Do not go gentle…

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(Tremont Rd / Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

Oh where does ones thoughts go during the mindless drives of back and forth….
Memories come racing back to the forefront of consciousness…
foggy images of childhood slowly refocus…
The happy battling to outweigh the bad…
Songs, rhymes, games, trips, stories…
as the years long past muddle with the present miles ahead…

My current life has ground to an abrupt halt as his current life is slowly departing….

It started out with one day a week…
then two….
then three…
then every other day…
and now it is every day…

Sigh…

It is all so hard…

There are good days, more lucid days…
and then there are bad days…which are growing in number…
then there was the day he tells me I needn’t bother in coming back…
because he won’t be here…

He was…

For we do not know the day nor the time…

That is not to be of our choosing…
only unless we tempt to usurp His timing, His giving, His taking…
claiming it as our own omnipotence.

And so we wait within this odd dance between life and death…
sorting out our strange place within the passing of these two elusive partners..

It is said that Dylan Thomas wrote this poem for his dying father…
as I now find it most appreciate….

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

altars

“Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the Creator
as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You.
Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us.
Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.”

Augustine of Hippo

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(altar tomb in the Rock of Cashel, the Cathedral of St Patrick / Co Tipperary, Ireland/
Julie Cook / 2015)

A thick blanket of smoke hangs heavy in the air.
It’s not the result of burning effigies or burning communities
but rather from the woods of North Carolina and northern Georgia which are on fire…
and the winds have shifted…

The sinking grey smoke is a somber reminder that there is a dangerously severe drought…
and the parched land is now beyond thirsty…

Yet there is more to this current drought than simply a lack of rain…
for there is more that is dry than mere vegetation and brush…
And there is more to this endless thirst than a need for water….

Vehemence and anger are filling the air, accented by vile and profane sentiment.
As the mobs march toward the altars of self indulgence and guile.
Immaturity laced with ignorance stokes the fires of rage as the hate filled
smoke fills the nostrils of a nation.

Self absorption and egocentric worshipers have taken to the streets.
They have taken to their computers and to their phones…their current altars of choice.
All the while they shout vile rhetoric as they stomp their spoiled bored feet.

If you must…
Protest against atrocities,
demonstrate against hunger,
fight against killing…
but not because you’ve simply forgotten, or have never known, how to lose.

Young dismayed parents now publicly lament how are they to console their
confused children who cry in fear from the big bad what ifs of hysteria…
simply because democracy has been at work–once again…

Nay, answer with truth…
the truth that one person lost while another person won…
For that is how this game is played…one person wins while one person loses…

Yet ours is a culture currently obsessed with the win win…
because we’ve grown moralistically soft while deciding everyone should be a winner…
We cannot live with the sad notion of losing…
Never mind old adages of always trying again…

There are those who are falling at the altar of womanly feminism…
which is currently shored up by gender neutrality, resentment and anger.
Marching not for policy or real equality but rather for the notion that
the wrong sex was the victor…as the votes which were cast are ignored….

Tears are being shed not because freedom has been lost
or because lives have been lost,
nor because a nation has lost all hope…
No…
rather tears are flowing because an election was lost…

And now we no longer want to play…
Because reality is simply no longer considered fun.
While we have found ourselves kneeling before all the wrong altars…

Ours are the empty altars of hero worship and of self…
the altars of gadgetry, boredom, appeasement and ignorance.
Altars of fear, anger, hostility, emptiness and divisiveness…

For what or whom has become our idol, our god?
Who or what are those hungry deities which have left us empty, sad,
frustrated, angry and resentful…
as we turn upon one another in the feeding frenzy of resentment?

We have gathered before all the wrong altars for far too long…
These altars have left us shallow and empty while also full of loathing and contempt…
We continue to march without leadership and direction…
lost and wandering…all the while lashing out at those we assume to be our enemy…
never realizing that we are all actually one.
One people…one nation…

And all the while hidden deep within the suffocating smoke of our thirst
lies the only One true proven path in which we need march…

Yet we have decided it’s far easier to wander angrily in the parched darkness
while hiding behind the vitriol sputum which oozes forth from our mouths…
spewing out upon our fellow human beings…

As it seems we’d rather choose…
paranoia to Grace
greed to Offering
ignorane to Enlightenment
darkness to Light
death to Salvation
egregiousness to Gentleness
hate to Love…

May we all fall at the foot of the one true altar,
the cross of Resurrection, Salvation, Hope and Life.

