Category Archives: AnnaLeah and Mary

Merry Memories of Christmas Past Bring Comfort & Joy

Mary happily sung and danced her heart out, while AnnaLeah was content to be helpful in the background. Both full of life and laughter in their own ways. Both knew who was the best present of all.

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Mary (dressed in a white pinafore with a blue scarf wrapped around her head and her long, long hair) was one of the chorus youth in Midland Community Theatre’s 2009 production of A Christmas Carol:

Mary as an angel singing Away in a Manger:

Mary (as an angel again) singing and signing Away in a Manger in a Christmas program the year before:

Mary, quite a few years, earlier singing, Jesus is the Heart of Christmas:

Mary singing and dancing in I Saw Three Ships Go Sailing By:

Mary singing and dancing in God Rest, Ye Merry Gentlemen:

And more tidings of comfort & joy:

Treasured Christmas Memories of AnnaLeah & Mary

For myself, and anyone else who cares to get a glimpse of Christmas with Mary & AnnaLeah, here are links to memories which I posted at this time in 2014 (Thanksgiving through New Year’s):

Mary’s Life With Gertie; Her Best Friend to the End

Gertie was our family’s St. Bernard. She was part of the family when Mary was born and Mary loved her — despite actually being much smaller than Gertie! We lost Gertie when she ran out in the road and got hit by a car while Mary was still a toddler.

Later, Mary had her very own beloved stuffed toy Gertie. It was her sister AnnaLeah’s idea to get Mary a St. Bernard for her four year-old birthday. Mary was delighted and, from then on, Gertie was Mary’s cherished companion — with her to the end.

Gertie reaching for Mary ...Susanna's film
Gertie reaching for Mary. . . Photoshoot by Mary’s sister Susanna, circa 2010

Gertie is a reminder to us of Mary’s joy and laughter and loving spirit. And now she is a part of Mary’s nephew Romie‘s life — carefully tended to by his parents. And so the joy & belly laughs continue.

Enjoy this glimpse of Life with Gertie.

Gertie was our family’s St. Bernard. Later, our joyful Mary had her very own beloved stuffed toy Gertie, who now keeps her nephew Romie company. And so the joy & belly laughs continue.

Mary’s grandpa, James Oliver Waldron, sings The Teddy Bear Picnic

Do you know what Mary knew?

Mary and AnnaLeah loved preparing for Christmas. Though their absence at this time of year always brings a longing for their presence, it also is full of sweet memories.

One of those memories is how Mary, when she was small, loved to pick out the notes on the piano (she played by ear) for the song, Mary, Did You Know? She thought it was special to have a song with her name. One year, Mary and I sang it together as part of a creative arts presentation at a retirement home.

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I will be forever grateful that AnnaLeah and Mary knew the promise which the Christmas story — and this song — held for them.

More memories of AnnaLeah and Mary

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Forever grateful

I am thankful for the new glasses which were given to me while in the hospital by a local eye care center as mine did not survive the crash. But I am also thankful that those can now be retired since I just got a new pair of glasses. I have graduated from bifocal lens with a line to continuous. Wow! What a difference that makes!dscf0557

And I am forever grateful that AnnaLeah and Mary had the gift of life — though it was cut short — and that they will live forever in His presence and we will be together again some day.

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By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.

Upon the willows in the midst of it we hung our harps. . . Psalm 137:1-2

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I will give Thee thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to Thee before the gods. I will bow down toward Thy holy temple, and give thanks to Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth; for Thou hast magnified Thy word according to all Thy name. On the day I called Thou didst answer me; Thou didst make me bold with strength in my soul. . .

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me; Thou wilt stretch forth Thy hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Thy right hand will save me. The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Thy lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; do not forsake the works of Thy hands. Psalm 138: 1-3, 7-8

 

What if we tackled life’s problems with the tenacity of my 2 year-old? Hopeful. Joyful. Determined. Bold.

Will I ever truly know how to let go and be at peace no matter the circumstances?

Mary and I were having some quiet time—hard for a two year-old who is having fun at the Lake. Savor precious moments…here today and gone tomorrow.

Be still and know that He is God…trust that He will be a present help in times of trouble…rest in His loving arms.

What would it be like to embrace life like a fun-loving fearless two year-old — who needed her mom to draw a boundary line in the sand?

AnnaLeah was 6 & Mary was 2, and they were both water bugs! Our family enjoyed a quiet vacation at a cottage overlooking Lake Michigan.

Can I tackle the challenges before me like an insistent two year-old, determined to solve life’s problems but able to enjoy unexpected delights along the way?

When Mary was very young, we used to call her www.mlk (wonderful wiggly worm mary lydia karth). She was full of energy and very expressive. It didn’t take much for her to make us laugh or smile.

This two-minute video, where we were packing up to go home after a summer vacation, was one of those times where she amused her older brother without even trying.

Can I learn to let go in the midst of serious life difficulties, to trust the Master of the Universe to be in control — while at the same time, grabbing hold of the tools which He has given to me to make a difference with boldness and determination?

Two-year old Mary gets help from her big brother Samuel when climbing the steps up the dune from the Lake Michigan beach. Then she has fun with the cottage door. Simple pleasures. . .

Trusting, hopeful, joyful, determined, bold, sassy. . .

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Mary wrote a letter to herself a few weeks before her life ended due to a truck crash on May 4, 2013. One of the things she said in the letter she meant to read in ten years,

“I hope that I am living every day as if it was my last.” Mary Lydia Karth, Age 13

 

It wasn’t just another game. . . until then, we could only imagine.

The final game of the series of games which they call The World Series of the 2016 baseball season wasn’t just another game. Especially if you were a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan, which I had become after meeting my Chicago native husband 40 years ago (the Bicentennial Year).

Probably like a lot of other people, by the time we reached the bottom of the ninth inning — when the score was tied — I was holding my breath, feeling that sense of vulnerability of being totally not-in-control of the situation. If Cleveland had scored, then Chicago would have had no more at bats and that would be it. Over. Finished. Dreams and hopes dashed.

As I heard so many times on the Wide World of Sports, as I was growing up: someone would experience the thrill of victory while someone else would know the agony of defeat!

And then it went to the tenth inning. Cubs scored. Indians were up to bat with two outs and no runs scored. Tension was high. It could have gone either way. But it didn’t. Cleveland hit the ball. Bryant got it and threw it to Rizzo at first in time to get the batter OUT!

Suddenly all of the emotions and physical energy which had been focused on getting to that point — as they like to say, for 108 years — burst forth and all pandemonium broke out. One moment we were in suspense — wanting to get it over with but not wanting to be disappointed. And the next: Joy unspeakable. It was an unimaginable experience. Unbelievable.

Adding to the magic of the moment was the incredible awareness of a community of people who had gone through this together — including those who were no longer alive to see it with their own eyes. Shared dreams and commitment to keep on moving toward the goal — not willing to give up. Bonded together by a confident faith in the team’s abilities, in the organization’s vision and resources, cheered on by countless hopeful fans.

What would have happened if that tenth inning had gone the other way? Well, there were 108 years of picking up the pieces and coming back another time. So, despite disappointment, I don’t think that there would have been devastation and despair.

Which reminds me of what I was thinking the other day about how there might be some comparison (certainly but a little and not implying anything negative about the Cleveland team) to how it will be for the Church someday when Jesus comes back triumphantly and both those alive and the dead will rise together with Him and all those who have gone before will be together and jumping for unbelievable joy in an unending celebration of everlasting peace and victory for the Lamb that was slain will be the Lion that reigns. Forever and ever. And all those years of sorrow and sighing will flee away.

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2 Corinthians 4:8-12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death works in us, but life in you.

So the ransomed of the LORD will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion, And everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 51:11

Baba Yetu, The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili (Civilization IV)

I Can Only Imagine (Mercy Me)

This is the mystery. . .

Mary and AnnaLeah, we will remember your joy and laughter forever.

Mary’s Joy in Simple Things I haven’t had time to look at all of Mary’s 602 photos from October 2011. But when I saw a butterfly the other day on my clothesline, I remembered that I had seen some butterfly photos by Mary.

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AnnaLeah’s Imaginative World Found 4 ceramic bear figurines from a set of 24 which the kids played with when they were little. AnnaLeah could spend hours in imaginative play.

(Stepstools made by my dad — one from my childhood and one for his grandkids.)

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A Story of Four Sisters & A Wedding Dress; Bittersweet Memories Transformed Into a Gift of Comfort

A Story of Four Sisters & A Wedding Dress

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Rebekah was so excited when John asked her to marry him. Shortly after she became engaged, Rebekah came home from college for a Christmas visit. Her youngest sister, Mary, baked a special multi-layered engagement cake to surprise Rebekah when she arrived from the airport.

While Rebekah was home, we talked about plans for her wedding on May 11, 2013, and practiced making cake pops for their reception. Rebekah asked me to sew her wedding dress, so we also went shopping with her sister, Susanna, to pick out material.

Over the coming months, in the midst of finishing her master’s degree, Rebekah made plans for her wedding in Texas. And I sewed her wedding dress at home in North Carolina. Mary (13) had fun serving as the model for her sister’s dress.

