Friday, November 24, 2023

Fish Friday


purchased at Belk in 2021

Today's post will be just you and me, sipping [virtual] hot tea and talking about wherever conversation takes us (well, I'll do the talking, since this is written and you are not actually right here). 

I always ask the Lord as I begin a blog post to lead me where He wants this to go. Some of you may be shaking your head and thinking, "No, surely not," given the topics I wander into at times. That's okay. God knows my heart and sees that I mean well even if my scribbles writings go into odd places at times.

It's cool and rainy outside this afternoon. We're sitting in the lanai (also referred to by some as our "Florida room"). Gary has rolled out the space heater. It's making a very low hum; the gentle heat feels cozy. (Most of us in Florida don't have a fireplace.)

Pecan pie from Publix adorned 
generously with Cool Whip

Forgive me for not offering you something to eat with our tea. But again, since this is a virtual dialog, you can get your own nibbles. 

Macy's parade on Thanksgiving morning

I ventured into the topic of food, so I may as well pursue that line of thought. Our Thanksgiving feast was just the two of us here at home during the last half hour or so of the Macy's parade. We enjoyed the usual holiday menu with the exception that our plates were plastic trays from Hungry Man and there was no opportunity to go back for seconds. 🤔

our Thanksgiving dinner 2023

Now before I lose some of you who embrace tradition tightly, let's look at this: easy prep, easy clean-up, only 380 calories per "plate," and that left plenty of room for pecan pie. While the saying, "Gobble till you wobble" is cute, that did not apply to us and we enjoyed the fare guilt-free. 

I did add a can of cranberry sauce to the grocery cart the day Gary chose the TV dinners. We had no dinner rolls. I simply forgot to buy any. You see in the picture that we had Thanksgiving napkins...

purchased at Hobby Lobby in 2021,
back when my grief was very fresh

Anyway, on the subject of tradition, that has been rearranged for me a lot over the past three years out of necessity, practicality, and plain ol' lack of other options. That's okay. A fresh start is sometimes a really good idea.

the feet of  my family
(including 2 Siberian Huskies)

We did gather with extended family this week, on Wednesday, for a hearty meal and a very good visit. None of us live close together geographically, so a mutually-agreed-upon location was chosen, reservations were made, and we had a great time with each other over burgers, chicken wings, salads, and a view of the St. Johns River just a few yards away. My family got to meet Gary and he met with their cheerful approval. I enjoyed watching him interact with them.

us, Gary and me

To respect everybody's privacy, I am not sharing a photo of our crowd here on the blog or FaceBook. You've seen Gary and me plenty of times. Gary found out early on in our relationship that I consider him good "blog fodder," so here we are. The dampness and wind of the day did my hair no favors in this picture, but I don't get as bothered about that stuff as I used to.

fading Zinnias in my neighborhood

The traffic that day, Wednesday, was unpleasant at times but we saw no collisions. A British acquaintance of mine, Mr. Victor S E Moubarak,  put the following on his blog regarding thankfulness from dangers:

"... all the saving miracles He has performed for us throughout our lives; whether we know of them or not. Saving graces from so many dangers and evils that we know little or nothing about."
My response to that is a hearty, "Amen!!" As we list those things for which we are grateful during this holiday of Thanksgiving, we should remember we have been spared much that we know nothing about. 

An especially good (and accurate) photo of him

This is my segue into a big part of my week that I cannot overlook. On Wednesday my family and I made note of my late husband's birthday, and tomorrow (November 25th) will mark three years since an angel whisked him out of an ambulance en route to hospice to Heaven. Our wedding anniversary will pop up in a few weeks, followed by Christmas. The holiday season is not what it used to be.

another Hobby Lobby purchase from 2021

Does it get any easier? In my case, yes, it has, but the scars of loss remain. When someone makes as positive of an imprint on lives as Tom did, it's impossible to just shrug that off and go on. So I honor him and the memories he left behind.

jigsaw puzzle currently on our dining room table

The first year was very hard as none of us anticipated his passing. I struggled a lot to get my footing, even with my life-long Christian faith. Some people (including myself) question choices I made but when a person is in the depths of grief, EVERYTHING looks very different and pretty much not in a good way. The pain is severe and desperation sets in with the intention of erasing the hurt. 

