Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve


Drawing on memories of New Year's Eves bring few big bold wows.  Seems we tend to like them simple.  I remember being very young and dancing on a table with unknown faces doing the same.  I remember listening to coyotes on a cold New Year's Eve with my dad explaining why they howel.  I remember times with friends, blowing on silly paper horns and wearing a silly paper hat, and, I remember once, when I was so very young, the boy I thought was wonderful, kissed someone else at the stroke of midnight.  
New Year's Eve always brings a bit of magic.  I passed my mother's way on to my children.  At midnight we took out all the pans and banged them together making as much noise as possible for as long as we felt like it.  Then we put the pans away and went to bed.  What a silly tradition.  When my daughter was about seven and my son four, we opened the doors and banged our pans as loud as possible for as long as we felt like it.  She, however, noticed that no one else in the neighborhood was banging on pans.  "Mommy, why aren't the other people banging on their pans?"  "I don't know, sweatheart, maybe they fell asleep."  "That's too bad for them.  This is really fun." 
The magic starts just as the sun starts to set.  It's a free time.  A space between all the fuss and frizzle of the past two months, and the unknown responsibilities of the year to come.  It's a space to think about the life you have lived, the people who have touched you, prodded you, guided you on. It's a space to meet yourself. 
So what is your fondest memory of 2012?  I always ask these kinds of questions at our gatherings.  Mine was our trip, Jed's and mine.  We don't have any credit, so getting a vehicle that would fit our needs. with his handicap, was almost beyond reach, but somehow, with the grace of God leading us through each step of the process, we were able to buy a great van to accomodate us.  We closed the shop for a month and took a ten day trip to Colorado, just the two of us.  It was magic.  Just like tonight. 
I'm not much for resolutions, but they do seem like such a good idea.  Problem is, being human almost always gets in the way of even the best intended ones.  So, this year, I resolve to remember.  To remember the people I've loved and who have loved me.  To remember that time is short and magic does not come every day, unless you look for it, and do your part to make it.  And, to remember that it's all, magic or not, God given. 
Jed is still a quadriplegic.  He walks farther at therapy than he did last year, but still is unable to bring the walk home.  He struggles with pain and frustration, but guides me through tough days and hard decisions.  He relies on others for everthing short of wheelchair movement, but he stands tall in my eyes.  This New Year's Eve we're watching an old movie for the nth time and cozying in to the life we've been granted.  We are thankful. 
We will not be banging on pans tonight, but maybe, just maybe, our grandchildren will. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Slow Down and Peel Potatoes

I have potato memories.  I might seem a little silly, but my potato memories sort of ooze and mash and slice through me when I take the time to let them.  This morning I woke early.  The house was quiet, the best kind at times.  Knowing that tonight some 25 people would join us for celebrating Thanksgiving, I thought, "I might as well get busy."  Twenty pounds of potatoes sat there waiting.

As I started to pee,l in the cool early morning,  in the quiet house, I went places.  Good places. Childhood places, early motherhood places, brother places, planting places, mother places. Twenty pounds of potatoes were peeled before I realized it and I was full.  Full of heritage and pickups and dirt.

My parents would go to a potato field after the potatoes had been plowed up.  We would walk the furrows and pick up the newly dug treasure.  Our truck would be full of potatoes and our journey home would begin.    I would fall asleep on the way home and somehow those potatoes magically ended up in the cave.  The cave was one of three underground places on our farm where certain magic would happen.  This one, was the potato cave, and I didn't really care for it as a child. 

Mom gave my brother and me the job of keeping the potatoes sprouted.  If you look at a potato it has "eyes." Each eye will begin to put out roots to grow new potatoes and sacrifice itself for the benefit of new growth.  Our job was to prevent that from happening and pull off the sprouts.  We would be sent to the dark dry cave and told to "sprout the potatoes."  I hated that job.  It was dark, I knew spiders or something awful was lurking, and my brother made sure that my fantasy stayed alive.  I don't know if mom sent us there to get us out of her hair or as punishment, but I vividly remember the potato; picked off newly furrowed ground, lying in a dark dirt cave, awaiting two youngsters to save their self destruction.

My potato memories flowed through motherhood and carefully watching my young children manage the removal of a potato and it's skin.  Their pride in culinary ability.

So, as I peeled potatoes I thought about so many things, my babies, now grown, my grandchildren, now grown.....hey, but here I am with a potato, what am I to know?  

Holding a potato in my hand with a knife ready to strip it of it's protection, I realized that perhaps this was a picture of life.  Something with so much potential, protected only by a small thin skin. 
I went in my mind to life and it's value and what we consider protection. 

I'm not sure I will ever peel a potatoe  again without thinking about how something so important is protected by such a thin veil.  Our lives are like that very potatoe.   Rich, powerful, nutricious, important, and so very fragile in it's protection. 

Slow down.  Think about the joys that come your way.  Whether it be potaoes or something wtih equal joy and simplicity, slow down and think about them and how your life has been blessed by there very existence. 

My mom served a fine Sunday dinner.  She forgot the potaoes once and could barely forgive herself.  Potatoes have a special place.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


My niece recently posted on Facebook that her life was," littered with miracles."  I've thought a lot about the juxtaposition  of the two words:  litter and miracles.

Let's look at litter.  It's a bad thing.  I mean, there is even a fine if you're caught doing it.  Litter.  It's just bad.  Spewing our world with stuff that is not to be there. Stuff that only the low life would offer the world.  Only the irresponsible.    Litter.  Yuk.  Bad.  Litter.

But it's everywhere.  Litter.  It's everywhere.  You don't have to even turn your head and you see it. Stuff that  has been left.  Left for someone else to look at and deal with.  A dropped cigarette, a left soda can, a bag of half eaten fries.  I pick or sweep them up daily from the front of the shop.  Litter.  It's awful .  Somebody else's  through away.  Something somebody didn't want, and tossed out without thought or concern.

So, being littered with miracles gives reason for thought.  Who's junk am I getting?  

Like my niece, my life has also been littered with miracles.   The other element of litter, it that it's everywhere.  Everywhere! Eyes open everywhere!  Tossed out by the unknowing and left there for me.  Litter.

Miracles.  Those things that happen for no reason in particular, that just make things better.  And, for me, they are everywhere.

Today, for example.  Today was Tuesday.  Jed and my outing day.  I just wasn't into it.  It seemed like a task.  Going to the beach seemed so far away and so much traffic and, and, and....."Are you okay?"  "Yeah, I'm fine."  That kind of day.

So we get to the pier.  Jed is bumping his way down to the end of the pier to watch the sunset, and three young men say, "can we interview you?"  We could have said, "no."  We could have treated it like litter that is everywhere, but we didn't and it wasn't.

These lovely people were trying to get to the heart of real folk.  They were people of God who wanted to touch real folks and breathe in a bit of life.  They asked Jed if he had ever suffered.  Suffered?  I mean really!  Suffered?  Here is a man who has spent three and more years of his life totally dependent upon others, totally unable to do anything for himself and here are three young men asking him if he had ever suffered.  And, do you know what he told them?  He told them, "no."  "God put us here to be and do the best we can.  What good would it do to suffer?/"

That's the kind of miracles that clutter my life.  Even when I'm not in the mood.  Even when it seems like a burden. Even when I'm tired and don't want to be a believer, or a positive person.  Along comes  someone with a microphone, or a hammer who is there to see you real.  Someone who looks at you  and you can hear them say.  "Wow!"

