Do You Believe in a “Chosen Day?”


Before the ringer on the avocado wall phone rang, I felt my father’s presence. On the other end, his shaky voice crackled and choked with words, rehearsed. Finally, he simply said, “Grandma’s, gone.”

What could I say to lessen his pain? “I’m so sorry, Dad.” My father was my Grandmother’s only son, the sixth of seven children. Although I did not say it then, I remember thinking she chose that particular day to meet God in heaven. It happened to be Good Friday of that year, the perfect time for her to go. I believe she knew it so.

My earliest memories of Grandma are visiting her in a spotless abode. It was a considered a ‘salt-box’ house https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saltbox, set in a quiet neighborhood on a clean and cozy city block. I remember the bedroom of Grandma’s house as being kind of sanctuary where fancy bottles of rose-water sat on a mirrored tray atop her vanity table. It was to be respected, and never entered without permission. An unspoken rule. My father was born in that very room on Christmas Day in 1933.

Clean and smooth cement sidewalks ran in front of a shiny black railing at Grandma’s house. Like monkeys, I remember my brother and I dangling from it to get a better view of the neighbors next door. Children rode fancy bicycles or skipped hand-in-hand on those sidewalks. Early on, I remember Grandma’s beloved house being covered in old black and gray speckles all the way around. Soon the sides were replaced with asphalt shingles, the color of mint-chocolate-chip ice-cream. It stayed that way for years and years….long after she was gone.

My grandmother was a proud Swedish, Lutheran. She went to church every Sunday in a crisp cotton dress and wore a hat to match upon her gray curled head. In the winter, she wore a long felt coat of camel or royal blue with a mesmerizing pin made of fancy colored stones glued into birds on branches. Now and then, she wore a double heart or a half-moon over the sun.

When I was a little girl wearing ruffled dresses with hair to my waist, Grandma dabbed a tiny dip of fluffy Avon cream to each of my wrists. Soon, I smelled like the flowers that grew in her kaleidoscope garden. Sometimes, I’d pest her until she let me try on her shiny black shoes, the ones with tiny heels and long laces… just for fun. On Sundays, if I sat quietly next to her in church she taught me to sing, “Lu-Lu” when the music played. I was still too young to read the words.

My Grandmother never learned to drive a car. My father drove her to church each and every Sunday, usually scooping her up from the curb a bit late. Our phone rang three or four times before my father together with five children rushed through our waiting back door. Racing to pick her up, Grandma will forever be in my mind, standing at the curb in front of her saltbox home. Even now, I see her there in later years, looking tiny, rocking impatiently to and fro. She’s holding a smooth black pocketbook. She closes the shiny golden clasp, making a clicking sound. Barely stopping by the curb, my dad swings open the door, as if we are driving a getaway car. There’s not a second to spare before my Grandma’s beloved church sermon begins.

Afterward, we’d take Grandma home, where the tradition was to go inside for a dollop of chunky applesauce served in dainty china bowls. On the side were freshly baked molasses cookies set on matching flowered plates. She’d wait on us hand and foot, only sitting to rest after pouring a few cold glasses of milk. Then, she’d excitedly tell us of her daily plans. Gardening, baking or writing personal letters on perfumed stationery, perhaps?

After I grew up and went to college, my grandmother began to forget things. Her old-fashioned stove of white was left burning too long or important house keys became lost in a sugar bowl without the lid. Soon, it was too dangerous to let Grandma live alone. Doctors didn’t have an exact diagnosis many years ago, but today I have no doubt that Grandma lived with Alzheimer’s disease, a Chronic Condition stealing the brain of memory and more. Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive disease. There is no cure, but today help is available that wasn’t an option for my grandmother. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp  

Two weeks after I gave birth to my first son, I took him to meet his great-grandmother in the sparkling snow of Michigan. For a moment, Grandma had a bit of recognition. Cradling my newborn, I knelt to introduce her to my child. “Would you like to hold him?” Her dull, blue eyes suddenly lit with excitement. Placing him carefully in her arms, she stared at him with love renewed. “Oooohhh, look at his beautiful eyes,” she said, over and over and over again. I snapped a few pictures then. They are the only photographs that I have of my son with his great-grandmother. She was happy in those brief moments, and I’ll cherish them forever. Two weeks later she passed away.

