Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Separate, but Equal






Separate, but Equal

Sometimes I lull myself into believing that I am invincible. I'm of a certain age (don't ask...okay, it's 40 something--NOT) hearty and healthy, and boy can I rock a mean pigeon, side plank or a down dog split. But. Even though I immerse myself in my community, work hard to stay ahead of the curve in my job, and chase after my youth each and every day, who am I kidding, really? Healthy living is a choice, but it's not an answer to all the scaries out there.

One of those scaries, I have to admit, is Alzheimer's disease. Who's not? There was a segment on the news the other day about new studies that can identify early symptoms. Oh my God, I just wanted to cover my ears and my eyes and walk away. But, I didn't. Instead I was drawn like a moth to hear the whole thing. 

The smell test. Did you know they now test people to see how measurably far a jar of peanut butter has to be before its smell can be detected by the patient? (They even hauled out a ruler!) As I sat there and watched, the undeniable scent of my big old golden retriever was wafting itself into my olfactory glands! Thank God! So. We'll check that off dog beats peanut butter any day.

Then there was the celebrity face test, but I'm saying this upfront now, don't ever count on that for me. I have no clue, and never had, I am a paparazzi's nightmare. That kind of staring at other people's lives is just too embarrassing for me. 

But on a somewhat other note, I showed up very apprehensive with a head full of knowledge for my Meniscus surgery the other day. I'd been all over Web MD, asked questions of the PA in my doctor's office, and even canvased people in Starbuck's or anyone I met along the way. 

Me? I have a husband in a wheelchair, a giant dog, and a house I'm taking care of these days. I dug and planted for a week, and I had all kinds of company. I was ahead of the curve, and even though Tom (in the wheelchair) and me on foot would after the procedure look like a train wreck leaving that place, I was not aware that there could be worse.

In walks Willy. Willy was about 80ish, very short and a bit plump and bald with his belt pulled all the way up to his chest. He had on his gray velcro sneakers and two men following him. He, like me, went up to the window. And like me he was asked to show his license and insurance card. That's where the comparison ends.

Willy fumbled through his wallet for what seemed like an awfully long time. The one man, about perhaps five years younger and cranky, his brother, I think said "He doesn't know what the hell he's looking for." The other, younger, well dressed, casual business style jumped right in (a nephew, I think). So here's Willy, who was called Will by the woman (wife to cranky) who came in from the parking lot to save him--he's guided to a seat and told he's number 7 (I'm number 6). Willy and his entourage now stretch to 4.

He pulls out a scratchy paper towel from a men's room somewhere and attempts to wipe his nose. The woman, who was kinder thank God, tells him, "Will, you need a soft tissue to take care of that." Willy/Will/Number 7 sits there and looks at her. He knows he's supposed to respond. But...hmmm. Nothing.

When they call number 6, I hop up, and leave Tom to watch this unfold. I think about Willy, and I forget to worry about me. That is a very good thing.

Next thing I know, I'm waking up in the recovery room, and guess who's next to me? It's Willy of course; and now the doctor comes in and the nurses are making a big fuss over him. They ask him his name and he answers right away. And if he's had what I had, I know the black curtain inside my mind has not totally cleared. But, he pipes right up,"Bill," he says! And I can just hear the delight in his voice.

Bill. If everyone just asked me my name. 

So here we were, Bill and I, numbers 7 and 6 with a hanging sheet dangling between our personal lives. I loved that man for the window he opened, and today, almost a week later, while I'm hobbling around, I'm wondering if #7 is doing any better than me! We may be worlds apart, but we all perk up with a little attention to our humanness and that one single word that we all love to hear, our name. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Little Bit of Heaven


Homeward bound...with my thoughts escaping, where my music's playing, where my love light's waiting silently for me. Paul Simon and all the greats. How they have charmed me all these years in my life.

Summertime is, for me, like a great big hug. A homecoming.  It's a time to come home to me, to my family and to my soul and my life. Pretty big thinking, right? Don't get me wrong. I'm living the life those other ten months too. Bringing, every year, for 180 days a new crop of ten year olds into my life too. But, by the end of those days, there is a point of physical and emotional exhaustion too. The human doing needs to return to human being status. 

Simple things give me that feeling of living that heavenly life, I as a creative, crave. Walking the hilltop fields and staring at the puffy clouds on the edge of the horizon, staring long at the Black-eyed Susans, watching the butterflies dance just above the tips of the meadow grass, and listening to the happy sounds of the birds, chirping and singing, because they know, I'm sure, that tractor on the roadside is going to peel all this away very soon.

Savoring moments, refilling and allowing life to just take me at will. Letting go. All this is what I crave. No schedule to bind me, no must dos (well, therre is the mortgage!), but seriously I wonder sometimes why I get so caught up in the scheduling trap, the routines, when there is so much life to enjoy!

So today, I'm once again slipping on those summer shoes and dancing in the swirl of life's abundance. 
Happy, joyous and free...in every sense of those words!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Small Miracles



I am in love with the small miracle, that moment in time when the curtain parts and the stage is clear and something of non-monumental importance occurs. I often forget the possibility exists. I'm busy. So busy. The ripples in the pond are there, but I've taken myself off on another trip.

The other day, a plump robin sat atop the branches of a small weeping cherry tree in my yard. The cherry tree itself is a miracle. Just a month or so ago, it was topped with a cap of snow! Now, it has an array of tiny pink blossoms dangling off the tips of its branches. And those buds...will be gone in another week. 

But the robin? Well, I pretty much knew what she was up to. She was scoping out her space and trying to figure out where she'd build her nest this year. When I came home yesterday, I startled her. Her nest was built above the light by the walkway. Soon, a couple little heads with huge, gaping beaks will pop out on this scene. Life is a panoramic of miracles.

But today, Tom and I are taking a leap of faith. We'll follow the footsteps of three small children...to whom a huge miracle occurred. The story goes a woman appeared, and water gushed from a rock. The overpowering scent of roses accompanied her appearance, and the children ran home to tell! From there, a church was built. And people flocked there, much like my robin on its tree. People who had never walked, could now set foot on the earth for the very first time, the blind could see. The woman was Mary, and her miracles in Lourdes are very well known. Monumental miracles.

I have experienced miracles such as these in my life. I've had a son born at twent-four weeks, a brother-in-law, diagnosed with leukemia at a young age...a time when no cure was imminent, grow up and share the joys of life with me. 

I've experienced the miracle of death as well. A sister who hadn't moved for weeks, her body beaten by the awful effects that cancer can bring. But even when I thought our communicating was done, she started to rock back and forth and we prayed the rosary one last time. That was our moment. Soon the room filled with an energy that truly was palpable. My heart felt so full, I thought it would burst. And then, she was gone. But I was left with a total knowing, a sense that her life was complete. And because of that I was complete as well...she would be well cared for, I knew.

So life? Is full of miracles! Will Tom walk on a beach and hold my hand once again like he'd done for so many years? I'm not so sure. What I do know is that miracles require prayer and mindfulness! I wish I'd paid a little more attention to those footsteps on the beach...savored that time we had. But now, I know. I watch. I savor. I take one day at a time, and pay close attention, as often as I can. 

Today, I ran into a man walking his dog, Isaac, a large black lab, a favorite friend of my dog Reilly's. He told me Isaac has been diagnosed with cancer, but he has been praying the rosary for him. Amazing. I told him I'm headed for Lourdes. His eyes lit up, he knew exactly what that meant. So...a little holy water from the spring will be coming home for Isaac now. Imagine, what a chance encounter that was! 

Miracles? C'mon...I'm a Mets fan! Of course I definitely believe!

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