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Look carefully...at the seemingly small moments...in the constant shaping of souls.- Neal A.Maxwell

belly flops
     A while ago 16 year old B bought 2 small bags of Belly Flops (irregular Jelly Belly jelly beans) from the Dollar Store.  Unfortunately he did not notice that the bags contained a mix of regular and weird flavors.  The weird can be downright disturbing - rotten egg, ear wax and worse.  B realized his error when he started eating the first bag.  Most of the contents of that bag ended up in the garbage.  The second bag ended up in the cupboard until tonight when my husband  D opened it.  A few beans in and he was done.  B and 20 year old C started a competion.  They would each pick a bean for the other person and see who could swallow first (or spit out last).  B got a rotten egg and was 100%, completely done with the game.  C asked D to play - he declined.  I said I would play if I got to pick my own beans.  My first was pear - quite tasty.  C picked a bean and then brought me the plate so I could select my second.  There was one white bean on the plate, nothing else.  It was marshmallow.  C was hoping it was rotten egg.  We decided  that to make it fair we would cut each bean in half so we would both get the same thing.  The plus side of this was you could smell a hint of what you were getting before tasting.  We took turns selecting which bean to cut.  Cotton candy.  Toasted Marshmallow.  Blue Raspberry.  Chocolate.  And then...rotten egg.  Yuck and double yuck, by smell even before taste.  A few beans later C's girlfriend texted and C quit the "game" to respond to her.  I was curious about the remaining beans so I cut into another one and sniffed.  B said he would not taste anymore but he would sniff them with me.  There was one ominous looking one that C and I had been avoiding.  I cut into it and B and I both gave a sniff.  It was absolutely, positively horrid.  We had D and C smell.  They agreed it was BAD.  B offered C a dollar to eat it.  No go.  B kept upping the ante until it got to he would let C choose who he would ask to Homecoming.  No dice.  C said he really wanted to eat it just to prove we were all wimps and he wasn't but even that was not incentive enough.  
     We were laughing from the moment D opened the bag until well after the last bean was cut. One dollar well spent.  Though if we never have another jelly bean again it just may be too soon.




invincible
Monday evening: my throat hurt a little, 16 year-old's throat hurt a little.

Tuesday evening: my throat hurt a lot, 16 year old's throat hurt a lot.

Wednesday morning: I have head and chest congestion, 16 year old has head and chest congestion.

Thursday evening: 20 year old mentions his throat hurts a little.  I lay out the roadmap, "Tomorrow it will hurt a lot, Saturday will come congestion."

Saturday morning: 20 year old comes to me, "I know you told me the course this would go but I really thought I wouldn't get congested - I thought I would be special."

Got to love youthful optimism.




detour
graceful elegance.jpg

       My dad has a small photo album containing some of his favorite photos.  This picture is in that album.  I took a snapshot of it last time I visited because it is one of my favorites as well.  I have been thinking about the particulars of this moment in time since my last post.
     I do not remember where it was taken, my brother - the one in white - thinks it is Bear Lake.  I also do not remember the original plans for that day but being in water was not one of them.  I know this because we did not bring any change of clothes.  Initially, when it was decided we would stop at the lake, we were just going to walk near the water to look at it and maybe practice skipping rocks.  Soon thereafter, we were allowed to take our shoes off and get our feet wet.  This turned into pant legs being rolled up and being allowed to wade in a little ways.  I am not sure what my oldest brother was doing but my other two brothers and I were playing with wet sand.  We would reach down and grab a handful.  Sometimes we would  squeeze the water out and make a sand ball, other times we would let the wet sand ooze between our fingers.  My middle brother and I would bend at the waist to get sand.  My baby brother would squat down for his.  Each time he squatted his bottom would touch the water.  It was not long before his pants were soaking wet.  Our parents decided that if they had one wet child they may as well have four wet children - with the stipulation that if we chose to get wet we chose to not complain about being wet the entire car ride home.  We had a glorius time in the water, until the sun started to set if I remember correctly.  I  do remember being wet and uncomfortable on the ride home but knowing the pleasure of the day had been worth it.


actively living (or more the same)
graceful elegance.jpg

     My dad has always said that people don't generally change as they get older they just get more the same.  As I watched my mom's cancer progressively take her health and memory but not her optimism, lack of complaining, concern for others nor her inner graceful elegance I began to better understand what "more the same" means.

