was pregnant with their daughter Megan, and needed stitches on his head. Drove himself to the hospital and then called her to tell her!
* A window fell on top of him and he called his mother from the ER, (after he drove himself there) to tell her he’d get to use that hospitalization she had just signed up for.
* Broke his leg the first time he went skiing
* Broke his arm playing in one of his first Little Guy Football games.
* And one of the funniest “accidents” – One day he was cleaning a fish over the kitchen sink with the disposal running so it would grind up the scales as he cleaned it…However, when he dropped the fish, down it went into the running disposal – fish fillet!
NO ONE loved a joke and a good laugh more than my brother and he had one for every occasion, every phone call with the family and anytime he was with a friend. My dad told me the morning of his death he would miss those phone calls, which always ended with a joke, often lame, but you just had to laugh. for example:
* Two cannibals were eating a clown. The one cannibal said to the other: “Does this taste funny to you?
* A man went to a psychiatrist and said “I’m a wigwam. I’m a teepee. I’m a wigwam. I’m a teepee.” And the psychiatrist said “Relax! You’re too tense (tents!)”. I can just still hear Gordon telling that joke. It was one of his better ones! Shared by Carol, his wife
A few of the things Gordon would say and do:
* “I understand, but I disagree with you!” He had unique phrases for every situation – always a new one, so they never got old. He loved telling a story and every time he told it, the story was longer and more elaborate.
* Loved to learn and talk about anything, especially off-the-wall topics, cell phones, his GPS, computer, how to paint (he was a painting contractor) and sports of any kind.
* He loved his church and his church soft ball league. He and one of this friends were the “old guys and he had recently started to play squash with a new friend.
* Galen, his brother in law, said when they played golf together, Gordon never got upset by a bad game because each hole was a new adventure and a chance to redeem his game. He rarely kept score.
Living out and communicating his faith:
One of the things I loved most was hearing how Gordon communicated his faith. One of his friends, Keith, added these comments a few years later as Carol and I visited with him at a coffee shop in Billings:
“When talking to me about God before I was a Christ follower (and I am one because of him) he never preached, or quoted scriptures. He told stories. And would often play devil’s advocate. He would ask questions like “what if. . . why . . . have you ever thought . . .” and then he’d jump up and say “I’ve got to go,” again, leaving you thinking.” For over two years Keith said Gordon was his “spiritual mentor” and it is because of him he is a Christian husband, father, business man.”
* * * * *
I miss you.
I am beyond grateful God answered my seven year-old prayer for a baby brother.
I”ll always love you, Little Brother.
“First you pursue us with blood maples and tease with your decadent, hazy light. Then you weave through the woods like the scent of decay that surrounds us with every step. Light bathes from above, so plentiful that not even the blood maples or the honey oaks can soak it all up before it overflows the canopy, spilling priceless gold onto the crunchy floor.” Kelli Woodford, Chronicles of Grace, Oct. 20, 2014 – read it here– A Fall Song
These words of Kelli Woodward, a blogger I read regularly, paint a picture of my favorite season, helping me connect two things I know to be true about me in the fall. Until now I just viewed them as two unrelated facts.
1. I am and have always been enchanted by the beauty of fall. Sometimes it takes my breath away, leaving me speechless with it’s beauty.
2. For me, fall is a season of remembering, sometimes with tears of sorrow, sometimes with tears of joy
As you can see in the pictures below, many of my family anniversaries and/or birthdays come in the fall.
I made the following comment on her blog that day and I began to see the connection between the two things I know to be true about me int he fall.
“The burst of beauty makes fall a bitter sweet time for me. I have always loved it and it is also a season of remembering those I have lost as most of the anniversaries/birthdays are in the fall season, starting August through Christmas Day (my mom’s birthday). Gratefully I still love it. I am beginning to see a gift in all of this. A season of remembering which sometimes brings times of sadness is also a time of great beauty. I hadn’t thought of it before that way before. I like this thought. I will ponder this gift.”
And so I pondered over and over these last two weeks. And over coffee the other day, my friend Denise and I talked about how Fall coinciding with a “season of so much loss” is God’s grace and sweet gift to me in this season of contrasts. Sorrow and joy mingle, and I am not left with only sorrow in the Fall.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Today, nine years ago today, at 9:30 pm, I received the news that my brother, Gordon, failed to meet his hunting partner as they had planned and he was missing. Thirty four hours later I would learn he was found, but had succumbed to hypothermia.
And I remember amid the waning beauty of this season.
Linking with Kelli Woodford and Chronicles of Grace
Linking with Lisha Epperson and GiveMeGraceCommunity
My friend asked me to pray for her that she would be a blessing to the people she was going to be with today. Praying for her as I arrived at the lake, this sight greeted me. I snapped a photo and sent it to her with the following message:
The “stiller” you are, the more you will reflect His presence.
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As always, your comments are welcome here
You and I were taking our first stroll through Botanic Gardens since my knee replacement surgery and it was like old times! As we always do after we walk out of the visitors center, we swung right to walk down to the water through the Ellipse with it's brilliantly colored mums contrasting with the boxwood hedges. It's fall at the Garden. I am glad we didn't miss it! Down by the water, we noticed the mostly red and a little bit of green plant life on the water’s surface. I hadn’t seen this before. “Take a close up of the red and green on the water." I said. “Oh, now take one that shows more perspective or we’ll never remember what this was.” "I think it’s kind of like life," I said. "You know when I’m in the middle of it all, and I can’t see how this is going to fit in with the rest of my life and have NO perspective . . . And I need someone like you to help me see the bigger picture. And then I got to thinking today about how sometimes I’m not ready to hear another perspective. It makes me feel like you are trying to fix me, so I’ll feel better and you’ll feel better. Sometimes the best you can do is “be with me” and believe for me until I can begin to believe again. And Honey, you have gotten really good at that. We're both learning together and I love being on this journey of life with you. Love, Me As always your comments/thoughts are welcomed here. joining with Unforced Rhythms & Kelli Woodward - And excellent post today "Pain as a Bridge." Take time to read it. You'll be blessed.
