Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Dan and I dated throughout my entire first two years of college; I was wearing an engagement ring by the beginning of my Sophomore year; and we were married the summer before my Junior year, immediately following Dan's graduation.
As in all marriages, when two people become one, both are changed in countless ways. In other words, two people are, in some ways, redefined by the relationship. If it is a good relationship, that redefinition turns the two people into stronger and better individuals, and results in a strong and satisfying union.
While it seems that explaining how 39 years of marriage has defined my life would be an easy task, I found it very difficult. I think the reason is that it has defined me in so many ways that it's hard to identify a few specifics. But I'll try. Here are a few of the ways that marriage to Dan has defined me:
- I have confidence in making major decisions, because I never have to make them alone. All of our decisions are based upon "How will this affect us?" not, "How will this affect me?"
- I have become braver and more resilient. Because of Dan's encouragement and leadership, I have dared to attempt many things that I probably wouldn't have, otherwise. Some attempts turned out wonderfully; others didn't. But even our failures were good, because we learned by them and came out of the experience richer for having tried, and better prepared for the future.
- I lead a life free of fear. Because of Dan's faithful years of hard work, our children and I were never without the necessities of life. We've always had a warm home, food and clothes; and the past leaves me with no reason to fear the future.
- My faith in God has grown. We have been mutual encouragers, when it comes to spiritual matters. And we are constantly reminded that all of our efforts (even Dan's hard work) would not have been sufficient without God's hand working in our lives.
- I am a mother and grandmother. I can't imagine life without my two sons; not just any two sons, but the very ones God gave to Dan and me. And, through one of those sons I have gained a daughter and a granddaughter. I couldn't possibly define myself, today, without including the words "mother" and "grandmother."
- I laugh more. Dan puts a lot of joy and humor in my life.
Monday, April 28, 2008
I'd really appreciate your continued prayers. This has been an extremely trying time for her.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Going to ACC defined my life in a number of ways:
- I gained a new appreciation of the size and expanse of the church. Back home, I had been one of about four teens in a very small church. I confess to having had thoughts, at times, similar to Elijah, who believed he was the only faithful prophet left on earth! At ACC I was happily a part of 3000 students, from around the world, who shared a common faith.
- I began to overcome my innate shyness. My college roommate, Chris, an out-going and high-spirited girl, greatly influenced me in this respect.
- I grew in perseverance by tolerating obstacles to completing my degree: Obstacle 1 - The oppressive west Texas heat. (For the first two years, I lived on the third floor of a very old, brick dormitory (McKenzie) with no air conditioning. Coming from cold country, I didn't tolerate high temperatures well.) Obstacle 2 - Distance from home. (No trips home on weekends or short school breaks.) Obstacle 3 - Distance from campus (After getting married we moved to another town, 23 miles from Abilene, so I became a commuter.)
- I went in without a higher education, and came out with one. Because of my degree, my self-confidence improved, and my opportunities in the work world were strengthened.
- I met Dan and got married -- but we'll let that stand alone, as Defining Moment #4.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
What nice people! We had a great visit, hearing a little bit about changes that have come to Portland since we moved away, ten years ago (did you know Portland now has a tram?!), and sharing with them about places of interest in this part of the world.
As always, the meal at the 66 was delicious, especially the malts!
Dan took this picture of me with Bill and Jan, standing outside the 66.
Friday, April 25, 2008
I'll bet our fifth grade teachers never imagined that one of their classroom assignments would result in a friendship, between two little girls - one a Texan and the other an Alaskan - that would last (with a bit of an interlude) for the next 50 years. FIFTY YEARS! How can it have been that long ago?! (Wait, I think it's 49 years. And that sounds a lot better.)
Thursday, April 24, 2008
At that time Alaska was not yet a state and was still considered the "Last Frontier." Juneau had around 8,000 people; was accessible only by air or water (same as today); and was still home to many of the old gold miners, who had worked for the Alaska-Juneau Mine, which closed 13 years earlier. Juneau still had board walks in many parts of town. Although new-comers often complained of feeling "too confined" or "claustrophobic," the mountains, glaciers, forests and water that isolated the town felt embracing and protective to me. In 1957, many people lived comfortably in Juneau without a car; the population was still located, almost exclusively, in the downtown area, since expansion to the Mendenhall Valley hadn't yet happened. As children, we had free run of the town, with one caution, "Don't go down South Franklin beyond Erwin's Case Lot Grocery." That was where the drunks hung out. (Many Juneauites still avoid that part of town, but for a different reason. It is now the tourist/souvenir shop mecca of the town.) I spent many hours, as a child and a teenager, alone with Nature, just sitting on a rock by Gold Creek, listing to the roar of the water and writing poetry; walking a mountain trail, keeping a wary eye and ear out for bear; or climbing through and exploring the remains of mining buildings, which had been overgrown by the lush underbrush of our rain forest.
