Sunday, October 15, 2017

On your mark

A bell is ringing in the hall. Voices are heard behind a closed door. I look at a bed mussed and a monitor no longer clicked. At least for now. I wonder at the changes that can come so quickly for which you have no time to prepare. I wonder at that very word. Prepare: to get ready to put into motion. This all involves that process of: On your mark: Ready. Get set. Go! So, here we go.

On Friday I did all three. I bypassed 'On your mark', leapt over 'Ready/Get set', landing directly on 'Go' and did not collect $200. So now a bell rings in the hallway and conversations are going on as well. My hospital bed is messed up and minus me, because finally, today (Sunday) I am allowed to move around on my own minus IV lines I had plugged into my arm. Free at last! Yes, my friends, I was not prepared.

For almost 10 days, I had been on an antibiotic for my ever-aching gut. But, alas, the meds were not fixing the problem. At 3:30, I went to urgent care, informing the doctor that above mentioned medical condition was not resolved. Well, let me tell you, this doctor went into action and sent me immediately for a CT scan. At 7pm I got a call to go to the hospital immediately. A bed would be waiting for me. Oh,, by the way, I might have surgery.

Now let me tell you a thing or two about missing those steps of preparation. My 'Ready' got trampled on as I ran out the door. Luckily, no one here at the hospital was nearly as concerned even though they prodded and poked and slammed me into bed with a couple of IV's becoming my current dinner table. Yes, my innards were a mess. I had an abscess in my colon that needed to be resolved. Well, yep, I'd say so.

So how prepared are we if we only have time to grab a bag? I went to an earthquake preparedness session a couple of weeks ago and learned what I need to do to help myself, family and community should we get the big one. In both instances, I have learned that no matter what the best laid plans are at the time, your plans just might not work out the way you want them to. I have an earthquake bag ready to grab if need be. I had no plan for this trip to the hospital. A will, a directive, a sack lunch on the way in? All are good; we never really know.

So lessons I have learned the last three going on four days: Live each minute of your life to the fullest. Make life wonderful for all of those around you and even those you are yet to meet. Do not dwell on what you cannot control. You just get frustrated and your health goes sour. If you are ill, take care of yourself for those who love you, including yourself. Do not dwell on your health. When your body requires attention, it will certainly let you know. Prepare for what you can so there are no worries later, but live life to the fullest every day.

Tubes are out and I am called ambulatory. I am dressed in my own pajamas, sitting in a huge, soft chair with my feet up (looking a bit like a miniature Alice in Wonderland). A pull down TV hangs above me, so I can watch movies whenever I want. Life is not the best but pretty darn sweet right now. Wait! What do you mean I can only have chicken broth and orange jello?!?!? Nooooooo. Be prepared!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ready for a retread

I figured since I was doing it, I had better check out what it meant. Little did I know the number of options from which I could choose. So many options.

Definition of RETIRE per Merriam Webster Dictionary (1) to withdraw from action or danger: retreat (2) to withdraw especially for privacy: retired to her room (3) to move back: recede (4) to withdraw from one's position or occupation (5) to go to bed.

It was time. I was only working part time, but at a certain age your body rebels, and you wonder what it would be like not to have that hassle of working when perhaps you could be learning a new form of art, traveling, going to concerts and museums. Oh, heck, I just wanted time to enjoy my grandkids and my life.

So what does this look like? Hm. Definitely a withdrawal from danger (No.1). I could get a paper cut or trip over my own feet falling into a rack and ending up in the hospital. I could go with the No.2 definition and retire to my room. Boring! No.3 would be wonderful. I could move back to Neff Road and enjoy my friends there. But it is different now. Mom and Dad are gone. So is my home back that lane. Yep, you can never go back. And, most important, my family is here. Now No.4 seems to hit the nail on the head. I didn't just withdraw. I walked out the door with a lively step and a smile on my face. Withdraw makes me feel as though I should have been hiding inconspicuously behind a shrub, sneaking my way to my car. Ah, and then there is No.5. No more early rising. No more dreading the next morning. No more noisy alarm clock to intrude on my peaceful sleep. Ah, yes, I will do my fair share of No.5. So many choices, and I get to do them all.

I was surprised that  the list of definitions  did not include 're-tiring', as in re-tiring a car. I get new tires and have my tires rotated. I am a bit like a worn out old tire. The tread is getting thin. When I park the car, the tire seems to relax into itself. When its flat, its flat. Seems that this is a pretty good description of my next phase of life. I am getting 're-tired'.

