On the first day of Christmas….blah, blah, blah…..

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
a drunk opossum in a box!”

Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge


(mother’s late circa 1950’s mistletoe ball / Julie Cook / 2017)

See this garish, yet oh so festive green, red and white bedecked ball of plastic??

This ball of plastic, aka mistletoe, has been a part of every Christmas of mine since
I began having the capacity to actually remember memories…..

Every year, sometime in December, Mother would haul down the boxes of Christmas
ornaments and lights from our attic.
Down came the stuffed Coca Cola Santa who would sit on the fireplace hearth.
Down came our stockings knitted by my aunt.
Down came all manner of bauble and ball.

The wooden beamed, insulated tomb which housed our poor ornaments,
as they would spend 11 months out of the year, was
in this wizened sense of hindsight,
a really dumb place to keep real keepsakes….

You know how hot it gets in Georgia in the summers right??

So is it any wonder as to why those festive little dough ornaments
we made in kindergarten didn’t much survive past grade school…???
all before succumbing to the elements and reverting back to their powdery,
albeit now colorful, days of floury finery….???

Mother would pull down that wooden drop down hatch in the middle of our
hallway ceiling, the one with the sad little raveling cord and the plastic knob
at the end, as she’d precariously jiggle the pull down rickety wooden ladder
attached to said little pull down hatch, as I was instructed to hold the ladder
very still while she maneuvered boxes both up and down.

I now marvel at how Mother never fell and broke her neck.

Ceremoniously Mother would pull down this and that box…
She’d survey the contents determining the survivors and discarding the broken.

And each year she’d head to the kitchen in order to literally tack up that
plastic ball of mistletoe over our back door,
as in with a thumb tack in the door frame.

I always imagined being kissed under that mistletoe…
because isn’t that what you’re suppose to do when you happen past a boy
under some mistletoe…????
You get kissed by someone magical and special under that mistletoe???

And I always wanted it to be someone other than my dad’s peck on the cheek
each evening when he’d return home from work throughout the holidays….

I wanted a kiss, a real kiss from a real boy…one day…much like something Prince
Charming might offer….
Yet what I knew of real kisses back then, eludes me now… but I
certainly thought it was something every young girl would dream of…..

Fast forward about 50 years….

So there I was Sunday night, unpacking our own boxes of Christmas treasures
and memories, most of which oddly spend their 11 months out of the year in a very
hot Georgia attic (as some lessons are hard learned)… when low and behold,
what did my wandering eyes behold….but that same ball of mistletoe with
Mother’s tack still stuck on the strand.

Proudly holding up my childhood relic as if it were some trophy fish dangling from
a stringer, I call for my husband to see my prize….
to see if he remembered where my plastic treasure came from and as to its
magical importance….

As I was all ready for my sentimental walk down memory lane,
full of a cherished warm glow from recalling those oh so happy days gone by,
all the while anticipating that long awaited kiss from my very own prince charming…

He looks over in my direction, away from the football game, then practically screams—-
“OH MY GOSH!!
WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T SEND THAT WITH ME TO THE STORE….CAN YOU IMAGINE THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT CRIES IF I HUNG THAT UP IN THE STORE?????????!!!!!!!!!

And so goes another cherished memory right out the window….gone to our overtly and
off its freaking rocker society….

Sigh…..

And so on that note…I figured since we’ve all probably been taking ourselves just
a wee bit too seriously as of late—-
I wanted to share a story I read yesterday out of the News….
a story coming out of Fort Walton, FL….

It seems that a possum…of which you must know I do find cute and always have, as
I hold a soft spot open in my heart for these poster children of all things
roadkill ever since I can remember….

It seems a possum found its way into a Liquor store in Fort Walton.
Or actually found its way into the ceiling of the building.
Yet it appears that this possum fell out of the ceiling….
Falling onto some bottles of whiskey—of which broke.

When the proprietor of the store opened up the following morning,
imagine the surprise of finding a staggering, foaming at the mouth and
obviously very drunk….possum…
a possum who just so happened to have lapped up all that spilt liquor.

So the kind and caring folks from the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge had to come get
the staggering and very sloppy drunk marsupial.
They in turn had to give the sot possum a bag of IV fluids to flush the alcohol from its system.

