Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Then came the cancer.
My friend Bevvie died after an 8 year battle with metatastic breast cancer. I stayed away. I just couldn't stand to see that. I haven't passed my magical five year mark, and I quit the tamoxifen after a year, so...I...well...
Today, I stood there at the funeral home, and I saw her big family. I saw her smile over and over again, shining from the faces of relatives who looked like her, shining from the pictures that filled the room. Everyone remembered her with such great love.
Bev did not have an easy life. But despite that, she lived life with an open heart. She loved, and was loved in return. Like me, she was not a bitter person. Unlike me, she was not a fearful person.
I am a fearful person.
I feel things, very deeply. I loved my friend. But I was afraid to go to her, and that shames me. And now I cannot go to her.
Monday, February 27, 2012
His birthday is coming. I've been thinking about it.
Pete, at work, is white haired, with a big white mustache, and he talks like Mr. Rogers. I hailed him. "Hey, Pete, before I forget, Tim is interested in the laminate flooring you've got left over. How much do you want for it? Let us know..." and I scooted off to get to my register.
Pete came ambling up at some point during the night. "I don't suppose you'd have any use for a buffalo, would you?" he says.
I do a double take. "A what?"
Turns out the man has a four foot tall buffalo mount, shot by some colonel in 1882. I can't even visualize the thing. It must be a shoulder mount.
"How much do you want for it?" I asked. Because Tim would never be expecting a buffalo for his birthday. He was bound to be surprised. Very surprised. Like this could be the surprise of the century.
Pete tells me that he's been lugging this thing around with him for 20 years. He said, mournfully, "We've been remodeling our house one room at a time, and my last hope was the living room. The living room is done now, and Linda tells me that it is not hanging there." At this point, he's trying to make sure that it does not end up in the dump, because his wife hates it that much.
Pete asked me how I was going to get it home. In addition to being four feet tall, it weighs about 150 lbs. "Dunno..." I said, but inside I was thinking '150 lbs?!!!' For the first time, I began to consider what four feet tall actually means. I began to have some doubts.
By the time that I got home and googled it (see above), I was beginning to wonder about this. Unless this guy's like maybe the size of your average 9 year old, I'm in trouble.
I also worried about the fact that we'd had a hard and fast rule that we'd discuss everything before bringing it into the house (this was his attempt to make sure no dogs or cats slipped by, and my attempt to make sure that nothing was painted orange). When I went to bed that night, I lay there worrying about my secret. I mean, if it turned out that he was horrified by the buffalo, well, I'd just opened the door to a black lacquer bedroom outfit trimmed in gold or some such monstrosity. He'd be able to say, "Hey, you brought a four foot tall buffalo into the house and you did not ask me MY opinion," and I would have to tolerate the black lacquer bedroom outfit because I had brought a buffalo into the house.
Finally, I said, "Hey, Tim?" and I told him. To heck with the surprise. I spilled the beans. Long pause from his side of the bed. "A buffalo?!!!" and "How big?!!!" The bed shook for some time as he laughed soundlessly at the thought of such a thing. I waited for him to put the kibosh to the whole thing. I waited for him to say no way. Then I could go back to Pete and say, "Listen...about that buffalo..."
It turned out to be a surprise after all. Tim said, "I know where that needs to go," and slipped out of bed to run to the library and measure the wall space above the mantle. He came back, and said, "It will fit." And he talked about buffalos and colonels and history.
You know how sometimes you get the idea that maybe you should have thought things through just a bit more carefully before opening your mouth? Why do you always get that idea after the fact?
Sunday, February 26, 2012
So last night we were talking. She felt that she'd been very successful at one interview, and got strong 'We don't like you' vibes from the second interview, which puzzled her. She talked about her hotel room. She said that her head board was screwed into the wall, but on the opposite side of the wall, the head board must in the next room must be attached in the same place. When the people in the next room decided to display their love in a very physical way she felt the vibrations in her own bed, which caused no small amount of hysteria on her part. Truth be told, she was still laughing so hard, 12 hours after the event, that I could barely understand her. She said she kept telling herself, "This cannot go on for over 10 minutes." Blessedly, it did not.
