Richard, Rehteah, and my uncle Eddy

27147_10151550448543293_1727446962_nIt is curious to me how some of the most profoundly painful events in my life have allowed me to learn the most about love.

Maybe . . . it is because tragedy hits us between the eyes with the force of a sledgehammer, and we are stopped dead in our tracks.  Or maybe . . . pain has the myopic tendency of bringing what is important into our awareness and takes our minds off the foolishness we think is important.  Or maybe . . . in those moments, we are forced to decide what we truly value.  I tend to think it is a combination of all these things.

I have been reading a wonderful little book by Richard and Kristine Carlson.  Richard Carlson was the author of the “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff” series of books, as well as others.  He died heartbreakingly early, at age 45, from a pulmonary embolism.

The book is entitled, “An Hour to Live, an Hour to Love.”  The first part was a loveletter that Richard wrote to his wife, Kristine, on their 18th wedding anniversary.  The second part is her loving response, written after his death a few short years later.

It is hard to read his loving, insightful, honest words without tearing up.  I actually bawled.  I was glad I was by myself so I could let the tears flow and not have to explain why, in the midst of a beautiful day, I was crying my eyes out.  In times like this, tears cleanse the heart and moisten the spirit, watering a garden where love grows unencumbered.

I feel this kind of love for my husband, Mark.  I understand each and every loving word that Richard wrote to Kristine, and what she wrote in response.  Couldn’t have said it better myself. . .

It has been said, “A good man or woman is hard to find.”  I am not so sure of that .  . . I think that there are more good people than there are the not-so-good.

I believe this even more firmly now, after I attended the funeral of my great-uncle Eddy last week.

In this part of the world we anxiously await for three things to happen in the Spring . . .the bright salmon run, the opening of lobster season, and to be able to go “fiddleheadin.”

Fiddleheads are an edible fern.  They are very delicious and nutritious, and very much sought after by the rest of the world.  They emerge from their sleep, generally in April, from the lowlands by the waterways.  They grow in the form of the head of a fiddle, and so were named after that instrument.

My fondest memory of my uncle Eddy was the time he took us “fiddleheadin.”  I must have been around 10 or so, and my Dad wanted to pick some fiddleheads.  Uncle Eddy knew the best places, as he spent a large part of his lifetime in the woods . . . logging, picking berries and other edibles.

Yep, fiddleheads grow in the lowlands, beside swamps and waterways . . . exactly the same places where blackflies and mosquitoes grow the largest . . . and are the most bloodthirsty, it seems.

What sticks with me, after all these years, was my uncle’s serenity as he led us to a good “patch.”  We were all fighting flies, and I, being young, was probably dancing around a lot more than most.  I remember feeling slightly insane after what seemed like my thousandth bite, and I mentioned it to Eddy as he calmly knelt, beside the skunk cabbage (as they called it), and began to pick from a nice thick bunch of tender ferns.

“Ah,” he said, “I don’t mind them.  I don’t bother them and they don’t bother me.”

And it seemed like he was right.  If he was getting bitten he didn’t react.  I can still see him, kneeling there on the muddy ground, flies buzzing in a thick cloud around his head.  He was in his element.

I have always wondered what his secret was.  As I have gotten older and a bit more wise, I think I have begun to have a twinkling.

Eddy accepted life as it came to him.  He understood, on some level that perhaps he never did articulate, that he was part of the big scheme of things.  He did not resist that, in fact, he embraced the part he played and walked with an elegance of spirit through every perfect moment of his life.

Even when he lost his daughter in a car accident and others in his family were affected by sickness  . . . and in the face of the loss of most of his siblings . . . and when he was faced with a grave illness that eventually took his life .  . . he retained that elegance of spirit in the midst of profound sorrow.

As I think on it, his organic, grassroots perspective comes as close to true acceptance of what is as anything I have ever realized when considering the great philosophers and scholars.

Eddy simply . . . loved.  That was the beginning and the end for him.  Service was first nature to him . . . as it was the action behind the thought  . . . an extension of his Beingness.  His happy, patient, homegrown philosophy on living was naturally extended to everyone who had the privilege of knowing him.

As part of his family I was struck with one thought as I heard each of his children’s loving reminiscences of him and what he meant to them . . . I want to be just like him.

No judgment, harboring malice towards no man or woman, no resentment, no competitiveness or pettiness . . . I want to give away that which I hold most precious . . .  Eddy understood that profound gift – that you cannot give away what you do not have to give, and by realizing that, received the gift back a thousand-fold.  This is the loving legacy he has left for us all.

When I think of the word gentleman . . . I will always think of that gentle man.  I want to Spread the Love, like my great-uncle Eddy.

In the past few weeks a young woman has been on my mind.  Her story has hit home to me in a particularly poignant manner.

Rehteah Parsons’ life was cut brutally short.  I can only imagine how tragic and crushing her loss is for her family.  Sadly, sometimes the love that is in a loved one’s heart cannot save a person from their own personal darkness.

I am sure the shock and outrage I have felt since I learned of what happened to her will resonate through her community, her province, her country and the world for a very long time.  Her tragedy has become an example to all of us .  . asking us to open our eyes to the pain of those around us and to come to the aid of those who are vulnerable.

When dealing with tragedy it has become my first nature to write a song and share of the love that is in my heart with others in this way.

I am a mother.  It is the title of which I am most proud. . . that of course, and wife.

In my heart, everyone’s child is my child.  One child in pain is one child too many in pain.

I would like to share with you the chorus of the song I am writing dedicated to Rehteah, and to all who feel victimized and alone:

Come, take a little walk with me

The pathway is clear to your destiny

I’ll show you, you’re a diamond in the rough

Step out and feel the wind once more

Spread your Angel Wings and soar . . . above it all

In my heart, you’ll always be . . . WAY MORE THAN ENOUGH . . .

Three people who are on my mind today . . . three wonderful, vibrant souls who have graced this world with their presence.  The major theme that runs through each of these stories is sparklingly clear to me . . .

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is LOVE.


Published by Paula D. Tozer

I am a writer, poet and singer/songwriter. I am a Toastmaster, motivational speaker, personal creativity coach, and workshop leader. My most sincere wish is to share my words with others, and that we both benefit from the exchange.

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