Once the hangover had passed and the possum had sobered up,
it was released back into the woods…as it was heard to exclaim,
before it went out of sight…
Merry Christmas to all and to all no more bourbon tonight!!!!

http://www.fox13news.com/news/florida-opossum-found-drunk-after-liquor-store-break-in#/

Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy,
all you upright in heart!

Psalm 32:11

A traveling we go….

“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh.
It cures a multitude of ills.
It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

― Audrey Hepburn

“If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.”
― Robert Frost

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(Gloria ready to head over to dad’s)

So today, Gloria the dammit doll and I had to travel over to Dad’s.
I still can’t get over the coincidence of Gloria the dammit doll having the same name as my stepmother—what are those odds?!
Anywhooo, our week is a bit off kilter as we’ve had to deal with life here on the homefront, which in turn has put us off track for our weekly pilgrimage, or two, or three or four…you get the point, to Atlanta.

It was going to be a busy trip…
There were to be groceries to buy, bills to pay, visits to banks, trips to doctors, and a visit with dad’s tax folks…it is that time of year you know…

So…as Gloria was driving us over to Atlanta early this morning, she’s spies something with her wee eye….

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(Gloria behind the wheel on I-20)

A groundhog, running for its life frolicking along the side of the interstate catches Gloria’s eye…

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(Gloria was driving too fast for us to get a picture of the groundhog so we had to borrow one from the internet–the internet is nice that way)

“Well, this must be our lucky day” remarks Gloria.
What are the chances of seeing a groundhog running for its life playing alongside the interstate?? she exclaims….
The sun is shinning popping out here and there from behind the sea of remaining storm clouds, north Georgia is experiencing snow showers while we’re doing good to keep the car between the lines in the gale force winds, but if Gloria thinks today’s our luck day, who am I to rain on her parade?!

When we get to Dad’s we meet the new caregiver…one of these two Gloria’s gathered near me keeps running them off, I’m not naming names but Gloria the dammit doll is off the hook…
and so far things seem ok.

Dad is sitting in his chair, the one I sometimes wonder if he’s not glued in to…but I notice he’s not completely dressed—as in his pants are on, but the shirt isn’t tucked in, the belt isn’t fastened, nor are the pants.
“Hi Dad, what’s up with your pants?”
“Oh, uh, uh, they just won’t stay together.”
“Dad, I just bought you three new pair, where are they?
Oh, uh, uh, they’re back there, uh, uh, I don’t need them.
Suuuuureee you don’t…

Long story short, it seems Dad’s colitis is acting up—which happens every time things in that house become chaotic…
Of which they certainly have over the past month or so….as in all hell has been breaking loose, hence why Gloria the dammit doll has had to work really hard on overtime….and dad isn’t keeping his pants zipped, buttoned or belted as he’s running back and forth to the bathroom. Have you ever seen a very feeble 88 year old, who lists dangerously to the right, attempt to hurry to the bathroom—puts new meaning into scary viewing.

The caregiver fills me in on the latest trauma dramas.

The main bathroom, the one my stepmother uses, has been the crime scene for her last two catastrophic falls. Each time she has managed to wedge herself up against the door, preventing help from getting to her. Subsequently she has been emphatically told by the nurse, the doctor, the care service, her son, the EMT’s, Dad, me… to allow the caregivers to assist her in and out of the bathroom and not to lock nor completely shut the door.

Defiant to the end, the door has remained locked tight despite the cries of those imploring from the other side she open up the door.
So on Sunday her son removed the door.
(Shades of having a teenager…just a really old teenager)
As in he lifted that sucker right off it’s hinges and carted it off to the basement.
Replacing the door with a rather chic little curtain job, giving way to an air of a day spa happening in my stepmother’s bathroom. Easy and breezy in a fab chic sort of way.

My stepmother had become unglued prior to the door’s removal…
As in raging, manic, irate, irrational, hateful, threatening…you name it… as in it might be time to call in reinforcements.
Hence why Dad now has colitis…again.

A visit to the doctor earlier this week, along with some tweaking of dementia meds, and there is actually peace and clam at the day spa house today….odd and frightening at the same time

Gloria the dammit doll looked at me as we both wondered if we were in the right house.

Yet Dad was anything but peaceful..he was troubled…even fretful.
Quiet and agitated at the same time.

When my stepmother had to leave to go get the staples removed from her head…those staples from her latest catastrophic fall in the bathroom…of which shattered the mirror, which she had fallen into…cutting herself to shreds…the result of defiant stubbornness as in I won’t use the walker, I won’t allow help, as in I will lock doors….but I digress…
I stayed behind with dad, at the house, just to figure out what was troubling him…
as if I didn’t already have my suspisions.

He has worked himself back into a full blown sick tizzy of worry… and no matter the reassurance, the emphatic explaining on my part, he was hearing none of it…he was back to being a dog with a bone—a bone that is used up and no good.
He obsesses…to a very dangerous and unhealthy level–welcome to his dementia.
We couldn’t get lucky and have two with the same sort of dementia—nope–we’ve got to do battle on multiple fronts.

So I’m now wondering how best to help–
I’ve lined up a trip to the gastroenterologist.
I’ll be emailing the nurse for suggestions.
We may, God forbid, have to cut out his sweets and chocolate….
and I will keep my fingers crossed that my stepmother will now rest in this period of bizarre calm in order that dad’s guts can also get to a place of calm…

For life at Dad’s is anything but calm…as in, when it rains, it will indeed pour….and I usually won’t be holding an umbrella…

So finally late this afternoon, while Gloria the dammit doll was driving us back home, she poses a question my way…

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She mentions that maybe she should try her luck at a dammit doll dating match site.
She’s been working herself to death as of late, as in working overtime between both dad and my stepmother…
Maybe it’s time I get her a helpmate.
She had actually seen a fellow in a store front window when she was on a recent visit to Savannah..a fellow who she thought was really pretty cute…yet she was afraid to approach him.

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I had seen him as well, sitting there in that window with those big brown eyes, but I told her that he was not her type.
I explained to her that he appeared to be nothing more than a smooth talker and totally full of crap.
I promised her that once we got back home later in the day, I’d go on-line in search of a Mr. Dammit doll…one that she could call her own…

Well, I’ll keep you posted as to who shows up to ask Gloria the dammit doll out on a date…
Kind of reminds me of those long ago mail order brides…I just hope he’s not a Russian…not that I’m opposed to Russians mind you but I would like one who speaks the language.

Until then…it seems Gloria has had a day of it and needs a little rest….

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A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

*****It should be noted that my cheeky approach in this situation of life with my dad and stepmother leaves me in tears more oft than not—-so there are times, such as today’s post, in which I’ve got to reach for the humor when there is strength to do so… otherwise my spirit would indeed break and dry up–
Tending to them and their needs, maintaining their world as peacefully as possible.. for both of them… requires finesse, the patience of Job, stamina, sanity and a steady hand—doing it alone is none too easy. It often leaves my own world, home, family upside down and pulling the short straw.
Those of you out there who face similar situations of caring for aging and elderly parents..those with both physical as well as emotional and or mental needs..know how very difficult life can be.
Alzheimers and dementia are not kind.
Hence why Gloria the dammit doll has made these bad days a bit more tolerable
🙂

“Did you hear the one about the crow and the telephone pole. . .”

Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.
Francis Bacon

How are we to survive? Solemnity is not the answer, any more than witless and irresponsible frivolity is. I think our best chance lies in humor, which in this case means a wry acceptance of our predicament. We don’t have to like it but we can at least recognize its ridiculous aspects, one of which is ourselves.
Ogden Nash

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(crows telling jokes / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(crows laughing at jokes / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Did you hear the one about the crow and the telephone pole?
He wanted to make a long distance caw”

How do crows stick together in a flock?
Velcrow.

So the first crow asks the second crow,
“did you hear the one about the two Buzzards?
“No” says the second crow, “what?”
“Two buzzards were on the side of a road eating a dead clown. The first buzzard turns and asks the second buzzard “does this taste funny to you?”

Why did the gum cross the road?
It was stuck to the chicken’s foot.

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To prove to the Opossum that it could be done!

It is easy to determine if someone is committed to a cause or just involved.
Consider the case of the bacon and egg breakfast.
The chicken is involved, the pig is committed!

Two turkey vultures were preparing to migrate north for the summer but, after talking about it, they decided they were too old to fly all that way, so they decided to take a plane.
When they were about to board the aircraft, the flight attendant, noticing that both buzzards were carrying a dead armadillo, asked,
“Would you like to check those armadillos through as luggage?”
“No thanks,” the buzzards replied, “they’re carrion.”

