sweet memories

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As I was making a cup of coffee the other day, I poured in the creamer, started chuckling, and got a smile on my face. It reminded me of when I was helping my sister during her last few weeks of life. Everyday I’d make her a cup of coffee and put creamer in it. When I took it to her, if it wasn’t the ‘right color’ she would say “take it back and do it over. It should be the color of a paper grocery sack.” I would go back downstairs and start over. Starting over typically consisted of either putting more coffee or more milk in the cup. Some days’ chocolate was added to it and I drank it while waiting for more coffee to brew. On one day in particular, I went up and back down three different times. After going up with the third cup of coffee and being told it wasn’t the right color, I thought good grief, how exact does this need to be any way? It irritated me greatly and I grouchily said “hush and just drink it.” She did so begrudgingly. The next day, I found a tray and put the coffee, some creamer, and a spoon on it and took it upstairs. She glared at me and then poured her own creamer tersely saying “see, it isn’t that difficult.” I was thinking it apparently was or I wouldn’t have been up and down the stairs so many times. After a several days, I was not sent down quite so often. Sometimes I think she just did this because she could. She liked to be in control of things and I suppose this was one way she could be in control of her situation. This is what makes me smile, the little things. Memories help us remember the person. Even annoying things turn sweet once they are no longer here to annoy us. If you drink coffee, go get a cup and pour cream in it until it turns the color of a brown grocery sack, then; think about those people in your life that are dear to you and smile.

 

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Fall is nearly over . . . .

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Fall has always been one of my favorite times of year. (I say that about every season!) The crisp cool air and the vibrant yellows, oranges and reds of the season are so beautiful. The days are beginning to get colder now and the leaves are almost gone. This picture is to remind you of the glory of fall in full bloom.

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white page

As I sit here trying to decide what to write about tonight, my mind is spinning out of control. It’s rather like a pinball jumping from thought to thought and it doesn’t seem to want to stop anywhere. When it does stop, it is blank, like this white page. (heavy sigh)

Since I can’t seem to write, enjoy this picture. It reminds me of me tonight.

Roadside cuteness . . .

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A we were driving through Custer State Park, there were several donkeys standing around in the road and many people out taking pictures.

This little cutie brought a smile to my face! He or she, just seemed too tired to carry on or to even care that people were out taking pictures.

This guy was a bit shy, don’t you think?

No words for this fellow, except he seemed mellow.

Find joy in the simple things! (even my goofy rhymes!)

Reminders of the journey home

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Today, I am reminded of the journey home from Portland, Oregon where my sister passed away back to Stillwater, Oklahoma where I lived until two years ago. When I went to Portland to help care for my sister as she was dying, my husband and I decided he would come get me and we would drive home taking our time and visit places we have never been. It was also very helpful to me in the grieving process. My sister loved to travel and go places she had never been before and it seemed to help me to do the same. The difference is that my sister loved to travel around the world and I have not had the opportunity to do that. My travels have been limited to the United States, the Bahamas, and Mexico. It really doesn’t matter . . . . traveling anywhere, soaking in the culture of the places you visit, and seeing new things is basically the desire of those filled with wanderlust. We took many detours along the way home. Two places we stopped were the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore. Both places were incredibly amazing. Here a few of pictures from those places.


I like this photo because it shows what the Crazy Horse Memorial will look like when it is completely finished. It is not expected to be finished during my life time because it is a work in progress. Work stops periodically when they run out of funds.



what is old?

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Here’s a little something I wrote almost a year ago.

December 31, 2013

Today is the last day of 2013. As I sit here, I wonder where the year has gone. Maybe it is because I’m older or maybe it is because as I look at my mother she looks old. Maybe it is because I now have two precious grandchildren. Whatever the reason, it is gone.

Today, my mother and I were looking at old family pictures and had a discussion about how old my grandmother was when she died. She was ninety something, either 93 or 94, we think. We were going to look it up but got side-tracked because my mother said “I don’t want to live to be 100.” She will be 89 in January. I have never given much thought to her age until this past year.

Last winter she got really sick with a kidney infection and lost a lot of weight. When I saw her in May, I thought she looked very thin but she looked healthy. She mowed her lawn and trimmed her hedges all last summer. (There is a story to go along with that statement which I’ll tell on another day.) She seemed to be doing quite well when I saw her at the end of October, but shortly after I saw her she got another very bad kidney infection. She was sick for at least four weeks and is now on the road to recovery however, she lost 15 more pounds that she certainly did not need to be losing. When we arrived at her house December 19, I saw a very frail, old woman that did not look quite as healthy as the last time I saw her. This was the day I decided my mother was old.

I’ve never really been too caught up with the age of people. Half the time I forget how old I am – I did this even in my 20’s and 30’s so it isn’t because I’m older! I’ve always been one to think that attitude has a lot to do with how people perceive your age. Choose an age and just stick with it has been my mantra for years. So, how do we determine if something or someone is old?

In the antique world, when something is 25 years old, it is considered to be an antique. That always seemed a bit “young” to me. When I think of someone being old, I think of someone who is hunched over, walks slowly with a cane, is all wrinkly, has a shaky voice, and can’t hear or drive and in my mind, they typically have gray hair as well! Of course, this makes me think of the little old ladies that went to my church growing up. They all sat together in a row with different shades of blue to purplish hair from the tonic they used to “keep their hair white.” Looking back, most of them were probably in their mid-60’s to early 70’s which really doesn’t seem that old to me. It never really did.