The miracles that litter my life come in the form of people.  God puts them there.  They're mind adjustment folk provided by the Master of the universe.  They've been long life friends, customers, random folks on the pier, people on the freeway, .....they are litter.  And, I suppose, they could be cast away as unimportant, but to me, they are recognized as beautiful.  Miracles and litter have a lot in common.  Both are cast away as unimportant.  Both are everywhere.  Both can be beautiful.

Yes, my life is littered with miracles.  And from this day on, when I sweep up litter left in random carelessness , I will be reminded that this too could be a blessing.  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mourning Into Dancing

I've been asked to speak again.  I'm always a bit humbled, but the humility gets a bit overshaddowed with the pride and honor.  So, as I prepare to share, pondering just what part of our story is worthy of sharing becomes a delima.  Is it the part where we've overcome dread and anxiety most of the time, or the way we've managed to merge our lives with Ubaldo's, or how we've turned our living room into a bedroom, or how Jed just keeps on keeping on with a remarkable attitude?

 After living with this story for three and a half years, I start to believe there is nothing at all remarkable about it.  We're just living the life we've been given to live. 

The remarkable is not who we are, but who God is in us. 

Mourning takes it's toll.  Grieving and anxiety are friends of the pitiful. 

Dancing doesn't take at all.  Dancing gives.  Dancing spins and dreams and believes.  Dancing flows.  And even though I fall into friendship with mourning at times, I am a dancer in my heart. 
Jed too.  We fall deep into grief and mourning at times.  Sometimes it gets ugly and desparate, but then we are reminded by a moonbeam or a smile or a birdsong or someone's gentle love, that we are believers.   We're believers in a better tomorrow, a beautiful now.  We believe that God is in us and we in Him.  That's when our mourning turns into dancing, our weeping into laughter, our anxiety into faith.

That's what's remarkable about our story. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

There Is No Finish Line

Jed has a T-shirt that reads, "There Is No Finish Line."  I like the thoughts that wander through my head when he wears it. 

We spend our whole lives racing toward something.  Graduating, marrying, raising children, planning trips, making if it were a necessity, a competition.  Getting, getting, getting.  Doing, doing, doing.  It all seems to make sense.  We're all programed to get to a certain place, a level, a line....

But there is no finish line.  Not now, not ever. 

When Jed fell we were deeply involved in the race.  We were about to cross the "finish line,"  where life would be comfortable and good.  But he fell and the race stopped for us.  The past 3 1/2 years we've begun to realize there is no finish line at all. 

When I was a young adult,  full of dreams and very little else, I met a very sad gentleman who walked slowly, with his head hung in lost hope.  Brief encounters made me aware that he'd lost the love of his life and he was without purpose.  This man had planned his retirement with his wife.  They would travel and live the life they dreamed.  She died, and he had no more dreams. 

I met him briefly 40 years ago, but his sadness can still bring chill to my soul. I never even knew his name, but his slow, sad, grief walk brings me near to reality even today. 

When Jed fell, life was over.  Grief was the frequent guest.  People assisted us.  People brought us food and visited.  I sat back and let them help us, with little aknowledgement that all things pass.  Now, years later, I look back and see faces who lovingly brought food, who brought joy to our greif ridden lives.  Some of those people are dead.  Some of those people are dying.  Some of those people have disappeared. 

There's no finish line.  There's just time for stuff; singing, laughing, birthing,  grieving, dying, dancing, planning with abandon. 

We're just suppose to do the best we can, be the best we can, in the midst of who we are.  We're not running a race, we're living a life.  And, because we believe that God has a greater plan for us after we die, "There Is No Finish Line" has an eternal meaning for us. 

So, when you see Jed zipping around in his wheelchair wearing his, "No Finish Line" shirt, smile at him and know that even in the midst of all the stuff we didn't want to happen to us, we can see hope and light and laughter and joy.  Even though most of the dreams we dreamed and the stuff we thought most valuable are gone, they've been replaced with remarkable challenges and amazing people.  The fall didn't finish us. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Slice Of The Pie Of Life

It's been unbearably hot and business has been slow.  Ubaldo, Margaret, Alicia and I have tried to give one another a break so that we're not dealing with the heat for too long.  This is truly the "Dog Days of Summer."   Hot.  It's just hot.  Nothing and no one moves with much speed.  We're just waiting.  Waiting for a break in the weather.  Anything.  Just a break.  It's just too hot.

But people are still shopping.  And they are smiling and saying, "don't worry, it's hot everywhere."  They're faithful and great people.

Business and the stuff of life mix.  They seem to mix better in heat.

Today a couple who have been customers for years, came in and we talked about life.  They always ask about Jed.  They shared about their grandson.  Their grandson was born incomplete.  He's 12 now and  he can't do anything.  Nothing.  The son just put him in a home.  The grandparents weep.

Another customer sold me wonderful things as she shared some of her varied international life.  Her travels, her husbands, her boob jobs,.....the murder of her brother.

This little shop of mine is a slice of the pie of life. 

I listen to people.  I share some too.

What I come away with is joy.

Joy that we, the human race, just keep on keeping on.

Also today a desperate man came into the shop wanting me to buy books.  Another a curio cabinet, another some jewelry.  They all have a similar story...their life is hard.  I can't save everybody who comes in with something to sell.  I'm working on saving myself, and Jed, and Ubaldo, James, and get the picture.   Often I give lectures.  Today's book gentleman just needed $40 or he would lose everything he had.  I got a little tired of his whining and asked him if he would be losing his arms and legs?

He looked at me shocked and said, "no."  Needless to say, I told him about Jed and lectured him a bit.  They know what their going to get from me, but they just keep coming back.
What I get here every day, is a slice of the pie of life. 

The pie is delicious, but sometimes it's just too sour to handle.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What Can I Do?

It's been a long time.  Jed's accident.  Hope still hangs around, but it's not as lively as it once was.  We watch a lot of TV.  Sleep and TV.  Discussions are lively when sleep is not the priority. 

Today we went on a mini trip.  Now that we have the Blue Ox, my name for the new van, the two of us can go places without help.  It's nice to be just with Jed.  It's nice to remember how we once were so playful.  But it's hard.  Our mini trip today was chasing thunderheads.  We both love clouds.  We both love storms. We got in the Blue Ox and headed mountainside. 

It wasn't long before Jed was tired.  He was done with the adventure.  I, on the other hand, was adventure bound and determined he would have one too. 
"I've had enough," he told me, almost at the top of the mountain. "Well, that's just too bad."  I responded.  "We're here and we can't just say we're not, so we have to figure out what we're doing." 
So we drive around a bit, deal with a few issues, and go on with our mini adventure. 

When we got home Jed tells me what a wonderful time he had and thanks me for making sure he didn't give up.

Hope hangs around.

We went to the pool today before the cloud chasing adventure and he walked.  He walked remarkably.  What he can do in the water he can one day do on land.

Keeping a positive attitude is a struggle.  I get lonely for the husband I once had.   I get bound up by the responsibilities, I get tired of trying to be the cheerleader.   I get squashed.  What am I to do?

I'm a Christian.  So, of course, I should pray, and believe, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Well, here's the deal.  I do believe.  You know, sun when it's not shinning, etc.  I really do believe that there is a God.  I am a classic example of looking in the mirror dimly, because I don't have a clue how God has planned it all.

 I'm just lonely for my husband who could do everything.   I am stong and am able to manage the strength things required, but just want for things to be different and wonder why God picked us for this. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012


There's most likely very few Americans who have not been touched in some way by watching the summer Olympics in London.  I'm stuck on it.  It's a motivational movie.  Even the commercials.  Sometimes I tear up with pride and joy.  These young people move us all.  Out of our commonness and into magic.  The best of the whole world.  Really, the best on the entire earth at one place and one time in peace and beauty.

