Spring Gifts


So long since I’ve written here……My life has meandered through days and nights, weeks and months. Good and bad. Life and death. Tears of joy and sorrow.

Glorious seasons have nearly passed me by. The sizzling days of last summer slowly f.e.l.l. into an autumn were colored and crispy canopies drifted slowly down from cobalt blue to form crunchy piles of leaves for children to hide or play in. It wasn’t long before powdered sugar doilies sprinkled from puffy gray clouds that hovered above, while grandbabies begged to build lopsided snowmen below.

Finally, we’ve sprung into my favorite brush strokes on earth, where miniature rainbows sprout from the ground beneath feet of bare. Here and there and everywhere. Dart my eyes, cock my head or turn around to catch the beauty of God’s perfect watercolor pictures here and there and everywhere.

Delicate shades leap from tree limbs in powder puffs of pink together with blossom stars of white. The lake of azure near my home breeds new breaths of life. Mallard ducks honk close to shore guarding nests nearby. Birds of several varieties sing in harmony from morning dawn to the glow of moonlight while gathering food for bald babies hidden among the green of pine needles or within the waxiness of safety.

To me, spring is one of the greatest gifts on earth, a season of a budding essence, bringing peace and respite to my soul through the grace of nature.

Many blessings to all on this great Good Friday.

 

Carpe Diem


Although the calendar says, “January,” today’s temperature will top 60 degrees. Yesterday, it was nearly the same with warm winds whispering inspiration through limbs of bare.

Opening a door to the sunroom on the back of my house, scents of mixed seasons seeped through wire screens. Musty leaves floated across blades of wheat colored grass blanketing the ground. In contrast, a lone birch tree of peeling white stood tall and proud among trees bathed in cocoa bark.

Sweet sounds of morning songbirds greeted me as I sat to soak the rare gifts of a winter respite. Suddenly a crow dipped in black ink made his presence known. Caw…caw…caw, he cracked in the silent sky above. I’ve neglected nature’s gift of birds during the last few months. Their songs have been missed by the ear of my soul. Perhaps I was too busy to notice their feathered beauty? My ears and eyes, deaf and blinded by busyness….

Last fall, trees were planted off the patio in the back of my yard. Bradford pear, purple plum, birch and the dark jade of pine. A sweeping willow, long and weeping is waiting until spring. Feeders will dance from boughs and branches. Covered shelters, short and tall will soon house nesting families. 

Before retreating, treats of tweets beckoned me to scan stark limbs. There, a lone robin, his red breast splashing against a sky of gray, sang “Goodbye.”

I shall not miss nature’s beauty in this New Year. Being busy is no longer an excuse. The joy of living here and now is fleeting, with postcard pictures disappearing in seconds.

Seize today for tomorrow is never promised.

 

*photo of robin courtesy of Google Chrome

Hope and Fear


As we near the end of October, the official month of Breast Cancer Awareness, please pause to remember the many woman and men who are affected by this condition. https://siteman.wustl.edu/treatment/cancer-types/breast-cancer/risk-prevention-and-

Breast cancer in America is the most common type of cancer diagnosis, second only to skin cancer, among women. Over the course of their lifetimes, about 1 in 8 will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Among American men, the odds are about 1 in 1,000 of being diagnosed with breast cancer. https://www.bcrfcure.org/breast-cancer-statistics Yet, thanks in part to the October month of Breast Cancer Awareness, education has increased, and research funds have continued to rise allowing improved quality of lives. Today, breast cancer is often treated as a Chronic Condition. Women and men live longer lives and are often cured!

I cannot begin to put myself in the shoes of someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. I don’t know how it feels to stare the unknown devil in the face or to wonder about my tomorrows. But, I do know the fear of the possibility. I know too, how it feels to lose someone to this disease. The sorrow and deep absence of a loved who is no longer with us. The pain and struggle of children whose mother disappears forever.

Many years ago, a friend of mine, a former college roommate was diagnosed at a very young age. Thankfully, she was cured! https://www.bcrfcure.org/ Today, she happily lives and works in the same town she grew up in, the one where she raised her son from toddler to young adulthood. She lives productively, giving back to the community, thankful to be alive each and every day.

