Friday, July 30, 2010

Crows! Crows! and more Crows!


Yesterday Pam posted a blog about crows.
Today Dani followed up on Pam's lead and wrote some more about the black birds.
Not one to be left out, I want to add another crow story. I could write it myself and embellish it, but I think I'll just copy and paste what my daughter, Weneki, has to say about the birds that have taken up residence in her life.

"Zub had a native American raven tattooed on his shoulder blade. [Zubin got this tattoo before tattoos were common place, but after his future mother-in-law got hers.] And I got my first crow visit two days after Zub died. I couldn't help but think that it was a visit from Zub. It opened my eyes to all the birds, and then to the trees, and then to the nature all around me. I never was able to take everything in before, but that lil' crow visit opened my eyes and was my ticket into nature. Sounds dorky, I'm sure. I think it was a gift from Zub."

It really doesn't sound dorky to me at all. I was there when those first birds appeared. I have no doubt that the birds were messengers from the place where Zubin now resides.

When I was in Seattle last September to cheer Weneki on in her triathlon, she reprimanded me for feeding the crows because when they sit on her balcony railing, their bird bottoms hang over the neighbor's patio. I guess you can figure that they aren't always pleased with crow poop dirtying up their otherwise nicely appointed patio. So, being the obedient mother that I am, I only put peanuts out when Weneki wasn't looking. I think it's kind of funny that they continue to come visit which really means a certain someone has quit following her own rules.

Weneki has a big ol' test she's been studying for for quite awhile. Look who came to cheer her on.

"My computer is right next to my balcony door and these lil' guys are relentless in their cawing. Can't help but chuckle -- I just want to take a practice exam, but these lil' butts are manning this post three feet from me and letting their presence be known. They are quite hard to ignore...."



I have to agree with Qn Dani that these noisy fellows are probably there to say to Wendy, don't worry, "it's all going to be alright. "

Love, Peace, Light,
Merry ME

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Slides


"Risk! Risk anything!
Care no more for the opinions of other, for those voices.
Do the hardest thing one earth for you.
Act for yourself.
Face the truth."
Katherine Mansfield
(New Zealand Short story author, 1888-1923)




As I've been looking through the old slide boxes and scanning photos of my dad into the computer, I have to admit I've enjoyed seeing Mini Merry ME in all her splendor. When my father was in his photography mode, I was the right age, or maybe just needy enough of his attention, to be his model. Oh, he always took birthday and Christmas pictures of everybody, the dog included, but there seems to also be a preponderance of photos of the skinny little girl with the funny looking bangs. It's possible that my older sisters were of an age to not want to sit on the red vinyl hassock or chow bench posing like Marilyn Monroe. To every thing there is a season, and I think the season of taking pictures of children is probably between three and ten. If they are younger than that, they can't hold still long enough to make the picture that is posed to perfection not look posed at all. If they are older, well they can cop an attitude faster than you can say "Say Cheese" and the picture that is supposed to be of one big happy family turns out to have a child in the back row with a frown that would make a driver's licence picture look good.


Most of the photographs of me as a child are taken at just the right age. At a time when, as Qn Dani says, "When We Knew We Would Be Queen's; Born To Take On The World."



I wonder if that is the reason I always enjoyed slide night. I'm sure the family commraderie was a part of. In my memory, those nights were sacrosanct. There was a kind of excitement in the air - not quite holiday mode, but festive. We each picked out our favorite place to sit, there was no bickering, ie. "she touched me", even if feet or arms invaded another sister's space. Dad was in charge of the slide projector, mom sat back with her cup of coffee, maybe the first time all day she'd been off her feet. We were patient even when bent slides got stuck in the machine, or were turned upside down. I suppose we all had our favorites (probably the ones of ourselves). I remember JoJo, dressed in a blue tutu walking in the posie parade, and Linda in her navy blue graduation dress that I thought was the most stunning thing a 6th grader could wear. Even before I knew what being exotic was all about, I knew Mom was nothing short of glamorous with a hibiscus behind her ear or swimming with Jo and Linda in a sun drenched Guamanian beach. Judy, toddled around in corduroy pants or a fancy dress and funny looking, by anybody's standards (what was my Mother thinking?) Easter hat. And then there was the many moods and faces of me, when I wasn't me at all but still known as Carolyn.

What was it about seeing myself as a child that I enjoyed so much? What I know now, that I didn't know on those nights of my not always comfortable childhood, was that the slides and the showing of the slides represented good times. Times when the family looked the way I wanted it to look, needed it to look. Times that made the scary times more of a dream than a reality. I'm not saying my childhood was all scary or sad or not good, but there were dark times - times when the "funk" in dysfunctional outweighed the "fun". Slide night, like birthdays or Christmas, was always good.



I smile now when I look at that little girl with so much promise, so much to offer the world. Even then wanting to please people. Especially the man holding the camera. Knowing what I know now about her life, I kind of want to cry. But looking beyond that child's sense of fashion style, her ability to wear slightly jagged Mamie Eisenhower bangs, or reindeer antlers and make them look good, can you see her beauty and strength? She is, I think, as Dani says, at an age before the world got a hold of her and started telling her she wasn't the "all that" SHE knew herself to be.

I think what I saw on slide night, without having a name for it, was the heart of the girl. All through my ages I wanted to embrace that girl. Even when I was denying her because I listened to what the world had to say, a place deep inside me wanted to hold the little girl in the light. Is that where depression comes from? From putting more stock in what others have to say than what you know to be true? From being too scared to say, hey wait a minute, that's no way to treat a queen?



I guess there is also the very real possibility that I enjoyed slide night because I was just so darn cute. I swear, I feel like I could just rip off my shirt, throw on my butterfly wings and dance around the living room and feel the carefree joy of being ME.

Wishing for you the ability to see yourself as you were made to be
Merry ME,
aka Carolyn, Mary the Fair Heartmeyer, or what I answer to most these days May-Ree

Monday, July 26, 2010

Comfort List, con't.

I really can't believe that I made a comfort list that did not have a) Tulips and daffodils and b)chocolate ice cream on it.

What was I thinking?

me

It's About You

I've got some stuff rolling around in my head that I was going to get out by writing instead of shaking my head like a dog with water in its ears. Before I got to it, I checked my email and found Jon Gordon's weekly newsletter. It's always got something good, uplifting, and inspirational in it about living life by using your greatest potential. I share today's message with you because it really spoke to me.


I suppose all of us at one time or another have asked the question, why am I here. For me it's a recurring question and I can only guess the answer. At different times of my life I've had different answers.


I'm writing as I sit next to Dad's bed. He is sleepy this morning and has more pain than normal. I'm in a sleeveless t-shirt sweating. He's covered with a sheet and two blankets and still shivers a bit. His cinnamon toast rests atop the dual purpose bedside commode (toilet/tray) [Is that gross? Is it unsanitary?] looking rejected and unappetizing.


If I were to ask myself today, what is the purpose God created me for, I think I'd have to say, to be right here, at this moment in time. I have no doubts that sitting at the side of the dying is God's work. I am blessed.




IT'S ABOUT YOU

In Rick Warren’s mega best-seller Purpose Driven Life he famously begins the book with “It’s not about you.” While I understand his intention with this statement I think he should have begun with “It’s about you, however, it’s not just about you.”

Because I believe it is about you. If it weren’t about you, you wouldn’t be here.

You are not an accident.

You are here for a reason.

You have a destiny.

You have a purpose.

You have gifts and talents.

You do things that only you can do in the way you do them.

You and only you can leave your mark on the world.

So it is about you!

However, it’s not just about you. Because if it was just about you, you’d be:

Self-serving

Alone

Narcissistic

Empty

Unfulfilled

It’s about more than you. It’s about knowing you were made for relationships:

To love

To mentor

To learn

To serve

To create

To build

To dream

To work together

To change for the better

It’s about living for more than you.

For a bigger purpose.

For a greater cause.

For a deeper meaning.

For those who will become your legacy.

It’s about you knowing you are part of something much bigger than you.

You live in a universe.

Uni-verse means one-song.

Songs don’t happen by accident.

Songs are created by organizing notes into arrangements and patterns.

And so there is a Creator of the one-song.

You are an expression of the Creator.

You are a note in His symphony.

It’s about you!

It’s about you contributing to the one-song

It’s about you playing your part to the best of your ability.

It’s about you lifting others up.

Its about you living the purpose God created you for.

It’s about you, the Creator, and the song becoming one.

It's about you and now what you do is up to you.

www.jongordon.com


What about you? Do you know what God's purpose is for your life? Are you living it?


Wishing for you this day, that you will dance to the music of your own song,

Merry ME



Saturday, July 24, 2010

Comfort List

Katherine Center is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors. I've read all three of her novels. I also enjoy her blog. The stories aren't necessarily great literature. They are, however, told in a way that's easy to read and full of a kind of every woman's truth. In the Bright Side of Disaster she writes of having and caring for a newborn baby with such exactitude that I think my breasts filled and my nipples hurt just from reading about the effects of breast feeding!

In Get Lucky and her blog Center writes of making a comfort list. Of course I can't remember why the character in the book went through the exercise - no surprise there! But I remember thinking this is something I should do to. In these rather stress-filled days, when actually grabbing a piece of comfort pie and eating it on the run might be all I can do to catch a few moments of coziness I think it is good to have a list to refer back to, so here's my version of a Comfort List, things that are soothing to ME. Anyone want to bet what #1 will be?

1. Naps (Who wins?)
2. Well-worn/loved quilts
3. Clean sheets
4. My favorite pillow (that is falling apart but I can't bear to part with it)
5. Sweetie lying across my middle while I scratch his back
6. Fresh brewed iced tea
7. A Coke from McDonalds
8. A hot shower
9. A dip in the pool
10. A baby's laugh
11. A cat in my lap
12. A phone date with Linda Lu
13. A letter in the mail
14. Writing a letter
15. Sharpies
16. Mood (New Age) music
17. The sight, the smell and feel of bolts of fabric lined up by color
18. Sitting in a rocking chair with a new born baby asleep in my arms
19. Cary Grant movies
20. The sound of the ocean
21. A summer rain
22. My kid's
23. A whale's song
24. Fresh cut flowers that smell good
25. When my Sweetie stops what he's doing just to hold me tight
26. A good book and time to read it
27. A juicy orange
28. Spying a rainbow after that summer shower
29. Butterflies
30. Christmas carols
31. Wandering through Reddi Arts without a watch on
32. A facial by Angie
33. Birds singing
34. The quiet stillness inside a church
35. Old pictures
36. Reading others' blogs
37. Writing
38. The smell of lavender fresh from the garden
39. Spaghetti sauce kissed by homegrown basil
40. Roses
41. Dark black African women whose heads are wrapped in bright colors
42. Polka dots
43. Patent leather Mary Janes
44. Swimming in my Sweetie's t-shirt
45. A big dining table covered in food, surrounded by family and conversation
46. My father's watch
47. My mother's beads
48. My wedding ring
49. Gardenias
50. Floating in the pool after everyone else has gone to bed.

Center said that just making the list was comforting in its own right. I have to agree.
What's on your comfort list?

Wishing for you a day full of things that soothe your soul,
Merry ME


Books by Katherine Center:
Get Lucky
Everyone is Beautiful
Bright Side of Disaster

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Father's Daughter?

