Monday, August 31, 2009

A Dog's Life




These 2 (dirty) dogs had a great day yesterday..

A run in the woods....

Later a visit to Atwood Lake - where they got to sniff to their hearts content


and a walk in the evening to round off the day...

It is just to beautiful to be inside.

They were asleep when I left this morning- and napping when I came home this evening.

Some days- it would be great to be a dog!








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Saturday, August 29, 2009

school supplies

Sitting in a room surrounded by school supplies.... the requisite paper and pencils...
notebooks and planers...... paper clips and rubber bands....

pillows, blankets, towels

personal hygiene items

plate, fork and spoon (do you think they will ever be washed?)

Seems a long time ago that we started the quest for school supplies in August. From the beginning, it was an experience filled with excitement -ohhs and ahhs - and mom, I Gotta haves

I've never seen anyone swoon over mechanical pencils as my soon does every year. Every year the same.... they come home and are out of the bag before the evening is over- No matter how many times I exhort him to keep everything together- before I can even turn my back they are spread across the room, to be admired, held, fingered and ....... lost...... before the school year begins.....

We were looking for his $100plus calculator today.... turns out he loaned it to some girl named Candy. Candy who and where does she live? " Don't know mom, chill, I texted her and she said she'd mail it back..... " I'm not holding my breath here...

After all the struggles he has had- I am amazed at his excitement each year.... he's an overcomer, this kid of mine...... not one to let the struggles of the past get him down, but one to look forward to new challenges and new things to overcome....

somehow, I think he's going to be ok.... if he can find his pencil..




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Ted Kennedy

Listened with interest to the wake last night for Senator Kennedy, and to the funeral today.

I loved hearing the laughter and rememberances mixed with the sorrow and loss.

It was good to hear many share how much the last 14 months meant- good to hear that they were able to share stories and memories, make new memories- to say good-bye and to honor what he had been in each of their lives.

One thing struck me as the battle over health care wages on....

Ted Kennedy was passionate that all should receive "health care as a right - not a priviledge"
One great equalizer is end of life.
Whatever decisions were made about his treatment at end of life, it seems apparent their focus was that he should live well in his remaining months..... that the focus was family, friends, love, laughter and his work.
Those choices are available to all of us- whatever our economic rung. I have seen it over and over with our hospice families- no matter what their "status"
People who choose hospice seem to be making a very conscious decision that they are choosing to live well in their remaining time.

I hope that as our senate returns to it's work that they will remember and choose to honor the choices that were made in the final days of their lost compatriot.




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Monday, August 24, 2009

An Other World



"I see an other world"


I thought about those words as I drove through the country side today. The clouds hung heavy in a blue sky. Round bales of hay dotted the green hills The air was fragrant. Flowers merrily decorated country homes. Horses and cows grazed. Fall is in the air- a perfect day.


I heard those words years ago, from the lips of a frail, elderly woman who clutched my hand tightly. The blue eyes captured mine.


I asked the obvious question- what do you see?


"I tell Jim (her husband- deceased for some years) that they are here. My mother, my sisters. Every time I close my eyes, I see them. When I open my eyes- they are gone"


A common experience, I've found, of the dying- no matter what their faith backround.

It comforted me, as it always does, to think that someone meets us- to think that we do not walk that path alone.


I shared that thought aloud- think how much they must love you- to come meet you and take you home.


The blue eyes softened, the grip relaxed. She considered this idea- maybe she wasn't crazy after all...


We sat for a bit, hands linked, silently contemplating our own stories.


"What's it like", I wondered aloud "that other world"


Smiling now, she answered me drowsily "it's alot like this one"


On a day like today- I hope that she was right.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

rainy mornings

There is something so soothing about a rainy morning - especially if one has a little time to enjoy the quiet.
Sitting on my closed in porch, paper unopened beside me- watching the world wake up..... Seeing the raindrops play in the puddles, hearing the gentle downpour, the occasional slush of a car going by.
Never seems as if there are enough of these times-- just to enjoy what is.
So often caught up in a frentic rush to be somewhere else- my mind in the future- or in the past...
Today is Dan's 48th birthday. A huge bucket of tomoatoes sit on the table, waiting to become his favorite pasta toss.
School will start this week, and our lives will shift again.
Think I'll start the sauce before I head to church....
Seems like a good day to savor..... the rich scents and the noisy sounds.
Seems like a good day....