We shared her adventures, and laughed and talked easily together, and when we hung up the phone, we said, "I love you," and "Call me tomorrow."
After that conversation, almost immediately, the phone rang again. It was Cara, and her voice was small and shocked. "Mom, pray for Alex. Her parents were in a terrible wreck."
This morning, she called once again, before setting out for home, and I knew from her voice that it would be bad news. Sadly, today, there is a young woman, an only child, who has lost both her parents overnight. Cara sobbed, "It does not even seem possible." I said, "Well, it's thankfully not a common thing, but we know that it is not impossible." We talked. I tried to think of the wise things to say.
And when I hung up the phone this morning, I was glad that I was there for Cara. I cried to think of Alex, and prayed that someone is there for her this morning as well.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Interestingly enough, people have strong opinions about this, and most everyone I talk to believes that 6 day a week mail service is vital. I see it differently. I think that we could save a huge amount of money by cutting mail delivery to every other day. One mail man could do two routes.
Let's face it. Most of what comes to me in the mail is junk mail. I believe that America as a whole simply believes that there are too many non-negotiables. The fact is, if we want to cut budgets, we are going to have to give up stuff. I don't understand why people are so resistant to change, yet demanding that budgets be cut.
Question for foreign readers: how often is your mail delivered?
Friday, February 24, 2012
Strange, isn't it? The only thing standing between me and my diploma is 8 more weeks at a new field work site.
I am headed to bed for a session with a mindless novel. I will read until I doze off, and tomorrow, I'm sleeping in.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
This has happened regularly to me along the way. My family, for instance, always believed that there is one way to think. I was always thinking off in a whole 'nother direction, and it made people mad. A lot. So much so that I simply stopped going around them because I was sick and tired of people trying to fix my thinking.
Working at the Kwik Fill, when a customer wanted flavored coffee and I made a pot, thereby bringing the wrath of the coworker from hell upon my head. I never saw that coming because, number 1, she was not called upon to do a thing, and number 2, it was good customer service, and number 3, a pot of coffee costs maybe 50c to make, one cup of coffee costs $1.19, for the small cup, and so no money was lost, the customer was happy, and my coworker was not involved. Except that she made herself involved, and she stayed mad for the rest of my time there, and tried to engage me in battle every chance she could.
The team leader at my clinicals said, a few weeks back, that she didn't know what to do with me. She'd never seen such a terrible student. I cried over that one. The COTA working with me had tried to have a discussion with me about another employee in the supply closet, not more than 10 feet away from a patient on a mat table. I was uncomfortable, trying to end that conversation quickly. It wasn't private, it wasn't professional. I did not want the other employee to think that we were talking about her. It was taken that I was challenging my advisor, and the team leader and the department head were quite unhappy with me and let me know it. In front of the rest of the OTs. Furthermore, they didn't want to hear my take.
You see how it is. I see things very differently from other people, and to me, my thinking makes perfect sense. It pisses others off. This is not a small problem to me. My 'no-brainers' are the bane of everyone else's existence. I really am wondering if I might not have Asperger's or something. My social skills seem to be...um...lacking.
In any case, today is a big day. This man is going home today. I'm glad. He's such a nice person, and such a gentle soul. He waits patiently for his family to come and get him. Sometimes 'the unit' gets wound up. One resident will get combative and loud, and the others will begin to react to that. Those employees work with a tough population, and I've never seen a one of them get impatient or frustrated. But what I did see, walking over to bring a patient back for therapy, was my gentle friend, waiting there with his hands on his knees, watching the aides try to reason with an angry and irrational (and loud) man. His eyes were wide, his mouth open. I recognized the look and it made me sick to think that he was afraid.
