Today I give thanks for it all


Prayer for today, for we know not what may come tomorrow.

Purplerays

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“Today I give thanks for it all,
Though I do not understand much of what I see,
I surrender anyway….
I trust in the Goodness of Life,
I open to the One that breathes me,
To the One who has given me one more day
To feel so alive and free”

~ Flora Aube

Photo & text credit: Practicing the Presence through Mind and Meditation https://web.facebook.com/Practicing-the-Presence-through-Mind-and-Meditation-209171649145514/

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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.

What Could Be Pretty About Cancer?


I’d like to write about something inspirational, to focus on nature, something pretty in life or something hopeful. Instead, my mind is filled with sadness, anxiety, and despair. I suppose the same three words could easily be summed up into one: cancer.  What could be pretty about cancer?

Soon after my father married at the end of this past March his bride was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Together, they’ve been fighting the disease ever since with every ounce of strength imaginable.

I feel so very helpless because I am here in St. Louis while my father and his wife are living in Arizona. I can’t be there to hold his hand, run an errand, cook a meal or simply sit with him at the hospital. When he calls, his voice invariably cracks during his last few words. He struggles not to show his emotion, yet it is there, just beneath the surface. In my mind, there are tears in his eyes and I hear a choking sound in the back of his throat. My heart aches for my father.

Although not my decision, perhaps my father’s wife should have been in hospice for the last several weeks? There, she might have been more comfortable, able to hear her favorite music while visiting with her daughter and grandchildren? Yet, doctors and oncologists are willing to provide every treatment possible to prolong the inevitable end of life, especially when the patient has been sold on the slightest chance of more time.

More time for WHAT? More time for hair to fall out from chemotherapy treatments. More time to buy a wig. More time for a person’s skin to redden and dry from the effects of radiation. More time to lose the senses of taste and hearing. More time to wither away to skin and bones. More time to vomit and writhe in pain. More time to slowly die…..

If my father’s wife was a loved one to any of member of the team of doctors treating her, a wife, sister or mother, would the protocol of treatment have been the same?

Cancer…the only thing pretty about it is the love that has brought my father and his wife closer. For that I am thankful.

 

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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

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…..

 

 

Through the Looking Glass


Faces are hidden in a mirror

Far below a peaceful bridge

Masked among nature’s beauty.

 

Fallen through the looking-glass

Eyes serene, soft of green

With voices, that whisper our way.

 

Fingers of leaves brush nearby branches

Grasping hands regardless of color

Hear the wails within the wind?

 

Gaze beneath still waters

Where all of life coexist, do you see?

Why not us? Can’t we try? I wonder why?

 

Look closing to see mirrored images

Cup your ear to hear what they say

Thump…thump….thump…thump…thump…

 

Our hearts appear within the looking-glass

Beating proudly for all mankind

Future reflections of what may be?

 

Lying beneath a peaceful bridge

Eyes serene, soft of green

With voices, that whisper our way.

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Take Time to Play


Ohhh, if only I could have captured the playful dance scampering in the rain among the thatch of green! So mesmerized, I couldn’t look away. A silent whisper to my ear. “Do not move, for in a second the beauty of this may disappear.”

Gray skies hovered above flowered fields altering between drizzles and downpours during all of this past week. Temperatures fluctuated from the tip-top of hot before crashing to cool.

As I gazed out the glass to the back of my yard, sheets of light, steady rain continued to fall, creating a small stream. The shallow water swirled around a row of tall pines toward the willow tree. Suddenly a flash of colored honey caught my eye. 

As if Walt Disney himself waved his magic wand from above, a family of four left their little forest land to wander upon the soft carpet of my lawn.

One by one, a young buck of fuzzy horns, together with his beautiful doe and two spotted fawns slowly began to eat foliage while heaven’s showers fell upon their backs. She was on high alert, eyes darting in all directions while twins bounded out of sight. Suddenly, spindly legs scampered around the corner. 

The doe came closer to my patio, trying to reel her babies in, but they were having none of it. Instead, they began to tease her with play. She did not appear happy. Her tail of white raised straight up while she stomped her right front hoove. The fawns continued running back and forth in a zig-zag pattern right beneath the wet of their mother’s shiny black nose. 

Finally, the doe did something I had never seen before. She began to PLAY with the twins, imitating them two or three times by taking a few steps forward before backing up to wait for them to do the same. Which they did, before playfully running to and fro in front of her.  

The rain continued to fall, steady drops from the sky soaking all below, incouraging life to survive and thrive….and yes, even take time to play.

*photo rights http://www.curiousnaturalist.com and 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……