Finding Joy in an Unlikely Place

They say your parents are your first teachers.

#Truth

       Like most kids I thought my parents hung the moon and were the smartest people around.  That lasted until I was about 13 or 14.  At that point I couldn’t believe my parents had made it as far as they had without my wise and far superior input.  I mean seriously I knew EVERYTHING.  On the night of my 21st birthday I taped the following quote to their bedroom door:

    When I was a boy  girl of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man  around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.   Mark Twain

My parents, especially my Dad, laughed and made a point of telling me they were glad I had finally figured it out.

So throughout the years there were times when I leaned heavily on my parents wisdom and times when they leaned heavily on mine especially as they eased ever so slowly into the digital world.  Well my Dad did, my mother had no use for it.  At one point Dad’s computer served him well as a convenient place to play solitaire just like their  DVD player was a rather expensive clock.  Once he got the hang of email there was no escaping the many forwards and the endless jokes he passed on.

About a year ago my  93 yr old widowed mother suffered a stroke, followed by another about 2 months later.  It threw her into dementia.  We could no longer say she was just forgetful.  It was too obvious.  In due time we moved her to Memory Care where she is today.

There is no doubt that dementia is a cruel disease.  I would not wish it on anyone.  And yet there is that crazy silver lining that shows up whether we want it to or not.

We were fortunate to be able to do “porch visits” with my Mom  until November.  After that it was window visits but for various reasons those were not the best.  Then it was Facetime.  Mom didn’t get those at all.  Finally on March 18th we were able to visit in person taking all the necessary precautions.

Today was my fourth in person visit.  Each visit is different.  Two visits she fell asleep on me and wasn’t at all excited to see me.  The third visit found her alert and active.  Today’s visit she was in bed taking a nap and was happy to see me.

I have learned not to set expectations about these visits.  I stay very much in the present moment with her which is a blessing and a joy.  She is teaching me to just be present and more importantly to meet her where she is at and how much she can interact.  I slow down and do something I need to do more of..just be.

Today there was nothing but love in the room between us.  I greeted her with my usual “Hello Beautiful”   She  smiled.  I am always tickled to see she knows who I am.  I am prepared for the day when she doesn’t know me or mistakes me for someone else.  I will meet her where she is at when that time comes and if she needs me to be someone from her past, like her mother…well I can do that.

She asked about my husband…a good clue she couldn’t remember his name.  It is all okay.  She told me she had a surprise visit from her Mom and Dad.  I chuckled and said ” Wow that is so nice!  I too would be surprised if they came to visit me!”   Yes a little dark humor can be a coping mechanism.  I saw the comfort she got from that “visit”.  She mentioned my Dad and asked where he was.  Our answer is always “He is on a business trip”   She nodded.  There is joy in that as well.  She no longer suffers the sadness of his death.  She looked up and said “he left without kissing me goodbye”   I replied ” I’m sure it was early when he left”  She said “True, I will look forward to his kiss when he returns”.  I quietly sent out a message to the universe to have Dad  “visit”her like my grandparents did earlier.

My mother has rounded third base and is heading home in the final inning of her life.  It is not without its starts and stops.  It has multiple hiccups.  She is still teaching me and showing me that love knows no bounds, that sitting, being present, slowing down are good values to hang onto and perpetuate.   I practiced it yesterday when I  plopped down with my almost 14 yr old granddaughter on a huge bean bag chair.  Our heads were touching.  She was showing me something on her phone and we were laughing, talking about life, school, boys and cooking.  She has obviously not figured out that I don’t KNOW everything although I think grandparents get a pass on this phase of  teenagers.  I was in no hurry to move or have the moment end.  It was my favorite part of our visit.  Thanks Mom.

If Covid had allowed I would have crawled in bed next to my Mom today and put my head next to hers.  I got as close as I could. My phone was off, I had no place to be but there.  She smiled. Mom’s day refreshes multiple times a day.  She has reached the point where nothing really troubles her and joy abounds.

Do I wish I could have her totally back?  Of course, who wouldn’t? I am grateful that I have found  a peaceful place to be with her in my heart and treasure each time I get to hear her say ” I love you too!  Bushels and bushels.”