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Friday, August 21, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

reinventing

"There's a tea party in Zoar. Do you want to go?" My mother's voice, shrill and excited. "Sure" I answered.

Honest to Goodness- I was thinking pretty cups and saucers, maybe a cucumber sandwich. Nancy was thinking about Sweeping the Nation. Driving out the Democrats. My mother, the activist? Who knew?

There's a word that keeps surfacing lately. REINVENT- as in reinvent yourself! I seem to see it everywhere I go. It's probably just my frame of mind- like when you are pregnant and see expectant mother's everywhere.

I can't get away, however, from the notion that everything in my life has changed. Obviously not external- cause I'm sitting in the same seat of the same house with the same people asleep upstairs. Still, it is apparent that a lot of the surface things that were important a year ago have slipped away. I can't get away from the thought that this is a transition time.

I have a song in my head that has been playing over and over:

When the music fades - And all is stripped away - And I simply come - Longing just to bring - Something that's of worth - That will bless Your heart - I'll bring you more than a song For a song in itself - Is not what you have required - You search much deeper within - Through the ways things appear - You're looking into my heart

[Chorus]
I'm coming back to the heart of worship - And its all about You - All about You, Jesus - I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it -When its all about You - Its all about You

King of endless worth No one could express How much You deserve -Though I'm weak and poor All I have is Yours- Every single breath -I'll bring you more than a song- For a song in itself Is not what you have required- You search much deeper within -Through the ways things appear -You're looking into my heart
[Chorus]
(Heart of Worship- Sonic Flood)

I don't know what I'll do about the tea party. I'm still trying to figure out when my mother turned into an activist.
What does seem obvious is that the "reinventing" I do today will determine what I will be when I am my mother's age.

I've spent a lot of time wondering about what makes a life well lived.

It seems important to look deep within....






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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

2am

Another teenager just entered my house.... very very quietly, but still... a mother knows. At least I hope a mother knows! I hope my radar is fine tuned..... I hope I'm not missing any warning signs of impending doom....

He's a nice kid- he's here alot....I've spotted my house key on his ring..... leaving for college in 10 days, he tells me.... and I feel like one of my own is going off into the world...... He's 18, I know- but how can his mother not know where he is? Is she lying awake - worrying?

My own brood is home- one asleep in anticipation of an early golf game- one home from working his afternoon shift..... Come Sept 20 one will leave- and my house will be very very quiet.... I try not to think about that...

Had an interesting conversation with some folks recently- lovely lovely family. The children there are all adults and leading lives of their own, gathered once again under their father's roof..... waiting, waiting for him to die....

They love him so much- he has obviously raised them well. They are book people- my favorite kind- but they have read it all. The conversation today centered on their fears - he still talks about getting better..... he hasn't said the word DIE Why is it he can't get to that place?????? What if What if....

We had a long talk.... dad's body is going to do what it is going to do, no matter what. Dad may not do things according to their script..... ultimately... it will all work out the way it is supposed to...

The long talk distilled and wove it's way around to this: (mixed metaphors) What will be will be. The goal here is for dad to be comfortable and to enjoy each day as much as possible. We don't know what the day will bring- we need to just relax, sink into it and appreciate it for what it is...it is precious time....

sometime, in the near future, they will be looking back on this brief period as a halcyon time.....
(and as my boys leave - so will I)

I wonder, as I often do, if it is possible to actually live like that......every day...... to be so sunk in, so surrendered, that one can just live without trying so hard.....without the endless struggles to control....

