~Ruth McDonald Mair~
Last weekend I attended a memorial service for a man I did not know. By all rights bestowed upon me at birth, I should have grown up knowing this man. He was, after all, my uncle. I grew up not knowing him because with life being so unpredictable, my four siblings and I were separated when I was still a toddler. The five of us grew up, adopted out to different families, not knowing each other. The older siblings have a few recollections of our biological family, but I have none. Several years ago I got to meet this man, my Uncle Gerald. Upon our introduction, I remember seeing him wipe the tears from his eyes. We talked for just a few short minutes and he told me I was welcome to come visit him and my aunt anytime. I told him I would do that. Time got away, and a few years later, I read in the local paper that his wife, my aunt, had passed away. I had not gone to visit them. I knew where this man lived, and I cannot begin to count the number of times I drove by his street and thought to myself, “I need to go visit Uncle Gerald. I need to get to know him. I will do that soon.” A little over a month ago I was told that he was having some health issues. Again I thought, “I need to go see him.” The first week of July, I learned that Uncle Gerald had passed away. I had not gone to see him. I had not gotten to know him. Out of respect for this man, I attended the memorial service with one of my sisters. As we took our place among the small gathering of people, it came to my mind, “Some of these people are my very own flesh and blood…and we do not even know each other.” A man and wife, who were good friends with Uncle Gerald, stood and spoke about him to those of us who had gathered to pay our respects. They spoke about how he loved to watch the Tigers baseball games, about how he loved his dog, and about how he loved his family. Then they talked about how little family this man had, and how he would get lonely at times. A few other people took turns speaking, and I noticed a common theme in each of their sharing. Uncle Gerald was a good, loving, family-oriented man. The military honors were then executed, beautifully and pretty near perfect, giving me goosebumps with the twenty-one gun salute and bringing tears to my eyes with the playing of the taps. As I stood there reflecting, a lot of “why didn’t you’s” kept going through my mind, like, “Why didn’t you get to know him? Why didn’t you try to make a difference in his life? Why didn’t you save him from some lonely moments in time? Why didn’t you reach out to his grandchildren and offer to help care for him?” The only answer I could dredge up was, “I just did not take the time.” I know I could have taken the time. I just did not make it priority. Before and after the service, I had the opportunity to meet a handful of my biological cousins and second cousins. I do hope that in the near future I have a chance to be better acquainted with some of them. I know that if given the opportunity, I will not put it off until it is once again too late, and I have to learn second-hand about what a good person they were. In closing, I urge each of you reading this, if there is someone in your life that you think could use some help, some of your time, or just a few words on the phone, please do not put it off. Put forth the effort to make it happen. Don’t let life get in the way. Don’t let your busy schedule rule your life. Don’t pencil someone into your thoughts…put it in ink by making it happen. You just never know when you might make a difference in someone’s life, or even in your own, if you just take the time to put priorities in the right order. Rest in peace, Uncle Gerald. I may not have known you, but I will never forget you.
~Ruth McDonald Mair~
Last night I decided to go to bed early and get a good night’s rest since I have been lacking in that department lately. By the time I conducted all of my bedtime rituals (take Murphy out, brush my teeth, double check that the doors are locked, turn off all the lights, say my prayers and coerce the dog to the bedroom) it was 9:30 pm. I fell into bed, drifting to sleep almost immediately. Have you ever been dreaming and just kind of incorporate sounds and/or smells into that dream? Well, I do not recall the dream I was having, but all of a sudden, I was very much aware that the ghastly odor in my dream was actually in my bedroom. As I came back to consciousness, I realized that Murphy (who sleeps on the floor next to my side of the bed) had passed gas. I looked at the clock and it read 2:05 am. I knew I still had a little over two hours to sleep, so I laid my head back down on my pillow. As I tried to go back to sleep, the dog decided to release more malicious toxins into the air. I turned onto my other side facing my husband, thinking this would block the stench rising from the floor. I soon realized this was no solution, as not only did Murphy continue to give his body relief, he began to lick (quite loudly, I might add) various parts of his body. On top of that, my husband was snoring…loudly. And exhaling….loudly. When he snores, he exhales with a "puff", likes he is blowing away the seeds from a dead dandelion. To my dismay, he was facing me and "puffing" right in my face. As much as I love my husband, he has some really raunchy night breath! Over the next thirty to forty minutes, the dog’s timely odor escalated, while my husband’s snoring and puffing got louder and louder. I tossed and turned, not knowing which was the lesser of the two evils. I flipped and flopped, trying to imitate a beached whale in hopes of causing my husband to turn over and face the other way. It seemed to be a failed mission on my part. Then, as I was about to give up, my husband turned over and was facing the opposite direction taking his snoring and puffing with him! I looked at the clock again. It was now almost 3 am and I knew I could still get one more hour of sleep. Just as I was dozing off, my husband let out the loudest emission of human gas I have ever heard. Moreover, almost in tandem, Murphy decided to give one more blast of not-so-fresh air. I do not recall all the exact thoughts/words that flashed through my mind at that moment in time, but I am certain that when I say my prayers tonight, I need to ask God for forgiveness. I threw the covers back, turned off the alarm clock (didn’t need it today anyway), headed outside with the dog, all the while threatening him that he BETTER have to poop. Around 4:30 am, my loving husband came strolling into the kitchen to a hot cup of coffee waiting for him on the kitchen counter. He looked at me, smiled and said, “Good morning, Sweetie. Why are you up so early this morning?” I just very calmly (to my own surprise) told him that I woke up and could not go back to sleep. Perhaps when we get home from work tonight, if I am still coherent, I will try to explain to him why my Fitbit says I got 4 hours and 18 minutes of sleep last night.