One of our porch visits 🙂

Thanks Mom for the life lessons, all of them… love you.

 

Facebooktwitter

It Matters to Me

Dear Mom,

It was so good to see you today!  I love your smile and how you light up when you see me.

You looked good.  For 94 years young you look younger than some other people I know. Shhh..we will keep that a secret between us.

You asked about Dad..as usual he is traveling for business.  You shrugged knowing how often he does this.

I brought you lunch. You were delighted and promises were made to warm it up when lunch time rolled around.

You said you were tired so I left to fetch some items you needed.  Toothpaste, tooth brush, socks, washcloths and some new sheets.  Easy enough, or so I thought.  Turns out full sheets are tough to find.  Well tough if you want them to be pretty and soft.  I hope you like what I picked.  They are soft but I couldn’t find floral so I had to settle for a blue geometric pattern.  Hopefully you love the softness more and can understand that floral sheets are hard to find.

I did find some beautiful rose colored washcloths.  They are soft and plush.  There is nothing worse than washing your face with something akin to sandpaper.

Of course the toothbrush, toothpaste and socks were the easiest except socks in your tiny size are not plentiful but I found them..go me.

I can’t bring everything over until tomorrow.  You will be surprised I know since every day is brand new to you.   Every minute is fresh with the previous minutes escaping from your memory moments after they pass.

You won’t remember that I even came by today.  You might remember your yummy hamburger 🙂  Food seems to be more memorable these days.

You accept that Dad is on a business trip.  It would be too painful to remind you every time that he is gone.  4 years today as a matter of fact.  You constantly look for him and ask about him.  Believe me I wish he was here too but it would be hard for him to see you like this.

I have so many questions that I want to ask but you are unable to answer.  I look through past photos…long before I was even in your thoughts as a possibility and I long to know that carefree spirit in the hula skirt or peeking out from behind the shower curtain in your dorm at nursing school.  I think we would have been friends and had a grand time together.

How I wish I had paid more attention to your cooking and how you put recipes together.  I asked you today but you couldn’t recall.  Lost opportunities. Thankfully I have your recipes in your beautiful handwriting that makes me smile.

As I carefully picked out the sheets and washcloths today I wondered why I was being so particular because in my brain I knew it really didn’t matter to you.  The color or the pattern, maybe even the softness or thread count were of no consequence.

My heart told me what is true..it matters.  It matters to me.

I am thankful you still remember who I am.  I am thankful I can see you in person and give you a quick hug.  I can brush your hair and tell you I love you.

In that moment it matters.  It always will.  I picked everything out with love today and that matters.

While I am often sad when I leave your room in Memory Care, knowing you would rather be with Dad,  I am thankful I get to tell you I love you one more time.

Love you Mom..bushels and bushels,

 Jennifer

Mom on her 80th

Me and Mom on her 80th!!!

 

Facebooktwitter

It’s Thoughtful Thursday! The Easy Way to Bring Joy to Yourself and Others

When was the last time you received a handwritten letter or note?  Bet it has been awhile.

I love receiving unexpected notes or letters .  Even if I know everything that is going on in that persons life  it is always good to see familiar handwriting in my mailbox.

You can bet it is the first thing I open.

Why is it so special?  I can only speak for myself but I always feel a little extra love  when someone takes the time and makes the effort to write a real note, find a stamp and get it in the mail.

It is the personal touch that means so much.

When I find letters from my grandmother in her very distinctive handwriting it is like having her here next to me.  At some point in time she touched the paper and wrote those words.  It will never be like having her physically here  but it is something I can touch and hold.  Just seeing it makes me smile.

Thoughtful Thursday started with the intention of writing real letters.  I have fallen down on the job lately so I am jumping back in and committing to sending more letters via the post office.

Just like painting it has a soothing, relaxing effect on me.  Watching and feeling the pen glide across the paper and taking the time to think of what I really want to say makes me slow down and be in the moment.

While you may think e-mails are forever, maybe not.  A handwritten letter has a life of its own.  At least it feels that way.  And opening up an older one feels like a treasure found and a bit of the past come to life.  I have all the letters my husband wrote to me while he was on Navy deployments and while we were dating.  I have a box of love letters between my parents and handwritten notes and recipes from my grandmother.  They are a bit of my personal history.

I also have letters my grandfather typed.  He even managed to find a typewriter  and write one while vacationing in Europe in 1964.  I imagine they had business centers back then as well but instead of computers they had  typewriters.

Honestly it is not cheating if you don’t like your handwriting and you want to type it but always remember to add a handwritten P.S. and your own signature 🙂

I will type some of my letters but my way of typing is definitely old school.   🙂  A throwback to my grandfather 🙂

Love this script typewriter

Yes I have a fascination with typewriters.  I make mistakes, I x them out.  It is so fun.  And I get lots of reaction from the recipients.  The added bonus is there a real satisfaction at pounding on the keys.  Not sure why but just the extra force needed feels like I am accomplishing something.

Here is the other cool thing about mailed letters:

Letting go of the immediate reply

I am never sure if it arrived or when it did and I never  expect a handwritten response.  Of course I would love one but that is not why I do it. I do it for the connection, and mostly just for the pleasure of imagining the smile on someones face when they open their mailbox to find something besides the ordinary bills or advertisements.

Ok..there is the possibility the person won’t smile..but I’m guessing they will.  And guess what?  I may never know and thats ok.

I send it off and hope it does its’ job to bring a little joy to a someone special.  Give it a try..it does a heart good.

Now as always..go out and make it a Thoughtful One.

Jennifer

 

Facebooktwitter

Interruptions on the Run…

Someone very wise once told me that it is the spaces between the notes that truly makes the music.  I wonder if that holds true for interruptions on the run.  I don’t think so ..insert eye roll.

Way back when in 2017 I was on a serious running kick.  I was starting out with a 10k.  I had run this 10k many times and this year I trained hard and was ready to be better than ever.  Life changing interruption when my Dad passed away the day before the race and so did my mojo for making it my year to do all things running.  It’s way too hard to run with a heavy heart even though I tried.

Fast forward to 2019 and I made a serious effort to train for a marathon.  I struggled in the summer heat when I usually swim and bike instead of run but I was determined.  So determined in fact that when we were on the Eastern Shore celebrating our anniversary I decided to go for an early morning run to beat the July heat.  I was kicking it despite the rising temperature and enjoying the quiet of the small town and its classic old homes.  In the enthusiasm of the moment and giving myself a mental high five  I decided to double back and do one more circle around the block.  My toe caught the uneven sidewalk and I went flying.  Didn’t break anything but bruised my entire left side.  I think a break would have been less painful.   Also this made for a very romantic anniversary…NOT!

Running put on hold…so was walking and moving in general.

There must be something about “one last go around” because thats how I broke my wrist ice skating in 2015.

2020 was MY year.  Do you see a pattern here?   Not only did Covid happen but lots of things with my elderly mother that took up my time.   I did a lot of biking to relieve stress but not much running.  I did manage an 8k which along with a half marathon and a full marathon was open to do for 20 days in November on our beautiful Virginia Capitol to Capitol trail.  I was grateful they had managed to make it seem like a real race.  Well when I did it there were  3 of us out there but hey it is better than being alone.

 

                     An unusually warm day in November for the 8k       

 So here we are in 2021 and I sit in front of the computer writing this with ice on my foot.

Sigh

 Despite the setbacks and being an all together cranky-ass ( said it before and I will say it again..running is my prozac) I am persevering.  It is back to my original love which is triathlons.  So if I can’t run or bike I am in search of a pool to start swimming.

Did I mention this is my least favorite thing to do?

Did I mention that the last time I lugged my aging body to the pool I happened to pick the time that the high school was practicing with all those young bodies right in my face as I slowly…and I mean super slowly made my way across the pool?

And yet I can’t give up, I can NOT tri. 🙂

Also being the somewhat snarky person I am, I may have just muttered under my breath that those young swimmers will get old like the rest of us…jokes on them..as it was on me.

I am also buoyed by the fact that should I be lucky enough to get all the training in I am still game for a marathon..virtual style..why?  Lots of reasons.

