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Posts Tagged ‘Love’

My hubby and I are getting to the age that many of our friends (and we aren’t far behind) are now starting to care for their parents.  Some of them are now complete caretakers and others are starting to give advice to their parents…and others fall into other parts of the spectrum.  So far, my husband has just been giving advice and reviewing their finances to make sure they can continue to do what they need to do on their own.  After hearing bits and pieces of some very sad stories from friends and acquaintances, and the occasional funny one, I realized how lucky I am that my mother is such a go-getter, that I haven’t yet had to consider the options that are available and what I would do if I needed to be her caretaker.  My mother is such an independent person, I just have no idea how I will get her to do what I say is necessary.

Recently, a friend was telling me about her experiences with her mother.  Her mother questioned her about the finances over and over until her daughter had to tell her that she had no choice.  Her mother asked, “Why?” and her daughter had to tell her, “Because I’m in charge now.”  She said it was the hardest thing she has ever had to do.  I could feel her pain as she told the story.  I know exactly how difficult it would be to say the same thing to my mom.

So, how do you know when you are just butting in where you aren’t needed and when you really need to step in and take control?

I worry about the day I need to let my mother know I’m in charge now. I don’t know how she’ll take it, but I hope it’s as good as my friend’s mother. When told her daughter was now in charge, her response was, “Okay.” And that was that.

“We begin our lives being cared for by our parents and we care for them at the end of theirs.  It’s a fair trade.” ~ AEK

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Almost 14 years ago, in Independence, Missouri, I was on my way to an appointment to see a Persian kitten.  I had recently lost my beautiful cat, Casper, who had lived a full 18 years.  I missed him and was lonely for the whiskery love of a cat.  For years, I had thought Persian cats were gorgeous and was not thinking beyond that.  I wasn’t sure how to get to the lady’s home and this was pre-GPS days, so I took note of the directions and started out early – I don’t like to be late.  I got to the area a full half-hour early, but saw a PetsMart near her home and wanted to look for a few cat toys.

And that decision to stop at PetsMart changed the course of what was to be and began my love affair with my new cat, Rascal.  When I went into the store, I realized they were running an adoption program for pets from the local animal pound.  I saw an adorable litter of kittens with their tuxedo mom.  Wanting a male cat, I asked if there were any males in the litter and they said, “two”.  I started playing with the male tuxedo kitten and all he was interested in was going back to play with his sisters.

I then asked which other one was male and they pointed out the little mackerel tabby sitting in the corner of the litter box, watching the rough and tumble play of his siblings.  I wasn’t sure he was a cat I was interested in, but I said I’d like to see him.  And that was it.  They placed him on the table in front of me and he ran to me, climbed up my shirt and snuggled at my neck.  I laughed and my heart melted.  I set him back on the table and he did the same thing…purring in my ear and snuggling in for life.  I called the lady with the Persian kitten and apologized that I would not be there.  But I knew I had made the right decision.

Rascal was a one-person cat.  He adored me and hissed and growled at almost everyone else, especially the vet – and anyone who worked there.  He purred like a motor-boat if I looked at him.  When I stroked his lovely chin and forehead, he squinted his gorgeous, green eyes and purred louder.  He loved me and I loved him.

My beautiful boy, Rascal.  His nose was reddish brown, with a dark outline.  It almost looked like a heart shape.

My beautiful boy, Rascal. His nose was reddish brown, with a dark outline. It almost looked like a heart shape.

Rascal spent the next two years with me, keeping me company and we were happy to hang out on the couch, curled up with a book or watching television.  His adventurous spirit was limited to hanging out on the windowsill, watching the birds, other cats and some squirrels playing in the yard.  He didn’t like the outdoors at all and if the door opened, he ran to the bedroom, hiding under the bed.

When he was two, my new love, Beau came to visit my house for the first time.  I expected that Rascal would hide until he was gone, but my shock could not have been bigger.  Rascal walked over to him and the doorway, rubbed against his legs and purred.  And when Beau sat down on a chair in the living room, Rascal hopped up behind his head and curled up, content to hang out with him.  My sweet, one-person cat had just become a two-person cat.  And that would last for the rest of Rascal’s life.

Beau and I were married several months later and Rascal and I flew from the United States to Germany to live with my new hubby while he finished the last bit of his 5 years working for the US Government in Germany.  Rascal thrived in Germany!  He loved the marble windowsills and the radiators that heated them in winter.  His favorite places were on those sills, watching the birds, the comings and goings of the neighbors and the distance he maintained from our landlord’s beagle and sitting in front of the balcony door.  But our time in Germany ended and we hopped on another plane, back to the United States and Texas – our new home.