Yesterday there were seven police officers in the shop.  Seven, plus a detective, all because of an item that was supposedly stolen property.  I didn't stress.  I closed my eyes, said a silent prayer and gave it to God.  Police roaming about.   The "owner" of the property strutting intense.  It all streamed fluidly through me. 

It's our job to be the best we can be.  Watching the Olympics is a good reminder, a great one, actually, but, it's our human job to be the best we can be.  Whether that be dealing with a detective, a police officer, an intense victim of theft, a desperate mother trying to sell her stuff to buy school clothes for her children, or a husband who has been more than three years a quadriplegic.  We need to be our best and expect nothing less from the people we encounter.  

Greatness.  The Olympics remind us that Greatness is not and old fashioned ideal.  We can all be great.
Jed, my husband, is great.  He has been a quadriplegic since April 2009.  He has not been able to even scratch his nose for more than three years.  But, he greets each day with a plan to improve.  He greets each day with a positiveness that I can barely comprehend.  His greatness inspires me to be the best that I can be.  His greatness inspires me to face the detectives, the victims, and the desperate with the best that I have.

I don't have a clue how God designed all of this, but I see Him in these remarkable people who represent their countries in the Olympics.  Their journey to London is varied.  Their journey is full of barriers and struggles.  Ours are too.  All of us.  Those of us who struggle to be the best we can be are touched by the examples we see at the Olympics.

From daily stuff, to the remarkable Olympic demonstrations of greatness, lies the everyday things we all do.  Most of them are great.  We get up, and do our best.  Some of us are quadriplegics.  Some of us are caregivers, some of us are police or detectives.  Some of us are victims of crimes and some of us are business people just trying to do our best.  Most of us are great.

I know, there's lots of bad stuff out there.  But I just watched some amazing Olympic records, while at the same time assisted my husband in some basic needs.  I just refuse to fall into the doom and gloom mentality.  Our world is not going to be better unless we all try.  Jed's line, that he always used with his students, was, "Can't never did a thing.  Try does it all."  By using the example of the Olympic champions, I will try to be the best that I can be. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Road Trip

Have you ever heard someone say, "we're taking a road trip"?  For Jed and me, the road trip took us.  It took us almost 1700 miles up, over, and through this beautiful country.  "Alone?"  People would say.  "You're going alone!  What if something happens?"  Well, something happened.  We cuddled two great grandchildren, watched a banjo be passed to a new generation, laughed and played with the three Colorado grandsons, and got hugged by our sons.  Something happened alright.  For almost 10 days we left therapy and schedules and lived somewhat normal.  We studied maps, planned routes and sometimes even took the road less traveled. 

 At each major juncture we evaluated whether we had the strength and fortitude to move on.  Each stop, each goal,  presented challenges that we faced and then enjoyed.  There was nothing easy about this trip and being home feels good, but we got out there and lived.  These memories will not fade quickly.  The smells of the mountain rains, the beauty of a brewing storm as the clouds stir and dance, the thrill of a road almost impassable as the rain poured part of the mountain itself in our path...these and the gondola ride to the mountain top...these were therapy, perhaps not for the strength of the legs, but for the strength of the spirit. 

When you live a sheltered life in a therapy/caregiver world, the handicap becomes the norm.  But when you venture out, when the trip take you beyond your comfort, everywhere you are reminded that you're different.  Sometimes that brings sadness and tears, but mostly it reinforces internal strength.  As we strolled up and down Fremont street in Las Vegas,  I couldn't help but wonder how it must feel to be on wheels in a walking world. 

One of my facebook friends posted "21 pictures" to reinforce your belief in humanity.  They were beautiful and made me cry.  They were picture of people offering help to others.  We experienced a great deal of that on our journey.  Kindness over and over.  Offers of help and gestures of understanding.  Caught in a sudden freezing downpour on the mountain top, a young man ran to meet us with his umbrella.  That picture would have made the "21 pictures"  had it been taken. 

The many twists and turns and climbs and falls reminded us of the very life we live.  Sometimes the climb was so steep it seemed impossible, sometime the twists and turns monotonous, and then suddenly there would be a beautiful valley, a phenomenal stone structure or a vista that echoed breathtaking hope.  Perhaps that's why I love a road trip so much.  Each journey is a mini life well lived. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

God is Far Away

Sometimes God seems very far away.  So far away that sometime, just sometimes, God doesn't seem possible.  Times like this are lonely times.  So lonely that God doesn't even seem to be part of the life I live.  Seems like a nice fairy tale that children can believe, and then one day, "poof"  it's gone.  There is no tooth fairy.  Santa Claus is a big hoax and God, too went over the bridge with the Billy Goats.  Sometimes it's just too hard to believe.  I mean, really, He came back to life, He's three things all at the same time, He exits everywhere and is in everything.  Come on!

 I remember the day I discovered there was no Santa Claus.  My brother and I were minding the truck that was there to receive the fresh harvested wheat.  It was summer and we were goofing around waiting for the combine to come with a fresh load of new wheat.  For some reason Santa Claus became the topic.  The bomb dropped and I lost a little bit of childhood magic.  My brother said things like, "come on, sis, how could he be over the whole world on the same night?  How could he come down the chimeny?  Think about it."   I cried.  It was so lovely to believe.   

Faith in God starts out a little bit like faith in Santa Claus.  It's perfect and simple and magic.  At least that was how it was for me.  I was a teenager at a youth rally.  I was called, (at the same time quite remarkably, as my best friend), to the alter.  There, we were anointed with faith and the journey began. 

Since then, and probably even before then, I've never not believed.  I just get so screwed up.  What does this mean?  What does that mean?  Does that mean I have to behave like that?  Faith has really screwed up a lot of people.  Wars and terrible terribles have happened because of Faith.  And, guess what?  It's all been because of faith in God.  Everybody seems to have a different God than I do and everybody seems to understand their God way better than I. 

Sometimes I get this overwhelming peace that "passeth understanding," and I recognize it as God.  But other times, when I really need it.  When I really, really need it.    I get nothing.  Nothing at all.  No peace, no promise, no comfort.  Nothing.  I wait and I listen.   Nothing.  Then I wonder.  Do I really believe?  Am I just an imposter?  Am I just hoping for my stocking to be filled when I already know the truth about Santa Claus?

It's been a long time.  Jed as a quadriplegic.  Many prayers, many anointments, many everythings, trying to get him better, but he's really no better.  He still can't.  I get tired.  Ubaldo gets tired.  But, oh, how Jed must get tired of being who he isn't.   He isn't a man who can't.  He isn't a man who needs to ask.  He isn't a man who cries out in pain.  But right now he is. 

This is the time when we need God.  We need to know God is with us, but sometimes, when it gets especially dark and painful, that's when God seems very far away.  It seems like we're doing this alone and damn it, God.  That just doesn't seem fair. 

So, here we are, him quite well medicated, sleeping soundly, me, pondering the reality of faith while at the same time sipping Brandy and dreaming about slot machines.  I heard a song once that went something like this, "God, I wanna have a beer with you....."  It went on an on about the one day when the singer and God would sit down and have a chat about, "life and the way things are...," but the chat would be with an unjudgemental beer and a friendly exchange.  That's the God I want.  I want God to be my friend.  I want Him to love me in spite of all my weaknesses and doubts.  I want him to be my friend. 

