Random Acts of "Kindness"

SHIRTS

Finally, after months, weeks, days of cloudy, chilly weather — a sunny weekend was forecast. My husband and I plus dog –” Robin”, planned to go to the camper. Our son planned to come out on Saturday. My cell phone rang Friday night. My son was very upset. I had taken his NEW shirts, seven in all to be dry cleaned. We have an old house — over a hundred years and the water is leaving a residue on our clothes when they are washed. Our son DID NOT want to wear spotted shirts on his new role.

On Tuesday, I had taken seven shirts to be dry cleaned. He stopped to pick them up on Thursday but they weren’t ready. We left for the Camper Friday morning. Friday evening the dry cleaner still didn’t have his shirts. To say that our son was angry would be an understatement. Not only did he not have his shirts — they were brand new. He would have to BUY MORE! Plans for the camper were CANCELLED!

Saturday morning the cleaner found his shirts. They had been there all the time, just were miss filed. But it was already late in the day. He was still going to stay home.

Saturday afternoon, Robin heard a noise behind a folding table in our room addition. She barked and scratched and raised such a fuss I asked my husband to pull the table away from the wall so she could investigate. NOTHING WAS THERE! He took her outside so she could inspect that too. They didn’t find anything. All day Saturday, Robin was camped out under the table. Waiting, watching, listening — BARKING, SCRATCHING. Making a ruckus.

Saturday night — Robin didn’t find anything, but she was DETERMINED — she was protecting us! She stayed on guard to capture it. She didn’t stay on guard quietly. My husband locked her in the camper part of the trailer. Instead of resting, going to sleep, it made it worse. ALL NIGHT — the barking, scratching continued. FIVE in the morning, I gave up, stayed up. Got dressed. Robin and I went for a walk. My husband laid down for a nap. I kept Robin outside until almost 10. We went for a long walk, we went for a drive. I had coffee with friends — we went to visit other friends. Every few hours I returned and left a note as to where we were going next. My husband got a few hours of sleep. Sunday afternoon I laid down for a nap. I was VERY GLAD our son had stayed home.

Sunday evening, at dusk — I saw a round, low to the ground being waddle across our lot. It was very round — tan and white. My husband thought it was a possum with babies in her pouch. I hoped it was leaving in search of a new, quiet home. Sunday night we got a quiet nights sleep. Robin was still alert, on guard but she also was tired. Ready for SLEEP, helped by an allergy pill.

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THE VISITOR

I love to hear stories. Especially if they are real. Especially if they have feel good themes. Our world is so negative at the moment, our weather is so snowy and cold — not Spring, that stories that have a good theme or outcome are lovely.

I have two to share. The first concerns a visitor — a spirit — a person from the other side. His passing was a surprise. He was in his 80’s and his health was a challenge. In fact, he was in the hospital when he passed. His condition had improved, he was walking by himself with his walker. He was scheduled to be released the next day. His wife had gone home to shower. With his walker, he went to the bathroom, and upon exiting, he fell, hit his head and passed over.

Of course, his wife felt VERY BAD. She had been with him for the past few days. Walking with him when he got out of bed. Because he had improved, she took the opportunity to go home. Because she wasn’t with him, he also took the opportunity to go HOME.

Of course there were many questions about that accident and they are considering a lawsuit. Meanwhile the wife is puzzled by his fall. Why did he fall? He had his walker, he was scheduled to go home. WHY? The questions continued.

A couple of months passed. She was considering selling their home, moving in with a daughter. She also had aged and her health wasn’t that good. She was sitting in the chair in her bedroom when the scent of Irish Spring soap filled the room. Her husband ALWAYS used that soap.

She called his name. Then asked what happened? “What caused you to fall?” AND SHE RECEIVED HIS ANSWER. (I didn’t ask if she “heard” it or if the answer came into her mind.) He said that his robe got caught under the wheel of the walker and he fell backwards, hitting his head. I didn’t think of asking if they had a longer conversation. I did tell her that often the person who is passing takes advantage of the opportunity when their loved one isn’t there.