Shortly after I moved to Jacksonville fifteen years ago to help care for my mom, my father introduced me to the White Notebook. Actually he handed me several sheets of paper filled with his almost illegible writing on it and asked me to make some sense of it. Family phone numbers, military retirement regulations, insurance policy numbers and list upon list of what to do to see that my mother was adequately taken care of in the event of his death. According to most actuarial tables my mother would outlive my father by about 5 years. My father was a man who lived by the numbers. He was taking no chance that those of us left behind would NOT know what to do or where to look for all pertinent information.

Well, we know about the best laid plans of mice and men. My mom predeceased Dad by more than those 5 years. The White Notebook has been re-worked a few times to update phone numbers of his nomadic children, but mostly it's been moved to the back of the bookcase and forgotten. Last night I pulled it out and blew the dust off. I read through it, made a list of questions, then gently brought the subject up with my dad, pointing out the places that I thought needed to be tweaked some. Surprisingly what could have been a rather touchy subject was very matter of fact and un-emotional. Not cold, but neither accentuated by tears and breast beating.

Today while Dad ,who had a pretty good day yesterday, slept I got to work cleaning up the book. You know how at this time in our lives when the thing that we always swore would never happen happens as if it is as natural as water flowing down hill. Suddenly, without warning or precipitation, you realize you have turned into your mother (or father as the case may be.)Like when you are getting ready for a hot date with your Sweetie and you look in the mirror and see your mother's face smiling back at you with way more wrinkles than you ever thought you had and a patch of whiskers on your chin. Or when you the dog is following you around and whining like a temperamental toddler and you hear, you actually hear, the words, "if you don't stop crying, I'm going to give you something to cry about" coming out of your mouth.

Well this morning, as Dad slept, I meticulously combed through the white notebook, making all the needed corrections. I actually enjoyed the quiet stillness of the house and the feeling of getting organized. Yikes! Am I my father's daughter? Or have I been married to Sweetie long enough for his desire for order to rub off on me?

Later in the day I found myself tripping down memory lane, or maybe I should say tripping over the 10 boxes of slide carousels I had out on the floor. When my sisters and I were younger family slide night was always favorite. We followed the family's growth from 1 daughter, to 2, to 3 to 4. It is painfully clear that Dad gave up his photographic hobby way before my youngest sister was born. With no new slides being made we watched the same slide show every time and it never seemed to grow tired of it. We even watched after someone under the age of 10, about the height to reach the exact middle of a movie screen, scratched something into the glass beads, thus marring the center of every picture. After that we watched the slides on a sheet strung from corner to corner across the living room.

Sadly, like rotary telephones and weekly G-rated TV shows, the slides have been replaced by powerpoint presentations and digital snapshots posted on Facebook. Many of them are too warped to fit through the projector and too dark to see if they do. But the memories are still crystal clear. And that's what counts. I've found a few pictures of my Dad to scan into the computer. Pictures of when he was vital, and had a long life ahead of him. It's kind of surreal to see a photograph of a young naval officer wearing khaki shorts supervising a construction project on a Philippine island flash across a computer screen and realize it is the same man with the shaved head lying in what will soon be his death bed.

An old friend of Dad's called yesterday and told me a story that puts this kind of work into perspective for me. Genie's daddy died when she was just 18 months old. The only daddy she knew was the man in the stories that her momma told her over and over again. One in particular was this: Genie's mother asked her daddy, what do you think heaven will be like. And he answered (I cannot do this story justice, Genie tells it very dramatically in a southern drawl as sweet as cotton candy). "I think heaven is going to be a big adventure."

The Bible says there is a time for every season. A time to live and a time to die. The man in the khaki shorts has lived a long full life. Every day I notice he is a little more tired. He's sleeping peacefully, not fighting the inevitable. I take some comfort in the knowing that he's resting up for his next big adventure.

