Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘wisdom in unexpected places’

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.

Read Full Post »

The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace. (Carlos Santana, musician)

I don’t take breathing for granted—not after a two-month fight with asthma and bronchial issues. Then I broke my hand and the complications escalated. My second book in the Star League Chronicles, Stinky, Rotten Threats, came out.

While my hand was in a brace, a pen could have been a foreign object. For weeks after my hand was freed, I wrote with a strayed moth-like path across the page. Typing wasn’t much better, slower, yet possible. My twisted middle finger crossed over my ring and little finger.

I continue with occupational therapy to correct the problem. My handwriting is legible. Pain is minimal.

Now, as I drive in the rain I wonder what to do next. Each day I missed allowed my work to get lost among the grand onslaught of well-known-first-to-be picked publications, then independent press and self-published books.

In my new fantasy, Chase and his friends face evil capable of destroying their magic woods and killing their leader. The kids don’t give up; they can’t. And, of course, as the writer, I saw snags appear along my way—like a computer that turned itself off as I finished final edits the day before my deadline. The gosh-darned-electronic-device erased a whole slew of edits.

No, I didn’t take that incident as a quit-while-you-can prophecy. I understood it as a challenge. (After a few cleansing yet non-repeatable expletives) Can I do the same with my health issues?

I begin the uphill drive home when I see a woman walking with a cane in the downpour. If only I had Star League powers… Maybe magic tools don’t exist in real life, but I do have an umbrella. And several more at home. I pull over and call to the woman, offer protection from the deluge, albeit late. Her hair hangs drenched in her face.

“I’m almost home, but…” She pauses. “Thank you. Not many people would stop and do that. You can pray for me, though. My name is Geneva.” She stands in the wet and shows no sign of urgency. “I paid my rent. I really did. My landlord says I didn’t. He’s going to evict me.”

I am dry inside the car, yet feel a sudden chill. “Of course, I will.”

Geneva asks for nothing else. The futility of a one-umbrella gift hits me, and yet she says, “You’ve made my day, though. Thank you. Thank you more than I can say.” She turns and continues to walk.  Without the umbrella. Uphill, far more uphill than I drive. Far more uphill than any challenge I face.

As the day passes I’m tempted to go back and look for Geneva. Perhaps, I will find her again. I don’t know. In the meantime, I pray not to forget that moment. Or her.

Photo: Sun and Rain

The sunflower appeared compliments of a visiting bird. No sunflower seeds were planted. It was nature’s gift.

 

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude. (A.A. Milne in Winnie-the-Pooh)

Rebe leads our play—sometimes with linear logic, sometimes not. In a child’s imagination, anything can happen. I ask questions only when I don’t understand the current scene: Is it day or night? Is the couch a make-believe car or taxi?

Usually I laugh at my granddaughter’s off-the-wall scenarios. Her sense of humor has developed far beyond the understanding of a nine-year-old child.

Today she dives into the serious. I don’t offer more than attention. Her doll, Ava, wears a layer of dirt from being dragged everywhere, but since her midsection is cloth, a full bath is not possible. In Rebe’s scene, her child has a fictitious illness, grow disease—her version of failure to thrive taken to the ultimate.

On a culturally learned keep-everything-nice level, I want to lead her to a gentler setting, but I let her continue, and listen. Perhaps she practices for real-life grief, in her own controlled setting, close to Grandma on this tangible, ordinary Wednesday. I don’t know. She is game initiator.

I play the role of surviving daughter. My baby-doll sister doesn’t make it through surgery. However, the next thirty-second-later day, Rebe lets me know something bizarre and unexplained happens. Both of us die and go to heaven. We have a party and then continue a regular routine. From the other side of the clouds.

“Let’s bake something,” she suggests.

“In heaven?” I ask.

Apparently, that scenario has ended. She wants to know if I have ever tasted flour.

“Yes. Probably when I was your age. It doesn’t taste like anything. Go ahead. Try it. It’s an organic brand.”

She lifts one flour-covered finger to her lips and agrees.

True, the taste of the flour is the-definition-of-bland. We discuss how different it is when the rest of the cookie recipe ingredients are added and baked.

Her eyes shine and smile broadens with the notion of how things change when they are mixed together.

People change, too. Sure, I enjoy my silent hours alone when I can create without needing to wash the floors later. Hours to play with words, mix them, add and subtract them. Give them power. However, I would have nothing with heart to create if all I had were continuous quiet.

Yes, Piglet, your heart is small, but size doesn’t have much to do with gratitude or love. Love and gratitude don’t take up space; they embrace people. And change them.

Thanks for a great day, Rebe. I love you.

Read Full Post »

A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points.  (Alan Kay)

I awaken from a short evening nap on the couch at my brother-in-law’s house. I can’t breathe. One inhalation of albuterol, two. Desperate, wheezy attempts to get air out of my lungs.

“Should I take you to the ER?” my husband asks.

We are six hours from home. The ER could be one mile away or as far away as Mercury. I don’t know. Finally, a pause between coughs. Water. More water.

I decide I will make it through the night. My brother-in-law escorts me to the most efficient air-conditioned room. My sister-in-law sleeps on the floor. I remain in a recliner I can’t adjust with a fractured right hand in a brace. My sister-in-law maneuvers the chair up and down as I need it, even for my nighttime bathroom trips. She needs to leave for work at eight in the morning, yet is willing to help me.

My wheezing doesn’t stop, but it doesn’t reach a critical level. I have no idea how much time lapses between albuterol rescue inhalations.

A frightening scene? Maybe. However, my in-laws are close-by. Jay is in a room next door. Love lives here. It fills me. Night will not give up a single hour of darkness. Yet, light survives. In hearts and minds.

A trip to Urgent Care. Antibiotics. Prednisone. More waiting to be the full me I recognize.

To breathe freely.

To turn the key in my car’s ignition with my right hand.

To sign Stinky, Rotten Threats, Book Two in the Star League Chronicles, now available, with a signature that doesn’t look as if I were pretending to wield an electric saw struck by lightning.  

To cut my own sandwiches.

To celebrate the ordinary.

The magic available in fantasy doesn’t exist on the everyday plane. The magic available inside the human spirit has power. It changes perspective. I’d like to say my IQ is 80 points higher because I learned to accept and appreciate care.

More likely, I’m simply a lot happier.

The same flower, in darkness and in light

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »