Saturday, June 30, 2007

On Being a Senior Lady in Waiting

Originally uploaded by podso

IT IS ALL ABOUT THE HANDS. When I lived in Africa, there were times when I forgot my skin was white. I was so surrounded by Africans in my daily life that I would forget ... until I saw my hands, such as when I paid for food in the market. It would startle me just a bit and I would remember that yes, I was white.

So now along came the privilege to stand up with my niece at her marriage to wonderful Andres. Could I do it graciously and gracefully? For starters, as I started down the aisle feeling quite casual and confident on the arm of a young father of two, I caught my heel on the white runner. I recovered okay and probably no one but the wedding director and a few back row folks noticed. Secondly, I found it hard at my age to stand still for 35 minutes. I swayed and actually caught myself from falling over during the prayer, where upon I decided to keep my eyes open to maintain my balance. But for the most part, I totally forgot I was the age of the rest of the wedding party's mothers ... and it all felt quite normal.

Until, that is, I saw my hands. Age spots, veins and wrinkles ... and remembered with a start that I was not all that young anymore. But I learned later that Spouse asked around for the name of the lovely, mature bridesmatron, wanting to ask her out on a date. (What a guy!)

It all was great fun. And many wonderful memories were packaged up during all the festivities that went on during the wedding week.

Bonnie said: "I loved reading this and it made me teary! Can't wait to see the photos. Glad you didn't fall over! My nephew did , as a teen, in my brother's wedding. The heat outside and no food helped with that fall. The wedding stopped for a moment and then went on as he was taken to get something cool to drink."

bridal beauty

Originally uploaded by podso

Simply Roses

simply roses
Originally uploaded by podso

~ William Carlos Williams

There was great beauty in my niece's wedding. First and foremost was the lovely radiance of the bride herself. There is no one quite as beautiful as a bride as she prepares to meet her bridegroom. Then everyone else was beautiful--dressed in wedding finery and being together as family and friends to celebrate such an occasion. But the icing on the cake (no pun intended), was the roses. The gorgeous colors in the bridesmaids' and bride's bouquets topped the wedding cake, and adorned the church. They were a feast for the eyes everywhere one turned. Simply put, simply roses.

As Couple Honeymoons, Missing Wedding License Hides Up On Lift at Andy’s Auto Repair

Originally uploaded by podso

This is a pretty funny headline, but it's the truth. What a panic set in a day or two after the wedding when it was time to mail the marriage license. Why the minister didn't do so is a mystery to us, but it was given to the bride's family to take care of. Naturally times were stressful and busy with people coming and going as well as bubbles to blow as the couple ran to their car.

So, panic set in when Monday rolled around and it was time to post the special missive. Just where did it go? Didn't one give it to another for safe keeping? And so the questions went. Before too much time had passed, it was found. Yes, in a vehicle in for repairs, and yes, way up on Andy's lift (well, the "dish" was brought down for the search.) Next stop after Andy's? The post office. Meanwhile the bride and groom blissfully honeymooned, unaware that the legality of it all was temporarily missing!

Originally uploaded by podso

bridal brunch

bridal brunch
Originally uploaded by podso

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pain Management

a friend indeed
Originally uploaded by podso.
Two weeks ago, when Spouse and I were back in his hometown for his sister's funeral, we observed an amazing thing. Community. His sister's kids were pretty tied down in the evenings caring for her, so, instead of going out, their friends came to them. The old house became a gathering place and friends were just as much at home in this house as their own. They called Spouse's sister "Mom" or "Mama" and it seems they all had a part in taking care of her. Her hospital bed was positioned to see the door and she could observe the comings and goings and be a part of the kids' lives. Remarkable.

These kids, growing up in a small town, have been together since kindergarten. Not many move in or out of this town, so the friendships are stable and they know each other very well. We watched as they cared for the brother and sister who had just lost their second parent. They helped in the house, they worked on photos for the funeral, they seemed to know where everything was. But most important, they were just there. They just came and hung out. I got them talking about memories of "Mom" and the stories flew...funny and sad, with smiles and tears.

I realized how much they were helping with the pain of loss. No special words or deeds––they were just there. Helping to manage the pain.

House Holds

no holds
Originally uploaded by podso.
Our dear friends are downsizing, leaving the house they raised their kids in for something smaller and closer to work. Twenty-one years ago when we moved our families to this fair city together, we hunted for houses at the same time. We saw theirs first, loved it, but decided it was not right for us. They bought it, and we bought ours in an adjoining neighborhood. Our kids grew up together, built forts in their back yard, made sleeping tents for overnights, etc. We all have an emotional attachment to their house, as most likely do others who frequent their wonderful hospitality as well.

We were hanging out last night, admiring the gleam of all they did to ready the house for selling, when the call came, finalizing a sale after just two days on the market. How very cool we "happened" to be there for this significant moment. Tears flowed in gratitude to God for His affirmation on their plans, and then flowed in sadness, realizing the house was really going to leave their hands. Our kids are sad, their kids are sad, we all are sad, nostalgic for the many memories over these 21 years.

When the new, young family moves in, if they listen carefully, the walls will have many stories to tell. Houses are like that...the keepers of family secrets, sorrows, joys, celebrations ... When we drive by our childhood homes, memories flood into our minds and hearts ... but no holding on allowed.

It's time for our friends to move on. May they find a house with much character and some trees to shade their new memories.
A comment from Sarah W.: "I do hope that they had a "Fathers Day Choir" in heaven today. My dad would have been there with your dad singing in it! Thank you for the words about your dad. He was a special one."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

Originally uploaded by podso.
Two years ago I scooped up the family pictures I had taped to my father's care center room walls and arranged them on a bulletin board. I trimmed it in blue and presented it to him for Father's Day. Little did I know a month later he would not be with us, and that he was already gravely ill with the sickness that would spiral him to death.

