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Archive for July, 2012

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. (Alexander Solzhenitsyn, novelist, Nobel laureate 1918-2008)

My husband and I are at airport number three of four; we have not yet grasped the seven hours returned on the trip back from Europe—don’t expect to find them yet, not since we have been awake since 4:00AM Austrian time, and it is after 4:30PM in Washington DC. Tired isn’t an adequate description. Adrenaline holds me together, the same way a plastic bag can carry heavy rocks. It works only as a temporary solution.

Our boarding time comes and goes, then we hear the announcement, clear despite the Indian speaker’s accent. Our plane is awaiting a maintenance crew. Another hour wait. My brain goes into its own holding pattern. I am a bear in hibernation, holding all energy within. Hoping. Praying. Home. A bed. It’s all I want right now. But that isn’t going to happen until our vehicle gets a part that helps navigate it through the clouds—certainly not an extra.

Boarding. Finally. Waiting. Again. It will take twenty minutes to install the part. This plane is small compared to the others we have taken on this trip through Germany and Austria. White walls enclose. Restrict. I’m thirsty. Our stewardess provides ice water. It tastes elegant.

I think of our visit to Dachau and realize I am entitled to no more than anyone else. Life is a gift. The German word brausebed (bathhouse) appears in my mind as if it were inside the plane. Behind that door thousands died. The rooms are empty now, but the horror remains.

So easy. So very easy for me to complain. It’s going to take time for this older woman’s body to recover. But it will. Take off has begun. Our son will be at the airport. He will greet us as if we had been gone a century instead of less than two weeks. He will grab our bags for us and offer to drive us to dinner.

I turn toward the dull white metal walls of the plane and allow a single tear to fall, for the nameless, for those who would have loved to have the privilege of waiting . . .

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Beauty comes as much from the mind as from the eye. (Grey Livingston)

“Where’s the closest Target store?” I ask the receptionist at my ophthalmologist’s office as I prepare to leave, my pupils dilated to the size of a barn owl’s. She tells me. I ask Jay, my designated driver, if he knows where that is, and we depart. However, my sunglasses are nowhere near sufficient protection against the mid-day sun. Guess my five-dollar coupon will have to wait until I can see what I’m purchasing. Later, much later.

In the meantime I use Mary Oliver’s how-to poetry book to shield my eyes against an apocalyptic glow in the clouds. No great thoughts escape from the pages into my brain. Right now the book is serving as a sun visor. Hope Ms. Oliver doesn’t mind. I’ll read her work for inspiration when words, any words, don’t look like squashed, dissected ants.

Amazing how much I take vision for granted. No significant change in my eyesight. Still need bifocals. My night vision isn’t what it was when I was twenty. But when the Phenylephrine and Mydriacyl drops wear off, I’ll be functioning again—maybe a tad more aware of the gift of sight: color, shape, light and dark contrasts, subtleties. The odd twist of a tree, the mottled brown of a sparrow.

In these next few weeks I will be doing more watching than writing. A vacation with my husband.  This blog is taking a respite because my son will be babysitting for my beloved Asus laptop. She isn’t traveling with “Mommy and Daddy” this time. In the meantime, peace and colorful blessings upon all.

pic from Positive Inspirational Quotes

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Always try to keep a patch of sky above your life. (Marcel Proust)

A sign in a local grocery reads: Who wants to wait in line? It’s meant to be a rhetorical question. But I thought I would answer it, at least on a theoretical level. I have to admit that it isn’t likely I will look for the longest line, then hope the person in front of me has 450 coupons and demands at least ten price checks. I have as much of an agenda as anyone else does. It’s just that I’ve been bombarded by opportunities to recognize perspective lately.