It’s 19 days “post op” (from Knee Replacement Surgery) and this is the picture and scripture that I kept before me during these days. God does show up in the earthly things. I have learned more about myself and I suspect some of that learning will show up in future posts. God has been with me each step I have taken and in each reluctant muscle stretched. The brain fog seems to be lifting and I feel like I am coming back. I am grateful for my husband who took on the care-giving role once again as well friends and family who stood by me during these days with meals, notes, and phone calls and listened to me on the days it all seemed too much. ****************************** (Join me on Facebook. I'll be glad to see you there.) Linking with Lisha Epperson, Give Me Grace
“There is no time, no place, no event
so earthly that God cannot be there,
speaking through them.
where earth is crammed
with heaven. . .
will go unnoticed|
unless we realize the meek
and the unassuming way that|
God characteristically comes.”
Ken Gire, Windows of the Soul
Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1996, 44)
With this quote the liturgist opens up our “time of silence” this morning.
And I can’t help but think that having Total Knee Replacement surgery tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM is right up there with being “earthly.”
And I want to pay attention to hear what God will speak during these next days/weeks of rehab and recovery.
It’s been easy to think this is just something to grit my teeth and get through (the gritting of the teeth is probably more real than I can imagine right now!) so I can get to the other side of this and “move on” with my life.
And today the preacher reminds us God speaks into our ordinary lives in extra-ordinary ways and we will hear if we listen.
Pray with me that I will be able to hear.
Thanks for visiting here today and as always I love hearing from you in the comments below.
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Linking with Lisha Epperson and Give Me Grace Community
There is something profound about being the only one left in one's biological family of origin. Some years I think about it more than others, but this past week I have very aware that nine years ago my brother and I spent our last day together. It was August 5,2005 - two months and 27 days before he would get LOST in the Montana Mountains and die of hypothermia before they found him. And when I visit his family in Montana, he is not there where he is supposed to be. Instead, his hat hangs on the wall. A good friend suggested I was more aware of it now that both of my parents are gone. And my pondering led me to be more acutely aware that while I am surrounded by my own family now and many nurturing friendships, no one alive knows me "when . . . ." Rayna Vaught Godfrey, PhD, a licensed psychologist says: "...there is a part of ourselves missing after the death of a sibling. Such a death leaves a seemingly unfillable hole, both within us and within our families. This is magnified for those who lose their ONLY SIBLING and no longer have someone who shares their histories who can reminisce with them and can validate their family narratives." Last night someone asked me how I felt about that. I said mostly sad. And glad I had a lovely last day with my brother. And it seems important to honor this truth by sharing it here. And inviting you to remember it with me by reading about the last day I spent with my brother, Gordon Eugene Longenecker. CLICK HERE Linking with Barbie Swihart and The Weekend Brew. Lisha Epperson and Give Me Grace Community
“Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10 Sometimes what my soul needs is to sit quietly. Absorbing the sounds of rippling water, I have no agenda no prayer requests. I have been eyeing this quiet nook a couple times a week, all summer long. Often I have considered how I might get back in there and just sit and be quiet. Today I can't resist and from my spot at the foot of the tree, I find what I am looking for. Joining today with Barbie Swihart and "The Weekend Brew" Lisha Epperson and "Give Me Grace" Kelly Woodford and "Unforced Rhythms"
Of our three grown children and their families, two of them live within a ½ hour of our home. And one of them has lived all their married life in Philadelphia andnow they are moving to the Portland, Oregon area with their 4 boys. Recently I wrote a prayer to God in my journal. (A lot of time my journaling is simply “praying at the point of a pen” as my mentor/Spiritual director/friend, Shirley always says.) Lord, My mind has been racing double-time even here as I relax on my blanket by the lake surrounded by the sweet fragrance of clover. Todd and his family are moving across the country in a few days And it’s hard And I support them As they follow your heart for them. Some of my friends think it’s just going west instead of east. "Not that much further" they say. Well, as a matter of fact, it's a LOT further. Clackamas, a SE suburb of Portland is 4 times as far! And every day is closer to the time I must stand at the airport and wave goodbye to them Lord, you know the passion I have for our family to stay connected, how I see my grandchildren as my ministry. a priority in the remaining years you give me. But right now I am floating above the emotion of it all, the reality of what this means. I won’t see them 4-5 times a year anymore They will only come once a year, not twice. And floating makes it easier to manage for now but reality will hit. And I need a sense of your presence as I navigate this change. And so I remain here on the blanket, by the lake. And the breeze blows. And there it is again… The sweet fragrance of clover. Considered a weed in the home owners yard, welcomed at the park it becomes a symbol of God sweet presence in the middle of all the changes. And I pick a bouquet of clover. It sits on my window sill all week so I don’t forget. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Today: I drop them off at the airport I stop at the lake and pick more clover on the way home. Now…… The John Deere tractor is here And they are not. And the rocking chair is empty And the house is loudly silent. And clover sits on my window sill again, so I remember. Linking with Lisha Epperson and "Give Me Grace." Lisha is one of the regular Blogs I read. Follow this link and take a look Unforced Rhythms, a new community I have discovered and can relate to.