Why did Mozart sell his chickens?
Because they kept saying “bach bach”!

How do you keep a turkey in suspense?
I’ll tell you tomorrow!

When life get too serious,
too difficult,
too hard,
too sad. . .
just remember. . .
A little bit humor and laughter can make everything lighter,
easier,
softer,
happier. . .

Humor and laughter are good for the soul. . .

Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.

Psalm 126:2

(jokes taken from World’s worst bird jokes at Wildbirds.com and funology.com)

The bench

“Seated here in contemplations lost, my thought discovers vaster space beyond, supernal silence and unfathomed peace”
Giacomo Leopardi

The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it.
Wendell Berry

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(remnants of a red cedar picnic bench / Julie Cook / 2015)

Fifty years ago it came to be.
The red cedar picnic table, along with the accompanying two benches, just appeared one hot summer afternoon out back on the fenced green lawn, sheltered under the shade of the tall pine tree.
It was long before central air-conditioning.
Every window in the house was wide open.
It was cooler out rather than in.

These were the days before every home had a two, three or even four car garage.
Despite cheap gas, frugality reigned.
It was a time when everyone was home more often than away.
A time when families and neighbors would gather together outside in order to cool off, simply sharing the riches of one another’s lives.

Backyard cookouts, neighborhood block parties, a time of lazy summer days. . .
Life was delightfully slower back then.
Most moms were home, as dads were at work and the kids whiled away the hours outside.
Kick the can
Hide-n-seek
Stickball games
Collecting evening fireflies
Catching crawfish in the creek
A single voice calling out “Marco. . .”
while a handful of youthful voices echoed back “Polo. . .”

This was the time before toxic waters, child predators and electronic this and thats. .
There was no need for cell phones. . .parents knew kids would be home at dark.
High fashion consisted of tee shirts, cut offs and a new pair of keds.

Popsicles dribbled down chins,
As everyone shooed the flies aways from the platter of ice cold slices of watermelon.
Winning the seed spiting contests always went to those who still had their front teeth.
Mothers were insistent on everyone wearing their tennis shoes while youthful feet clamored to be free
“I don’t want to hear it when you get a splinter or step on a yellow jacket. . .”

A neighborhood full of youthful energy each took their places at the table, sliding onto the benches oh so gingerly so as not to rub bare legs carelessly over the red cedar wood.
“Everyone look this way and smile”. . .
As the Kodak flash cube blinked and clicked with the advancement of the film.

The paper plates were ladened with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Lays potato chips and fritos along with freshly washed green grapes. . .however it was to the ice-cream sandwiches and fudge bars that all eyes turned.
“Now ya’ll wait a while after eating–I don’t want you running around making yourselves sick. . .”
As the moms sipped iced coffee and puffed on their cigarettes.

Yet sadly, time always has a way of catching up with Life.
The children grew up and one by one, grew away.
With each passing summer there were less and less members gathered around the table.
The joyful chatter of youthful exuberance grew silent
The pine straw fell, covering the table as the benches remained empty and bare.
Abandoned and finally forgotten. . .that is until today.

Fifty years later, a lone bench is found hidden deep in the woods.
Time and the elements have each laid claim to the table and fellow bench, but the lone single bench remains much as it did—waiting and inviting any and all who might wish to sit a spell while spending a summer’s evening listening to the sound of the whip-poor-will and the distant echo of the laughter of children.

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O Lord, I need to laugh. . .

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

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(image courtesy the web)

With the weight of winter crushing down on this weary mind and body, as our schools are closed once again for a snow day with nary a white flake on the ground, ok maybe there’s a patch of black ice or two here and there, what with the nightly news doling out ominous warnings upon grim and dire global stories. . . it has dawned on me that I am in desperate need of a good dose of humor, laughter, joy!!!

Some people wrongly believe that God is without a funny bone—that He sits about playing, well, God, exacting punishments while issuing the squadrons of the “serious police” as He sends them down to nip any and all fun, humor or even joy in the bud. . .I for one know that is far from the truth.

Now I’m not talking about vile, malicious, sick or twisted humor that comes at the expense of any one of us—as I find much of the “humor” that our entertainment industry rolls around on the ground over as sophomoric, stupid and belittling–possessing no redeeming value.

