Random Acts of "Kindness"

BEFUDDLED AGAIN

I admitted that I finally realized that I walk to a different drummer. Over the last 25 years, since my father passed, I learned that I have crossed a bridge — I DON’T WANT TO GO BACK. Remembering when I was young, I wanted to be normal. The scars from the fire were very prominent and I had a hard time making friends. I don’t know if I ever was normal, I know I’m not now. AND I’M EXTREMEMLY GRATEFUL.

Over the last 25 years, I have received “help” from “my friends in high places.” I have become better at acknowledging their “help.” The second book I wrote JOURNEY WITH ME contains 29 stories of the lessons I’d learned. I have been writing this blog for over 5 years. Well over 400 thought rambles, each describing a “new” experience.

Why am I going on and on about this? Good question. This time I have an answer. January 6, Epiphany,
“Little Christmas” I planned to meet my youngest daughter at the airport to transfer her dogs who had kept us company for a week. I phoned the airline, actually spoke to a person because the computer could not find the flight. Disconnecting from the call, I checked to make sure the cell phone had kept the phone number. A message crossed the screen: “Jesus calling. I am Your Lord! Trust me. ” There were a few more words to finish the sentence but they disappeared quickly and I COULD NOT FIND THEM AGAIN. “AMAZED. BEWILDERED. DUMBFOUNDED.” There are no words to express my feelings. HOW? WHY? WHAT?

To say that it made an impression on me is an understatement. Since my husband joined my team at the end of October, my life has become even more interesting. Evidently he learned that I REALLY need “their help.” And he is up to the job. As much as I’m trying to be strong, I’m floundering.

Yesterday, I discovered a black and white cutout of a picture of my husband and our dog resting on his chest, on top of a purse. ?? Where did it come from? I was happy to find it.

Today from a stack of CD’s, I randomly picked “Alone In IZ World.” Brought back good memories. My first trip to Hawaii and Kawai was with my husband. We went to Pearl Harbor. His oldest brother was on one of the ships, thankfully surviving the attack. At 4:00 AM a rooster woke me to greet the sun. My husband got sea sick sitting in a restaurant watching the waves. I discovered IZ’s world. His songs have greeted me each time I have returned to Hawaii. The album contains “Over The Rainbow.” It also contains “In this Life I was Loved By you.” Popcorn tears! The album ends with IZ’s reflection on how important oxygen is to life and his embarrassment in connection to the tank.

THANK YOU!

CALENDAR

I have the habit of using two daily calendars too try to keep track of my life. Not that it is extremely busy or very active. First I don’t have a paying job — no timetable to go to work or come home. Second, our life is not that active. We don’t belong to clubs or organizations which require time commitment. Until my husband’s health required more appointments with the doctors, there was really no reason to have a calendar. Let alone two. Of course, I noted special dates for our children and grandchildren — vacations, school performances, etc.

One calendar — My Inner Reflections is from the Self Realization Fellowship — Lovely photos, Inspirational writings by Paramahansa Yogananda. I discovered the calendar years ago at a bookstore that is no longer in business. I write my daily activities, important events.

The second calendar changes over time. A few years ago, I noted the food I consumed on a daily basis, hoping to help my weight. I have expanded the calendar to make it more useful. Now I use the monthly dates to note Dr. Appointments, scheduled events, blog titles, etc. I have been a team player for many years — single will be an adjustment.

My husband was sick in September and October — the months I normally remember to acquire new calendars. I bought my nutritional calendar at the end of October before his health took a turn for the worse. I didn’t pay too much attention to it — I wanted a monthly page and individual dates with enough space to write down my food log. Since it is a calendar that I use daily, I paid attention to where I put it. When I started using it in January, I was happy to learn that each week has an inspirational quote and a place to note things you are grateful for.

I ordered my Inspirational calendar later — in November. When it arrived I stuck it somewhere for safe keeping. It was so safe I COULDN’T FIND IT. New Years Eve it was still hidden. I don’t know why I pulled it out from its hiding place. It was not someplace I would have expected to find it. I was very glad that it surfaced when it did.

Just recently I paid attention to the photo on the cover. A single swan is swimming on a calm lake with a mountain in the distance. Swans mate for life. The photo is very significant for this year in my life. I have become a single swan swimming in a reasonably calm lake — reflecting either sunrise or sunset in the colors of the mountains and lake.

LAND MINE

Loss of a family member is especially hard during the holidays. I made it through Thanksgiving, then Christmas and New Years. We left an empty chair at my husband’s place at the table on Thanksgiving. I cooked the traditional dinner, maybe more celery, onions and mushrooms in the dressing. We put up a Thanksgiving memory tree. Wreathes and lights went up on the porch. But no garlands. Lights and garlands were not on the stairs in the house either. I sent out a Christmas letter with the cards, sharing the news of my husbands passing to those I hadn’t phoned. The Wild Thing gorilla I bought for my husband celebrating his first cancer surgery now is wearing blue lights. The Nativity didn’t surface this year.

