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

Thankful


An unconventional Thanksgiving holiday for me. My husband and I are here in Arizona, spending it with my father in his new home. The one he barely had time to share with his bride Eileen, who succumbed to cancer a few months after they were married. I planned to cook my father an old-fashioned turkey dinner with all of the trimmings. To gather at his table of round with my husband and brother, where together, we would share a prayer of Thanksgiving.

When my husband and I arrived late last night, my father hugged me tight. His home was neat and tidy. A silver tray of grapes and crackers of wheat plus  yellow cheeses sat on top of a swirling black and gray granite counter.

“No cooking for you,” my father stated,” surprising me with a slight smile. “We’ve been invited to Troy and Ellen’s for Thanksgiving dinner.” I was taken aback at this news. Troy and Ellen was part of Eileen’s immediate family. I had been looking forward to spending a quiet holiday with my father, having flown all the way from St. Louis to Arizona. Still, Dad was part of Eileen’s family too, and I was selfish not to share him.

“That will be nice, Dad, I mumbled,” munching on a cracker while pulling a stool up to the kitchen counter.

After tumbling into bed last night, I pondered over the coming Thanksgiving Day.

I realized how lucky my father was to have Eileen’s family embrace him as part of their own. Her grandchildren often stopped to visit after school, where they shared stories of love that brought smiles to his face. Eileen’s daughter occasionally dropped off a casserole covered in silver foil before going to work, or one of her sons-in-law repaired something for him in his home. Sometimes, Eileen’s family members took my dad out for an evening of karaoke, where he sang his troubles away until another day.

In a few hours my Thanksgiving dinner will be shared with Eileen’s family. It is an unexpected blessing that my father has remained part of her extended family. For that I am truly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours,

Kim

*in memory of Eileen 1939-2016

Both families

 

 

 

 

Penny For Your Thoughts?


Long before I knew what growing up ever meant, I had two maternal aunts who were never far from my side, always ready to show me the way. My mother was one of four sisters, one slightly older followed by two younger half-sisters, several years younger. There was never any deviation between the four girls. They loved and fought with the gusto of any sisters, full blood or not.

Upon my birth, my mother’s little sisters, suddenly aunts of mine were only five and seven years of age. Throughout the years, we more or less grew up together, and I often thought of them as big sisters, more friends than relatives. We had a bond, often whispering to each other our innermost secrets and dreams, or wishes for the future which of course changed as the years went by.

When my little brother was three, he needed open heart surgery, one of the first to be performed at U of M Children’s Hospital https://kimgosselinblog.com/2013/10/30/loving-mother-infant-heart-surgery/. I went to stay with my grandparents during this precarious time, including several visits afterward whenever extended follow-up was needed. My aunts made my life magical during a stage in my life that could have easily turned traumatic. They took me under their wings, played with me like a baby doll, and made me feel safe and secure. I remember sharing a room with them, where we slept together in bunks of two while listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks, on their phonograph over and over again. One of my aunts had to climb down the ladder to move the needle over every time the 45 record ended. Up and down, down and up. And, every afternoon, as soon as the two stepped off a giant yellow school bus, another of them would scoop me up before plopping me inside the front of rattan bicycle basket where the three of us rode off into the woods. There, we often sat on the rough of a fallen log where they made up stories while braiding my hair. Sometimes a snack or two was shared while we hunted for woodland treasures, caught frogs or waded in the clear of a bright blue stream among slippery silver minnows. 

The Chipmunks, as seen in the live-action/CGI ...

My aunts, of course, grew older before I did until one day, both of them had boyfriends. By then, I was simply a pest they wanted to swat away. Their sweethearts used to pay me to run across the street where an old neighborhood store sat on the corner. “Buy yourself anything you want,” they said. Suddenly, a shiny silver quarter was stuffed into my pocket, allowing me to purchase handfuls of penny candy. “Take your time.” Far too soon, I was back in front of them carrying a little white paper bag. Bazooka bubbles of gum smiled and popped directly in front of their boyfriend’s faces!

Bins of candy on display at Murphy's Candy and...

