Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Life Is Hard

 Almost everyone says something memorable at some time in their lives.
My paternal grandmother was Irish. She was also a little brusque; I was afraid of her. One never knew what she’d say. Most of the time, I steered clear of her.
But I recently heard a story about something she once said that made me think she must have had a softer side, too, even though I never saw it.
My grandfather died at 63, leaving her alone. She lived to be 92 and never remarried. Once, when she was talking with another family member about women who are left alone after their husbands die, she said, “Life is hard when you no longer have an old man's shoulder to lay your head on.”
Interesting how you think you knew someone from your past so well -- and then find out you didn’t know them at all.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ah, Sweet Mysteries of Life

 Odd, how differently people interpret the events that make up their lives.
One of our daughters sometimes complains that she didn’t have a happy childhood. Her siblings don’t feel the same. During one of her complaining sessions, her sister said to her, “Sounds like you grew up in a different household than I did. I don’t remember things that way at all! I remember many happy times. Actually, we had a lot of fun growing up.”
With that fresh on my mind, I was talking to a friend last night when she broached the same subject. She said one of her sons complains all the time about his miserable childhood, while his brother and sister both recall fun-filled, happy childhood memories.

One wonders how two children can grow up in the same surroundings and come away with different recollections.

My friend, Carol, adds the best example by sharing a remark her mother used to make: “When I was a child,” she said, “I was so embarrassed when I had to get off the school bus in front of my house knowing all my friends would see the chickens walking around in my yard and on the front porch.”
But her sister’s interpretation was quite different. She said, “I loved seeing those chickens on the front porch and in the yard, ‘cause I knew that meant we were gonna have plenty of eggs!”
It’s all a matter of perception, isn’t it? We can either complain about the presence of chickens in our lives or be grateful for the eggs they provide.
And so it goes...

Friday, November 8, 2013

Odds and Ends

I watched the Great Gatsby last night, for the second time in a week. The 1974 version. It’s one of my favorite movies, although I’m always sad for days after watching it. The old music is great! I love What’ll I Do? and When We Were Only Seventeen. I have the book, and have read it, but watching a young Robert Redford in the starring role is much more exciting than sitting with a book in my lap for days. Sam Waterston is superb in the role of Nick Carraway, too!
When I visited my daughter a couple of weeks ago in NC, she loaned me her newest Nicholas Sparks book, The Longest Ride. No doubt, it’ll be a New York Times bestseller, as most of his books are. I read that eleven are on that list, and eight have been major motion pictures. With more than 85 million copies of his books sold, I’d say Nick is definitely doing something right!
But after reading the new one for only a short while, I'm afraid I spoiled it for myself last night.

Read the ending!
I always do that. Can’t help myself. I really don’t have the time to read all that background and description that seems to go on forever, to get to the bottom line, especially when I know already that this particular author’s books all end the same way: the hero or heroine dies! Always!
Got a flu shot two days ago and my arm is still sore, red and swollen, but I’m the envy of my grandchildren. Why?
 ‘Cause I’m sporting a Snoopy Band-aid. Mr. H. has one, too. As our youngest daughter used to say, “We’re two-together!”

And life goes on...


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Best Friends

Her decline was incremental and hard to detect, but, although it took us a while to see it, we now know that she has been sick for a long time. She hid it well. None of the family knew she wasn’t taking her blood pressure pills or the pills the doctor had prescribed for arrhythmia. To her, taking pills every day somehow meant that one was weak and unwell. She wanted to be seen as strong, healthy and aging slowly.

Once, while visiting me, I put the tablets out that I take with my breakfast. Only two were prescription meds. The others were vitamins. But to Aunt Betty, that was a lot of pills, and she told me so.
“I guess I’m healthier than you,” she said. “I don’t take any pills and just look at all those you take!” She’s three months older than I am.
I tried to explain about the vitamins, but she wasn’t buying it. I was still ingesting several pills and, to her, that was a sure sign that I was ailing.
And not as strong as she.
Not too long after her visit, I received a call from another relative telling me that Betty was in the hospital. She was having a pacemaker installed. Also, her doctor had not concealed her anger when she learned that Betty hadn’t been taking her pills and she was released from the hospital with strict orders to take her meds as prescribed.
But in a phone conversation with her a few weeks later, I asked, “Are you taking your blood pressure pills?”
“Sometimes,” was her answer.
“Betty, you know what the doctor said,” I told her. “You must take your meds the way you’re supposed to; you could have a heart attack or stroke.”
“Aw, I’m alright,” she said.
Months passed. Her health declined even further. She couldn’t eat. She lost weight. She had no interest in anything and stayed in bed most of the time. I couldn’t reach her. When I phoned, nobody answered and she never returned my calls.
Other family members began to check on her and found her a mere shadow of her former self. She was thin, unkempt and so weak she couldn’t walk without help.
She wouldn’t hear of moving in with relatives who’d take good care of her. She begged them to let her stay in her own home. And they did.
As I write this, she’s back in the hospital. She had a procedure today called Ablation. I don’t understand it fully but am told it’s to keep the heart rate normal.
Relatives tell me to pray for a miracle, but be prepared for the worst.
Outside my window, clouds scud across a star-filled sky and hover over the dark ridges. For a moment, I return to our childhood, Betty’s and mine, and see two little girls squealing with delight about everything from choosing peppermint sticks from large glass jars at the Company Store and slurping ice cream from cardboard cups with wooden spoons on a steamy July evening – to frolicking around the yard in their underwear when a sudden thunderstorm arises. I watch as they explore the mountains surrounding the coal mining town where one of them lives, pick berries and splash around in a rippling creek on a hot summer day. Together since infancy. Best friends.

A tear runs down my cheek reminding me of the pain in my heart.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Kindle Countdown Deal

Amazon just keeps coming up with great ideas. The Kindle Countdown Deal is the latest and I'm trying it out this weekend. It gives readers a chance to read a book they may have been wanting to read, for a small amount of money. 
Check out the Kindle Countdown Deal for the e-book my Aunt Betty and I coauthored: Unseen Angels. It's only $.99 for the next 20 hours:  If you miss the lowest price of $.99, the next one will be only $1.99. This will be in effect for twenty-four hours before the book reverts to the original list price.