Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: comfort (page 1 of 4)


I spent a considerable amount of time this week among the Lamb’s Ear in the garden. Here’s what you might not know about this common plant:

  1. It has herbal remedy properties. My herbalist sister calls it “nature’s band aid” because it’s able to adhere to your cut or scrape to keep it clean.
  2. It’s prolific. It has flourished under my black thumb.
  3. It’s actually quite beautiful. It has a silvery look and is soft to the touch. The blooms are also attractive.
  4. Some would classify it as a WEED.

There’s a class of people who turn their noses at the Lamb’s Ear, and after such work of getting rid of it, I might join the club. I’m pretty certain the previous owners of the house planted the flower in a few places as part of the landscaping, yet I’ve spent hours yanking it out by the handfuls.

More than once, I’ve wondered who gets to decide whether a plant is, indeed, a weed or worthy cultivation in a flower bed. I mean, who had it in for the dandelion? Ask any 5-year-old and they would tell you that it’s a complete atrocity to believe the sun-headed flower could be such a nuisance.

I decided the line between flower and weed gets crossed when you no longer have the ability to keep it where you want it to grow. It gets out of order. It might even take over.

A plant goes from desired landscaping to pesky intruder when the gardener is no longer in charge. It might be beautiful. It’s probably helpful in some way. You might even really like it. But it gets out of control. And keeping it around means more rewardless work than beauty and enjoyment.

I have to wonder how many of us keep proverbial gardens full of weeds in our lives. It’s probably something we originally planted with purpose, but it grew uncontrollably, perhaps to the extent that it’s overgrowing a beloved rose bush. This thing in your life: it could be beautiful. It’s probably helpful. And you might even really like it. But it’s out of control.

Sometimes a plant is a flower. Sometimes it’s a weed. How do you know the difference? Check the health of the plants around it. And ensure you have space to walk – if you cannot even move about, to enjoy it’s beauty, what’s the good of keeping it around?

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That kind of family

I keep vivid memories of the experience of loosing my grandparents when I was 13 and 17. I remember the hospital room, the waiting. I remember watching the shoulders of grown men rise and fall as they cried. Mostly, I remember love. I remember the intense feeling of love for a person, and for one another.

In the days that followed, I remember more sadness, but mostly an experience of my family coming together. The cousins practically slumber partied for three days as we endured the funeral process. When it was all over, dad handed the keys of the van to Tim and we went to a matinee and out for Pizza Hut. (Brief sidenote: we thought we were hilarious when we sent Kevin in to get a table, as the hostess asked “Just one?” and he responded, “no, 11.” It really wasn’t that funny, but we rolled with laughter in the parking lot.)

Growing up, we had plenty of opportunities to be together. We spent countless hours at the lake, we had holidays, overnights and even family trips to watch the horse races. We weren’t strangers who suddenly bonded together. The ties that had held us were pulled tighter, like the shoe wedgies of 6th grade.

The moments of grief taught me: this is the kind of family we are. This is how we deal with hard stuff. 

As children and even young adults, at funeral moments in life, we were carried and cared for. We helped choose the music and looked through pictures, but the adults did the heavy lifting up of one another. They bore the weight of loss together. The children were able to simply be sad and move through the grief; the adults were living a different reality, accepting a new way of life without someone they loved so very much.

Now, we find ourselves at a new place. With the passing of my Uncle Bill, we have the first of the next generation to leave us. This time, there’s no even ground. With grandparents, the adult siblings make the decisions and the kids come along for the ride. Now we have adult siblings and adult children and adult cousins and, by the way, none of us feel ready to be those kinds of adults..

When I arrived at the hospital on Sunday night to say farewell to the orneriest man to walk the streets of Ridgeway, everyone was there. The cousins and spouses who weren’t tending children were beside our uncle, holding up our cousins and our fathers. We just showed up. (And, ordered pizzas.)

This is the kind of family we are. This is how we deal with hard stuff. 

I don’t like that we’re suddenly in this place. I don’t like seeing people I love in mourning. I don’t like my own sadness in missing my uncle. I don’t even really like the idea that I’m a grown up in these situations.

But I love my family. I love that we’re here, no matter what. I love that when we hurt, we hurt together. And I love that when it comes to this new phase of life, this place where we grieve on uneven scales, we’re still doing it as a family.

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And now, gone

When my sister and Chad moved to Akron over ten years ago, they settled into a little community of people who were simply delightful. Hilarious. Generous. Helpful. Every time we visited, we met another new and friendly face, or a pair of them.

After they bought their first house on Marvin Avenue (note: they’ve owned 3 on that street by now), it required some major renovations, starting with a bathroom. My dad and JJ came over one Saturday to assist, and Chad called a buddy. At one point, they needed to get an old, heavy cast-iron bathtub out of a bathroom and as the men stood and discussed best options – as a good Wingfield would – Chad’s friend Ricky, a burly man over 6 foot tall and 200 pounds, simply pulled it out. From the bathroom he called, “hey guys, where do you want this?”

We’ve told that story countless times, my dad in nothing short of awe that a man could single-handedly remove such a large, heavy, bulky item.

As time and friendship often does, things changed. These particular friends faded into other circles, while newer friends with school and church proximity floated in. Every once in a while I would hear from Angie about the old friends, she would bring me up to speed on new children, jobs, and events.

Now, he’s gone. This friend wasn’t well, but this wasn’t supposed to happen. Not now, not yet, not like this. Not with so many young children at home. Not with so much youth left in his own soul.

I grieve with this family and their loss of husband, dad, brother and son. I grieve with my sister and their community of families at their loss of a good man, a good friend. And I grieve with the world, which lives with such uncertainty. Sometimes it’s downright painful to come face to face with our mortality, our lack of guarantees.

At this stage in life, we’re regularly celebrating the welcoming of a new life as families expand; a stark contrast to the brevity of life. We see these young things, and the years of toddlerhood drone on into neverending nothingness of potty training and naptime prison. Then, suddenly, they have spelling words. I’ve been told the whole thing just picks up steam from there and basically you blink and they’re married.

Somehow, the short years of long days fool us into believing that we have all the time in the world. I think this is why the particular pain of losing young people stings so badly. These frozen years of tedium will not last forever, yet neither will we.

I’m a resurrection gal. I believe there’s something on the other side; life isn’t a string of moments that suddenly ends with nothingness. I’m an earthy gal, too. I believe that life, here, matters. If it didn’t, then death wouldn’t leave such a wound on the living.

As I sit in the sadness with these friends, my hope is that our grief will help us honor life. Regret comes easily in the early hours – we should have called, we should have talked; we should have tried harder or helped more. But don’t let fear and regret be the loudest voices.

I hope we grasp life with two hands and give it a firm shake, rather than waving as it walks across the room. And, I hope we do the same with the hands of our friends. Give them a hug, a call, a smile – not out of fear that it could be the last, but in celebration of another opportunity to do so.

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