I get to pick the date

I get to pick the weather 

I get to pick the color of shirt…not so important but still a plus!

I get to pick my prize.  I’m choosing a trip to Hawaii or a bottle of wine…or a trip to Italy..need to talk to the race sponsor..oh wait that is me.

I will be the winner no matter what.  The one and only race I won in my age group they stopped giving out prizes (bottles of  wine) at 40+.  I went home a very unhappy camper…who does that?

I can take as long as I want .  I seriously wanted to do the Honolulu Marathon held in December ( still do)  Not only for the obvious reasons but also because we used to live there AND there is no time limit on the race..it runs on Hawaii time..you got this brau!

So yes I am still an over 50 ( way over) triathlete and writer triing to make a difference.

I will be writing more frequently about all things running, biking, swimming plus life in general because ..well because it’s my blog.

See you on the road, on the bike, in the pool and laughing at life’s little and big absurdities.

As always..Keep Triing    Jennifer

Facebooktwitter

It’s Thoughtful Thursday…thankful for the mess

In the last four years you have read about my monumental task of cleaning out my parents house after my Dad died unexpectedly.  At the same time we also had to move my mother into Assisted Living.  Honestly much of that time is a blur in my memory.

I am still dealing with some of the aftermath.  Well a lot of it.  My parents didn’t throw out much.  The moment that is seared into my memory is opening a box and finding throw pillows from  the couch we had when I was five.  If it hadn’t been 10am I would have started drinking and Kahlua in my coffee does not count.  Well maybe it does.

In any case I am currently going through all the boxes of photos and memorabilia we dumped in my office after the final clean out.  I had to take a break after we finished.  Going through boxes is the most mind numbing experience.  I’d rather go to the dentist or take algebra again..and fail it ..again.

Lately though I have been thankful for the “classy hoarding” my parents did.  “Classy Hoarding” is a phrase I coined to refer to a house that looks put together but has closets and a basement just plain stuffed!  If the house could have groaned and let out its’ seams it would have done it!

So why am I thankful?  I am thankful because I am finding so many unbelievable treasures .  Treasures only to me and my family but still they are priceless.

Among other things I have found a letter written to my mother from  grateful parents whose young son died.  They wrote eloquently about how much they appreciated her kind and loving ways towards their 12 year old son as he passed away from cardiac problems.  My mother could not fill in the details ( unfortunately) but it was during her last weeks of nursing school.  The only thing she could say about it was that it was very sad.

I found humorous photos of my Mom and Dad in their youth.  As a child you never envision your parents as being wild and while this was the mild side of wild it was fun to see. It was  long before they were worried about what anyone would think and I found it refreshing.  I wish I could ask both of them about this time in their lives but one is in heaven and one is sadly in the throes of dementia.

I found letters written by them as a young engaged couple in love.  And then there is a lovely letter from the father of my mothers’ best friend extolling her virtues to her new in laws who did not approve of the marriage.  My grandparents thought my father could do better . Then my parents eloped and that didn’t help. They did recant those feelings many times over and became  Moms’ biggest fans.

In that same letter Ted Holtzinger painted a picture of my Moms’ tireless efforts on the pediatric polio ward before there was a vaccine.  Also as you read this please know that at 5 feet tall and 80 lbs my Mom was not much bigger than her patients.

           Ted wrote:

        I wish I could tell you of her heroic efforts on behalf of the littlest victims of this city’s worst polio epidemic.  She worked around the clock for what must have seemed like endless days trying to save those who were most seriously afflicted from death or from a life sentence to the worst phases of crippling that makes polio such a dreaded scourge.

     I saw her there one night when the epidemic was at it s height., her hands and arms reddened to the elbow form the hot packs that she was administering to the sufferers of this worst form of polio, I watched her wince as she lifted hot pack after hot pack from the scalding water and I said a silent prayer of thanks for women like Betty who could forget self in service to others so grievously afflicted and yet so needful of  her administrations.

My mother never told us about any of this.  I am so thankful this letter and others like exist and were saved so that I may have a glimpse of my mother before I knew her.