I made a small dress out of the leftover material in case Rebekah and John ever had a little girl who might like to play dress-up in a replica of her mother’s wedding dress. And Rebekah’s other sister, AnnaLeah (17), sewed another little bridal dress for their niece, Vanessa, to give her as a birthday present during our trip back to Texas for four college graduations, a wedding, and two birthdays (including AnnaLeah’s 18th birthday on May 15 and Vanessa’s 4th birthday on May 28). Although AnnaLeah was very creative and had sewn many things by hand, this was her first sewing project using a sewing machine, and I was so proud of her.

On May 4, 2013, AnnaLeah, Mary, their brother Caleb, and I started out on a road trip from our home in North Carolina to head for the celebrations in Arlington, Texas. While in Georgia, we came upon slowed traffic for a crash up ahead and a truck hit us in such a way that we were spun around and sent backward into the rear of another truck. The back of the car went under the truck when the underride guard failed to withstand the collision.

AnnaLeah and Mary were in the back seat and died as a result – AnnaLeah at the scene of the crash and Mary a few days later. They never got to see their sister get married. In fact, the family was in much confusion and Rebekah was faced with what to do – deciding that it would honor her sisters to continue with the wedding which she knew her sisters had been looking forward to.

The wedding dress had been damaged in the crash and Rebekah’s church stepped up to get her a new dress to wear. In fact, our family experienced the love and support of being surrounded and supported by many people from around the country. And so the wedding went forward with joy in the midst of sorrow.

In the aftermath, the family has had a long journey of recovering from our loss. Each of us have handled it in our own way. The wedding dress which I had lovingly sewn for my daughter’s special day never served its intended purpose. I had it cleaned and carefully stored. But, for Rebekah, it naturally does not bring to mind cherished memories.

So, when my daughter-in-law suggested that we could donate it to Allison’s Angel Gowns to be re-purposed into bereavement gowns for babies who never go home from the hospital, I cried but immediately felt at peace. At last, the dress would have a purpose in bringing comfort to others who had joined us in our pain of saying good-bye to precious ones gone too soon.

Now, I could let it go. . .

Photo Album: Wedding Preparations; or, Get Me to the Church on Time!

Note: I wrote this yesterday after finding out that Allison’s Angel Gowns would accept Rebekah’s first wedding dress. This is what my daughter-in-law found out for me:

So, I found a few different places that turn wedding gowns into angel gowns for babies who don’t make it out of the hospital. All of the ones that I saw have had a big influx of dresses and weren’t accepting dresses. I emailed them and explained why the dress means so much and the situation that makes getting rid of it important. I got a response back from Allison’s Angel Gowns. Not only would they love to take the dress and turn it into beautiful baby gowns to bless other families, but they would like us to write a letter telling the story so that it can stay with the dress as the dress is passed on to the seamstresses.

After reading what I wrote, I realized that my verb tenses weren’t consistent. But I decided to leave it that way because that is how it is for me — the past, present, and future are all tangled together in my head and heart.

And when I asked Rebekah if it was okay for me to share this story, she said, “You can share. Glad it will serve a purpose.”

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Teaching the World How We Grieve: Acknowledging our grief anniversaries.

Yesterday, I had a conversation on a facebook group about grieving:  Teaching the World How We Grieve: Acknowledging our grief anniversaries.

One of the things which I had mentioned was this:

I still have many moments when I can’t believe they are really gone. And I cling to anything of theirs. In case you hadn’t noticed, writing about it and them helps me. Sewing quilts with their clothes has been catharthtic.

Just yesterday, I was in a whirl because I had to let go of a car which had been given to us after the crash to replace ours. It recently had an electrical fire and yesterday we found out that the insurance company was totaling it. It is a negative reminder of the crash/loss but it is also a connection to them that will now be gone forever. And a reminder of the many ways in which people reached out to us. I don’t even know how to describe the mess of feelings that produced. LETTING GO. . .

I had one of those clinging moments again today when my son took out some boxes from the shed and asked me if I wanted him to break them down to put in recycling. I said, “No!” — not because the boxes were in great shape but because they were ones which Mary had labeled when we were moving from Texas.

When the crash happened, we were living in a rental house, and exactly two months (the Fourth of July) after the crash, we moved into our present house. That’s when I found those boxes. There were many boxes labeled by her, but these were boxes of her college sister’s clothes left at home, and Mary was being silly and spelling her sister’s name every way she could think of.

That’s Mary for you.

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When we know a person, we often know their handwriting. It is a part of them. And I couldn’t bear to throw away that part of her. She will never again write anything — even on a moving box.

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Mary with Oscar The Catsusanna mary annaleah in costumeNever forgotten

I wonder if she would think that I am being silly.