Saturday, May 30, 2009
What I've Learned These Past Months, Without Trying.
A little more than four months ago, I had surgery for a knee problem, and looked forward to a quick recovery. Now plans are made for more surgery on the same knee. I am sure other things are going on in people's lives and in this world, but it does not feel that way for me.

As many of you know, I come from an earlier time, certainly qualifying me for this kind of surgery. The time I came from, that we called the Great Depression, taught me many things.

You wouldn't believe how far I can stretch a dollar, or remake clothes so they fit the younger children. I am almost an expert at making old curtains fit new windows. When groceries were scarce, I created new recipes. I am good at a lot of things. But lately I haven't been dealing so well with all this surgery, So I am doing the next best thing, and it's right in character. I will get everything I can from this awful situation.

This is what I've learned from my misery. At least part of the knee problem began because I planted a rose bush. Lesson number one, although I won't be numbering, is, next time someone wants to plant a rose bush for me, I will let them. There's a new appreciation in me for being gracious. Lots of people have shown thoughful courtesies, so I don't dwell on those who didn't. Perhaps they're dealing with problems worse than mine.

There are many things, not in any certain order. This round of surgery I'll make sure I get a nice walker, one with wheels, and a place to sit on if I need to. I already use a different bed. Switched to one I don't have to walk around several times to make.

My kitchen again looks like I've just moved in. Dishes and bowls and flatware are handily situated to eliminate trips. A table near a favorite recliner in the living room is full of books and papers, and things nice to keep handy, to cut down on extra walking.

Because I was smart enough to get a house that's all one level, there are hardly any stairs to deal with. An extra garbage can sits real handy outside, so I don't need to figure out how to get across the backyard patio to where it usually goes.

Early on in dealing with this unwanted loss of mobility, I learned to keep needed things in my huge bag, and to take the lightest books and things to church, and other places, to cut down on heaviness. It's a real hoot to see me bring groceries in, but sometimes neighbors, if they see me, come over and help.

At church, people are especially helpful, opening doors I'd have trouble with, carrying things for me. You wouldn't believe how many details we take so for granted, as long as our arms and legs work like they need to. Once when I'd just gotten there, our pastor saw I had an armful, and got someone to come to my car and help me. The next time I arrived, the same young man hurried over, with his arm extended, a little like how the bridal party walks down aisles. After kind of feeling stuck in stores that got crowded, I learned to go shopping at less busy times.

So far it looks like I have a pretty good grip on things. But I haven't told you what is probably the most important thing. You don't know the times I've lost my wonderful attitude, and cried. Stooped to feeling a little sorry. It's so hard to get through this time. Yesterday I was getting gas for the car. Paid the clerk, and headed back out to fill the tank, and it wouldn't let me. Had cut off because it took longer for me to walk from the store, and my purchase was cancelled.

Other times, people would ask how I'm doing, and offer to come over if I needed something done. Said they would, but didn't. Perhaps it's a little like "Have a nice day", or "How are you?' figures of speech. They are not invested in your day. They don't really want to know.

When this situation began I decided I would use this time wisely. Write more of a story I'm wanting to tell. Practice remembering just met people's names. Be more sensitive to family situations. With all my good intentions, I would just about remake me. But I haven't.

I have done some serious reading these past months, and really worked at not getting into watching dumb T.V. I am shocked at the increase of rawness I see in programs and commercials. I make myself go to social events and things, although it would be easier to just stay at home.

More than a fourth of a year has arrived and gone. Already it is near the end of spring, and another summer. But all is not for nothing, because I've at least done one important thing, made a personal enventory, and know what needs repairing, as much as my knee.

  posted at 10:15 PM  

Friday, May 22, 2009
Life Is What Happens While You're........ Or: I Should Have Just Ordered The Fries.
Because I'd just learned that more surgery's required to fix this ailing leg, I decided to take care of things I've put off, like having snow tires removed, and getting new tags for the car.

