Day Eleven ~ Missing In Action

31 Days of Aging Grace is still fresh in my mind.  I’ve never written and posted to my blog for 31 days straight.  Well, almost 31 days…

If you look at the list of links during the month of October, day eleven is link-less.

I tried to cover up a bit and glossed over it on day twelve, but the truth is…

… my default of quitting was hard at me that day.

I didn’t think I really could finish the whole month.

Didn’t think I’d have enough to say.

Didn’t think it really mattered if I posted or not.

Discounting the “optional” things I do is a problem.

When it comes to paying bills, or going to work, or cooking or cleaning or being there for my children when they were growing up… that was not optional.  Doing what I do here every day is not either.

Those creative, optional things that I want to do “when I have time”… I set them on the back-burner with ease.  I tell myself its “no big deal”. 

But it is.  Those things are part of who I am.  And meant to be done.

What optional things do you put off while you wait for more time?  Hint from one who knows… more time never comes.  You just must decide to do it.  Yep, you do.

So if I can write here for 31 days, I can commit to finishing a couple of projects I set aside.  No excuses.

There were over 1200 bloggers posting away for those 31 days of October.  I’ll mention them from time to time.  There were two especially meaningful to me…

Gary Moreland: Dot Connector and his series of 31 Days of Connecting the Dots.  He’s fun and easy to read.  He wrote an e-book called Scary Hope.  If you want to be motivated and encouraged to go after that thing you want to do… you need this.

And…

Thirty-One, A Novel – by the writer of the Traveling Lighter blog.  She chose to write a fictional short story of a woman who made simple changes each day over the course of a month.  These changes moved her from a place of loneliness and discouragement to a place of hope.  Beautifully written.

Hmmm… I sense a pattern.  Seem to be drawn to writing that gives hope.

Hope.  We need it.  Fresh every day.

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ Follow the Yellow Brick Road

… or maybe a leaf-strewn yellow line.

And may I say… I’m glad this is the last day of 31 posts!

Thank you to all who read along and “liked” and shared and commented.  I appreciate you.

Only a little to share today….

…getting older isn’t so scary – those ahead of me have set lights along the path.

…God isn’t finished with me yet, because I woke up again this morning.

…Love is an action reflected in how I treat people …not a feeling… I choose it everyday… whether I feel like it or not.

…I’m blessed beyond what I deserve with family and friends.

…Jesus is my anchor.

And the Proverbs 31 woman is my kind of gal… “she laughs with no fear of the future”.

Amen.

Thanks to The Nester for hosting these 31 Days in October.

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ Freedom Flight

I look up alot these days and see…

The blue sky and early dusting of snow as we crossed mountains last week…

To yesterday… what was to be a rainy day, changed heavy grey to open blue.
And the geese are back……..
I remember them from last year.  They arrived here when I did… and I envied their freedom.

I see them a little different now.

They have come and gone and returned again from who knows where.

They are subject to seasons, just as I.  They move with the change of weather, food and shelter.

I spend my season of change in this same spot.

And I am at peace with that.

“Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Matthew 6:26

Linked today with the 31 Day bloggers at The Nester

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ Getting Here from There

This month I’ve talked a lot about the people who came before me… about my children… and what they mean to me, what lessons their lives teach.

So now here I am… and if all goes according to the longevity record of my grandparents, it looks like I’ve lived about 2/3 of my life… which, actually… sounds a little depressing.

What I’d rather focus on is the last third of my life.

…Which also sounds a little depressing.

OK, so here’s what I’m trying to get at.

I notice a lot of older people focus on their past… the “good old days”, “the best of times” or the “worst of times”… and the present seems almost irrelevant.

I’ve noticed myself doing the same thing this past year… probably because it’s been a hard year.  The past has taken on this “magical” glow of perfection.

For example… a favorite memory is loading my boys and all our bikes into the back of the pick-up truck… driving into the small town we lived near and riding bikes on the paved school grounds.

It was simple and fun and truly, a great memory.

But when I look at it a little closer, it was one of the worst times in our lives.

We lived in a trailer… I won’t even give it the courtesy of calling it a mobile home… it was a cramped, icky old trailer into which two adults and four children were stuffed.

The husband and I had lost our shirts and a business, we owed everyone in the world money, it wasn’t a particularly wonderful time in our relationship and I felt like the worst parent in the world because I couldn’t give my kids what I thought they should have.

I mean… when your two youngest children are so excited to get new shoes that they don’t want to get them dirty… and actually sleep with them for two nights … that’s kind of sad.  I actually have a picture of them grinning ear to ear, shoes held up to their faces and then tucked tight into bed!

So that shows me my memory has been quite selective of late.  And that’s not completely bad… no one should dwell on bad.  You’ve got to move on.

It also shows me that no matter what is happening in life, there is good stuff all around.  Sometimes you just have to look or try a little harder to grab it.

So I can enjoy the memory of four sons, a picnic lunch and a couple hours on the Yamhill River… but I can’t live there in my mind.

I don’t want to miss out living today… in the present moment.

I want to be excited about future plans.  And then someday, I can look back at today and see time well spent, and great memories created.