Therefore, I’ve decided to find situations where folk might not mind waiting a few extra minutes. Perhaps these possibilities could spark a few more suggestions:

a man who has received his first paycheck after being off work for years

a girl, just adopted, who has a few dollars for the first time in her life

a woman who recently discovered she is in complete remission from a deadly disease

a man who was released the previous day from prison

a person from a third-world country who never imagined he would ever be in a country where he could be this free

My shopping list today is short, but I realize I could buy more if I wanted—nothing extravagant, but I have the necessities of life, as well at a ’97 Toyota that gets thirty-five miles to the gallon, good friends, and a cell phone that works most of the time even if it doesn’t text. I have an opportunity to either wait, waste time thinking about what I could be doing right now, or I can pray, extend positive energy, or offer kind words to someone next to me. Think I’ll go the positive route.

 

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Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to. 
Don’t try to see through the distances. 
That’s not for human beings. 
Move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move. . .

(Jalaluddin Rumi)

I’m in the waiting room at my doctor’s office with my small note book. I arrived early and want to fill at least five pages. A woman talks on her cell phone. Loud enough to be heard in the hall. It doesn’t take long for me to realize she doesn’t mean to be quiet—she wants support.  I offer a few words of encouragement. She smiles back. We have a short conversation and she leaves with her husband.

Back to pen and paper. For at least two minutes. An older woman speaks. At first all I do is nod. Then she gets up and asks if I want an angel. She hands me a thick paper clip bent to create wings, a bead for a head. Ordinarily I would have politely said, “Thank you, how sweet,” then gone on with my own work. However, something about this woman intrigues me. Instead I say, “Actually your timing is good. My father isn’t well. We could use an angel.” She hands me a dozen more tangled hand-made gifts. “For your family.”

I laugh. Not what I expect in a doctor’s office. Another woman is waiting, too. The angel lady offers her blessed paper clips. My targeted five pages will wait until later. A trio conversation has begun. My scribbling was noticed. I admit that I write.

“What? Have you published anything?” they both ask.

“A few poems. Won a contest or two for short stories, poetry.” My writing history is diverse. There was a long lapse when I didn’t do much at all. Don’t want to go into it here. Strange. I have For a Better World 2012 in my bag. It’s a thick book, not an everywhere-I-go sized publication. I have it with me to show someone in the office.

“You are welcome to look at these, the poems I wrote for my grandchildren.”

My notebook waits, only a few lines written. All of them will be deleted. When the nurse comes out to call my name the angel lady laughs, “Not now, we’re talking.”

Oh, my father isn’t any better. I continue to hear sad as well as bad news from friends. Utopia hasn’t appeared out of nowhere. But an angel lady has brought wings into unexpected places. And fear steps out of the way.

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The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place. (George Bernard Shaw)

Huh? There are eighteen items in my spam file? Unfortunately this isn’t the time for me to look at this. I have important family business to attend to in a matter of minutes. No time to be at the computer anyway; it’s an intentional distraction. At the computer I’m not thinking about how soon I could be losing my father. But there should be no harm in deleting a little spam.

Oh yeah?  A few words catch my attention before they slip away. They speak to me as a person, a fellow blogger. The page back arrow returns a phantom list. It tells me a little of what I should have caught, but not enough. Some of this stuff wasn’t really meant for me, advertisements, other pleas, but some may have been useful. Days, even weeks too late, something like grabbing for a helium balloon long after it has taken off into the clouds.

“Are you ready to go?” my husband asks. I say that I am, but it is only a partial truth. One flip of the screen and all information is lost. True, I am new to this site, but the fact is I was in a hurry at the wrong time.

Yesterday is over, in more ways than I want to consider. At twenty-five I was going to be young forever. At twenty-five my father had survived bomb disposal in World War II. He knew better than that. A few years later he survived a daughter who thought there was nothing wrong with playing Indians in the basement, around a real fire. Sorry, Dad. Glad you set me straight on what was safe and what wasn’t before I started school. Really, at age five I thought a campfire was a wonderful game. On concrete, of course, not in the living room! This same child became one of the shyest children in her class.

