Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Things I Thought I Couldn't Do

Lately, I have surprised myself so much.  There were always so many things I thought I couldn't do and that I needed somebody to help me with.

For example, three years ago my husband had a stroke.  My first thought, of course, was that he has to come out of this.  He has to be fine.  I need his help.  I can't figure everything out alone.  Well, he did not fully recover.  He was left with aphasia and cognitive problems which I mentioned in previous blogs.  So I had to figure it out alone.  And all along the way there have been so many things I have been forced to figure out alone.

The first thing I learned through all this is that it was important that I took one thing at a time.  One hit of a difficulty at a time.  I stopped telling myself that there was so much for me to do and to figure out.  Instead, I focused on one thing at a time…which was extremely hard for me the multi-tasker….me, the get-it-all-done-now person… and me, hearing the phone ringing constantly from insurance companies, medical offices, and so on and so forth.  It seemed it just would pile on and wouldn't stop.  And then all the forms I had to complete for his disability…and, for his job that he could no longer go to…and medical papers.  It all seemed like too much.  I needed help.  Where was I going to get it.  I raised my arms up to the heavens and asked God for help… and, immediately, I saw the help.  There it was…at the end of my arms….my own two hands.  I told myself I could do it with my own help…my own hands..and I did.

I also recall my first day as a candy striper as a hospital volunteer.  I was taken into the central supply room that was maybe 8 feet by 4 feet.  There were baskets and piles of white hand towels that needed folding. The supervisor for that department said that this pile had never been cleared, it just got more clean towels added onto it everyday and for me to just finish whatever I could.  So I took one towel at a time.  I worked for 8 hours that day…yes, my very first day as a candy striper.  And I folded over 4000 towels.  I folded the entire pile.  I felt such a sense of accomplishment.  I didn't care who noticed and who didn't.  It was my own self-sense of accomplishment that pumped me up and motivated me.  I was only 14-years-old when I did that and I am now 65 years old.  I will never forget that sense of accomplishment.   I checked back into that department as often as I could to see that the towels were kept up with and most every time there were none to fold.  They told me it had become easier for them to keep up as prior to my helping they would just look at the pile and shrug their shoulders.  But now I had helped them to keep up.  It was such a reward to give myself.

When I reflect back on my life, there were so many other things that made me feel that way and have continued to keep me motivated in life.  (I will write about those here in future blogs.)

Most recently, it was setting up my Fitbit.  I've always asked my kids for computer help or electronic device help…but they are so busy with their work and lives, I really don't care to take up their time with my stuff.  So I googled Fitbit.  I followed the instructions…and I did it!  It was SO easy!  When I was done, tears welled up in my eyes.  I just couldn't believe I've had this sitting here for over a year waiting to setup and it was this easy.  So when I'm done with this post, you know what I'll be doing…Yep.  I'm walking!  And I can't wait.  I'm sure it will be the best walk I've had for a long time…cause now I'll be able to actually count my steps…how many I took.  I'll be stepping closer to my exercise goals; closer to my life time goals of getting and being healthier…so that I can continue to have time to learn so much more about myself and the things I thought I couldn't do but actually  I CAN!

Monday, April 13, 2015

On The Street Where She Lives

The other day, while visiting my mother, she told me she had so much stuff that she doesn't know what to do with it.  I suggested either giving it to the Goodwill or tossing it in the street for clean-up week that will be happening.  Then I pointed out a few things I noticed that she has not used that could be tossed.  But everything I pointed to had a reason for her to hang on to them.  Like the old "Fonzi" bike that was rusty, sitting in the backyard that my forty-year-old son last rode when he was maybe seven years old.  Or the piano, with busted keys that sits with boxes under it and is totally out of tune.  She said she couldn't get rid of it as my dad sits down to play it every so often.  I remember he always played by ear whatever song you requested.  He hadn't had a piano lesson in his life but yet could play anything. His favorite to play was "On the street where you live" by, who I believe, was Vic Damone. And he played it with passion.  Sometimes he would even sing along.  But I just can't seem him moving those boxes to sit down and  play as often as she is leading me to believe.

There were also things old neighbors who had past away had given to her that she never used or used maybe one but just had to keep.  Things from neighbors like, Caroline, Hazel, Jeannie…and so on.

There were things from aunts and uncles who had also past away years ago.

She's not a hoarder.  She keeps things in order.  But I really feel she would feel a better sense of calm and relaxation if she could let go of the things.

Then I realized…by my mother hanging on to all those things she felt she was actually hanging on to the physical being themselves.  They had been close to her and to her maybe every time she looked at those things or touched them, she was holding hands with that person, or holding their hand….even though they were no longer here on earth.

Or the piano….hearing my father playing that song with such love and enjoyment as one of the two of them sang along…it was a sight to see.  It brings a smile to my face.

