Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly


I had Big Plans for this weekend. That were swiftly interrupted by a trip to the emergency room this morning.

I bought a ceramic curling iron yesterday and decided to give it a go this morning before family came over to take me to lunch. I cranked it up to the highest setting , and promptly dropped it on the carpet. I had the clarity of mind to step back so it didn't land on my bare feet. I remember thinking I shouldn't grab it by the black end, because that end of my Chi = the Dangerous Side. Hmmm. Seems there is a different Wrong End of the newest instrument of hair torture in my home.

I closed my entire right hand around the barrel for a nano second. You know: the amount of time for the brain to scream "DROP IT LIKE IT'S HOT!" Because it was setting 24 worth of The Hot.

I immediately grabbed a handful of ice as the relatives stopped by to pick me up for lunch. With a surprise detour to have a doctor assess the damage. Apparently, icing it quickly kept the burn from going too deep: "only" first and second degree burns that needed to be medicated, wrapped and elevated with ice packs. And pain meds that caused me to lose the remainder of the afternoon.

I am convinced doctors do not figure in the size of a person when prescribing medication. I am 5 feet tall. I'm thinking a 6 foot, 300 pound man would receive the same Rx. Summarizing: I no longer feel the pain in my hand, but I also do not have the mental activity to remember my children's names. Nor can I follow any television shows more complicated than "Storage Wars" or "Auction Kings". My brain is reduced to the lowest possible denominator by this medicine.


Young Son stayed for a while with me to make sure I was going to be okay. While we were visiting (read: he was talking, I was listening through a legally induced drug fog), he said, "Wow. Look at the size of that lizard on the carpet by the window." My arch nemesis and quasi-roommate The Lizard (discussed in this post) was staring me down. Probably knowing I was vulnerable to attack. Little did he know that Young Son has trapped critters for lo, these 24 years and said lizard was going down. Using a small trash can, file folder and trashbag, the freeloader was evicted to the outdoors in a matter of seconds.


(And you probably thought I was exaggerating.)

Good riddance, wayward reptile. At least the skin on my hand will heal. You shall always have lizard skin. Outside. Where you belong.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mile Marker

Today would have been D's birthday; the second without him. Last year this day was quite a struggle for me. I was pleasantly surprised to find today was full of good memories of happy times. Loyal Sister spent the day antiquing with me, and we happened to go to many of the places D and I enjoyed visiting together. He came up in our conversations often and easily. We laughed more than once over things he had said and done. It has become so natural to talk about him, and include memories of him in conversation.

Some of the last words I spoke to D were to reassure him it was alright to leave because he had fought the good fight with cancer long enough to see all the kids graduate from high school and most of them finish college. I know he would be so proud of all they have accomplished since he left us. H is graduating from Seminary in May. E is graduating in August and getting married in September. K and her husband J are being transferred to Wisconsin. Young Son, C, is making plans to move to South Korea to teach this fall. D did not raise slacker children.

Today, I remembered some of the last words that D spoke to me. He was deep in thought and he turned toward me and said, "I've just decided. I know that you are going to be fine when I'm gone. You have great friends and family and they are going to take good care of you." He was so right. But I wish he was here taking care of me, too.

And guess what? I type that sentence on my keyboard without tears, without pain in my heart. He is where he is supposed to be and so am I. God will continue to heal my heart and put me steadfastly on the path He has for me.

But D: You are never far from my thoughts and my heart. And those thoughts are now so full of happy memories. Happy Birthday, Baby. I'm forever changed by the years I shared with you.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Customer Service WIth/Without a Smile

I'm in Lowe's to make a big purchase. But I have questions. So, I do what I always do: try to flag down an employee. They do what they always do when they see a woman with questions: grab their store phone and pretend to be deep in Important Conversation. Not this time, buddy. I'm not falling for it. I plant my little feet in front of the chattering employee and force him to make eye contact.

"Can I help you?" he asks, less than enthusiastically, and truth be told, less than willingly.

"Yes," I reply. "Are you busy?" (No points for imitation busy, mister.)

"Well. Yes. Sort of. Can you make it quick?" he semi-barks, while he reluctantly puts away his store phone (aka female customer avoidance device.)

If you've read this blog for a while, you know that I buy lots of stuff and services at Lowe's. (And Lowe's if you track blogs, contact me and I can give you an ear full on your less than helpful/courteous/informed employees.) I left the store with my purchases, carefully saving the receipt because I'm not convinced the choice of merchandise I made was a good one. Partly because my helper was eager to get back to his faux phone calls.

I leave and head out for another errand, when I notice that I am pretty irritated. And I am hot. In the physical sense. Seems my car's air conditioner has conked out. Kaput. Finished.

I had the car in with my favorite mechanic that morning and he had replaced some kind of pump. I'm not sure if the new part is anywhere in the neighborhood of the air conditioning. But I know it was working when I handed the keys over to Chuck. (Yes, we are on a first name basis. I can do many things, but car repair is not and never will be among them. Amen.)

I frantically called him and he told me to bring it in first thing this morning. I am amazed at how quickly my thoughts turned to just how bad this could be. Texas in the summer requires an air conditioner; there is no other option save moving to Canada. I thought of having to buy another car. Of the sweet lady who is fighting cancer that I want to take out for dinner. She can't ride in a steaming hot car. Of how grumpy I get when I am hot and sweaty. Drat.

I took the car in today and Chuck immediately began looking it over. I sat in the waiting room and prayed, wondering if God really would reach down from heaven and fix my car's a/c. Or guide Chuck to the easy fix.