Ah, yes, this special time of my life will be full of love, family, home and probably some new tires. A spring trip back to Ohio. Adventures I've yet to find. And, a new man in my life. Sweet retirement. I think I like it.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

This little light of mine

Light in just a few moments turned to darkness. A barrier settled in front of the sun. A little moon up there in an orbit manages to block out that great big sun. Darkness erasing light.

Oregon was a mecca for the eclipse. People from all over the world flocking to see this once in a lifetime shadow across the sun. Small rural towns were overrun. Service stations ran out of gas. Not enough toilets, not enough food, not enough of everything, including law and order, to cope with the masses who came to see the two minutes of darkness.

As you can see, I am not one of those who rushed out to find my observation spot. Seems to me that all of these people could be doing something more useful. One of the national forests is burning and canceled all campers from entering. Reservations made a year ago are useless a year later. Much ado over two minutes. Much ado.

I am wondering if all of these people are equally interested in the mudslides in Sierra Leone leaving hundreds dead and homeless, bombs, cars driving into crowds, wars on foreign lands, nuclear war looming closer all the time, prejudice.  We seem to want to bury our heads and only think of wonderful things. We pack up our bags and drive away from the daily news. We want our two minutes of awe and wonder. Yes, this is a big event but then there are more important things blocking our lives.

Some ancient cultures believed that the eclipse happened as a mythical figure ate or stole the sun. Others thought it might be a sign of angry gods. In Vietnam, people thought a giant frog was chowing down the sun. The Norse believed it was wolves. Ancient China went with a dragon. The Native Americans believed that a hungry bear caused an eclipse. I personally believe it was blocked out by the thousands of people waiting around for their two memorable minutes.

The sun waited for the moon to stop by. The dark spot blocked out the light. Yet even with the darkness covering the brightest light known to man, a small edge glimmered. Glimmers of light. Glimmers of hope, of renewal. Darkness does move on. It moves on when the light it tries to banish will not be hidden. We know the light is there. We have seen it. We should fight for it, so there is light for everyone. For in allowing darkness to stay, we blot out the son.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Never too old

Days of summer are dwindling. School is just around the corner. The twins will be going off to kindergarten. I know what this means. Having seen it with my older granddaughters, I know that time with MeMe will not be nearly as exciting and our adventures will change. Days of leisurely playing will disappear until next summer.

We stood in the hull of the bulky aircraft, staring down the 218 ft. fuselage. The big plane, as Emma and Nolan call it, is a favorite. We are all dwarfed by this huge plane built in 1947. So when we gave the twins the option to return to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, they jumped for joy. However, Emma had a request. "Can we swim on those slides?" Ah, yes, the museum also hosts a building called Wings and Waves. An ideal way to end the summer no matter how old or young you happen to be.

Being a grandparent offers so many opportunities. We get to play with cars, push dolly strollers, play with Play Doh, paint and do art crafts, play games and pretend to eat meals the kids cook in the toy oven. We have had a great time taking the kids swimming, but this adventure was a success in an all new way. The kids loved the slides that twisted and turned then spit the duo out drenched and laughing. In the Wave pool, we were tossed as in the surf and held on to kids in life jackets waiting for the next wave. In the Vortex, we swirled in the current carrying us around and around. We laughed, we played, we made memories. And, that's what it is all about. Maybe not their memories since they are only 5, but truly it is all about our memories. A small hand in mine. A laughing child who can hardly speak so full of joy and soaking wet. The chatter in the dressing room about toilets, wet suits, soap dispensers and paper towels that shoot out when you wave at them. Children who fall asleep on the way home and capture your heart all over again.

This week we are taking them to see a wood carver, a true artist. Simple experiences that reside in our own community. Exposure to the different ways of life and the world outside of their own backyard. Yes, we have added page upon page to our memories this summer and opening a wider world of experience for our grandchildren.

We stood in the Spruce Goose, Howard Hughes's folly. The kids do not know the history yet are awed by the very size of this beast. They will talk about it again and again until it takes residence in their memories. They just might hear a story about how their grandparents stepped away from all decency in donning bathing suits so they could enjoy precious time with their grandkids. My son asked me if I wasn't exhausted. Oh, yes, exhausted, by the very best kind of being tired.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The courage of living

There is a courage in living. A heroic strength to face the tribulations in life and to continue on. A victory over pain and illness, fighting to see another day and to be with those we love. There is a courage in living.

In the last year I have lost several people I love. The loss is painful, yet in the loss, I find truth in living. The innocence of youth is limiting. But the living we gather during adulthood makes us stronger and able to love more deeply. I noticed when I was entering my sixties that my eyes carried a sadness in them. I have since seen that same look in others who have experienced loss. It is that little piece of us that is lost. A sorrow I do not deny. I see the world through new eyes, knowing how quickly time passes. I know that after loss I will find peace. It takes courage to move on and allow ourselves to be happy again.

Sometimes the battle seems hopeless, the sorrow too deep. Disappointment seems to find us at an early age. We seem to be chased by those things that want to pull us down all the time. How often are we at the bottom looking up? We learn to crawl then we learn to walk. A life lesson. A lesson in finding courage.

When my friend died of MS, I truly saw raw courage. Lying helplessly in a bed did not take away her sense of humor. There were no pity parties. She did not have time for pain. She cared most about lifting up those around her. She rarely talked about herself and always asked about what was happening in our lives. Raw courage. A woman who, to the end, was a ray of hope. A woman who understood life.

I learned from my mother how to be a loving conversationalist.  Rarely did she talk about herself. Her joy was in the conversations with others about their lives. She truly cared. I learned that the best part of a conversation was in the listening. Mom was strong; no matter what happened in her life she did not bend. She always had time for others. Despite the sorrows that plagued their lives, she had the courage to find the best in life.

Courage to face adversity and to be strong. Courage to survive heartache and disappointment. Courage to know that sadness and despair will pass. Courage to make the lives of those around us better. This is called the courage of living. Sometimes we wonder if we will find our smiles again when the burden is heavy. Courage in living will bring peace every time. Embrace your courage.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Pomp and Possibilites

Cap and gown. Pomp and Circumstance. Forty to eight hundred students (depending on the school) enter the hall. Parents and grandparents stand with tears in their eyes. For many this day signals an empty nest. For others it just might be the first grandchild stepping into the unknown. For those youths standing in wait, it is the beginning of their futures.

So what advice would you give the students, Pam? Well, I think the best I could share would be this: Find what you love to do then imagine the possibilities and do it. Soar into a future that serves this world and the people in it. Do not fear what you do not know. You will succeed. You have potential to create change. Do not hold on to the past; it only makes going forward more difficult. Dreams can come true. They will find you if you cannot find them. You can always change your mind. Do not regret mistakes for in stumbling we find stronger footing. Never compare yourself to others. You are the best you that you can be. There is no one finer. Do not be afraid to try new things. Look to your heart and let it sing. You never stop learning. Open your mind to all views then find your own. Each day is a new lesson. You have only tapped the very tip of your life. Soar, fly, step into an unknown world and be what you were born to be.

For me, life was scary once I left that lane on Neff Road. I had graduated and was going to college. I wanted to move away, but my past history reflected only homesickness at sleepovers. No one taught me how to survive on my own. I dreamed of dancing, writing and acting but had no encouragement. I blamed others for my fear of life outside of Darke County. There is no one to blame but myself. It took me until I was thirty-seven to have this realization. I began acting and taught drama as well. I worked with kids at risk. Kids wondering if there were such things as dreams. I had friends of all colors and all beliefs. I learned from each and every one. I could look back and see the possibilities I had never recognized at the time. I thought I was to be a daughter, a wife, a mother. All perfectly good, but for me there was so much more. I knew that I had a purpose in this old world. I had a duty to learn, change and open my mind to possibilities. Finally I followed my heart and began to write.

I sat in front of a couple of students at a graduation. One young lady asked the other, "What is that symbol on the top of that mortar board?" The other girl answered, "It is the symbol for Mercedes Benz." Let us pray that the youth of 2017 will look for more than a fancy new car. Perhaps they will look for peace and a better world.☮

Monday, May 15, 2017

A song unwritten

In searching through some papers, I ran across older pieces I had written many years ago. Some were as far back as my high school years. Slightly yellowed papers written by the hand of a teenager. In later writings, my poetry told of the loss of my parents, of the farm. My pen captured the joy of becoming a grandma and the world that awaited me as I traveled through life with these children. A woman of many feelings, many faces and emotions that found her answers through the pen in her hand. Many times I questioned why life was so difficult and where my place was in it. Never at a loss for words, they poured onto the paper for release and revelation.

This is a short column today. It is a piece to contemplate and understand. In its simplicity, I found my own answers. I hope in some way you might find your own.

I am a pen in the Writer's Hand
A spark in dry tinder
A tool in Skilled Hands
A drop in a rising pool
A silent voice on a distant page
A compass for a traveler
A yes in a world of no's
A mystery yet unraveled
A valentine overflowing
A note in a symphony
A song unwritten
A page waiting to be read

The list could go one, but this pretty much says it all. Perhaps you will find yourself in my list. Perhaps you will make your own. Wherein lies your truth?