The past 10 months have been some of the toughest in my life. I honestly thought 2020 and 2021 would be, but this particular story begins towards the latter part of the pandemic. It is near the end of 2021 when everyone seemed excited in anticipation of Christmas and a better year to come in 2022.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for our family.
On Christmas Eve, 2021, we lost our mom Patsy Canter of Asheboro. I get writer's block trying to express the emotions that come with losing a parent. It’s heartbreaking. It takes time, tears (and tears at weird times) and trust. Ten months later, I’m still trying to process and live with the painful loss.
But “The Day After” my Mom passed was Christmas. I awoke after a long, sleep-disturbed night, and the first thought that came to me was that Mom had arrived in Heaven just in time for Christmas morning. I imagined what she might be experiencing. I held onto those thoughts tightly, and shared them with my family. It gave us a “peace that passes all understanding” (from Phillipians 4:7). It was her most precious gift to us, as it brought comfort when we needed it most.
In June, 2022, I received a call from my Dad, Jim Canter of Asheboro. At the time, he lived in Winston-Salem, and said he needed to go to the ER per instructions from Urgent Care. I drove to him very fast, and we went to Baptist Hospital.
Dad had a blockage in his small intestine and was going to need surgery. After a 5-hour surgery, Dad seemed to be recovering nicely, and within a week in the hospital, he was given the okay to go home.
A few hours after arriving home, however, Dad started complaining about feeling nausea. Because it was late in the evening, my 82-year-old father kept insisting he was OK, and that we should go to our nearby hotel room and get some rest. I begrudgingly agreed, but said if anything changed to call me. The phone call I dreaded came early that morning.
“The Day After” bringing my Dad home from the hospital, I was taking him back, and he was very sick. Dad was given a room right away at Davie Medical Center, and the nurses and doctors came quickly to tend to him. With Dad in good hands, I left to find coffee and something to eat, and as I walked, I couldn’t believe what I saw. On many of the hospital walls were these large, beautiful, natural photographs of flowers! I often take photos of flowers on my walks and trips as I absolutely love them. As I admired their flower photos and snapped some pictures of them, I felt a peace pouring over me which Paul wrote about in his letter to the Phillipi, “Do not be anxious about anything ...” (Philippians 4:6).
It was confirmation that my Dad was in much bigger hands than I could imagine!
So after being in the hospital another 3-4 weeks, my Dad was finally recovering at home. Things had settled down when I came home from work and my beloved Boston Terrier Rex was having a seizure. It was his second one, I overheard my husband say on the phone to the Emergency Vet in Greensboro. Rex had been having eye pressure issues, and as we drove, the veterinarian told us he most likely was suffering from a brain tumor. His seizures got much worse. We didn’t want to let him go, but we knew putting him down was the best thing we could do for him as he was suffering.
“The Day After” Rex passed, I dreaded getting out of bed. I knew he wasn't there for our morning routine, a walk then breakfast. I pushed myself to go downstairs but not without first whispering a prayer, asking for strength.
While I had been hiding away from reality, my loving husband had taken up reminders of Rex in the house — his bed, his food bowl, his toys, etc. It was his loving way of trying to keep me and Emma (our daughter) from becoming more upset. It definitely helped.'
Out of habit, though, I walked into the laundry room to throw away the recycling, and I started to reach for Rex’s leash for our morning stroll, and it wasn't there. It then hit me. Rex didn't need a leash anymore. He was now running and playing with Oreo, our other Boston Terrier and Rex’s best friend. They were together again and were maybe even greeted by Mom. I smiled knowing God had provided me with strength, with Todd’s help. (“With thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phillipians 4:6).
It is late October now and things were settling again until Thursday, Oct. 27. Todd and I were less than 30-40 minutes away from celebrating 30 years of business at Trotters Sewing Company. I’m going over what I'm going to say when I get a phone call from my middle brother Mark Canter of Denton. He asks if I am sitting down, and I knew something bad had happened. He told me our Uncle Stan Bingham (our mom’s brother) had passed away suddenly (from natural causes).
I could not believe it! I had just eaten lunch with him a couple weeks ago, and he was fine and full of laughter and his entertaining tales. How can this be? What had happened? These thoughts were racing through my mind.
Later in the day, after 30 years were honored, I tried to work but a migraine sent me home. I fell asleep for a while, but once I awoke, I didn't sleep much anymore.
I couldn't get Uncle Stan off my mind. Knowing he was elected a NC Senator in 2000 and served 8 terms (through 2016), I wondered if news of his passing was on the Internet. I “Googled” his name, and yes, he had made the news in a very honorable way, as he deserved.
Governor Roy Cooper ordered all US and NC flags at government buildings across the state be lowered to half staff in his honor. He also tweeted on his Twitter account, “Senator Bingham was a hard working and thoughtful public servant who diligently represented the people of his district in addition to all of his other community efforts to improve the lives of others. - RC.”
The Day After” learning of my dear uncle’s passing, the governor was honoring him in a wonderful way, and this brought me peace. Stan was beloved by many across the state and is going to be missed by colleagues and friends in the Raleigh area, the Clemmons area where he grew up, the Denton area where he lived with his wife Lora and where they raised four amazing daughters, his close brothers and sister, his son-in-laws and his many grandchildren.
Stan was a one-of-a-kind, quick-witted, full of life, marvelous person. He had a story or joke for whatever you were talking about, and that is one reason he was admired and got along well with Democrats and Republicans alike.
Life will not be the same for Stan’s family and close friends, but I also find peace thinking of my Mom in Heaven welcoming her beloved younger brother Stan.
For all who mourn, worry, stress or feel lost, no matter what the situation is, this story was written for you. I feel very blessed that “The Day After” such sad events, I was able to find peace in the chaos. But I don’t think it was coincidental. I know God had a hand in all of it. And maybe by remembering and leaning on these two passages of scripture from Paul’s teachings in the New Testament, I pray you find some form of peace as well ...
“Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. 7 And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6,7 - AMP)