Time

Time—we never know how much of it we will have. We start off as happy babies; the world is our playground. Nothing seems impossible. Our parents are our safe harbor, and we know we are loved.

We grow up, and make our own lives. We follow our interests, go to school, get a job, possibly marry and have children of our own. The cycle starts over again, and we as new parents teach our own children as our parents taught us.

Life, jobs, grandchildren, pets; they go by in a whirl, and we feel just the same as ever. When we age, we begin to notice that our bodies are slowing down, our minds are not as quick as they used to be, but life is still good.

We start to lose our loved ones and our friends one by one. We become closer to our own end, and life becomes sweeter to us as we see more time behind us than in front of us.

One of our dear friends died yesterday. He was a much loved and respected member of our model railroad club. When his wife died of pneumonia a few years back, he became half of what he used to be. Their two cats were his companions, and instinctively closed ranks around him.

Months passed, and he was diagnosed with liver cancer and leukemia. He already had diabetes, and these two other diseases made him weak and thin. A few days ago he fell in his kitchen without his cell phone. He lay there all night until his brother found him the next morning.

He went immediately to Hospice. The Crankee Yankee has known him for years, and he went up to see him for what he felt might be the last time. As he could no longer talk, they held hands; The Crankee Yankee talked; he listened.

We found out that one of his Hospice nurses had fallen in love with his two cats, so she will give them a good and loving home. I know that he and his wife will love that.

I didn’t know him all that well, but I liked him and loved the times when we all got together. He was Irish to the core, and stubborn to boot. But we all loved him, and right now the world seems a smaller place without him in it.

We will miss you, Ed.

 

 

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To My Dad on Fathers’ Day

Dad,

You’ve been my dad, my teacher, my rock, my mentor, my good example, my reality check, and my strength and support. I love it that I got to pick you out for my dad when I was a little girl. I love it that we both remember picking buttercups together and I asked you if I could call you “Daddy.” I love it that each year, you mow around that little patch of buttercups in the lawn so that they stand out as a living memory in golden yellow.

You’ve taught me so many things; most of all, how to be a good person. I have heard you say that you were wrong about some things, and often people just don’t do that–they insist on being right all the time. Instead of growing older and more set in your ways, you have grown older and blossomed. Who would have ever thought that you would embrace yoga, homeopathy, Reiki, Jin Shin Jyutsu, organic whole foods; not to mention skiing until you turned 90! Years ago you took up rollerblading and biking, too, as well as canoeing. You have become the true embodiment of the Latin phrase, “Mens sana in corpore sano,” which is translated as “a sound mind in a sound body” or “a healthy mind in a healthy body.”

I always laugh when I remember you saying that you worried that you might not have been “there” for me enough–every little thing I did from kindergarten arts and crafts to graduating from college–you were there. When I moved out on my own, you still were there. I could come home knowing that you and Mom were enjoying your lives and your own interests, and that there was always room and time for me, too.

It was you who gave me a life that included Ba and Bumpa, your parents. They were wonderful grandparents to me, and I have such good memories of them. Summer nights falling asleep on that old porch rocker, listening to the frogs chug-a-rum, chug-a-rum all through the night….Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and all the holidays in between. The five of us had fun together, and I loved it all.

I remember you teaching me how to ski, and how excited I was on that Christmas morning when I found my first pair of skis under the sofa! I couldn’t ski enough–I loved it right from the start. Looking back, it was such a good time, such a feeling of freedom to fly on those skis.

Every Thanksgiving when I was little, we would test the ice on Mirror Lake together; would it be strong enough to hold us up, or would we sink into the cold, icy water? Back then, it seemed like it was always strong enough.

When you taught me how to ride a bike I remember first watching you ride and thinking that I would never be able to get it; that riding a bike was just not going to be for me. But you kept encouraging me, and finally, finally I got it–it was amazing, and at that moment, I felt I could go anywhere. That day I felt that you had given me wings.

I want you to know how much I love and appreciate you, and how much having you for my dad has made my life so good in so many ways. You may not have been my birth father, but what you are to me is far and away beyond mere biology. You are, in every way that matters, my one true dad.

Thank you, my wonderful, amazing, incredible and loving dad.

And to all fathers everywhere, Happy Fathers’ Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You, Mom!

Happy Mothers’ Day, my mother, my friend, my source of life and my beginning! With every breath, every second, every day, I love and appreciate you more. We are both women now, although we started out as girls; you had me when you were just nineteen.

At that time, you had lost your own mother at age 14, you had lived with your brother after that, then met and married my father. At your young age, you knew how to run a house, cook, bake, hold down a job and bring up a baby.

In old pictures I have seen you as a child, a young girl, a teenager, a young wife and working woman. Strong, proud, beautiful and with a pointed sense of humor, you were and are my model for life.

Some days I wonder where all that time has gone; I still see you in my mind, young, vibrant, strong; through all the stages of my life. You are my hero, my North star, my fixed point in time, my anchor to past and present.