Maybe to me it would be good if she tossed it all out.  But maybe for her it's actually a very good thing to hold on to…until SHE is ready to toss it all….and maybe she never will be ready.

As for now, I realize the meaning of the song, "On the street where you live" means so much more to my mom….the street where she lives, lives on with all those things she keeps at her house.  She is surrounded by her family and neighbors…from the street where she has lived for over 60 years.

And the song in her heart that all those things brings up each time she looks at it keeps playing and playing and keeps her heart happy.  And that's what matters most.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Magic of Music

It has been a very long time since I have written on my blog.  I have missed it.  I've written on and off in my journal when the moment strikes me.  I get so much relief out of writing.  It helps me to get it all out….all my heart felt feelings.  It strikes every chord in my mind and connects it to the strings in my heart deep down to my soul.

Just like the magic in music of Lionel Richie, writing can sweep me away to a special place..a
place of love and peace and happiness.  Sometimes it takes me to a place of tears…tears that I have dammed up for quite along time and I was afraid what would happen if the dam broke open.

The dam finally did break.  It hurt but at the same time the pressure that was building up against the wall I had built to protect myself felt that it had opened to bring me some relief.  Initially it hurt and I was scared of going through the clean up the flood would bring.  But when the water had lowered, I felt good.   I felt so so good.

Listening to the music concert of Lionel Richie from 2012 in Las Vegas and the words to his songs (on YouTube) helped to connect the the right chords with the right strings to strum in my soul.  I wanted to dance and stay in that virtual moment forever.  I felt every song reached through to all the years of life I had ever experienced.  It touched on those special moments of happiness and fun…when nothing mattered in the world except laughing at fun things…..laying on the beach with the transistor radios all around playing with the same radio station on so that the entire beach became one big stereo.  And remembering how you could look around the beach and see so many people standing up and dancing in the sand that without hesitation I joined in.   Everything was perfect.  You didn't want to leave for home.  Bonfires started up.  Guitars were brought out in the light of the bonfires.  And singing together took over.  Strangers became friends as the songs brought us all together in one unified group because we all knew all the words to the songs.

We would exchange phone numbers or times and days when we would meet  up the next weekend at the same spot for the same wonderful fun.  Social exchange was at it's best.  It wasn't  on- line….it was in person…where you could see the sparkle in a person's eyes when they met up with you…the smile their lips brought to their naturally beautiful faces…the hug of kindness as we would say our good-byes for the evening.  I felt in touch with that time in life again with the Lionel Richie Friends concert.  It felt so good.

I realize I was so fortunate to have had that experience in my past.  And I'm so lucky to be able to connect with the magic of music today.  I realize there are individuals who have a difficult time finding that spot.  But I am a lucky one.  I so easily can tap into those moments in my past so that I am able to connect today with what my mind, my heart and my soul had felt.

So how am I able to reach those wonderful times of the past?  My thought is that sometimes we want to just walk around keeping all this info uninterrupted in calm and peace within us…but then the chaos of life interferes and we can't so easily connect with all the beauty we had and have even though we know all this wonderfulness is there, we just can't quite reach it.  When I sit outside, and either relax in quiet or listening to music in a beautiful place, then I so easily remember, "yes". There it is.  It IS there and it always is if we just relax and realize..we can find the tools to help us to return to reach it again.  And sometimes one of those tools is the beauty of nature combined with the magic of music.

So here's to Dancing on the Ceiling….from dancing in the sand!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

As Time Goes By

Today my mother called and asked if my husband and I could please meet her and my father in the emergency room at the Veteran's hospital as my 90-year-old uncle (her brother) was taken there.  What I could do to help more than the emergency room staff was beyond me.  But if my mother says she needs me, I go.

As I walked toward the emergency room, I could see my 85-year-old dad in the distance, leaning on a cane, watching for our arrival.  I had never seen my dad use a cane before.  After all, I just saw him last week and he wasn't using one.  Then, there, sitting in the emergency room, I could see my mother.  Her face looked full of worry.   She looked exhausted.  I could see she was somewhat relieved that we had arrived.

The four of us were escorted back to the room where they were caring for my uncle.   I had not seen my uncle in almost a year.  There he was laying down on a gurney.  I also had never seen him laying down.  A smile came over his face when he saw me.  I didn't realize the impact it would have on him.  But more so, I didn't realize the impact it would have on me.  I got next to him and leaned over to give him a kiss on his cheek.  I could see his face light up with joy that I came to show I cared.  Then the doctor and assistant walked in.  He introduced us all and with a proud look on his face said, "This is my family."  I didn't immediately spot it, but my husband did.  Since my husband's stroke this last February, he seems to be more aware of special moments on a daily basis.  I was thankful he pointed this out to me because for awhile I kept thinking how my uncle is 90-years-old.  He's had such a long life.  He's been so fortunate to live this long.  And in someway I was discounting the time he had left on earth.