When my parents traveled for work, one or the other aunt would often babysit, staying for a weekend or more to wrangle me and my four younger siblings. They attended high school by this time, and I thought they were so cool. One day, I wanted to be just like them! We often shared my mom and dad’s king-sized bed, where I listened to whispered worries in the light of the moon. Treasured secrets never to tell….

Years later, when I married, one aunt was a bridesmaid, while the daughter of the other was my flower girl. Tragedy struck on one of the happiest days of my life. The aunt of my little flower girl had a seizure at the reception and was quickly taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. She adored children, especially babies, and rooted me on during my monthly struggle with infertility. Nearing her end, she said, “Come’on, Kimmy. Hurry up and get pregnant! I want to hear the good news before anyone else. Promise me!!”

My aunt passed away in February of 1986 at the age of 34. Three months later, when my EPT tested positive, I dried my tears, hopped into my coveted canary yellow Chevette and drove to the cemetery. There at her gravesite, I bawled my eyes out while sharing my blessing. Yes, she was the first one to hear.

Penny for your thoughts?

Taking Time for Change


Recently, I’ve gone through a period of feeling overwhelmed in life. Not depressed. No, I’d compare it to feeling like a small green pea in a big pot of vegetable stew. Small, while trying to stay afloat……

After helping my father with his wife’s memorial service in Arizona, I planned to catch a plane back to St. Louis where an estate sale was in process, selling off many of my home’s objects together with a long list of life’s memories.  Unfortunately, I was a day late getting back due to weather delays and missed connections. When time was of the essence, I ended up spending a total of 19 hours in the small airport of Grand Junction, Colorado. Finally, a day later, my plane was diverted to Denver, where I grabbed a quick nap from 3-5 am before catching a non-stop flight to my original destination.

Upon arriving, there was barely time to say “Goodbye” to the home I loved so much. Quickly, I walked through my turret office space, where blog posts were tapped on keys of black. I strolled into the periwinkle nursery where I remembered gently placing my very first grand-baby in her spindled crib, as though she was a porcelain doll. Images of magical tea parties danced in my head together with giggles, dress up play, and story book time.

Afterward, I stepped outside onto the red brick pavers of my patio where fingers traced petals of crunchy golden sunflowers. Looking around, I began to collect a few, forgotten colored clay pots leftover from my garden. Suddenly, a brown sugar doe leaped from the woods. Sighing, my heart knew it was God’s last gift to me….at least at this house, in this time.

It’s been three weeks since I’ve moved to my new house, and I’m mostly settled now. For whatever reason, my body and mind felt spent when all was said and done. In moves past, I worked until everything was completely in place, typically within a few days to a week. Not this time. I was tired. I let things go. My mind said, “No.”

I’m happy in my new home. There is lots of room for my grand-babies to stay for as long as they like. Nearby, there is a beautiful lake surrounded by woods and walking trails with lots of nature. In fact, it’s a nature preserve where I see something new each and every day. A different plant, the sound of a bird’s call or the beauty of a new sunrise.

Best of all, my overwhelming feeling is beginning to lift. I guess I didn’t drown in that pot of vegetable stew after all.

 

The Magic Glass


Before I left Arizona last week, I saw my Great-Aunt one last time to say, “Good-By.”  I picked her up from my relative’s house where she lived and slept.  She had combed her short blonde hair pretty and straight, scrubbing her face shiny to glow in the sun.  “Are you ready, Aunt Shirley?”  “Oh, heaven’s yes,” she answered,  her sparkling blue eyes twinkling.

As we drove to one of her favorite restaurants in town, we passed familiar cactus in the wide open desert together with several stray dogs roaming on the street.  Aunt Shirley’s frail hands were folded in her lap.  She fidgeted, knowing it was our last visit, for this trip at least.  When would I be coming back?  That’s what she was thinking, as I read her silent senior mind. My visits were one of the things that she most looked forward to.

It’s hard for me to leave, harder still for her to see me go.  At 88 years old, she gets lonely. She is loved where she lives it is true, but for her, it is nearly the same every day.  She can no longer see well enough to read her dear books or to be independent. She is unable to drive her fanciful convertible car, or even to simply walk her beloved dog, Bunky.  Yet she is not one to ever complain.  She’s lived a good life.  She lives it still.

