Saturday, October 2, 2010

Joy and Tragedy.....

So where have I been? I don't know! The time has been flying by faster than can keep track of. Days slip into weeks.... Weeks into months... And now it's autumn already and I didn't even notice summer. Well, that's not totally accurate. Summer was awesome - the BEST weather I can remember in years! And I did manage to eek out a few extended stays at the lake. And I did manage to stay faithful to the gym and lost 11 pounds and a bunch of inches!
But mainly - this summer was focused on THE WEDDING. My oldest tied the knot on September 18th. So the past few months have been steeped in wedding plans. Now I am finally breathing a sigh of relief that it's all over and I can focus on....finishing the house in time for Christmas! (I know. I know!) To those of you who have been with my for the past several years - we have been trying to finish the new house in time for Christmas since 2007! But this year (you heard it here folks!) it WILL be done!

The thing is...I'm not all that consumed with it. Used to be, I was re-arranging the yet to be purchased furniture in my head....determining where to hang all the new pictures my kids have been giving me as gifts the past few years in anticipation of the big move...and nagging hubby to just (as the Nike commercial says) DO IT! But as of late...I'm not in such a hurry. Because life is happening all around me and moving into the new house is just another chapter. And to be honest....the pages have been turning much too quickly lately. The frailty of life has been knocking at my door and I right now - change is the last thing on my mind.

Five months ago my brother-in-law took his own life. It rocked us all to the core. And this past week - his brother's wife was stabbed to death - by her own son. The boy was in his early 20s and was schizophrenic. never any indications of violence...and he truly loved his mom. We can't understand it and will probably spend the rest of our lives trying to wrap our minds around it. After killing his mom - he stabbed himself several times in the neck. He is in the hospital as I write this. Poor Bob... In the span of 5 months he lost his brother, his wife and even his son - who, though he will recover from his wounds - will ultimately be locked away somewhere for a very long time... And Mark - his son. He found them. He's only 25. How does one that young recover from such a the grace of God.

So I've been thinking a lot lately. And realizing that awful things don't just happen to other people. And I'm feeling a lot more compassionate to the nameless faces I see in the news now. And realizing that everyday - in some way - someone is hurting. Makes me want to spend a lot more time on my knees. And a lot more time looking up. To the only One who truly has the answers.

Please pray for Bob and Mark....their very foundations have been shattered this past week. And pray for Kurt. He will live with what he did for the rest of his life. I can not judge. I will not judge. Only God can do that. I can only pray and continue to praise the One who holds all things together... in the midst of this terrible storm.

On a happier note (because in spite of the sadness - there have been some happy times....) I've posted some pics from the wedding.

hugs *

Friday, July 30, 2010

5 Weeks Later....

So it's been 5 weeks since I joined the gym and I can proudly say I have been attending faithfully! Except for the week I spent at the lake (well...10 days there actually) I've gone at least 3x a week and sometimes 4. And the week at the lake I did a lot of walking and swimming (actually swam across the lake 3 times...with my noodle of course!) So I've been pretty active ~ more so than in a long time!

I've only managed to drop 5 pounds, but my shape is changing. Not dramatically - but enough to encourage me to keep at it! I have to drive right by the gym each afternoon when I leave work so it's hard to not go. Yesterday I drove right by and then turned around and went back. Good girl, Lora!

I plug in my earphones and watch Dr. Phil while I'm on the treadmill and then move on to the machines. There are people bigger than me and smaller than me so I don't feel all that self-conscious. Back in the day when you went to the gym it was a fashion parade. You know - the high cut leotards, tight, leg-warmers and headbands. (see pic!) Thanks goodness we've progressed to being more dedicated to our health than our outfits!

Yesterday I read a quote on Spark-People from a member that said "I am a work in progress...and if I want to progress - I have to work!" That's gonna' be my new mantra!