Long story short, his daughter witnessed something like this. She loves her daddy dearly. When he looked at her and said, confusedly, "I don't know why I'm here. I want to go home. I want my own bed," she made up her mind.
So when I went over to retrieve my good friend, his wife clutched my arm. "We're taking him home," she said. I thought they meant for a visit, but they assured me that it was for good. "We'll manage," they said. "We'll figure something out." With tears in my eyes, I said, "I can help. I can't guarantee that I'll be able to help all the time, but I would love to help out as much as I can," and they thanked me for that. I figured that was that, but before they left, they came to me. "Are you in the book?" they asked. I told them that I had recently moved, and our new number was not in the book. I wrote it down, and they carefully put it away. It makes me very happy to think that I will be a part of this love story.
Another thing? I got a letter from a neighbor of the waltzing widower, to thank me. I called her, and long story short, they've promised to come have supper one night. We recognized each other as kindred souls. I'm very happy to be a part of his story as well.
And so it goes.
I can't explain me. I just can't. I am not a perfect person. I am beloved. I know that. I am also a pain in the butt. Sometimes people just fit wherever they are, wherever they go. I'm not one of those people.
I have had a powerful realization of how what a powerful tool familiarity can be in working with Alzheimer's patients. I have also come across the European concept of snoezelen rooms. Last night, I couldn't sleep for thinking about it. What if a 'quiet place' could be set up at our facility? A soothing place, with soothing smells, sounds, colors, tactile experiences, where a patient could sit when he was combative and irrational, to feel a gentle breeze which caused chimes to ring, as he listened to birds chirp, surrounded by the smell of pine, or lilacs, maybe. Would it help? It was exciting to me to realize that I had much of the stuff on hand to experiment with the concept. There is a clever woman who works with the patients in the locked ward, and I cannot wait to speak with her today and see what she thinks of it.
Of course, this could just be me, pissing off yet another person in a position of authority.
It's hard to know.
But you can bet the ranch that I won't figure it out until the fecal material hits the rotary oscillator.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I am shy, although I can talk to a stump. I dunno. I can't figure it out either. But I can tell you that I have a hard time remembering faces, because I spend a lot of time looking down. As Garrison Keillor would put it, "You can tell the introverts from the extroverts right away. The introverts stare at their shoes. The extroverts stare at yours."
I love to socialize. I love to be alone.
Situations where I am the center of attention make me uncomfortable, and that is why I don't plan to attend my graduation ceremony. I can celebrate that piece of paper right anywhere (and believe me, I will...), even sitting in the audience of Cara's graduation ceremony. Which occurs (conveniently) on the self same day.
I don't know how to be mad in the correct way. I cannot express it, properly. I am always ashamed of it. I always feel that it's unjustified, even when it is not.
Life has been difficult for me, and the thing that I am proudest of is that I am not a bitter person. However, that being said, I am a very wary person, and when I discover that someone cannot be trusted, I tend to skitter away quickly, and avoid them as well as the chaos that I am sure will follow if I let them into my life. Chaos frightens me. I like order. Predictability. Change is wonderful, but I like change to be my choice.
I don't seem to fit, sometimes, and I am afraid that this college degree will mean nothing if I do not learn how to fit.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Today, she talked about the fun they used to have. She talked about Lee, and I have always know him as the elderly man who, with his wife, has held down the other end of our church pew. But this woman got dreamy eyed, and she talked about how he was a wonderful musician. "We all used to go down and sit by the river, and he would play his guitar and we would all sing. He always sang, "Old Shep" and he sang it so well that all the girls would cry." She went on to mention other names, and I recognized many of them, and imagined them young and fresh faced, sitting around a camp fire on the bank of the Conewango Creek in that still-sleepy little town
It was neat to hear how they were before they became what I know now.
When I helped her back to her room, she said, "I'm a foolish woman who likes to remember." I said, "I like to hear what you remember," and I could tell that it pleased her to hear this, although all she said was, "Just give me a tap when I talk too much. Tell me to shut up."