He is.  He is my friend, because even now, as I ponder His nonexistence, drink brandy and dream of slot machines, He comforts me because I need it.  Friends are like that. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

What We Do Matters

Today was a remarkable day. 

Teachers wonder often if what we do makes a difference.  Probably most people do.  Today we got validated.  Both of us, Jed and I. 

Teachers spend their lives opening up to hundreds, if not thousands of children during a long career.  Day after day trying to see into a child and know their needs.  Day after day knowing that with just a little more effort, a little more understanding, a little more patience, a little more encouragement, a little more faith...a child might grasp. 

Through the years the faces and the stories begin to blurr, and then only a few stand out in that weary teacher's mind.  They're remembered because they are remarkable.  My handful of memories are the boys, the ones who didn't fit, the ones who wanted to sing, but were forbidden, the ones who screamed and thrashed in a world only they were in, the ones who loved trains more than lunch.  I tried to make their lives mold.  I tried to mold to them.  I sang with them, and restrained them when the world around them was too ugly.  Never knowing if it mattered. 

But today, one of those boys walked up to me as a man and told me I made a difference.  I hugged him, even though he resisted, and we talked ever so briefly about from whence we've both come and to where we hope to go.  I felt rich.  He left behind a note, "thank you, from the bottom of my heart."  I was validated.  The validating moment was brief, and life went on, but I will always be different because of that visit. 

The work day was over and I came home to our life.  On my desk was a small package from our neice who has recently graduated.  I didn't open it right away, because I was quite sure it would be a picture, and even though I would enjoy that, there seemed no hurry. 

As the day wore on, I opened the letter and package.  My brother's granddaughter, who we have seen only at family reunions, had written a book!  Really, a real book!  Stuff I dream of!  A book.  And she acknowledged her Uncle Jed.  I mean, even her dad or grandparents weren't officially acknowledged, but Jed was.  I cried.  Rachael remembered.  Family reunions would be wrought with many a memory, but Rachael's included Jed's remarkable stories he would tell to the gathered clan.  She remembered his character and gave him printed credit as the. "storyteller."   He too, was validated today. 

What we do does make a difference.  We don't know when, or with who, or even how.  I suppose if we did we'd become terribly hard to live with, but as long as we're doing the stuff that good people do, we will make a difference.  And, if we a lucky, one day, we will learn just what it was. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bores and Baptism

Father's day is upon us.  Warm thoughts of daddys are swarming, and neckties are selling at a greater rate than other times of the year.  Giving dad a gift is way harder than giving one to mom.  I mean, who sends flowers or candy to their dad?

 My dad died two years ago.  I wasn't sad that he died.  It was time.  I was washed with joy that he was mine and I was his.  It probably sounds crass, but I don't even miss him.  I don't miss him, because I feel his presence with me every day.  Every day.  Sometimes when I'm planting, or making a decision, or watching a storm or knowing what is right.  Sometimes when I see my messy hair in the mirror or hear a brass band.   Dad is always there, right there beside my mom.  Both of them continue to speak to me and guide me through life. 

Dad grew up with five sisters.  He was the second in line.  Five sisters and his German speaking grandparents on a timber claim in central Nebraska.  The stories are rich and wonderful.  Dad somehow managed to gain the gentle side from all the sisters, but what was required of him was grit, competence and self sustaining fortitude.  He was the only son on a farm that needed men to make it work.  He was the only brother in a world of sisters who needed him to teach them about life. 

So my father grew up a gentle bear, a killer and carer of things and people. 

By the time I came along he had lots of practice.  He had three sons of his own, his own farm, and was still helping out his dad on the "home" farm.  My "dad" memories include frozen winter nights when he would walk into the house with an almost dead calf on his shoulders, the hours of handing him tools while he repaired the tractor, or the wagon rides to the corn fields where we were all given hoes and told to get the weeds and "then we could eat the watermelon."  Thousands of memories which have become my own words and thoughts.  Dad watched storms.  His livelihood depended upon the weather and the decisions he would make related to them.  We would watch them together and he would point out the significance of each cloud and wind.  Now, when weather comes upon us, I feel dad breathing and I see him dancing his grandbabies to sleep.   Each one the most important.  Each the precious gift.   

Dad didn't like church much.  At least that's the message I got as a child.  Mom would say, "daddy is just too busy."  I knew better.  He just didn't like church, but he loved hymns.  Mom would play, and we would all sing.  Dad's eyes would tear up at, "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" and "Amazing Grace."  But he would go to "another place" with, "How Great Thou Art."

But the things church teaches us, like loving your neighbor as yourself, and pretty much all the commandments, except taking the Lord's name in vain, were just naturals to him.  The Lord's name in vain was a tough one, especially while repairing tractors and racing a storm for wet hay.  

Farmers need help sometimes.  Through the years I was protected from the realities of farm reproducing techniques, until one day I asked why Archie was bringing over that very big pig.  I was told some story about how Archie wanted to share his big pig for a while because Archie was nice like that, but the reality was that these two farmers had purchased a male hog, a bore, to share. A little while in Archie's pen, a little while in dad's pen.  Very happy bore.  That's what it was like for Archie and dad.  They shared work loads, they shared the stuff of farming in a way to benefit them both.  They trusted one another and made no big deal about it.  Both were gentle bears.  Both were killers and carers of things and people.  They were each other's other. 

The work never went away.  Farming is like that.  It's always there.  They helped each other through every possible storm a farm could bring a man.  But they both grew old.  And when it was time to resettle to town they found homes across the street from one another.  They continued helped each other colored with a fresh cup of coffee and one another's house each morning.   They were neighbors of the first order.  Storms come in many forms, and the one that almost killed these hearty men, were the storms that took their loves.  First mom and several years later, Betty. 

One day Archie came over for coffee with a serious question on his mind.  Archie had never been a church man either, but he had great concerns.  He wanted to be baptized so that he could, "go where Betty was."  But this gentle bear was afraid.  He just wasn't sure he could do it alone.  He asked my dad to be baptized with him.  Only the two of them know what really went on that day as these two men, who had battled everything life could give them, wondered about their eternity together.  I like to imagine I was there watching the akwardness, and the love, and the reluctance, and the amazing beauty in these men. 

Then, one wonderful day,  two gentle bears, who were killers and carers of things and people, submitted to the unknown and gave in to the magic.  Separately, but together they offered their lives to God.  Does it matter why?  Maybe to support a friend, maybe to guarantee a future with a lost spouse, maybe because it felt right.  Does it matter why?  Not.   

I sang, "How Great Thou Art" at Dad's funeral. That was my gift to him.  No flowers, just a song.    He had already gone to that "other place,"  but I know he was there with me, smiling with open arms for all the grandchildren.

So this Father's day, I think of these amazing men, one my father, one his chosen friend and I thank God for the power they have given me. 

Dad and Archie's story is rich.  Maleness, power, skill, confidence, friendship, practicallity, and acknowledgement of the unknown.  Somewhere, they are together, in some form, spreading  goodness and practicallity to the ones who have arrived.  God brings people together in life and for eternity.  Pay attention to the people He has given you now.  They just might be with you forever. 

Friday, May 18, 2012


What makes something a treasure?  Or a better way to ask is, what makes a treasure?  Implying of course that it doesn't need to be a "something."  I live and breathe other people's treasures.  People come in the shop, some walk around sort of creepy, and eventually they ask..."Do you ever see anything, or hear anything around all this old stuff?"  I stare at them like I don't know what there're getting to and they finally say it.  "Like ghosts or spirits or stuff..."  Many of them proceed to tell me that it's a little creepy, but cool, looking at all this stuff that somebody once thought a treasure. 