It would have been easier to use their names in the story. I know her well and decided to protect their privacy. Writing about her experience has provoked a few questions. I want to hear more of the story.

The second story is also an answer to a question. My daughter was driving and was puzzled about a story she was writing. There was a problem and she couldn’t think of the solution. While her mind was occupied by the traffic, the solution to the writing problem flashed in her mind. She thought I would enjoy her story.

I have mentioned that I often send questions up — and receive the answer. It doesn’t matter if the answer flashes in my mind, or is heard from another person or on the radio or television.

IRISH MORNING

I have to admit that I have never been to Ireland. I don’t know if the opportunity to visit will ever come. My mother’s father was from there. I have finally learned the county that he was from but since I don’t know his birthdate or any other pertinent information, and his last name was very common — I’m not trying to learn anything more. I’ve titled this thought ramble Irish Morning not because the day reminded me of Ireland but because I was having lunch with a dear friend. She is not only Irish but she came from across the water. For years she lived on my block, went to Mass with us on Sunday. But time passes and our bodies reflect the passing. She had trouble walking up and down the stairs in her house. She moved to a Catholic senior residence. Even though she is on the third floor, they have elevators.

She phoned a few days ago and invited me for lunch. Of course, I accepted immediately. Then she fell, and we postponed the date. Then the snow fell on rain drenched stairs and I didn’t like the crunch as I swept the stairs. And we postponed it again. The day finally came, cold but with sunshine — blue skies. If I gave serious thought to the meeting, I wouldn’t have arrived empty handed. Ooops!

Her residence has many opportunities for a person to stay busy. I passed a room where art work decorated the window. I recognized the name of a friend and stopped to take a photo. A woman passed by with her son and asked if that artwork was mine. I admitted that it was a friend’s, I wasn’t a resident. She had recently moved in and was having trouble adjusting. I had to share a story of my recent painting experience and a photo of the finished art work. She didn’t paint or draw. She used to sing but has lost her voice. I suggested she just sing to herself inside her head. She was on her way to therapy. I was navigating the halls, looking for the building were my friend’s apartment was.

SUCCESS! We had a pleasant visit but more snow and rain was in the forecast. I really didn’t want to get stuck out in the weather. I learned that she had had a stroke a couple of years before. Somehow I missed that information. Her son used to live on our block and shared information about his mother. He rented their house a couple of years back, and moved to an apartment. I no longer receive current news. She is doing well now — in her late 90’s. Not bothered by the aftermath of her fall.

Going back down I shared the elevator with a woman who had a lovely accent. When I asked, she admitted she was from Ireland. Walking down the hall with her, I voiced the question of a bathroom. Two gentlemen going in the opposite direction pointed to a sign on the wall. I told my companion that I’ve noticed that when I ask a question, I often get an immediate answer. I wondered if the same thing happened to her.

Leaving — I met the same woman I saw when I first arrived. She hadn’t slept well the night before and was heading to her apartment for a nap before supper. I mentioned that it must be hard, giving up her house, her car and living in a new place. There were people there from her parish but the friendship is just starting.

SLEEPING DRAGONS

I have a very hard time coming up with titles for my thought rambles. This title is courtesy of a meditation that I listened to this morning. And it is so fitting to my life right now.

Supposedly it is Spring but the temperature and the weather is not reflecting the season. It looks and feels like winter. The flowers are not confused, they are breaking through the surface. The birds are not confused — more are arriving every day, waking Robin up with their morning song. I would love to state that my mood is lighter, happier but I dislike lying.

It feels like I am at the bottom of a very dark, deep pit. The gray skies are not helping. Recently because of either age, or weight, or changes in the measurement — my blood pressure is up. I now require medication — strokes run in my family — one of my aunts was stricken by one and lost most of her quality of life. I’m reminded regularly that I have many more years to accomplish something. What? I have no idea? But in order to enjoy a good quality of life, I need to be in reasonably good health.