I handed her her oxygen tubing and made sure that her call bell was within her reach. "You'll be waiting a long time before I get tired of hearing you talk."
Saturday, February 18, 2012
I had a woman with coupons, which doesn't bother me, but she had also finangled a discount on a large ticket item.. Furthermore, she had online coupons, which are always a doubtful proposition, and she had four of them, but they were authorized. On top of that, she had a 10% discount on her purchase, which I'm pretty sure that the manager did not know when he gave her the discount on her large ticket item. This strikes me as deceitful, but that's not my job, and so I kept still and rang her up.
I had a doofus who thought he was funny, but he wasn't. I smiled, but apparently that was not the kneeslapping response he expected, so he kept making odd noises and pounding on the counter telling me that I needed to wake up.
There was a dispute over lunch breaks.
It was busy.
Not a horrible day, but a pile of little aggravations can lead to a woman who's ready for the day to be done. Really.
Anyways, I was darting back to put something away, and I saw a regular customer with his children. This time he had his wife and the baby with him too, so I got to meet the whole family. We chatted a minute, and I called the kids pippermasqueaks which makes them giggle. The man suddenly said, "Are you the one who writes in the paper?" and I admitted to that. He said, "You do a good job," and I said, "Gee, thanks, it's always nice to hear that!" and then I scooted back to the register, and they continued shopping. In the end, the family came to the counter, and they had just one purchase, some Schleich chicks. The little red haired girl placed it on the counter, and I rang it up, and gave her the change from her five dollar bill. I handed her the chicks and she shyly set them back on the counter. I said, "Do you want a bag for your purchase, madam?" and her father said, "Tell her," and she said, "They're for you." She had picked through all the Schleich toys and decided that I would like the chicks the very best.
Oh, my gosh. It was the very sweetest moment, and I almost cried.
I brought those chicks home, and I set them on my yellow counter top where they match perfectly. Each morning when I make my coffee, I will see them, and I will smile and think of a little red haired girl. Each morning, I will be reminded again, that it's the small and perfect moments that make a day, that bless a life. Each day, I will set out to pass that little blessing along.
Oh, and know what? Tim was afraid to wait on that hall tree. He drove to Kane and looked at it, put half down, and will pay the other half when he picks it up Monday. Another small and perfect moment!
Now, excuse me. My beloved and I are going out for Valentine's Day. And this year, we're going to a fancy restaurant. Just because we have so very much to celebrate.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Anyways, we are still moving, a truck load at a time. Tonight I discovered socks. Lots of 'em.
Cara? Remember those socks you couldn't find the mates to? And you were really aggravated about the fact? I sure as heck hope you did not throw them away, because I found a mess of your socks too.
Can't shed an light on the enduring mystery, however. Those socks aren't telling me where they went. :)
I walk to work, and I walk home from work when work is done, and I hate to say it, but the other night, when I got home, I stopped on the back porch, and watched the snow fall in slow motion as darkness fell. and really, it was just beautiful to see.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
I putzed around getting ready for work. One of my clients is dealing with a new cancer diagnosis and she has a ton of question. Yesterday's question was "What do I wear to chemo?" I said, "Wear something that buttons up the front so they can get to your medport easily. Oh...and wear something with long sleeves, because the chemo room is cold." And worriedly, she said, "I don't have anything like that. I have t-shirts or sweatshirts." We wear the same size, so before I left this morning, I went upstairs and began going through the closet (interesting factoid about this house...we have no closets on the first floor. There is one closet on the second, and two on the third, along with two attics which run on either side. Plenty of storage, inconveniently placed.) I grabbed a couple shirts that I'd bought specifically for my chemo, and dang, it felt good to be giving them away.
