Halloween Innocence


Trick-or-Treat for Halloween

Costumed monsters or movie queens

Door to door to ring a bell

Heart is beating thumping well

Treats of sweet sinking bag

Stuffed inside so full of swag

Chocolate pretzels plus kids to tag

Distant sounds and spiderwebs

Pumpkin smiles and waxy teeth 

Peek inside then run and hide

Witch’s hat atop hair of red

Have no fear she is a dear

Biggest treat I’ve ever had

Jokes and smiles to send me off

Treasures emptied upon my floor

Sit and count them to the door

One or two gobbled whole

Brush my teeth and scrub my face

Pajama time another race

Tuck me in with story time

Lashes long now falling fine

Friendly ghosts are in my mind

Magic wishes and floating dreams

Oh what a Happy Halloween

Some photos courtesy of Google Chrome

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?

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

Coming Home


The beauty of nature comes to call

Whispering my name in the breath of fall

Follow me…follow me…follow me

Wisps of hair toss around my face

Foliage and fauna snap in this new place

Down a rocky slope, grab a green of rope

Hold on tight, behold such sights

Splendor at the bottom of a hill

Nature leads me back where I belong

To inner peace and birds of song

A rock of shale is my new chair

Toss a limestone pebble here or there

Say a prayer, breathe the air

Forests, streams, and heaven of sky

Never question how or why

Beating of heart begins to slow

It is now that I do know

Nature is home to me.

 

 

 

 

 

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~

 

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.

Sounds In Night


The skies were angry last night. Winds whistled through swaying trees. In the darkness, the sound of small quakes could be heard together with the padding of drums. Slow at first then faster beating in a rhythm that nearly shook my bed. Softer then louder. A rumble that reminded me of throw rugs my mother used to jar outside a long ago back door. Dust bunnies blowing away in the breeze…..

Listening, my eyes were closed to everything. I’m in a world full of black nothingness. Suddenly, a sense of hearing bloomed as if for the first time. An awakening in a world others would consider silent at that hour.

My husband’s back lay close beside. Even breaths. First in…then out. Soothing to me. The flat of my hand felt his warmth through the cool of fresh, crisp sheets.

An electric clock atop our nightstand. A snapshot within my mind. Glowing hands in fluorescent moved with every second. More sounds to my ears. Tick, tick-tock, tick-tock. Each second turning into minutes. turning into hours. turning into middle night foreverness.

Doodle dog slept near the end of our bed. I heard him roll over. A silver metal disk on his collar made a clinking sound against a matching buckle. He sighed, breathing out through the black of his nose with the pink spot on top. He slept. Even breaths from him with a touch of snoring. Yes, from Doodle dog!

Humming…the sound of a motor, followed by gusts of swirling fresh. An air-conditioner installed on our outside wall had kicked in. From the stark cement basement below, the sound of wafting breezes could be heard. Pushing up…blowing cooler air to our floor above. Maple stained in cinnamon color through bronze, grated vents directing the flow. Summer relief was felt.

A car drove by the front of our house. Not a truck or a motorcycle, but a car. It was small and drove by very slowly. The sound of it told me so. Smooth of four tires on a frame of metal. Small of crunch on a bleached, chip-sealed street. Not long before it was gone.

In the adjoining bathroom, sounds of a dripping faucet. How long has this been going on? I never heard or noticed it before.  Small drops barely plopping to the bottom of a speckled sink the color of toast. Droplets falling in slow motion with an echo heard upon landing. So long before the next one fell, it seemed. Soon, seconds were counted together with our friendly electric nightstand clock. Anxiety began to build.

In the woods out back, sounds of the wind picked up again. A whoosh together with a dog howling. Or was it a coyote? We have them here you know. Hiding in the woods. Suddenly, the skies became angrier than earlier. Thunder rumbled, flashing with lightning in the distance. My eyes opened at the crack of it. Rain pounded into the patio and beat into flower beds with all of Heaven’s vengeance. Once my vision adjusted to surrounding shadows, no other sounds were heard again.

Sleepiness finally came.

Stormy-Night

*photo courtesy of Google Chrome

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.

 

 

 

 

The Reminder


trees purple

Early this morning, with hooded lids open in the dark before dawn, I lay in my bed to sounds of a bird chirping outside my window blinds. Lyrics of nature welcomed me to a brand new day.

Dropping paperwork to the top of my desk, I strolled outside with a cup of coffee. Sun splashed to warm my face as I sunk deep, deeper still into the middle of an old foam patio chair. Soon, I felt as though I’d be swallowed up, but I did not care. This was the first of the season. Cushions cuddled me like a babe in the womb, making me feel safe and secure all around.

New neighbors seen moving into bird houses a few weeks earlier flit and flew back and forth between feeders, gathering seed. The sky was painted in royal blue with not a cloud floating by. Twinkling chimes hung from trees ready to bloom near others that were already full and flowered in lavender or cream. I closed my eyes to imagine the tranquility within. It had been a rough go of it since Easter.

My dear father who I have so often written about had found new love again after losing my mother to a long battle with cancer five years ago. As with any blending of families, even adults far apart, there were a few minor adjustments it seemed. Yet, my siblings and I were so very happy for our father. To think he had a second chance in life! There was a smile on his face again, a new step in his stride, and although he was hesitant to begin anew, he finally found the courage by eloping on March 11th. A ‘wedding party’ is scheduled in Arizona on April 23rd.

Sixteen days ago, on March 27, Easter Sunday, my dad’s new bride, Eileen was admitted to ER where she was diagnosed with cancer. My father, of course, is in a state of shock. When all test results came back last Friday, the unbelievable. His wife of three weeks has a very aggressive form of cancer that has spread throughout her body. Last night, it was nearly touch and go.

It’s difficult to concentrate on work these days. My heart aches for Eileen’s physical pain together with the emotional pain of my father. How can life be so unfair? The house they had planned to move into sits empty and waiting…for what?  I feel helpless, but each and every day I send my father messages of support together with pictures of inspiration and encouragement.  He knows that I will be in Arizona together with all of my siblings on April 23rd.

I’m thanking God for nature together with the sweet sounds of the birds today. I’ve been slapped in the face with mortality together with the gift of life. Definitely, not the first time. Perhaps it’s another reminder?

Maybe I’ll sit slumped in this patio chair for the rest of the week…

Blessings to All.