So this morning as I dutifully journeyed to the dark, cold, cavernous basement in order to engage in my hour of servitude , I mean healthy regime of weights and bobbing up and down on the elliptical, I found myself pondering the need for some laughter. . .

As if standing before some imaginary crowd, I found myself raising my hand, with the childlike exuberance of “pick me, pick me” as I have volunteered, taking one for the team, as I to try find you and I a little something to, if not laugh over, at least enjoy a good chuckle, guffaw or chortle.

I picked my brain over what we could laugh about.
As humans, our usual go to area of prosaic conversation, when we find nothing at hand to actually discuss, is of course the weather–but truly, I think we are all certainly over the weather. . .

I then moved on to current events—again, over that. . .

We could discuss health. . .that’s a topic we all tend to like to discuss especially as we age. . .as in my 86 year old dad seems to relish in telling me things that scream of TMI–too much, way too much, information. . .with me wailing “Daaaaaaddddddd, please!!!”

And whereas I don’t think I really want to chat about IBS, sinuses, osteoporosis, hormone replacement therapy, or any other malady plaguing this aging body of mine. . .I continued to pick my brain in search of the elusive idea of humor on this wearisome cold, grey winters day.

Looking around, taking in my duty-drudge filled “workout” area of the basement, I decide I’ve finally hit upon something of interest.
I have decided that compression tights are what we shall discuss today as they are now my go to in the wardrobe department.
“What?”
Yes, compression tights.

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(image courtesy Nike)

Please note that this is not, I repeat, not my body—only in my dreams. . .

You know, the black things people put on to run or work out in. . .
But why should we stop there. . .at merely something to put on during exercise and physical activity?!
Forget spanx or other “suck um up” undies, compression tights are where it’s at.

I can remember as a little girl seeing my mom’s girdle sitting on the bathroom counter wondering as to what in the world this torturesque contraption was that my mom counted as part of her daily dressing ritual. Was I too to look forward to donning a girdle one day, I fretted as I imagined myself passing from childhood to training bras, eventually to girdles. . .As the idea of women forcing tight contraptions onto their bodies, or actually forcing their bodies into said contraptions, as in a need to suck up, reign in, tighten up and conceal, seemed to be a centuries old issue and quest that was now sadly staring at my 8 year old self.

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(vintage Montgomery ward advertisement)

Fast forwarding back to the current moment at hand, I now faced my own issue of sucking up and sucking in, as I stared at my tights. My mind suddenly racing back to the scene in Gone With the Wind with Mammy cinching up Scarlett’s corset as Scarlett was bound and determined to sport that girlish 17 inch waist of hers both before and after pregnancy.

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(before said pregnancy)

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(after said pregnancy)

Now mind you, I don’t ever recall having a 17 inch waist. . . but my thighs, well, they’re a different story. . .And sadly I fear, these thighs of mine are certainly bigger than 2 of Scarlett’s waists put together, or so it feels. . .hence this new love of tights of mine.

Have you ever put on a pair of compression tights?
These are not your run of the mill average pair of hose, stockings or tights. . .these are serious when it comes to compression–meaning a decrease in volume. . .as in the volume of my thighs. . .

You start by putting on one leg in at a time, because that’s certainly all you’ll have strength to lift up, one leg at a time. . .
Working the tights up over the ankles is a piece of cake, the calves are also fairly easy. . it’s just past the knee cap where the trouble begins.

Twisting, contorting, hopping, jumping, falling over, pulling up while pushing fat down–precariously placing the second leg in the 2 inch opening. How can a 36(which in now more like a 38), 26 (which is now more like a 30), 36 (which by God better still be a 36) fit into a 2 opening? Have you ever found yourself falling over, half naked onto the cold bathroom floor, with your legs hopelessly trapped in the confines of a pair of tights–tights that were made for the likes of either Twiggy or a Barbie doll?! You find yourself hoping that you don’t suddenly die so as to ensure that no one should ever come home finding you dead, with your bare bottom exposed pointing upward as your head is plastered on the cold tile floor while both legs resemble a large black pretzel. Somehow I’m thinking a 55 year old woman is not meant to contort her body in this sort of fashion.

Now pulling up with all of ones strength, doing good not to hear any sort of tearing or popping, you begin attempting to get your butt pushed down, while continuing lifting the tights upward. Up and over your bottom, squeezing and wiggling while you now work to squeeze your stomach into the ever shrinking black spandex on steroids fabric.

