Family

The MOVEMBER Experiment (sort of)

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November has come and gone and you probably heard about a lot of men doing the Movember thing…it’s where they grow a mustache in an effort to bring awareness to prostate cancer. I think it is sort of the equivalent of everything turning pink during breast cancer awareness month, only not as widely advertised. If you want to know more about Movember, check out the Movember Foundation. Apparently the “rules” say it should be a mustache, but I think it should be expanded to all facial hair, but what do I know?

Anyway, that brings me to my experiment. I don’t do mustaches…I have grown out the facial hair in past and shaved all but the mustache and I just couldn’t walk out of the bathroom with that look on my face. I mean, my ugly mug doesn’t need any more help in disrupting traffic and scaring small children. So, why punish people with a mustache hovering between my nose and upper lip?

I, therefore, have taken it upon myself to expand Movember to include all facial hair. Now, that being said, it isn’t all that unusual for me to allow the hair to grow a little during the winter months for short periods of time because I get lazy. I don’t really like shaving, so it is a good excuse to just let myself, I mean face, go. This year I had a purpose, a goal, if you will. I wanted to try a look I had not done previously but I know my dad has a one time and, apparently, was rather popular in the past.

The photo above shows the four phases of the month. #4 is the standard beard and doesn’t take much upkeep. I have been known to wear this look for weeks, so it wasn’t all that much of a stretch for this little experiment. #3 is also an old reliable for me. I have also been known to wear this on my face for weeks at a time and, again, not much of a stretch.

That brings me to #2. I am talking about them in reverse order here because that is really the order I wore them on my noggin. I had never worn #2 in the past, but because it wasn’t much of a change from #3 I thought it was a relatively easy look to pull off. I have to say that it wasn’t much of a favorite among the family or co-workers. I didn’t really like it all that much either since my two-tone facial hair seemed to get highlighted by this particular iteration of cowboy style. Maybe if I had been living in the dusty southwest and had a cowboy hat on I could have made it work.

Finally, that brings me to #1. Oh, the Mutton Chops….yeah, I can see why these are no longer popular. The looks I got from strangers…perhaps they thought I had escaped from a mental institute. The looks I got from co-workers…well, that mostly falls into the camp of “So, when are you going to change that?” (I am not sure if they were talking about my facial hair or my face.) Last but not least, the looks I got from my family. To quote my sister, “It is slightly entertaining, but mostly just creepy.” Of course, my mom just puts both her hands on my cheeks and says, “When is this going to go away?” Ah, but my wife, but especially my wife…the look of horror on her face when I came out of the bathroom before heading off to work said it all! She actually stated, “I can’t believe you are going to leave the house like that.” Mind you, I only sported this look for FOUR DAYS, but she definitely expressed over that time the desire for it to never be repeated again.

I guess I’ll never do that again…or perhaps I will. It’s all in fun and, after all, it’s just hair and it, unfortunately, just grows back. So next year, how about I go with the Friendly Mutton Chops? (you can look that up if you like)

What do you think? Do you participate or know someone who does? What facial hair style to you like, either to try or like on men?

Goodbye, Gramps

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I knew it was coming, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. It was just a matter of time, but it’s a time you never want to arrive.

He turned 91 just this past September. He’d had several episodes of going in and out of the hospital, but he always came back out – sometimes not quite the same as he went in.

I have been extremely blessed with something I know a lot of my friends and acquaintances haven’t had – until last week, all four of my grandparents were still living. It is something really special for someone to know their grandparent(s) into adulthood. Many people only have vague memories of their grandparents while they were children, or visited so infrequently they never really got to know them. Often, the memories aren’t really memories so much as they are memories given/created by others via conversations and stories, pictures, or maybe a video. So, I am keenly aware of how lucky I have been.

I am struggling with what to write as memories come rushing back to flood my mind, and my eyes, with happiness and joy.

I guess I don’t really need to say much about those.

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I told him to smile for a selfie…this is what I got!

I just need a place to express remembrance and appreciation for a man who loved his wife (their 69th wedding anniversary was the day before his passing) and his children. For raising my dad in a loving home. For raising his family in a home of Christian faith and passing that legacy on to the rest of his family. For working hard, at two jobs (a fruit orchard and a factory) and teaching his family the value of hard work. For having a wry sense of humor and a mischievous smile. For all the time spent camping, and fishing, and playing cards, and laughing. For all the stories of life on the farm. For going back to the family farm in South Dakota and telling us about his younger life in a sod house on the prairie. For the story of outrunning and catching a jack rabbit in the orchard. For the times of sharing meals. For the quiet times sitting on the patio, sharing conversation, a sunset, a cool breeze, and sometimes even a beer. For the garden goodies he grew every year. For his mealtime prayer that never changed and I will forever hear in my head, “God is great and God is good and we thank Him for this food.”

Now, he is home in Heaven with his Savior. He is in His presence, praising the One who gave him life. He is whole again.

I am sure he is now fishing, gardening and farming, playing cards, talking with his parents and the son he lost to cancer while a toddler. He is hanging out and laughing with the siblings that have gone on before him. He is, no doubt, preparing a place for those who will come after him as well – because that is the type of person he was.

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Tools of my grandfather – bench vise and a pole saw he used on the farm.

Saying goodbye to Gramps is, after all, not really a goodbye. It’s just a “see you later.” Cliche, I know, but I believe it really is the truth. I know that one day we will sit together again and do the things we enjoyed here on Earth, because we have been given and accepted a promise.

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A few quiet moments with Gramps, hours before he joined his Heavenly Father.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

I hope you have that knowledge too. The knowledge and assurance that death is not the end for a loved one, or for yourself. That one day you will be reunited, because it sure takes the sting out of death.

Am I still sad? Yes, of course. Not because I have no hope, but because of the missed opportunities I could have had with him or the opportunities my own kids will miss too. But, with the sadness comes rejoicing as well. How can I not be happy for him as he continues to live, living in triumph over death? There is still a funeral and memorial to come, but for now this will do. Goodbye is so hard to say, and yet…

“Welcome to Heaven, Harold! You are going to be missed down there because you were really loved. But don’t you worry, your family knows where you are and they are celebrating too. We have lots of time and I’ll show you around in a bit. But first, how about I show you a thing or two at canasta…”

Goodbye, Gramps.