The Father willed that his blessed and glorious Son,
whom he gave to us and who was born for us,
should through his own blood offer himself as a sacrificial victim on the altar of the cross.
This was to be done not for himself through whom all things were made,
but for our sins.

Francis of Assisi

revolving

The force that keeps the planets revolving around the sun would
be glad to handle the circumstances of your life,
if only you would ask Him to.

Marianne Williamson

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(image courtesy GU door products and technology)

As a kid I was always mesmerized, as well as terrified, of revolving doors.
Upon visiting any sort of office, hotel or building, that had a revolving door as an entrance,
I would hurry scurry to enter my own little “chamber” or section.
Never wanting to hop in with a stranger and always afraid
I’d push too fast for the others entering and exiting…
All the while I prayed I could keep up without getting my foot stuck or
simply missing the cue for exiting…
otherwise hopelessly getting caught in a quick spin cycle.

All the rather paranoid and silly thoughts of a child.

However…
I still don’t particularly care for revolving doors.

Do I hop in with my companion?
Do I wait to hop into my own little section?
Do I walk and push quickly…or leisurely taking my time, leaving the pushing to another?
Is there revolving door etiquette?
Or worse, I am left to wonder if it’s an automatic door that swings at a set speed…
will I have to quickly or slowly keep up?

What’s wrong with simply pulling or pushing on a single door in or out?

Yet it is to the revolving door that my life is now set.

Spinning round and round with the busyness of comings and goings…

It’s like riding a merry go round—spinning and spinning, round and round in circles without
really going anywhere…
yet truly not being able to get off…
Certainly not in time enough to stop this current madness…

There’s now dad and this cancer business…
As if age, dementia and frailty just wasn’t enough…

There is now the constant driving from my small town into the big city, and back again…
over and over and over….
Constantly wondering how long I’ll get stuck in traffic…
while praying I’m not flattened by some crazy tractor trailer truck.

Then there’s my son taking a job in that same big city…
(which as far as dad is concerned, is actually a hidden blessing)
Of which means a quick hurry up and move situation for him….
while his wife, who teaches here, will be in a bit of limbo
….gravitating between their house, the new apartment and time with us…
It will be a year of transition for them with my husband and I right in the thick of it…

How many times have we moved him in a 10 year span?
Add now a wife and a dog and we just keep multiplying boxes and trips….
And once again, our small family will be separated…
and I will certainly be sad…

It can all be all so very overwhelming…
It is so very overwhelming…

But…

such is life….
such is my life…

A constant revolving, devolving and evolving…
spinning out of control…

It can get to be too much
too tiring…
too demanding…
too exhausting…

Which is just about where I am right about now.
Exhausted.

That’s when I know I need to stop…
taking a very long deep breath.

Breathing out and letting go…
Breathing in a healing…
…Spirit

The rhythmic breathing of…prayer…

Breathing in the Spirit of God…
Exhaling the burdens I can no longer bare…
alone…

Because I am not alone…
I, me, you, we, us…
were all given a promise…

“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20

And so we, me, you, us…must claim that promise…

And I am claiming that promise just as fast as I can…

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Isaiah 43:1-3

I am what I am….

“I am what I am,
and that’s all that I am.”

Popeye

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(Popeye the sailor man)

I grew up watching, and loving, the old black and white cartoon exploits of Popeye the Sailor man–
That one eyed, pipe smoking, old salt of a sailor…
Along with his sidekick and girlfriend Olive Oyl, the antagonist, Bluto (later known as Brutus),
as well as little Swee’Pea, Wimpy, Poopdeck Pappy, the She Hag and Alice the Goon…
Popeye has been one of the longest running cartoon comic strips having made his debut in 1929.

Popeye was a bit of a rough neck yet was always the good guy.
Whenever he found himself in a jam or was having the living tar beat out of him by Brutus…
which always stemmed from some sort of fight over a girl, in this case the skinny and whinny Olive Oyl…
Popeye would always pull out, from nowhere, a miraculous can of spinach…
He’d bust open that can,
swallowing the contents whole,
then he would proceed to swell with muscles and superhuman strength…
all of which would allow him to beat the ever living slop out of Brutus…
or whomever was causing him woe.