- I prefer wearing clothes that are warm and casual. I'm uncomfortable in fancy clothes or lots of make-up, and am intimidated when forced into a situation where I must mix with people of high fashion.
- I have no fear of exploring new places, making major moves, or going places on my own. In fact, I find experiences of that sort exciting.
- When I am alone, I'm not lonely. Being by myself for awhile is how I renew my energy.
- I seldom let the outside elements (rain, clouds, cold, etc.) dictate my emotions.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I don't think that "ten" is a magic number, but I do know that we experience things in our life that promote change. Our lives, however, are not randomly forced in one direction by any event. The event is simply a crossroad, a turning point, where we exercise our free will to choose a new direction.
For some time I've wanted to systematically think through my life and identify those defining moments. Though you are invited to read these essays, the exercise is really something I am doing for myself. Whether you find my defining moments interesting or not, I'd encourage anyone to try a similar exercise. I'm starting, today, with the earliest defining moment I can remember.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Thanks for all the kind words and prayers for everything that's been going on in our family lately.
The prayers are especially precious to us, and are effective. Mom made her move to Lakeview this morning (she just called). I'm telling her to look at it like a month-long vacation -- no housecleaning, no cooking, and no responsibilities except to let her body heal. Chris and Kelsey are doing amazingly well, and Chris has had a number of interviews, some of them really hopeful. Dan talked with his cousin/sister Kathy, and Hospice is giving her a little relief in caring for Lauretta. And he also asked her how the triplets are doing (she's the Grandma). Nothing but good news there. They are healthy and growing like three little sprouts.
We're looking forward to getting together with Ruby and her husband, Dave, this Friday evening.
Some of you might remember that Ruby is my long lost, but now found, pen pal, who lives near Chris and Kelsey. She and Dave are in Albuquerque for the week, visiting their daughter and grandchildren who live here. Their daughter has had major, major surgery recently, and they are here to help out, however they can. I can't wait to meet them for dinner on Friday night and share some more life stories from the 30+ years we were out of touch.
Saturday, Dan and I are meeting, for the first time, one of my "forum friends."
His name is Bill, and he lives in Portland, Oregon, our old stomping grounds. I know him from a photography and Photoshop forum I participate in. He is also doing the 366 Photos for 2008 challenge, as am I. (Here's his 366 Photos site). He and his wife are going to be vacationing in the Albuquerque area, and we've arranged to meet at the 66 Diner for lunch. It should be lots of fun. We'll have a lot to talk about -- Oregon, photography and New Mexico.
I'm so looking forward to a little R&R, toward the end of May, when my long-time friend, Gloria, is coming for a visit.
She has reserved a suite at a hotel here, and she and I will be staying there together. My friend, Sherry, may join us some of the time. I know it seems strange that we're not just staying here at our house, but this way it will be a real "Girls' Get-Away" for both of us. We can talk till the wee hours, if we choose; order room service, if we want; and go for several days with someone else making our beds - ha! I last saw Gloria, briefly, in 2003, when we passed through Seattle as we were moving to Albuquerque. We had lunch together. Other than that quick visit, it's been something like 10 (maybe more) years since we were together. She still had young 'uns at home, and now we are both grandmas. I can't wait to give her a hug and spend some uninterrupted time with her.
I hope the rest of your day is a salmagundi of happy moments!
Friday, April 18, 2008
The first time I realized how creative people could be with grandparent names was when I went to college in Texas. All of a sudden I was hearing about Opa and Oma, Pawpaw and Memaw, Nana and G-daddy, Grammy and Pops, Baba and Gigi, and Sugar and Boss, just to name a few. It was a whole new world of monikers!
When Chris was just beginning to talk, I remember my mom coming to visit, from Anchorage, and saying, "I'll answer to whatever name he can say!" During that week's visit, she presented names to him, one after another, until he finally delighted her by repeating, "Nana." As time went on, Nana evolved into Nanny. Likewise, Grandpa evolved into Papa.
So, at the end of 2005, along came our first grandchild, Sweetpea. What would she call us? Her other grandparents had already been named, by their first grandchild, Bia and Pawpaw. Here was our opportunity to be amazingly creative. We pondered over names, and finally came up with . . . Grandma and Grandpa.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
This afternoon Chris called to tell us that Kelsey suffered a miscarriage today.
The news is so fresh that I'm still in a bit of shock. I'm confident that Chris and Kelsey both have faith strong enough to weather this, but they will still grieve the loss of this child (and so will we). And then there's Sweetpea, who has been proudly telling everyone that she's going to be a big sister. These are hard times. Please pray for them.
I hope you'll consider clicking here, to read Kelsey's own touching thoughts about their loss. If you do, I know you'll understand why I am so proud to have her as my daughter-in-law.
God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. That's my belief. That's my faith. And that's what sustains me in times like this.
However, she called again this morning, and said she felt like she was a bit better. She had just finished the first session of therapy, and had done much better.
Medicare will pay for her to be in this hospital therapy unit until Monday. She is trying to decide if she'll be ready to go home then, or if she should go to Lakeview (care home) to continue with some further therapy and healing before going home. Her decision will affect what I will do next week, as well. If she goes home, I'll go down to stay with her for a few days. If she goes to Lakeview, I won't.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I've done a little bit of reading on this question (I'm not the only one who has asked it, it turns out), and the answer from the experts always seems to be, "We don't know." Since no one has ever been able to see through someone else's eyes, we don't know if everyone perceives a specific wavelength (color) the same.
It makes sense to me that we might perceive colors differently. We certainly perceive tastes differently. For instance, my husband tells me that chocolate tastes bitter to him; to me it is sweet. Zillions of people love the taste of coffee; to me it is unpalatable. Lots of people enjoy the taste of the red and green chiles grown here in New Mexico; I can't even taste them for the painful fire that assails my mouth, tongue and throat when I take a bite.
My daughter-in-law, Kelsey, introduced me to the term "super-taster." She and I both consider ourselves super-tasters, and, when I looked it up on the Internet, I found lots of research to substantiate this phenomenon. Super-tasters perceive all tastes as more intense than other people.
I read an article on the Internet, written by BBC News. It even tells about a test you can give yourself to see if you are a super-taster. It involves staining a portion of your tongue and counting the number of taste buds that show through a 7mm-wide hole. I'm going to try it. But I already know the result. I'm definitely a super-taster, which explains why the food I like tastes delicious to me, but is considered bland by my friends.
As I was reading about this topic, I came across some references to a book titled, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by neurologist Oliver Sacks. Looks like it would be interesting, and I'm going to try to locate a copy. Maybe it will be my next blog book review.
So, colors and tastes . . . I find this kind of science fascinating. Maybe for my next career, I'll go into research.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
We hope to talk with Kathy and her husband, Mike, tonight, to learn more.
(See my blog about Lauretta’s early life here.)
Monday, April 14, 2008
I first read about this on Gem's blogspot, and decided to give it a try, myself. I encourage you to try it too. If you're like me, your mind will go in a dozen directions, but you'll have to be selective in order to tell your life story in only six words. Be sure to post your stories here, in the comments area, so everyone can read them.
Career winding down. Good times ahead.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
When I left, Mom was in great spirits. She had had a good night. And, probably what made her day the brightest was that, being Saturday, her physical therapy schedule was greatly abbreviated. When I arrived at the hospital, she was finishing up her breakfast in the little dining room, with her new friend, Ursula, who is also undergoing therapy, after having a hip replacement. Ursula is probably closer to my age than Mom's, but the two of them have hit it off wonderfully.
I'll stop the daily updates now, but will post any major changes. I'll be returning to Carlsbad around the 21st, when she is discharged.
The trip home was nice. No problems at all. And I managed to snap a few photos for my 366 Photos for 2008 blog. Take a look.
Friday, April 11, 2008
She had a number of friends come by to see her today, as well as some phone calls, and she received a bundle of pretty get-well cards in the mail. All of that is encouraging to her, and takes her mind off of the present difficulty for awhile.
She is still taking some pain medication, but much less than earlier in the week. She is no longer getting confused, and can even laugh when I tell her some of the funny things she said "under the influence."
Tomorrow morning I'll take care of a few things here at her house, then go by to see her once more before heading home. I hope to be on the road by 10:30 or 11:00 in the a.m. I'll be able to go back to work for a week before coming back down to stay with her for a short while when she comes home. We will also be arranging for home health care, which will include some continued in-home therapy at least three times a week.
Play along if you'd like. Only ONE WORD answers allowed.
