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Archive for December, 2016

Growth demands a temporary surrender of security. (Gail Sheehy)

Clouds don’t hold any shape for long; they form, disintegrate and reappear. I watch bright blue sky fill with white and then darken around the edges. Unusual for me to watch anything for long. I’m addicted to constant activity. However, both an asthmatic cough and a dull pain in the back of my head demand that I stay still for a while.

This year has almost ended. Some of 2016 has been sweet. Some of it has been so bitter I can scarcely swallow when I think about it. The clouds shift by. Change is what they do—part of what they are.

I’m not that flexible. My neck screams to me every time I turn too far left or right. My spirit continues to learn, through friends, grandchildren, and circumstances both within and beyond my control.

Sure, I’m tempted to worry about the factions that have divided this country. Moreover, I’ve seen too many deaths both close and far away.

Beauty remains despite ugliness and hate. I have a choice. Can I stay inside fear or celebrate the fact that my husband has chosen to lie down beside me?

A Happy New Year to all. May your paths lead you to become the best you were meant to be.

two photos taken from my front yard, MiFrame enhanced

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A good friend is a connection to life—a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world. (Lois Wyse)

A. and I sing along with Christmas carols played in the background at the senior Christmas party. She is not distracted by the colors and movement around her—she can’t see them. Her white cane leans against an empty chair next to her.

A.’s enthusiasm buoys mine. We have already exchanged gifts, nothing dramatic. She gave us the practical items we asked for: potholders and handkerchiefs. We got her a grocery gift-certificate. The gifts don’t matter. Our intentions do.

“You don’t know it, but you really helped me,” I tell her.

Then the leader of the senior program goes to the microphone and asks for quiet. Among a group of older folk, that’s something like suggesting a tornado stop mid-whirl. For a change, everyone’s hearing aids are tuned-in. A little girl plays a few carols on guitar, single notes, but the songs extend into complicated musical patterns.

The featured entertainer switches from guitar to keyboard.

“He’s good,” A. says, tapping out the rhythm to “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

Our friends at the table seem to pick up on her enthusiasm. A. wins one of the door prizes.

When we are in the car and returning home, A. asks how she could possibly have helped me.

I tell her about how our friendship deepened when Jay was in the hospital in the fall. I was having muscle spasms and needed to care for my recovering spouse. She was sunshine when I felt uncertain and more than a little frightened. A. told me then she could listen and would be my friend forever. Her assurance helped me get through a difficult time.

I watch as she feels the items through the plastic wrap over the basket of the door-prize win. Dish cleaner, a wash cloth, some unidentified smaller objects, possibly kitchen oriented. I can’t see anything tucked under the visible objects. I don’t know if any other treasures wait inside. A ceramic angel is situated on top, in the center.

At first I wonder how an angel could have anything to do with miscellaneous cleaning products. Maybe the connection doesn’t need to be obvious. Maybe the blessed isn’t separated from the ordinary. And a human-angel is appreciating a ceramic image with a tactile dexterity I have never experienced.

The winter solstice appears now. Each day slowly adds daylight. A. has never seen light. Yet, she has absorbed it through her being, even if her eyes can’t observe a single cloud, or recognize one shade of blue or gray.

I see the shapes and colors. However, I haven’t captured the fullness of what I can touch, taste, smell, see, and hear. Yet.

A., my newest life teacher, unlocks her apartment door. “Call you in a couple of weeks,” she says. I hope she doesn’t mind if I contact her sooner. This student has a short memory.

The Solstice: created from a public domain image

winter-solstice-with-background

 

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Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. (John Lennon)

Today. Finally. I’ll get a few errands completed. Even though old man winter is mocking the bright blue sky by plunging the temperature below ten degrees. My key opens the lock on the door of my 1997 Toyota on the second try.

The ignition responds. Unfortunately, the door doesn’t close—not because the seat belt is in the way. I pull the door shut and try to hold it sufficiently tight to lock, with the false hope that it will stay there. Oh, sure, the lock catches, but the door is not properly positioned—and I can’t get it unlocked again.

Great! I. Am. Stuck. Inside. This. Car. And Jay is at the auto repair shop now getting an oil change for his car. Naturally, my purse and phone are in the house. I am simply warming little green for a minute or two. My old car has decided it doesn’t want to go anywhere.

Now, if I can get the window to open… I press the buttons. The windows lower only on the passenger side. That means I get to climb over the gear shift, pray I don’t drop the keys out the window, and open the door from that side.

