Saturday, August 17, 2013

Family...Heart of My Heart


August has been family time for
me...a weekend in Wilmington with
my daughter and grand-daughter,
catching up (we hadn't been
together since Christmas), sharing
meals, canoeing, walking on the
beach, and laughing- a lot. As you
can see, there is a special zaniness  
pervading our time together, a
great blessing for this woman who
can take herself altogether too
seriously. And the good sense
and wisdom of my daughter is a
real gift to me.



Youngest son, Paul, and I had some good one-on-one time this
month, too, sharing some meals and going to a movie (at the
same theater but not watching the same flick- our tastes are
very different, but we did go there together)...Don't have any
recent photos of him...will have to remedy that soon. He
continues to make me very proud with his determined
participation in his own recovery, and his job at a local
community center is making him feel useful, something we
all want and need, don't we?

This past Friday, I headed to Charlotte to see the latest
collaboration of my son and daughter-in-law with their
PlayPlay Theater. Titled "Pocket", this theater for little people,
aged 18.months to 4 years is creative fun, and I thoroughly
enjoyed the time I spent watching- both the actors and the
audience. My son has been acting on-stage since he was in 8th
grade, so I have had the amazing experience of watching him
many times- and this proud mother never fails to choke up a bit
and shed a tear or two whenever I watch him, marveling at
his talent.

One of the wonders of motherhood is seeing the people
your children become in adulthood and marveling at the
privilege you have had to be part- albeit realistically a small
one- in who they have become. As a parent, I have made a
myriad of mistakes- I guess we all do. No such thing as
perfection in parenthood...just so much trial-and-error. But
if I never achieve another thing in my life, if I never make
an impact or contribution in any other way, I will always
be thankful for and humbled by these three amazing people
who are my children.               

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Reality Check

The realtors just left- and it seems that I am staying put, right
where I am, in my lovely little quirky old house on Council
Street. There- I said it. I AM NOT SELLING MY HOUSE, because
financially it would simply not be feasible. The reality is that
I would actually lose money, money I can ill afford to let slip
through my fingers. And that would totally defeat the proposed
purpose of my tentative plan.

You know, life has a way of continually surprising me. I
thought I had made the "right" decision when I opted to
downsize, to sell my house, and look for an apartment. But the
two kind real estate agents who toured my home with me
today, loving what they were seeing, oh-ing and ah-ing over
the many little features which make this place unique, were in
so many ways the answer to prayer. I have been so torn about
which way to actually go, which path to really take, how to 
live most responsibly. Making the right choice has occupied my
mind and heart for the past several weeks...and despite my
seeming positivity about my earlier "decision", I was really
having a hard time with the thought of actually leaving this
nest, this lovely home-place I have created over the past
twelve years.

So- here I am and here I will stay for the foreseeable future,
reaching out to my children for help now and then, to be sure,
with the yard-work and with inside maintenance which may be
beyond my abilities and stamina to do alone. And I find I
am breathing a huge sigh of relief...life, which has felt so
insecure and uncertain for a time, can now return to the pace
and rhythm of my every-day. And I give thanks to the Holy
One who fills my day, my heart, my life, for the many ways
in which my prayers are answered, my life made whole,
my days filled with delight and surprise. This IS my reality-
thanks be to God!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Very Different Path...

I don't know how it slipped by me but it did: July 6th, 2013.
It would have been my fiftieth wedding anniversary, had life
gone differently...had a dreadful disease not ended the life of
my otherwise healthy young husband, leaving me and our
three children reeling, a sense of disbelief the overriding emotion
for all of us, including my parents and sisters, our extended
family, and all of our friends.

And with the memories I am once again made aware of- hit in
the face with, actually- life's delicate fragility, of the reality that
we never, ever know what tomorrow will bring. Trite-sounding,
I know, but unarguably true. Today is all any of us really has...
this moment, this breath...to use as we will or to let slip away
like sand through an hourglass.

Who knows what our lives would have been like- mine and my 
children's'- had the fickle finger of fate not intervened as it did?
Who knows what our paths would have looked like or where
they would have taken us? We all could spend a lot of time and
energy wondering, what-iffing. I only know that right now,
at this moment, in THIS place, at this time of my life, the sun
is shining, the ceiling fan is whispering its secrets, and I see
before me the photos of the faces of those whom I have loved 
and lost, knowing that they are with me still, wherever this
journey of life takes me.

Linda and Carl, July 6, 1963
Happy Anniversary!

 


 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Continuing...

It seems the decision is made...I actually contacted a realtor and
I've been driving around, looking at some apartment complexes
in the Greensboro area. And the voice which continues to accompany
me is that of Joan Chittister in Following the Path. This morning,
I read, "...the feeling of being in the wrong place gets so strong
it can be painful," to which I could only add in the margins of the
book, "YES" in resounding agreement. For that is indeed how I
have been feeling...that I am no longer in the right place for
this time of my life...which means that I must risk...dare...step
out in the faith that I am doing the right thing for me.

No easy decision, I can assure you. After all, it will be truly
life-changing. I have spoken with all three of my children and
have received support and encouragement on every front.
I think they are finally beginning to realize that Mom is no
longer young...nor even middle-aged...that even though I do
quite well for my age, none of us knows what the future will
bring and I need to be preparing myself for that, as far as I
possibly can- as do they.

It's an interesting and challenging adventure, this aging thing.
And there is no way to really be prepared emotionally for
the changes which happen in the body, even if and when the
mind and heart are strong and filled with the energy of
youth. I remember my 92-year-old mother saying to me,
"When I look in the mirror, I see an old lady, but inside,
I still feel like I'm eighteen." Me, too, Mom; me, too. But
the challenge of a three-level house with a large yard is
becoming more than I can- or want to- handle any longer.
It would be nice to have my living space all on one floor,
and to not be concerned with yard work and upkeep. And
property taxes keep rising, as do my homeowner's
insurance and utilities.















So, if you know anyone who might be interested in a
charming cottage of a house in High Point, on a lovely
shaded street near the hospital and the library, let me
know. I have lived here very happily for twelve years,
and it would make me delighted to have someone buy
it who falls in love with it at first sight, as I did. I will
surely miss the screened porch and the deck, but my
life and my home will have a new shape...as I take the
leap into the future. To be continued...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Decisions...Decisions...

Decision-making, of the momentous, life-changing sort, has always 
been a lengthy and even painful process for me. l agonize and pray 
and try to discern how my heart is being led...usually I seek out the 
counsel of friends I trust, as well as perusing words of wisdom from 
favorite writers, biblical and otherwise. And- eventually- the way 
seems clear...the answer seeming to arise from my very depths...
an inner voice of sorts affirming my decision.

Now this not to say I have not made some colossal mistakes over 
the years. But even those "mistakes", it seems, have been the 
source of learning and growth (once I get past the consternation
at being wrong, of course.) But seldom have I been faced with a 
decision with as much potential for both pain and pleasure or as
fraught with emotion as the one with which I have been wrestling
for the past several months: whether or not to sell my house and
move into an apartment...to downsize in a major way...to live far
more frugally (both a moral and a practical necessity)...to give
up a space which is far too big for one not-so-large aging woman
and settle into a smaller "nest" for the coming years.

First, let me clearly state: I have loved my house, and it has been
my home for twelve years, during that time housing both my 
mother and my youngest son for lengthy periods. But since 
January, there has been one occupant: me. And as I look at the 
mounting cost of utilities and property taxes, plus the continual 
upkeep inherent in owning a home nearly ninety years old, I 
have felt that perhaps now is the time.

Part of the hang- up for me has been my family. They love 
coming here at Christmas and on other occasions, and the Grands 
thoroughly enjoy the yard yard and the little park just a block 
away. With an extra bedroom, I always always have  room for a
guest, either family member or friend. And my lovely blue living 
room walls have offered shelter and solace to any number of 
hurting people over the years. Part, too, has been my concern 
(admittedly quite possibly unwarranted) for the reaction of 
friends who, because their own life situation is so different from 
mine, find such a decision incomprehensible.

So I have been wrestling...and praying...and vacillating...fearful
of making a mistake, since this is a big, BIG decision. And as 
has happened so often in my life, I came across/was led to a
small book by one of my favorite authors, Joan Chittister, 
entitled Following the Path. It's all about making choices, 
decisions which are authentic...which allow us to be the best 
and fullest of who we really are. And this morning as I read 
and journaled, some of her words hit home in a big way. 

The decision-making discernment process is never an easy one,
Joan says. "...just knowing what we really do want to do- and
why- is the arduous part of the process." And at another place
her words found the mark: "When I give way to the obstacles
I create for myself, I doom myself to under-development."
Then the morning's final zinger (or perhaps affirmation):
"What was right for me at one point in my life may not be right
at all at another point."

To top it all off, Chittester included a quote from one of my
favorite poets, e.e. Cummings, who once famously wrote:
to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best,
night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight 
the hardest battle which any human can fight; and never stop
fighting.

And though my own poetic efforts fall far short of Cummings',
I still find poetry my best and truest emotional outlet, and so
I wrote...
     Standing on the brink
     Teetering on the edge
     Knees knocking
     Teeth chattering
     Butterflies in my stomach
     Do I dare? Take the leap?
     Will I fall-
           or will I spread eagles' wings
                       and SOAR?

To be continued...