On the way to the tire place I realized I was hungry, and remembered a Burger King is close by, and since I'd probably have a wait, could enjoy a burger, and some fries. Then as usual, I did my little"squeeze the cash" mental dance. Perhaps I'd only get fries, lots of fries, for I really like them, and those of you who are Irish will probably understand. There is something about eating potatoes, cooked almost any kind of way that soothes our Irish souls.

But inside the BK it is a noonday madhouse, and I'm so busy dodging people who are in a hurry, and didn't expect to manuever around an unexpected crutch, that I decide what the heck, and blow my entire mental budget by ordering one Whopper Jr, and a regular order of fries, and then for some reason I still don't understand, and wish I hadn't, some onion rings.

I hadn't had onion rings in years, but today was kind of special. I was still getting accustomed to the idea of having more surgery, and anyway the entire order was less than four bucks. The clerk looked a little confused, or mayby she was bewildered, when Iasked her how many rings I would get. She gave me a look like my question would never be answered, so I let it be, and when my order finally came, quickly looked inside the bag and made sure there were three items, and made my way to where I thought there might be some napkins, but couldn't find any, so I left.

At the tire store I got started with the wait, after a nice worker took time to park my car, so I would have to walk less. I found a good spot that wasn't crowded, and pulled out a small book I would enjoy as soon as I ate.

Reaching down into the sack I thought it a little strange that such a little burger was so big. I could see the onion rings, and there seemed to be many, and then I discovered another little burger. But fries? Absolutely none. If it hadn't been so far to walk back over, I would have tried getting the order corrected, but I wasn't about to tackle that, and anyway, the clerk couldn't understand my American English. I tried eating part of the really big whatever it was, and could see it was twice as thick as ordinary burgers, and sure enough, it was chicken, almost oozing in its still cold cheese, even though the 'someone else's order' I got was marked "No Cheese," and the small burger was just as mistreated, trying to get its own breath while drowning in its mound of the goopy yellow stuff.

If I could relive this situation, I would have put everything back in the burger bag, and dump it in the nearest garbage. But as I struggled to make my body comfortable in chairs that leaned too forward, I stuffed an onion ring in my mouth, and immediately realized something had broken. I checked the onion rings again, and they almost felt as hard as the tooth I'd just ruined. That made two teeth that need replacing, but dental work cannot be done until this leg situation is resolved. If tears would have helped, I would have turned them on. But I just sat there, and concentrated on how to place my legs, so I could bear waiting for the tires to be changed.

Eventually it got done, and after having the tire men rearrange the snow tires so I could see through the rear window, I headed to the Dept. of Vehicles, to get the new tags. As I drove, the little red warning light showed again. I was pretty sure it was the rear door, since my driver's side was alright, and the other three doors probably didn't get opened. So I pulled over again, and waited for someone to come by.

With my teeth missing, and my hair needing a good cut, I didn't exactly look like the best desperate housewife. The man looked a little perplexed, but did walk closer. I showed him my crutch, and asked him to close the rear door better, and he did, and I thanked him profusely, then headed to my next stop.

I got as close as I could to the handicapped parking, but two other vehicles were already there, so I took the furtherest spot, and slowly inhaled a few times, before walking again. One of the others getting out of their cars must have said something the first did not lunderstand, or particularly like. Maybe it was just her abupt tone, but the man proceded to tell her what he thought, and she didn't waiver, just kept saying "Come over here so you can see my arm is really gone". She said she lost it in an old war, and that people accuse her all the time of not really needing handicapped parking, because they can't see that an arm is missing. The man explains he's a Vietnam veteran, and by now the two of them are exchanging wartime tales. and I'm not about to miss how they end, because it must be more interesting than knee surgery, or car doors left open, or breaking teeth on onion rings.

She walks faster, and goes through the doors, and the man turns to me and says "What's wrong with your leg?" I tell him it's a partial knee replacement, and he lights up immediately. Leans on his walker as he tells me I need one of those. But I leave that alone. "I'm having a replacement done next week," he says, as he pats one of his knees. "This all began when I got shot long ago, in Vietnam". He wants to know if I think I had a good doctor, but I assume we're just making talk now, so I let that go.