Hallelujah! I’m sprung. Little green Toyota remains iced, but at least I can call to see if Jay is still at our friend’s repair shop. Our friend suggests Jay make a simple repair with a spray; it does not work. Jay and I both drive back to the shop—not in our neighborhood. He follows, as my car-dian angel.

The warm drive allows the door to relax and behave as if nothing had ever been wrong with it. Ack! Ack! Triple ack. At least my-car-that-could-be-almost-classic-if-it-didn’t-resemble-a-demolition-derby-look-alike gets an oil change. And I learn to cover my key with the point of a pencil (graphite.) Graphite in the form of a pencil point or graphite spray helps to loosen the lock.

Of course, this cure only helps in models old enough to earn rust stains. My vehicle fits in that category. Little green is not old enough to remember carburetors, however.

My errands will wait for tomorrow. Maybe. Fate, the weather, Armageddon? Whatever tomorrow brings, I’m grateful not to be a four-foot eleven-inch ice cube.

iced-in

 

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If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older. (Abraham Sutzkever )

My almost grandson, Dakota, is about to leave our house to spend the weekend with his dad. I am on the floor of my office/playroom. The area doubles as both.

Ella and I are making Play-Doh food for two baby dolls. She leads each scene; I follow, savoring every inconsistency with reality. Time follows a whim. Meatballs can be blue. Toy characters can be friends even if they are three times the size of one another.

“I love you, Ella,” Dakota says. “Be good for your daddy and I will be home on Sunday. I love you.”

A five-year-old angel stands in a room filled with the imperfection that happens when every toy finds its way off the shelves. I want to hug the little boy, and gather in the beauty I see. Instead, I wait in awe.

He doesn’t know how incredible he is. I don’t have the pre-school language to explain to him what I see. I listen, and allow him to teach. About accepting life as it is, not how I want it to be.

Utopia does not exist. Anywhere. Even in play. Some of the Play-Doh has dried out. My grandchildren love the stuff. It’s inexpensive enough to replace. The toys can be returned to the shelf in less than thirty minutes.

I look at the world scene, however, and the pain in my neck and back increases—a somatic response as helpful as screaming into a storm, telling the wind to stop, immediately. I work toward taking one step at a time, and listen to the nuances of each situation. Act. Don’t react, Ter. Easier said than done, but a lot more effective than war, on any level.

I am grateful my grandchildren live in town. They may think they have a grandma-playmate. However, they rekindle a long-ago child who believes in creativity and kindness.

I may never be able to convince my arthritic hands they belong forming odd-colored vegetables for a stuffed snowman and cow. Nevertheless, the children convince my spirit it can remain fresh and pliable, capable of change, open to love.

(Dakota’s drawings of my son, Steve, and his family: Mom, Steve, Ella, and Dakota. When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Dakota answered, “A daddy like Steve.”)

dakotas-drawings-of-steve-and-his-family

 

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Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light. (Albert Schweitzer)

My first physical therapy appointment has brought hope. I learn a few spasm-charming tools.

Later that day I occasionally hum along with the music during exercise class. My balance isn’t bad for a senior citizen. I can stand on one foot without needing to hold onto anything—not with the finesse of a mime or the grace of a ballet dancer, but miracles have their limitations.

No divine magic wand has struck the world and made everything well with the earth either. That does not mean I need to dwell on ugliness every second of the day. I have decided to act, speak, give, join groups that foster change, never with an attitude of hate.

Why is a pipeline more important than the law, or the rights of ordinary people? I believe the differences in race, religion, and ethnic origin add richness to our country and world. Responding with venom to those who can’t understand only creates more venom. Many organizations exist to help. With support. I pray help arrives in time.

In the meantime, I try to live today and find people who envision the light capable of uncovering both corruption and greed as well as the power of the people.

I speak to an upbeat, sunshine-minded woman after exercise class. She asks about my granddaughter, Ella. The woman comments on the sweetness of Ella’s double-jointed antics in front of the mirror, the last time Jay and I brought her to the Y. I answer with recent stories.

The woman tells me about her niece born weighing little more than a pound. The doctor and staff told the girl’s mother they didn’t expect the baby to make it—not with the number of complications she faced. The little girl just celebrated her second birthday.

This lovely woman and I hug. I feel as if I have been given a power boost, to face the next challenge, whether it be physical, in my immediate circle, or in the world.

Perhaps the next time I see my comrade I will find the words, time, and space to tell her she brought light to a blown-out flame.

Peace upon all, whether we agree on the best way to run-the-world or not.

annefrank-despite-everything-i-believe

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