1. Where is your cell phone? Bag
2. Your significant other? Encouraging
3. Your hair? Graying
4. Your mother? Recovering
5. Your father? Missed
6. Your favorite thing? Photography
7. Your dream last night? Chaos
8. Your favorite drink? DP
9. Your goal or dream? Heaven
10. The room you're in? Hospital
11. Your kids? Joy
12. Your fear? Failure
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Retired
14. Where were you last night? Mom’s
15. What you're not? Thin
16. Muffins? Blueberry
17. One of your wish list items? Travel
18. Where you grew up? Juneau
19. The last thing you did? Lunch
20. What are you wearing? Jeans
21. Your TV? New
22. Your pets? None
23. Your computer? Mac
24. Your life? Blessed
25. Your mood? Hopeful
26. Missing someone? Dan
27. Your car? Escape
28. Something you're not wearing? Watch
29. Favorite Store? Barnes&Nobel (I cheated!)
30. Your summer? Hot
31. Like someone? Shelley
32. Your favorite color? Blue
33. When is the last time you laughed? Today
34. Last time you cried? Wednesday
35. The person who sent this to you? Patty
36. Who will/would resend this? Marci
37. A good book? Notebook
38. A good movie? Mockingbird
39. A good song? Lullaby
40. One word to share? Faith
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Mom took her first steps with a walker today. She walked 10 or 12 feet during therapy this morning, and then, again, about the same distance this afternoon. Since I arrived on Tuesday evening, I could probably count the bites of food she's actually eaten on two hands. But this evening she thought a baked potato sounded good. So I hopped in the car and went to Wendy's and got her one, and she ate a good portion of it.
On a side note, Carlsbad has had horrendous winds today . . . all day. I think, now that the sun has set, that they are dying down a bit.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Mom does continue to make progress, although it's difficult for her to see it. I watched her during all three hours of her therapy today. She took tiny, painful steps, with help from the therapist and two sturdy rails. All together she probably walked 18 feet (not all at one time). They are also having her strengthen her upper body, since she'll be using it more, to support herself and to pull and push herself up while she heals.
This evening, the doctor ordered that Mom's pain medication be cut in half, since we thought it was the root of her mental confusion. We hope the lower dosage will make a difference. However, as I told her, "If you need the medicine to keep you out of pain, take it and just lie back and enjoy the mad hatter's ride."
At the end of the day, the decision was made, at least for now, for her to stay in the hospital's rehab wing, rather than moving to the other facility, as she originally planned. Our hope is that she will make more rapid progress there, and be able to go home sooner. Once she is discharged, we plan to arrange for home-health care to come to the house as much as is needed.
After a couple of phone conversations with Dan today, he convinced me that staying until Saturday would be wise. So I shall. I'm so grateful for the nice people I work with and for, who are totally supportive of "family first."
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Apparently she had a tough day today, and, although she is a little confused and "loopy" because of the morphine-type pain medication she's on, Gloria confirmed that things really hadn't gone right for her today. A few phone calls were made, and we are feeling fairly confident that she will get moved to Lakeview tomorrow, which is what she really wants.
Despite the emotional upsets of the day, I think her physical condition is improving. She was sitting propped up in her bed when I got there; yesterday she wasn't able to do that. She says that the doctor said her recovery should take six to nine weeks.
Monday, April 7, 2008
It should be no surprise when God works in His mysterious ways; and this may have been just such a "working." Because she has been in the hospital, and has been run through a zillion tests, some heart irregularities have been discovered, which, if they had not been found, could have resulted in a heart attack. But, her doctor tells her, the new medicines he has prescribed should keep her ticking right along.
Mom will be transferred, maybe tomorrow, to the Lakeview Christian Center, where she will have full-time care and some rehabilitation. I plan to be there by tomorrow evening, and will stay Wednesday and Thursday -- maybe driving home Thursday night -- since her good friends, Pat and Gloria, will be out of town those two days. I will probably go back down, again, once she is released to go home. I'm sure she'll need someone with her for awhile then.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
We're all thrilled, of course.
Mom is in the hospital right now, after taking a fall in the wee hours of Saturday morning. She fractured her pelvis, and is in a lot of pain. My understanding is that there is nothing, except bed rest and physical therapy, that can be done for an injury like this. The good news is that she did not break a hip, which would have been much more serious.
I'll be heading down, later this week, to stay with her a few days, after she is released from the hospital. She is blessed with WONDERFUL friends and neighbors, who are very attentive to her needs in the meantime. (Thank you to Pat, Gloria, John and Judy -- and I'm sure many others.)
