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Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

Shadow owes its birth to light. (John Gay, poet and dramatist)

My fractured metacarpal is healed. Or at least the break appears as a fading memory on an x-ray. Just below the mended crack, in my middle finger, the damage remains. Arthritis, lots of it. Severe. Yet, amazingly less painful than the word severe would indicate.

The bone’s joints are not aligned. Middle finger knocks its smaller digit comrades into a crossover position. Make-a-fist is no longer a realistic possibility. Adaptation is my next goal.

In fact, the doctor opens his computer and shows me guitar tools…thumb picks. He discovers devices to aid the less-than-perfect hand.

(I try to find the link later—no success. However, I can find guitar stores.)

“I guess I have a challenge then,” I tell the doctor. And he agrees. He also adds that studies have shown pain and attitude are linked. The more positive a patient is after surgery, the more likely the individual will need fewer, if any, opioids.

For me, surgery is not the best option, however. Maybe that is a good thing. Continuous movement is natural for me anyway.

My friend, Mary, recently broke her hip. She spent some time in a rehab facility. She managed her pain with only ibuprofen. At the time, I was amazed. How could she do that? Now I understand. She did it with her upbeat attitude.

Later in the day, I spend time with a friend who sees shadow even when her eyes are open. Nevertheless, she has brought me light. Ann is blind. I am driving her to a doctor’s appointment. We chat. About everything from our lives as they really are, not our show-selves, to who has the best fried chicken. Somehow, she knows what part of town we reach as I turn from one street to another.

I tell her about my granddaughter Rebe, how she and her sister, Kate, made a bridal veil out of a white shawl and a pair of my underwear. Ann tells jokes.

As we leave the office Ann says, “Okay if I drive home?”

“Well,” I answer, “only if you drive wa-a-y too fast. I need some adventure.”

A gentleman is waiting for the receptionist. He smiles. I hope we have made his day, too. Light mingled with shadow, in unpredictable patterns.

No, Ann does not drive my car home. She does drive my spirit in the right direction. And I am grateful.

light and shadow, flowers blooming in light

My crooked fingers remain less than photographable, better left to the imagination.

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You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet. (Hal Borland)

The sunflower that bloomed at the base of our blue spruce wasn’t meant to be as permanent a gift as I thought it would be. I watch a squirrel nibble on stray birdseed and then chomp off the yellow head of the flower.

Beauty gone in seconds. And a meal on the run for the squirrel.

Unfortunately, the tree, towering above the yard, has lost branches to disease. My husband’s uncle gave us the spruce when our first son was a toddler. In recent years the tree’s maintenance has cost enough to support an arboretum. Spruce’s upkeep has ended. Nature’s natural longevity will take over. Nature wins.

Later in the afternoon Jay, Ella and I wait on the front porch for Ella’s daddy to arrive. A squirrel stops to eat seed in the yard. He moves closer and stares at us. Ella moves toward the critter; the critter doesn’t skedaddle. I pull my granddaughter back. This is NOT natural for a squirrel. I get up to shoo the pest.

Jay grabs some feed from the bag not far from the front door, inside the house. “That’s probably the squirrel I fed yesterday. He’s looking for more birdfeed.”

Squirrel waits while Jay tosses a seed meal onto the sidewalk. Critter does not care that I photograph him. His snout has a slightly dark edge. Is this the thief that beheaded the sunflower? Maybe. Don’t know for certain.

My thoughts are not sweet. Don’t like you, squirrel. Yet, as he eats I see parts of life that are graceful and disarming, annoying yet universal and not made of solid darkness. All living beings need to eat. The way he picks up tiny seeds has charm.

And yet, I don’t want him too close to my family. Wild animals, even small ones, need to remain wild.

Fear, however, needs to be tamed. I think about the news, the same inflammatory stories repeated on an infinite loop, tenebrous expressions on a national leader’s face, dark enough to suggest malice, worse unspoken. Horror grows strong in the imagination.

Reaction born of hate, however, adds fuel to malice.