On her chosen day….

Hugh’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Week 23-Season


Well, I’ve never taken part in a photo challenge before, but here goes. Flower Power! *photographs copyright kimgosselin

https://hughsviewsandnews.com/2016/04/26/hughs-weekly-photo-challenge-week-23-season/

Our good friend Hugh Roberts, of https://hughsviewsandnews.com, always sets the bar high. Never-the-less, I’m giving it a go. Most of you have probably seen these photographs since I’m enthralled with flowers and nature. Still, I beg of you not to be bored and ask you to please take another look.

This sunflower is one of my favorite pictures ever snapped with a trusty I-Phone 6.flower single yellow daisy zoom awesome

Of course, the bright pink flower below started speaking to me the moment I spotted her from the corner of my eye. Bees buzzed all around her until the perfect moment when I was able to capture them both.flower bee botanical

 

And, a menagerie of all the rest. It was a perfect day spent at the St. Louis Botanical Gardens. Each and every time, there is something beautiful to see!

We Are Family


Feeling a bit like I’ve been shot through a wind tunnel or perhaps lived through an episode of the old Twilight Zone series, I am here in my office today. Hoping to catch up, but knowing better. My mind is spent. The last few days have been a rollercoaster ride.

Last Friday, I flew from my St. Louis home to attend my father’s wedding celebration in Phoenix. He was married on March 11, discovering 16 days later in a sterile Emergency Room that his bride’s body was riddled with cancer. Only a few hours earlier that day, I had called them both to wish them, “Happy Easter.”

My father and his wife, Eileen planned a wedding celebration before her diagnosis of cancer. Close family and friends had been invited. The room was reserved. Their favorite one-man-band was all set to play and sing, and the food was carefully chosen and ordered. Together, they decided the party was going to take place, regardless. It gave them hope, something to look forward to.  A goal in the future. Eileen had started treatment and was feeling pretty good. Things seemed optimistic going into the weekend of the party.

My father’s only living sibling flew in from Michigan to surprise him. My husband and I picked her up from the airport and arranged for her to stay with us at the same hotel. Upon landing in Phoenix there was a voicemail telling me that my father was on his way to ER with Eileen. And so, the rollercoaster ride began. Emotions ran high for everyone.

The next day, we were able to see my father and Eileen’s new little house for the very first time. She was resting in a chair near the patio. A card table and two chairs were placed near the open screen door. Sun was shining, cactuses were blooming and grasses were green in between desert coral sands. Their dog, a miniature collie never left Eileen side.

In the end, Eileen was too weak to attend her much-anticipated wedding celebration. My father came for a few minutes, just long enough to make a brief speech, thanking everyone for coming. He spoke for a minute or two before breaking down. This father of mine, the strongest man I’ve ever known.

And, so under the twinkling stars of an Arizona desert sky, a one-man-band played like an orchestra last Saturday night. Chicken and vegetables were served with pink, prime rib of beef. A beautiful rolling dessert cart passed, overflowing with white wedding cake, Bride and Groom decorated cake pops, together with pastel powdered sugar cookies placed in fluted paper tin cups.

For several hours, drinks colored of the desert filled fancy glasses and flowed freely while people danced under a golden moon before the last song of the evening was sung. Suddenly, every paver cemented on the patio dance floor was filled. People put their hands together high in the dark blue sky, clapping them in unison to, “We Are Family.”