In the years between, I’ve brushed the arm or touched the hand of many others who have lived with breast cancer. I saw the fear in the glass of their eyes while feeling hope through the warmth of their skin. With cancer, hope and fear seem to coincide.

Like every woman should, I practice a monthly self-breast exam. Still, I was surprised when my doctor discovered a lump during my last annual physical. It was about the size of a small green pea, she said. The size that rolls around your plate next to roast beef and mashed potatoes during a family dinner. Although I had a normal mammogram a few months earlier, my doctor smiled cautiously while scheduling another.

During the next few weeks, I followed my doctor’s orders by having a second mammogram. The technician performed it before asking the radiologist to do yet another. I was taken into the next room where an ultrasound depicted even better pictures. To my relief, everything was determined to be normal and they sent me on my way.

About a week later, while driving my cell phone rang. The speaker blared from the seat next to me, “Your doctor would like you to see a breast specialist.” Shaken, I pulled into a parking lot where I was able to jot down a name and address. Upon returning to my office, I looked up the doctor’s referral. My computer screen highlighted the words, Cancer Surgeon. Air left the whole of my inside. Quickly, like a bright red balloon floating across a western sky only to land atop a desert green cactus. “P.O.P!”

Sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, I absorbed palatable emotions as each new person stepped through the door or waited for their name to be called aloud. Some women were alone while others held hands of supportive boyfriends or husbands. Arms of chairs were clutched tighter with knuckles turning white. Smiles of strained were seen here or there while ears listened to gentle whispers. Occasionally tired heads lay on soft shoulders for comfort. Arms all around. A sisterhood was felt between women who had never met before. Bonding and empathy. Soon, each one would be pronounced cancer free, or they would begin one of the most difficult journeys of their lives.

Fear and Hope….

*After the “Breast Specialist” examined me and reviewed all of my records, I received fantastic news, “Cancer Free!” Still, I don’t take anything for granted. I will continue to do monthly self-breast exams, see my personal physician regularly, and never miss an annual mammogram screening. They are proven to be one of our best defenses in the world of early breast cancer detection. So if you are a woman, especially over forty, schedule a mammogram today. Please don’t wait until tomorrow.

 

 

Are You Seeking Purpose In Life?


At any given moment, our inner emotions palpitate, leaving us with an ambiance of the unknown, scattered. What is our purpose in life? We may seek joy and fulfillment through random paths, hoping to make positive impacts on the lives of others. A legacy of sorts, lasting long after we are gone. We wish to touch the soul of a single person. One or two, three or four…maybe more. Those who are tall or little ones so very small.

Our earthly map is shrouded, consisting of paths winding round and round, meandering through peaks and valleys, climbing up and down. Or, it may be akin to the sea with waves rolling atop a current, cresting at high tide when all seems on our side. The point is, nothing is black and white, yes or no, wrong or right.

When looking for purpose in life, seek splashes of color scattered among the otherwise mundane. Chances are it’s right before your eyes.

*photos courtesy of Google Chrome

Independent motion – can you help?


Please visit Sue’s blog to read her full post. Try to imagine your life without mobility. Surely we can all help her son to get the word out…or even do more. 🙏🏻

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

What would you give to make a dream come true if you woke to find yourself living a nightmare?

What would you feel if you could never again walk on a beach? Or go out alone in the snow…feel the stillness of a wood or cross a field?

And then, you found a way…

In 2009, my son was a successful young man with a bright future… until he was stabbed through the brain in an unprovoked attack and left for dead in an alley.

He was found almost immediately by passers-by who saved his life. By the time we arrived at the hospital, Nick was being prepared for emergency brain surgery. We were allowed to see him, for a few minutes, to say goodbye. He was not expected to survive…


Over the past couple of years, many in the blogging community have come to know my son and know…

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Oh, What a Wonderful World


Earlier, I began to write on a topic totally different from what you are reading. As I was polishing my words, editing and spell checking, a random melody of What a Wonderful World, quietly began to play from an app recently pressed on my iPhone. A small speaker of silver encased in turquoise blue sat atop the crowded corner of my half-moon desk. Suddenly, my body halted in a burgundy swivel chair. Fingers of ten lifted up, freezing in position. I was utterly still while listening to lyrics strumming from a soothing Hawaiian ukulele. I hadn’t heard this song since last month when I chose it for Eileen’s, memorial service.  Eileen, my father’s wife of 142 days who passed away from cancer.