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     I volunteer with our local hospice.  I recently received a call that a patient was "actively dying" and would like a hand to hold.  Fortunately I had time available.  When I opened the door to her room she smiled, beckoned with a hand and invited warmly "Please come in!"  A facility staff member arrived within seconds of my arrival.  The staff member adjusted the patient's pillows and swabbed the patients mouth to moisten it.  The patient responded with a sincere, "Thank you," and an,  "I love you."  The staff member replied affectionately, "I love you too."  The patient slept for a few minutes and then seeing me upon awakening gave a happy, "Hello!" not remembering she had greeted me prior.  This scene repeated a few more times and left me feeling equally welcomed each time.  The patient appeared to have discomfort, as evidenced by her restlessness not by her words.  Human connection and calming touch seemed to ease that discomfort.  However, I am sure I was equally - if not more - benefited by being in her presence.  I have wondered if my brief time with her was a glimpse of her "more the same"?  My guess is that her sweet, welcoming, loving personality as she was actively dying is an indication of how she actively lived.  

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     A few months ago I was asked to visit a different actively dying hospice patient.  When I entered her room she greeted me and offered her hand in a way that seemed to me to say, "I cannot offer you food or drink but I would like to offer you something so I am offering my hand."  Like the other patient, she too was in apparent physical discomfort - but no mention of that was made.  We talked about music and nature and family.  Throughout our visit she emanated an inner graceful elegance so much like my mother.  Meeting her left me with a better understanding of true dignity - a seeming sense of the great worth of souls, hers included.  She was frail, weak and physically dependent on others for many things, yet she was one of the most dignified persons I have ever met.

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     Years ago a down-the-street-neighbor told me that she was talking about me to her husband.  He did not know who she was talking about.  She said, "You know the tall brunette with three sons?"  He replied, "Oh - the lady that wears overalls and rides a razor scooter?"  She was laughing as she related this to me.  I laughed with her but my thoughts were: "hmmm my mom is 'graceful and elegant' and I am 'overall wearing and razor scooter riding.'"  I mentioned this to my husband when I got home.  He said, "You choose to wear overalls and ride a scooter.  You can change that if you want, but is changing what you want?" 

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     When my mom was showing me, by example, what "more the same" looked like my friend and I had a long discussion about our current paths to our future "more the same."  We both decided there were things we wanted to change.  Wearing overalls and riding a scooter were not on my list (though my boys growing up kind of took care of that on its own).  Waking up immediately pleasant was on my list.  My whole life I had said, "Give me 5 minutes to wake up before talking to me."  Now, I am happy to say, that 5 minutes is no longer necessary. 

     I have plenty more to work on but it is nice to see progress is possible, and even nicer to have people in my life who are examples of how I aspire to become.

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"My English teacher died in my bed."
     We were in a restaurant listening to my dad tell about the positive influence his 6th grade English teacher had had on his love of good writing, when I thought I misheard something he said.
     "What did you just say?" I asked my.
     "My English teacher died in my bed," he repeated.
      I looked at my brother and asked, "Did you know about this?"  With eyebrows slightly raised he simply shook his head no.  "What was she doing in your bed?" we asked.  My father explained that when he was in High School his 6th grade teacher became terminally ill.  She was single and lived alone.  My grandmother did not like the thought of anyone being sick and alone so my dad's teacher was invited to live her remaining days in my grandparent's home.  My dad gave his room to his former teacher and slept on a spare twin bed in his sibling's room.
     My brother and I both expressed surprise that we had never heard this story before.  My dad's response was that there was nothing really to tell, just normal living.  That in itself is telling - about my dad, his sibling and my grandparents.


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