Daily Archives: December 8, 2011

God’s plan – A tribute to Dennis Traynor and his family

I sit here with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes, as I cannot seem to make myself move a muscle. This is another tribute piece, not much different from one I wrote just weeks ago. Some of this is unchanged as truths and observations needn’t be corrected or updated here. That said, this is specifically and uniquely a tribute to the life of Dennis Traynor. He was taken from us all before we would have been ready to let him go. It was after 10pm when the phone rang. It was my mom. No offense mom, but those late night calls are never good ones. I am glad she called though. The news; my youngest brother Pete just lost his father-in-law, of course this means Pete’s sweetheart wife Louise lost her dad. Their four boys, age ten and younger, have to hear their mom and dad tell them about their grandfather. My heart sinks for those Mr. Dennis Traynor left behind.

I started thinking about the last few hours or so. I started thinking about the afternoon into this evening and where my thoughts and actions took me. It’s hard to comprehend sometimes how much is happening in every second of every day. The dark sky and torrents of rain reminded me that God is All Powerful and there’s nothing we can do it about it. As it should be. I ventured out after dinner to get my son to hockey practice. We left the house and I thought about caution as we drove through the pouring rain in the dark. At that same time, God, the Creator of the power unleashed from the heavens, was sharing a part of His plan for this still young father and grandfather, and his family. Maybe the night sky was emptying itself, a cleansing of sorts, to bring another of God’s children home.

I have often thought that God has a unique way of allowing certain things to happen, or at least to be noticeable to us, at the right time so we can create our own way of coping with events bigger than us. For example, I remember when my grandfather died. He was a great man of God, a preacher, teacher, reciter of the scriptures, he had a Christian book store, he had preached on the radio, and lived his life for God. I remember the morning of his service, the day he was to be buried, a light, pure, white snow fell, just enough to cover everything in a beautiful untouched blanket of white. I remember saying to my parents that God had given the ground a purifying coat of clean for my grandfather’s body to be put to rest one final time. I don’t know how this relates or if it does at all but I know I won’t soon forget that my attention was so-called to the heavens yesterday as God’s power washed over the northeast.

There’s a plan for all of this. God’s plan. Two words that make many want to turn and run the other way, God’s plan, because it usually means something that us imperfect humans don’t understand, or don’t want to deal with. Whatever the reaction is, it doesn’t change the plan. When I was younger I fought the plan, I am sure I did. I also didn’t always understand how or why things so terrible could happen to people as part of God’s plan. I am certainly not going to pretend to know or understand all these things now either. I do know that almost always, we are a part of a plan that is much bigger than it appears on the surface.

I know it’s hard to look at this situation and see anything positive. It’s all part of the plan. God’s plan. Time will tell how the plan unfolds. Even though it’s God’s plan, we are to be present and participating in His plan. I am in no way trying to down play any of this; this is a serious matter. There’s a message in most everything and I am willing to bet there’s even more of a wonderful message here as well. Think of the things you have heard, the things you have read, the things you have seen yourself, the life you may have been a part of first hand, all those things are a message of Dennis’ life. While many stood and watched, or waited to be led, Dennis was doing, Dennis was leading. He was the straw that stirs the drink for his family and those who knew him. Personally, I am honored that I knew him. I am so glad I got to spend some time with him and talk to him at Pete and Louise’s house back in October. I am sure it’s virtually unthinkable that the family will go on without him. Often times through the most unthinkable loss or sacrifice comes the greatest gift or the most amazing victory.

Please don’t think that this is over when the news stops running or the stories stop circulating. You and I may be a part of the plan. Anyone of us could be instrumental. The Traynor family is and will be feeling like there’s a void in a place where there once was a rock. So, our words, our actions, just might be the right thing at the right time for the one who needs that spoken word or the example they were looking for. Foundations are paramount for a sound structure as the scriptures tell us. This family just lost a major portion of their foundation and we might need to help hold up the structure for a time. Really it’s always supposed to be that way. We are human, and our best moments aren’t all of our moments. Yet the more we think our moments are our best, the more they will be. And the moment we decide that we need to be our best might just be the moment that God’s plan includes us to be the message for someone needing to see that something that helps them cope and overcome.

Our family’s thoughts and prayers are with Dennis’s family, friends, and loved ones. It’s a tough time  for them all. As wonderful as the Christmas season is, Dennis is in the most wonderful place right now, so beautiful, that none of us can comprehend. Have faith, know, and trust that it’s God’s plan.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday Mom! I am glad that God allowed me to be born into our family. I am so glad I got to grow up with you mom. I am my mother’s son, and I couldn’t be happier. I hope you have a tremendous birthday and an even better year.

Would you rather have $50 million or live for an extra 50 years?

This post is in response to the question: Would you rather have $50 million or live for an extra 50 years? I can’t relate to $50 million but I can relate to $1. Having money is nice when I have it, but having a year, wow. I haven’t been here for 50 years yet but I can certainly relate to 1 year. To have 50 more years or to have $50 million, that is the question.

I would rather have the extra 50 years. I mean that’s another 436,800 hours or another 2.62 million minutes I get to experience on this earth. The minute I shared with the twins before their nap today was priceless. I can’t imagine millions more of those minutes.