Last Saturday I went to the beach with my youngest daughter. It was so much fun! We brought some lunch and spread out our towels and soaked up the sunshine in between dips in the lake because it was so hot! Tuesday night I went out to dinner with my 2 sisters and sister-in-law. We found a nice restaurant overlooking the lake and ate outside. I just love summer! And last night I went yet once again to the lake with 6 of my old high school friends to a nice outdoor restaurant that overlooked the harbour. I grew up less than 10 minutes from Lake Ontario and yet never seem to get there enough. And now 3 times in one week! Yoohoo!

I can't believe it's almost August. Where has the summer gone? I ave 2 more trips to the cottage (this on a smaller lake - not one of the Great Lakes!) my class reunion and then my daughter's wedding. And then the night air will start getting a nip in it, the leaves will begin to turn color and I'll find myself wearing a sweater to work. I love fall too - but fall always comes with winter on it's heels...and we all know how I hate snow!

But until then - I'm going to enjoy the sunshine!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Dad's Day and other ramblings...

It's Father's Day and guess where I am? Sitting in my office at work.....killing time. I had to visit a church today on this side of town (1/2 hour from home) for a volunteer recruitment gig and had a big lapse between services so I came here.

It's quiet...and it's nice to get to visit with the volunteers that come here on weekends. I never really get to meet the folks who come during the hours I'm not here except on the phone - so this is nice. Except that I'm wearing a skirt and high heels and all I can think about is getting them off and jumping into my shorts and flip flops!

We're having the family over for a picnic this afternoon. Hubby is setting up the big blowup water slide we bought last year for the kids and the weather is supposed to cooperate!

So.....on Friday I drove past the gym that is down the street from where I work for the umpteenth time and decided this time that I would stop in and check out that special they have going for summer. An hour later I walked out with a 2 year contract and a promise from the 102 pound gal that talked me into it - that in 4-6 weeks she's have me seeing results.

Heaven knows I certainly have some motivating factors in my life to make me want to do this. Um...wait a minute. I think I've been saying that for several years now.... but really - I do! My Class reunion is coming up in August and I can't possibly skip it. It's being hosted at my house! We have the big yard - pavilion - outdoor bathroom and kitchen - so we can easily accommodate everyone.... So there's motivator #1. Then there's my daughter's wedding in September. When the other 2 got married 4 years ago (in a double wedding) I vowed I would lose weight. I thought I'd lost enough to at least look okay - but when the pictures came back - I looked like a giant blueberry. So the Sept. wedding is motivator #2. Moving on to #3 - this one is a ways off - but I'm hoping that it will keep me accountable for any weight I do manage to take off. My sisters and I are going to Florida again in March. To celebrate another milestone birthday like we did last fall.

So I'm hoping to keep me relationship with afore mentioned gym. I'm in it for 2 years - so I'd better! Besides - flashbacks from my traumatic shopping trip last week to buy a swimsuit should keep me going.

I swear....I'm getting to the point where I should be needing to take a Valium before that kind of a shopping trip. Not that I take Valium - but it sure would've helped! Anyway - found a suit that helped camouflage my lesser features (or maybe "greater" would be a more fitting desciptor?) forked over the money and left. That probably explains the reason my car turned into the parking lot of the gym last Friday.

I'll keep you posted.

Happy Father's Day ~ enjoy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Saying Goodbye When You Don't Want To....

Shortly after I wrote my last post one of those life altering events occurred in my life...the kind that causes you to mark time in a before and after mode. As I get older my life seems to get categorized into chunks of time. Like before and after the month I lost my parents. Or before and after my husband died. And now it's been divided even further. Into before and after my brother-in-law took his own life.

No one knew the pain and torment he was going through. Until it was too late. The saga began with his disappearance..a week of searching....and my sister finding him moments before he put a gun into his mouth and ended his torment.

And now we are all left with the all of the unanswerable questions that plague the survivors after a suicide. Our lives have been shaken to the core. We walk through our days in a fog as we try to manage our grief. So many emotions. Guilt... Sadness... Anger... Denial... My brother-in-law was my late husband's best friend. Way before my sister and I came into their lives.

