Friday, May 18, 2018

Dum Dum De Dum

Tricky tune, right? Hm. The second set of notes are the same. Dum Dum De Dum. What does it mean? Well, just in case you have no musical sense. I will continue. "Going to the chapel and we're....". Yes, Loren and I are going to be married.

At one time I would have wondered why anyone my age would want to marry again, especially since I have been single for over twenty years. I would be the first to say I was pretty pathetic. However, Loren Nelson did enter my life a year and a half ago. We have tested this relationship. Questioned if this would work with a woman who loved her freedom. Through it all, we discovered that there is so much life and love we have ahead of us. He is my best friend and just a silly guy who loves his woman.

Loren is a professional photographer. His work is shown in many galleries on the west coast. A gifted photographer who has a wonderful reputation. He comes from a family of potters and artists. I come from a family in the performing arts. We are a good match. We have much to learn about one another and many adventures ahead of us. (https://www.google.com/search?q=loren+nelson+photography&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-1)

Loren and I had a conversation on our return from a gallery show in Astoria about being at the perfect age to marry. Our priorities are so much different than those we had at a younger age. We both have been on our own and in other relationships, so we have a pretty good idea about love. We have no desire to move into a home where we will raise children. No jobs to bother with. We are focused on family, volunteering and creating with our own artistic interests. Plus, we have all the time in the world, any day of the week, to have a new adventure. What could be more perfect!

Perhaps you wonder at this strange column, but I am a child of Neff Road. Maybe I need your permission. We have it from our kids. Maybe you and I are, by now, old friends once a week. I will be bringing him back this summer. He is very interested in meeting all of you and walking down Neff Road with me. He plans to bring his camera and capture the house back the lane.

We are not sure when we will be married. Perhaps late summer or fall. Nolan is thrilled to be the ring bear. Yep, I said bear. Emma is ready to toss flower petals at people. What could be better? So we invite you to be part of our new adventure. Looking forward to our meeting you when we come back to farm country.

I just had to tell you.....dum dum de dum.

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Mother's Day

Mother's Day is on the horizon. We think of mother in terms of  caring and loving. Inspiration and role model. Commander and chief. Doctor, arbiter, bouncer, counselor, teacher and more. Each year I write about all the mothers in my life. This year is different.

One thing that comes to mind this time of the year is just what kind of mother have I been? I do not want flowers and accolades just because I birthed a couple of children. As a mom, I know that I did my best, but it was not always enough. As my children grew, I grew up as well. I remember those days when I was lost with that first baby. I had rarely babysat and had no idea what to do with this wiggly thing. I was depressed, having just moved away from my roots. Flying by the seat of my pantaloons, I did the best I could. I was learning what it was to be a mother.

There are no perfect mothers. We all have flaws. Many children have truly wicked mothers. I cannot forget those children. My mother and I had our differences. As wonderful as she truly was, we struggled in our relationship. There are no perfect mothers.

How times have changed. Some families have two mothers. Some have a father who carries both roles. Mothers come in all shapes and sizes. All of these mothers know what it is to worry, wonder and wait. We are all in the same boat when it comes to not knowing if we are doing it right. We are the teachers of love, friendship, truth and trust. We teach our children by example and pray our example is good enough.

Every stage of motherhood is different. We raise our children, nurture our children, support our children and then watch them go. Not a day goes by that we do not think of those children. When they bless us with their children, we learn even more about love.

Really, for me this Mother's Day thing is overrated. I consider every day that I have been blessed with my two children and those of theirs to be my Mother's Days. I am not big on these days of recognition. I should not be honored for what I chose in my life. I receive my blessings every day and am not a pedestal mom. I do not want to be honored. Being a mom is honor enough.

Mother is indeed a beautiful word. So blessed that I am one.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Rewards are timeless

They sat on different sides of the room. Neither had seen the other before. A glimpse and at once they were friends from the past, for the future, for the moment. Eyes locked across the room.