See, a treasure doen't have to be expensive.  Doesn't have to be pretty, valuable or even be understood by anyone else.  The only thing that a treasure needs to be one, is the ability to touch you, take you somewhere.  That somewhere doesn't always have to been warm and fuzzy.  One of my treasures, is dried roses from my mother's funeral.  Not warm, not fuzzy, just vivid. 

It's hard to hang on to treasures.  We move, we downsize, we clean out.  We can't keep it all.  That's what antique stores are for.  We're just full of all the treasures that somebody couldn't keep.  I'm rather pragmatic so I don't get all sappy about stuff coming into the store that looks rich in memory.  I feel rather honored.  Honored that I can be the keeper of the treasure until someone walks in, is stricken by  memory or hope and takes a much loved treasure home. 

I love the story of the stuff.  Sometimes when I don't know the story, I make one up.  Recently a bonnet was passed from one treasure keeper to another.  The new owner and I made up the young woman who wore it, made it, crossed the prairie with it, carried her children wearing it, probably even burried one with it neatly bound to her head.  We loved the story we created and became in love with the woman who wore it. Treasures have a way of touching you to others.  That's probably what  the people who ask about ghosts are feeling.  They too love the story, they just don't know they can make them up. 

The Bible has lots to say about treasure.  Bottom line is, don't hang on to any of it too tightly, because you want to keep your heart open for the Great Treasure that lies ahead.  Treasure the love that a thing brings, treasure the friend that it reminds you of, treasure the memory and then make up a story.  I treasure being the keeper of other people's treasures, and sometimes I fantasize that people who have passed are happy knowing their special treasure is being temporarily cared for by me until it's new owner passes by and feels the calling to come in. 

Tea and Memeories

My daughter recently said to me, "I don't know what I would do if I couldn't drink my tea!"  She really loves her tea.  Just any ole tea won't do.  Has to be special leaves, special brews, soy with raw honey, green tea.  She drinks it hot, cold, and all day long.  Sometimes those who love her have to wait.  We wait while she fixes or finds the perfect tea. 

I have lots of tea memeories.  Iced tea was and absolute in the summer on the farm.  Iced tea and Kool Aid.  No sugar in the iced tea.  Salt on the watermelon, but no sugar in the iced tea.  Now in the winter, lots of sugar in the hot tea.  Those were just the tea rules.  We didn't have fancy stuff, but I remember when mom first brought home Lipton tea bags.  We thought we had gotten real modern. 

In the summer, during my childhood, most nights, we had dinner out on the front yard.  The colorful aluminum pitcher was always full of iced tea. And we all had our special color aluminum glass from the set.  We would take the food out to the picnic table and enjoy the summer nights. The farmwork was done for the day.  Hay and been mown, or corn picked.  It smelled like a job well done.   It's a bit of a stretch to say that we had dinner together, because my brothers and I were almost immediately up in the big cottonwood tree, swinging on ropes high enough to kill us quick if we had fallen, and grabbing a bite to eat with each swoop from the top.  My parents sat on the big white wooden chairs looking proud and amazingly enough not yelling things like, "be careful," "don't go too high," or any of the many warnings a parent would surely be thinking.  I've wondered how they kept their restraint.  "Me Tarzan, You Jane" was the game of summer choice.  Funny how thinking about iced tea can bring out those memories. 

I don't drink much tea.  My drink of choice is coffee or water.  But, I'm starting to get into it.  Watching my daughter's delight when it's the perfect brew and hearing her talk of the health benefits in her green tea mixture.  I'm starting to get it.  Part of the joy of a perfect brew is just taking time to enjoy it.  Sipping it slowly, talking about how wonderful it is, breathing in the warm air it creates and letting the body slip, every so slowly, into another moment, maybe a memory, maybe a dream, but a moment that can be savored, if only briefly.  No wonder my daughter just can't imagine a day without her tea. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Today is a dying day

Not to be alarmed, but today is a dying day.   It's one of those days when it just seems okay to give up.  I'm sick.  Ubaldo's sick.  Jed's sick.  The three of us don't make a complete person.  And dying seems kind of nice.  Now, to relieve the people who get alarmed, we're not  on the edge.  It just seems comfortable to give up. 

I had a very good friend in my other life who said, "you spend the first half of your life gathering things and the second half getting rid of them."   Well, we are in the second half.  Stuff doesn't have much value to us.  Unless we can sell it on ebay or in the shop.  We've become a bit mercenary.  

We spend lots of time watching TV.  People are dying all over the place on TV.  Bad guys, good guys, guys in the way...just lots of dying.  Lots of times when I watch the fantasy stuff I think about us, how we would make a good movie.  You know, good folks struggling to have some kind of a life.  Some kind, no matter how majestic, just some kind that gives us pride. 

One of my customers at the shop is a very stong Christian and she has said, "It always amazes me that even though we believe that it will be better on the other side, we're not in a hurry to get there." I like that.  Dying days don't come very often.  Days when it's just too hard to live, but it's a comfort to know that it's okay not to be in a hurry. 

It's also a real comfort to know that a dying day isn't bad.  For those of us who have a belief in another life, well, what can be so bad about that.  For years I've met them at the shop.  They are on their dying day, but they somehow come out to either share with me or try to sell.  They are on their dying day.  They are desparate and unconnected with anything that gives them comfort.  Dying days can be recognized.  

Tonight Jed is so sick that he doesn't know whether he wants me to cool him or warm him, cover him or free him.  He is just sick.  And me, well, I've had this miserable cough that comes from the bottom of the basement for several days, and there is just no energy to care what he wants. 

Today I made plans for us to travel to Utah and meet our two new great grand sons.  We will do that in two weeks, so there will be no dying going on until after then.  They are beautiful boys and need to meet their wild and crazy great grandparents. 

So, dying days aren't really days to die.  They're days to remember why not to.  We have fish to catch in Colorado, stories to tell in Utah, things to set straight in Nebraska, and who knows where else to touch with our truth.  Dying days are not so bad.  Gives a grip to the living. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Saloon Singer or Secretary

Music was always a part of my life.  Not a lot to do on the farm when it gets dark, so our family sang.  "Daddy sang bass, momma sang tenor..."  Then when I got in high school, my brother bought a guitar.  After lots of practice the two of us and a friend became Nebraska's version of Peter, Paul and Mary.  We sang for anybody that wanted music.  We loved it.  Being on stage filled our bucket.  We  found our place in the world, on stage, harmonizing, making people happy.

One Spring, while in college, I read a flier.  Auditions were being held for a Dance Hall Girl in a Wild West Saloon at a tourist "Old Town."   My heart leaped.  "That's for me!"  I imagined red can cans and leg kicking for the joy of the vacationer. Perfect Summer job!  Some might think it a fate worse than death, but me, I still smile and visualize that old wooden stage and the applause in the smokey room, the laughter, the songs. 

I was offered the job.  I was ecstatic.  The job was offered me because they were looking for someone who could be raspy and gravely with their voice, sort of growl while you sing.  That was suppose to be sexy and be most authentic.  Dance hall girls were a bit rough, you know.  Well I could do that.  I was in.  The perfect summer job was mine. 

But I had a boyfriend.  His summer job was on the other side of the state and he wanted me there.  Now, I was young, about 19, and  I was in love.  He wanted me there.  It was the 60's.  A young girl went with her man.  So I gave up my dream to follow another.  I went through an employment agency to find a job and lied about how I so wanted to be a receptionist/secretary.  All summer long while I struggled to type and be pleasant on the phone, I dreamed of leg kicking and red can cans.