*The next day, Eileen did feel rested enough to join everyone for a BBQ hosted by her daughter. Truly, a nice family gathering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breathe Freely


http://www.lung.org/

Raindrops are clinging to the outside window screens of my turret office space. Looking like itty-bitty bubbles, whatever is left drips to nowhere land. Falling between white window panes behind my writing desk, I wonder what happens when they plop to the ground. Do they make silent sounds that only God can hear?

A loud thunderstorm crashed over and above my house last night. The dog shook to wake me up. He hid under the safety of bed covers, fearing what might come next. Getting up to glance between wooden blinds, ancient mottled trees swayed through nature’s bit of forest land. Their long limbs bent far to the left, then further to the right. Swooning so, they nearly touched the budding ground.

That’s when I heard it. An eerie whistling sound swishing through branches on the hill. Raindrops fell fast and hard, like cold tears from heaven. I felt shaken then, much like my dog hiding under blankets. The noise reminded me of the first time I heard ‘whistling’ from my toddler’s accordion chest. Much harder for my little one to breathe out than it was for him to breathe in. A term called wheezing.

Within minutes, a rushing box of red metal on four rubber tires raced my tender treasure to the hospital where he was put in an oxygen tent. Dressed in a small cotton gown printed in teddy bears of green, he was afraid and nearly blue. Finally, he began to breathe freely. The simple act of taking a breath. Not only breathing in but breathing out. In…and…out. “A.S.T.H.M.A,” the doctor with authority, pronounced.

After a few hours in the emergency room, my baby could go home. There, I cradled him in my arms. Not wanting to let go, I delicately brushed wisps of damp curls to the side of his forehead with the tips of grateful fingers. Thanks to God, he slept peacefully then.

Breathing freely…OUT as well as IN.

frameimage(4)

Anticipation


I’ve covered my eyes

Just like you said

We’re counting together

One, two, three,

So excited to see

What is waiting for me…

It’s a B.I.G. surprise!

Now, deep inside my belly so small

Are butterflies that tingle 

With a dragonfly here

And, a bumblebee there

Goosebumps prickle my arm

Do you see little bumps popping up?

No, I can’t stand still

I’m wiggling ’round

Dancing, dancing….

Gritting my teeth, and holding my breath

Time’s running out, I’m growing up

I’ve got to know

Oh, please let me see

What is waiting for me?

FullSizeRender (53)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love 146 ~ Update #2


https://randieross.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/love-146-update-2/

A heart warming post of a mother on a mission to help stop Human Sex Trafficking. I was appalled to learn my home of, St. Louis is ranked in the top 20 USA cities for this ugliness. Please join in helping to save innocent children who have no voices when stolen off the streets. Thank you.

Glitter In The Ashes

12974498_991801127579187_2283801450405787908_n

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you may have read how I have been walking alongside a team of wonderful people on team Love Wins, and we have been walking 146 miles in 46 days to help the efforts of Love 146 to end child trafficking. We have 5 days left and I was able to finish my 146 miles in 36 days!  I am still walking, and am at 154 miles as of today.  This issue of child trafficking weighs so heavy on my heart.  It hurts to know that these innocent kids don’t have a choice, and I am so honored that I have resources and abilities to spread the word that this needs to stop.  I am blessed that I have an amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing  husband who supports my efforts, and amazing friends who have joined in to walk with me and pray…

View original post 489 more words

A Room With The Perfect View


http://www.mowildlife.org/

It’s early and quiet here, barely the birds are chirping yet. No one moves about the house, not even my Doodle dog. To the east, the sun is rising in painted chalk colors of corals and pinks against the blues of aqua. A pine branch brushes against my office window pane, startling me. Ooooh, I see the faint fluttering of robin wings! Suddenly, they take a flight to the right, gathering twigs of nearby trees. I’m in a room with the perfect view!

Such a sight reminded me of a long-ago spring when my children were young. They’d go off to school before I washed dishes at a green pepper sink beneath my kitchen window. To the left was a wooden door made of eight panes of glass. It led to a lovely covered patio where given the chance, I read a chapter from a cloth-covered book, sipped crushed iced tea or snuck a nap before the kids awakened me.

