Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Who'll Take Care of Me?

When I went to the doctor a week ago to follow-up on blood work I’d had a week earlier, how could I possibly know that a few hours later I’d be in a hospital bed getting prepped for surgery? It’s as my good friend once said: “You just never know what’s going to happen.” She looked into my eyes and made that statement ever-so-seriously just a few days before she died.
She’d been taken by surprise, too, when she visited a doctor hoping to find a reason for not feeling well—something that could be fixed—but unfortunately, there was no “fix” for her and she was taken from her loving family much too soon.
I’m grateful that, this time at least, mine was not nearly that serious. But, when you don’t tolerate sickness well – because it’s an inconvenience – anything that takes you away from the way you like to live your life is serious to you.
And so… as I’ve been recovering from my appendectomy this past week, many things have gone through my mind. It was a virtual pity party: Woe is me. I’ll never get through it! Who’ll take care of me? Cook my meals? Do the grocery shopping? Keep the house clean? Do the laundry? How long will it take to get well? I hate being down like this! Whine, whine, whine!
I couldn’t pray. I felt like God wasn’t listening. Sad state. But I knew others were praying for me, and hoped He was hearing their prayers.
Sickness, surgery in particular, not only weakens your body, but also your ability to think straight, I believe. I was convinced that no one cared about me. My husband and children didn’t care. I was miserable and they seemed utterly indifferent. People who’d always called themselves my friends didn’t care either. I felt totally alone! It was a terrible feeling.
But, of course, it was all in my mind as I lay in an unfamiliar weakened state. Everyone, especially Mr. H., has been wonderful! I was well fed and catered to in every possible way and I’m getting stronger every day. I’ll be as good as new in a few days.
But I’ve had a lot of time to think and one question keeps repeating in my mind.
When one is dying, does he/she feel removed from God as I did?  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Flowers Don't Bloom in January, Do They?

With only a week and a half of January left, I’m certain I can hear squeals of delight coming from miles around. It really has been a tedious month. No doubt about it. So many sunless days!

Sometimes gloomy days affect me in a negative way. This afternoon, I was visited by the vivid memory of a family funeral long ago at the end of January. It had been dreary the whole month and snowed a lot - unlike this year. I prefer snow. At least it adds light.

On the day of the funeral, I clearly remember passing huge piles of dirty snow along the sides of the road as the long, black, salt-stained limousine carried our family slowly toward the cemetery. It was silent inside the car.

It’s odd what the mind retains at stressful times. When we got out of the car at the cemetery, I watched as dozens of beautiful flowers were carried inside by funeral home personnel. I thought, Those can’t be real! Flowers don’t bloom in January, do they? It was almost like a dream - a depressing scene that will live in my memory forever – only to repeat on dark days.

My son is already declaring, as he does every year at this time, that spring is almost here. He asked me yesterday if I’d noticed it being light later in the evenings. “Yes,” I fibbed. It makes him happy if I agree. Besides, if I said, “No,” he’d just argue with me.

He gets psyched every year about mid-January and nobody can convince him that there’ll be at least another month and a half of winter before he can expect spring. If he sees even one tiny green shoot coming out of the ground, “It’s spring!” he proclaims. Doesn't matter if there’s an icy rain coming down on his head – it’s spring!

I suppose I have no right to criticize.

Everyone knows I start insisting it’s autumn by mid-August every year.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Good Omen

After a rather gloomy day, both weather-wise and emotionally, it was such a nice surprise this evening when I noticed a rosy glow throughout my house. I ran to a window and looked up at the sky. It was covered with puffy pink clouds – not just one or two, but lots of them, everywhere I looked. It was the brightest sky I’d seen in many days. It made me feel happy.

My mood had been down and this seemed like a good omen—the encouragement I needed.

I've heard it said that clouds are pink just before a snowfall. I suppose this could be true since our weather channel this evening reported snowfall in parts of our state and others close by.

I’m not sure if pink clouds have any significance except for being beautiful, but I do know that everything changed for me today when I saw those puffy pink clouds floating in the evening sky.

No matter how one feels, good or bad, it seems something always shows up to change things. Nothing ever stays the same for very long. 

“True life is lived when tiny changes occur.”  ~Leo Tolstoy 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Are Animals Nicer Than People?

My good friend declares that she likes animals better than people because they're so much nicer! She laughs when she says it but I don’t believe she’s kidding.

She recently told me that her next-door neighbor, an elderly lady who sits on her porch all day most days, never speaks to her. So Tina ignores her, too. However, yesterday, as Tina was leaving for work, the neighbor stood up; addressed my friend as, “Hey!” Then proceeded to tell her to get some weed killer and pour it on the weeds that are growing under the fence between the properties. The lady vowed, “Those are your weeds!”

“She didn’t say ‘would you,’ or ‘do you mind,’ or even ‘will you please,’” Tina said.

“I rest my case," she added; "people are not very nice!” 

I have to admit she does seem to have more than her share of run-ins with people. 

When she and her two small children moved to this small-town neighborhood, it seemed an ideal place to live and raise a couple of kids. And with a fenced back yard, it was great for a couple of dogs, too, which was a “must” for Tina!

But as a single mother, all she had time for was her job, taking care of her children, home and dogs. There was nothing left over for porch-sitting in the evenings as her neighbors did. But when it became apparent Tina wasn’t going to partake of the evening get-togethers, the trouble began. At first, it was just talking behind their hands and pointing like children when they saw her coming and going, but then, it became a little more serious.

One day, her son phoned her at work to tell her that a city policeman had just left. He had questioned the boy because a neighbor had made a report that the small children were being left alone at all hours while their mother was “away.” Fortunately, this 12 year old boy is intelligent beyond his years, and by the time the officer finished talking with him, he was convinced that he was capable of taking care of things, including his 9 year old sister, while their mother was at work. And that was the end of it.

But not for the neighbors.

A short time passed and one day, a woman from animal control came a’knockin’ on my friend’s door. It seems a neighbor had complained about her dogs barking. The thing is, the dogs are in the house about ninety percent of the time, only going out when it’s necessary to answer the “call of nature.”

When Tina told the officer this, the officer smiled and said, “Don’t worry about it. There’s really nothing one can do about dogs barking anyway. It’s what dogs do, after all!” And that was the end of that.

My friend is wondering what will be next. And I’m wondering why people can’t
coexist without always trying to cause trouble?
Hmmm... is it possible she's right? Are animals nicer than people?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I Felt His Presence

I had errands to run. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but sometimes we have to make ourselves do things whether we want to or not. So, with a few words to Mr. H. about dinner and when to expect me back, I was off. Heading west. As I approached the on ramp to the freeway, I felt a little nervous. There was a lot of traffic. But there was no turning back and, like it or not, I was soon in the midst of it.

The past few days had been troubling for me. For starters, it was January. It had been cloudy for days on end and I craved sunshine! Furthermore, news of sickness and death among friends and family seemed endless, and I was depressed. In addition, I wasn't feeling well physically either. I was suffering my usual bout of post holidays stomach and intestinal problems. This has occurred every year for many years because I simply don’t have the willpower to avoid the foods that I know will cause problems.

As I drove, I thought about my father, who used to caution me every January: “Peggy Lou,” he’d say, in the same voice he used when I was five, “you’re going to have to stop eating things that are bad for you!”
“I know, Dad,” I’d moan, “but I love all the holiday foods; it’s so hard to resist.”

Without fail, at this point, he’d chuckle and say, “Well, I guess when it causes enough pain; you’ll stop doing it.” I think he sincerely thought I would.

“Yeah, I guess so,” I’d say, but that was many years ago and it hasn’t happened yet. I suppose it’s time to accept that I’m just a glutton for punishment.

Miles up ahead, a few rays of sunshine penetrated the dark clouds, changing the tops of the trees to a golden hue that warmed my heart and seemed to pull me, like a magnet, in the direction of the light. For a moment, I felt like one of those people you read about having a life-after-death experience; they always report being drawn to a bright light.

With cars buzzing all around me and one of my all-time favorite songs playing on the car radio, suddenly, I had the warm feeling that God was in His Heaven and all was right with the world!

And there in the privacy of my car – with a heart full of contentment – I spoke to God, telling Him what was going on in my life (as if He didn’t already know). I felt His presence and knew everything would be all right.

How quickly things change! When I left home, I was in pain, depressed and fearful of making the trip in heavy traffic. A few rays of sunshine, a little music, and some time alone with God – and all was right again.

The human spirit is a magnificent entity. Just when we think we can stand no more, something significant touches our soul...

And life goes on.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Can You Imagine?

As Mr. H. and I drove home from church last Sunday morning, we passed a couple of other churches that were just dismissing. Watching as people walked to their cars, I said, “Isn't it odd how many women wear pants to church these days? When we were younger, it was unheard of; women often wore pants around the house or grocery shopping – but never, ever to church."

Mr. H. nodded in agreement.

Continuing, I said, “I think it’s nice that people don’t place so much importance on what they wear these days, don’t you?”  He nodded again.

“God doesn't care what we wear,” I said, “as long as we attend church. Pants are especially nice during cold weather. Warmer. More comfortable. You actually see more women in pants nowadays than you do dresses. It has become acceptable to wear them anywhere. Dinners, parties, occasions like weddings, graduations and funerals. I like it!"

I finally stopped talking and, Mr. H., in his tranquil manner, offered his opinion.

“I guess it’s okay,” he said, “as long as things don’t reverse.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, if God doesn't care what we wear, and women always wear pants, I guess it wouldn't be surprising if men started wearing dresses, would it? They’d probably be more comfortable in the summertime. Cooler. What do you think? Can you imagine the men we know wearing dresses? Or me?"

Mr. H. sure knows how to make a point.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Another Alien Surprise

It’s already the fourth day of a brand new year. 2013. I’m still wondering what happened to 2012. Are you?

I’m getting older. The older one gets, the faster time goes. I think it’s the law!

Things keep changing. But one thing stays the same: Each year, when Mr. H. and I dismantle our Christmas tree, we find an ornament we didn’t hang on it when we put it up. We call it, The Alien Ornament.

For several years, it was a mystery. We never knew for sure how it got there. Asking all our children what they knew about it didn’t help. Nobody knew anything. But after acquiring six or seven new ornaments – beautiful ones, I might add – we’ve finally pinpointed the culprits who like to play this little trick on us. Perhaps it’s their way of putting a little excitement into the lives of two aging people; lives which they seem to think have become a little stale. (Little do they know what goes on when they’re not around!)

This year, they thought they were particularly clever. The ornament they blessed us with was a bird. Everyone in the family is aware of my lifelong bird phobia and they find it great fun to play bird pranks on me. When my children were teenagers, I woke up one morning to what looked like a dead bird lying on my pillow. Turned out to be a stuffed one, but I almost broke my neck jumping out of bed as fast as I could while my blood-curdling scream got the attention of several neighbors.

I didn’t even ask who was responsible. They were all punished! It didn’t happen again, but I often found bird feathers in places where they couldn’t be missed and nobody ever knew how they got there!

And so it goes.

This year, as we stripped the tree of its decorations, there it was – a beautiful silver bird sitting on one of the branches. It appeared to be looking right at me! For just a few seconds, my heart beat a little faster, but then common sense took over; I bravely removed the bird, held it in my hand and showed it to Mr. H, “There it is,” I said. “The 2012 Alien Ornament!”

Laughing, we wrapped it carefully and put it away with the rest of the decorations, knowing we’d retrieve it next year and place it on the tree with the other ornaments – both alien and otherwise.

I guess our kids are onto something after all. It doesn’t take a lot to make old folks happy, does it?

Read about other alien ornaments, here and here.