Okay, this isn't a mushy story. This is really not a love story. Wait, this is a love story. Eyes locking across a room. It does not mean that two lovers will meet and be carried away in rosy words and dreamy eyes. Nope. It is a love that comes from another part of us. I find it a love so overwhelming that I cannot deny it. This four letter word is a spiritual freedom that erases all walls and builds a world of all people. Eyes lock and something new happens.

Last week Loren and I once again squeezed ourselves into the cafeteria seats, waiting for the twins to join us for lunch. The twins' beautiful African American friend Samara came and gave 'MeMe' a hug. Another little girl wandered over to our table and stood there looking at me. Emma leaned over to tell me that she does not speak English. I ask her how she is doing in Spanish. Her eyes widen and she walks away. We meet up on the playground, and I explain that I speak 'poco' Espanol. She shakes her head and says 'no English'. Before we go into the school, she pops up again. She is told to go to the end of the line, so I say "vamos" and take her. I put a loving hand on her head as we part. I am touched by the quiet conversations I have with these children who accept me as Emma and Nolan's grandma. I am aware of how my roots immigrated to this continent, while this sweet girl and my nieces people are the true natives of this land. I am so grateful to be able to bridge gaps and not make them.

We are listening to great jazz with friends in a small wine bar. The music from the 60's fills the room,  and I start singing along. I look across the room, and a woman is singing, too. She points a finger at me and shakes her head yes. We are on the same wave length. I can tell that she moved and grooved to the same music from all those decades ago. Our group is deep in conversation when I feel a tap on my back. This woman came over to give me a hug and tell me that we are sisters. I felt the same connection. A connection of music and the past feelings that went with it. A final hug and she said, "I just love you." Two strangers who shared the words of songs, remembering different childhoods, sitting across a room but connected by the memories of another time. I will never see her again yet will carry her in my heart.

She gets it. She knows the secret that I hold so dear. That secret that says that we have an opportunity to love everyone in this colorful world. Instead of looking for the differences that separate us, we should look for those that bind us together.

Perhaps this is a mushy column. I am awed each time I leave the house at the opportunities I have to love. The more I give, the more I receive. The more I receive, the more I give. I know I talk about love a great deal, but in the long run, is there anything more important? Why stay stagnant in your own world when you can experience the world with open arms and an open heart. The rewards are timeless.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The struggle to get there

So you start the day out with good intentions. Ah, that time when you first awaken tucked down in that warm nest that lulled you to sleep. Well, good intentions flew out the window when I did that first stretch of the morning. It has been years since it happened, but on this morning my back decided that any intentions would be impossible.

I hate how incapacitating back pain can be. The only relief, if you can call it that, is not to move a muscle. So I managed to find some pain pills and popped one down before painfully making my way to the coffee pot. Yep, got to have that coffee to at least jump start my basically immobile body. I am ready for that second cup of coffee now but wondering how quickly I can get is poured so I can get back to the heating pad and immovable position. Coffee? Pain? Hm. I'm sure I can get that coffee if I really try.

Back pain is indeed incapacitating. Having had a history of it, you would think that I would plan my supplies for the eventuality of such an attack. The heating pad should be at chest height, not on a bottom shelf. Ouch! A tray with the remote, phone and place for coffee should be placed in same location within easy reach. Instead the tray is on bottom shelf, remote and phone in locations calling for my aching body to bend. I could lie down, but that at the moment seems a little like climbing the Himalayan Mountains. Not going to happen.

I try to get sympathy, but that seems in small supply. My son James is quick to point out my stupidity from yesterdays events. My guy Loren is right up there, too. So what if I lifted Emma on Easter Day. Those days of holding her are almost over (well, maybe over). I am blessed if she has time for her MeMe. So why would I pass it up? Okay, our games ended me up with a black and blue chin when we connected head to chin. Isn't it worth it to have an all out day of play? What's a little, er, big bruise when you make a memory. So what if I can't move today. I need sympathy!

I sit here weighing the facts. Partly because I don't want to move and partly because I am sure you understand. Our grandchildren (especially those who are last) make us push our limits. We want their memories of us to be full of the fun and the closeness we shared. I have learned to sit longer on the floor, to once more move down the stairs on my derriere as we play train. I can do the hokey pokey and turn myself around. Frankly, that's what its all about.