She called me this morning to say that she had a good night, and, with the help of the pain meds they are giving her, she was able to get some much needed sleep. I know she'd appreciate your prayers. I'll try to post updates here, as I get them.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
A parent's role just keeps changing. In the beginning we are the 24-7 caretakers. Then, before we know it, the child begins exercising some independence. And, if we do our job properly, eventually the child matures and steps out into the world prepared to take care of himself 24-7. Aaaah - NOW is it time to retire from parenthood? No way!
Now is the time to pray harder than ever before. Now is the time to be there. Just BE there. Now is the time to watch, with pride and with a bit of fear, the unfolding of a mature life that is, hopefully, stronger and wiser than we were at that age. Now is the time to listen and encourage. Now is the time to give advice ONLY when asked. Now is the time to thank God for the tremendous growth of the little seed of faith that we planted and watered for 18 years.
And now may be the time in life to learn from our children, to be encouraged by our children, and to rejoice in the realization that the world is a better place because our children are in it; to watch our children walk through trials with confidence and faith - more confidence and stronger faith than we had at their age - and come through them, by the grace of God, triumphant.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
By Wednesday morning, she thought Sweetpea was doing fine, so decided to drive from Pecos to our house, after all. But by the time she got here, there was no doubt that Sweetpea was not well. We took her to an after-hours pediatric clinic near our house, and the doctor confirmed Kelsey's suspicion that Sweetpea had an ear infection. An antibiotic and some ear drops were prescribed.
At first, Sweetpea wasn't too keen on the idea of taking her medicine, so we came up with the idea of having her pretend to give her doll the medicine and ear drops first, each time, and that really helped. Here's a picture of her and Grandpa putting pretend drops into the doll's ears.
The medicine worked very quickly, and by the next morning (Thursday) she was back to her happy, sweet-natured self. We decided a short outing, to the duck pond to feed the ducks, was in order. That evening, Grandpa grilled burgers and Uncle Tim came over to see Sweetpea and have dinner with us.
On Friday we went to see Horton Hears a Who at the theater. Sweetpea did quite well, and, with the help of a tub of popcorn, made it through the entire movie.
Here's a picture of Sweetpea, ready for church on Sunday morning. She loved her new dress, and enjoyed lifting it to show everyone her matching panties! It was a treat for me to have her in my Bible class that morning. After church we went to lunch, at Chili's, with Keith and Sherry.
Monday was a busy day. We spent a couple hours, early in the day, at Explora, the children's museum. Sweetpea enjoyed all of the hands-on displays. Due to a change in plans, that evening Chris was able to fly in and join us for a couple of days, making it possible for him to help Kelsey with the long drive back home.
The 10-month visit to the zoo.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
One drizzly spring day - April 1st, as a matter of fact - I had two of my favorite students working with me, Wendy and Charlene. I was busy at the computer when a lady opened the front door and came in with a long, shiny gold box, with a white ribbon around it. "Is Linda here?" she asked. "That would be me!" I said, with what must have been a surprised look on my face. And she handed me the box, which held a dozen long-stemmed white roses.
As soon as the lady was out the door, Wendy and Charlene were at my desk wanting to see who the flowers were from. There was just a cryptic note on the card -- something about my secret admirer. I knew the roses had to be from Dan, although I didn't know why. But I just let Charlene and Wendy go on giggling and making up all sorts of stories about my "secret admirer."
We went back to the kitchen area, and Charlene found a vase for me. I filled the vase with water and began cutting the ends from the stems, and arranging the flowers and greenery in the vase. Then the front door opened again. It was the same lady, carrying another gold box! As if she'd never been there before, she asked again, "Is Linda here?" The girls began giggling again, and I was a little embarrassed. But I happily took the box, opened it, and found a dozen long-stemmed yellow roses inside.
After another round of teasing from the girls, over the second card from the secret admirer, we rounded up another vase. The first vase wasn't large enough to hold two dozen roses. Then Wendy said, "Hmmm. White roses, yellow roses . . . the red roses must be on the way!" And she was right. About five minutes later Guess Who was back, asking for "Linda." She was carrying a box of a dozen long-stemmed red roses from my secret admirer. The card, this time, said "Happy April Fool's Day."
Three dozen long-stemmed roses - I'd never before, nor have I ever after, been fooled so sweetly on April Fool's Day!
When Dan does something, he usually does it in a BIG way! I'll always remember that day, both for the romance of the roses (thank you, my "secret admirer"), and for the fun they brought to an otherwise humdrum, rainy day for my girls, Wendy and Charlene; and me.