By the way I also have the response my grandfather sent many years later and it was eloquent as well.  Not sure why he waited so long but grateful I have the two letters to go side by side.

So on this Thoughtful Thursday what is my point about all these treasures?  Can you guess?

Write a real letter.  A real one.  Not a text or an email…a real honest to goodness letter.  Make a copy and save it.  Who should you write it to?  That is for you to decide but in this day and age of digital it is refreshing to hold a letter that can be read over and over again without turning anything on.

Tell someone what they mean to you, write down memories of fun times , special life events and anything that has become family lore. If you see someone like my Mom doing something so very special let them know you noticed.

I know it is all the rage to be minimalistic and to get rid of everything that isn’t nailed down.  I get it.  And all that is found will be digitized in case the originals are lost.  In the meantime it is a joy to hold a letter once written by a friend, a grandparent, my Mom, my Dad.  They once held that piece of paper.  The connection is real.

So thank you Mom and Dad…it has been hard but the rewards are bountiful.  I am so happy you saved this part of our history.

Now as always, go make it a Thoughtful One..and if you are so honored go hug your Mom and Dad !                                                                     Jennifer

 

Facebooktwitter

Using “Young” Wisdom to Pick my Next Book!

Is it possible we were smarter as kids then we are now? It’s not only possible it’s the truth.  Granted, as kids, we did not have all the life experiences that bring more common sense and obvious solutions.  We can make a batch of brownies without a chocolate explosion in the kitchen but the reality is I listened more to my heart when I was eight years old.  I knew what I wanted as a toddler ( even if it was unreasonable) and at eight.  I didn’t give two hoots about what I was suppose to wear, what the latest fashion was or if my belly was too big or my thighs were too chunky.

Given the era I grew up in the input from outside sources was limited to my parents, grandparents, older siblings (my sister was especially embarrassed by my fashion sense) teachers and my friends.

I had a second grade teacher who encouraged us to express ourselves through creative writing.  She wasn’t concerned about grammar or spelling or what subject we chose. She made the writing time more appealing than recess.  We couldn’t wait to get going on our stories.  It instilled in me a love for not only writing but reading as well.  I still have my box of writings with crayon illustrations.  A true treasure.

I was a voracious reader as a kid, it slowed down in my teen years and came to a screeching halt in college when I was forced to read textbooks that gave sawdust a run for its money in being interesting.

Lately I have been doing more reading in an effort to reduce the number of books in my house, to offset the crummy weather and no where to go pandemic boredom.  Also my pandemic pudge needs to go, so book in hand keeps hand out of mouth or so I am hoping.

It has been so interesting  to see what books I am choosing to read or maybe what I am not reading.

I could choose from one of the many  Pulitzer Prize winners, best sellers or a book from one of the endless celebrity book clubs made famous by Oprah. And yet those types of books rarely work for me.  I tried twice ( real book and audio) to get through “Olive Kitteridge” , a Pulitzer Prize winner, and I just couldn’t do it.  I could not believe it won that prestigious prize. Best sellers can also be great but when they are really awful I wonder how many have been “sold” but never read.

As far as the books go from the celebrity book clubs I am often puzzled  as to why they would choose a certain book.  I tried to read some of Oprah’s selections but honestly I found the ones I chose to be dark and dreary.  I actually purchased “Lovely Bones” and read it .  It has the distinction of being the only new book I have ever thrown out.  It was so disturbing I could not give it to a friend to read.   I was not going to be responsible for wasting someone else’s time with such a creepy book.

I have learned not to post about a book I did not like on social media. Okay..maybe I just did in that last paragraph but I will risk it. People take their book loves very personally and if you dare to say you didn’t like it they act like you said their kid was ugly.  Wow!  Then they will plead with you to try again.  If I have to struggle to get through the first 50-100 pages then it is a no go.  Try again?  Probably not.  Life is too short to read books that I  don’t like no matter how many people love them.