Wishing for you time enough,
Merry ME

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Final Hour ... NOT

Yesterday started out to be a pretty good day. By late afternoon it had turned depressing, a little scary. Dad woke from a nap, confused. Not drug confused, or sleep confused. More the kind of confusion a man who has always known what to do next might feel when he no longer has a clue what to do next or how to find out.

In a divinely orchestrated moment, I stayed calm and to my surprise and pleasure, un-argumentative. I think my calm voice and gentle demeanor helped me as much as it helped Dad.
I read to him from the Hospice Butterfly book which describes how the dying process works. How his body will begin to shut down. What he might expect. The book has been in the house for 18 months. I've read it more than once. I'm not sure Dad has read it at all. But that's neither here nor there. He got the message when he needed it. After awhile he was visibly calmer. He told me he was content because he knew what was coming. It's like his heart began to accept what his engineer's brain has been paying lip service to - that he's ready to go. In my vernacular, he's still straddling the line between this life and the next, but he is beginning to let go.

This morning, after a night's sleep, he's more like his old self. Like he knows his days are numbered so he has to get busy finishing things - clean the desk, find a flashlight, go through a box that has been under his desk for months. Things that don't seem too important to me, but need to be done to make him feel like he's doing something other than waiting.

Of course there is no way to know for sure, but I think my mom has been hovering around for the last couple of days. I have this feeling every now and then of her presence. One night as I turned down Dad's covers, like she used to do, I felt like she was there next to me. I had an instant desire to straighten the hospital corners on the bed! Last night, Dad looked like he was sound asleep. I was sitting in the chair next to the bed. He suddenly opened his eyes and asked me what was going on, who pulled at his arm. I'd just read in the Butterfly book that people who are dying dying sometimes see things. Do they feel them to? I had no doubt it was my Mom pulling on his arm. Probably she was just pulling up the covers, getting ready to kiss his cheek and whisper in his ear how she's looking forward to seeing him soon.

Maybe I should be sad. I'm sure the day will come when my heart cracks open. It's strange though, I have this sense of peace about me. I see life happening all around me and see my father's final hours as a part of that. To think that he'll be leaving us can't be too dismal when I think of the place he's going.

Wishing for you moments of contentment and acceptance,
Merry ME





Tuesday, July 20, 2010

For Terri,

"People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway."
© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001


Let me begin by saying there is some really good blogging out there this morning. I expected to get up and go right to the sewing machine to finish a quick, biff, bam, boom project that is now going on day 3. However, my habit (as my Dad would say) is to check my email and read my favorite blogs before I really get moving. Some days I'm good at reading, then shutting down the computer and getting on with things. Most days, I'm still sitting there long after the morning hours are gone.

This morning, my friend Terri, wrote about being surrounded by some darkness. It made her cry. And, like it usually does, it made her think. Two themes running through her post today are:

"Good doesn't always win" and "Be the love you want to see around you".

Both statements made me think of Mtr. Theresa. That sweet looking diminutive woman struck me as a person who never got mad or sad or tired. Did she ever cry or cuss or stamp her feet? I'm thinking she did, because even though the Catholic powers that be have beatified her, she was still human and subject to all the human frailties. One of the sayings I think of when I think of Mtr. Theresa is "Do It Anyway." You know, the quote found written on the wall of the children's home in Calcutta. "People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered. Forgive them anyway."

After googling the quote I discovered that, in fact, Mtr. Theresa actually borrowed (and perhaps spiritually tweaked a little) from something written by Dr. Kent Keith. Seems he wrote what he calls the Paradoxical Commandments when he was a sophomore at Harvard.

"In the "Introduction" to his book [The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council] Mr. Keith says, "I laid down the Paradoxical Commandments [to my students] as a challenge. The challenge is to always do what is right and good and true, even if others don't appreciate it. Making the world a better place can't depend on applause. You have to keep striving, no matter what, because if you don't, many of the things that need to be done in our world will never get done."