Once in, you proceed to push and pull, adjusting the areas that are now pinching every ounce of said body fat. Not one to ever think thong underwear was a good idea, I get a sudden uncomfortable feeling that the crotch area of the tights is now going places it is not normally meant to travel. Pulling and adjusting a bit more, I finally think I’m all in as nothing has split, burst or popped open.
WHEW! I now attempt to breathe.

There!
I am heard to triumphantly exclaim to both cats as if I have just accomplished some miraculous feat. Somehow their blank expressions do not match my feeling of jubilation.
Pausing to look in the mirror, I joyously think that I am now a lean, mean, slim and svelte fighting machine. Take that Scarlett O’Hara!

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Which now leaves one question begging to be answered. . .were does it go? The fat. I mean, where does all that excessive me go, where is it pushed and squished off to???
This lingering thought as I suddenly wonder if I’m not looking a bit more buxom than before—hummmm.
Then as if a ton of bricks, it hits me, the urgent calling to the loo. . . I think I need to go the bathroom otherwise I’ll be wetting these freshly pulled on tights of mine.
UGH!
Remember women of a certain age have less than trustworthy bladders. . .one allergy ridden sneeze, one croupish cough and me and these tights are one wet mess!

Which brings me back to the thought of our needing a good laugh- – -at this point, it may not be advisable for me to offer up said laugh as I wish to remain dry as I am now poured into these tights—which means, our quest for laughter may have to come later, as I am once again reminded of those immortal words of Scarlett O’Hara, tomorrow is another day. . .

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Heeeellllloooo

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.
Robin Williams

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The world now seems deeply less funny with the recent tragic death of Robin Williams.

Firstly, as you probably know, I am not one to ogle and fane over the likes of Hollywood. I do not care for the rag tag magazines which so love to follow the infamous lives of those members of tinseltown, or the music industry, around like hungry dogs, nor do I care to watch such television programs, which provide the windows of voyeurism into the often twisted lives of those in the field of entertainment, as there is just too much in this world which needs doing besides “following” those society pathetically deems “famous” or infamous, the distinction is yours to decide. . .

Secondly, I do not care for comedians, particular standup comedians as their base of humor, to me, is simply not funny.
I am not a fan of the supposed humor which is steeped in raunchy and vile language–I don’t need to hear the “F” word over and over again as a form of humor. I do not enjoy watching these onstage individuals vie for the laughter of others as he or she proceeds to make sarcastic fun of everyone and everything. . .And as tragic and as sad as life seems to be today, it appears as if there is nothing which remains sacred or reserved, or hands off to these comic individuals–which I find to be the terrible making of our lives into that which is “less than.”

To me, none of that is humor.
The use of the vile and crude, while taking cheap shots at the lives of others, to me again is a poor excuse for funny.

I did however enjoy Robin Williams as he could make me laugh until I cried.

And yes, I am aware he had his crude, crass and vile takes on comedy– and no, I did not care to watch those particular standup moments of his—but I did, however, watch what he did so well— and that was to bring smiles to the faces of the young and old as only Robin Williams could do. He knew he could forego the crass, the vile and the cheap and still bring smiles to the faces of those who desperately needed to smile–and perhaps it was his own depth of inner turmoil which was his impetus to that intuition.

Watching him interact with children was a joy. He could immediately forget being the “grown up” and engage with a child on their own tiny level making that child feel magically important and special. The work he did for St Jude’s Children Hospital was tremendously heartwarming as he would light up the eyes of a child who’s face was ashen and deathly pale, who’s hair had long since fallen out and who’s sunken eyes gave the perception of immanent death–yet Robin Williams would work his magic and suddenly there was a twinkle in that sunken eye as life suddenly reappeared, where just moments before, there was none.

His concern for our military, especially those soldiers who came home broken of both body and spirit was tireless. He recognized the sacrifices made for our freedom as he paid homage to such. He respected the men and woman who, suddenly missing limbs, sight and mind, felt as if there was now nothing remaining worthy of respect–Robin Williams worked selflessly to remind them that many do care and that these broken individuals do matter and that their respect remains intact even if their bodies do not.