 It took me lots of years to realize that the boyfriend, whom I married and had a very respectable life with, didn't love the saloon girl.  He loved  the sectretary.  The one who behaved well and organized his world.  Sectretary I was not.  It was a struggle to be organized, to type, to take memos.  It was not free.  I was not free.  I worked very hard at being who he wanted me to be, but the dance hall girl was always there screaming, "let me out." 

So now, some 40 years later, I still dream about that old wooden stage, the laughter and the freedom.  I turned my back on freedom.  I imprisoned myself into a life that I had to work at rather that love.    Now, I tell people to follow their dream.  If you want to be a secretary, go for it and be the best secretary that you can be.  You will be happy.  But, if you want to throw your skirts from side to side, kick you legs high and sing with your raspy voice, then do that.  Do that, and whatever or whoever is waiting for you will be there when you're finished.  You will be more complete. 

See, I believe that God made us perfect.  If we're made to be a secretary we will know it.  If we're made to dance and sing in a saloon we will know that too.  We spend lots of time doing things that don't make us feel free.  We all recognize freedom.  Our whole selves are elevated.  And, when you meet someone who loves the person that you know is inside, pay attention to them.  They just might be a life time partener.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Family Boat

Ever been on a boat?  I was practically born on one.  First a little fiberglass fishing boat and finally a full fledged, well respected, fish finder installed, skiing allowed, macho boat.  In my childhood, water and boating was a given.  Fishing, part of the breath our family took.  Boats of all kinds were good and valued.  We fished off them, swam off them, skied behind them and generally built our family experieces around them.  Boats.  I remember the time my mom decided that she would try to ski.  She got into the water with her skies on, held the rope and hollered, "go" as she had heard us say many times.  What she didn't do, was let go of the rope when she fell.  The boat drug her, almost drowned her, because she just didn't let go.  It was probably symbolic of her committment to all of us, but we had to drag her back to shore and she never tried again. 

But the "family boat" had significance.  Our family bonded in helping one another.  Providing time to play, to fish, to picnic.  Time to explore the shores.  The boat held us up in the midst of the deep, deep unknown. 

One day my sis, Jed's amazing sister, said, "We're all in the same boat, the family boat."  She wasn't aware of the history I'd had with "family boats."  She was referring to being there when being there was critical.  And she's has been there, over and over and over with a paddle and sometimes a very large outboard motor, but she has been there when we were in the deepest unknown waters. 

I've had many recent experiences with the "family boat" and it's been quite lovely.  As was in my childhood, the family boat has kept us afloat and looking toward future dreams.  There have been many times in the past three years that we felt we would drown, but the, "family boat" has been there, throwing out a saving rope. 

My family is extremely varied in it's spiritual beliefs.  They range from genuine respect, to disgust, to reverence and complete resignation. There's also the doubters, the put downers and oh, yeah, the ones who just can't believe the others aren't where they are.  I figure God can handle it and knows the heart of each and every one of the ones I love. 
I'm just thankful that I have a boat, and that at any time, one or many of my family are in it, helping us move it to more peaceful waters.  Mothers, Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, Daughters, Sons, even grandchildren, and some that have no official family title, but are more family than friend.  Our "family boat" is floating.  Thanks to the many who have given it bouyancy and fuel.  We float and explore the shores.  

The Family Boat

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mother Daughter Experiences

When my mother was my age, she was dead.  Dead on a roller coster of hope that she wouldn't be.  Dead just the same.  I was a pitiful  thing, trying to be so strong.   It was quick.  Spot on her arm.  Dead three months later.  Malanoma.  I thought I had a lot more time with her.  Time to get mellow and give  up all the things young women hold against their mothers.  But I didn't and I tried to make up for it by changing her wig before her "showing" and singing "Amazing Grace" at her wake.  Truth is, every mother's day I cry just a little bit.  Not so people can see, but in my heart, deep down where only the Gods know the truth. 

My mom was amazing.  Most mothers are.  Mine was snow white.  Black hair, beautiful with lots of little people who loved her.  She was a kindergarten teacher and beloved by many. When she died so suddenly, it was as if the fairy tale just quit.  It quit for the children, and it quit for me. 

We all, my dad, my brothers, all the grandchildren, and me, we all gave up on the fairy tale. 

It took years for us to be different.  We kept holding on to her.  She was so powerful in the "who we are."  I can't speak for my brothers, but I have gotten a grip.  Mom was amazing.  Mom was an energy force that moved us all to be greater than we expected us to be.  Unassuming as she she was, her power was magnificant.   

My daughter and I just had the most amazing mother daughter experience.  Mothers and daughters love each other from the very beginning, but  they grow apart. Apart becomes real.  Apart is important and critical.  But, coming together again is a gift.  Some never get there. 

We had our journey.  It was perfect.  Genes oozed.  Laughter rose.  Memories creeped into our skin.  All the stuff that was once creaky, didn't creak.  All the stuff that was once careful, wasn't. 

Mothers and daughters need these times.  We are to grow up and live happily ever after, but that propably won't happen.  We will probably have very hard times, times when our energy is sapped and our spirits are stripped of  color.  Times when crying takes more energy than we have and screaming just doesn't have room. 

I've been jealous of the mother/daughter teams that have come into my shop.  They seem so resolved.  My mother died before I forgave her for loving me enough to not like me sometimes.

I had no forgiveness journey with my mom, but my daughter and I  climbed in a beat old van and miles later, we knew the power of life with the connection of birth. 

Life starts out with lots of promise.  It's followed by some amazing journeys, some great, some perfectly terrible.  If you are blessed with a daughter, life is eased a bit.

It was my mom who led me to God.  She would say, " the week just goes better when we go to church."  We did and it did.  Mom was a power that has probably grown greater through the years, but her bitty stature and her mighty soul took charge of her family and gave history our farm experience.  I wish I had had a road trip with my mom.  What a joy thaat would have been. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Love vs Responsibility

My grandma lived to be 99.  Jed's mother lived to 100.  People who live this long probably get wise.  Once I asked my grandma what it was like to get this old.  She said boldy that, "there's no difference at all, except all your friends die."  I was young and didn't see the wisdom in her statement, but it has stayed with me these many years. 

I don't even remember what my grandpa died of.  I was seven and he just died.  He was the first dead person I had ever known and I really tried to cry.  I mean, I really tried.  I sat in the church pew next to my cousin and begged for tears.  My cousin and I, who had spent hours together in our grandpa's office playing with his important papers (he was a county judge), we tried to cry, but we just couldn't.  We were seven.  Seven year olds don't cry unless they are hurt, and we weren't hurt.  We were just confused. 

Sometimes life is like that.  You can't decide whether you are hurt or just confused.  You're supposed to behave a certain way if it's one and another if it's not.  So, here we are years later all wrapped up in another drama.  Are we hurt or just confused.  Should we beg for tears or is that just a waste of good time and energy?

We are about to enter year number four.  Next week will be three  years since the ladder wrote our history and created a new life for us.  Ladders are rather omnious things.  One must take them seriously.  We are neither hurt nor confused.  Most of the time.  But, there are dark and ugly times when neither seem to give justice to the power of the moment. 

Being thrown, or fallen as is our case, into a new life, one has to reevaluate everything.   Everything comes up for the jury call.  So when times are dark and energy is low the questions come.  Is this caregiving or is this love?   Is this committment or is this intimacy?  It this real?  There's more.  It's the questions of life.  Can this go on?  Will the committment one day end?  Can love handle this?    All questions of capacity.  Capacity to keep on keeping on.   Life and the way things are.