Ruth McDonald Mair
“Precious memories, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul…”
Well Daddy, it has been ten years since I last saw you, had a conversation with you, hugged and kissed you for the last time and said my last goodbye to you here on this earth. While my heart still aches and I still miss you dearly, I take comfort in the all the memories you created for me. Those memories definitely bring me through the most difficult days. As I reminisce, I realize all the things you taught me.
You taught me humor. You were standing at the kitchen window watching me play just outside, and you decided to throw a glass of water on me through the window. A few minutes later, mama walked into the kitchen and asked why your shirt was wet and why you were wiping the window. You told her there was a spot on the window and you were just cleaning it off. Later, you admitted that because she was just such a good housekeeper, you didn’t realize the window was not open before you tossed the water.
You taught me strength. I remember the pony I always wanted to ride at the young age of four. You put me on that pony’s bare back one day and turned it loose. At that point I knew it was hold on tight or hit the ground. I’m not sure I ever asked to ride it again, but I certainly did not hit the ground that day.
You taught me patience. I learned to jump rope, blow bubbles with my bubblegum, and whistle because you spent day after day and hour upon hour telling me “Jump now!” and “Don’t spread the gum too thin” and “Don’t puff your cheeks out so much.” You were as proud as I was excited when I accomplished each of these feats.
You taught me that emotions are real. More than once as I was growing up, I was on the receiving end of your anger (and rightly so I might add!). Several times I saw you cry, letting your tears flow freely, completely unashamed. But what I loved most was to hear you laugh, and fortunately I heard it many, many times through the years. Anyone who knew you knew your laugh and could recognize it in a room full of people.
You taught me love and compassion. You and mama took me in to be your daughter, and my brother to be your son, when you didn’t have to. You loved us both unconditionally, through good and bad times. You were married to the love of your life for 33 years before she died. You never even thought about dating or remarrying after that—you had given your heart completely to mama. You adored your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. You worked hard all your life to provide a stable, loving, and safe home for your family. Although we never had an excess of anything, you never turned away anyone who needed help.
You taught me about God. You believed in him and lived by His word. I know you are being rewarded in heaven for a job well done here on earth. And, I’m pretty sure you are teaching the angels how to laugh.
Thank you, Daddy, for all the things you taught me. And, hey, thanks for the memories!
I love you…always.
In the last year, I’ve known several families that have suffered the loss of a child--the most recent occurring just this week. Whether that child was an infant, toddler, teen or adult is irrelevant…a child is a child. I don’t know why these things happen or why hearts are broken and lives shattered. I don’t know why parents and siblings are left to pick up their broken lives, which will forever be jagged because one final piece will never be recovered. I do, however, know that the Bible tells us in Revelation 21:4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” So to all the families who have been traveling on the dark and uncertain road to recovery for a while, and to all those who are just starting down that difficult path, my heart, thoughts and prayers go out to each and every one of you. My family is also on this road. While on this journey, I have discovered two lights. One is illuminating the way for us from those who have gone before. The other is the light we extend to those that follow. Together, we will all make it out of the dark.
~Ruth McDonald Mair~ 5-23-17
One hundred twenty months.
Five hundred twenty weeks.
Three thousand, six hundred and fifty days.
That is how much time has passed since we last saw your smiling face, heard your voice and laughter, felt the warmth of your hugs or endured any of your corny jokes.
A lot has changed in ten years. Our country has seen two new presidents. The Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series after a 108-year drought! (The Detroit Lions still have not had any great seasons.) In most homes, landlines are pretty much a distant memory since most everyone owns a cell phone now. We can use our cell phones for texting, emailing, social-media and even do our banking on them! Where people used to wear a watch on their left wrist, we can now choose to wear something called a “Fitbit”—it helps us monitor our heartrate, workouts, calorie intake/burn. Doctors are now diagnosing on-line those patients with minor problem. The patients with major issues still have the struggle of sitting in the actual waiting room for who knows how long. Health insurance has not changed. In fact, it may be worse. Either way, it still involves a bunch of red tape and jumping through hoops.