They say time is money and I am just fine with time. I would rather have more time to explore God’s created earth, more time to learn, more time to laugh, more time to share, more time to worship, more time to love, more time to be loved, and so on. 50 more Christmases. 50 more years to remember and honor those who have sacrificed so much. 50 more years to learn my family past and present. 50 more years of passing it on. 50 more years of God’s plan for me. 50 more years of being an example. 50 more years to be a voice. I would take it.

Think of all those people who never got the chance to grow up or to live a full life. A full life may not be a long one, it may be a life that carry’s out God’s plan, a life that carries with it a message, and in doing so is short by our measurements. Imagine though, you, me, those who had their lives shortened, had 50 more years too. 50 years to live, to follow God’s plan, to minister, to tell their story. Wow, what a thought.

50 more years, what a tribute this would be. Here’s my tribute to the following:

My Uncle Roger who died as a baby only hours old. What if he had 50 more years? I would have been able to meet him this side of heaven. His brothers and sister would have met him. Our family Thanksgiving’s would have included him and his family if he had one. I bet we would have loved and enjoyed him just as we did the rest of our family.

My grandmother Beal (Gallagher) died at the age of 98, almost two years ago now. She was a blessing to us all. Even at the end of her life. Imagine her having 50 more years to be the small, quiet presence across the street from my childhood home. There are so many folks who passed on, too many to name. I will get to some of them though. My grandfather Beal died in 1995 and the world could really use 50 more years of his strong hand, teaching the Bible, quoting scriptures, and his genuine smile of appreciation for children. My Aunt June Beal who died in 2009 at the age of 67, who wouldn’t have loved 50 more years of her smile, sense of humor, example, and the special bond of twin-ness with her twin brother, my dad.

On my mom’s side, it’s the same story. My grandfather Peterson died when I was just a boy. I think I was 11 years old. In those 11 years, I know I grew to love him. He was one of the first family members to see me as I was born in Caribou, Maine while my parents were in New Brunswick for Christmas. Once we left the hospital we went back to NB and there I met my Grampy Peterson for the first time. How I would have loved to know him longer. Even so, I remember some things about him, and would have loved 50 more years of him starting a fire in the wood stove every morning, 50 more years of smelling bacon cooking as my first sense upon waking in the morning, 50 more years of learning the ways of his farm from him, 50 more years of things like sliding a pan of hot coals under the car to warm it up enough to start it in subzero temperatures, 50 more years of trips to the village market with my Grampy.

My grandmother Peterson (Staples) died when I was 17 I think. She was wonderful. I remember that at her funeral my cousins sang her favorite hymns and a poem written by my Uncle Lloyd when he was 16 was read. I remember it was the biggest celebration of one’s life I had ever seen, it still is. She loved when we visited from New Hampshire. We typically made one or two trips to Canada per year. We stayed a week or maybe two and I cherish every moment of those visits. Her home-made food was the best I have ever eaten. I can’t write this without mentioning her doughnuts. My mouth waters as I write this.

My Uncle Carl Peterson who passed away on November 25th, 2008. He was a young, strong, wise, and brilliant 74 years old. If I can stand as straight, tall, proud, and happy as my Uncle Carl did, when I am 74 it will be an accomplishment. His silver white hair was wavy and shaped by wearing a baseball styled cap his whole life. His hair tapered away from his face perfectly as it pulled the ends of his smile to bigger than life proportions. He was the constant at the old homestead that everyone measured themselves against as he looked after the farm. I think everyone learned something from him and he was always learning more. When he died, my brother Pete was prompted to write these fitting lines about my Uncle Carl, “It’s inconceivable that my Uncle Carl has left this world. He embodied a type of greatness whose most blessed promise was that through eternity it would hold court on the couch in his living room with a beaming smile and the ringing soil voice with which we all would choose to narrate our lives. I dearly hope I never forget that voice…Without hyperbole or cliché I believe it is safe to say that a man like Carl Peterson will never again grace our paths…Perhaps it was time to take Uncle Carl home; the 21st century certainly did not deserve a man like this…I never heard my mother say anything bad about Uncle Carl. Never. Even in my early 20’s when I apparently thought a major point of my existence was to expose all men as frauds, my mom would not budge. The greatness of her oldest brother so overwhelmed the pettiness of her own son that my buffoonish temerity should be a lasting rebuke to all the little minds of youth…” Who of us wouldn’t have wanted 50 more years with any of these people? Pete I hope you don’t mind me using some of your words here.

I am not talking about cheating death, or suffering, or illness, or old age, or anything of the sort. I am talking about 50 more years added to life here on earth. What about the innocent children who never had the chance to grow up? What if they got the 50 years extra? That would have to be worth way more than $50 million or any amount of anything. Life. Every breath. Breath after breath. Thoughts accompany nearly every breath. Experience is gained like a running movie production of our lives. The moments add up, memories take shape, and life is lived. Again, there are thousands, millions of folks who deserved more time on earth. God has a plan for us all and maybe that doesn’t include 50 more years or even 50 more minutes of life. I wrote this out to show how valuable time is, a minute, an hour, a year, and so on. I don’t know how valuable $50 million is, but I do know that it wouldn’t have bought any more of the stuff I have been writing about. I would take the extra 50 years.