It's hard.  Our life.  Lifting.  Feeding.  Giving.  Taking.  It's hard and it's remarkably easy.  Sometimes we don't know whether we are hurt or confused.  Sometimes we don't know if we're angry or grateful.  Sometime the toilet doesn't work.  But we're pretty clear on the love thing.  There's rage, there's anger, there's vulgarity and even doubt.  But, the love thing...we are blessed completely with that seeping oil.  Flowing through vulgarity and doubt and confusion and hurt.  It's not responsibility, it's love.  It's the one who filled the other who feeds the other.  Responsibility be dammed.   


We have very bad credit.  Almost all of my life, that equated with the fact that we are bad people.  Bad credit equaled bad people.  Well, if not bad, at least poor managers, people who made poor decisions... on the edge of low life.  I have a very vivid memory of my childhood community.  One poor sucker filed bankruptsy.  What a bad man he was!  "Why, he was running away from responsibility and cheating almost everyone."  "Don't be like him," was the unspoken and powerful message. 

When did the whole credit reporting thing begin?  Guess I'll have to research that, but it most certainly began out of misguided trust and failed agreements.  Regulations must be put in place.  So, here we are 2012 and for most of our adult life we have had a number, a number based on our behavior.   If we paid the bills on time, didn't over extend, made "sound" financial decisions, yadda, yadda, yadda,...we got a high number by the powers that be.  Once, that was very important to me, a matter of pride.  "We have a very high credit score," was a casual conversation piece to be interjected at times where others would nod and acknowledge our wise accomplishments.  It was a shield, an armor.  High scores set one apart from the masses.  Oh, those masses.  They really should make better decisions. 

That was then.  Now?  Now doesn't think much about the masses and bad decisions.  Now knows the truth.  An artificial number, that everyone who makes decisions about your future looks at,  says nothing about who you are.  Nothing.  It doesn't know your heart or your value system.  It doesn't know your experiences or your joy.  It doesn't know your committment to responsibility and it doesn't know  your faith. 

We were one of them.  The ones who looks ascantly at the "low numbers."   Now,we are one of them, the, "low numbers."  When I taught 6th grade we studied Easter Island.  There are many theories of the social interactions of the island, but one was the theory of the long ears and the short ears.  Not to go into the history, but the two of them, looked different and had different cultural experiences  which  created annimosity among themselves.

I feel like a short ear.  A "low number."  Our society has the, "high numbers," and the "low numbers."  And, we have a system in place that sets the highs on one plateau and the lows on another. 

It's an interesting way to live, as a, "low number," especially having been one of the other for all of my life.  I hear my father's disapproval almost daily. 

But the truth is, it doesn't matter.  Sure, it makes life a little like trugging through mud, or taking the jeep through the sand trail to get to the cabin, but in the nature of who we are, being a "low number" or a "high number" is probably a lot like being a "long ear" or a "short ear."  It's just what happened to you while you were trying to experience life.  Doesn't have anything to do with pride or being a good person.  Probably wouldn't even raise the disapproval of a father. 

So, when we want to buy a house, we're  "short ears."  We just can't.  It's not there for us.  The system in place says, "You must not be our type.  We cannot trust you.  You are a threat.  You are a "short ear."  We must protect ourselves from you. 

So, we go along, being short ears, but behaving no differently than we were when our ears were long.  Having no different values, believing in committment and hand shakes and honesty.  But our ears have been lobbed so we have learned to cower and say, "some things are not available to us."

Credit scores are the human attempt to see into the heart of man.  Thank God our hearts are viewed clearly by the All Seer.  God, the All Seer, sees the high numbers and the low numbers and the long ears and the short ears.  He looks into their hearts, and he gives them the ability to laugh at the other. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The People In Our Lives

Today a lovely young woman came in the shop.  She bought a few things and as usual, we talked.  She gave me goose bumps because out of her mouth came the words I wanted to say.  "We just can't do it  And we have to have really good people around us."   We nodded and smiled and shook hands with vigor.  But she hung with me as she left. 

We're as good as the people around us.  Wow!!!!  The truth in a mouthful.  I am constantly whelmed, not overwhelmed, because that has a connotation of out of control.  I'm just whelmed...amazed, awed, grateful...all that and more.  The people around us are truely magical. 

How is it that we have been so blessed?   At the shop for example.  It's a team.   A team that would do anything for the other and yet are completely indepentent in their own right.

 Margaret.  Unique beyond discussion and yet common as air.  Beautiful, dedicated, talented, and committed to self, integrity, honesty and the truth.  Her humor.  Her strength and willingness to lift and haul.  Her forthrightness.  A valued touchstone.

 Ubaldo.  He gets more hours in a day than humanly possible.  This man is treasure.  He makes magic every day.  Magic that lifts us up.  Magic that makes us laugh.  Magic that makes messes disappear and beauty take its place.  Unique?  One of a kind! 

Alicia.  Young and lovely.  Struggling with life's truths.  Dedicated to becomming.  A most trustworthy and beautiful granddaughter. 

Daniel and Daysean.   An unlikely pair to be teamed but perfect.  Their work and dedication to the shop is undenyably critical and amazing.  Their attitute with every request is playful and competent. 

So that's the shop. 

But the shop's not our only life.  We have dear friends from church, from the movie club and from our past who have warmed us with joy, or avacados, or socks, or Brandy.  Ones we've walked with and shared life stories with.  One's that have been there forever.

We really are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with.  Jed and I have been blessed beyond any possible expectation with people.  People who expect nothing from us and yet give so much of themselves. 

We have a Christian housekeeper and a Christian gardner and a Christian caregiver.   Sounds like an old Somther's Brothers  song...."what do you think about that? "

For all those who have touched our lives, we thank God.  For the ones we will meet tomorrow, we thank God. 

The People We Go Through Life With

Friday, March 23, 2012

Walking With Wholeness

I've been asked to speak to a group of Christian women this Sat.  I eagerly said yes because I was complimented to be asked and thought I had something to share.  But now it is Thursday and I am realizing that I propably have nothing at all to share of value. 

The theme of the day is, "Walking with Wholeness."  Ironic, I thought since walking is such an issue in our home.  Next month it will be 3 years since Jed fell off a ladder and changed our lives dramatically.  Walking in any form has been a lofty dream.  Walking with wholeness?  Well....that would be off the scale.  So a few days ago I presented the topic to the men in my life, Jed and Ubaldo.  We talked about wholeness.  What makes us whole?  How do you know when you're whole?  What is the opposite of whole?  Good discussion and good people to discuss with. 

We talked about walking.  Does it mean putting one foot in front of the other or is it deeper?  Can bed or chair ridden people "walk with wholeness?" 

We're just coming out of what I am calling, "our very dark winter."  It was dark because, Jed, having gained tremendous skills after 2 1/2 years of therapy and rehabilitation, lost everything with shingles and then pnuemonia.  Our, "very dark winter" was spent with Jed in bed for 10 weeks gradually losing all he had gained after a long and arduous battle against the odds.  It was hard on him.  It was hard on Ubaldo.  It was hard on me.  We went from standing practice to monitoring temperature and fluids.  A grim winter indeed.  Whole? 