Wonder if one could live as if they were floating..... completely relaxed, on top of the water, knowing what is under them has the potential to be dangerous, but secure enough to rest,,,








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Monday, August 17, 2009

(wo) man was in the forest




Had a great weekend....

some time in the woods.....

some time with the family....

hate to see Monday come, but here it is....

so here we go.....






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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

nonsense

A funny thing
this urge to write
It keeps me up
half the night

So many thoughts
inside my head
I wish I could
just stay in bed

Once they are out
I feel so free
I'd like to have
a cup of tea*

I have to live
with the rest
Still I know
that nights are best

*pee would be such a better rhyme....
cept I hear my mom's voice all the time

don't say that word
it's just not done
mom - lighten up
and have some fun!

OK- I've obviously stayed up way to late!




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prayers

wonder what it is that binds us together?
wonder what there is that we cannot see, touch, taste or smell- but can certainly feel...
there is power there..... often untapped...

A friend of my husbands was diagnosed with breast cancer- stage 4... metastasis to liver and bone.... The facebook community is awash in shock and disbelief tonight-

Shock waves bouncing from one to another...

wonder what happens when that.... that what.... that feeling..... that spirit.... that anguish.... that love.... that caring..... that heartcry..... wonder what happens when that is mobolized.... when those cries join together to become one voice-

what is it that changes?

There is no doubt that prayer changes things... that sounds trite- like a poster or a bumper sticker....

but we certainly have experienced it first hand.... surrounded, blanketed, held...

There seems to be a difference when we pray collectively...

prayers tonight for this young woman.... and for others....

there is a peace that passes all understanding..... tonight I pray that for her and her family...





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Saturday, August 8, 2009

transition time.....

People who are dying often talk about traveling- it seems to be a common theme.. They might start talking about going home- or it might be more subtle- talk of airplanes or boats, wondering where the suitcase it or when the flight is scheduled.

A common theme for the very big transition they are making.....










It feels like a transition time in my life. The last 6 months have changed us- changed our priorities.

I am grateful beyond words for those who have stuck with us....

It amazes me to look around and see how different our lives really are.... Seems like so many losses at the same time- loss of job, loss of friends, loss of routines. Our boys are getting ready to fly- perched on the edge of new adventures- high school for one, college for the other. It will certainly be quieter here in a few short weeks...

I though about these things as I walked tonight. This road is a favorite- it makes me want to climb and to follow. I love the river as it makes it's way- sometimes slow and lazy, sometimes fast and furious. Always moving, always changing, yet ever the same. I thought about others who had walked it's banks....indians, those on the tow path, settlers, tourists.... All intent on living their lives...

It seems to me to be a time to settle in, to think, to contemplate. It feels as if this could be a huge transition in the way I live my life.

I have been pushing hard these last years, in so many areas of my life. I wonder how it would feel.... wonder how it would work, to slow down...... to work from the center..... to be connected and live from that connection....?

What did Robert Frost say? Two roads diverged in a yellow wood....... took the one least traveled... and that- That- has made all the difference....

seems to be a time when it is important to decide which road to travel....














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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Camp Bethany

Bethany

Returned from spending a few days being camp nurse at Camp Bethany
Wish I could have stayed the entire week, but my heart was at home with my guys and I was glad to get back..

Just a couple thoughts that have been wandering through my head:

1) It seems to me that if the world were functioning in the way God intended it to function- if we were all working from a deeper place- a connected place- it would be a lot like Camp Bethany.
It seems to me that everyone (staff ) comes for some reason of their own. Perhaps they were a camper and have fond memories, perhaps they have a child or a grandchild there and want to share in the experience...... whatever the reason..... once they arrive the sum becomes greater than it's parts....
Once the staff has arrived, the purpose of the camp and the needs of the campers become a common goal. Each child is recognized as unique. The campers and the staff have lots and lots of fun, but the purpose of the camp- to aquaint children early with the grace of God- is never forgotten.
There is a balance at camp that doesn't exist in the rest of the world. Lots of hard work- lots of fun. Lots of activity- lots of rest. Who would ever think that one would hear a bunch of kids cheer when FOYB (Flat On Your Back- rest time) is announced each afternoon? Always dessert! and always salads

It always fascinates me to notice how adults change at camp...... the stern minister who sits up at night between 2 bunks telling stories until the weary, homesick children fall asleep.....the slapstick teenager who comes with tears in their eyes looking for advice for a heartsick child, the person who sits stiff in the pew on Sunday morning soaked with a bucket of water during a skit....