Linked today with The Nester and the 31 Dayers.

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ Rain on Pansies

We had a late summer in the Pacific Northwest.  Days and days of sunshine.  It spoiled me.

It started raining hard the last couple days.  Normally I love the Fall.  But for some reason I feel weighted down… kind of like the rain on my Fall pansies.

Yesterday I meandered… did laundry, ate too much, helped unload our truck, prepared a couple meals, ate too much, looked thru old photos I brought back from California last weekend, worked some on a big project I’ve undertaken, ate too much, missed my family, took some pictures in the rain, and finally… I ate too much.

Clearly the food thing is becoming a pattern that will lead no where good.

So today… I’m going to take a little better care of myself.  And maybe I’ll take some more rainy pictures.  And maybe read a book.  And probably… make a shopping list with [healthy] menu plan… that would be good.

I should probably tone down the political talk show watching.  That also leads no where good.  Plus… I better re-read this post midway thru the day so I don’t forget what I just said.

And as this 31 days of posting winds down… I need to wrap a few things up.  And come to terms with the rain.

It will be here for awhile.

Linked today with The Nester

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ Are We There Yet?

Hey! Are we there yet??

I found out yesterday that after only two full days on the market, my parents’ home sold.  In fact, they had three offers to choose from!

I’m happy for them.  At this stage of life they deserve to have something work out with ease.  And as my mom said in one of my previous posts, “God is so good”.

He is… He has planned good for each of us.  But sometimes… a lot of times… those good things seem so elusive.  They don’t come fast like the sale of my folks’ home.

Sometimes we wait for days, weeks, years… for the answer to a prayer.

Sometimes there are major delays… or the answer isn’t exactly what we were hoping for…

…or we find we’ve been stuck, going nowhere fast and big change needs to happen.

Oh no! Now what’s wrong??

Unfortunately, in those waiting times, my default has been to whine and worry.  I’m learning a better way though… I remind myself of God’s promises.  I recall the good things, the blessings, the lessons learned.  And I remember things like this… that happened to a friend of mine…

She and I went to the same high school, but didn’t know each other back then.  I met her thru an email inviting me to our 40th high school reunion.

Whoaa!  Did you get that?  40th reunion!!!  FORTY!!… (and that was five years ago)…

Anyway,  we were excited to find we only lived a couple of miles from each other, met for lunch and became fast friends.

I found out she had been a single mom for much of her adult life, had struggled thru some big health issues, had big financial issues, just a lot of “issues” going on.  But amazingly, she was, is, one of the most joyful people I’ve ever met.  She loves God, does what she knows to do and trusts Him with the rest.

She lived in a cute little cottage at the time.  One day we took a ride into the hills above her place where there are gorgeous homes.  She dreamed of living in one someday.

Fast forward… she went to the reunion and I did not.  She became re-acquainted with an old school mate… and a couple of years later they were married.

They bought a new home last year… in the hills above her little cottage.  Just like the house she’d always dreamed of.  Kind of a fairy tale ending, no?  Or perhaps, her Heavenly Father was blessing her with the desire of her heart?

I’m learning, as I wait and ponder what is next for me, that it’s not all about me.  It takes awhile, even for God, to move the people and situations into place place for that answer to appear.

When I think of all the good things I long to do for my children, I can’t help but believe He longs to do the same for His.

Please visit The Nester and the 31 Day bloggers… you’ll be glad you did!

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ Voice

The smoke from my neighbor’s chimney, fog laying still on the trees, the sun trying to poke thru… draws me outside in the early morning.

Without a word, the gophers have said the lawn is theirs… we’ve lost the battle for this season anyway.

And the fog… it feels like a blanket.  The sun is saying, “hey! get up!  throw off the covers and start… do something… say something.”

Say something.  But my audible voice rarely does.  It wants to, then it gets tongue-tied and small… rarely heard in a group.  Sometimes… not even heard face to face.

But my writing voice… it’s louder now.  Every day this month I’ve put fingers to keyboard and written.  And the strange thing is… this writing voice seems to demand it now… that I use it every day… while I can remember things… before it’s too late.

Because too late has happened too often.  Life slips by.  Words that need saying aren’t said.  And we only have this one life to say and do and be… all that God intended.

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Today I’m linking with Lisa-Jo Baker and Five Minute Friday… we write for five minutes, no worry about spelling, grammar, editing… just write.

And as always this month of October, I’m linked with The Nester and the 31 Day bloggers.

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ The Grace To Die Well

We entered ICU and his eyes lit up like always when he sees someone he loves… which is just about everybody.

My husband, two youngest and myself, each had a moment with him… a hug… a few words.

The nurse told us he’d been in and out of delirium.  Not to expect much.  But he seemed totally present those few minutes.

He finally told me “honey, you kids go on now… have fun… I’ll be ok”.  And with that his eyes went far away, his hands gestured upward, he spoke words I couldn’t understand.  The nurse said we should go.

I’d never seen death before.  Didn’t know what to expect.

I felt like this would pass… he’d feel better in the morning and then we’d have our usual summer visit.

But it didn’t pass.