Movies such as Hook in which Robin played the grown up, stressed out, workaholic and jaded Peter Banning reminded all of us of the importance of maintaing the one on one relationships with our children—of touching base, finding and embracing our deeply buried imaginations and of seeking the hidden places where our own sense of fun and joy still remained.

Yet it was probably his role as Mrs. Doubtfire, the doughty British widow alter ego of a divorced dad, down on his luck, who simply wanted to be with his kids which brought me great delight, laughter and touching joy.

Yes Robin Williams could make us laugh, but he could also make us think. He could disturb us and he could remind us of the importance of life and of what in life was truly important.

However it is now in the wake of his tragically sad suicide that I find myself troubled. I worry that Robin’s choice to end his own life may be seen by those who suffer addictions and battle the life altering heaviness of depression as a sign that sadly things do not get better, that it is all just hopeless and the only way out is death.

Those individuals must know that that is not the case at all.
Hope always remains, as long as we breathe, there is Hope.
But I know how shallow that can sound to one in the midst of the misery.
I know.

I have written on the topic of suicide and the effects it wrecks on a family back in March of 2013 when I addressed the issue of my own brother’s suicide in the post Forgiveness, one step at a time
(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/)
I don’t wish to rehash a previous post but I do think it important to note that the finality of suicide is a sadly permanent and non retraceable choice which has sweeping and lasting repercussions to those we are left to pick up the pieces. But I get it, I understand that the depressed are not concerned with any of that as they merely want the torment and the suffering to stop.

I also know what it is like to live with years of bitterness over what seemed to me to be a selfish choice as I watched my father spend a lifetime of invisible regret and endless sorrow.

I do not want the life Robin Williams lived, of the joys he brought to others, the gifts he delivered when playing a particular role, the relationships he had with family and friends to be overshadowed by the finality of a single sad choice.

I do not want those who suffer the insidious heavy veil of depression to feel as if all is for naught for if someone like Robin Williams, who was actually proactive with the disease and treatment of mental illness, could not get out from under the crushing weight, then who can. . .his choice must not be seen as the only choice available for those who suffer and hurt.

It is my hope that in the wake of this latest loss and sadness that dialogue may begin as we all look to ways and means to help and support those who suffer mental anguish and addiction. It is our responsibility, as the extended family of humanity, to offer hope to the hopeless, joy to the joyless, freedom to the imprisoned—not to sit by and watch others feel forgotten and alone.

As I stated earlier, there is much in life to be done besides sitting around reading and watching rag tag magazines and shows, rather we all have a responsibility to reach out to all of those around us who are hurting and who suffer the debilitating struggles of mental illness which cause the brokeness of spirit and soul. Yes it is easier to treat the obvious exterior brokeness of bone and body, but it is the internal brokeness of spirit and soul which remains so frustratingly hidden, that we must address head on as real and yet capable indeed of help and of healing.

May we work to heal broken spirits just as hard as we work to heal broken bodies. . .

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

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Oh to be a child again

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

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(antique Santa figurine / Julie Cook / 2013)

There is a joyful magic, which sweeps in on the cold winds of late December, bringing to those of us lucky enough to be in its path, a respite from reality, albeit fleeting, full of wonder and awe. Children, with their innocence and almost reverent joy for the mysteries hidden, invoke a contagious mass amazement which spreads the ripples of excitement to the most jaded among us. Young, and now old, all seem to gather in anticipation of something most tantilizingly special.

Memories of happier times come rushing to the forefront of our adult minds with each inhaled scent of freshly baked cookies, roasted marshmallows, cinnamon sticks and peppermint candy canes. The laughter of children building snowmen, the angelic sound of choirs singing, the ringing of a single bell, and the dizzying din of the masses flooding the malls and stores each provide a bit of giddy excitement in even the most hardened of hearts.

The special magic which this time of year seems to create is enjoyed and savored by not only believers but by those of all faiths as well as non believers alike. Perhaps that is the true gift of this most treasured time—those who believe reawaken their vigilant search, looking for the ever present star as a continued sign that a King and Savior of all mankind, is once again re-born—As for those who do not believe, their hearts are made equally as light as the mystery and magic of what Christmas is all about, and has been about around this globe for centuries, is once again bathed in the radiant light of magical moments, anticipation in what can be, and the hopefulness that is once again ignited for all mankind.

My hopeful blessing to you all during this most special time of year is for Peace and Goodwill to all men, woman and children. Merry Christmas.