Dorothy Elizabeth Sellers Brinlee: a Eulogy

I don’t believe in Euphemisms, as they often lie and skew the truth.

I hope to give an honest depiction of who Grandma was, and to be considerate of everyone’s experiences with her, as the narrative swings from some of the darkest times to some of the happiest times of our lives.

What is important for us to remember in Grandma’s death?

I could tell you the stories she told me…

As a child, she once fell in the kitchen, catching herself on the hot wood-burning stove. Later that day, with bandages on her severely burned hands, she was given the easy job of guiding her family’s beast of burden, one of the gentler chores of their agrarian lifestyle.

Once, when she visited an aunt’s house with all of her cousins, they slept on the wooden floors of the kitchen, where it was most cool in the summer night. Later, she was awakened by the eerie sound of chains dragging outside, and upon looking out, she saw the appearance of a ghostly figure at the front gate of the property, seemingly trying to come in.

Before marrying her first husband, she spent a short time on her own in Houston where she attended vocational college.

What’s more important than these things is the expanse of her legacy. She was the true matriarch of our family: a consistent beacon along the barren thoroughfare of Highway 90. Regardless of how far we  traveled -- Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee -- there would always be a home for you in the muddy water of Louisiana: a place where she was always awake in the darkest hour, ready to welcome you home. She always had a bed for you, and she always had more than enough food for you. She had one of the most eclectic collections of things you’ve ever seen in your life. By the time you were ready to leave, you’d have more than a box full of some of the most obscure items you could purchase on late night television; jars of homemade preserves; and a handful of soft peppermints.

As wonderful as all those things sound, it’s only fair that I mention the reality: that though we loved her very much, Grandma was a very difficult woman.  

I experienced this firsthand in 1989 when I was left with Grandma along with my sisters, Vicky and Becky. Grandma became my mother at the age of 61. Growing up in the 90’s and the 2000’s with two elderly people (both experiencing mind-wasting diseases) was very hard. Because my sisters were older, they would move out before me, and I essentially became an only child. Over time and for an assortment of reasons I believe most of us can relate to, I began to severely resent her; in 2009, I left her house, blaming her for a lot of things. 

Over the next ten years, I would come home at least every 6 months to visit her. I would start to notice she was a little different every time. Month by month, as parts of her began peeling away, she became a new person over whom I was no longer able to hold any resentments. 

I was able to forget the mean things that she said.

I was able to forgive her.

We are forgiven with the measure by which we forgive.

If I could intercede on her behalf -- 

If in your heart there is any bitterness, resentment, or disdain for her --

I hope you can come to a place of true forgiveness.

I don’t believe in Euphemisms, as they often lie and skew the truth.

All of creation yearns for the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19),

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It pleased God for the fullness of His deity and Godhead to dwell in Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:19).

In death, Grandma stands before the Lord Jesus Christ

And in her death, I hope that you will consider where you stand with Him.

I hope you remember her in the smell of citrus – peelings of Satsuma – the bittersweet of cumquat.

I hope you remember her in the heat of a Louisiana evening, and the roar of the cicada. 

I hope you remember her face in the window above the sink as you stand at the end of the hall with the sounds of dishwater and country music during the latest hours of the night – 

I hope you remember her

On August 5th, 2019, a little more than a month before her 93rd birthday, 

Dorothy Elizabeth Sellers Brinlee --- Grandma --- My mother 

Died.



Evangelion & Sadness in Endings

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I just finished the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. It fed my childhood fantasy of piloting giant robots while fighting giant monsters, and It dealt with a laundry list of emotions for me: masculinity, loneliness, depression, and relationships. It also grazed over ideas and concepts like the singularity, Kabbalah, and homosexuality.

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I’m not sure if I think the show was good or bad. It was slow moving, and the more entertaining bits seemed to go by in a flash. More so, the context of the story spoke louder than anything else. I’m usually left hollow any time I finish binge watching something, so I won’t over state my emotions on the series; however, I recommend it to any anime fan.