I came downstairs and loaded up a bag with some books, and I headed out the door to work. Today, I saw a woman walking with two large dogs. I've waved to them before, but this time she was in front of my house, and I said, "Aww! I get to pet the dogs today!" and she said, "Are you sure you want them jumping?" pulling them away. "I don't care about that," I said, and reached down to pet them. Their mother said, in a delighted sort of way, "I could tell that about you, right away!" So I petted her dogs and we talked about dogs, and she wondered why I did not have one of my own, and I told her that my husband was not a dog person, and she countered w/ 'I needed to teach him to be a dog person'. I laughed. Buck and I tried to teach him, but it was not a happening thing. This husband of mine is not a fan of animals in the house, and I will not have an animal if he cannot come in the house, and I'd rather not spend 8 more years arguing about it. Really. Just easier to love other people's dogs.
Anyways, she tells me that her name is Ruby, and that today is her birthday, and that every year she has a party at the Women's Club, and that the guests come. She requests that the gifts be money or things that the animal shelter can use, because everything gets donated. All of it. She invited me to come on Sunday to have 'the best pizza in the world.' Regretfully, I had to tell her that I would be unable to make it. I am working all day. When I am done with work, we have our own celebration. Little William is one year old on Saturday. We are going out to dinner Sunday night, and coming back to the house for birthday cake.
Anyways, Ruby said she was sorry I couldn't come, and I said, "Well, stop in sometime and say hello," gesturing at the house. She pointed, "This one?" and I said, "Yep." She said, "Well, I can't make any promises. I'm pretty busy. Right now I'm trying to get books into the hands of every preschooler in the county. It's all about education. Education will change our world." I laughed, and held up my bag. "These are books for the nursing home down the street. You take care of the kids, I'll take care of the other end of the spectrum," and she laughed merrily. I readjusted my load and started off. "Books and dogs, both!" I marveled. "You might just become my new best friend!" and our laughter rang out in white puffs in the cold air.
I wish every day could start so wonderfully as today did. I walked to work believing in the goodness of people. When I got home, my house was empty, as usual, but a bouquet of red roses greeted me from the table.
Monday, February 13, 2012
I will begin my new placement on the 27th of February. I will finish it on April 13th.
I'll have a stretch of empty days until graduation day May 20th. Only 95 more days!
Okay, Saturday, we got quite a bit of snow. I suppose that the rat could have come, taken cover beneath my car and then scooted out for the yard during a lull. I suppose. It might could be that I picked him up at home, and that after that unexpected ride, he laid low for a time, hiding until he felt safe enough to run.
Go back to the first part of that last sentence. "It might could be that I picked him up at home..."
We have never seen a rat here, but we do live in town now, and next to the river, and well...let me just say that the pictures in my head are scaring me, a little. Tim doesn't believe it.
Add to the shopping list:
Decon. (Translation: Ratsack if you live in Oz).
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Anyways, a couple months ago, during one of Tim's presurgical appointments (yerks...don't get me started on that story line...suffice it to say that I am married to one stubborn man...) we went to a second hand store in the big city. We really love poking around in these places. One of our discoveries on that snowy day was a big vase. We thought it would look great in the front hall, filled with twigs.
We got it home, and then there was all the holidays, and it sat empty (It had occurred to me to fill it with evergreens, but I am one of those folks who never get around to anything in a timely fashion, unless it's homework, or work work, or well...it's just how I am.) So like I said, it sat empty. The last time I was at the house, I cut some branches, from the lilac, from the hedges, from the forsythia, and the lilacs. I brought them home, with a wondering. I set a vase of water inside the big vase, and popped the stems down in the water, and within a week, the buds began to pop.
I think that I'll do that every spring. Every time that I walk past that vase, it makes me smile.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Come on in! This is my little kitchen. It is homey, and of all my little kitchens, it is the kitchen that I love the most. Tim wants to replace the cupboards. I do not. Come on in, and have a seat. I'll make a cup of coffee.
What are you doing on the floor?
I replaced the exploding coffee pot.
It'll be okay.
My baker's rack with all its clutter.