I made some cookies but not many. My husbands favorite I totally reinvented. Tasty but I hopefully won’t do that again. Of course, I don’t know if I will make those cookies again. For the most part, I haven’t made any of his favorite meals, except for biscuits and gravy for Christmas morning. Christmas Eve we normally have the family over. The holidays became very busy so our youngest daughter’s family wasn’t able to make it but our oldest daughter and her husband were able to come. I didn’t cook. We went out for Chinese instead.

I don’t know if survival mode was in session, that I was purposefully omitting things that would bring me pain. I’ve donated some of his stuff but his closet and dresser are still packed with his clothes. At the store, I avoid the men’s department. Of course, I’m not spending a lot of time in the woman’s department either.

Various things happen that alert me to the fact his spirit is with me. I will truthfully say that I wish I felt his spirit more often. EXCEPT WHEN THE BLOCKS ARE ON! My phone DID NOT pick up any messages on Christmas.

On New Years day I picked up one of our catalogues to look for a couple of items. Turning the pages, I saw MANY THINGS that I would have ordered for my husband. I wasn’t expecting the pain that generated in my body when I remembered he was gone.

I order a new Inspirational Calendar every year. I write my bible readings, Queen Of Heaven readings and daily happenings in it. I ordered it late this year and when it arrived I put it somewhere where it would be SAFE. It was so safe that I couldn’t find it. Finally on New Years Eve it surfaced. It was NOT IN A PLACE I would have looked. The second week of January has the message “Every night, sit still and ask yourself, “What have I done today.”

It has been two months since he passed, I’m not waking up from a bad dream. More difficult days are coming: The anniversary of my mother’s and brother’s death, my husband’s birthday, and my father’s passing. I’m NOT looking forward to my first trip to Woodhaven.

Anniversary’s are TOUGH! “WHAT HAVE I DONE TODAY?”

FRIEND’S PASSING

The call that I had been expecting finally came. As a matter of fact, as soon as I heard in early November, that Sally, 97 years young, had breast cancer that was invading her body, I had been praying that God would take her home. Before she passed, I learned that every 45 minutes they were giving her morphine for the pain. Four days before her 98th birthday He took her home. And my prayer changed to “thank You.”

I was at home, with a functioning car. The weather was good, I was able to drive out to the suburbs for her wake. On the way, my car signaled low tire pressure. We have a membership at Costco and I had been using their service for my tire pressure problems. I’ll admit that the constant reminder about tire pressure was getting very old. The young man discovered a nail in the ditch of my tire. The location of the nail made it possible to fix the tire. When I asked where I should go to have the nail removed, I learned that Costco could do it. I didn’t have the time but I knew an appointment was in my future.

I had looked up the location of the funeral parlor and wrote down the address and phone number. I was glad I had the information with me. I didn’t have trouble finding the street but finding the funeral parlor was another story. After I had driven back and forth three times without success, I dialed the number. I learned that I had been looking on the wrong side of the street. Thankfully although the lot was PACKED, an empty space was waiting for me.

Sally was from Ireland, and had 10 children. The funeral parlor was overflowing with visitors. I didn’t stay very long. Before leaving, I stopped in the office to thank them for the directions.

The weather on the morning of the funeral was sunshine and blue skies. I didn’t park in our church’s lot because I thought the lot would be overflowing with cars. I didn’t plan to travel to the cemetery.

I had gathered some of my husband’s food items to donate to the open pantry that our church supports. Finding the location to drop them off became its own challenge. The space where the donations were stored was occupied by the Nativity. Asking a few people didn’t give me the answer. Thankfully I found the space in a room where the lecturers gather.

Sally’s sendoff was fitting for an Irish lass. They had arranged for bag pipes to play before and after the Mass. The priest who said the Mass had received very good stories from the family. He remembered Sally from the years he had served at our church in the 80″s. The songs were well chosen, the man who sang the Ave Maria had a beautiful voice.

Two days later, the frames for my bifocal glasses broke. Thankfully they had a similar frame at the eye doctor’s office and were able to fix them that evening. The broken frames reminded me of all of my husbands glasses and I was able to donate them at Costco when I arrived to have my tire fixed.

LITTLE BY LITTLE

Celebrating the first holidays without the man of the house has been difficult. I will acknowledge that I am extremely LUCKY. I know I have “friends in high places” that “help” me with my life. I also know that my husband has joined the team. He “helped” me with my Christmas shopping. The present I found for my son was right on target. My son was VERY HAPPY when he saw the charger that works not only with electronic equipment, it also starts a car.

Before Christmas I traveled to our daughter’s house in Central Illinois. I took Robin with me. She cried when we stopped at the first rest stop. It was finally open after being closed for over a year for remodeling. I don’t know if she was tired of riding in the car, really had to go or hoping we would find “her man.” I stopped in to use the facilities and talked to the woman in charge. She had a major problem and I didn’t know how to help her. Her sister had lived with her for many years and recently passed. She had a blood clot in her lungs and was on a high rate of oxygen. She died without a will, insurance or having added her sister to her bank account. Her sister was responsible for paying the bills without the resources to do so. I suggested she try to get help from the minister at her church or the elected officials in her town. I was EXTREMELY glad that I wasn’t in her shoes.