After that bit of research I keep going back to Terri's post and feeling her sadness, perhaps her disappointment. I can relate to that. I am easily disappointed. In my mind it would be so much better all the way around if ... if everyone could just get along; if right would always trumps wrong; if good always wins out over bad; if love could really conquer all. There comes a time, however, in every Pollyanna's life when she must accept that life is not always easy. Probably not fair either.

That's what makes Dr. Keith's words, and Mtr. Theresa's words, and Terri's words so poignant. Even in the face of life's poopoo piles, we who believe in the resounding triumph of girls with the white hats (with a big pink full-petaled silk rose attached to one side) over adversity, even when it doesn't happen, must continue believing anyway. We must be the love, or change, or goodness, or light, or compassion, or hope we want to see around us.

I'm not one of the greatest thinkers on the planet, but I've come up with a few paradoxical commandments of my own.

Babies and puppies are fussy, demanding, and messy. Have/Adopt them anyway.

Snow is cold and damp and slippery. Make a snowman anyway.

The ocean is full of stingy things, salt that burns your eyes and sharks. Jump and play in the waves anyway.

Fresh artichokes are prickly, not exactly pretty, and troublesome to get to the heart. Eat them anyway, dripping in melted butter or Hollandaise sauce.

Old people can be cranky and gruff. Sit at their feet and listen their stories anyway.

A son passing through town can tell embarrassing tales of growing up that you don't believe really ever happened. Delight in his presence anyway.

Chocolate chip cookies, patchwork quilts, and birthday cards can be tedious to make from scratch. Stir, and sew and sprinkle with glitter anyway.

A book with small print, big words, lots of pages and no pictures can be intimidating. Read it anyway.

You get the idea. Feel free to add to the list.

Wishing for you a day without tears. If they fall anyway, I wish for you a big box of Kleenex.

Merry ME

*More from Dr. Keith: "I had heard lots of excuses, and I wasn't buying them. OK-maybe people are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. So what? You have to love them anyway. And maybe the good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. So what? You have to do good anyway….I know that if I do what is right and good and true, my actions will have their own intrinsic value. I can feel good about who I have helped. I don't need any rewards. In the doing, I have already been rewarded. I am liberated and at peace. In the doing I am rewarded. I already have a sense of meaning and satisfaction that comes from doing a good job. The meaning and satisfaction were mine, whether or not anybody gave me recognition…. I am convinced that no matter how crazy the world is, people can find personal meaning. I am also convinced that the world would make more sense if people lived paradoxical lives, focused on personal meaning instead of recognition and applause. While finding meaning in our own lives, each of us can make the world a better place for all of us."

To learn more about the origin of the Paradoxical Commandments, visit www.paradoxicalcommandments.com.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Epiphanies

I think I've mentioned before that sometime after my mother died my dad traded the king sized bed he'd slept in for nearly 50 years for a single person mechanical bed. He also began to fill up the walls in his room with pictures. The room is actually lopsided, tilts a little, because of the pictures, cartoons, certificates that are on the wall. His bed is turned facing the wall, and the TV. If there were about fifty mattresses and quilts, and no peas to disturb her sleep, it might be the kind of set up a princess would enjoy. Of course the princess would have a different selection of photos. There probably aren't many people who enjoy looking at dam projects, buildings in various states of construction, and the NASA tower affectionately called by the engineers building it, the SLUT. As each day passes I see my Dad getting closer and closer to having to, or wanting to, stay in his "I Love me" room til the end. It's becoming more than a bedroom and more of a haven.

Last week I framed a group shot of Dad and his girls from his birthday in May. I figured he'd just switch it with another photo. I was wrong. No surprise there! The engineer with a brain that actually knows how to use a slide rule, spent enough time lying in bed looking at the wall, that he decided it was time to make some major changes. As has been the case in the last few months, he was the thinker, I was the do-er. Somehow these exercises always start out as a kind of father/daughter adventure but turn on a dime to a squabble to rival that of the Israelis and Palestinians. I haven't yet learned how to keep my mouth shut and let the hammer and nail do the talking.