Moments later, he strolled in. "All finished," he proudly proclaimed. Seems there is a button that must be pushed for the air conditioning to produce cold air. It must have been inadvertently pushed yesterday during the repair. Or my flayling after my Lowe's visit. And then, the second miracle: no charge.

Chuck: you are my hero. You could have sold me a new a/c unit, and I'd have found the money to pay for it. I've lived through far too many Texas summers to know it can't be done without the cooling. And I'd have eaten beans and rice for a year if necessary.

I took Chuck and his guys the finest homemade cookies HEB (our local grocery) could produce. I'm thankful for his honest, integrity and customer service. The Lowe's guy? Putting him on hold for a while.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Learning Curves

I just returned from a wonderful Spring Break trip to the bustling 'burb of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Yet another reunion with precious high school friends where we talked, ate and shopped nonstop. NONSTOP. I feel that my life is sorted out, enriched and blessed beyond compare during these visits.

Now? Back to the Real World. Where Daylight Savings time wreaked havoc with my clocks, cable and wireless internet in my absence. Deep breath. I can do this. When in doubt, unplug the device and plug it back in. HALLELUJAH! All electrical paraphernalia set right.

Feeling a little heady, I decided to reset the clock in my car. And not wait for six months until the time is correct again next fall when DLS time returns. Which I may or may not have done before. The secret was revealed in the owner's manual: push the button labeled "clock". Who knew?

I have now taken care of my day-to-day home maintenance for 20 months. I think it is interesting that loss is measured in months, just like a toddler's age. There is so much change that it must be labeled month by month, and not rounded to the nearest year. When Married Daughter was a little thing and wanted to do something without help, she'd say, "I want to do it by my big self." I guess I've learned to do quite a bit by my "big self" now.

I do miss having D to bounce ideas off, and to ask for advice. I've learned to seek others for their opinions on things like which GPS to purchase, how much a water pump for the van should cost, and how necessary is a sprinkler system when I have the yard re-sodded. (Very necessary, apparently, if I want the sod to live in the Texas summer heat.)

When was the last time you did something for the first time? That seems to be a pretty frequent occurrence in my life. I don't love it, but I don't mind so much anymore. That car clock reduced me to a puddle the first DLS time without D. I just mentally added an hour on to the time for six months.

One very interesting change has come slowly. During our reunion, one of my friends mentioned to me that in the Bible, a woman was not considered a widow (meaning she was to be totally taken care of by others) until she was 60. (I Timothy 5:9) I'm a good ways from that age, and I've never really applied the word "widow" to myself. (And, by the way: isn't widow a strange little word?) I guess that makes me single instead.

But, considering the great friends and family I have? Single is not alone. Definitely not alone.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just Do It

I am becoming increasingly convicted of eliminating the following words from my life: "Well, maybe someday I will be able to do that...." No more. (Or, as someone who has two years of high school Spanish under her belt from X decades ago: No mas.)

I have done Beth Moore Bible studies since she began releasing them. I have always been amazed that they seem to minister to whatever I have going on in my life at that time. Words of Truth can do that.

A teacher friend and I heard that Beth (surely boxes of completed Bible studies put me on a first name basis) was introducing her new study on the book of James. (The "Count it all joy" book.) My friend and I decided to make the three hour drive to Beth's church to attend, and began making plans for how to pull it off. Well, last night (on the final night) we made it.

And? Oh.My.Word. Can we all agree that it was a wonderful evening and totally worth the drive, sub plans and personal day off? (And an even sweeter layer to the evening was when some friends who live in the area met us there.)

Someday activities? In the future, they will be an appointed dates on my calendar. In ink.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Home Videos

I read about on FiddleDeeDee's blog today. She made an amazing video of her family and I decided to give it a try. The 30 second videos are free, but you can purchase more time. The finished product made me happy! Click the word "Friends" to watch...


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Memories, Light the Corners of My Mind

I love blogging. I really do. But I've found my full time job combined with my new part time job (and meetings, meetings, meetings) have reduced my free time significantly. If I'm not doing something for these two jobs (or meeting about doing future things), I'm thinking about what needs to be done. Makes you want to take a nap just reading that, doesn't it? I'm not experiencing stress: just staying busy.

So it was a lovely realization that I have absolutely nothing on my calendar this weekend for the first time since Christmas. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. And I intend to lounge in my jammies as long as possible with good coffee in reach.

I have been very mindful that being busy cannot take the place of continuing to work through grief. I have learned over the last 18 months that pushing down thoughts and feelings will only allow them to fester, grow and present themselves at the most inopportune times.

I continue to think, pray, reflect and talk with friends about my loss, but I've noticed a wonderful thing emerging: the memories I am now dwelling on are the happier ones from earlier in D's and my relationship. For so long, the forefront of my mind was focused on those last intense and wrenching years of continual hospital stays, unimaginably brutal operations and hearing doctor's words that left me stunned for days.

But now? I'm remembering the sweetness of a courtship that began during a beautiful autumn, a perfect honeymoon in Hawaii, long leisurely trips in San Francisco, Chicago, Pasadena, Asheville, Maine and Missouri. Special trips to Disney; cruises to the Caribbean. Life was good for many years.

One of my biggest frustrations as the cancer ramped up was that I could not be physically close to D. Walkers, medical equipment, lift chairs and hospital beds often kept us from holding hands while walking or even sitting beside each other for years at a time. It is a gift to remember the times when we were able to walk closely alongside each other, holding hands and kicking sand. A subtle reminder to married couples to take nothing for granted.

So, I end quoting Barbra Streisand, thankful that she had already put my newly formed thoughts into words:

"So it's the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were..."

Thanks for the years of laughter, D. They continue to fill my heart with The Happy.