But now it's Spring.  The "very dark winter" is past and Jed is committed to regaining what he once had.  To our great joy, his skills are returing faster than we had anticipated.  He's not walking.  He was, but not now.  But he is whole.  He is whole in his soul.  He knows who he is. He's comfortable with his relationship with God.  And, even though he is not presently putting one foot in front of the other, he is "walking with wholeness."  Tonight Ubaldo said, "Jed is the most whole man I've ever met."  And he is.  So, maybe I do have something to share. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


It sounds simple.  Quad.  But it's immobility.  It's a body in place with no power.   People ask me, "how's the hubby?"  They're trying to be nice.  But "hubby"  can't do anything, literally anything, without help except push the buttons on a TV remote.  Everything.  Everything.  Everything must be done by someone else.  Food.  Bathroom.  Drink.  Nose Picking.  Eye scratching.  Ear cleaning.  Teath flossing.  Teath brushing.  Everything.  That's what quad means.  All four.  All four don't work.  That someone else is either me or Ubaldo. 

But to Jed's remarkable credit, he stays positive.  He is protecting us.  At night he prays outloud for God to take him home.  He has no idea that I hear him.  One day I told him I was worried about him.  He had been low energy for several days.  He said, "why worry, the worst that can happen is that I die and I rather look forword to that." 

When I was just beginning my adult life I remember a very sad man who lived in our apartment building.  He and his wife had just retired with hopes of living the life they had dreamed.  But, with little warning, she had died.  He wandered about lost and without purpose.  I remember him saying, "we should have lived more fully when we could." 

That's the one of the many things I have to be thankful for.  Jed and I lived life fully.  We had fun.  Lots and lots of fun.  We lived a little bit on the edge, enough to know gasps.  Gasps of joy, gasps of beauty, gasps of fear, gasps of love.  A little bit abandon.  A little bit magic. 

Quad.  Very unfortunate.  Not as we planned.  Please, dear God, take it away.  But, what we have been given is far greater that what has been taken away.  "To whom much is given, much is expected."

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Following Dreams

Jed spent 2 1/2 years building up his strength and abilities.  He was getting to the point that he could see the day when he would walk, really walk.  Walk without major assistance.  Walk because he wanted to go someplace.  He worked at it.  He worked with determination and focus.  We all worked.  Standing practice.  Squats.  Over and over to exhaustion, followed by pride.  It was a dream, a future reality.  We knew it was just a matter of combining exercise wtih therapy, with nutrition, with good home practices.  We worked, and we worked, and we worked.  We bought a standing frame to help him gain strength.  He got to the point where he could stand for an hour or more, watching TV or working at his computer.  It was all linear and made sense. 

Then he got shingles.  Shingles are bad.  Jed lost all desire to work at his dream of walking.  Life became a constant need to rid him of pain.  Then it went worse.  He lost drive and stamina, but he also lost immune power.  Pnuemonia set in.  Weeks and weeks.  He spent months in bed with no desire to move toward anything but sleep. 

He wasn't even aware how long it all was, the loss of the dream.  One bad thing upon another and he became bedridden and powerless. 

But now he knows.  He remembers where he was.  He knows that the 2 1/2 years of building have been lost. 

But, remarkably, he is beginning again.  He is finding the strength, somewhere, to start again. 

Now we are practicing standing.  He is standing in the standing frame for 5-10 minutes, not the once hour.  He is seeing the dream, and is willing to start the tremendous effort to begin to follow it once again.

I have great admiration for his grit. 

We don't talk about God much.  But we both have a powerful and constant faith that we can neither define nor grasp.  It's just there.  I can't imagine life without it.  Grit and determination are wonderful.  Following dreams, however basic, are important, but life without faith would be really awful.  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

This ain't for no chickens

So, here we are.  Almost ready to lose the house.  Jed lying here with pneumonia, Ubaldo(the care giver) having to deal with kidney disease, on top of all the other stuff he has had to deal with, and me, just finding comfort in brandy and potato chips. 

Tonight I signed the papers to put the house up for a short sale.  This, I suppose will take some time, but it's no fun to be making these kinds of decisions alone.  

Bottom line is that this kind of living simply ain't for chickens. Eagles or lions, maybe.  But chickens, no. 

We raised chickens on the farm.  I gathered the eggs and I hated the aggressive chicken that didn't want to give up her egg.  Sometimes I just wouldn't get  her egg, because I was just too afraid.  She just kept pecking at me. 

But my most vivid memory of the chickens on the farm was when my mom decided it was chicken killing time.  I don't know when that was, spring? fall?  don't remember, but what I do remember was the techique.

Mom would walk to the chicken coop with an ax in her hand and feed in her pocket.  She had a wire clothes hanger folded out with a hook on the end along her side. 

"Here chicky, chicky,"  she would say. And the chickens would come for the food she scattered from her apron store.  Then, quick as a chicken's feather, she would use the coat hanger to grab the leg of an unsuppecting hen, ax would appear and head would be off. 

I remember the awe of  watching a headless chicken strut and flutter, and the pride of watching my little bitty mother wheel an ax. 

So, here I am.  Wheeling my own ax.  Trying to behead the fowl we face.  Proud that I have my mother's grit.  I have my apron full of feed.  My ax in hand, and my bent out clothes hanger ready to grab an unsuspecting fowl.  I'm prepared.  I just haven't identified my prey. 

Is it the pneumonia?  The quadriplegia?  The mortgage company?  Our bad decisions?  I'm ready to kill something.  I just don't know what to kill.  Mom had some clarity.  "Kill the chickens so that my family has food."

I, too, am trying to save my family.  I just don't know what to kill. Or, maybe, it just isn't the time to kill.  Maybe it's the time to accept.  

Chickens really get a bad rap.  Like they represent the fearful.  "Don't be a chicken,"  etc.  But, my memory of our chickens was that they just lived life quite comfortably, until that day when my mother chopped their heads off. 

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this, except that, my life, right now, is not for the weak.  I am thankful for the heritage that I have because it gives me power.  My mom was a little bitty thing, but she had power over the land and the things around her simply by her will. 

She could kill when she needed to kill, plant when she needed to plant, and rise to the power of God when she needed to rise.  I draw upon that power that has been given me though eons of ancestors. 

This ain't for no chickens, because, you just might lose your head.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Clear Thinking

Haven't written this year.  So far it's been a challenge and not much fun.  I could make a really long list of all the stuff that just keeps hitting the fan, but it wouldn't stop it from coming.  Jed has had the shingles since November and pneumonia for the last many weeks.  He's lost his strength.  But he hasn't lost his wisdom.  Tonight he spoke with clarity about situations beyond our control.  I said something like, "boy, when it gets bad it really gets bad doesn't it?"  He very calmly said, "I don't think that's the way you want to think about things."  And he went on to say, "when things get really hard, it's an opportunity.  The only real gift we have is our clear thinking." 

So he's laying there is bed, his whole body hurts from just laying around for almost eight weeks, he's lost almost everything he had gained in strength and ability since the fall, and he has the precision of thought to remind me to think clearly.  And to recognize it as a gift.

So, how to think clearly....Lately when I open my eyes each morning I say a simple prayer.  "Lord, keep me focused today."  Wallowing is so self serving and unattractive.  I shall not wallow.  I shall not.  I shall not.

Clear thinking.  I like that a lot.  Not only clear, but sequential.  Day by day.  Deal with what we have to deal with today with the most clear thinking as possible, and let tomorrow come after  a good rest.

Jed is an inspiration.  It will be three years in April.  He had made amazing progress and then, the last 8 weeks have stripped it away.  Tonight he said, "I don't even remember not being sick."  But all the while he is able to inspire others to bring themselves to a place of clarity.  I thank God everyday for him while at the same time pray for his total recovery.