I will just say this: those who have not experienced this cannot possibly understand to the full extent what this feels like. We must not judge the hurting. The struggle is real. Loving compassion, patience, and sometimes just a silent companionship are about the best we can do for them as they weather the worst of times.

Jesus goes after His own
(Internet photo)

While time, in itself, does not heal, I am learning God uses the passage of time as a balm to soothe and gradually distance the hurt so we can once again see clearly and find equilibrium again.

Our Lord also brings new people, places, and circumstances that serve to transform the grieving into someone new. 

Gary and me at
Catboat Escapes

Those who knew me before and continue to follow me now have seen the transformation from a rather sedate needle-working woman often sequestered in her sewing room or on the computer into a sportswoman of sorts who bicycles, kayaks, canoes, zip-lines, plays bocce and has an occasional [small] glass of wine, seldom cooks (except to bake and make salads), and has loosened up on some very strict thinking. (I have given up Tofu and never make my famous green smoothies for breakfast. I continue to be blessed with wonderful health.)

I have seen the faithfulness of God to an extent perhaps not so necessary before grief landed in my lap. While my life before had its ups and downs like everyone else, I now see I was actually sheltered from a lot. 

One of the most enduring legacies my late husband left with us is his love and appreciation for Proverbs 3, verses 5-6. I had this reference put on his grave headstone:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; 
lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him
and He will direct your paths.

Recently I saw this verse in a different translation that shed fresh light on its meaning. "Trust in the Lord" means, "Expect God to act."

In progressing through the valley of grief, I have looked for God to act on my behalf and He has done exactly that. During this season of thanksgiving, I am grateful He has, for sure, acted on my behalf. Many times. Oh so many times.

To close on a lighter note, you may wonder why I titled this post, "Fish Friday." 🤭 We are not Catholics here (both Gary and I were raised as Baptists), but we do often have fish (sea food) in some form on this day. Gary knows I especially enjoy shrimp, so because he likes to please me, our lunch today was shrimp with cocktail sauce and a vegetable salad. It was great!

We both have grief over our late spouses, but the Lord has given us to each other and we are sooo blessed! Laughter rings out often in our house.

Gary 'n me at an Elephant Preserve

Until next time, grace and peace.  And let's do tea sometime again, in person! 😋


  1. This is a beautiful post Barb. A testimony to the way God has cared and walked with you and continues to. I appreciate the way you and Gary have found new joy, but continue to honor your late spouses. My Dad and stepmom did the same. I haven't been through that type of sorrow and appreciate you sharing it and your thoughts through these years.

  2. As hard as it is to go through the grieving process, Barbara, God will guide us and lead us through murky mire of tears and loneliness. I speak from experience as I lost a beloved husband, too, many years ago. I do believe the Lord brought Gary and you together when His time was right. It's a blessing for me to see you all so happy together and living life to the fullest!

  3. As always, I enjoy your posts and the sharing of your life. I can't believe it's been 3 years since your Beloved passed from his earthly home. My goodness, time does fly but I'm sure it moved very slowly for you at the first. So glad you have found someone to share your life with and y'all enjoy doing life together.

  4. Another beautiful post and if I would have known you were having tv dinners, you and Gary would of have had to come over, smiles. Wishing you a beautiful Sunday. smiles

  5. I really enjoyed reading this blog 11/26. Glad to read that you had a good Thanksgiving meal with family. I laughed when you showed the picture of the frozen dinners you and Gary had on Thanksgiving day. We had our Thanksgiving meal yesterday, Saturday the 25th. On Thanksgiving day, Bob, Courtney and I also had frozen dinners.

  6. We just never know where life will take us but when we ask God to lead, guide and direct us, it will work out. And as far as what other's think...I always think of the saying, 'You never know until you've walked in someone else's shoes'. You have a good life now and you are blessed and so am I. Enjoy the week ahead! Hugs to you both!


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