This is one of those time where words aren't flowing as easily as they usually do. I just felt the need to explain my absence and ask for a few prayers. For my sister. For her three children.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thinking of My Mother....

Yesterday was a rather surreal day. It was one of those days where God was working behind the scenes but revealed enough of Himself to let me know He was there. I'll preface with a little history....

The year was 1976. I was a freshman in college and dirt poor. All college students are, right? Mother's Day was coming up and I wanted to give my mom something special but had no money. So I wrote her a poem. Hokey....yes. But it was from the heart. Really. I typed it up on my little manual typewriter (there were no word processors back then) on several half-sheets of onion skin typing paper and taped them all together to make a scroll. She loved it.

Flash forward to 1997. Mom has just died and my sisters and I are standing in her bedroom trying to absorb her lingering scent, touch her clothes, handle the pretty figurines on her dresser...anything to connect with her somehow while her essence is still in this room. In a few short hours we will go to her calling hours with my dad.

I open the top middle drawer on her bureau and there I find a bunch of letters and notes and cards all held together with a rubber band. Some letters from my dad, a note to the tooth fairy from my little sister, various cards from over the years.....and my little scrolled poem from that Mother's Day 21 years before. I read it through my tears and clutch it to my heart. The words I'd penned meant even more now. Now that I was a mother myself. Now that she was gone.

I stuff it quickly in my purse because we are late and head off to the funeral home. I think of putting the little scroll in with her in the casket but decide to keep it. Between viewings we head off to a restaurant with the aunts and uncles for dinner. It is there that I realize it is gone! I call the funeral home frantically and ask them to check for it. I go through the restaurant with a fine tooth comb. I search my car. It's nowhere and in the delicacy of my grief at that moment I feel utterly crushed. That night I drive back to the parking lot of the restaurant and search with a flash light. Nothing. It's gone. Forever.

There was reporter in our local paper at that time named Carol Ritter. She wrote a folksy column about everyday happenings and often specialized in helping her readers locate things. An old recipe, a certain antique...stuff like that. So I write to her and plead my case. Could she please ask her readers to watch out for my little scroll if the found it? And if someone had found it - could they please send it back to me? She didn't answer my letter so after a week or so I called and left a message. I received a call back on my answering machine the next day. Very curt and to the point. "I don't do last and found anymore." For several years after that, I couldn't look at her picture next to her column without being a little mad.

Flash forward another thirteen years. Last month I am at my organization's annual fundraising gala. Because I am one of the key staff members, hubby and I are seated at the table with the guest speakers. One of the speakers, who does the auction part of the evening is none other than- Carol Ritter! All of the memories come rushing back. Here I am sitting face to face with this woman and I want so bad to tell her about my little scroll. And how she could've helped but she didn't. But I don't. Because that was so long ago and I know she wouldn't remember anyway. Besides, I'd come to terms with the fact that the words I'd penned those many years ago were lost and it really wasn't her fault. So I'm cordial and I smile and make small talk. But the little scroll has once again found a way into the corners of my mind and I think of it...and mom.

So now it's yesterday. I am cleaning out some stuff in the basement in anticipation of our future move. I lug out my old hope chest that has not been opened in over 16 years - since the last move. It's all dusty and musty but I plod through it and spend way more time than I need to - handling all it's contents gently as I revisit the past. Old corsages from letters from the guy I almost stubs from my first job back in 1973 (I was making $1.65 an hour!)...lots of loose pictures....notes scratched on napkins......matchbooks....a notebook with magazine pictures taped to its pages of furniture that I wanted to decorate my house with when I married aforementioned boyfriend. Ghastly stuff in lime green and orange! (it was the 70's - what can I say?)