Our family has grown. You have a brother-in-law and some sisters-in-law. You even have nieces and nephews now! Your oldest nephew carries your name, and at times, looks quite a bit like you. Some family members have passed away, but you already know about them since they are with you now. We have lost pets and we have added new ones. I am sure all of us have different vehicles now, too. Your dad still has the Jeep, though, and still only brings it out for “special occasions.” (Like when he wants to play in the yard or drive out to the woods and try to get it stuck in the field—just to prove he can wench it out!)
So much has changed over the last ten years, David. Then again, some things have remained the same. We miss you just as much today as we did when you first left us. You are still on our minds daily. We still carry the hurt and disbelief of losing you. There is a hole in our hearts that we know will never mend…we would not expect it to be. We still take each day as it comes, putting one foot in front the other to move forward because we know that’s what you would want us to do. The biggest thing that has not changed is the love we have in our hearts for you. Whether it was as a son, a grandson, a brother, a nephew, a cousin or a friend, we were all so very blessed to have you in our lives. In addition, we are still very blessed to have all the wonderful memories you left with us.
One hundred twenty months.
Five hundred twenty weeks.
Three thousand, six hundred and fifty days.
This amount of time may have given and taken many things, but no amount of time will ever surpass the pain of losing you, the joy of having known you and the honor of having you in our hearts each day.
We love you David Mair!
(In loving memory of Caine)
The day you came into our lives
The world became a better place.
We couldn’t help but fall in love
With your eyes, your smile, your tiny face.
You touched our lives, you rocked our world
And gave to us such happy days.
We saw your smile and heard your laugh
And delighted in your loving ways.
We treasure every moment spent with you
Each day we got to see you grow.
Your life with us was much too short
But were blessed so much, we know.
We love you precious little one
Forever in our hearts you’ll be.
God has you wrapped in His arms now
So little baby, rest in peace.
~Ruth McDonald Mair~
I do not normally make my political views known openly, and this will be no exception. So if you are reading this to see if I support Hillary Clinton or detest Donald Trump, read no further…you will not find that information here. In fact, as
I write this today, I am still undecided as to whom I will cast my ballot for.
If most of you are like me, you are sick and tired of the “slamming” between the presidential candidates we have in front of us. I am tired of hearing that Hillary lied about one thing or another. I am tired of hearing that Donald Trump has the personality of a rock. I’m tired of hearing each of them trying to degrade the other. By doing so, neither is winning any points in my book.
From what I have seen and heard, neither Hillary nor Donald has been campaigning for the JOB. They have been campaigning to deface their opponent and convince the majority to despise the other. Neither has been very direct in regards to what they WILL do if they are elected. They have each, however, been very clear as to what the other HAS DONE that is so corrupt that they should not be voted in as president. I am not saying that a person’s past should not play a factor in whether they become our next president, but I think that their ideas for the future of our country should carry a great deal of weight in our decision. And I do not think we should believe everything either of them says about the other.
I am going to sit down and do some major research on each of our presidential candidates to learn more than what I already know. I want to know what each of them plans to actually attempt to accomplish if he or she is voted into office. I need to know that I will still have a retirement account when I am ready to use that. I need to know that my children will all be able to hold on to their jobs to support their families. I need to know that my grandchildren will be safe when they go off to school each day. I need to know that our next president will honor and defend our constitution, that they will honor and support their country, and that they will honor and support the citizens of the United States of America—the very people they are working for. Maybe I am blind or just complete politically illiterate, but I’ve not heard these types of statements from either of them.
So, as the date draws closer for our country to decide who our next president will be, I urge each of you to research the two candidates. Maybe you already have, and kudos to you! I guess what I am really asking here is that you don’t go to the polls and vote for Hillary “because she’s a woman” or “because she is a Democrat.” Please don’t vote for Donald “because he’s a Republican” or “because he’s a business man.” Don’t discard the possibility of Trump becoming our president “because he’s a hothead” or Clinton “because she’s a liar.” And please don’t be one who stays uninformed and does not vote at all because you “don’t like either candidate.” There is always a third-party or a write-in option. Casting a vote for SOMEONE is far better than remaining silent.
The invitations to our “voting party” have been sent. Save the date and plan to attend. Our future, our children’s future and our grandchildren’s future depends on it.
Have you ever wondered why you are where you are today? I have. I often wonder why, when God already knows that I don’t like cold weather, He allowed me to end up being a Kentucky transplant living in Michigan. What I intended to be a short summertime visit has turned into a 32-year stay! Just as a side note, in my humble opinion, the Michigan winters do not get easier to deal with and I do dread it more with each passing year!