Rascal

Rascal’s next nine years were years of love, contentment and his happiness being a two-person cat. His favorite window was in the patio door. He pushed the curtain aside and would stare out – and panic if I was outside. I think he couldn’t quite comprehend why anyone, ever, would want to be outdoors. He’d watch every move I made until I came back inside.

And then he seemed to get hair balls all the time, started losing weight, and I knew that something was wrong.  His frequent visits to the vet began last May.  We dealt with treatments for the hairballs, he had a few bad teeth removed and he seemed to stabilize.  And then he began to lose more weight.  At first, we assumed it was because we had changed his diet to accommodate his fewer teeth, the need to keep his food more moist.

But then six weeks later, he was sick again.  And we returned to the vet…again and again.  Finally, I realized there was something much more wrong with him.  I saw him every day, but even I knew he was losing a lot of weight.  My once fat, fluffy cat who had weighed in at one point over 17 lbs was now at 11 lbs.  And that was when he was diagnosed with an intestinal tumor.

Our wonderful vet removed the tumor and sent it in for a biopsy.  We were told that Rascal’s tumor was cancerous, but that of the two types, it was the lesser and the margins were clean and it had not progressed to lymph nodes.  My optimism returned.  I thought we were going to still keep my baby with us for a few more years.  A month later, we discovered more issues and then the diagnosis that there was likely another mass in his intestines.

At that point, we took him home to enjoy his last days.  To the bitter end, my sweet, loveable Rascal looked at me with love, wanted to be held, snuggled and purred whenever I looked at him or stroked his beautiful face.  I adore him still and miss that face and the love he gave me from that first day at PetsMart.  I will never love a cat the way I loved him.  He was there for me during my time alone and accepted my husband into our life unconditionally…and with no hesitation.

“What greater gift than the love of a cat.” ~ Charles Dickens 

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My dear hubby has quite a sense of humor…not ALWAYS appreciated, but for the most part is so much fun! He inherited his dad’s awful love of puns…and since I have a strange love of puns, too, it’s a good thing we found each other. It doesn’t matter that many of them are “groaners”, I laugh. And not just one of those polite-little-tinkly laughs, either, but a great, big, wahoo kind of laugh.

When making my list (girls, you know that list) of what I wanted in a guy, sense of humor was very high on it. In fact, I think it struggled with good-hearted to be number 1. I know, when we’re young, good looks is probably number 1 for most, but not me. Okay, it may have been number 2, but it was NEVER at the very top. Nice smile, sense of humor, good-hearted, gentleman, etc…all of these were requirements. And I’m so lucky! My funny Valentine has all of these character traits, appearance traits, and so much more.

As I get older, the ability to make me laugh becomes even more important. And I know why, now. Even if he makes me mad, with one of his silly jokes he almost always makes me laugh. And then I can’t be mad at him anymore. It’s a great solution to a tiff.

So, if you are still out there searching for “Mr. Right”, don’t discount the importance of an amazing sense of humor…one that you “get”, one that will make you laugh no matter what. Because Life is Just Way Too Serious!

“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.” ~ W. H. Auden

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I remember when I was a little girl how proud I was of those little $1 rhinestone pins I would buy for my mom on Mother’s Day, her birthday, Valentine’s Day, Christmas and any other holiday I could think of. I would swell with pride as she pinned it on (no matter how gawdy) and wear it out. I never knew if she removed it after leaving the house alone, but when I was with her, she would wear them all the time we were out. It was like getting a stamp of approval.

As the years wore on, and I grew to understand that bigger wasn’t always better and multi-colored plastic “gemstones” glued to tinny metal wasn’t the be-all, end-all gift, I couldn’t believe that she had saved them. I worked to refine my taste in gifts. And, yet, Mom kept those gawdy gifts.

Recently, I was reading a post by Antique Mommy concerning her little boy, Sean, and his Christmas gift to her and it made me realize that those $1 gifts from a child are more valuable than a diamond. Moms have a special place in their hearts for their children and the gifts of love we bring to them. And nothing can hold a candle to those gifts.

And although I’ve been away from home for over 30 years, my mother still loves to open presents from me and I still wait with anticipation and a little anxiety to see if she reacts with that same joy of years ago. Sometimes I hit the mark and sometimes I don’t (I can finally tell after all these years which gifts are keepers and which ones aren’t). But I wouldn’t be surprised if those gawdy rhinestone gems are still in her jewelry box after all these years.