Heading out into the dark hall... ...you'll see the foyer. The door to the right leads outside. The piece of door you see to the left leads into the livingroom. But if you turn left before you get to the livingroom, you'll see a 23 foot long hall. The humidifier runs pretty much constantly, and we have one on all three floors. This house sat vacant for many years, and radiators exploded. We do not have central heat. We discovered that the roof leaked around the chimney and that water was running into the center of the house right along that chimney. Tim got that taken care of. Still, without central heat, the house is damper than we would like, so we run the dehumidifiers and dump them daily. Still, it's a great house, and we expect that this situation will be mostly resolved once we get central heat next year. A picture grouping on the wall: Some sketches from Britain that Cara bought us (Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and London Bridge), black ink sketch of Cloister Castle, which was one of Dylan's and Brianna's favorite places to go as young children, before there was a Cara, a drawing of the oldest Episcopal church in America, which we visited before there was a Dylan OR a Cara. There is also a slate from an old house in New Orleans, with a street scene. Cara bought that for us when she did mission work in New Orleans after the hurricane. It seemed cool to me how we had all these things, but they were packed away from a long time ago, and in the packing and the unpacking, we found them again, and realized that they all fit together perfectly, right there. This is the livingroom. Dark, ain't it? Lord knows I cannot take a picture to save my soul. Here's a better shot. The sofa is the one that I found just before Christmas. The chair is an old one that we had. They don't really match, but since we're buying furniture to last us the rest of our lives, we are cautious, careful to get exactly what we want. Since we haven't found exactly what we want, well, it is what it is. The living room is sparsely furnished. We have our couch, chair, that little table, a small wooden end table, and then the TV on another old library table that I rescued from a junk pile 27 years ago. I like that table, and it deserves a much better life than holding the television, the DVD/VCR and the satellite stuff. We hope to find a couple nice solid color wing chairs, and an armoire for the television stuff. Oh, and there is an antique sewing machine there as well. If you go through another set of french doors, you are in the library. The picture is dark. I'm not home during the days, usually, to get decent pictures.
This is the most imcomplete room on the first floor. It is the office. Tim just put heat out there. It will probably be the only space heater that will remain in place once we get central heating put in. This used to be the porch, and there is really not another way to heat it, since it has a concrete floor with ceramic tile laid over it.
Probably an important note here is that there are no closets on the first floor. None. Nada. Zip. We have one closet on the second floor, and two on the third. It's a long walk for our clothes. Part of my 2012 physical fitness plan.
We've got two more floors to go. There are also several bloggers who have found a place in our house. I have given up promising ANYTHING, but I will try to get them in by next Friday.
It is also not a secret that I believe that a lot of kids in this generation know nothing about work ethic, about manners, about respect (for themselves, or anyone else.) This is the entitled generation. We've no one to blame but ourselves for these children.
I agree with this dad's sentiments. It seems a shame that he shot that laptop, though. Somewhere, there's a hardworking college student that would have given their eyeteeth to have it.
At least he should have taken out the new hardware and returned it.
Anyways, it would have been entertaining to be a fly on the wall that evening.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Excitement all around, and we are very proud of her.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
This morning, I went to get her. I saw her sitting out in the hall, and I said, excitedly, "Come and see Willy. He's singing his little heart out." Willy is the little canary in the hall.
Her eyes got wide, and she got a big smile, which is not a common sight. She began wheeling herself down the hall, and I prayed like all get out that Willy would not stop singing before she got there.
She made her way slowly, and I walked beside her prompting her. We turned a corner and she stopped. Willy was still singing. "Do you hear him?" I asked, and she nodded, and once again, she began to propel herself down the hall. When she turned that last corner, Willy sang on. She made her way slowly to the front of his cage, and she stopped. Willy paused his singing, and studied her, cocking his little yellow head this way and that. She sat there with hands poised on her wheels, looking up at him. Once again, he burst into song. She laid her hands on her lap, and sat there with a small smile on her face, and her attention did not waver.