Then way back in the corner of the bottom drawer I find a wad of notebook paper all crumbled up. There are two sheets and one is torn in half. Something I must've meant to throw away at one time but decided not to and stuffed it into the hope chest. As I gently unroll the wad I see that it is the rough draft of the poem I'd written for mom 34 years ago! It was all there - every line! I thought I'd never see those words again! Reminiscent of the last time I came across that poem - I clutch the wad of paper to my heart and whisper a thank you to God.

The surreal part of it all....that after all these years I'd run into Carol Ritter again and think about the poem once more. That this would all happen so very close to Mother' Day....and that I would find my precious poem....on the eve of the anniversary of Mom's death. You see, she went to be with Jesus 13 years ago today. And I miss her so very much.

So here's the poem. A little hokey (like I mentioned) but I was only 18....

A Prayer for Mother's Day

Not a day goes by I do not pray
And thank the Lord above
For the mother that he's given me
Her thoughts, her words, her love.

I thank Him for the way she has
Of making each day brighter
Understanding all my cares and fears
So that my burdens might be lighter.

And I thank Him for the times we have
To sit and talk a while
Whether arguing or whispering
Through tears or through a smile.
And then I'll sit and think a bit
Of How she'll give and never take
How she'll do it in her children's names
and for her children's' sake.

Then I'll think of all the worries
And the problems she must bear
But there's always time enough for us
Time enough to care.

And she never seems too busy
Never seems too worn
To lend an ear or helping hand
Whenever I'm forlorn.

She'll just look at me and smile
And then through loving eyes
She'll answer all my questions
All the who's - the what's - the whys.

And I'll just sit and listen
When all at once I'll see
There's not a greater friend in all the world
As this woman here by me.

For there's no one I trust more than her
In who I can confide
And know that through the thick of it
She'll be ever at my side.

No one else could be so patient
No one else could be so true
No one else could ever understand
The way that mothers do.

So I'll repent for all the wasted times
In vain I always fought her
And will remember always God
She's my mother - I'm her daughter.

And though others may spend all their lives
Searching the whole world round
The mother that they're looking for
Has already been found.

And maybe when she read this
She'll cry and make a fuss
But that's just another of her special ways
Of saying she loves us.

And I can't think of a better time
Or a better way to say
How very much she means to me
Than on her special day.

So here's to a Happy Mother's Day
May God hold you in his palm
And may you never have to ask me
Just how much I love you, Mom!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Call Me Old-fashioned...."

Is it just me or is anyone else a bit flabbergasted at the "graceful" return of Tiger Woods? Almost reminiscent of the Clinton debacle... where my innocent little girls learned what "oral sex" was. Gheesh!

I'm all for restoring a repentant sinner. I'm certainly not perfect and have made my share of mistakes. But it's a little disheartening to consider our society has reached the point where we are willing to "overlook" pretty blatant indiscretions and just get back to business as usual.

Consider these recent headlines: "

Tiger Woods gets best wishes from his jilted porn star Joselyn James"

"Tiger Woods lost his moral compass - not his swing!"

"Tiger Woods wife Elin not to attend Masters"

There was a time when a person's moral character would make or break them. That's the mantra I repeated to my daughters over and over as they were growing up. Especially when Bill and Monica were taking over the headlines.

I'm a little scared for our society.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The House That Love Built.....

Lately I've had writer's cramp. Have ya' noticed? Used to be my blog posts would begin forming in my head no matter where was or what I was doing. Reminds me of my late brother-in-law...he wrote a column for a local newspaper and often times in the midst of an activity he'd start staring off in the distance and one of hi s kids would say..."I sense a future column in the works!"

The past few months though, for me, have been somewhat dry in the idea process. I guess with the new job and the house in its final stages - my mind has been (shall we say...) pre-occupied. We've been working on the house for so long now (we broke ground in April of 2007!) that some of the walls already need re-painting! I often walk through the rooms (none of which are completely finished yet) and try to imagine us living there. I can't tell you how many times I've stepped into the new shower - closed my eyes - and pretended it was all done and I was really in there for a shower. Is that weird? (C'mon I know you guys must do weird things like that too...right?)