But that day the light in my father's eyes let me know his appreciation. With his fading, husky voice he would tell me names of those pictured, even though I know he would rather not speak at all––he was just humoring me. What a gift to us that, even as Alzheimer's robbed him of his fully functioning mind, Daddy never stopped recognizing his loved ones.

The bulletin board now hangs inside a utility room door in my mom's apartment. Not a bad place, really, for when she opens the door (which is often) she sees all of us greeting her at once. A full display of smiles, ready for showing off.

I miss my dad today. I miss his handsome smile, his wit and humor, his godly wisdom, and his refinement and gentleman-ly-ness. I miss the way he cared for my mom and always looked out for her. I miss him coming into my house and saying, "There's my book." He always found his childhood book, Little Men, on our bookcase, and would pull it out and read a page or two. My dad was able to pick up a book, read from the middle somewhere and always enjoy it!

Today the men in our church became a great choir of voices as they sang three great hymns together. What a magnificent sound. I can't help but think of my dad today, in heaven with his father and brothers, and his Heavenly Father. Maybe they also had a Father's Day Choir.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

random thoughts

back of the envelope
Originally uploaded by podso.
OUT OF THE MOUTH OF ... my physical therapist ... came a firm reminder this morning of why God allows suffering, what I can do with it, and that I need to avoid bitterness. I don't even know if she believes the way I do, but she sure was a voice from God on a morning after a night filled with fear. With that under my belt we headed for yet another cardiology appointment and found some reassuring news, as well as obtained a miracle earlier appointment booking with the next guy to see. God is good all the time. It's amazing what some good news can do for your outlook, even when you try to be faithful in your trust and peace ... good news is just such a boost!

A RAINY AFTERNOON OF TEA, talk and making cards at Bonifice's was a soul nourisher ... while the rain nourished our parched earth. There I learned that I am not the only one who did not know what was for dinner tonight. All my married life I've wished for organized weeks of menus, but the times that happened over these (wondrous) 36 years probably could be counted on one hand. And I thought I was the only unorganized one. How comforting. And then as I faced finding supper at super walmart on the way home, I found several other friends doing the same ... and we all met in the same (cereal) aisle! We here in this large metropolis, at least in my circle of friends, call such meetings a "Mitford Moment."

Monday, June 11, 2007

not flamingos
Originally uploaded by podso.
Since I seem to be attracted to rows of chairs, I thought I'd post this image from a place where it's best not to arrive hungry.

Famous Quotations

a Sundae drive
Originally uploaded by podso.
We all love quotes (especially Boniface.) Here's one by the nonfamous h.buckingham: "The best time to eat ice cream is when you're not hungry."

A Beautiful Moment

Originally uploaded by podso.
In a little white church called Hope in a country town nestled along the winding Delaware River, I experienced a beautiful moment ... possibly one of the most lovely, even in spite of its deep sadness. Dear Spouse stood on the tiny platform surrounded by flowers in honor of his sister's memory, the landscape of color trimmed by the glow of the sun through stained glass windows. Intermingled throughout the flowers were photos of Joyce from her childhood, and from her life as a mother, wife, and sister.

With his voice husky, and succumbing at times to emotion, Spouse gave tribute to his sister. A photo of them as children was adjacent to his elbow as he spoke of their painful childhood and her many years of suffering, bedridden, with multiple sclerosis. It was as if Spouse wrapped up all the suffering in a package of God's grace, and laid it on an altar, giving God all the glory for His faithfulness to them through the years. There was a deep sense of God's presence in the stillness of those moments––his quiet voice interrupted only by sounds of sniffling from the pews. The prayers of those praying for this time were almost tangible as God met us and intertwined dear Spouse's words with those that followed from the 86 year-old minister's message on suffering.

There is good and bad to small town living. But when a time like this comes along––when you are surrounded by people who have watched you grow up and remember it all, and you can tell the story of God's role as a loving Father to you, well then, yes, it is a very beautiful moment. As indeed this was.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Within Her Reach

Jane Austen
Originally uploaded by podso.
Someone who knows me well, sent this to me.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Transformed at the Post Office

what you get at the PO
Originally uploaded by podso.
...For Six Cents

I needed to mail a letter to Australia. I stuck an 84-cent stamp on but knew it needed more after the postal increase, so made my way to the post office. I looked in vain for some notice about postage increase numbers. If I knew the amount I could use the machine to buy the addtional postage. And of course the line was long, but I joined it. It's a pretty uptight place and dead silent, so I didn't have the nerve to force my way to a window to ask the simple question. Most likely it would not have been simple as there would be a discussion about the weight of the letter.

As I waited in line I was simply sizzling inside, fussing to myself about such a huge waste of time for one letter.

Halt! "Remember," I asked myself, "the times when I was in the habit of considering such lines and other unexpected 'wastes of time' as unclaimed opportunities?" It's all in the attitude, and I reprimanded myself. And then my eyes and ears opened wide. The music playing in the background became a melody. I studied the people around me. Did the woman two ahead of me pay a high price for her hair highlights, and did she know it was time to refresh the color? The heavy set weather-beaten man at the counter sounded so irritated that something wasn't working right. I wondered what all these things were that people were taking care few were simply buying stamps or mailing packages.

I soon realized that I was relaxed and enjoying the time to look around and study people. I thought maybe I should spend some time praying, when the line moved quickly and I found myself at the counter. The lady charged me six cents while she excitedly showed me the new 90 cent overseas stamp. Just arrived that morning.

Will I ever learn? What a difference in my attitude and countenance as I sailed out of the P.O. ... not frustrated and angry, but actually a bit refreshed! And I only spent six cents for this lesson!
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