So back to my wise and wonderful 8 year old self. 🙂  I have fond memories of climbing the winding stairs of the old library in our town.  Sometimes I would race up them to get to the children’s section.  I would plop myself down on the scuffed up wooden floor in front of the shelves and start looking, pulling out the ones that interested me, reading a few pages, putting it back or deciding it was a keeper.  Without lists, suggestions or book clubs I managed to pick out some gems:

  • The Secret Garden
  • Stuart Little
  • Caddie Woodlawn
  • Henry and Beezus ( actually anything by Beverly Cleary)
  • Harriet the Spy
  • Nancy Drew ( The Ghost of Blackwood Hall scared the pants off me)

 

Much like the imaginary friend I had when I was five, I now take my 8 year old self with me to the library, the bookstore or where ever I find myself looking at books which is just about everywhere I go.  Together we pick out books that I often can’t put down.

Trust yourself like you did when you were a kid.  Read what you love whether it’s  fantasy, romance novels, thrillers, classics, comic books or Sci fi.   What YOU love…nobody else has to love it. As long as it brings you joy than it’s the best book for you!

So here’s to you next best read…may it make your February days warmer and transport you to another time and place..a mini vacation pandemic style!

And as always..keep triing!  Jennifer

P.S.  If you want to know what I am reading you can find me on GoodReads where I sometimes ( tri) to list the books I have read.

Facebooktwitter

It’s Thoughtful Thursday : The Christmas Letter I didn’t Write!

Well it has been quite a year and as I was telling a good friend the other day  ” I am in no hurry to get to the end of this year because who knows what is waiting for us in 2021″  In other words be careful what you wish for!

I am one of those hold outs who still sends Christmas cards and I really do love getting them, seeing the photos and reading the letters but I couldn’t bring myself to write a detailed letter this year.  I may have just heard a collective sigh of relief from those on my Christmas card list.  🙂  No worries….there are a few I dread as well.

In any case it has been a year of ups and downs for us and most of it not Covid related.  I am grateful I can say that and yet I wish I could change some things.  I’ve had quite a few friends endure serious illness..so much so that this nurse ran to the doctor to get a long overdue physical (so unlike me).  Like most nurses I often conclude that a few Motrin will fix everything.  I actually got laughed at when I broke my wrist and I opted for Motrin rather than Demerol in the emergency room.

In 2020 I had and still have a front row seat to the tragedy of dementia.  It is a cruel condition that I would not wish on anyone.

This is also the year we have all experienced some form of in person and online bullying, plain old meanness and bad manners.

And yet this is the year I have also witnessed extreme kindness, laughter, support, love, understanding and prayers received and given.

That kindness is what I want to remember about 2020.  How we came together to support one another in creative ways over zoom, via texting and sometimes in person 6 feet away.  We left meals on doorsteps, sent real mail, talked to our neighbors across driveways, checked in on those who were alone, helped parents navigate virtual schooling, and realized once again the true value of our teachers and healthcare workers.

Young couples got married in small intimate ceremonies. New parents got to have much needed quiet time with their newborns.  It was hard to stay away but what a treasured time for those new families.

If our dogs could talk I’m sure they would say this was the best year ever, they love having us home!

In a way I wonder if the younger kids will remember this year fondly as the one where we all came together, ate more meals together, watched movies, played games.  Much like I fondly remember our young married days with 10 cents until payday and a black and white TV with a 15 inch screen.

There are a few things we might not look fondly at..like bad at home haircuts and what I like to call the “pandemic pudge” but it is all good.

So no Christmas letter this year…there was so much I could have written but I thought of my grandfathers’ old friend named “Hitch” who wrote us one year and in essence said ” this year really sucked ..if you want the details send me a buck”   He said it with more style and flair and better poetry but you get the gist…also I would charge you more than a buck.:)

On one of the last Thursdays in 2020 I gently ask you to be kind to all you meet…we have survived and mostly thrived in 2020 and yet more kindness is always the answer.

Santa says to  go make it a Thoughtful One 🙂  Jennifer

 

2020 Santa

 

 

 

Facebooktwitter

The Perfectly Imperfect Christmas Tree

Every single year on the day after Christmas I make myself the same promise.  Next year will be different, next year I will be the one that has it all together for the holidays.  My shopping will be done early, the decorations will be up right after Thanksgiving, cards will be mailed out on time and I will sit back and relax and enjoy the holidays.   Oh and my tree will be one of those gorgeous ones that everyone ooos and ahhs over.