I keep bringing over little things to make it home-like (as much as it can be in the midst of sawhorses and ladders and buckets of tools...) like this little red lamp that I put on an old table in the master bedroom. Or the lace curtains I hung up in the bathroom that has the aforementioned shower - but no toilet or sinks yet. There is a single wine goblet in one of the cupboards in the kitchen (still no counter tops mind you) and an old chair that we found on the side of the road last fall that I knew would be perfect in the guest room. I sit on that chair sometimes too (eyes closed of course) and pretend that the room is finished.

Sometimes, when I start feeling impatient and get a little grumpy because the house is taking so l-o-n-g - I have to remind myself how lucky I am to be able to be able to be "starting over" at this phase in my life with everything all new and different. I never really had a lot of new stuff. We always made do with other people's cast offs and were thankful that they were at least "new" to us. To be able to actually pick out things the way I want them - that reflect me and who I am and what I love has been a real treat. So if it's taking longer than I expected (and those of you who have been following me for some time know exactly how long that has been!)then I can wait a little more.

Underneath the drywall in the kitchen - written between the existing studs on the old backer wall is a note I scrawled in marker to inspire hubby & I as we worked.

It reads: Don't focus on the destination so much....that you forget to enjoy the journey.

Someday...many, many years from now - some young couple may be tearing apart the walls in a remodeling project and find the note. Perhaps they will wonder about us....and the house that love built...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Wnter Warmth....

I'm sitting here at my desk - have finished my newsletter, returned all necessary phone calls, reviewed the residents' charts and had my obligatory cup of coffee. And decided to post on my blog....haven't been able to do that as regularly as I'd like.

The sun is shining right now and it almost feels like spring! The other day as I was walking to my car in the morning I actually heard birds chirping! Even though there is still a foot of snow in some places around here - I do believe that we are turning the page on a new season.

I love spring! It signifies the end of winter and is the prelude to summer. (I love summer even better!) When late hubby was still here, on the first real sunny day of spring - we would open the garage door and position our chase lounges so that we were blocked from the wind but sitting smack in the middle of the sunlight - turn the radio on and close our eyes and pretend we were sitting on some exotic beach somewhere.
Neither of us were fans of the snow and cold.
When the kids were younger we decorated our finished basement in a beach theme. Painted the walls a sand color - installed an aqua carpet and hung pictures of beaches, light houses and seashells all around. It was our escape from winter get-away. One time we set up the patio umbrella table down there, cranked up the kerosene heater so it felt warm and almost humid, and lit some coconut candles. I made a macaroni salad and hubby pulled the gas grill under an eave outside and cooked some hot dogs. With a jar of dill pickles and a bag of chips we had our own little picnic with the kids - smack dab in the middle of February.

Those were good times!

I miss that the girls are all grown up now. And I miss that I seem to be so busy these days that I don't give into the spontaneity that used to be such a big part of my life. So two weeks ago I decided to have snow day with my 5 year old grandson. We bundled up and went over to the new house where grandpa was working. First we had a snowball war. Then we followed deer tracks into the woods. We hiked down the path that leads to the swamp (and I got a soaker!) We built a snowman with a fat orange carrot for a nose and real charcoal chunks for his eyes and mouth. We gathered wood and made a big roaring campfire that we sat at as we munched on crackers and let our wet mittens dry on a branch nearby.
At one point the little guy looked up at me with his big round blue eyes and said "Gramma - this is the funnest thing ever!"

These are still good times....!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

February has flown by and I haven't had time to write here at all! The new job is keeping me busy as I lean the ropes and as always...we are s-t-i-l-l working on the house! I'm beginning to think we will never move in there! My house here is semi-boxed up and ready to go - there are whole rooms with barely any furniture - and I feel very displaced. I certainly long for the routine and normalcy that have been set aside these past few years (did I say YEARS?) Ummm...yes I did.