Things happen in life that we don’t often understand at the time. Later, something may trigger us to look back with fresh eyes, opening a window to a new meaning or purpose of such. This moment of clarity happened seconds ago which I will share with you now.

Last month while flying to Phoenix for Eileen’s service, a beautiful young woman with several long, dark braids and wearing a patterned paisley scarf tied around her head sat in the window seat next to me. During the three and a half hour-long flight, I closed my droopy eyes to catch a nap. Suddenly, something cold landed on my sleeveless arm. My eyes popped open. Near my wrist, a small plastic pellet, cold as ice rested comfortably. Taken aback, I flicked it off my arm with my index finger. The girl/woman had fallen asleep, her partially covered head rested against the airplane window with braids tossed this way and that. Her scarf was twisted, revealing a cap of white underneath.

Directly in the row ahead of us, a mother was busy juggling twins, a girl and a boy who jumped up and down when a smiling flight attendant appeared carrying a tray of sweets. One at a time, she served them soft, chocolate chip cookies. The commotion woke the young woman next to me who began to talk playfully with the children ahead of us.

“Mmmm, I bet those are really good cookies,” she exclaimed! “I have twins, too,” she added, smiling at the children’s mother. “Two little girls, six years old.” “How great! My kids just turned four,” the other mom, replied.

Naturally, I couldn’t help myself. “I have twin grand-babies” I added, leaning in to my seat-mate. “Two girls, like you. They’re just over a year old.” From that moment on we bonded, sharing family photographs while getting to know one another. Shortly before landing, she explained that her family lived in China, where her husband worked for a major New York investment firm. She added that she felt extremely guilty for leaving him there while she came to America (Phoenix) for cancer treatment. My heart stopped.

“No, this can’t be, I thought to myself. “She’s too young. I can’t bear to hear this. Not on this trip. Not now.”

“What do you think,” she asked. “Is there any better place for treatment?”

Gathering my composure, I took her hand and smiled with self-determination. “I think Phoenix has some of the best treatment options available,” I answered. “As good or better than anywhere in the world,” I added with enthusiasm.

“Do you really believe that?”

“Yes,” I answered, honestly, which I did. Looking directly into her eyes, I told her not to feel guilty, that she should concentrate on getting well. For the next few minutes, I gave her a pep talk of sorts, insisting that she put herself first and foremost. I asked her to concentrate on getting well for herself, as well as her family; to never stop thinking of those precious little girls who so needed their mama.

Just before landing, she asked, “What brings you to Phoenix?”

“Oh, just a brief visit with my father,” I answered, misty-eyed, smiling slightly.

*Below is a prayer I wrote that accompanied What a Wonderful World, at Eileen’s service. Today it has a new meaning for me, a new purpose. Surely, Eileen is an Angel….yes, the young mother’s Angel. Eileen sits beside her through each and every cancer treatment. Eileen dries her tears, eases her loneliness and eventually, will reunite her with family. And, yes, the young mother will be happy and healthy, living to raise her daughters into womanhood.

Oh, What a Wonderful World.

Angel Prayer-

Before the sun shall rise again, darkness descends upon the earth

And, though I do not see, nor hear, nor touch…

What lies beyond the ink of skies above

My faith surpasses any doubt of where I soon shall fly…

Be still all earthly pain, and hush my labored breaths

Blanket weary lids, and rest ‘till morning dawn…

View these beautiful Angel wings above favorite desert peaks

For He has grasped my hand in Heaven 

So full of joy it spills forth

With light and love…

Gaze with me as glory casts golden rays

For now and all eternity.

                   ~Amen~

 

A New Year Has Just Begun


I received a darling picture of my oldest granddaughter yesterday. She was all dressed in her 1st day of pre-school finery. Sitting on the stoop of her house, she carried the weight of her most prized possession, a striped hot pink backpack strung over her shoulders. In a sense, a new year has just begun.