Before we started on the picture hanging/re-hanging we [okay I] thought the desk should be cleared off because it was piled so high with stuff that a good portion of the wall that could be used for pictures was covered up with junk. However, this project in itself could take a few days. The de-clutterer in me wanted to just trash everything. The right side of Dad's brain was in overdrive wanting to read each piece of paper, receipt, old birthday card and gun magazine. It didn't take long to realize this was going to be a long day. But we dug in anyway.

If I were to describe myself to someone who didn't know me, I'd say I'm an easy going, go-with-the-flow, amenable to suggestion, flexible kind of girl. Others might say I could more accurately be called a control freak. That may be right, but I just don't see myself that way. I feel like I always let the other person be in control. I learned in my 12-step journey that there are different kinds of control. The bossy kind, and the don't rock my boat because I'll freak out kind. Hmmm, I'm not bossy am I?

However, since a lot of my years as a homemaker/decorator I was flying solo while my husband [who today I'm told has a home decorated with a "frog" theme] was out protecting the country and living the Navy "Adventure." I admit that I sat crying in the middle of the wet floor, blaming everyone from the President to John Paul Jones if the toilets or ice maker ran over but I also taught myself how to use a power drill, a jig saw, and a hammer. So what if I put a few extra holes in the wall, I got plant hooks and pictures hung by myself. It never occurred to me to ask for help, even if the man of the house were home. Picture hanging was woman's work.

Thus, working with someone else who has a somewhat different, more linear eye for decorating began to bring out some of my control issues.

Dad: Move that picture there, and that picture there.
ME: I think it would look better if we leave that one there and move the other one over there.
Dad: No, I want that one there.
ME: Okay.

A few minutes later.
Dad: Move that first picture back where it was, then move that one down.
ME: That's what I just said.
Dad: I'm not through yet.
ME: Argh!!!!!!!!!!

Midway through, before I blew my stack I had an epiphany. Slow in coming, but brilliant nonetheless. This was Dad's project, not mine. It's his space and he needs to make it like he wants it. It's not about my decorating style or his control, it's all about making him feel comfortable. It was way past time for me to be quite and let him direct which picture when where.

And here's the kicker. Once I let go of thinking my way was better, the job became way less painful.

Later on, Dad sat at his desk tossing things into a trash pile at my feet that I fed into the shredder. We worked in silence. Dad doesn't have the need for chatter that I have. There's something to be said for silence. There's something to be said for cleaning out, shredding bits and pieces of the past that are no longer needed and keeping just the things that make you smile. There's something to be said for working in tandem.

The recurring theme I find in caring for an old person is how similar it is to caring for a toddler. When a little one is just learning how to do things, a mom, even when she is harried and in a hurry and wants to do this deed so she can move on to the next thing on the list, needs to remember to back off a little and let the child do the task, whatever it is, his/her way. That's how independence is learned. At the other end of the age spectrum, I've learned a caregiver needs to give an old person enough time and space to accomplish some of the same tasks - getting dressed, going potty, fastening his seat belt. Holding on to independence, and what it stands for is just as important as learning it in the first place. It might seem to take forever to get something done, but it is the doing that is important not the time it takes.

Note to self: Slow down. Don't be in such a hurry. There is time enough.

Wishing for you the ability to see through someone else's eyes,
Merry ME

P.S. I just read this on FB. It is from a sermon commentary about tomorrow's Gospel reading, Luke 10:38-42. "The Marthas of the world are so busy doing good and necessary things that sometimes they don’t have time to realize how deeply they themselves stand in need. When Jesus comes, he reminds us that we need the grace and peace he offers. Rather than be distracted by providing service, or being anxious and troubled about many things, we would do well to slow the dance we are doing, to stop, look, and listen." By the Rev. Giovan Venable King

"Rather than be distracted by providing service, or being anxious and troubled about many things, we would do well to slow the dance we are doing, to stop, look, and listen." Is it possible that was written for ME?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

One Tree not Two

"Love is a temporary madness.