Moms all over the country used that idea and image of Popeye eating spinach in order to get their kids to eat their spinach. And back in day, spinach came from the grocery store in a can…nothing like the healthy fresh stuff of today.

And as far as I was concerned, it worked…I’d eat my spinach every time…

Popeye was famous for mumbling and singing to himself but one of his more vocal and
enunciated phrases was
“I am what I am and that’s all that I am”

And out of the blue…this morning…that very expression…
came racing back…
out from the depths of a stored away childhood,
racing to the forefront of now…

“I am what I am and that is all that I am…”

Me…
yes…
simply me…
nothing more, nothing less.
Just me.
No spinach,
no bravado,
no pretense,
no falsehoods of expectations or promises…
for good and for bad…
just me.

Striped away of everything and anything that gives off some sort of “other than”
and false perception…
I am…
just me…

And given my life’s precariousness of these current days…
the fact that I am not super human, despite ingesting as much spinach as I can, I am…
simply…
me…
nothing more
and nothing less.

My dad loved seeing / reading Popeye in the “funnies”…
as he still calls the comic strip section of the daily newspaper to this day, the funnies…
as in funny papers….

It’s the fist section of the paper he pulls out.
No longer does he scour the front page with its gloom and doom…
nor the stock section with its constant state of ebb and flow….
Dad has always scoured over the comic section of the paper first and foremost.
Because he likes to, needs to, laugh.

Just as he has always gravitated to watching cartoons….
preferring, always, those cartoons from his day and time….
Popeye,
Dick Tracey,
Buck Rogers,
Little Orphan Annie
and Superman.

My dad has, for better or worse, always been a kid…
Which was great when I was a kid and when my son was a kid…
but not so great as I grew up and needed a “dad”…

That whole dad thing…responsibility, paying bills, working, caring for a lawn…
you know,
dad things…
none of those things were his cup of tea.

Oh don’t get me wrong,
he did it all, worked, cut grass, paid the bills….
but it was always obvious he hated it and would get out of it as much as possible—
which usually meant every weekend.
Sleeping away the day and doing as little as possible.
While my friends dads were all out and about…
I had to make excuses that my dad had worked all week really hard, so now he was tired.
I now know that it was just a matter of my dad being lazy….

And now, at 88, he’s wanting to get out of all this cancer business…
which I can’t say I much blame him—
because who in their right mind wants to deal with that devastating “c” word….
None of us,
that’s who!!!

I learned a while back that I had to accept dad for who he was / is…
and that’s a man who is simply more kid than adult,
as that meant I had to be more adult than kid…
not exactly fair, but no one ever said life was fair.

Yet during these coming days…
days that I know will only grow more weary and taxing…
for both dad and myself….
I’m thinking I might just need to stock up on some Popeye’s spinach…
because I’m going to need all the muscles I can get!!!!

God said to Moses,
“I AM WHO I AM”;
and He said,
“Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel,
I AM has sent me to you.'”

Exodus 3:14

a large collective sigh…..

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child.
Listen to the don’ts.
Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…
Anything can happen, child.
Anything can be.”

Shel Silverstein

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(my giddy, degree holding, son)

Did you hear that?

That sound of exhaling?

That whooshing sound Saturday morning…
the sound of a large collective, slow released, heavy sigh?

The sound of years and years of the breath held by two parents, their son…
and now a young wife…
along with a myriad number of friends and family…

A sigh that has actually been held for….
A lifetime.

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See this young boy?
This picture was taken on a balmy Friday night in May of 2007.
It’s the image of young man who had just graduated high school…
standing on the edge of a well anticipated future…

Yet what he, in his delirium of conquering the one mountain failed to realize that carefree night,
was that he was not yet finished climbing…
For looming in the distance, just beyond the horizon of his youthful exuberance,
lay a mountain range far more challenging than what he had just conquered….

That exciting evening, so long ago, indeed marked a successful passing….
The passing of a 12 year long struggle…

Yet the magnitude of the struggle to which I speak is most likely lost on those who have never
experienced or lived through a child who has had to struggle academically.

And whereas I have written about this struggle before…
That of his particular struggle and of our particular struggle as a family…
The massive weight and enormity of it all came rushing back to the forefront of my heart and soul
this past Saturday morning while sitting in a crowded gym of a southern university.

