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Archive for February, 2015

When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. (Harriet Beecher Stowe)

As a writer my laptop and printer are something like hands and eyes—absolute essentials. I have been having some difficulty with my Internet service and so I called support. The woman at the end of the line stopped thanking me for my patience within minutes. Possibly because she needed to hold onto her own endurance. After all she was talking to a woman from the days of carbon paper and the manual typewriter. No, I do not have fond memories of tearing up a full page of print because of a typo on the last line. But, I have not grown up with the full terminology that younger folk have either.

“Now type these numbers into the long center line,” she directs.

This statement is ambiguous. There are two lines. Naturally I choose the wrong one. She asks what I see.

“Yahoo.”

“Uh, no,” she says. “We are not on the same page.” 

I would love to turn the page. I just don’t have a clue how to do it. I’m Curious George flying the plane and the Control Tower is giving directions to a monkey at a panel full of switches. Eventually, the task is completed. My computer has a new name and password. However, I do not discover that my printer and laptop aren’t speaking to one another anymore until after my tech assistance call has ended.

I call a friend, a teacher who doesn’t have school today because of the weather. He suggests getting a cord between our Wi-Fi box and printer, at least temporarily until he can come to our house and negotiate peace with our desktop equipment.

As Jay and I are facing the cold we see our new neighbor, Thad. Jay tells him about our woes.

“Really?” he says, and then hesitates. “Have you got a minute? I can look at it.”

“Sure.”

Are you kidding? A techni-smart angel appears at exactly the right moment? How can I not have a minute?

We traipse ice and snow inside and Thad finds no place to put a connector into our printer. It is 100% Wi-Fi. I hadn’t found a place either, but our friend had insisted there had to be one. Soooo, I figured he would find it if we didn’t. In some secret flap maybe. Like a hidden passageway behind a bookcase. I wouldn’t know.

Thad sits down and plugs in a series of numbers. I recognize some of them. My tech-help person had led me into a similar hidden chamber not that long ago. Thad’s fingers fly from site to site with the precision of a concert pianist. Soon, he tells printer what it needs to know to make up with laptop again. My electronic world is one big happy family again.

I am so ecstatic I hug Thad. Jay gives him a bottle of champagne.

Thad’s appearance could have been coincidence, some lucky serendipity. Then again, it could have been a divine gift of some kind, an ordinary blessing easily overlooked. But hopefully, not easily forgotten.

Thanks, Thad! Welcome to the neighborhood.

press the any key

 

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You’re going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times. But in the end, it’s always their actions, not words, that matter. (Nicholas Sparks)

Snow was predicted for today, but I expected a token inch or so. Our street, finally plowed yesterday afternoon, is now hidden. In the semi-darkness of early morning the white bitterness seems to explode its message; winter has won this battle. When the phone rings before eight in the morning I know what I will hear before I answer. The call comes from two states away, where it isn’t seven in the morning yet. My sister-in-law has not called to chat.

My mother-in-law has left her physical body in Midwestern winter and joined a higher, temperature-free dimension. As I look outside again I realize that like the February snow, Mary’s death was inevitable. But, I thought my spirit would be better prepared. Winter will end. This goodbye is final. At least from a limited five-senses point of view.

The first bird I see at the bird feeder is a female cardinal. The cardinal is a symbol of a visitor from the next dimension. Next, two more cardinals arrive. They don’t stay long. They feed and then fly into our blue spruce.

I think about the transience of life’s experience and that thought leads into disconnected memories:

I see my mother-in-law’s move from a more affluent neighborhood to a less wealthy one, not because she needs to do it, but because she sees a mission there, a house closer to her church. My vision follows the many people Mary invites into her home, the folk who stay for a while and then leave, changed somehow because of her welcoming…

Next my memory revisits the day when my younger son has tied a towel around his neck as a cape. He is two days shy of his third birthday and he is playing superman. He tries to fly off a chair, but his fantasy doesn’t transfer into reality. He has sustained a concussion. I don’t have a car. My mother-in-law drops what she is doing and takes me and superman junior to the hospital. Then she waits until after Steve is treated before bringing us home. Mary and Son-number-two are buddies. They have been since he was an infant…

Mary and Son-number-two’s daughter are also buddies. Nana is now declining. Ella pretends to be a bear. Nana pretends to be frightened. The game continues.

And so does today’s snow—along with a deep and penetrating cold. No, I could not ask Mary to stay on this earth with a body that is no longer able to contain her incredible spirit. She needed to leave it. The human Methuselah-model has not yet been designed. I said goodbye to Mary the last time I saw her, and I meant it. However…there is always a however. My generous attitude was aimed toward her, not me.

Another cardinal stops for a bite to eat before taking off.

Okay, how do I rephrase goodbye? See you in the next dimension, Mary. I don’t know when. But in the meantime, you have an enormous number of people asking about you. So long. Peace, beautiful lady!

cardinal, symbol of visiting past loved one

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Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it. (Christopher Morley)

Adult places have not been designed for under-five-feet-tall individuals. I cling to my one-half inch under five-feet-tall status, as if every fraction counted. But my height remains lacking as I reach into my cupboard—it’s like almost making it across a river.

While I notice a lack of patience in other people it could be because I need to be in constant motion to satisfy my own need for accomplishment. I have my med box for the week on the counter because it is within easy reach. This is not a great idea when I am almost crawling on the counter to get to a top shelf to return some glass containers.

The scattering of tablets and capsules on the floor is not really a pretty sight. I suppose I should be glad the glass containers didn’t fall and shatter as well. I am grateful that I just scrubbed the floor because I extend the five-second rule a tad. Medications are not necessarily cheap. I’m surprised expletive-deleted-plus doesn’t fall from my lips like balloons from an R-rated comic strip. Those boxes had just been filled! And yes, this is a comical scene. At my expense.