It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides.

And when it subsides you have to make a decision.

You have to work out whether your roots have become

so entwined together that it is inconceivable

that you should ever part.

Because this is what love is.

Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement,

it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion.

That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are.

Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,

and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

Your mother and I had it,

we had roots that grew towards each other underground,

and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches

we found that we were one tree and not two."

-St. Augustine


Sweetie had a bit of a surprise windfall this week. (Aren't all windfalls a surprise?) He got his firstsocial security check. I think at first it made him feel a tad bit over the hill, but it didn't take long to decide not to look a gift horse in the mouth. My Sweetie is a very modest man. He likes nice things but knows how to wait for them. He's a good waiter. Unlike another rather impulsive one we might know.

Before the check cleared the bank I'd made a mental list of what I thought he should spend it on. Yeh, there are bills to pay, I know that. But what about new shoes? And some other things I think he's waited long enough for. Mr. Slow and Steady Wins the Race had something else in mind. He was headed to the Outlet mall this afternoon and I tagged along thanks to the help of my neighbor who stayed with dad. I thought we were going to buy three pairs of shoes. Of course, I thought about it from a girl's point of view. Color, style, fashion first. Price and fit second. Clearly that is not the way a man goes about outfitting his feet. My man knew what he wanted, though, and wasn't going to buy the first pair of 10 EEE's he saw.

With just two stores down and about 10 more to go, we passed a jewelry store.

Let's go in, he said. I promised you a ring and I want to see what they have.

Promised me a ring? Did that one fly over my head when I was in a weakened emotional state?

[Most of my regular readers know that Sweetie and I got married a few months ago. It wasn't a shotgun affair. It was, however, made kind of on the spur of the moment after a lot of discussion. At the time we were kind of homeless (akin to be kind of pregnant - all or nothing), and the few dollars we had in our pockets were going to have to sustain us til we figured things out. Our wedding was a private inexpensive affair. We bought simple white gold bands and that was good enough for me.]

If he thought he promised me a ring, who am I to argue! So we went in, and looked at all kind of sparkly things that pretty much made me drool. I'm not real into flashy jewels but I'm not ashamed to ooh and ahh when I see things that glitter. We narrowed the search down to one counter that had some of what I liked and some of what Sweetie liked. Then the fun began. I got to try things on. We discarded the ones that were too narrow, too big, or too expensive. After deciding on the one that seemed to be just right, I suggested we continue looking for his shoes and give this ring buying thing time to sink in. Our over-zealous salesman, Terry, got that a look in his eye like we'd just wasted a half hour of his time. He didn't think we'd be back.

Then, in a moment of desire to be just like Princess Di on a very limited budget, I asked Terry, if he had anything with emeralds, rubies or sapphires. His look changed back to one of hope. It was clear he was working on a commission basis and we were the only ones in the store.
OMG! He happened to have just the thing. In my size! As soon as we saw it, both of us agreed, it was my ring. A thin band studded with sapphires AND diamonds. Now I know why Miss Goldilocks was able to sleep so soundly. It feels quite wonderful to have something that is just right. I must say, I am pleased. I feel like shouting from the rooftop, look what my husband bought for me. Mostly I feel very special.

As we headed to the St. Augustine outlets, Sweetie and I continued discussing the kind of tree he'd like to be. He's leaning towards an Elm but wants to do some more research! Whatever tree he picks, I like the idea of "our roots being so entwined that it is inconceivable that the two of us would ever part." In fact I like the symmetry of the whole day. The ring, the love, the roots, and we just happened to be in St. Augustine. Serendipity? You decide.

Wishing for you sparkly things that make you smile,
Merry ME

P.S. Note to myself, start using some lotion on those crocodile skin hands.