From that fateful day his first grade teacher called me, a fellow educator, telling me she had a concern…a concern that something just wasn’t right…
to finally sitting in a college gym waiting for a commencement ceremony to begin…
our road has been painfully long and arduous.

From the hard diagnosis of a crippling learning disability…(most likely inherited…)
later compounded by a diagnosis of ADD…
It was double indemnity that was sadly to be our unfortunate lot.

There were many hurdles, impossible hurdles…
And there was testing..lots and lots of testing.

There were the years of refusal to take the medications that were promised to help make things easier…
to finally relenting…
Then only to live with the ill effects of those medications on ones body…
Eventually going back to life without medical help.

There were disappointments…
and failures,
and lapses,
and anger,
and frustration…

There were tears…
lots and lots of tears…
from both child and parents.

There were tutors, reading camps, repeated courses, more tutors…
There was working, studying, studying longer and harder then others
There was the staying after, long after others were gone…
There were sacrifices…

And…
There were a few rare triumphs…
The acceptance letters…
Along with the…
changing of schools…
The changing of majors…
The sitting out…
The waiting…
The continued waiting…
The nos,
The not yets,
The not nows…
The too bads…

Yet there were hopes and dreams.
Always hopes and dreams…
Hopes and dreams that would never fade or go away…

And there was a determination to realize those very hopes and dreams…
just like anyone else who has hopes and dreams…
anyone else who was “normal”….
because wasn’t that what so much of this was all about…
just wanting to be normal like everyone else…

Knowing that you were not stupid…that you were not slow or dumb…
as they would whisper behind your back…
Knowing all the while that you were smart and that you could learn…
that you could excel…
that you could be like everyone else…by God!!!
And by God it would be….

You wanted to prove that you were normal…
Normal like those who didn’t have to struggle, didn’t have to work so very hard…
You wanted to be like those who made the good grades, who didn’t have to expend the energies…
You wanted to be like those who just made school seem… easy…

However today is not that day…
It is not to be that day for the retelling of the very long and hard fought journey of ours…
It is not the day for rehashing and re-living the difficulties nor for the recounting of all the struggles…
And it is not a day to expound upon our seemingly misfortunate poor dumb luck…

No…

Today is not that day…

Rather…

Today is THE day to rejoice…
It is a day to soak it all in.
It is a day to exhale.
It is a day to smile.
It is a day for tears.
It is a day of HOPE.
It is a day of DREAMS.
And it is a day of Thanksgiving and Gratitude….

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The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord accepts my prayer.

Psalm 6:9

fractured

“You look closely enough,
you’ll find that everything has a weak spot where it can break,
sooner or later.”

Anthony Hopkins

Fractures well cured make us more strong.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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(the culprit to the fractured windshield / Julie Cook / 2016)

The phone rang early…
it was before 8 and I was in the shower.
Well actually both phones were ringing at once…my cell phone and the good ol landline.
That’s when you know it’s bad…ringing phones in stereo.

Our life has been rather topsy turvy as of late so phones ringing, really before one expects, tends to send me automatically into mobilizing the troops, manning the torpedoes and battening down the hatches mode.

Dripping wet while frantically grabbing a towel I see that the caregiver is on one phone and Dad is on another. For just the slightest millisecond I debate…hummmmm, get back in the shower and pretend life is golden or bite the bullet and answer the damn phones….

Long story short—how is still unclear, but they both fell—-into one another, which is still a bit unclear, and both were down for the count.
Dad, the turtle of the two—when on his back isn’t getting up without help.
Miraculously however, he did manage to get up and get to the door to let the frantic caregiver in who had just arrived for the day.
My stepmother however…she was truly down for the count and was not getting up.

“Do I call the ambulance????” the caregiver asks in one ear as Dad wants to know if he needs to push the life alert button he wears religiously around his neck in my other ear.
Somewhere in my brain I’m thinking both of these people are in the same room, why are they both calling me when I think one of them could handle calling while the other one panics?!
Well since I’m a good hour and a half away, still wringing wet, I’m going with 911.

The short end of this tale is that my stepmother “fractured” her wrist and is in cast and sling.
Dad is still confused as to how “this arm,” as he points to his right arm, came around and knocked into my stepmother, sending her and him to the ground.