Inside I look over where this man is sitting, and in my mind, I see a young soldier being dragged out of battle, and I wonder how the elderly, outspoken woman lost her arm. But I will never know. I skip from there to now, and decide perhaps my coming surgery isn't as critical as I sometimes want to think. In life, sometimes we brush against another person, and will never know more about them than that. So it's important that we leave them at least a happy moment of ourselves.

Before next week, when I do a consult with the doctor who will do the new surgery, I intend to use these days as wisely as I can, trying on everything hanging in my closet, and donating what doesn't fit. I plan doing the same with rows and rows of books. To read all of them, I would have to live many years. If I can discipline myself, I may deal with some paperwork.

From now on I will not pick up more church activities, or other time stealers. (That thought reminds me of a conversation I had not so long ago with a daughter.) I will only clean and dust when I must, and the next time I am hungry I will get a double order of the fries. While I am getting through this life, it is time to brush into myself.

  posted at 11:23 AM  

Monday, May 18, 2009
The Return Of The Iris, and other Miscellany
As I looked out at the yard this morning, more and more iris had opened, and then, because I've so much time to spend, I walked closer to the tallest group of them, and measured where their height fell on me. I'm 5' 6", and the tallest iris is at least some inches higher than above my belly button. One knows, that like our own, their beauty cannot last. It's up to us, how much of it we choose to lose ourselves in. But I feel a strong need to look at more than the flowers.

I am getting better at ignoring clumps of weeds I cannot thin. Silly things, that think they can compete with iris majesty. I make my way back in the house, and look for something to busy me, or at least share my mind with.

Right near my Bible, and stacks of other books, sets my next reading assignment, "Computers Simplified", from MaranGraphics, "The 3-D Visual Approach to Learning About Computers". Never mind I'm years behind doing this. At least I'm finally starting. As I began reading it, and checking its many pictures, I realized I know more about computering, than I thought I did. I still don't know how to program a new service for the computer, or to install a different modum. So this is serious study time for me. But I will take credit that I knew a new program would require something. Progress! even if it's little.

Another book I am so enjoying is titled "UNDER GOD", Triumph and Tragedy: Stories of "AMERICA'S SPIRITUAL BATTLE", by dc Talks, Toby Mac and Michael Tait, with help from the Wallbuilders". I like that it's made up of stories only a few pages long, so it's easy to read an entire section, without feeling that I'm taking too long. I can hardly believe I just said that. Here I am, with all this time to fill. Strange, that we cling to habits from so long ago.

Years, when I was a very busy mom, but without much education, while learning new words, I hit on the idea of clipping a list of them to my kitchen curtain with a clothes pen, just above the sink. While peeling potatoes, or washing the dishes, I taught myself word meanings, and how to spell. A few days ago, while at the kitchen sink here, I remembered doing that, and though it may sound a little like too much of myself, I smiled, remembering it.

This "Under God" book contains enough information to satisfy requirements for a full term college course. It's about America's beginning. Early on, it tells us of a battle on the Monongahela, near Fort Duquesne, (now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), part of the French and Indian War, and it's about George Washington in particular. It points out he, only a twenty-three year old officer, became the Continental Army's Commander in Chief, and later, of course, our country's first president. (See page 12 paragraph 4).

It also points out that Washington was never injured in battle. On page 12 and 13, an Indian Chief, came a long ways, to where Washington was, and told him "The Great Spirit protects this man", "and guides his destinies....." "He will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire."

To our country, formed "Under God", brave men "Mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor", making it "more than a declaration, more than a document". ...... It was a covenant, the most solemn, the most sacred of human agreements. Paragraph 4, page 18 declares that "God himself was a witness of their actions that day."

Paragraph 5, page 18, showed "their independence from earthly power and authority," and "our Founding fathers declared their dependence upon Almighty God", "With firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence". This is what our country was built on. If we're not safeguarding its principles enough, we can easily lose not only our pledge to our country, and its flag, but other rights those early documents were drafted for, to ensure safeguards for them. Brave men (and some women) risked everything so we can have them. Our military still stands guard for them, and for us.

As I write those lines about our country forming, I remember the long dark portraits of Washington and Lincoln in my grade school, they seemed to stare down on my little girl frame. I am so thankful "Columbines" did not exist then. I understand our not allowing any religion's wouldbe Deity to rule our country, but we also have turned so far the other direction, where our society almost proclaims no allegiance anymore to much of anything. Our founding fathers were willing to die for this democracy, and that's why we have it today, and have an obligation to protect it for our coming generations.

I've been known to read more than one book at a time. This time it's three, and the third is the one I open more quickly. This New York Times best seller, first published in 1996, and republished twice after the first edition, should be required reading for anyone who works with mistreated, abused women. "ARE YOU SOMEBODY" The Accidental Memoir Of A Dublin Woman", grabs your heart, and even your temper, as you live the not just horrible, but degrading life this fine brilliant woman is entrapped in, both by her religion, and her culture, and the time she had the misfortune to be born in. But she is remarable, as honest with herself, as she is others, and in between the misery is a sense of humor that's superb

I've studied about womens' life conditions, styles even, and from my own experience, know that something that should be so personal, child bearing, is often influenced by currently accepted social norms. While this author, Nuala O'Faolain's birthing was largly determined by the Catholic Church's laws in Dublin, mine was dictated by an all male govering board of the Baptist hospital, who chose to refuse to allow my tubes to be tied, even though I already had six perfectly healthy children.

On the back cover of O'Faolain's pages you just keep turning, are the best comments about "Are You Somebody?" While her love of books and reading did much to save her, "O'Faolain has distilled her experiences into a wisdom that can only come from an obstinate refusal to shrink from life.

The story of how she defines herself outside the traditional roles assigned to women proves an exhilarting example of courage, honesty, and bold living. I truly wish I could have read this book in my first year of college, and certainly before I married.

  posted at 11:35 AM  

Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Attitude Improvement Sorely Needed
If I had to choose only one word to describe how this day was going, it would surely be CLUELESS, At least that's how it started. For a while, I thought I'd handled it better, a silly idea, bolstered by this year's first Iris blooming. Clearly visible from my favorite chair, as I started on my first cup of coffee.

Many other Irises are on the brink of showing, cradled by way too many flowerbed weeds, but I willed myself to ignore their ugliness, and sat awhile, drinking in the Iris along with morning coffee.

Throughout this lengthy time of still not being healed, most days I handle it very well. But today I was leaning much too close to negativity, and when the mail came, I got worse. Health insurance sent a legal looking notice that some of my coverage is denied. A few phone calls showed the problem can be fixed, but the dry and abrupt tone of one of them added nothing to the day. So instead of appreciating that the problem is OK, I kept holding on to the negativity I started the day with.

A while later someone knocked at my door. Perhaps, I thought, a neigbor's teenage son, looking for summer work. But as he started spilling out his approach, I knew he wasn't looking for flowerbed weeding, or other yard work, and certainly not sweat breaking painting house trim.

As soon as he tried convincing me he needed a huge number of credits to reach his goal, I should have stopped him there, saving each of of us some time, but the story he tried so hard to convince me with, was so far in left field, I decided to hear more of it, for future reference.

He said he's a home schooled student, and anyway, all of this is his mother's idea; that he needed to discuss career choices, and make eye contact with adults, as he talked. He asked what kind of work I do, and when I told him nursing, he jumped into a noble story about wanting to give medical care to the disadvanteged. But to do this, he must get a huge number of credits, from adults, like me.

He tried again to hand me information through the door about the credits, and this was after I refused to open it the first time. I just stood there, suprized that I hadn't caught on to his spiel sooner. Even on a good day, I wouldn't have bought whatever he's selling, but today wasn't a good one for any kind of door to door approach, and besides that, my leg was hurting. So I told him very carefully I would only say this once, that he needed to listen, and pick up his skate board, and head it for the road, and even then, he wanted to try his sales pitch again, but stuck his speech notes in his pocket, and did leave.