I came across some pictures last week that are earmarked for the photo album/journal that I hope to complete when the house is done - that will chronicle this "labor of love" - and the date in the corner of one batch was 2007! We have been working on this crazy house for 3 years! I can't tell you how many times I have walked through the empty rooms - first when they were just divided by 2x4's....then bare drywall....and now at least painted...and daydreamed of how it will be when we finally move in.

Of course I realize all the problems I have now will follow me. The house won't be a panacea for all that ails me. I keep reminding myself that "Unless the Lord builds the house - he that builds it labors in vain..." And so I am plodding on and trying to be grateful for today and content to live with a greater part of my life in boxes!

I've posted some pics of our progress....enjoy! (they aren't in order...obviously...)

And a side note to all the ANONYMOUS SPAMMERS who have been leaving comments on my blog - do not waste your time. I only post comments from my legitimate followers. This blog is not a forum forum for advertising your links to "male enhancement techniques" and all the other garbage I've been receiving. Don't waste your time posting. it takes more time for you to type than it does for me to hit "reject."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A New Year...A New Direction for my Life...

Remember last year - how one of my New Year's resolutions was to NOT procrastinate? It's January 16th and my Christmas tree is still up. Enough said.

I haven't watered it in over 2 weeks because I kept thinking I was going to take it down "the next day" and why bother. It's at the point now where I walk by and just the gentle breeze from my passing body causes the needles to fall off. Reminiscent of that old Charlie brown Christmas special where all the needs fall of the tree with a tinkling sound.

The tree needs to come down. I am pathetic! Today is the day.

The new job is 2 weeks in and I am loving it! I didn't think anything would ever measure up to teaching but this is it. The people I work with are awesome and it is so low key there and peaceful. As peaceful as one can expect in a Hospice Home. While it can be sad to be in the midst of dying people and their grieving families - there is an element of satisfaction in knowing that you are there beside them to help then through this difficult time and makes things as comfortable as you can in the process.

I'd always been drawn to this kind of work....but kept it tucked in the corners of my mind because I figured I would be a better art teacher. The thing that hooked me on the Hospice philosophy (so many years ago) occurred one weekend in the spring of 1988. We got a call to rush to Ohio where my father-in-law lay dying. He was in a Hospice facility and I was awed by the gentleness and kindness of the people there. He died peacefully as we all stood around his bedside and encouraged him to "let go...that it was okay....that we were all here..." It was a strange experience for me. I had never seen someone die.

The next day as my emotions were still in overdrive, I got a call from my sister. She was in labor and wanted me to come over and keep her company. Several hours later I stood yet again at a bedside and was encouraging my sister (along with her hubby of course) "that it was okay...we were all here..." In the course of 48 hours I saw one human being leave this world and another enter it. The similarity between the two was striking. I was hooked. I bought Elizabeth Kubler Ross's book "Death and Dying" and tried to learn as much as I could about the hospice philosophy. I took a home health aide course and began caring for Hospice patients in their homes.

Then the real world enveloped me and I found myself caring for my own mom in a hospice setting....then a month later my dad....and a few years after husband. I had now seen 4 people die and I figured that was enough for my lifetime. So I went back to school and got my teaching degree.

My sisters took a different course. One became a Hospice Nurse and the other, a Hospice Volunteer Coordinator. Then one day this past fall, sis called me up and said there was an opening for a Volunteer Coordinator at one of the local Hospice Homes in our area...and was I interested. Fast forward and here I am. The job fits like a glove. The administrative part is right up my alley - and the interaction with the families and the residents (we don't call them patients) is immensely rewarding.

I am struck by the words in the bible that say "He comforts us in our afflictions, so that we might comfort others..."

It's amazing how hindsight causes all the pieces in a puzzle to fit together. This is where I was meant to be.

Now you must excuse me now while I go tackle that tree!