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Grandma

On August 5th, 2019, around 4 in the morning, my Grandmother died. It’s a common story for most people in my generation to talk about their grandparents dying, but I believe mine is a little different.
My parents divorced whenever I was two years old, and I was brought to Grandma’s house to be raised. My first memory of her was when I was a baby: I was lying in a crib, she was standing over me saying things that you says to babies. We were in the master bedroom of her house. She had just given me a bottle of Root Beer, and she was putting me to sleep. During my formative years, she saw that I had everything I needed, and I saw her watch her husband waste away from Parkinson’s disease. She and I fought a lot, and it’s hard to say if we were even friends. I left her house in my early twenties, and left her to herself. I visited often, and every time I saw her another layer of her would be gone. She would become a new person that was easy to forgive, and easy to love. Every time I left her house I dealt with the hard reality that it could be the last time I saw her.

I’ve been dealt the card of death multiple times over the past few years. Each time is different—varying from one extreme to another. This time it was blunt force, delivered by my father over the phone just hours after she had passed. The impact would seem faint, but over these past two weeks I have come to remember grief and all of it’s forms.

These are difficult days.

You Should Forgive God

I think it’s important to note that the idea of “forgiving God” is heresy. 

The Christian God, Jesus, and the Holy Sprit are at no time in history at fault. This is in direct contrast to humanity, which has been in and at fault since the fall.

I was made aware of the idea that “…we should forgive God…” about a year ago. It suggests that humans should “forgive God” for the negative circumstances that he has put us though in our lives—e. g.,  growing up poor, being sexual abused, having bad parents, or anything else that would dramatically shape a person in a negative way—therefore, cause them to hold resentment towards God.

There is absolutely no Biblical ground for this concept. As created and fallen creatures, we are unable to pardon lest God himself pardon us. To suggest forgiving God brings into the questions his goodness and righteousness, let alone his ownership of creation and the grace offered by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

 A proper response to any resentment towards God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is unequivocally our surrender to him. We must first recognize that we have been in rebellion against Him and His law.

 I believe whoever came up with the idea of “forgiving God” probably intended for it to soften the blow of my previous statement; however, it heretically assumes that God is somehow at fault.

 I will offer this anecdote. He is a good God who has loved and taken care of me my entire life. He is all-powerful, slow to anger, and capable of dealing with any problem that I might have with him. He gently corrects his children in love, and guides them to proper understanding of his character.

Easter

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Today is Resurrection Sunday, and as I wander the halls of this high school—waiting for the next service of church to start—I recall where I was ten years ago. I’d only been in Humble for about a month, and I had just landed a job at a high end auto-repair facility. A child.

I believe that my life was changed because of  Jesus’ resurrection, though It’s hard to say at what point this occurred. My whole life has been tied back to the sacred legend of the Ancient of Days.

He continues to change me, grow me, and promote me. By the end of it I hope to be found as a man of God free of addiction and a broken self-image.

Regardless of what happens, “...I could sing of your love forever.” 

 

New Teeth

This morning I’ll be playing on a new set of teeth. I had some repairs done to my traveling ghost. Aside from needing a good brushing, and something rolling around in the case, they seem to have fixed the over zealous D below middle C and the sticky B just above. 

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I know more than ever, that there is a high importance to the cohesion of musicians in a band: unity in direction, repertoire, and purpose; otherwise, it’s just karaoke...

Musical Weekend

I got to see a lot of great music weekend. The first set was The Midnight who had a great opener, Violet Days. The show was so awesome; The Midnight’s catalog is filled with candy and great songs. 

What seemed to be most special was getting to sit with John Ebdon and Steven Fenly. These two artists are true to craft, and and I’m honored to call them my peers.

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After them, we ate at the House of Pies. which is always the best.

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It’s a wonderful thing to experience the arts.