Oh yes…except it didn’t happen this year and it probably won’t ever happen.  Not just because of Covid and all the crazy things that happened this year but because it is just who I am.  Would it really be Christmas if I didn’t feel like my hair was on fire at least once?  Nope!

Honestly I think its in my DNA .  I will never be one of those people that has it all together all at the same time and at my age I am waving the white flag.  It’s who I am and it’s never going to change.

I KNOW I am not alone.

Let’s just take the tree for example.  For years when I was very young the tree didn’t go up until Christmas eve (my friends that put their tree up in Oct are going to need to be revived).  It is true. Oh and Santa dropped it off. One year my parents laughed and laughed because when the tree was delivered (I guess Santa just dropped it from the sky) it leaned to one side and evidently the Christmas tree place where Santa got it was next to a nudist colony. Wait , what?

For one I was too young to know what a nudist colony was and just now as I was thinking about it I realized that we lived in Indiana.  A nudist colony in December in Indiana?  Those are some hardy people.

We had Christmas tree lights that were so hot I’m surprised the tree didn’t catch on fire and we took great joy in just flinging that silver tinsel everywhere despite my mothers repeated requests that we “place” the tinsel carefully on the tree.  That just never happened.Who me? Iwasn't throwing the tinsel!

Who me?  I didn’t throw any tinsel!

So is it any wonder with that history I am unable to create a tree with the perfectly placed ornaments that are uniform in size and  all the same shade of red and green, while the base is surrounded by a variety of perfectly blooming poinsettias?

I thought about it this year as we pulled out the decorations.  At the base of the tree is the Christmas tree skirt I made when we were newly married and had no money. It is a patchwork of red and green squares. It is a reminder of simpler times, and has seen more than 40 Christmas’, 3 children, 6 grandkids and many friends.  On the branches are the photo ornaments of our children on their first Christmas, macaroni and falling apart construction paper ornaments,  decorations from all the different places we have lived, pets that have loved and left us and the pipe cleaner angels and a ballerina that adorned my parents tree for more than 60 years.  I am honored to place them on our tree.

So House Beautiful won’t be calling to photograph our tree, and my hair will catch on fire at least once before Christmas actually arrives. There will be at least one Christmas gift that gets lost before it is wrapped and one room in my house ( or maybe two) that looks like a wrapping paper bomb went off in it. We may or may not get a family Christmas photo with everyone looking at the camera and unlike last years photo my youngest grandson will NOT be flipping everyone off  AND I will forget and burn the rolls.

You have your traditions we have ours and burnt rolls is one of them.

Oh and before all this happens I will have to refrain myself from strangling the person who tells me how all their shopping is done, wrapped and cards mailed on Nov. 30th.

Just in case I do lose control the above is NOT a confession even though it looks like one.

Our tree and our Christmas will be perfectly imperfect.  We will do what we do best, laugh, make more memories and hope the macaroni ornaments hang on for one more Christmas because those are my favorites!

May your holiday be one filled with laughter and the blessings of family and friends even if we are all on Zoom.  Oh and I am here with the fire extinguisher for those hair on fire moments…plus lots of wine.

As always..doing what I do best..I keep triing.

 

Facebooktwitter

It’s Thoughtful Thursday : I will always be up for you..even if it’s 3am

I have been kind of absent here.  I had good intentions to get posts written but real life got in the way and then there is my dedication to procrastination.  I have written dozens of posts in my head but somehow they never made it onto paper or on the computer.

In a nutshell our experience with Covid 19 had an added dimension.  So much so that the quarantine was on top of me before I knew it.  I was like..wait, what?  Right before it reared its ugly head my elderly mother suffered a stroke.  The neurologist ( via the computer screen) assured us that it was the best kind of stroke to have and all of her deficits would resolve.

I wish I could remember his name because honestly I would like to egg his house or at least tell him he was so wrong.

You see while my mother suffered no physical deficits from the stroke it threw her into dementia.  She could not return to her independent living apartment and by the time she got out of rehab Covid 19 had actually locked her out of the facility. We ended up bringing her to our house.  For the sake of the quarantine it was the best option but with it came a ton of other problems including keeping her safe as she constantly tried to get out of the house.