Today brings different opportunities, and challenges. In the meantime, the folk who believe I slighted them aren’t likely to be reading this.  Who knows? I may have sent messages that ended up in someone else’s spam file, then wondered why I never got a response. An interesting thought. Communication may very well be an illusion.

Guess all I can do is start over and be watchful. Apologize if possible, and learn something new every day.

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Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? (T.S. Eliot)

I wasn’t present, but understand the phone conversation anyway:

“I have a problem.”

“What’s that, Dad?”

“I don’t want to work four days a week.”

“Okay, I can take care of that.” (Quick thinking on the part of the son, Paul, since the caller is an old man in a nursing home who is confined to bed.)

Apparently the old gentleman also believes he is at K-Mart and wonders if he should take a bus home. Paul generously offers to give him a ride.

I’d laugh if the story were genuinely funny and reality wasn’t going to eventually take its toll. Moreover, it is true, and closer to home than I would like. A urinary tract infection causes the man’s confusion. At least that is the current diagnosis. I was just told about the incident, and the phone still feels warm from my kitchen-hot hands. I’ve been preparing meals ahead for later in the week when I expect to be busier.

How much of all this frenzy matters now? I think about how much value I place on action—plenty of it. Each day is measured by how full the calendar has been. How much have I learned, written, discovered each day?

As I take a dirty plate from the dining room to the kitchen, I lean over and give my husband a kiss on the forehead. One quick, wordless peck. The power of that gesture overwhelms me, and I savor it—a symbol of what real accomplishment means.

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Other things may change us, but we start and end with family. (Anthony Brandt)

One phone call from my brother changes the day’s direction. My father is getting ready to go to the hospital by nursing home transport. A possible stroke. Bill sounds calm. I’m grateful. As eldest daughter I want to be there. I worked in pharmacy and speak a smidgeon of medical language. Besides, it isn’t fair to ask my brother to sit and wait—alone.

Unfortunately there isn’t much gas in the car. My husband and I planned to get a fill-up in the evening, before we celebrated our wedding anniversary with his siblings. My attention alternates between two gauges, the one that indicates outside temperature and the one that races to embrace the E. I prefer reusable shopping bags and fill the tank after dusk for environmental reasons when temperatures shoot above one-hundred degrees. However, the prospect of hitching a ride on a solar-surface Saturday afternoon doesn’t sound appealing.

I give up and get enough gas to get me to my destination. At the station I take the time to think and notice what is around me: broken glass thrown and splintered; overhead haze; a woman draped in black, head to toe, including scarf over her face; a mother with her child; a trucker.  Once my mission is accomplished, I accept the gift of a functioning air conditioner and breathe—deeply—thanksgiving for family.

Family. Not everyone enjoys that basic gift. I refrain from telling one friend my grandchildren stories. She has it all in other ways: intelligence, success, college degrees. Yet my joy highlights her pain.

Bill has already waited for the results of a long battery of Dad’s tests by the time I arrive at the Emergency Room. My father had a TIA (transient ischemic attack.) He should recover from this episode and will be returned to the nursing home. It isn’t easy to watch our father, weak in the narrow bed, but I get time with my brother and recognize how blessed I am to have him in my family. Bill isn’t a complainer. He had other important duties at home, yet was willing to stay with Dad for as long as he needed him.

Bill even gets the opportunity to bring laughter to the room. Dad wants the head of his bed lifted. I look at the levers and metal under and beside the bed but don’t figure them out. Bill says, “Works just like an ironing board.” It’s a family joke. When I was sixteen I needed to take one down and didn’t know how so I removed the screws. It took Dad three days to reassemble my destruction. I’ve told this story previously—at another site. But some stories refuse to disappear.

I glance at my watch and my brother notices. “You can leave now if you want.” He is more concerned about my welfare than he is about his own comfort. I hug him and say good bye. After all I already have planned a public way of saying thank you for who he is.

from Positive
Inspirational Quotes

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