As we were looking through things in the house, we came across a car phone that my mother used when she was on the road. It made us both laugh out loud. It was in a black zippered case. When it was opened, on the left side was a hand held receiver with a curly cord that attached to a dial. On the right side was the battery pack that plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter. It cannot even be used with today’s technology. It is only about 20 or so years old, yet, it is considered outdated and therefore an antique so in this case, old.

I suppose the term “old” is relative. I hope that I’m not considered to be old until I reach the age of 89 like my mother. Guess I better get busy and do more walking and yard work. I think that might be what has kept her young!

Stone Wall

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Most everyday I drive by this stone wall which at one time had a barn attached. The barn is long gone. There is something peaceful and soothing about his wall to me. It may be the contrast of the browns and greens or it may be the beauty of the mountains in the distance. It causes me to wonder about who built it and the life that they led. In some ways it is haunting because it represents an end of era. Mostly, it is peaceful and serene. How does this picture make you feel?

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thoughts on the relay

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4/20/13

The Rely for Life event is over. The campus goal was exceeded by around $4,000. TEAM 209 was $298 short of its goal, but it was still a huge success! This is the first time we have done relay and we started late. We have already discussed plans to do it again next year! Woohoo! The evening was a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing my students outside the classroom and I’m pretty sure they felt the same way about seeing me. I played some volleyball, danced to a few songs (which better not show up on Facebook or YouTube!), and walked a lot, probably not as much as I should have, but a lot. My husband and I stayed up all night long. Our strategy was to get up and walk when felt the urge to leave and go home to our nice warm beds! (Plus a few cups of coffee!)We left with smiles on our extremely tired faces. It was good, mostly.

When I signed up I knew it would be difficult however, I didn’t really think about how difficult. I held it together pretty well for the majority of the evening with just a few tears. The opening ceremony was nice and I only shed a few tears. I totally lost it when they asked for the caregivers to make a bridge for survivors to walk under. I couldn’t do it. I sat in the food room with my husband and sobbed. I just couldn’t go and be a part of it. I am not one hundred percent sure why I couldn’t do it. I think because it made me so sad – missing my sister, my father and all the other people in my life who have died of cancer. Maybe I just didn’t want my students and fellow teammates to see me so vulnerable? Maybe pride? Maybe it was a combination of both? All I know is I couldn’t do it and I just wanted to cry. My husband, being the wonderful person he is, sat with me, hugged me, and patted me on the back. I needed that.

Being a caregiver to a person with cancer was probably the most difficult thing I have ever done in my entire life. Not only was it tiring physically, it was tiring emotionally as well, even when there were others around helping. You spend a lot of time doing things to help with pain, to help that person feel a little better, fix meals, to do whatever is needed or asked of you, and a lot of time smiling, talking, laughing, and more talking; talking about death and fear and life and love, but mostly death. You spend a quite a bit of time watching TV and movies sitting in silence. This is when you think quite a bit about what life will be like without that person and it causes you to feel extremely sad, but you try to hide that as much as possible so the person who is dying won’t feel bad for leaving you behind. You don’t spend a lot of time taking care of yourself, just a quick shower and throw on some clothes. It is not about you, it is about the other person. I’m not sure how you make it through it, but you do. Afterwards, when they are gone, you are tired, depressed and sad. There is also a sense of relief which causes you to feel guilty because since you feel relief, you must not have truly loved that person. This isn’t really true, but it doesn’t matter, you still feel this way. It is a vicious circle of emotions. All of those emotions came back to me the night of relay. All those things I thought were forgotten were simply lurking in the back of my mind waiting to jump out and strangle me once again. The tears helped.

I also lost it during the luminaire lap. As we were walking, I looked at each bag and read the names on them. Most of them were in memory of someone or several some ones, only a few were in honor of a survivor. It caused my eyes to begin slowly leaking. What caused me to lose it completely was when one of my students was stopped by a bag sobbing. She was all alone. She had shared her story with me earlier in the evening. Her aunt, one she was very close to, had just passed away in November. I stopped and hugged her while the rest of my group kept on going. We stood there for quite some time just hugging and crying, and then she said she needed to hug her sister who was a few feet away. I walked with her to where her sister was and hugged them both and walked on . . . as I continued walking there were people stopped along the way crying. I have said this before, but I’m a group crier so of course . . . you know the rest. I was having trouble seeing through my tears so I had to just stop for a bit. Once I composed myself, I kept on going. I stopped by the bag with my sister’s name on it (also, my father, grandfather, husband’s mother, and two good friends). I stood there crying like a baby for about five minutes before I finally was able to regroup. The lights slowly came on and I just stood there and gazed out across the gym at all the students who were there for whatever reasons and a sense of pride and hope came over me. We hear so much negative about young people, but here was a group of several hundred students making a difference in the world with a hope for a cure for cancer. It made me happy to see them there with hope in their hearts; it turned my tears to a smile.

Cancer sucks. A cure would be awesome. I will continue to walk for a cure.

By the way, the theme for our relay was Dr. Seuss. We chose a book which most people have probably never heard of . . . “I Am Not Going To Get Up Today.” We thought we’d say “we won’t get up until there is a cure.” We never made that sign because we got sidetracked with our “Pinkman” campaign. Here are a couple of pictures.

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