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

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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Family

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Years ago, 4 or 5 year old B came running into the house Christmas afternoon wanting to know why Santa had given him one gift [a scooter I believe] but had given the neighbor boy multiple gifts [an electric scooter, an MP3 player, a portable DVD player, DVD's and video games].  "You have brothers and the neighbor doesn't," I responded.  B thought for a moment, said, "I'll take brothers!" and went back out to play.

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This Christmas Eve I was talking to my neighbor while she was making a huge batch of goldenrod eggs.  She currently has 2 grandchildren, a grandchild-in-law, 3 dogs and 2 turtles living with her.  Even more people were coming for dinner that evening.  While we were talking we would be interupted by a phone ringing or a dog barking.  After one interuption she laughed and asked how I could stand coming over.  She knows I love her.  She knows I love her family.  I don't know if she fully knows how grateful I am to be included as family.

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Our church hosts an annual Nativity festival where 700 - 1000 nativites belonging to community members are displayed.  During take down this year my friend asked what I kept smiling about.  I pointed to all the people disassembling, boxing, sweeping.... I told her it was fun to be part of such a big family effort.  Likewise when, after the elementary school production of "The Grinch", the principal asked the audience to help put the gymnasium back together by stacking chairs, pushing in bleachers, taking down decorations...

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At times people confuse one of my best friends and I for each other.  When are together we are often asked if we are sisters.  I like my friend's recent reply, "Yes, we're sisters seperated before birth."

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United at or seperated before birth, like B, "I'll take family."

 

Sunrise

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Watching the sunrise over the evergreens out my kitchen window this morning made me think of growing-up watching the sunrise over the mountains out the kitchen window of my childhood home.  I thought of dad who very likely was watching the sunrise.  Different windows but the same sun.  The same sun that would be shining on my brothers and their families and on my friends both here and those who have moved away.  I felt connected to many people.  A warm start to my day.

 

Crow

14 year old ordered a set of what he thought was "prime" Poke'mon cards off e-bay.  The cards arrived today and, to his disappointment, were not what he was expecting.  18 year old said, more than once, "I told you but you wouldn't listen."  14 year old and I looked at the item description on-line.  The item recieved, although it did not match the accompanying picture, did match the written description.  14 year old was upset - twenty hard earned dollars spent for something he did not want.  He asked if there was anything he could do.  I pointed out that the seller stated specifically, "no returns", and the item did conform to the written description.  I told him that I felt bad for him but the best he could do is take it as a lesson learned.  Visibly upset he went in a back room to calm down.  Moments later 18 year old entered the same back room.  I marched into the back room with, "Let him alone - have you no compassion," coming out of my mouth.  What I saw made me tear up.  18 year old had $20 in his hand, offering to buy the cards from his brother.  I was too quick in my judgement, too quick with my words.  My apology was immediate and sincere as was his acceptance of my apology. However, I still feel the sting of accusing him of having no compassion as he was in the midst of a compassionate act.

Cutting apron strings.  I still feel the tug of the final snip from my mother's earthly strings while also dealing with the tug-of-war snipping with an 18 year old.  Somedays he is snipping, some days I'm snipping, some days we are both holding on.

Redo

18 year old J had the day off work and wanted to go to the coast.  I wanted to go, 9 year old B wanted to go, 14 year old C did not (my husband did not have the day off).  After trying entreating and bribing J simply picked C up and carried him to the van.  It was comical to watch and C was laughing but he still did not want to go.  I told J that C should stay home if he did not want to come.  C thanked me and got out of the van.  J said if C wasn't going he wasn't going and got out of the van as well.  I asked B if he still wanted to go - the answer was yes.  I called J on my cellphone, from the driveway, to make sure he did not want to join us.  He was sure.  A block from home B said he would actually prefer going to the duck pond (a five minute drive) rather than going to the coast (an hour drive).  B and I spent a couple of hours at the duck pond and then ran errands.  When we arrived home C told us that J had gone to the coast to join us.  J came in shortly after.  He said he looked for us at our usual beach, at the aquarium, at our usual restaraunt and at the waterfront.  He asked where we had been.  I told him we went to the duck pond and ran errands.  He wanted to know why we hadn't told him our change of plans.  Arrrrgh!  This all occured a few weeks ago.

This Saturday [meaning yesterday - not 6 days from now :) ] my husband, D, asked if I wanted to go to the coast.  I had a Sunday School lesson I really needed to prepare so I told him that although I would love to go I needed to stay home but maybe the boys would want to go.  J wanted to go, C wanted to go, B wanted to go.  D told them to get ready.  J and C were surprised that my husband meant going to the coast that day.  I suggested to D that maybe B would want to go to the duck pond.  I did not want to relive a few weeks ago.  Apparently neither did J or C because they decided "right now" was an okay time for the coast after all.  With the four of them going how could I possibly stay home?

The coast was COLD and WINDY.  The sand BLEW and PELTED our legs, arms and faces.  We had sand in our eyes, in our mouths, in our hair, in our clothes.  By the time we left we were gritty and chilled to the bone and yet we had a great time.  Just thinking about our day at the coast makes me happy.  D said today, "Yesterday was a lot of fun, even though it was miserable."

"Are you going to give him/her that power over you?" Is a question I ask my boys when they allow someone else to impact their actions or emotions in a negative manner.  A few weeks ago when J chose to not spend his day off at the coast because C chose not to go I asked J if he was willing to let C have the power over his day off - apparently he was.  Yesterday with each person choosing to spend time together and choosing to enjoy that time, regardless of the circumstances, was power too.  But rather than allowing someone/something to be a negative influence - each person chose to be a postive influence and the power of that combined was sunshine to our souls.

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