Suddenly a feeling sprang from my heart that is indescribable.  I wanted the nurse to know that, although my uncle was very old, he was still working, still creating, still thinking of new ideas.  I wanted her to know he had received the purple heart for his time in the service.  I wanted her to know he had so many ideas and inventions that he had contributed to his job at Westinghouse where he worked on the Polaris missile.  I wanted to go on and on but I stopped there.  But as I stood there looking at him, sometimes he'd smile, give me a quick wink, or a funny comment, so much more passed through my mind of the things he accomplished.  They went over and over in my mind.  The list was endless. I started thinking, wow...he seemed to live fully each day in his own way.

He lives alone, well not completely.  He does have a dog which he loves dearly.  It's his constant and only companion.  He talks to that dog as if it were a human being...and for him it is.  And I started thinking...not only did he accomplish so much with his hands, but the things he overcame with his mind and his heart.   To keep himself busy on a daily basis with nobody else around just seems like such a difficult task for any human being.  It's like being on a deserted island.  But he never complained.  He just kept creating, thinking, and growing beautiful flowers and vegetables.  He happily shared them with anyone who came his way.  In fact, in the hospital today, he reminded my mom that he had persimmons to give her when he gets back to his house.  He was always looking forward not backwards.  I don't know if he has ever stopped to think of all the accomplishments he had...I don't know if any of us ever have.  We unknowingly took him for granted all these years.

I think, as time goes by, we easily do that...and then suddenly time just passed us by and we are in the emergency room with a 90-year-old man who loved dancing with his niece at the company Christmas parties...who made everyone laugh hysterically for days to follow a Julio Iglesias concert...and it remained in our memory for years after.  He always had good intentions that were sometimes taken wrong or presented incorrectly....but again, they were good intentions.

So, I realized today, that maybe my mom needed me to be with her in the emergency room just to sit next to her.  Or maybe God wanted me to be there to rethink some things about my uncle and appreciate that a person is still alive with a positive attitude at the age of 90.  That he still has his act together about life and that although I'm 62 years old, there is still a lot of opportunity for creating, and thinking left in my life....on a daily that as time goes by, someone will be standing at the foot of my bed when I am 90 and be able to think of me just as I thought of my uncle today....

This was an emergency today, an emergency to appreciate....and to love all that was and is.  I'll never forget today....never.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Be in Love with your Life...

I have this quote hanging up in my living room.  I see it each morning as I enter my kitchen.  It's a reminder that a brand new day has begun.  I get to be the writer of my day.  How will I spend my time today?   Will I be living with some sort of problem that occurred yesterday or will I let that go and begin this day problem free, full of love in my life.   

Why do I need a reminder?  Because sometimes there are boards out of place in the floor of life that cause us to trip.  And when we trip, sometimes the fall isn't that hard, but for some reason it stirs up a pain that is deeper inside of us.   Maybe it stirs up the need for the feelings missed in life like when someone notices you and tells you that you are special and it sends a chill up your spine and goose bumps crawling all up and down your arms and legs. 

Or, maybe it stirs up a reminder of a  feeling at a time when you felt as though you were on top of the world...that you were the best at everything you tried and you felt fulfilled and wonderful within yourself....or the times you laughed so hard that your stomach hurt and your eyes watered.  You didn't want the laughter to stop.  And you look for every opportunity now for that laughter.  You look for the little gifts that make you laugh or make you cry with happiness.

Sometimes the gifts that are the smallest bring the greatest appreciation for being in love with your life every minute of it...just as the boards in the floor of life just need a little nail to secure keep things in place.  Its a little nail that will make a big difference.

Last night my six year old grandson came running over and flung open the front door proudly and loudly announcing, "I can tie my shoes.  I can tie my shoes.  Do you wanna see?"!!!  His little 3-year old following right behind with a huge smile of happiness and anticipation of me watching his older brother tie his shoe in front of me for the very first time.  When he did it, they both looked at me to see my look of amazement and to announce what a special day this was!  He tied his shoe.  All by himself, he tied his shoe.  

To some it may be little, but to someone little it was big....and it is these times, these seconds, that make us appreciate and be in love with life every minute of it.  They are small gifts that hold the floor boards of life in place so that when we trip on them we may be crying for no pain at all, but for the little nails that we are grateful to have in our life....every minute of cause us to be in love with our life.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Just a Little Bit of Time

I know it sounds crazy but sometimes crying just feels good.  I sit at the computer with the headphones on listening to songs by Luther Vandross (Buy Me a Rose) or Diamond Rio (One More Day) and tears pour from my eyes.  My heart gets touched as my mind thinks about what has not only touched me so deeply in life but what has touched the heart of everyone that surrounds me.