“That’s your story Dad and you’re sticking to it??” I flatly inquire.

My suspicion is Dad, at 5 feet nine inches and 185 lbs, got up out of his chair, turned, lost his balance and fell into her–all 5 feet 1 inches and 98 pounds worth.

After racing (an oxymoron word) to Atlanta for the second time this week, dealing with this latest ambulance ride and ER visit, where I am certain they now know my stepmother by name, I got everything and everyone settled and readied for the ride back home… as deja vu is the current theme with me and Atlanta.
I tell Dad that I think we need to consider 24 hour care and or they will have to move to a facility that can look after them 24/7.
He vehemently balked at that idea…

Back in the car and back on the interstate for the umpteenth time this week, I didn’t see it or even hear it…yet there it was…a strange black line on my windshield..
“What the….”
Thinking maybe a piece of pine straw was stuck on the windshield, I watch the pine straw snake it’s way along my windshield.

The pine straw was no longer that and my fear was confirmed… my windshield was indeed “fractured”

Great.

A fractured stepmother and a fractured windshield…..

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(must have been a Ga Tech rock as it hit right at the UGA sticker)

The good thing is that she will heal, allbeit slowly as 88 year old bones are brittle, fragile and slow to grow back…

I read on an orthopedic page that…

“Broken bone ends heal by “knitting” back together with new bone being formed around the edge of the broken parts.”

Which mind you is pretty darn cool—that our broken bones can regenerate.

My windshield, for a hefty little price, can also be miraculously repaired–as the glass folks are scheduled to come out and replace it tomorrow.

As I continue to contemplate this day’s whole fractured theme, and how we have recently dealt with a deeper fracture than that….
there are those fractures of the physical that run in and out of our lives…
I marvel over the Master Physician and His ability to heal all of the fractures of our lives—
those outward appearing breaks as well as those unseen internal breaks.

It’s just a matter of asking for His tender care…as well as allowing Him access to our “breaks”

Here’s to our regenerated healing…..

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

Psalm 107:19-21

Flown the coop

“Those who have courage and faith shall never perish in misery”
Anne Frank

Amazement awaits us at every corner.
James Broughton

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(the house wren’s empty nest on the tractor, under the tarp / Julie Cook / 2016)

Amazing…
on so many different levels…
simply amazing…

Let’s take a small diversion from the current reign of havoc, or is that rain of havoc, or merely both….anywhooo….

Away from the havoc which has been beset upon us in these most recent of days..diverting ourselves away in which to wander…

Wandering away ever so slightly from that which is directly in front of our eyes…to that which is somewhat removed…
Blessedly and amazingly removed.

Yet, we must take note, it is to be no less, simply amazing.

And maybe since it is somewhat removed, tucked away and elusive in nature…
it is all of that, and so much more, which adds to the sheer amazingness of it all…

Let us now wander away to the world of the amazing…

On Sunday, 3 days ago, this empty jumble of leaves, with the giant hollowed out hole in the middle, was a dizzying beehive of activity.

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The stakes were high.
For there were five hungry mouthes which had to be fed.
We were all made keenly aware of this one important fact.
Life was suddenly all a flutter, literally.

Squawking and screeching two very busy parents hunted, pecked, chirped, sung, guarded, protected and fiercely chased away any friend or foe from the home of their 5 tiny offspring.

Not only had they labored to construct, dare we say craft, this amazing conglomeration of sticks,
leaves, feathers and fuzz…
they had selected a most safe, protected and hidden site in which to set up house.

Birds are amazing that way.

They worked tirelessly almost undetected…all but for the presence of a busy bee bird who could be seen darting, scurrying ad flitting here and there.
Eggs were silently laid and kept warm…unbeknownst to the unsuspecting nearby humans.

Yet all of that changed at hatching time.

Nonstop, two parents labored in order to gather enough food to raise up their alienesque brood.
Five oversized beaks flapped open, as 10 bulbous closed orbs protruding from wobbly heads,
continued to develop.