Our Easter was extra special this year. Our church has a cross that on Easter is wrapped with wire fencing in which the children can insert the stems of spring flowers. Emma and Nolan were the last to leave the cross as they were having such a great time making it beautiful. The Easter egg hunt on the church lawn was different this year since the kids are older and their baskets filled more quickly. My son created a wonderful meal that we shared with those we cherish. The house was filled with Easter love. For Loren and I, we are looking for a home together and want so much to continue lovely, new traditions. So why not give it my all this year.

My heart is content, but my need for coffee is ever so strong. I look at the pot and am considering the heating pad that is cooling rapidly. This big event that will include much pain seems to be worth the effort. I know the pain will disappear in a day or so. Just as Easter will fade until we come around the calendar once more. Emma, I won't be lifting you next year. You will be a couple inches taller and a few pounds heavier. I will be a bit older and maybe a little smarter (not counting on that). But the memories we make, the efforts we put forth to build relationships (and get a cup of coffee) are well worth a little struggle to get there.

Well, here goes!

Monday, March 12, 2018

For the love of humanity

March. A month, a verb, a high stepping musician, a group of people making a difference. March. On March 24th March for Our Lives will take place. It will take place here in the US, but I know that people of other countries will stand up and stand behind us. Our children have a voice just as we did in the sixties when we were crying inside thinking no one would listen. Our constitution gives us all a right to gather and have our voices heard. The march for me is my one chance to tell my grandchildren, the children of my neighborhood and those of my friends that I will do anything in my power to protect them and to speak up for them.

We are not a world unto ourselves. We are not a community that hears only our own voices and own opinions. Whether we like it or not, we belong to everyone in this dear, sweet world.

I wanted to see just what this month of March means to people all over the world. I guess I am curious because I watch world news every night. I want to know what the rest of my 'neighborhood' is experiencing. So in this month, what are my neighbors doing? To find out I went to the United Nation's site. They seem to be concerned with everyone else on this planet, so maybe they could tell me what they are celebrating. This list is long; however, I think it says a great deal about this living planet. 

March 1st/ Zero Discrimination Day; March 3rd/World Wildlife Day; March 8th/International Women's Day; March 20th/International Day of Happiness, French Language Day; March 21st/International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, World Poetry Day, International Day of Nowruz (Iranian New Year), World Down Syndrome Day, International Day of Forests; March 22nd/World Water Day; March 23rd/World Meteorological Day; March 24th/World Tuberculosis Day, International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims; March 25th/International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members.

I ask you to keep this list posted on your refrigerator. Look it over and put your minds to the people of the world who are part of your community. We cannot have a blind eye ignoring the people of this earth, the earth itself, the universe that surrounds us. I will keep a list each month for you to follow. I hope you will check out the United Nations International Days and investigate what is this organization is all about. It might ask you what you are all about.

We do march on. The essence of who we are relies a great deal on our compassion and caring and action for others. I would stand in front of anyone I love to protect them. I would stand in front of anyone against anyone for my love of humanity. Will you stand with me? Time March's on.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Searching for beauty

Beauty.  Beauty from the inside out or outside in? There is no question on the beauty of a flower. What we see is what we get. A grandparent sees beauty in a few lines drawn on a page by a grandchild. Beauty can come in special moments, in a song, in a sunset. Beauty. It seems to be the thing that sells magazines and cosmetics. It draws in the eye and captures it.

What is beauty in these upright moving creatures called people? Like most women I have been through years of make up tips and products. I have had my hair frosted, colored, chopped and teased. I was proud of my thin frame and great legs. I wore so many different styles of clothing over my seventy years that I could be a history of fashion. I wore shoes that pinched my toes and those high heels that made my good looking legs even better. My ears were pierced, my nails polished. I roasted in the sun to get a tan....or for this blond, it was a deep shade of red. I was on a path to find my true beauty.