My husband called while on the road to say our youngest son had put his beloved home for sale. He and his family of five including my Babies of Two are moving to a new state because of his job. Perhaps their present home has been a stepping stone to where they are meant to be? I’m praying for my son and daughter-in-law to find a new home that they love. A home to raise their babies in for a long, long while. A house that one day, the kids may even begin to skip off to school.

In talking to my father, he told me the doctors found another large lump on the back of his wife’s neck. They had already done another MRI and would be coming back to discuss treatment. She can’t even get out of bed. I spoke to my father, asking him if I could be ‘honest’ with him.

“Yes, of course, always,” he answered.

I went on to tell him of my good friend, and excellent internist who began a terrific Hospice House here in St. Louis in order to focus on palliative care. My father had met my friend in the past and knew he was a good man.

Finally, my father hesitated before speaking. “I’ve been thinking and I don’t want to put her through anything more. I just want to take her home to the house she loves. I want her to look at the desert stars before she falls asleep and for her to see the sun rise above the mountains in the morning.”

With those words, my father cried. Before I even spoke to him, he had already begun to accept the idea of hospice and was preparing himself to let her go… Today he hopes to take her home where they will simply love each other until death they do part. Tomorrow is their four-month wedding anniversary.

There are still two more weeks before I finally move into my own new house. Yes, I know, it has seemed forever…..My goal was to find something close to my son and daughter-in-law who are expecting their third baby around Christmas. At the same time, I wanted to be near nature if possible, have room for an office, and a sleeping area for visiting grand-babies.

Well, my husband and I feel very fortunate as we enter this last stage of our lives. Our new home is only a short distance from family, and although smaller and very different on the inside, it looks very much like the outside of our current house. We plan to use the formal dining room as an office where I’ll soon write from my half-moon desk in a windowed turret just as I’ve done for many years.

Next to our bedroom is a small space that will be used for the grandchildren’s sleeping room. Bunk beds and a white spindled crib will soon be rolled in beneath a breezy fan. The closet is already stacked with shelves to fill toys and puzzles soon to be spilled upon the wooden floor.

On the back of the house is a full length screened porch where painted wicker furniture awaits future family gatherings. A round glass table will be set with plates for summer BBQ or early evening board games. Nearby, a chair teeters back and forth. In the spring, I’ll rock the next bundled baby close to my beating heart.

As mentioned above, my husband and I feel very fortunate. Our new house is in subdivision encompassing a dedicated nature preserve. The view from the back of our house is tall trees where a walking path winds over a small stream and through the thick of overgrown wildflowers. A few minutes to the left are trails surrounding a 15-acre lake stocked with fish for catch and release. No boats are allowed, only wildlife and the stillness of peace.

I’ve missed the whole of summer which feels like the whole of a year. Family issues have been filled with stress, but in the end, life begins anew. God has parted a curtain. The previews have finished with the main feature now in full play. And, although I don’t know the ending, I’m certainly looking forward to living again.

Yes, in a sense a new year has just begun.

Tugging at Heartstrings


In deciding what books to keep or donate before my move, I came across a small volume of poetry I hadn’t seen or touched in quite some time. A small hardcover, it cheerfully greeted me with a child’s colored hearts in red, pink and yellow on a cover of white. The title is, Journey Through Heartsongs, by Mattie J.T. Stepanek, published in 2001.

For those of you who don’t know, Mattie Stepanek, (July 17, 1990-June 22, 2004) wanted to be remembered as “a poet, a peacemaker, and a philosopher who played.” He was an amazing child who published seven best-selling books of poetry during his short thirteen years of life. Mattie had an innate sense of being, an intuition far beyond imagination which he brought not only to his poetry but to everyone he met. I urge all of you to read about his life at the following link. Quite simply, he was a remarkable being. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattie_Stepanek

Mattie lived with the Chronic Condition of Muscular Dystrophy and left us all with gifts unimaginable. My own heartstrings sing a melody of lyrics thanks to his writing. It’s no accident that I rediscovered the jacket of this dusty book.  I stopped to read it from cover to cover this morning, carefully placing it in a box next to some of my very favorites, marked, “Library.”

