I said, “Goodbye” to a friend today. I’m planning to go back after the weekend, but you never know.
She’s had a rough life: full of physical illness, childhood trauma, loss of a child shortly after birth, divorce, and the ravages of age. She’s less than three months away from her 87th birthday. Her current state of health is dismal and the family’s been told it’s only a matter of three or four weeks. She agreed to enter hospice the day before yesterday. For the moment she’s still in her own home, with a nurse checking on her daily, and her son and daughter taking turns staying with her.
This morning was a fairly typical beginning of the week. I’m looking to get organized for the next seven days, and I’m brimming with insights.
1. I’ve Become My Father – No lie, I remember when I was much younger, I saw my father entering into “old fogeyness” (if that’s not a word it should be!) It seemed to me he railed against everything new and, in my opinion, exciting. Whereas all my life we’d enjoyed the same music, now he thought Elvis Presley was too loud and vulgar. Not only that, but his conversations were peppered with phrases like, “Well when I was young . . .”; “In my day we were more . . . ” and similar observations. I think he would love being here now to see Continue reading Monday Observations→
Not many, really. When your oxygen supply is cut off panic sets in. Then, depending on what’s preventing you from taking a breath of air, you consider what you can do to change things.
When little kids want to punish their parents, they sometimes hold their breath. Fortunately most parents know that the little buggers will eventually let go and breathe on their own. Most children don’t try that tactic after they figure out that, 1) it’s uncomfortable, and 2) they really can’t keep it up long enough to make it an effective tool of persuasion.
Every family needs a good dog, don’t they? That’s what I’ve heard anyway. I’ve had a few dogs in my day and loved every one of them madly. Had better luck with some than with others. These days, we aren’t set up in our location to house a dog, much to my dismay.
My son-in-law’s brother has a beautiful female Border Collie cross who, it seems keeps getting herself in the family way. Last year, two of the babies came home with Paula and Danny. Those precious babies are now a year old, and weigh 65 and 55 pounds respectively. I had the opportunity to help Paula walk them last weekend. I learned something very important: Even the 55 pound female can drag me wherever Continue reading How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?→
Have you ever considered writing your life story? I don’t necessarily mean for sale and publication, although there are many people doing just that these days. I’m thinking more of what the process might mean to family after you’re gone.
A dear friend of mine volunteers for a hospice group, and one of her duties is recording life stories for hospice patients. These people have reached the point in their lives when they know their time on earth is limited. Often they may have only a matter of days or even hours Continue reading Don’t Waste An Opportunity→
When I was about three years old I had a toy telephone. I talked long and frequently on that thing every day. My mother thought it was cute and took the photo you see here. She marveled at my propensity for being so earnest in carrying out these one-sided, make-believe conversations. What little kid hasn’t watched their parents and other relatives actively engaged in lively conversation on the telephone. Since they can only hear one side of the conversation, they naturally assume it to be a one-person activity.
In 1942 when I was three, most small towns in Texas were “dry,” and we lived in one. This meant that liquor was not sold in our town, and, in theory, drinking the evil brew was effectively curtailed. As always, there were ways around this situation. You could purchase booze in areas close by which were not “dry” and transport it back to your home, and this is how people who liked a little nip occasionally handled this mild inconvenience. But most of the residents were (on the surface at least) teetotalers.My parents were both very young at that time. Dad was only 22 and Mom was 23, and they frequently had friends over to our apartment for an evening of socializing and beverage consumption. I was usually up and mingling with the guests during at least part of these evenings (there was, after all, no television in those days.) Plus, I had many relatives back in Fort Worth, which was not dry, and they all enjoyed a cocktail or a beer every now and then. So, to me, social drinking was a normal component of a party.My Mom worked hard to get to know the townspeople and make friends. During the time we lived there, she was able to stay home and be a housewife, so it was important to meet people and establish relationships. A few months after we arrived, Continue reading How Dry I Am→
Most parents have experienced some embarrassing moments, thanks to their offspring. The tiny tots have a tendency to throw tantrums and tell family secrets. Sometimes, in their childish innocence, they make comments in front of strangers that can reduce the parent to red-faced, squirming despair. It’s just one of life’s little moments and you pray for the strength to walk away with some dignity. At such times, your thoughts turn to the hope that someday, they too, will be parents and have their turn.But my child didn’t have to wait that long. She had her mother to do the honors. Without deliberate malice or forethought, I began paying her back when she was about eleven.I’ve had a slight hearing impairment for many years, and I sometimes hear things “funny”. So if I hear something that sounds strangely out-of-place, I repeat it to get clarification and it usually gives people a chuckle. When my daughter, Paula, was eleven, she didn’t find much humor in the way I heard things. One day we were shopping for school clothes and she was showing me a shirt she found. What she actually said was, “Look, seams inside out!” But I repeated back to her what I thought she said, which came out Continue reading Embarrassing Your Child – Advice From an Expert→
Anyone who has been part of a family with more than one child can attest to the fact that the younger children often reach adulthood due to the benevolence of the older ones. Of course, if you personally happen to be a younger birth-order child, you might not agree with me. But I know older siblings will see it my way.
My baby brother, who is definitely no longer a baby, owes me his life. I was an only child for so long I had grown to accept it as my lot in life. While I sometimes wished for a sister to play with, and to stand with me against the tide of adult family members, I realized there were many advantages to my only child status. By the time I was thirteen years old, I no longer gave it a thought, and I was well entrenched in my identity as the “only” one. Then one drizzly, gray February morning I was home from school because I had a cold. I was sitting at the breakfast table with my mother after my father had gone to work. I was trying to eat my oatmeal and feeling generally “yucky”. My mother got it into her head to cheer me up, so she said, “Well, I have something to tell you that will make you feel better. You are going to get a baby brother Continue reading The Exploits Of David – Part 2→
I can still picture exactly what I was doing and remember how I felt when I heard the squeal of the car’s brakes and my Mother’s horrified scream. It was the summer between my brother’s third and fourth birthdays, and he had just been hit by a car.David was a normal, rambunctious boy. He got into things, no matter how many times you tried to stop him. He never believed it when you told him something was dangerous and he could get hurt. He questioned every rule and defied every order. I’m told many little boys are like that. It’s just we weren’t prepared.My parents were only 18 and 19 when I was born, and I was an only child for fourteen years. They took my childhood in stride. They gave orders, I followed them. If I goofed up, there was spanking, scolding, and worst of all Continue reading David The Daredevil→