Well, at this wonderful age I find that I was mistaken. Had I discovered this earlier in life I might have saved a good deal of money and split ends. Beauty applied to the outside possibly allows a person to feel more self confident and perhaps more attractive to themselves, but is that real beauty? Does that outside layer create a safe place for the true essence of a person to come out? Hm. Seems logical.

Never would I have gone out of the house without make up in my younger years. My friend laughed at me when I told her that I put make up on first thing in the morning so I would be attractive to my husband. Feeling less than beautiful as a country girl with all the insecurities of living in a small rural area, I tried to find what could make me better. Ha! Silly girl.

No longer do I color my hair. In fact, I love the white/grey color it has become, because it fits me. It is my halo, my symbol of a life well lived, my crowning glory. My skin is changing, so I am changing my mindset. I don't need chemicals to puff up my cheeks and erase my lines. I embrace this new part of my life. Nothing is sillier than someone trying to erase those years and doing it badly. Nature has a way of making us beautiful at all ages.

Let's go back to that beautiful flower. That one that we see from the outside. That plant started with a little homely seed that was planted in some dark, brown soil. A cute little green bud pushes that crusty earth up and faces whatever is above regardless of the barrier. It stretches and grows and opens, a face seeking the sun. It captivates us and draws us to it. Yet, if you look closely as my father taught me, you see the inner beauty. My guy is a photographer. He knows what it is to see inner beauty. He even sees it in the death of a flower. His media is black and white. Sometimes I wish it was in color, so I could savor each part of the flower in it beautiful array of color pointing us to the birth of the flower. The inner beauty that causes that flower to grow and thrive, whither and die. A good, loving heart is that seed that creates the beauty we possess.

We all have that inner beauty. It doesn't come from a bottle. It may not get us on a magazine cover. It is that same openness as with the flower. It comes from that seed that makes us individuals. We are all blooms that need to be nourished to grow into our beauty. We need to stop believing that we need improvement. Men do not need to be buff or need a comb-over. However, I can do without the bushy eyebrows, but that's my problem. We don't need to be something for someone else. We just need to be better people.

Yes, I put on make up. Yes, I try to look my best. Yes, I love beauty. Yes, I think you are beautiful just the way you are.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

My very gentle Valentine

"Je suis desja d’amour tannĂ©" (I am already sick of love), "Ma tres doulce ValentinĂ©e" (my very gentle Valentine)

Charles, Duke of Orleans, was imprisoned in the Tower of London after being captured by the Brits during the Battle of Agincourt. The year was 1415. The love note was sent to Bonne of Armagnac, his wife. She died before these words of love reached her. They are forever preserved in the British Library. A loving Valentine message sent that would remain unopened by the recipient, yet it has been viewed by hundreds of people, keeping this love alive.

"The rose is red, the violet's blue, The honey's sweet and so are you." Yep, that little poem is from the 1784. It began life as a nursery rhyme.  The poem's origins reach back in time to Sir Edmund Spenser's 1590 epic, The Faerie Queene. "She bath'd with roses red, and violets blew, and all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew."

Shoppers look for that perfect card or gift. Always they look for words to express their feelings.  Words written by someone else. If you are like me, the verse means very little. Those words written by hand at the bottom of the verse are those treasured. As my son said, "Don't send me a card if you don't write in it." Yes, those are the words that are important. They need not be poetic. They need not flow in rhyme. Sometimes just the word 'love' written by hand is enough.

I run my finger across the words and hold the card to my face. In her flourished writing, she tells me she loves me. As my fingers touch the lovely words, I am once again with my mother. It is as close as I can get now, but I know that her hand wrote each letter as loved filled her heart for a daughter who lived far away. The love in those words, in her writing, still holds me close to her. They are all I have left and are more treasured than those in the British Museum. For these words are meant for me only.

We all need to express words of love. Words from our own hearts written in our own hands, spoken in our own words, recognizing that love is an action word needing to be said and needing to be heard.

In the 17th century, Shakespeare expressed it beautifully in his play Hamlet.  Ophelia waits, "To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day, All in the morning betime, 
And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine.