Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dianne's Story

Me and Dianne at Apple Hollar in Wisconsin, just a little
way from her home near Chicago
I've only met Dianne once, but you know how some people are full of mischief and easy to like? She's got a twinkle in her eye with a capital T for Trouble and fun. But not all days were bubbly and bright for Dianne. James David Gavin, Sr., her husband of 15 years, passed from life to eternity in April 2008, after a long struggle with the side effects of chemotherapy/radiation treatment for esophageal cancer. And there are days it is hard for her to believe its been 4 years already. I enjoyed talking with Dianne about those days when we met in September. And since then, she's filled in more of her story so I could share it with you today.
 
Ferree: Dianne, with the holidays coming up, would you tell a bit of how they've changed for you?
Dianne: I have 3 children and for the first Christmas without Jim, I was with my oldest son and his wife and her family. It was a real blessing to be around such loving people. My youngest son and his wife welcomed me to their home the next Christmas, and my daughter and her husband did the same for me last year.  This year I feel strong enough to face a "Windy City" Chicago Winter at my home and look forward to who and what God will bring across my path since I have met so many wonderful Christian friends recently.
 
Ferree: When Jim first died, what was the best case and worse case scenarios of things people did for you?
Dianne: The most helpful thing people did for me was when my Navy friends from the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society invited me into their home. They provided me my own bedroom and meals until my children could fly or drive home for the funeral and be with me.
     The worst thing was, some people did not understand why I was so exhausted and expected me to participate in activities and conversation when I just couldn't anymore. I just had to lay down and rest.
 
Ferree: People truly don't understand that exhaustion; and the need for rest might not necessarily be in the form of sleeping, sometimes it's simply finding quietness and doing nothing. I'm glad you recognized how tired you were, especially as a caretaker. As you look back, what was the best thing you eventually did for yourself?
Dianne: The best thing I did for myself was after I rested up, to begin volunteering for various organizations. It forced me to take training and in one month's time, I was contributing with a purpose to the mission of an organization; which in turn made me realize there were a lot of people much worse off than I was, so it gave me a different perspective on my life situation.
 
Ferree: It sounds like volunteering for that organization helped you as much as you helped them. But of course, we know it wasn't smooth sailing from that point on.  
Dianne: One challenge I faced since being widowed was the fear of being alone at night. I piled lots of pillows next to me in bed so I didn't feel like I was alone in that big bed. Now I take up both sides and don't know how I ever slept confined to half the space all those years!  Moody Radio, 91.1 FM, is also comforting in the wee hours of the morning with inspirational music and stories.
     Another challenge widowhood brought me was buying a new vehicle. I believe God leading me to just the right place to get a huge trade-in value on my 10-year-old truck, and being able to pay cash for a brand new car was from Jehovah-Jireh (which means God my Provider), overseeing my financial investment. Since then I have used GPS to get to many church functions and am so blessed to meet new friends who also want to serve the Lord. They make the trip worth every effort.
 
Ferree: Speaking of church, Dianne, what sort of opportunities have you found to be involved in?
Dianne: There are many opportunities to serve in my church. Just recently I began praying about where I might best be used with my spiritual gifts to God's Glory. "Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord." ....so I'm waiting.... I have a lot of ideas and love to brainstorm things to do whether I actually do them or not. Half the fun for me is the enjoyment of fellowship with other Christians.
 
Ferree: I think this glimpse of your life is a real encouragement to other widows because we can see you're looking ahead now, deepening your relationship with God, meeting new friends, and genuinely enjoying the people God has placed aroung you. What sort of advice might you offer a new widow?
Dianne: As far as giving advice to a recent widow while the raw pain of her loss is fresh, I would offer not my words, but rather, I'd urge a woman to read God's Word daily. I, quite frankly, don't know how people do it without Christ in their life.
     The most comforting scripture for me is found in the Psalms, especially Psalm 27:7-14-- Blessings abound in His presence of peace.
     The best thing I have learned about the Lord is He is God, I am not. I increasingly ask Him to "show me your ways, O Lord, guide me in your truth and teach me." Psalm 25:4,5.
     And then I'd like to share a poem by Robert Sexton. Jim had cut it out of a magazine and tucked it away in my file cabinet, knowing I'd find it someday after he was gone. While cleaning out the folders one day, I found it. And then I noticed on the bottom of the page, the art gallery was located in San Francisco, CA. I called the phone number listed, so his staff had a signed, matted, and framed original piece of art picturing two clasped-hands completely ready for me when I visited.
 
Ferree: (Note to readers: I won't print the poem here because of copyright, but it is beautiful and touching. I know you'll love it. To view it just go to the Robert Sexton website. The poem is called THE PROMISE, and you can read it and see the amazing artwork that goes with it right here:  http://www.robertsexton.com/images.html )  Dianne, I'm so glad you shared this poem with us today---I can imagine how moving it must have been to have found it where Jim left it for you! Meeting you was a real treat, and I look forward to the opportunities God has in store for you!
Dianne: Thanks for the interview, Ferree...it was fun!

Ferree: Thank YOU, Dianne!

 


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