We stopped at a restaurant she most frequents named, J.B’s.  It has a Senior menu that offers a little of everything.  Aunt Shirley is very frail, and as usual, wasn’t very hungry.  I mulled over the menu for a minute.  Ordering for her is a challenge as I am forever trying to fatten her up.  A nice waitress came by with a smile on her face and a pony tail in her hair with a big blue bow.  She brought us water and coffee with cream.  “Ahhhh!” There on the menu was the perfect picture of an item for someone not hungry, yet one that needed calories.  A malted milkshake!  “We’ll share it, please,” I said to the nice girl, the one with the big blue bow in her hair.  “I’d like it extra thick, made with hot fudge and malted milk powder if you have it.”  She smiled at me, glancing at Aunt Shirley while writing on her green tablet with a red colored pen.

Soon the waitress came back with a tall clear fountain glass. It spilled over the brim, dripping with scoops of chocolate ice cream, cocoa-colored milk, and thick hot fudge.  She brought an extra matching glass, two striped straws wrapped in cream paper, and extra long silver spoons that made clinking sounds against the glasses.  I started to pour half of the drink into Aunt Shirley’s tall glass before beginning to laugh.  One clear glass was nearly full with the delicious confection while the other was still rising to the top!  How could it be?

I examined my fountain glass like a science experiment, stirring it up with one of the extra long spoons.  Was I missing something?  Was it a bottomless glass?  I peered at my Aunt to see her expression.  She pondered me, her eyes wide with wonder, her pink lips parting in a smile as she scooted up to look deep into the vessel.  We laughed. Was this a joke or something?  Then we gave up.  We drank our milkshakes, held hands, lived and loved.  It was the perfect ending to our perfect visit.

It was The Magic Glass.

Caterpillar Wishes and Butterfly Dreams


A bug on the ground, never seen before

Long and round, so different

Moving now, it floats on top of  bricks

No legs in sight, scary I think

Fuzzy, crawling towards me

Slowly at first, like babies do

I’m kneeling down, not quite trusting

Sizing it up,  close and cautious

Brown with yellow, it looks soft to me

Grandma says, “It’s okay to touch”

Gentle, with a whispered finger

Careful not to hurt

Guess what?  It’s a caterpillar

Soon to be a butterfly

How can this be?

God’s magic, it’s a miracle

Crawling creature, soon to be ruffled wings 

Lots of questions….

When will this happen?  Is it true?  Will the butterfly be blue?

Does it eat from a flower or drink from the fountain?

Will we see it dance in the garden or flutter near a rock?  

Tell me, Grandma. Please, Grandma, P.L.E.A.S.E?

Sigh….Butterfly, I will see you in my dreams

Up..up..up, high in the sky where angels sing

Please wave to me with wings of blue on clouds of cream

‘Till then, I’ll never forget this lesson of bugs and miracles of God

Good-bye, Caterpillar, I love you, Butterfly…..

 

 

What Am I Feeling?


What am I feeling?

Shocked, thankful, emotional, teary, blessed, speechless, lucky, loved….

All of the above….and more.

With the slight move of a black computer mouse this morning, I  discovered a beautiful sticker in blue. A notification from WordPress of my 5ooth post.  The number….500 is a surprise. It stares back like a badge of honor, I suppose. And, although alone today, it’s already printed, carefully cut out, and posted proudly above my heart. Silly? Not to me.

Did I ever think of writing 500 posts? No, never, not in my wildest dreams. Still, it’s not the number that is most important. It’s the passion for writing together with YOU, the gift of readers.  At any given time on WordPress, I can sit down to tap letters upon a keyboard, knowing I’ll share words with an extended family of talented writers, and readers. I am forever grateful.

Thank you to each and everyone for reading even a single letter of my writing at Chronic Conditions & Life Lessons. Time is a precious commodity of which there is less than the day before. This thought rarely leaves my mind. Some of you have been here since my very first post, others stop by if possible while new friends may just beginning to pop in. The point is, I truly appreciate your time in reading my words, whenever that may be.

What am I feeling? Shocked, thankful, emotional, teary, blessed, speechless, lucky, loved….

All of the above…and more.