I was driving down the road the other day and saw a tree that had a few leaves that were already changing from summertime green to autumn red and orange. While I will admit that autumn is a beautiful season, the first week of September is way too early for my eyes to behold those colors. The sight of that tree and its changing leaves triggered my most recent round of inquisitiveness.
I asked myself “Why am I in Michigan?” No response came.
Then I asked God, “Why am I in Michigan?” The answer I got did not arrive in the form of a lightning bolt hitting the ground in front of me, nor was it a great epiphany of any sort. It was just very soft and subtle, asking me to compare myself to the tree with the changing leaves. Compare myself to a tree?!?! Crazy, right? Not really. I tried it and here is what I came up with.
The tree has roots buried deep in the ground, and there is very little that can sever those roots. Hmmm…I have roots. I have family and friends that I love and care about. It would take an eternity to sever those ties.
The tree has taken years to mature and grow into the solid configuration it has become. I myself have done a lot of growing over the years. I have made mistakes and I have learned from them. I have become a strong, solid and confident individual.
That old tree has provided shelter and shade with its outstretched branches, yet has probably lost a few branches to the wind over the years. Guess what? I raised a family. I provided them a shelter, food, guidance and unconditional love over the years. Sure, I had a few broken moments in time. Times when my kids weren’t perfect angels, and pushed me to my limits; times when my husband and I have disagreed and argued. But I survived all of that, and so did they. I am certain there will be more of those broken moments in my future, but again, I will survive.
The last comparison I thought of is the one that stands out most for me. The tree isn’t fighting to keep the green leaves. It will gracefully let go and let those red, orange and yellow leaves appear. With all those colors, the tree seems to glow where it was planted. It was then that I realized that I need to take what I have learned in life and share it with others…let them see the hope that is there and the beauty that will be. I am here to glow where I have been planted.
Glow where you are planted. It can only make this world more beautiful.
I realize that not everyone shares the same views or beliefs of what our United States military is, does and stands for. In fact, some people may pose the question, “What has a soldier ever done for me?” With the Memorial Day holiday upon us, I wanted to write something to help bring to light just a few examples of what our soldiers have done for us. So here's hoping that the next time you hear someone ask what a soldier has ever done for them, you will share this with them.
What Has a Soldier Ever Done?
A soldier endured six to twelve weeks of constant drilling from sunup to sundown, being yelled at, calisthenics at all hours of the day and night, living in closed, tight quarters with dozens of other soldiers, knowing that if one of them makes a mistake, they will all pay. Six to twelve weeks of this while we attended school, enjoyed recess, went to college or reported our job.
A soldier left behind his family and friends to go live in a foreign country for only God knows how long while we had picnics with our families, partied with our friends or rocked our babies to sleep each night.
A soldier lived in a tent or a foxhole in the desert for months on end while we sat in our air conditioned homes and offices.
A soldier ate military rations while we enjoyed home-cooked meals, dining out in fancy restaurants and grilling on the weekends.
A soldier wore full military gear seven days a week while we got to dress up for a night out or wear our favorite jeans and t-shirt.
A soldier fought against the enemy, dodging bullets, bombs, avoiding landmines and roadside IED’s while we argued with our parents about curfew, or sat in a board room discussing the profits and/or losses from last quarter.
A soldier marched wearing heavy military-issued boots while we ran our 5K’s wearing our Nike’s or went to the beach wearing our flip flops.
A soldier attended a church service held in a tent or barracks and prayed that he would make it home to see his family again while we attended church in a fancy building and passed the collection plate to help those less fortunate.
A soldier lost an arm or leg or eye, while we swam, hiked or danced.
A soldier flew home beside several of his comrades…all of them in a wooden box draped with the American flag. These soldiers gave their lives so that we may continue to live ours.
~Ruth McDonald Mair~
God bless our all of our soldiers, but especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
I asked my friend to meet for lunch
So we could exchange news
She had plans she couldn’t change
But soon we’d visit, we were overdue
I asked my sister for some time
One day a while ago
She said she had some things to do
When she was free, she’d let me know
I asked my brother to meet up
Just to spend a day
He said his schedule was all full
He’d reach out soon, he’d find a way
I asked my son to watch a movie
I thought we both might like
He had a game and date that night
But he’d call soon, and we’d grab a bite
I asked my husband to go out
And have some time for us
He said he had to tend the yard
We’d find some time, there was no rush
I asked my Lord to save a place
For me in Heaven’s land
He told me, “It’s all been tended to.
I’m waiting for you, come take my hand.”
~Ruth McDonald Mair~
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I currently live in Michigan with my husband, Donald. I have three sons and one daughter as well as three grandchildren. For as long as I can remember I have had a passion for writing. I give God all the credit for allowing me to share my writings with you.