We had a small family birthday party tonight. It is hard to believe that it has been thirteen years since this boy was born. His mom gave him a new ipod, engraved on the back with his name and, “Turn it down.” I got him an itunes gift card to go with that. Just for fun I also got him a nerf gun which was a big hit. He got the video game from his aunt and uncle, clothes from his older sister and a stuffed monster from his little sister. It was a fun family gathering for my beautiful boy.
My youngest grandson will be thirteen this week. He told me that I could get him anything I thought he would like for his birthday. He really wants a new video game, but he has figured out that I am video game challenged and never can remember just exactly what game he wants or exactly just what game system he has. It would be better if his aunt and uncle got him new games. They understand those things. I can get something else.
What should I get this sweet thirteen year old boy for his birthday?
Yesterday afternoon I stayed in a darkened room resting my eyes. They were painfully sensitive to light and weren't working too well after a routine exam by my ophthalmologist. The exam revealed that other than normal deterioration due to aging , whatever that means, my eyes are fine. A day of not being able to see well did make me appreciate the blessing of sight.
In her later years my mother was blind. She lost her vision, but never her sense of humor. One day I found my blind mother sitting at her vanity gazing into the mirror. When I asked what she doing she replied that she was appreciating the benefits of blindness. “I used to look into this mirror and saw a wrinkled old woman whose hair was never quite right. Now, I look into the mirror and I don't see a wrinkle or blemish of any kind. I can't see a single hair out of place. I conclude that blindness has just made me beautiful.” She, in fact, did radiate a beauty far beyond what could be seen in the mirror.
Not long before mom completely lost her sight I did something terrible to her. She lived in an assisted living home in California. I had flown from Maryland to spend a few days with her. I had shared her room in the facility and we had had a great visit. Leaving was always tearful and difficult. So after a weepy hug and good-bye I grabbed my reading glasses from the nightstand and hurried to catch my ride to the airport. As I settled into the plane for the flight home I pulled out my reading glasses and discovered that I had grabbed mom's very strong glasses instead. When I put them on the world became a fuzzy blur. In an age before cell phones I couldn't call her until I arrived home that evening. Meanwhile my mom, not knowing her glasses had been taken, put on my reading glasses thinking they were hers. She could not see anything. The doctor had previously told her that her retina were slightly detached and that it was possible that the complete detachment could happen suddenly. If that happened she would suddenly lose her vision. She thought that was had happened. She called my sister-in-law who called the doctor. He though it sounded as if the retina had detached and scheduled Mom for surgery the next morning. My sister-in-law went to stay with her and take her to surgery the next morning. They were getting ready for bed when I called and told her that I had accidentally switched glasses with her. I didn't understand her laughter and crying. I returned her glasses by overnight mail. She could miraculously see again as well as before. The surgery was canceled. She forgave me and we laughed about the day she went blind for years afterward.
I was inspired yesterday. We went to see the movie “Young at Heart.” It is a documentary about a group of senior citizens aged seventy to ninety who sing with such joy that it just makes you feel good. They don't sing the typical old people songs. They sing hip -hop and rock 'n roll. The audience was clapping and cheering. You just couldn't help but feel good after watching this group of people who seize each day and live it to the fullest with enthusiastic joy. If you are ever planning on getting old this movie will show you how to do it.
While going through old pictures we found these of a camping trip a long time ago. It was 1961. Our best friends were Randy and Edna. The four of us went camping in the middle of the Mojave Desert, way off any beaten road. We spread our sleeping bags on the sand under a clear sky watching the stars stars until we slept. It was the only time I ever shot a gun. Randy had a 45 service revolver from World War I which we used for target practice. My first shot practically knocked me over and the bullet shot into the sand about half way to the target. Randy tried to brace me while I shot again. This time I fell backward into Randy and the bullet landed about a fourth of the way to the target. I figured if I shot again I would shoot my foot off. On the way home our car hit a major pothole and got very stuck. In the process of digging and pulling it out of the hole the gas tank was punctured. As we stood there watching our fuel leak into the sand Randy pulled out a bullet and emptied the powder from it. He then stuck the bullet into the punctured tank and secured it with some well chewed gum. We got home safely and planned our next adventure in the desert sun.
Today was one of those days that makes me rejoice in my retirement. I woke up to the smell of fresh coffee prepared just for me by my beloved. He is so sweet. I put on a comfortable robe and poured a big cup of coffee and went to my happy room. Everybody should have a room that just makes them happy. I sipped my coffee and read a little from my Bible, sat and just meditated for a bit and counted my blessings. I spent a few minutes then straightening up the mess left from yesterday before fixing my morning cereal and enjoying the birds and beautiful lilac bush in my backyard. Then I was off to the pool for a good work-out in my water aerobics class. It feels wonderful to be able to move my body through the water and not be slowed down by painful knees and feet. In the water I can work up good sweat and feel young and strong. The exercise of course gave me a good appetite. My daughter met me for lunch and we spent an enjoyable hour talking about this and that. I love having a chance to just sit and share the day with her. After lunch I took an older friend to the doctor and listened while she talked about the things that were important to her today. On the way home I stopped at the garden center and browsed through the flowers. I came home with a new azalea to plant in my yard. We enjoyed a quiet supper together. This evening I may watch the debate between Barak and Hillary, or I may just read a book. Tomorrow I plan to sing with the senior chorale and then work in my yard. I love the time to just enjoy the things that bring me pleasure. Life is good. How was your day?
Bobby came to see us yesterday. Bobby is my husband's baby brother. He is five years younger and a few inches taller. The last time we saw him was eight years ago at my mother-in-law's ninetieth birthday party. The time before that was eighteen years ago at my father-in-law's funeral. The brothers really were happy to see each other. There was a whole lot of catching up to do. Bobby stayed for about five hours and the conversation was about everything. They talked about childhood memories, grandchildren, baseball, politics and faith. They are so much alike and so very different. It was a wonderful and much too short visit. Bobby lives in Seattle. We live in Maryland. Too many miles for frequent visits, but once a decade is a little too infrequent.
This morning I went to my aqua-yoga class. Aqua yoga is just like regular yoga except we never do downward facing dog and in the warm water I can stand in warrior three pose forever. There was a new student there today. When I introduced myself she said her name was Clara. Suddenly a memory flashed into my head of a story that I thought I had long forgotten. When I was about ten our next door neighbors were Clara and George and their daughter Georgina. Georgina was a little younger than me, but she was a nice girl and we often played together. Her mother often invited me into their sparkling clean kitchen and gave us homemade cookies. Clara was a nice lady. I wouldn't go in their house though if George was home. He scared me. He was big and loud and he drank beer. In my tea-totaling home beer was evil. George did not like to change his underwear. I know this because when Clara decided he had worn the same underwear long enough she would try to sneak it off of him while he was asleep. Usually when she tried to do this he woke up. In our kitchen we could hear him yelling, “Get your hands off of my underwear, woman, I'll change it I'm ready!” The worst thing George ever did to me was to steal my stilts. I loved playing on the stilts and could walk the entire length of our long driveway on them. One day George came home with a pet monkey. He set about to build a cage for his monkey and came over and took my stilts, cut them in half and used them for poles for his monkey cage. I was very upset. George never apologized. My dad said to just let it go and Dad took me to the store and bought me new stilts. I never left them in the driveway again. We moved about a year later and we never saw George, Clara or Georgina again.
One of the things that takes up a lot of my time is serving as a Stephen minister. This is a ministry to people who are in the middle of one of life's many hard moments. We help people through all sorts of situations, such as job loss, divorce, grief, problems with children and problems that come with old age. Stephen ministers aren't there to solve problems or fix things. We are just there, walking though the moment with people and letting them know they are not alone. I find it a fulfilling way to help others and meet my need to be a caretaker. There is some training involved , mostly on how to be a good listener. Currently we are working on a lesson about how to care for the dying. One thing we have to do is figure out our own feelings and thoughts about our own deaths. It is an inevitable part of life, something we should talk about. One of our homework assignments is to list five words that come to mind when you think about death. So I am asking you to help me. What five words come to your mind when you think about death?
We took our friend Effie to lunch today. When I grow up I want to be just like Effie. This amazing lady is an eighty-two year old widow. Her sight is gone and arthritis makes walking difficult, but she is one of the happiest people I know. She is delightful and funny and full of dumb jokes that she loves to share. She sings with two different singing groups, takes tap dancing lessons, swims and hangs out at the pool. I always come home smiling after a day with Effie. Here is her joke of the day.
If a well endowed woman works at Hooters, where does a one-legged woman work? ..... At IHOP
Yesterday I attended the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the world's greatest son-in-law's new business. He has just opened a residential cleaning company here in beautiful Bowie. Opening a business is both exciting and scary. I have great confidence that it will go well. He is smart, hard-working, kind and honest. In addition to that he has a smart, hardworking, kind and honest wife who is helping him.
This morning I lingered over my second cup of coffee watching the birds that had been attracted to our backyard by the six bird feeders there. There were lots of birds this morning. The iridescent black grackles were strutting among the little finches and sparrows pecking at the seeds that had fallen from the feeders. Two gray mourning doves pecked regally at the seed. Bushy tailed squirrels were happily sharing the birds' breakfast. A little black and white junco, a snow bird, was flitting from feeder to feeder. I guess he wasn't ready to leave the lovely spring weather and fly north to colder climates. A robin sat on the fence to proclaim that spring was here. A flash of red announced a cardinal had joined us for breakfast. Then a bright yellow goldfinch hung upside down to eat thistle seed from the feeder just outside the window. Watching the birds from my window is an ever changing show of nature that is always entertaining. Maybe tomorrow I will see a grosbeak or a rufous sided towhee.