I couldn't believe how easily I let his big array of lies affect my day. Almost instantly, I had let him erase the beauty of the Iris from my head, and upset myself because today's youth aren't taught much responsibilty, or how to earn their pay, and their telling ballfaced lies is no longer considered breaking a serious moral law. I mean, what is this pitiful world coming to, anyway! I had worked myself into a mental frenzy, and I'll bet the young man did not waste one split second of a nan-o-moment thinking about me, except perhaps, to again inforce todays' youths, just how nutty little old ladies can be, as he sped down the road on his skate board.

About that same time, the phone rang, and someone who slurs her words and speaks rapidly, launched into a survey, and since I just cancelled some services, and changed some, to cut down on expenses, thought it odd that I'd be survey'd today.

Besides that, I was a little rung out from dealing with the door-to-door teenager, and wasn't up to another round of battling our wills. But this time, I simply let it go, and thanked her for calling, even though I didn't need to, and now I think I'll restart what's left of this day, and look at the Iris again.

  posted at 4:22 PM  

Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Bits And Pieces, And A Holiday, Too.
I hope to share several things with you here. Will see how I do with the leg here at the computer. I am determined to not bore you with ongoing details about it.

A few days ago, after the yard was mowed, I noticed scattered leaves and branches at my front door, and didn't understand why they were there. A closer look explained it. Up high, above the outside light, was an ugly clustering of more small limbs, and even bits of strings or something that might have been pulled from a mop.

Poking out everywhere, It looked a little like an old TV person's outrageous hair style. I think her name was Phylis Diller. On a whim she mussed up her hair and showed it to TV land, and became famous for it looking so bad.

Sometimes I'm slow at figuring things out, Lately I'd noticed more birds hanging around. Even saw one pulling a long earthworm out of the yard. If they'd built their nest farther from the door, we might could live that close together, but I couldn't let it stay at the door. Am not up to crawling over a six foot fence to get in and out the house. Still, I felt really awful, tearing the nest down. So far they've rebuilt it once more, so I think we are in for a battle of the wills. But it's not all bad. At least it's more interesting than this ongoing leg problem.

One might think I'd like and appreciate all this down time, but even that can wear thin. Sometimes I resort to treasure shopping at the nearest thrift store, just to get out of the house. Found an old movie titled: "Andre", I'm hoping my seven year old friend might like to watch with me. It's about a real seal that swam many miles to visit the human family that rescued him when he was an orphaned pup. The story is also about a harbor master's shy nine-year-old daughter. I thought my great little friend might relate to the girl.

Of course I seldom get out of the thrift store without finding more books. Two I found this time are: "A Forgiving God In An Unforgiving World", by Ron Lee Davis, and 'The Grace Awakening", by Charles R. Swindoll. Both of these small books, (about 200 to 300 pages each), appear to be very good for spiritual checkups, something I sure need sometimes.

Speaking of spiritual checkups, I am surprising me with all I'm learning about the Bible, while I have more time for reading it. This still unresolved problem about my leg is sometimes hard to deal with, but far more blessings than complaints come my way because of it. Feelings and emotions sometime wear thin. But God takes care of even things like that. I try to stay upbeat, but sometimes am down, and something will happen, like a stranger holding a door for me, or; like this morning, the phone rang. My special friend is treating me to a "Day of Prayer" program and lunch at our church, and she called to arrange it, and later tonight, one of my great sons called, to arrange a Mothers' Day outing, and included another son so he isn't left out. I don't think I'll ever tire of seeing my children forget about sibling rivalry, and just be nice to each other.

Before the day was over I about felt special, a little like royalty. When I'm eventually over this illness, I seriously intend to do things like that to cheer up others. Sometimes we may not realize how much someone needs it.

I think I am finally understanding how this religious stuff works. Not that I'm an outstanding example. I do get upset at all the bad stuff that's happening in our world, the violence in the news and on TV, and family values attacked almost daily. Having respect doesn't seem to be taught much anymore, certainly not as much as a few generations ago.

These things sadden me, for we are losing something we may never get back. But if we keep replacing the bad with God's Goodness, like friends and family did today for me, we may gain some ground. The next time you are in the marketplace spread a little kindness and see what happens.

  posted at 9:47 PM  

About Me
Name: Judith

Location: Colorado

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