They moved him to a private room… out of ICU… off all life support systems.

They told us we could stay with him as much as we wanted.  Visiting hours didn’t apply.

I leaned over, kissed his cheek, told him I loved him… he took my hand.  He squeezed hard.  I was startled… that he was so strong… his hand… big and strong like always. 

Family came and went… early the next morning, so did he.

It was a holy moment…  that moment a soul returns to the Father.

I would tell my mom later it felt like a privilege… to spend that last moment of life with him… a gift.

I’d never seen death before.  Didn’t know what to expect.

Later my youngest son would tell me, “I’m not so afraid to die anymore, mom… because when I get there Papa will be waiting and he’ll say “well, come on in Dan,  we’ve been waiting for you!” and he will hug me”.

The funeral was a simple, outdoor gathering… just the type of thing Papa would like.  A few chairs for local family turned into a standing room only affair, as word spread and friends arrived.

A man I didn’t know, perhaps in his 80s, referred to my grandfather as his “adopted grandpa”.  The ten-year old neighbor boy was there… some left flowers but he left his picture… so Papa would know his buddy from across the street came.

My grandfather… he’d held each of my sons… and they grew up to know and love him.

His whole life was about love… because he had nothing else to give.

I’d never seen death before… but if it had to be, I’m glad it was Papa’s example.  He left the world the same way he lived in it… with graciousness and love… courage and peace…

… all the way… to the end of the race.

linked with The Nester and the 31 Days series of posts.

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ The Day She Called the Cops

One thing God is trying to teach me… to not be afraid of what people think… about what I do and what I say.  He wants me to care more about what He thinks… about what I do and what I say.  I want that too.  But the fear creeps back.  A lot.

Especially with this caregiving role I find myself in.

Over the weekend I was reminded of something that helped me put it in perspective… it was a similar role my mother filled for my grandparents.

Papa never wanted to be a burden.  He told me one day, “honey, just put me out to pasture… throw a little hay over the fence now and then’.  He was kidding of course, but not by much.

Nany was the opposite.  She had no intention of “going to pasture”.  She wanted to stay in her home with her things and do everything she’d always done… even tho it had been years since she’d been able to do much of anything.

My aunt and uncle, mom and dad, did their best to look after her in her own home as long as they could.  Years after Papa died and when they could no longer give her the level of care she needed… arrangements were made to move her.  But the process was no piece of cake!

The final day came… mom and dad arrived to pick up the last odds and ends, the TV set and her.  They were in the process of loading the TV in the back of their van when the police rolled up.

They were told to “put down the tv” and show their ID.  The “female caller” inside had just reported her TV “in process of being stolen”.

After talking to my folks and to Nany, the police realized what was happening… apologized to mom and dad for any embarrassment.  Mom and Dad put the TV back in the house, kissed Nany good-bye and left it total mortification, frustration, and any other “tion” you can think of.

Next morning she called them.  She was ready to go.  She and her tv set made it to assisted living… a day late, but they made it.

I remember at the time feeling so sorry for her.  From 600 miles away I was a wealth of ideas on what mom and dad could have, should have said… what they could have, should have done.

At the time I really had no clue.  I didn’t know how exhausted they were trying to please a person who would not be pleased… I didn’t know how many ideas they’d already tried… I didn’t understand the relationship between them, unique to them.

But I do now.

And I’m sorry, Mom.  Never should have judged you.

31 Days of Aging Grace ~ Why Can’t Things Stay The Way They Were?

This saying goodbye to the way things were… I do not like it… no, not one bit.

I’ve been doing it this past year in my own life.  It’s not easy.  It’s painful.  It requires learning and acceptance and humility.  And I keep asking God, “aren’t I too old for all this new stuff?”

Apparently not.

Now my parents say goodbye to their home… it goes on the market this week.  They used to walk across the street and up three houses to church… where friends gather and activities happen… no more.  They say goodbye to independence… Dad’s not supposed to drive… and he’s none to happy about that.

I rented a motel room in order to visit them… and that just felt.  plain.  weird.

But they are safe and comfortable.  Their apartment looks like a miniature version of where they’ve always lived.  And the same two sweet people are inside.

Mom has already made friends, found the craft room, ridden the bus to the mall and dresses up every evening for dinner in the “fancy” dining room.

She’s spunky that way.

Dad isn’t.  She’s worried for him… he wanted things to stay the way they were.

But how can they?  How… when… do you start planning for the day you can’t drive anymore… or climb the ladder to repair the roof… or see well enough to read the ingredients… or get confused on the days and which pill to take when?

Some people think about such things… some people don’t.

Sunday afternoon I took Mom to the store.  She has a right to feel a little overwhelmed, maybe even a little sad… but instead I hear “God is so good”. 

From the moving, to financial arrangements, to the getting rid of “stuff”… “it’s all gone so smooth… He always takes care of us… I know Dad will be ok”.

God is good.

I hope I will remember that… remember to trust Him for wisdom, remember to keep the ears of my heart open to His instruction, and remember to gracefully step back when the time comes… when things can’t stay the way they always were.

  

Linked with The Nester and the 31 Dayers