As is my practice I stopped at Wal-Mart . While I was waiting in line to pay for my purchases, a veteran wearing a Desert Storm hat got behind me. As is also my practice — I started talking to him — I thanked him for his service and must have mentioned that my husband had recently passed over. He shared that he lost his wife eight years ago. “You know she is with you”, I replied. “Yes”, he replied. “She turns off the television regularly on me”. I really hoped “my team” hadn’t overheard that. When we returned home, I was watching the public station in Indiana. John Legend was soon talking on the program (??) Without my help the television changed to a regular channel, a program awarding individuals for their world wide service. I told the story to a friend of mine and she replied “You know who was ALWAYS changing the channels for you.” And she was right. My husband often watched more than one program at a time. “Thanks, honey.”

RECOGNIZING SPIRIT

RECOGNIZING SPIRIT

Loss is a hard feeling to deal with. Especially when the person who has crossed over is very close to your heart. I am EXTREMEMLY LUCKY. When my father passed over more than twenty years ago, he sent me a message that he remembered me. I was alert enough at that time to recognize it. And that has made all the difference. Now I’ll admit that my mother has probably been active in my life for many years. But she was skilled in her activities. My father is skilled too, BUT IT WAS IMPORTANT TO HIM THAT HE LET ME KNOW HE WAS FINE.

I wrote once that I’ve crossed a bridge. Over the years I have received many lessons from my “spirit team.” I have detailed many of those experiences in my book JOURNEY WITH ME. In fact I was reminded of the book recently when I sent an e-mail to my family, giving them homework — to read a chapter a day or a week –to remind them how spirit interacts with our lives. Their grief was very visible.

Thankfully my husband also sent me a message after he passed. Thankfully he is often with me at home and when I am out and about. I recently crossed paths with a gentleman who is 102. He was shopping at the store, not using a cane or a motorized cart. He wants to live to be 105. That same day I met a woman who is taking care of her handicapped husband. They watched a movie together and he laughed. He thanked her. He was glad that he could still laugh. We talked for a short while. During the conversation she told me she saw her deceased father sitting in the back of a car. I saw the spirit of a dog who had recently passed run through our house but I don’t normally see things. I don’t “see” things when I meditate either. My daughter confirmed that I’m not visual.

I like to have presents under the tree for my family for Christmas. They don’t need to be large or expensive, just a little surprise. I wanted a present for our son. Nothing called his name when I was looking for a gift. He had already announced that neither of us needed anything. And he is right! That doesn’t solve my problem! Until my husband went shopping with me and I found the perfect present. It would have been perfect for my husband if he was still alive. Hopefully it will be perfect for my son.

When my husband was alive, shopping was NOT his favorite activity. Especially when I wanted to visit many stores. I don’t know if his feeling for shopping has changed but I love RECOGNIZING HIS HELP.

NEW FRONTIER

QUEST FOOTNOTE: I took a photo of the NEW, GREEN MOTORCYCLE ornament I bought for my husband. I tried to share the find with my family. I sent the photo in TWO messages. Neither of the photos were received. I took a photo of the motor cycle hanging under an angel with a trumpet announcing his ride. That photo was received.

In a recent trip to Costco I discovered The New Frontier cookbook by Ree Drummond. It is my practice to open a new cookbook at random and see if the recipe fits into my style of cooking. To be honest, I have no idea what recipe I opened to. I put the book back down because it didn’t have nutritional information. Before I left the store, the book was not only back in my hand, but in my cart leaving the store. I had noticed that she had MANY photos showing the steps.

Did I NEED to see the steps in making the recipes? I didn’t think so but I was intrigued. And I am so glad that I did. Two of her daughters are no longer at the evening meal each night. Her household has shifted to mostly male, growing teenage boys. My household has also changed. For many years I cooked the meals that my husband liked — meat and potatoes, no salad and very few vegetables. Now the world is my oyster.

Since my husbands passing, I have made three oriental recipes. More are on the pipeline but the traditional menu for Thanksgiving put a hold on my experimenting. Thankfully my son is more willing to try new foods. He even suggested that I didn’t need to peel the potatoes when frying them. I’ve discovered that red potatoes work better than rustics. Onions don’t need to be diced as small. I can even add peppers.

Have I mentioned that I like to read cookbooks. This one fits right in. Ree introduces each recipe with a short thought ramble. It has already reminded me of many cooking adventures in my life.

I decided that I would only read two recipes a morning in the new book. It was a good choice. I have started my day with laughter many times. I’m almost finished with breakfast. I have to admit that many of the recipes will be a challenge. They are designed for from 6 to 8 servings. I’ll either have to cut the ingredients or freeze the leftovers.

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