The next day as Jay leaves for a class he calls to me, “Your squirrel is here. He’s begging to be fed.”

“Not my squirrel,” I answer laughing.

However, squirrel has a handful of seed before Jay leaves the driveway. The seed is given via my hand. I admit it; I don’t have all of life’s answers.

After squirrel’s feast, with photo of possible suspect

Before the crime with a pic of the injured tree

 

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The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. (Albert Einstein)

Ella leads our play and I follow: trick or treat, hide and seek, happy birthday in multiple forms—bunny’s fifth birthday and mine. Ella plays the role of Daddy; I am Daughter. I ask how old I am today. The reply? Seventy. In the make-believe world, the next obvious question has an unknown answer. It doesn’t matter.

While my spirit keeps up with the imagination of my granddaughter, my bones don’t. My lower back aches. But, I don’t tell Ella. Later, when her daddy and Grandpa come back from their errands I will put heat on the complaining area. For now, I will move a tad slower.

Then, I notice the microwave announcing my food is ready. I didn’t put anything in it. My bed buddy is warm.

Ella admits she did it. She shows me how she placed the fabric-covered bag of rice inside and hit Express. “For your back.”

How did she know? And get this warmed for me so quickly? During hide and seek?

Ella goes to the toy room and grabs the box of bandages. She places a strip inches from the most annoying area. Comforting heat relieves the discomfort in my back. I sit leaned against the chalkboard on the floor in the room with the toys as we play.

“You are amazing, Ella. How did you know my back hurt?”

“And your throat, too.”

My hiatal hernia has enlarged and burned the inside of my throat. Not a problem I would share with a child of any age.

Ella’s Down syndrome may have affected her muscle tone and other areas of her development. However, she has been reading phonetically for several years. Her intuition is beyond exceptional. She is a blessing in my life.

I’m not sure she knows how to explain how she understands what most people of any age would never recognize. To me, the answer is a mystery. For her, she is simply being Ella.

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I ran and ran and ran every day, and I acquired this sense of determination, this sense of spirit that I would never, never give up, no matter what else happened. (Wilma Rudolph)

I am a cloud-white, magnet-covered refrigerator. Appliances don’t celebrate birthdays. We don’t speak either, but I’m making an exception. For my final goodbyes.

My compressor stopped. And the husband living in this small house immediately sought help from an expert, a neighbor who can repair anything from ceiling fans to jet engines. The expert declared me incapable of resuscitation. Then he offered a cooler to save my interior parts—including at least a hundred dollars’ worth of items bought less than an hour ago from the grocery.

Another neighbor also came to the rescue. She said she had a freezer in her basement. I was impressed. The wife, the woman who rules the kitchen, turned my controls to the coldest possible temps. I gave it one more effort. I brought life back into me, Lazarus raising Lazarus.

Maybe I don’t have vision in the human sense, but I know Terry smiled. She saved my handle when it broke last year. With black duct tape. True, it’s not a conventional cure, but it kept me in alignment for a while. The sides of the tape are frayed, but the handle works—even if my energy can’t be promised for much longer.

Yes, I too ran and ran and ran. However, modern stoves, refrigerators, wash machines, weren’t made the way my ancestors were—to function through generations. Before profit became a god. No need to mention my brand. The notion is universal.

My replacement isn’t going to be loyal any longer than I have been. I plan to hold on until the delivery service pulls my plug. I’ll go wherever I’m led. I can’t hold on much longer anyway.

Tomorrow? Who knows? But, I count blessings. I lost nothing I was given to guard. I thank a kind neighbor. And that sudden burst of energy to run one more time.

the old handle, new stainless steel, and old in thermal camera view

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I can’t control what’s fair and unfair. I can’t control the nature of the business or the nature of society or the nature of the world, but what I can control is how I choose to see the world and what I choose to put back into it (Aisha Tyler)

A squirrel destroyed our squirrel-proof birdfeeder and then escaped through the break he created. The chunky critter had eaten his fill and then emptied the rest of the seed onto the grass. Sure, I grumbled, but at least a few birds managed to find some of the loose food.