I love that no matter what is happening in a day, there is always a spot of magic in there somewhere. I stood there and watched the scene with my own small smile.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
I can't say I loved it, not really, but it was a lovely movie all the same.
I thought of it today, over at the Alzheimer's unit. There is a man who's quiet and watchful. His eyes are clouded with confusion. He does not know where he is, not really, and he waits to go home. He sits where you put him, and he waits for someone to get him. He is patient and good. He does not cause trouble.
Another patient suddenly roared, "You SON OF A BITCH!!!!" to no one in particular.
The waiting man's mouth went slack, his eyes went wide, and he said, "He swore!!! Ah! HE SWORE!!! Uh oh!" And he waited once again, this time for someone to correct the curser.
He might be in his 80s, but in that moment, he was like a young school boy. I imagine that as a child, he was patient and good, that he never caused trouble. I imagine that his teachers all praised him in those old fashioned report cards that were written out by hand and sent home with the students.
I thought of that movie, 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' as I studied his boy's shocked expression topped by that shock of white hair. I thought of how difficult it must have been for his wife to lose her husband, to simply watch helplessly as he slipped away from her, spinning backward in time.
I thought of this poem.
Backward, turn backward, Oh Time! in your flight
Make me a child again--just for tonight!
Mother, come back from the echoeless shore,
Take me again to your heart as of yore;
Kiss from my forehead the furrow of care,
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hairs
Over my slumbers your loving watch keep
Rock me to sleep, Mother, rock me to sleep!
Those words always seemed so sweet to me, the longing for what was, but today, I stood at the door of a locked unit, and I prayed that time never turn backward, not for me. Not ever.
Monday, February 6, 2012
Oh, and despite the surprising start to the day, the rest of the day went perfectly well.
On a completely different note, this weekend, after really wrestling with things for some time, we tried a new church. The pastor was speaking on a congregant's favorite verse. When he was done, he said, "I should probably ask you what this reading means to you. We listened as she spoke.
I like that the pastor listened as well as he talked.
I like that he doesn't believe that he has all the answers, or that he is the only one with the right answers.
I like that the church seems to believe that two people might differ on a what a passage means, but that everyone listens respectfully, trusting in the Godliness of the heart of the speaker.
It means a lot to me.
Of course, Tim's friend John tells the story of driving with his ex-wife to get married. It was a horrible day, snowy and the roads were awful, visibility poor. They debated a while about whether it was lunacy to even head out the door. True love conquers all, however, so off they went. On their journey, a semitruck hit a deer. Half a venison flew from the grill of that truck and landed on the windshield of John's truck, blood everywhere, his woman screaming. John got the truck stopped, no accident involved, had to clean the blood off the window with snow as his affianced bawled her head off in the passenger seat. Then he got back in the truck and they went on ahead an got married.
Note that I said 'ex-wife'. After listening to that story, I did say, "John, the weather...the roads...half a venison on your windshield. Brother?! That was an omen..."
Anyhow, I digress. I'm not a huge believer in omens, but when I hear stories like John's, it's kind of hard not to believe in them, a little anyway.
Which is why I am sitting here in my bathrobe trying to decide whether I should go one step further with this day. I got up to brew my customary two cups of cappuccino, and my coffee pot exploded. Exploded. Bits of plastic everywhere. Sounded like a gunshot. Scared the mess out of me, and made quite a mess in the kitchen as well, water dripping off the ceiling, various decorative tins and glassware knocked for a loop.
*Gray headed woman wrings the tail of her bathrobe belt, and mutters with closed eyes, "I don't believe in omens...I don't believe in omens, I don't, I don't, I don't..."*
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Saturday, I was working at the Tractor Supply. A party of women came in, and there was some general hysteria going on back in hardware. Lots of shrieking and loud laughter. I said to a customer, "Gees, it sounds like a party back there, and evidently, you and I did not get invited." He said, "Well, there's a limo out front." "Really?" I said, surprised.