Crystal Celebration

Sometimes, 

Sunrise is like a heavenly crystal ball.

Everyday,

In the little bit of time between night and day,

The angels look at the earth

To see how things are going and

To see how things will be.

The sky changes from dark

Into Angel-whites and Angel-golds.

The blackness of trees starts to glow with

Pinks and purples and oranges from their hearts.

And during each dawn,

All the Angels gather up and have

A celebration in God’s honor!

And sometimes,

You can even watch

And join them in the celebrating.

Just look out into the sunrise,

Then jump into your own heart,

Float into the air like in a dream,

And pray with love and thank-yous

For your life, for your spirit, for your sunrise…

And for being a part of this heavenly crystal ball!

                           Mattie-Age 6

Angels Sunset

*painting courtesy of Google Chrome

Sweet Weeds of Future Inspiration


For several months my husband and I have been thinking about downsizing. Finding a house a bit smaller. Maybe even traveling to a warmer state? But in the back of my mind were smiles and giggles of grand-babies. How could I leave them? Then came an announcement that Grand-baby number six was on the way. The perfect package to rock under the Christmas tree. Still, we live about an hour away from my oldest son and his family. Even worse, we are more than states away from my youngest son and his brood of five who live in South Carolina.

Even our closest family is too far away to scoop our grand-babies up for an hour of play or take them for a ride through a shaded park. It’s nearly impossible for a spur of the moment visit. Rarely, are we able to watch our oldest grand-daughter jump off the balance beam or swirl and twirl in pink satin toe shoes. Everything we do together has to be pre-planned with much of their little lives passing us by. We simply live too far away….

So, a couple of months ago we decided to take the plunge. Make a move that will change the whole of our lives. Find a place to live that will give us more family time and allow us more time to travel too! I worked day and night to get our home ready for sale. No easy feat. Nowadays it must look like a magazine photo shoot. The old adage it true, “You only have one chance to make a good first impression.” After one showing we received a contingent offer which seems to be all wrapped up this week, allowing us to move on to the next phase. Panic has set in because I have no idea where I’m going, and I’m sad at the same time to leave my home. At the same time, I’ll be closer to my family which in the end will all be worth it.

I soon learned that sorting through boxes of memories stuffed in caramel colored cardboard is so very difficult. What to take to the next stage of life? Tape me up and tie me with a string! Of course, material possessions are not the most important thing. Relationships are. My family is, which is the reason for the move in the first place. And yet when I clasp a tiny clay bowl fired and glazed by my son nearly thirty years ago, how can I let go? Why do things like this touch me so?  Forever in the palm of my hand……

Although not finished yet, I’ve done a pretty good job of combing and dividing everything up. There are rows of boxes to take to the next house, wherever that may be, and other’s overflowing with treasures to be donated. Several cartons gently wrapped and packed with dolls carefully chosen for each grand-daughter, many of them handed down from my own mother. If only she were here to one day see joyous little faces pop pink peanuts from the very top! Currently, I’m in the midst of all the ‘fun’ stuff, calling for all inspections, making minor repairs, and praying I find a new home VERY SOON.

Before the end of summer, I’ll be leaving my cozy, turret office space where I’ve written words nearly every day for the last several years. And, yes, the back of my yard too, where deer, turkey, and other wildlife play. My little forest land where red cardinals and blue birds sing in the green of the trees will soon play lyrics for a family of new. They are the perfect couple to live here, which makes for a happy heart beating in my chest. I know the two of them will fill the brick walls of my home with warmth and love for years to come.

This morning, just after sunrise, I woke to walk Doodles where trees and grasses and weeds grow freely not so far away. The air was cool with a slight breeze that rejuvenated me from the inside to the out. Sunlight bounced off tips of trees, angling just right, allowing me to snap pictures of life others might not notice or simply pass by. I, on the other hand, wanted to lay among the damp grass, soaking every wet bead from each emerald blade into my pores while looking into the clear blue heavens above.

Sweet weeds of future inspiration……