Occasionally there is a bit of dissention among staff- no way that could not happen. It never seems to escalate to the point of interfering with the purpose of camp.

People pray at camp. Together or alone.

Camp Bethany seems to me to be a thin place.....

2) I first arrived at Camp Bethany 9 years ago. Unwilling. Upset. Scared. Mad. Alex had been diagnosed with juvenille diabetes <2 weeks before. I was determined to show him that diabetes would not stop him from doing anything- so I wanted him to be at camp. I was terrified of diabetes and the impact it might have on his life- so I could not/ would not let him go alone. Co incidently!!!! (Ha) that was the year they were scrambling- trying to find a camp nurse- and so it began...
I shudder when I remember the chaos we brought to poor Camp Bethany that year. I was a wreck. I had a 9 y/o who was- well, to put it mildly, POd at the entire world... Between my tears and his tantrums, it amazes me that Camp Bethany remained standing.....
They took such good care of us that year. I looked at the basketball court this week and could still see the images of a young Dwanye- (Jr Counselor back then) playing hours and hours of basketball with Alex. Tears come to my eyes even now as I think of it.... I could go on and on- but suffice it to say that everyone cared for us that week. I thought diabetes was an ending- they made it a beginnning.....

And so, if I'm able, I return every year. I'm drawn back there. I love to be there. There is something in me that wants to give back just a little of what was given to us.
It makes me think of our hospice families- when they are well cared for- they just want to give back.....

Let the circle be unbroken.....




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Saturday, August 1, 2009

the written word

Rather fascinating... the power of the written word... Gille Bolton says "When I write, I say things I didn't know I knew...."

Last night- at a family gathering, I read a photocopied letter written 100plus years ago..... The words were haunting and the images stayed with me through the night....... the description of a little girl, knowing she was about to die, and saying good-bye to her papa...... the request for lots of flowers on the grave "for you know how I love flowers"- the words- our little Forest left us last night..... the image of the rocking chair in which she sat- in which they had carried her from room to room.....

Tonight I sat around another table- in the same town in which little Forset must have lived- and died. These people at the table are really strangers to me- though I liked them on sight and we have a blood connection that goes back through the generations. They had speant their morning searching the death records and have discovered what certainly must be the recording of the end of Forest' life at the age of 12 1/2..... There was a moment, as they shared the story- the tender letter, the realization that Forest could only have been a preteen- the putting together of the pieces.... there was a moment in which we honored Forest- we honored the pain of her parents- we wondered about them..... we cared for them.... yes, in that brief moment in time, we loved on them....

It is odd to think that a child who passed briefly through this life would be remembered 100 years later...... that members of her family, so much time later, would shed a brief tear, pause a brief pause.... remember that she lived....

It makes me stop and look back- stop and wonder- at all the moements, in all the lives, that have affected my very own life. All the assumptions about life and death.... Grief, resolved or unresolved impacts those who follow. A life well lived will change the life that follows it.... Attention to first things first and doing the right thing will impact those who will follow in our footsteps...

It makes me realize the power of a letter or a story - to evoke emotion- to lead our hearts, to persuade- to change us....

Dan was finishing "The Shack" as I came home tonight...... Powerful book....interesting story... I highly recommend it..... I listened as he went back and read exerpts from it, watched his face change as he described certain scenes.... Certainly parts of the authors life have crept into that story..... as he shares he blesses us...... As he interrprets events- he gives us new eyes through which to view the unseen world around us...

" all that remains is a story...... maybe that's all there ever was" Carole Radziwill

I wonder what will be remembered of our stories...... I wonder how the next generation will be affected by the choices we make..... I wonder how we have been programmed by the choices of those who went before....






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