When I recently found out I had breast cancer, I was able to learn yet again from you, who went through it first. Knowing you have survived and thrived gives me hope.

You have given me a lifetime and more of love, caring, strength, joy, laughter and that unbreakable tie that binds daughters to mothers. It is a silvery cord; light as a feather, yet stronger and tougher than steel.

You loved me enough to teach me right from wrong, to give me constants I could count on, life lessons and true roots and true wings.

I still cry when I remember times I was hurtful to you; I would give anything to take those times back as if they had never happened.

I still laugh when I remember things you have said and done over many, many years; how funny and amazing you were and are.

And now that we are, as always, 20 years apart; me 63 and you 83, I know we have more history than time. For all you have given me and still give me, I will always want more.

When I see you in pain from age’s mean-spiritedness–giving you undeserved aches and pains–it hurts my heart. How well I remember your beautiful dancing feet, your grace, your ease of movement. How unfair it is that you have to suffer pain and discomfort at this time of your life. I would gladly take all those on for you if I could.

I treasure time with you, talking with you over the phone and laughing over things that only we could find funny. I so admire all you have done and all you do–your great creativity, generous heart, and spunky attitude.

It is said that we choose our parents before birth. I know I chose well. Thank you with all my heart, Mom.

 

 

 

The Safety Net of Friendship

Recently, I’ve been thinking of how grateful I am to have a precious number of really good friends. There are old friends and new friends, and it is a wonder how these amazing people came to be part of my life. Again, I always subscribe to the Red Thread theory that states: “An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, despite the time, the place, and despite the circumstances. The thread can be tightened or tangle, but will never be broken.” Whatever my own connection is with the friends I cherish today, I’m grateful for it.

Some of our dearest friends come to us early in life, and, if we are lucky, we grow and change—but still remain friends. Some of our friends come to us later on in life; we discover a kinship together and recognize a common bond. And with some friends, we lose our connection and go our separate ways. Not all friendships are destined to live. But oh, how the ones that we do have flourish!

Here are some quotes I really liked on friendship:

Friends are like bras: close to your heart and there for support.
– Anonymous

Good friends are like stars… you don’t always see them, but you know they are always there.
– Anonymous

Friends are God’s way of apologizing to us for our families.
– Anonymous

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another,
“What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
– C. S. Lewis

Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes.
– Anonymous

Everyone should have at least two friends – one to talk to and one to talk about.
– Anonymous

Save a boyfriend for a rainy day – and another, in case it doesn’t rain.
– Mae West

Nine-tenths of the people were created so you would want to be with the other tenth.
– Horace Walpole

To the dear friends I have; thank you–my life is brighter, better and more fun with you in it. You have been there for me in happy and sad times, you’ve seen me make an ass out of myself more times than I care to remember; yet you still are there. and you have conveniently forgotten the times I have been less of a friend to you.

You are my safety net, my rock and my shield against the bad stuff, and joyful participators in the good stuff. May everyone be as lucky and as rich in friendship as I am.

Man. Woman. Birth. Death. Infinity.

Does anyone remember the old TV show, “Ben Casey?” It ran from 1961 to 1966, and every show began with these words: “Man. Woman. Birth. Death. Infinity.” A hand drew the symbols for each on a blackboard as the words were intoned.

We know that we are born from men and women, that we live our lives, and eventually, we die. But beyond that, in all that fathomless infinity, we have only our faith and theories. My personal beliefs are my own, which I will not go into here. However, I feel in my heart that each person who has lived, is living, and ever will live on this earth is a unique and magnificent spirit. I believe that such an amazing entity is not bound by time or space, nor can it ever die. Every person, no matter what they do in life or what they become, possesses this incredible life force crafted exquisitely by our *Creator. We are each here for a reason and a purpose, no matter how it looks to our human eyes.

The receptacles of our spirits; our bodies, are only the outward shell. What we look like on the outside does not always show all that we are on the inside. A person can be plain or beautiful, mean or kind, good or bad, and so on–but this is not all we are.

When one of us whom we love and care for dies, we grieve the loss of that person. We miss the person whose hands we touched, whose laugh we loved, whose eyes brightened when they saw us. This is the human, earthbound part of us. But that beautiful spirit lives on, and I believe that it stays near us while we make that difficult transition from having them with us to their journey forward.

We may search for comfort in our religion, our beliefs, our families and our friends, but we will not know the truth of things until we too pass through to the other side. Personally, I believe that in this passage we will come to know everything–all things of the world, the universe and timeless space will instantly become clear to us. I believe that the pervading feeling of that passage will be infinite and all-consuming love; that all hearts may be whole again, and all pain will be gone forever. This is something I cannot prove, nor will I try. But I believe it.

Today the Crankee Yankee (my husband) and I will attend our dear friend Jeannie’s funeral. I will cry because I can’t help it. I will wish with all my heart that she had had more time with us all. But I know–I know–that that beautiful and amazing spirit is free and is now part of us all.