Anyways, it wasn't long and a pack of women come up, still rowdy and laughing loudly. One of them put a bag of screws on the counter. I picked them up to weigh them, but the crowd shouted, "No! No! You read the card!" and the birthday girl read, "'This is my fortieth birthday, and I need forty long screws'," and the women just about fell over each other laughing hysterically.
I looked back at the birthday girl, deadpan for a beat or two, and then said, "We got longer screws than that back there." This brought about more hysterical laughter. I signed the birthday card, and a picture was taken of the transaction.
They headed back to their limo, and I imagine there was more champagne involved. "Come with us," they urged. "We like your style."
"Nah," I answered. "One of us has to stay sober and mind the store."
Off they went.
Friday, February 3, 2012
I'm not naive. I know that we have drugs here. We have an apartment building within sight of our own house that is reputed to be a drug place, a place that neighborhood kids are warned to stay away from.
They listed the faces of the people they arrested. I recognized more names than I thought I would, and I recognized faces from the store, a couple of kids that my kids knew. I was also saddened to see one of my own former Sunday school class students, a boy who'd graduated with my Dylan. I sat next to his grandparents in church all the time that I went there. I knew that his grandmother had been grieving over this boy for many years, and we'd prayed together for this child.
I studied his picture. He had smiled at the camera with an insolent smirk on his face, and I thought, "Oh, God, this will break his grandmother's heart." I read it. Heroin, for pete's sake. HEROIN.
I stopped by their house tonight, to leave a card on their door. I did not want to knock, not now. I know them well enough to know that they'll be struggling with this latest thing. They are nearly 90, and they believe in honor, in living good lives, in doing for others. The exploits of this boy shame them. It is enough, right now anyway, to let them know that they are beloved, and prayed for.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Sounds boring as all get out, doesn't it?
Except that it wasn't.
It was a very nice day.
And now I'm going to bed early. That is nice too.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
But back to the sweetness of life: It's been unseasonably warm here lately, and with the birds singing up a storm, it feels like it's spring already.
This morning, I carried my bag, and a balloon. I'm sure that I looked a sight, a gray headed woman with a balloon. I had wrapping paper and an anniversary card in my bag. Today was the 65th anniversary of a gentleman who lives there. I'd been quizzing him about this day all week, hoping that he'd remember that it was his anniversary. "What day is that?" I'd ask, and he'd respond "Well, it's the first day of February," and then he'd smile. "February 1th," he say, pronouncing it one-th, laughing at his own joke. He sounds just like Jimmy Stuart.
"Yep, but what else?" I'd ask. And he'd say, sweetly, "somebody's birthday?"
All week long, I've been telling him that it is his anniversary, his 65th. He'd get a surprised look on his face. "Where does the time go?" he'd say. "I sure don't feel like I'm 65. I feel young." I pointed out that he'd gotten married when he was 21, that he's actually 86. He looked astonished. "Imagine that!" he said, marvelling.
Today, I handed him that card, and reminded him once more that it was his anniversary. He read the card and he smiled. "That's nice," and then he took a pen, and carefully signed that card with his full name, like you would sign a check. I said, "Can you think of anything that you'd want to say to that woman that married you 65 years ago?"
He paused. And then painstakingly, he wrote, "with all my love," and he signed it with the affectionate nickname that she calls him. All by himself. I almost cried. I knew how much those words would mean to the beautiful woman who visits him daily.
He addressed the card, using her full name. He wrapped a gift for her. I walked him back to his room after therapy, and he walked slowly, carrying the gift and card and the heart shaped balloon as if they were all fragile. Once in his room, he set it all on his bedside table.
Before I left, I asked him once again. "Do you remember what day this is?"
He smiled and he said, "It's my anniversary." I said, "Yes, it is, and your wife has big plans for this day." He said, "I think that I will wait right here," and he sat down in a chair, his hands on his knees, watching that heart shaped balloon bob back and forth with a sweet smile on his face. I shut the door on the scene, and I prayed that when his wife got there, he'd still know what day it was.