A few birds. Nowhere near enough to approach a notion of fairness for our smaller visitors. Fairness has little to do with reality. I’d like to say I accept whatever falls from malevolent skies with the tranquility of a Buddhist monk in perpetual meditation. However, I suspect that few individuals have slipped while striking a nail with a hammer, smashed a thumb, and responded with an innocent smile, “Oh shucks.”

I remember a time when I was in a distant, lost personal place. A well-meaning acquaintance said she couldn’t understand how sadness and depression could keep someone from seeing the grandeur of a dogwood tree in spring.

I didn’t have an answer then. I see differently now. This woman’s judgment cut me off and ignored the fuller picture. I didn’t know yet that I needed to understand beauty by experiencing bugs, storms, disaster, and disease as well as delicate blooms. The word perfect is an adjective that lives fully only inside its definition.

In real life, darkness contrasts light, and creates shade as well as variant grays. 

Not every difficult place in a person’s life needs to be spread across an Internet page and sent into the world. I prefer to send a word, a gesture or two, an image. Then let it speak for itself. A book-sized explanation isn’t always necessary.

What could one smile or phone call do? It seems inadequate when approaching deep sorrow and pain. And yet, many years ago, a friend unexpectedly stopped by my house with a casserole. I recall its simple tomato-based contents now. Even more, I remember her timing, and the fact that she believed I was worth her effort.

May your lights and shadows create fascinating paths, rather than no-outlet mazes, or resentments built of broken birdfeeders and other stolen treasures. If not now, when the timing highlights the gems in each developing pattern.

light, shadows, and a goldfinch at one of our feeders

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The world may think you are only one person. But to one person, you may be their world. (Author Unknown)

My recovering fractured right hand failed as I was browning chicken to oven fry. I dropped the meat into oil and splattered searing hot drops onto my left wrist. Ella sees the gauzed area and wants to make it better. Now. My skin is red, with a few ready-to-pop blisters. I keep the injury covered because I don’t want my granddaughter to see it. And worry.

I turn the situation into play and call on Ella as a pretend Doc McStuffins, the Disney character. Since I have a box of miscellaneous bandages that have the lasting adhesive power of glue left uncapped for at least a year, I don’t mind if Ella uses them.

“Don’t look,” she says as she gets a slightly twisted bandage ready. She gives me an invisible shot. And I promise her I’m not going to cry.

Within minutes I have plastic strips on my hands, arms, and legs. Doc Ella McStuffins is thorough. She wraps her healing around the wrist of a small doll.

“One more thing,” she announces.  She presses the last strip in place on my arm. Then, she kisses the final bandaged surface.

My playroom rug holds a mound of empty bandage wrappers. Ella’s heart, however, is far from empty. I am blessed to be inside it. She is inside mine as well.

 

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Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. (Albert Einstein)

Ella is excited. We are meeting her daddy for lunch. Even in play she lowers her voice as she goes off to an imaginary workplace. She is the daddy. He is her introduction to words—she has been reading for several years now. He is her fun. Daddy makes her laugh and lets her know she is important, no matter how many challenges she needs to overcome. 

Two uncles are joining us. An all-around special day. The uncles have taken a wrong turn and need directions, so Daddy steps outside to help them by phone. Ella sees a man, alone, waiting for a table.

“Hi,” she says, and within minutes the man has a friend.

The talk seems general at first, as Ella chats about Daddy, chicken and fries, and games. I join in, obviously pleased with my granddaughter. Then the man shows us a picture on his phone of his twenty-five-year-old son.

Like our granddaughter, he has Down syndrome.

I ask about him and get a mini version of his journey, yet never learn either of their names. They are gifts Ella found—or intuited. I don’t know. I’d like to learn more, gather father and son as friends, treasures. Instead the moment becomes a single valuable pearl to savor and remember.

Sometimes higher ranked gifts come wrapped in an innocent hello, meant to be passed on—as far as possible, into the lives of other people.

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