Jay reaches down to help me, but he has been washing dishes. His hands are wet. Not a good thing for red multivitamins. Wet hands are a good thing for dishes. And a husband who does them is fantastic.

Why did I have to play clumsy short person on a day when a turkey waits on the kitchen table for me to finish carving it? Besides, while preparing stir-fry I dropped little bits of cauliflower all over the floor, and they mimic baby aspirin. I already have enough to do!

At first I try to pick up meds and sort them into trays at the same time. Nope. This will not work. Sloooow down, Terry. Time to re-group. One thing at a time. This is also time to laugh at myself.

Perhaps I learned something at a presentation by Judy Towne Jennings, PT, MA at the Y yesterday. Judy cared for her husband who suffered with Lewy Body Dementia, a terminal illness that begins with Parkinson symptoms. Humor made his last days not only tolerable, but brought out the beauty in both of their lives.

Positive thinking is already a primary focus in my blogs. However, reminders are necessary. Just as it is necessary to eat nutritious meals, exercise, and watch both ways while crossing the street.

I don’t write these entries because I have all the answers. Actually, the folk who claim to be all-knowing make me want to escape via the closest exit. I write because the foreign aspects of existence are intriguing, and the mistakes and side trips lead to fascinating serendipity. When Judy admitted flaws I was more likely to recall what she had to say.

Here’s to this crazy mixed-up moment, and all the goodness that can come from it—no matter how it is pronounced or mispronounced.

humor in difficult situations pic of Kermit

 

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Friends are those rare people who ask how we are, and then wait to hear the answer. (Ed Cunningham) 

My mind is in my usual run-faster-than-the-clock mode even as I browse through Facebook, something I do for relaxation. I see a message from my new friend, Cecelia. How was your day?

I envision my invisible to-do list, the one that doesn’t place chores and goals in tangible order. It lumps them together, landfill style. I frequently need to stop and re-think my next step. Sure, I have occasionally created lists. However, I tend to lose them or leave them on my dresser while I am on some phase of the day’s plans, miles outside the reach of that paper.

Yet, as I read CeCe’s message I smile. My day has been good, touched by both minor accomplishments and everyday blessings.

Our chat begins with ordinary-life talk, slips into the sublime, and picks up laughs along the way. We travel through the past, present, and future. I notice how the lag between each bubble-of-talk creates comical miscommunications, misplaced antecedents, confusing new topics. They can be easily explained, but are nevertheless humorous. I wish that these misunderstandings could be settled as simply in the real world.

Chat is new to me. Sure, I’ve used Messenger on Facebook—for one-time statements. It is simple on the computer because I am familiar with the full-sized keyboard on my laptop. Besides, my cell is a  basic flip-top. No Internet service. As Cecelia and I tap sentence after sentence I ease into a new age. We will meet in person again. Soon. I hope. However, for now the wrinkles around my neck fade and her fresh twenty-seven years move closer to my sixty-eight. She is wise beyond her age. Our spirits understand one another. She is beautiful both inside and out. And I am blessed by her openness.

Seconds advance into minutes… a half hour… I will save some of my impossibly vague list for tomorrow. Other tasks need to be crossed off my invisible agenda today. For example, a shirt left in the dryer for an hour may be wrinkled; overnight the cloth could resemble a salt-dough-map of the Himalayas. Boiling eggs explode to the ceiling when the water in the pot evaporates.  I only needed to do that once to learn not to do it again.

Eventually I write, Good night. Talk to you later.

Then, we chat just a little bit longer, a few extra words, one more shared smile.

Some gifts need to be savored.

how awesome you are

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Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Most of our six-hour drive home has been calm. I imagine being one with a flock of geese traveling in a V-pattern above the flat Midwestern farmland. Some sun, some gray clouds, but little traffic. Even an expected construction delay turns into a minor build-up no worse than what we experience in low-trafficked business districts.

Then we arrive at the bridge that borders our home state from the south. Night is approaching. Brake lights are lined up in a queue long enough to mimic an infinite miniature Milky Way set in rows. Cars move under school-zone-limit speed. Jay seems less irritated than I expect him to be. However, he has spent the last week watching his mother deteriorate, her body and spirit preparing to separate. I place one hand on his knee.

We are so near, and yet so far from home. And then we see a tow truck easing along the side of the road. An accident has caused this backup. We are sure of it. However, we don’t learn the severity of the situation until the morning newspaper arrives.

Hours before we arrived at this part of the Interstate, a multiple-vehicle crash had occurred. At least four people were injured. Even a 2,000-gallon tank truck had been flipped over. The bridge had been closed for two hours.

I had wanted to leave my brother-in-law’s house earlier. But he had been kind enough to fix breakfast for us. The preparation and clean-up had taken longer than expected. Jay had been at the house a week longer than I had. We needed to bring home more stuff—and inventory a fuller car.

Now, as I sort laundry and put our toothbrushes back where they belong I find a small surprise among the packed items: a children’s book, Dr. Seuss’s “Butter Battle Book.” It looks familiar. As I open to the first page I see my younger son Steve’s name illustrated in outlined block letters, definitely his work more than two decades ago. His younger out-of-town cousins, now grown, read the book when they were small. Now Steve’s daughter will enjoy it. Good words passed on.

Good actions can be passed on as well. Not every day will save me from closed passageways. But inside each moment the seed of a possible blessing hides. And waits for the opportunity to be discovered, and sent in unknown directions…

happy thankful Optimism Revolution

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