Under the covered patio sat a natural rattan chair next to a potted plant of bright red geraniums. Such a contrast the two colors were, the beige of the chair next to the radiant red of blazing flowers. It looked like a picture from, Better Homes and Gardens. I used to tender the plant like another child, carefully watering it while plucking curled leaves from thriving ones, afraid they’d suck precious life away from the others.

One morning, two robins flew back and forth between the blue of the sky and my precious red geranium. They carried twigs and bits of cloth between their beaks. Building a nest, I surmised. What to do? If I did not interfere, my treasured plant might die…if I did, where would their featherless babies be born?

Motherly instincts gave in, allowing the birds to continue. Before long, I tip-toed to the nest nearly every day, discovering yet another egg of robin blue safe within its refuge of brown twigs, twine, and mud. Occasionally, I’d catch the mother sitting there, looking at me as if to say, “Who are YOU?” In the beginning, she flew away. In the end, she let me stay.

It wasn’t long before I heard the squawking of baby chicks from my window screen. Both Mother and Father robins took turns feeding their naked newborns who were barely able to lift bald heads or stretch wrinkled necks. When not pecking for worms, Mother Bird sat on top, keeping her featherless young perfectly warm.

The babies grew quickly with luck on my side! Nature hadn’t taught them to fear me. I used to visit them often, stopping by to say, “Hello,” or to tell them of my day. I even coddled soft feathers with a tip of my finger after their mother flew away. The Wildlife Rescue Center had told me it’s a “Myth” that birds can smell. I brought them no harm and was careful in every way. Soon, I found myself attached to the growing balls of feathered fluff. They were miracles to me, teaching me wonders never found in a book.

Eventually, the day came when Mother Bird taught her babies how to fly and leave their nest. I saw them from my window. Yes, I had a room with the perfect view. One by one, each feathered friend stepped on the edge of my geranium plant, using it as a perch. Flapping golden wings lit by the sun, in winds that only God can kiss, they fought to stay in the air. Some fell slightly before floating back up like miniature biscuit colored balloons. Up, up, up into the sky. Squinting, I saw patches of orange-red breasts flying toward heaven. Wistfully, I waved, “Good-bye.”

Turning to save what was left of red flowers and yellow leaves, I saw one last little bird perched, afraid to take the plunge. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, wanting him to stay, yet knowing he too, must leave the nest. In the distance, his family called to him. It was as if they cheered him on. “Come’on, you can do it, we’re here waiting for you!” With that, he flapped his wings fast and hard, jumping off into the unknown while I cried my eyes out.

The next spring I purchased another geranium plant, hoping again to have a room with the perfect view…..

 

*Photography courtesy of Google Chrome

Advice for Caregivers: How to Know if Your Senior Loved One is Depressed – By Jim Vogel


https://kindnessblog.com/2016/04/08/advice-for-caregivers-how-to-know-if-your-senior-loved-one-is-depressed-by-jim-vogel/Important facts to know about Depression in Seniors written by, Jim Vogel at the Kindness Blog.

Kindness Blog

Depression is an illness affecting the body, mood, thoughts, sleep, and more. While we may think that it is normal for seniors to feel the blues, it is not.

Depression is a mental health issue that should be diagnosed and treated in seniors, just as it is for younger people. Because depression affects approximately seven million Americans age 65 and older, it is critical that caregivers know the signs and symptoms of depression in the elderly and get their senior loved ones the help they deserve.

Certain Groups of Seniors are at a Higher Risk of Being Depressed

Depression in seniors often goes unrecognized or mistaken for another condition. But, caregivers are in a better position of being able to know if their senior loved one is depressed if they know which seniors are at a higher risk of being depressed.

If your loved one resides in the hospital, receives…

View original post 666 more words