My dad was much the same way.  He was the recipient of every little resin statue of a cartoonish man with arms widespread, saying “I love you this much” and similar things that a child thinks her father should have.  And he placed them lovingly on a shelf in the family room.  Those odd little statues were a mainstay of his Father’s Day, Christmas, Valentines and birthdays. 

Those and inexpensive boxes of chocolate covered cherries.  And ties.  Nothing says “I love you” like a piece of fabric wrapped around your neck and knotted!  And since he was in the Army, he was not a tie-and-suit kind of guy most of the time.  But he expressed his joy over those ties and kept them all.   

And now, I have come to be the proud owner of a lump of clay artwork by my dear hubby.  When he was a little boy, he hand-molded a small dish (soapdish? ashtray? ring dish?) and painted it bright yellow.  He carefully carved his initials into it and it was glazed and fired.  My mother-in-law kept that little piece of love from him to her for over 45 years.  And then she gave it to me.  I love it.  I can see the care that went into it and the love of a mom who kept and cherished it for decades.  And now it’s mine to love, because my tall teddy-bear of a husband was once a tiny little boy and his mother is sharing that part of his life with me.  So, even though it isn’t MY memory, it is my momento of a time in his life when I wasn’t there.  And it makes me mushy!

“A mother’s heart is always with her children.” ~ Proverb

“The thing to remember about fathers is, they’re men. A girl has to keep it in mind: They are dragon-seekers, bent on improbable rescues. Scratch any father, you find someone chock-full of qualms and romantic terrors, believing change is a threat — like your first shoes with heels on, like your first bicycle it took such months to get.” ~ Phyllis McGinley

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Topic: Something you love about yourself.

Fortunately, I have lived long enough to develop some self-love.  By that, I mean that maturity allows people to recognize good things about themselves without feeling that others will see it as being egotistical.  I appreciate some of my better qualities while feeling that I am not overly impressed with myself.  One of my best qualities is my desire to know people of different backgrounds, different cultures, different generations and different opinions.  I appreciate their differences, while not always agreeing with them.  I was so lucky to grow up moving from place to place, country to country.  Those years gave me a true appreciation for others.  To this day, I want to know about people from other countries or other areas of the US and what is different about the way they were brought up.  Maybe I see it as a way to live vicariously through them or maybe its that I don’t have enough time in my life to visit every place that interests me, so this is the next best thing.  Either way, I know I love to meet people and find out about their lives and traditions and different cultures and I love to travel.  Exploring the world is a luxury not enough people are willing to work and strive for.  My list of places I want to see keeps growing.  The older I grow, the longer the list.  My appreciation of others is what I love about myself.

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There are people in our past who made such a huge impact on us that we will never be the same after having met them or having an event take place that was precipitated by something they did or said.   Sometimes, these people cause what Oprah calls “Aha moments” or sometimes their actions created such an incredibly high point or low point for us that they stand out.  And sometimes it was just a feeling we had about that person or an emotion or idea that filled us up in an almost consuming way.  Every once in a while, I look back on the last 50 years and think about those people.  Each left a mark on me.  The earliest recollection of someone who had such an impact was my first grade teacher.  Sadly, I can’t remember her name, but even if I did, I wouldn’t have included it.  I was frightened of her.  She was one of those teachers who pushed and pushed students to excel.  I tried my hardest always and never felt good enough.  I did learn a lot from her, but at that young age, it was a little hard to cope with.  Maybe THAT is why I don’t remember her name.  And I did gain a certain determination to excel.  She also gave me a solid foundation in reading skills that have impacted my entire life.  I love to read. 

Another person who had such an impact was my fifth grade teacher, Miss Blumquist.  She, however, was very positive in her dealings with students.  She very carefully taught me to hold my hand, wrist, and pen in a mirror image of right-handed people when writing.  She didn’t want me to curve my wrist around or turn the paper sideways.  Most people don’t even realize I’m left-handed when they watch me write.  She cared deeply that her students were successful in so many ways, but the little things she did also helped us.  And I wanted to be just like her. It was then, in fifth grade, that I decided I wanted to be a teacher.  And I was.  I hope there is at least one student out there who feels like I made a positive difference in his or her life. 

In high school, I belonged to a youth group at church.  The man who lead the group was an officer in the Army, had a family of his own and his own life to lead.  But he gave so much time to the dozens and dozens of young people who belonged to that youth group.  He inspired us to be giving of our time and to care about others.  So, Col. Hammond is another person who touched my life…and I will never be the same.