Yesterday I went to my aunt's house.  I didn't realize until she answered the door, that I maybe had not seen her for about ten years.  Where had the time gone?  What I saw standing there was my grandmother who had passed away when I was about 16 years old.  I don't know.  Maybe I was younger.  I was so taken back by seeing her standing there.  I had only heard how she was doing and everyone said fine and I just went on my way in life assuming she would stay well-preserved forever.
I really had a difficult time holding back my tears....and then as she spoke of my uncle who died six months prior...her tears began to flow....and then mine did too.  I really didn't think this would happen.  Why didn't I think that?  Did I think "I" was stronger...or that "she" would be stronger.  But she "was" stronger....alot stronger than I ever knew her to be.

She's going to be 93-years-old and she is mentally totally together.  She uses a walker.  She cleans her own house....does all the chores herself.  She has two senior citizen children who are choosing to make life somewhat difficult for her right now by arguing in front of her.  She was married to my uncle since she was a teenager and now, for the first time in her 93 years of life, she would be on her own.  My uncle loved her more than life itself....but he was a very demanding individual.  He did everything for her.  Everything.  He treated her like a queen.  And see her alone was very heartbreaking.  I was actually upset that I had let this much time pass by without talking to her even a little bit.  I mean, we all have a little bit of time.  A little bit isn't much but it is something; especially when you are alone.

She told me my uncle always protected her and then walked me into the bedroom they shared and showed me the urn that carried his ashes and told me what he had talked to her about his last days.  She acted as if he was right there in the room listening to her.  She had beautiful pictures of the two of them all over the room.  The most beautiful was her in her wedding dress on their wedding day.  It must have been such a glorious day for the two of them.  Pictures hung on the walls of my uncle in his army uniform that he wore in World War II.  She was so proud of him.  As she talked, she seemed so strong.  The tears had dissipated and she started mentioning some of the funny things he had said and she laughed.

We returned to the kitchen and talked a bit longer....laughed and reminisced about years gone by.  I told her a couple of jokes that made her laugh so hard and it felt good to see that our visit was going to close with a smile, a laugh, and a hug of love.

I told her I was so proud of her and that she was such a role model for me, my children, and all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the family as someday we may all be faced with the same scenario that she is now facing.

She smiled and repeated that my uncle just always protected her.  I told her about seeing the change that came over her when we were conversing in the bedroom and that I believe he is still protecting her.
She smiled and hugged me again.  She said, "Do you think so?"  And I returned with, "I think so."

As I drove home after the visit, I cried a hard cry.  A very hard cry.  I think I needed to do that to forgive myself for the time I missed with my aunt and that I plan not to miss in the future.  My life is spread thin, but not too thin to be able to give a little bit of time.  It may be in writing her a quick letter to let her know I'm thinking of may be a quick visit....whatever it is, it is something to let someone know they are thought of and someone does care that they still exist.  Big amounts of magic can happen in a person's heart with just a little bit of time.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


After speech therapy yesterday, I thought it would be nice to take a drive to a place my husband has passed by for years and years during his work hours.  He chose a very small airport.  Very small.  It was in Hollister.

We took our lunch with us and when we went to get out of the car to sit at a table for a picnic, the wind was blowing so hard we could hardly stand up!  So we got back in the car and sat there having a car picnic and watching the work being done on the mini airport.

We didn't see a single plane take off.  It looked like they repairing the runway with a lot of construction going on.  But we enjoyed watching the equipment moving in all different directions and the wind doing the same.  As we talked we brought up how we seem to both be such a match as what two other couples totally enjoy sitting in a car, eating lunch, watching a bunch of construction equipment moving around and thinking what a fun time we are having!

We've always seemed to be a perfect match.  We have both always enjoyed repairing things and coming up with new creative ideas.  Oh....don't get me wrong.  We have had our fair share of disagreements and big ones at that, but the wonderful thing about it all is we both carry in our hearts the key to staying together when there are steep hills to get over....when there are the boulders of life to climb.....when the road gets so rocky and you don't have your seatbelt on that you could almost fall out of the doorless car.  That key is like a super glue that just doesn't's love.  We seem to get through everything because we have it, we see it, and we feel it.  Every day.....yes, every single day, we both feel it.

So as we sat there, relaxing, visiting, and enjoying our time together watching everything going in every different direction it made me think that even though we have been through a variety of experiences in our life together ...that just like a plane could take off strong and steady in a heavy wind, our love for one another has been just that....strong and steady.

Sometimes in life it's not so much where one is standing in different situations but in what direction you are always moving and I have learned that the direction my husband and I are always moving is in the direction of LOVE!....and how can you get lost with that!