There would be silence…then as soon as a parent neared,
the inharmonic din of chatter began.
It was as if the sound translated into a clamoring repetitiveness of
“feed me, feed me, feed me…feed us… NOW”)

Then this past Sunday the nervous frenzy reached a crescendo.
As the tiny aliens mysteriously sprouted feathers as heads began to match bodies as wings took shape.
The parents were now worked into a fevered pitch as babies, turned fledglings, were soon to spread their wings. Mom and Dad were keen to create a safe zone, free of humans, cats and others
as their children would need some room to roam…safe yet free.

And just like that, it is…..now over.

“Did they fly away??” you pensively ask.

Well… I truthfully can’t say.

It’s as if one day they were there and the next day they just weren’t…

We’re they ready?

I’d like to think so.

As birds and their Divine Creator are each amazing that way….

The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing

Zephaniah 3:17

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
🙂

Have a good life

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
Allen Saunders

“The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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(cross found in the Rock of Cashel cemetery, County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Just when you thought you had things situated, straightened out, figured out
and felt you were rolling merrily along feeling in charge, doing a good job of keeping your world in the middle of the road… Life’s little wicked twists and turns come calling, sending you careening out of control.

And so it was when the phone rang late this evening.
It was my godmother calling.
I’ve written about both my “godparents” before.
He is a life long Episcopal priest, Dean Emeritus of the Cathedral in Atlanta where I had grown up.
She, his wife, for the past near 70 years.
He’s soon to turn 93 and she 90.
Their bodies and minds failing in tandem.

I first wrote about my godfather shortly after I started this little blog of mine
as he was the one person in my life who had made the greatest impact–
as he basically saved me from myself when he came into my life…
when I was all of 15 years old.
I won’t retell that long convoluted tale as you can read it elsewhere if you so desire,
(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/ ) but suffice it to say, he’s meant the world to me.

Whereas he and I have shared the common thread of each being adopted, as I was a teen when we first found one another, we each had, throughout the years, a sea of ups and downs with our perspective internal baggage. We had our hard fraught moments as much healing took place over the years within both of our hearts as we walked the journey together. He taught me about unconditional love and what it truly meant–as I continued testing the depths of that love.

She was often in the shadows.
As the wife of a very busy and well known national cleric, picking up pieces, tending to children, as well as the home front, would have been the assumed standard lot for such a spouse.
Yet she was never one to shrink or hide.
This was a woman who had had a career on Broadway in the 40’s staring in Carousel along with other well known musicals.
She was outspoken and very very sound in her faith, never mincing her words.

She had more than her fair share of input into the shaping of my life.
So much so that my own mother was often intimidated.
She was the type of woman who saw what needed to be done and simply went about doing it, no matter who or what would or could be in the way or problematic.
“No” was not a word that was within her thought process.

So today when the phone rang, I figured it was a call of checking in and touching base.
Perhaps a thank you for the latest goodies I’d sent through the mail…
But no, this was not that type of conversation.

Before we even finished with the opening pleasantries of the “hey, how are yous”– she begins with “the Lord told me that He wants me to call and tell the people in my life what they have meant to me…so…I want you to know how grateful I am for…how precious you are to me…how much I thank you…how I want you to know…”

“WHOA—what are you saying???!!!” I fumble over the words.
“Well, I’ll be 90 soon, I don’t have much time left….
“WHOA—let’s not rush things shall we….” I hear myself stammering.
“Now let’s not put the cart before the horse shall we…” I continue trying to stop where this conversation is going…for all sorts of reasons–

She continues on with her “speech” when suddenly her mind takes the conversation elsewhere, in a totally different direction and tone… which is what’s more telling to me than her kind and endearing words–
Time is truly of the essence is it not…in this world that is…

Whereas my Godmother is sound in her faith and has no doubts, no regrets, as she continues pushing forward despite failing body and mind, living to hear His word and obeying those words to the very end—I fear there are not many of us who are as determined to do His very bidding up to that last breath we each have on this earth—or perhaps it’s more about having the courage to do so.

And maybe that’s it–
Courage, freedom, determination…

What is it that gives us, offers us, the courage to do and say the words God urges us to speak…. as well as giving us the “why”… as to why we are to speak certain words in the first place… and then there is the “when”… when are we to speak them and to whom.

When do we give ourselves the freedom to speak such words?
And what is it that sets our determination to do all of the above—
is it our health, our time, our circumstance?