While I was in college, I met so many people of different backgrounds.  Each one of those people had a hand in teaching me who I am.  I was lucky enough to have a professor who didn’t put up with my procrastinations, didn’t want to hear any excuses…he wanted me to be successful.  And not long before I graduated, he told me I reminded him of his daughter.  It explained a lot of why I felt he was always pushing me harder to be a better person and a better teacher.  I found myself doing the same thing to my students…wanting them to be successful.  No excuses. Thank you to Dr. Downing!

The man who killed my father also has had a huge impact on me, but in more subtle ways than the obviously enormous way that comes from losing a loved parent to a violent, uncalled-for death.  He taught me to stand up for my rights.  He taught me persistence.  He taught me that eventually good does win out.  He taught me to cherish every day, because we never know how long we have with those we love.  I will not list his name, because he doesn’t deserve to be publicized.  He deserved to die in prison for what he did.  And he finally died last year without receiving the parole he requested.  I never gave up fighting those requests.  And my persistence paid off.  Good won out.

My students changed my life.  Some in very positive ways and some in negative ways, but each one had an impact on who I became.  I do remember some more than others, but I taught approximately 1500 students while I was a teacher.  Mike, Shannon, Amy, Sally, Matt and Mike (the twins), Lisa, Tara, Shay and Laine…the list goes on and on.  They are special people.  I hope I taught them even half of what they taught me.

Friends through my life have taught me loyalty, understanding, the need to have friends even when one is married (a spouse cannot be everything to you, no matter how loving and caring he is).  My friends have been there for me when I needed a different perspective.   They have taught me that my creative side needs an outlet…And I need an outlet for fun with the girls.  My dear, sweet hubby doesn’t like to paint pottery, scrapbook or watch chick-flicks.  They do.  And I appreciate them for that and so many other things.  Without them, I would never be the same.

I look back on someone I knew in high school.  Missy Etheridge.  She was Missy back then.  Now she’s Melissa.  And she taught me to reach for my dreams.  Never give up.  And to be who I am.  No apologies.  No regrets.  And for all of that, I will never be the same.  Her music was her dream.  Like I dreamed of being a teacher.  She reached her goal and so did I.  And we both have lived our lives in the way we chose to.  I hope for her a fearless love.  I have mine in my wonderful Beau.         

“I Will Never Be The Same”

So you walked with me for a while
Bared your naked soul
And you told me of your plan
How you would never let them know
In the morning of the night
You cried a long lost child
And I tried oh I tried to hold you
But you were young
And you were wild

But I, I will never be the same
Oh I, I will never be the same
Caught in your eyes
Lost in your name
I will never be the same

Secrets of your life
I never wanted for myself
But you guarded them like a lie
Placed upon the highest shelf
In the morning of the night
When I woke to find you gone
I knew your distant devil
Must be draggin’ you along

But I, I will never be the same
Oh I, I will never be the same
Caught in your eyes
Lost in your name
I will never be the same

And you swore that you were bound for glory
And for wanting you had no shame
But I loved you
And then I lost you
And I will never be the same

But I, I will never be the same
Oh I, I will never be the same
Caught in your eyes
Lost in your name
I will never be the same

~ Melissa Etheridge

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I’ve been thinking about a particular Easter when I was a little girl…

When I was young, my mother liked to make our Easter baskets more personal.  My brother and I didn’t get those store-bought, pre-packaged Easter baskets, even though we used to gaze at them with obvious desire.  Instead, my mother selected our favorite treats with great thought and spent time putting together personalized baskets for each of us.  She realized far more than we did that those other baskets were not what we would really like.  Every Easter was like that.  Wonderful Easter baskets with toys and treats. 

But the best Easter was the one I have been remembering lately.  My mother made me a stuffed frog.  My brother also got one.  She found the perfect green fabric for our frogs and yellow fabric for the belly side.  The frogs were filled with dried beans, so they were floppy and poseable and so much fun to play with.  The basket also had my favorite Brach’s malted milk ball eggs.  I still love those and each time I have one, I flash back to those days when the white coating used to make my lips white.  I would lick the outside of the egg and purposefully paint my lips.    

I’m not sure most kids remember what was in a pre-packaged Easter basket, but I will never forget my frog.  I can still feel the weight of the bean-bag frog, with the Ch-ch-ch-ch sound of the beans tapping against each other as I played.   Years later, I was still fascinated with frogs and had quite a collection.

My mother didn’t give us what we wanted at the time, but she gave us what we would remember…and cherish.  She understood far more than we did that memories were being made.  And love was being shown.    

“The most important thing she’d learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” ~ Jill Churchill

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