*God, Yahweh, Elohim, Allah, Buddha, Spirit, the Universe, etc.

 

Earth Angels

We may not see them or hear about them, but earth angels are all around us. They may look like you and me, but there the resemblance ends. Earth angels are the people who go above and beyond; who help, heal, comfort and make life easier for others. They aren’t Navy Seals, or rich celebrities or highly paid CEOs of billion dollar companies–they are just people who care.

As you can’t tell the contents of a book by its cover, you also cannot tell the mettle of a person from their outside. It is said that, if we were to see just one person’s soul, it would be so blindingly magnificent that we would fall on our knees in awe. The souls of the earth angels are magnificent indeed.

The earth angels walk among us, quietly doing good where they can. Their faces are no different than ours, but theirs are the faces of comfort and care to those who need them. Many are shy, preferring to blend into the background. Some choose careers as nurses, hospice workers, veterinarians, caregivers; some are stay-at-home parents, some put their own lives on hold to help a family member, and some give others the care that was not given to them in their own lives. Instead of turning to bitterness and anger over their own neglect, they choose to rise above their upbringing and help others in whatever way they can.

Sometimes if you’re lucky, you can spot one. It may be the cashier who rings up your groceries smilingly and asks how you are. It could be the little boy and his mother having lunch in the next booth; his laughter so infectious that no matter how bad your day was, you just can’t help but laugh too.

There is a terrible lot of hurt and pain in this world, and the earth angels who are around us work tirelessly to make a positive change.When one person helps another person, that energy and good intent acts like a stone tossed into a pond. The ripples fan all the way out to the edges of the pond, then ripple back even stronger. This is literally how the world changes; one positive change at a time, one person comforted and helped, one earth angel lifting someone’s heart–it is just that simple and just that immense.

Watch for the earth angels–they are here to help, and their many acts of kindness and compassion often rub off on the rest of us. Just watch.

59 Years of Marriage

Just recently my mom and dad enjoyed celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary. I remember when it all started, too….

I was about four years old when Mom and Dad married; this being Mom’s second marriage, and Dad’s first. They were married in front of the Christmas tree in the front room of my grandparents’ house; somewhere we even have an old movie of it. I remember little about it except for the cake my grandmother made for the celebration–I kept eying it during the ceremony.

Being a child, I was only aware of my own wants and needs at that time. I knew Dad was a good man; I liked him right away, and soon loved him. He spent time with me, talked with me and gave me his full attention. From the first, I always felt I was an integral part of our three-person cooperative.

I even remember feeling that now I didn’t have to worry about my mom; it was very clear to me even then that Mom and Dad really loved and liked each other. That was a big load off my four-year old mind; I knew Dad would take good care of us both.

At that age, I had no idea of what adults felt like–they were all giants to me. In my world, they took care of everything, and kept me safe. In a few moments, I became part of a larger family; my new grandparents, new aunts and uncles and cousins. But even young children have perceptions; I knew that we were all going to be fine.

When two people decide to marry, they make an unwritten agreement with each other. I can’t speak for my parents’ agreement; I only know that they had one. Mom told me years later that, in considering whether or not to marry my father, she made a list of reasons to marry him, and a list of reasons not to marry him. The reason not to marry side of the list was actually longer than the reasons for marriage–yet she went with her heart. As she once told a friend about Dad, “he’s just so good.” So began a 59+ year agreement.

We laughingly say that ‘the heart wants what the heart wants,’ but it really is true. When the right person and circumstance come along, there is a small but definite click in the heart that says, “this one–this is the one.” Often the heart recognizes what our brains don’t–that this person is the ‘meant to be’ one. This goes light years beyond whether or not the person is good-looking, successful, drives an expensive car, has a huge trust fund, etc. It is the fundamental makeup of that person–the who and the what that that person is.

I won’t go into all the details of my parents’ marriage. Like any other couple, they have had their ups and downs, but what’s important is that, no matter what, they always are for each other and are part of each other. There is mutual respect, kindness, care and love. Together they have faced illness, death, loss, pain; also great joy, success and happiness. They ran both their businesses together for years. Since Dad retired long ago, Mom now runs her own jewelry business out of their house.

So what holds a couple together for nearly 60 years? The statistics show that marriage is a crap shoot–sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Sometimes the differences between marriage partners become too vast to stay together. Often unintended circumstances drive a couple apart. Even though we all vow to stay together’ for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health;’ sometimes the marriage does not survive.

You can have the fanciest, most expensive and lavish wedding you like, featuring a dress that cost thousands, exquisite flowers, a professional band and have the ceremony in a ballroom in a luxury hotel. You can present each other with diamond encrusted wedding rings and feed each other a slice of a $25K wedding cake, then fly off to Maui for two weeks for a honeymoon. And yet–the marriage can fail.

Or you can put your trepidations aside, put on your best clothes and marry in front of a Christmas tree with your child present and vow to love and cherish each other always. Sometimes the marriage survives simply because both people are simply GOOD.