About an hour away from me, my best friend, had a similar situation.  Her mother in law was gravely ill.  She needed round the clock caretakers and in July entered hospice.

She was my lifeline and I hope I was hers.  She was the person I could talk to…as in I could say anything to her and there was no judgement, no shoulding, no criticism.   We gave each other unconditional love and understanding.

We understood moving up cocktail hour a few hours, tears, frustrations, paperwork, the need to vent, and lots of dark humor which we both desperately needed.  We shared resources, tips and tricks and became each others “pushers” as in “hey this is on sale”  or “I just added this to my cart and thought of you.”

Our situations both changed in July.  We made the difficult but needed decision to move my mother to Memory Care and sadly Debbie’s mother in law ( who I knew and loved dearly) succumbed to cancer.

All through this we would get texts from each other “you up?”  the answer was always YES!  I recently told her that if she had texted me at 3am ( and I heard it) the answer would still be yes and I know the same is true for her.

Our situations continue in one form or another.  My mothers dementia is increasing and that is painful to watch.  Debbie is dealing with tying up all the paperwork, selling the house etc.  We continue to be there for each other.

We met for lunch this week for a belated birthday celebration ( her birthday was in June) and she had a gift for me.

Her mother in law had received it from her best friend and now Debbie was passing it on.  I love that it is continuing it’s journey to another set of best friends.  The fact that it came from Carol made it even more special.

Truer words were never spoken:

 

So on this Thoughtful Thursday if you are lucky enough to have a best friend, call her, text her, send her flowers because she is to be treasured!  Now go out and make it a Thoughtful One !

P.S.  A photo of Debbie and me..its about 10 yrs old but hey thats what best friends do 🙂

Facebooktwitter

Letting go and finding kindness…It’s Thoughtful Thursday!

It’s been awhile since I have had the time to post on Thoughtful Thursdays.  Feels good to be back and I am grateful that I have lots to share. Ironically  I have been graced with many “thoughtful” moments from good friends, family and chance meetings with strangers who will never know how they touched my life with their smile, their kindness or simple gestures of goodwill.

I keep running across decorative signs that have quotes about kindness. I  doubt these encounters are accidents as I feel we could all use a reminder that we all need a little kindness in our lives whether we are giving or receiving.  Often when I experience a random act of kindness or even an intentional one I am reminded how good it feels and then I try to pay it forward.

In March our daughters and I gave my hubby a surprise retirement party. It had to be a surprise because he would have never let me honor him with a party. I, however, knew he would love it and he did.

I had to do alot of trusting and letting go the day of the party.  The restaurant we were using was pretty loose on the arrangements and I started stressing over little things.  Wondering if they would have enough servers, what if the food took forever, would they have it all set up??  Because I was in charge of getting Paul there and maintaining the surprise I had to let that all go.  Our daughters were in charge of set up ( cake, photos, decorations) and greeting the guests.  AND then Paul started hammering me with questions.  He believed it was a surprise party for our daughter’s birthday and he kept questioning everything.  I was sure the gig was up but it was not.  As you can see he was totally surprised and happy!

Surprise!

And then people did some little things that were actually big.  A friend who could not make it to the party wrote the funniest toast.  I briefly saw it on my email but as luck would have it my computer printer died the day before.  I let it go figuring I could just read it from my phone.  Never fear our good friend Les printed it up and read it at the party and it was perfect.  More perfect than if I had asked him to do it.  His wife Tammy stepped in and cut the cake…one thing I had not thought of but her gesture of kindness and just doing what needed to be done was so appreciated.

The restaurant service was amazing.  Above and beyond anything I expected.

All in all it was a success.  Yes we planned and set things into motion but the real success came from just letting go, trusting it would work out and experiencing the kindness of all our friends who were willing to drive quite a distance to be there and celebrate Paul and then jump in and help without being asked.

Yes..it is so true…In a world where you can be anything…

Be Kind

And of course “Thoughtful”

Now go make it a Thoughtful one…Jennifer

 

Facebooktwitter