Saturday Night Live

Time is a figure eight, at its center the city of Deja Vu. ~ Robert Brault

Somewhere in the middle of the night last night, I dreamt that my mother and my mother-in-law were having coffee together. I’m not sure what prompted it, but I awoke with a feeling of warmth and comfort, as though they hugged me on the way out the door. I miss those hugs. It’s been only seven weeks since my mother-in-law passed away, nearly two decades since I lost my mother. Although they never met, I can certainly picture the conversations they were having in my dream, how talk of music and dancing and, of course, their children filled the time.

As I spend another Saturday night in a hospital, the sense of déjà vu cycles around again. My husband was readmitted on Monday and had (minor) surgery on Wednesday. Word from the doctor is that he should get to come home on Monday. So here I am, after many hours at his side, now watching him peacefully sleep the evening away, his gentle snoring comforting in its regularity. And on the television is Lawrence Welk.

Mom and I spent many hours watching the Lawrence Welk Show, both when I was a child and later, when my hospital hours were spent at her bedside those last two years she was alive. Familiar and harkening to happy times, the show brought her comfort and moments where she felt like “her old self,” as she would call it.

Tonight I feel that comfort, that sentimental familiarity cloak me for the hour of the show. Past and present, then and now tied up in a knot of the present. Another hospital, another Saturday night watching over someone I love. Another wunnerful, wunnerful Saturday night.

Leave a comment

Filed under Life

One-word resolution

20140102-193252.jpg


“Just as I have insisted on his worth, he has always insisted on my strength, insisted that my capacity is greater than I believe. And I know, without being told, that’s what love does, when it’s right-it makes you more than you were, more than you thought you could be.
This is right.”
― Veronica Roth, Allegiant

It’s that time of year – the new year – where we try to think of all the things we’d like to change, to do, to be. We try to quantify and qualify our lists, setting out each year to do a bit better than the last one.

If you have been around the blog a bit, you might remember that the past few years I’ve been practicing the one-word resolutions, trying to select one guiding word to challenge me throughout the year. As with last year’s choice, oftentimes the word plays out in unanticipated ways, yet at year’s end, I can pull the thread of it, feel its texture woven into the warp and woof of every day.

I spend time thinking through options, trying to sift through candidates until I find the one that sits true in my soul. Sometime it’s an obvious or deliberate choice; sometimes, like this year, I stumble upon it in the course of doing other things. This year’s word came to me while writing my year-end update, and it just felt right. This year’s word is: capacity.

Here are the dictionary definitions:

1: legal competency or fitness

2a : the potential or suitability for holding, storing, or accommodating
b : the maximum amount or number that can be contained or accommodated — see metric system table, weight table

3a : an individual’s mental or physical ability: aptitude, skill
b : the faculty or potential for treating, experiencing, or appreciating

4: duty, position, role

5: the facility or power to produce, perform, or deploy: capability; also, maximum output

One of the reasons this word intrigues me is that it can be both limited and infinite. A maximum capacity has a limit, something that can be reached, measured, contained. Yet capacity can also be limitless – a capacity to love, to experience, to create. It’s more than that, too, but that duality fascinates me.

The capacity of 2014 is unknown on day one. Let the journey begin.

What is your one-word resolution?

Leave a comment

Filed under Life

Adios 2013

I can honestly say I’ve never been so glad to send a year on its way to the land of remembrance. This year proved such a strange mix of the very good and the very challenging, with the latter easily winning that contest. In many ways, it is hard to believe it is the end of the year, thinking of all the things I planned to do that never materialized, and of course all the things that happened that no one could have predicted.

As I look back to the start of the year, I realize now –in ways I could never have anticipated– that my 2013 one-word resolution held true. Perhaps in a be careful what you wish for manner, but the word held.

Here’s the section from last year’s post:

Discover.

1. To notice, especially by making an effort;
2. To learn something about;
3. To reveal or make known;
4. To obtain sight or knowledge of for the first time.

I shall discover things about the wonderful new town and state where I live.
I shall discover new things to learn, to study, to share.
I shall discover things unknown, big and small, about myself.

2013 for me, then, will be the year of discovery.

As I read that passage, it’s the last line that rings most true here at the end of the year – to discover things about myself. That happened.

I discovered a depth of endurance, patience, acceptance, frustration, respect, and resolve as we battled major health issues this year. My two surgeries pale in comparison to my husband’s experiences, with 5 hospitalizations and 2 surgeries, for a total of nearly 7 months in the hospital. We met a variety of health professionals, both good and bad, but the joy of the good ones mostly outweighed the disaster of the bad ones.

I discovered that I do have a capacity that can be reached – physically, mentally, financially, emotionally. As a result, I’ve grown a bit more adept at managing those limits, keeping it at no more than water hanging at the lip of a glass full without spilling over. Things are still too full, too much, but able to be controlled. Just keep the glass steady. Easier said than done, but I’m learning.

I learned new things, mostly healthcare related, but also work-related, as I tried very hard to balance all the things this year. I’ve been able to try new ideas, accept new challenges, and explore new educational opportunities that have helped make some of the other stuff more bearable. I’ve also learned that I can step away from things, that I can choose and be okay with the consequences when things need changed, or can’t be done.

I’ve discovered a deeper level of love and friendship. The support of family, friends, and colleagues were one of the only reasons we survived this year with any semblance of good humor left. Thank you for asking and listening, for caring and sharing, for knowing when to be near and when we needed space, for being our ears and shoulders, our sounding boards and our rocks, and for understanding when our focus was inward instead of out. I learned a new depth of the love I have for my husband, not only at the moment I almost lost him but in every action, every breath, since then as we learn new routines and new rhythms, taking even greater pleasure in the simple act of being together. It was very heartwarming to hear frequent comments from nurses that noticed how we function as a team, how we respond and balance each other. And I relearned the pain of loss when we lost my husband’s mother, my second mom, the day after Thanksgiving.

None of this was on my wish list of things I wanted to discover this year, and despite the very difficult challenges, the things I did discover I will carry with me as valuable knowledge. I discovered things about my environment, my universe, and most of all myself. Which, in the end, was what I set out to do.

Thanks for sticking with this blog during the sporadic postings of 2013. I hope the year was good to you, even if in unexpected ways. Best wishes for 2014!

6 Comments

Filed under Life

Another Angel

Mom K

“If our family was an airline, Mom was the hub and we were the spokes. You rarely went anywhere nonstop; you went via Mom, who directed the traffic flow and determined the priorities: which family member was cleared for takeoff or landing. Even my father was not immune to Mom’s scheduling, though he was given more leeway than the rest of us.”
― Will Schwalbe, The End of Your Life Book Club

[Lynda’s note: Our hearts are heavy at the loss but ever thankful for the privilege of loving my husband’s mom, my second mom, who passed away last Friday evening. No daughter-in-law was ever more blessed than I was by her love. We will miss her, and her gravy, more than words can ever say. The challenge is made greater by the fact that my husband, now 5 months plus in the hospital, will not be able to travel to the services, though he will be there in spirit and in heart through me.

As we remember her, it’s inevitable that I recall losing my mother, now some 18 years ago. The parable I read at her funeral is no less true of my mother-in-law, so I’ll share this post again today. Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers as we learn our new “routes”.]

In going through some of my mom’s writings and collected notes following her death, I found a notebook where she wrote down some of her favorite quotations and stories. It’s a habit I inherited and continue to this day. The story below was in that notebook, where Mom had copied it over from where ever she read it. At her funeral, we asked family and friends to read a piece or share their thoughts. This is what I read, from her notebook:

A Living Presence (A Parable for Mothers)
By: Temple Bailey

The young mother set her foot on the path of Life. “Is the way long?” she asked. And her Guide said: “Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning.”

But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed with them in the streams, and the sun shone on them, and life was good, and the young mother cried: “Nothing will ever be lovelier than this”.

Then night came, and storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle and the children said: “Oh, Mother, we are not afraid for you are near, and no harm can come.” And the mother said: “This is better than the brightest of days, for I have taught my children courage.”

And the morning came and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary, but at all times she said to the children: “A little patience and we are there.” So the children climbed, and when they reached the top, they said: “We could not have done it without you, Mother.” And the mother, when she lay down that night, looked up at the stars and said: “This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of difficulty. Yesterday I gave them courage, Today I have given them strength.”

And the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth – clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said: “Look up! Lift your eyes to the light.” And the children looked and saw above the clouds an Everlasting Glory, and it guided them beyond the darkness. And that night the mother said: “This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God.”

And the days went on, and the months and the years, and the mother grew old, and she was small and bent. But her children were strong and tall and walked with courage. And when the way was hard, they helped their mother; and when the way was rough they lifted her, for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill, and beyond the hill they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And the mother said: “I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know that the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them.”

And the children said: “You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates.” And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: “We cannot see her, but she is with us. A mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence.”

Mom K and PK

2 Comments

Filed under Life

Giving Thanks

“We all owe everyone for everything that happens in our lives. But it’s not owing like a debt to one person–it’s really that we owe everyone for everything. Our whole lives can change in an instant–so each person that keeps that from happening, no matter how small a role they play, is also responsible for all of it. Just by giving friendship and love, you keep the people around you from giving up–and each expression of friendship or love may be the one that makes all the difference.”
― Will Schwalbe, The End of Your Life Book Club

There are so very many things to be thankful for today. We’re missing spending Thanksgiving with family and friends, but we have the amazing good fortune of friends near and far, friends of the heart that wrap each other in warm thoughts no matter the distance between us.

It’s been quite a year. Today I’ll be spending the day with my husband at the hospital, taking in a carry-out turkey dinner. Five months in, the good news is that they expect him to be home by Christmas.

I hope this day gives you many opportunities for the giving of thanks, in whispers and quiet moments, in the hustle and bustle of friends and family.

May the banquet table of your heart always be overflowing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Leave a comment

Filed under Life