When I fell backwards, down the stairs before New Years, my blood pressure was extremely high. So high that my children pestered me to go to the doctors and I received medication. Recently I accompanied my husband to the doctor for his visit. On the way we had a “discussion.” My children were concerned about my cough and wanted our doctor to make sure I didn’t have pneumonia or some other health problem. When the nurse wanted to take my blood pressure, I knew I was in trouble. I knew I was still UPSET. I was RIGHT! My blood pressure was so high she wanted me to take it the next morning and phone her with the results. Thankfully I took it again that night and it was down. I also took it the following morning and it was still in a safe range.

My learning from this experience is that I have to be in better control of my body. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t get angry because there are many times when that response is called for. My husband knows the right buttons to push to get a response. I just need to be aware — a sleeping dragon is within. I don’t need to awaken the beast! I need to be able to take action to quiet it back down. Many memories from my past don’t always bring warm thoughts. Throwing them out instead of dwelling on them is appropriate. I can’t change the weather outside, maybe I can change the weather inside of my own body. That will continue to be the challenge.

SQUARE DANCE

Looking back — it doesn’t seem that many years ago. Looking for landmarks — reality sets in. It was an EXTREMELY LONG TIME AGO! Our youngest daughter was a toddler. I’ve always loved to dance. The opportunity arose when I learned of square dance lessons in our neighborhood. It sounded like fun. My husband agreed to try it. It was fun! We learned the basic steps, then the opportunity arose to learn more — advanced to be specific. That also was fun. The caller announced he was going to teach lessons to introduce people to calling. I thought my husband would enjoy it. He liked to play chess — my reasoning — he would enjoy moving people.

AND HE DID. The problem occurred as he became more accomplished in calling. He LOVED to call, he didn’t want to dance anymore. I became extremely good at dancing the male part. I became his agent, handling bookings, and other assorted tasks. I learned how to call line dances. And life was busy. He added more equipment and records to his arsenal. I don’t know exactly why he stopped calling. We had gotten older, he wanted to take evening classes at college, being out at night so many nights of the week was tiring? What ever the reason — he gave up calling but kept all of his equipment and records. FOR YEARS!

Recently he redid his office and moved a lot of stuff to another room. Remnants of calling included not only his phonograph, but also boxes of records and three sets of speakers. The speakers were huge, and heavy. Since his equipment was still in working order, we didn’t want to put it out in the trash. The many square dance clubs that we had known, where no longer functioning. Their members like ourselves had aged.

I thought we could donate it to a music school. Every time we learned of a person who was still calling, for one reason or another the lead fell through. Our computer ended up being a great help. My husband put in a request for square dancing in our area and learned of a new club that was only minutes from our house. They had members who were interested in learning to call. They would love to have his equipment.

For the last time –he put some records on the turntable, hooked up his microphone and enjoyed calling. He sounded terrific. But we both agreed that it wasn’t something we wanted to go back into. I don’t think my knees would let me, not to mention if I would remember more than a couple of steps.

We were VERY HAPPY to donate the equipment were it would still be used.

SHRINKING

Its not FAIR! I’ve never been tall but I was able to reach stuff on the shelves. Okay! I’ll admit that my youngest daughter was taller than me and when she rearrange the dishes and other stuff I couldn’t reach them. But for the most part, I was able to reach the stuff in my cabinets. Then I noticed that I had to stand on my toes to reach some stuff. Then I noticed that I was afraid I would drop stuff I was putting away. Then I decided that for the safety of various cups and glasses, I had to rearrange the shelves.

I realized I was using the step I purchased for my grandchildren more often. I also realized that it wasn’t tall enough. Or had I shrunk again? My grandson who is twelve is taller than me. His sister will soon be. To make life even more interesting, my husband had shoes on — I was barefoot. I only came up to his chin! He is older, but he doesn’t seem to be shrinking.

I have a wider two step stool that I’m using more often. I hate to admit it, but I’m also using a 2 step ladder to reach the top shelves. I hate to admit it — but it doesn’t seem to be tall enough. Of course it doesn’t help that I have lost my flexibility. If I’m on the floor — sitting is better for my knees, getting up is a challenge. I try not to meet the floor on that level.

Shopping has also become a challenge. First off — I don’t have the strength that I had. Injuries and weight have caused some of that. Also laziness has played a factor. I’ll admit that I have time to exercise. I just don’t do it. Yoga is supposed to help with height. Somehow I don’t think my height will stretch out if I resume yoga. I have been doing Tai Chi on a regular basis. Some of it is muscle memory, some of it is distracted thinking.

I’ve become better at asking for help when I can’t reach a product on the shelf. I’ve become better at searching for tall people who can reach what I can’t. I’ve become better of asking for help when a product — 40 bottles of water is too heavy for me to safely move.

I might vow that I will begin again to do Jane Fonda’s strength training. And I might, it just hasn’t happened yet. I might also begin another exercising program. The pain in my shoulder seems to have diminished, as has the pain in my back. Am I scared to do any of the exercises that caused the pain in the beginning. Good question — no answer.

I’m looking forward to summer — the camper and exercising in the water. I’m also looking forward to losing a few pounds. I’ve tried most of the year so far without success. The only thing I can say in my defense is that I’m maintaining my weight. NOT GAINING. Hopefully I will stop SHRINKING!

SCARED

It didn’t make any sense! Why should I be afraid to pick up a paint brush? Buy paint and canvas? Try to paint a picture in acrylic? Okay, I’ll admit that it has been many years since I have tried to paint a whole picture. I’ve dabbled with paint a couple of times, but not with any purpose or effort. I have a couple of tiny canvasses up. I might have been encouraging my grandchildren to paint. I really don’t remember.

Hanging on the walls –I have quite a few large canvases that remind me that I was able to actually paint a picture that I was proud of. Just last week I unearthed a satchel that held many books that contained painting ideas that I brought to life. So why was I frightened? It wasn’t as if someone had asked me to do a painting. I didn’t have a job that offered money for a finished work of art. I wasn’t planning on entering an art show. There was no pressure to put paint on canvas. Except my family kept encouraging me to paint again. Was I afraid I would let them or myself down?

Since we closed up the camper for the fall, channel 20 quit broadcasting programs that I enjoyed — I have discovered another PBS station that runs programs by five different artists five days a week. When I discovered I was able to paint many years ago, I watched Bill Alexander and his mighty brush. Many of the ways I painted trees and mountains came from his ideas. I painted in oil. These artists use a mixture of mediums — oil, acrylic, mixed. Their techniques are mixed also. I have watched — trying to learn, inspire.

My husband has emphysema and there is an odor to oil and the solvent used to clean brushes, etc. I thought it would be better to paint in Acrylic, it was fast drying and odorless. The texture of the paint is different. I’ve learned that Acrylic is available not only in tubes but also in liquid. It can be used similar to watercolor. As if I wasn’t confused enough! Although I played with watercolors a couple of times — I’m not skilled. Nor do I have the talent for drawing. When I painted in oil, I was surprised that the paintings I tried, turned out as well they did.

I finally gave in — I saw a mountain and waterfall scene that I thought I would try. I bought a large canvas, paints — and began. I painted a mountain that I wasn’t unhappy with. That is as far as I got that day. The next weekend, canvas on an easel, water in containers, brushes out — plans changed. Instead of trees and a waterfall — rough ocean water came into being with a couple of waves. The small mountains became more imposing. My sky was already in motion — clouds racing. ROUGH WATER was born. Finished? I’m not sure. It still needs to be signed.

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