As the conversation finally came to an end, with me most thankful as the difficulty and awkwardness of her words were crushing in on my heart, she put my godfather on the phone who proceeds to tell me he loves me and to “have a good life”

Oooooo, this is NOT the conversation I wanted to hear this evening.
Often within adopted folks there is a tiny voice buried deep within that likes to perpetuate a lie that “you’re not really ever wanted,” so hearing, as well as accepting, such deep and meaningful words, that you matter or are dearly loved, or are precious to someone can be very hard to digest… as you simply feel most unworthy…
Plus this whole signing off as if I’ll never see them or hear from them again is most unnerving–as it reminds me that none of us are guaranteed a thing in this world, especially not time…that precious commodity we so often take for granted…

So when this once prolific writer, speaker, preacher, religious leader who just so happens to be my “godpoppa” utters his parting words in an almost singsong sort of fashion
“Have a good life”
I’m like a deer in headlights…frozen in the moment.

Have a good life….
Who says that???!!
An almost 93 year old man who has spent the last couple of years fighting with his mind as it tries to shut down, and he’s hellbent to hold on…

This as I head to Dad’s today which is a whooooole ‘nuther ballgame–

So here’s to life…
Here’s to the end of life…
Here’s to how we choose to live that life, up to the very end…
and here’s to love….

May we all “have a great life…”

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
John 14:15

life is a highway

Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I wanna drive it all night long

Chorus from Life is a Highway
Rascal Flats

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(sitting on Atlanta’s infamous 285 / Julie Cook / 2015)

It was a beautiful blue sky, polka dotted popcorn cloud, kind of day.
The kind of day one should be on a road trip to the beach. . .
Not the kind of day to be racing the 70 miles over to Dads. . .

I get a call Saturday afternoon from the care giver. . .
The only thing I can understand and make out is
“911,
can’t breathe,
Ms Gloria. . .”

I immediately call Gloria’s son telling him the ambulance is on its way
as I’m grabbing my keys, racing out the door.

One would think that a Saturday’s drive to the city would be a piece of cake.
Idyllic,
Quick,
Easy,
Just a carefree sort of blue sky kind of day,
A beautiful day for a drive. . .

Suddenly there is an odd sound coming from somewhere in my car or my head, or. . .
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Atlanta does all of its interstate roadwork on weekends.
Upon my approach to the Perimeter, aka 285, I notice that traffic is backed up and at a dead stop.
Hummmmmmm. . .
Quickly deciding I’ll be smart. . .
I’ll just head straight, going straight through town, hitting the connector.
You know, downtown,
As in downtown. . .
As in Petula Clark now singing in my head. . .

So go downtown
Where all the lights are bright, downtown
Waiting for you tonight, downtown
You’re gonna be alright now, downtown

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
Hysterical laughter is again raining down from what I have determined to be the mystical traffic gods.

It’s a stop and go drive the entire way. . .
Are you freaking kidding me!!!!!???
It’s Saturday for heaven’s sake!!!!!!!

Here’s the question—
If I drive on the emergency outside lane, bypassing the madness, would a state patrolman
cut me any slack if I told him I’m trying to get to my dad’s as my 87 stepmother may be having
a heart attack?
Do I take the chance. . .
Hummmmmmm

Long story short—-
Thankfully Gloria checks out fine.
With a few non threatening concerns to be addressed at a later date.
Dad is now much calmer
And life is back to its normal level of surrealism at 4825

As the sun begins to set, with everyone settled back into place,
it’s time to make the trek back home.
Traffic should be better, right?
It should be a breeze getting home. . .right?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
The traffic gods are laughing again.

Stop and go.
45 minutes sitting on 285 when I should have been long gone,
It takes me an hour just to get on to I20 in order to head out of town.
Stop and go the entire way home. . .
It’s Saturday. . .
Are you freaking kidding me????

Does anyone ever go home, or get to where they want to go???

Oh. . .and should I be concerned when a storm chaser van, changing lanes, pulls in front of me
exiting onto my same exit?

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I scan the blue sky and popcorn clouds.

I follow the storm chasers. . .
wondering, what’s in store for me further down the road. . .
when suddenly, I burst into song. . .

“Life’s like a road that you travel on
When there’s one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There’s a world outside ev’ry darkened door
Where blues won’t haunt you anymore
Where brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore
We won’t hesitate
To break down the garden gate
There’s not much time left today”

Life is a Highway
Rascal Flats