Notes from Jan

Picture Perfect

June 26, 2020

It’s been almost a month since Jud and I took a drive.  No, really. May 31st would’ve been our 57th wedding anniversary, but who’s counting? Me!  Since Jud left for heaven more than five years ago, you might need an explanation.

It was Sunday afternoon and I’d had it with staying inside and feeling sorry for myself.  So I grabbed Jud’s 10×14 photo and headed for my car. I placed his picture in the passenger seat, then headed towards Ipswich to see family.

After cranking up the music and lowering the windows, I started smiling and waving at strangers like I meant it.   Before long, I felt like Scrooge waking up after all those nightmares and learning he hadn’t missed Christmas. All that smiling and waving prepared me for the parade, which I landed smack dab in the middle of in Ipswich.  I fell in behind my family and others, honking, smiling and waving in support of Black Lives Matter.

Well, after parading, the family snapped the 2020 anniversary photo of “Jud” and me. Done without  words or whispers about my mental health.   Then “we” got in the car to head home. After pulling away, I turned to Jud and said those four dreaded words, “We need to talk.” But  this wasn’t that kind of talk.  For one thing,  after weeks of isolation, my backlog of words needed saying.  For another, Jud had nothing to say, being dead to this world, but also  listening was always one of his strengths and a saving grace in more than our marriage.

So I talked, while “we” drove the scenic route, meandering from Beverly Farms, to Manchester, along Magnolia’s coast, past Hammond Castle, and Stage Fort Park until cars began to slow, then stop along Gloucester’s Boulevard. The drawbridge rose slowly on rusty hinges, like me most mornings. I welcomed the wait, since the view’s stunning.  Besides, I’d said my piece, which was mostly a litany of gratitude to Jud for all those years of listening and loving me anyhow.

Which just might be two of the most important ways to heal and bless more than a marriage during these turbulent times.

Listen and Love anyhow.



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  • Reply Carol Hannum June 26, 2020 at 6:55 pm

    Thank you, Jan. My sweet Dave moved to live with Jesus three years ago this past March…3 weeks before his birthday. I talk to his picture a lot and always take it/him with me when I travel (which was a passion for me and almost so for him). I miss taking him on a trip with me. And oh how I wish he could talk back
    I love the idea of a photo with him – especially in places he loved! When we get to go again…

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 27, 2020 at 1:07 pm

      Well, dear Carol, checking the box marked “widow” is not one most of us would choose. But, as the saying goes, “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”…at least, that’s true for any of us who had healthy marriages. May good memories be good company and may you take joy in what is and not get stuck in what cannot be. For the child of God, “the best is yet to be” is true. God’s full of surprises.

  • Reply Theresa Morin Hall June 27, 2020 at 1:52 am

    Thank you, dear Jan! Love ALL your blogs—but this one especially got me. ❤️❤️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 27, 2020 at 1:17 pm

      Precious Theresa, what a lovely surprise to see your name show up. I’m so happy we’re connected through this means and your friendship with my amazing daughter-in-love. You’re a very good writer so I’m extra pleased you take time to read this blog. My hope was to come at these “turbulent times” with less direct talk about politics, pandemics and systemic racism by a peek into our marriage for a couple of biblical principles. You, dear heart(my favorite motif), will always be one of my “Gordon girls.”

  • Reply Wendy Lane June 27, 2020 at 7:04 am

    This was wonderful in so many ways! I loved picturing you driving along, waving and smiling at anyone you saw, with Jud’s photo right beside you. Haha, I’m smiling cuz I’m sure you brightened many hearts that day! Was joining the parade planned or a surprise? And,
    “Love and Listen”, yes. So good.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 27, 2020 at 1:21 pm

      The parade was a surprise. I’d driven to Chad’s house and arrived just as they were getting into their car to head for the parade. They shouted, “”Follow us!” So I did. It was a day full of surprises. Best of all, Jud seemed to enjoy the ride and I got rid of all those words.

      • Reply wendy lane June 27, 2020 at 8:15 pm

        Good for you! For you all! <3

  • Reply dale June 27, 2020 at 7:37 am

    Thanks Jan,

    You put marriage, and not only yours, in its best perspective. As in Pennsylvania Dutch thinking, we are too soon old and too late smart – this should not describe our marriages.

    Love, brother Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 27, 2020 at 1:33 pm

      Brother Dale, I love seeing your name pop-up. Thanks so much for reading and encouraging me and others with your comments. You and Marty are two who’ve done the home and heart work that over time transforms two into one. Humor helps so does
      occasional bouts of selective hearing.

  • Reply Anna iltis June 29, 2020 at 5:17 am

    I loved this Jan- thanks for sharing your heart!! ❤️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 29, 2020 at 5:50 pm

      And thank you, dear Anna, for reading and staying connected heart to heart during these months of being socially distanced from each other. May you and Peter have many more years to enjoy each other’s company and make good use of your “one small dash.”

  • Reply Russell K Bishop June 29, 2020 at 12:50 pm


  • Reply Alyssa Arnold July 6, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    Thanks for your stories Jan. I look forward to reading them. Stay safe <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 12, 2020 at 9:21 pm

      Good to hear from you in Utah, Alyssa. Hope you and Andrew are doing well, also.

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