Category Archives: Thoughts Expressed

The great welcome home!

In my dream, I am standing at the entrance door to a huge auditorium filled with people I have known throughout my life. My heart stirs as my eyes take in their various ages and faces. How beautiful the memories are that flood through my mind as I take in the view. The bleachers are just packed with people.

Off to one side, high up in the bleacher section is a very cute lanky teenager by the name of Huey! I remember how much everyone liked him in high school and of course there was a good reason for this because he was an affable kind of guy with reddish hair and freckles sprinkled across his smiling face. He was a much loved only child.

Not far away from where he sits is my best friend from high school. Marci is as tiny as ever and I recall how she and I got the nickname of Mutt & Jeff (from an old cartoon strip of two friends tall and short) she being the short one, and me…tall and lanky. She may have been small but she was a strong person in her own right. When she laughed, her shoulders always moved with her laughter! Her shoulders are moving now as I see her laughing at something someone just said. She is sitting next to her Mom and Dad and daughter and as I glance their way, they do a little wave of their hands and smile in my direction.

I see a small petite woman with dark hair and a smile on her face. She is looking around like the new kid in the class. She IS the new kid in the class. She is orienting herself to her new surroundings and chattering with the groups of women she is sitting with! Terri! What are you doing there?

I see someone else waving wildly at me from the middle of the crowd, his wide toothy smile cutting across his face under shining dark eyes and a head of dark Italian hair! My goodness that is Larry! It has been SO many years now since I last saw him. He looks wonderful and SO happy! He was an amazing caring human being! A heart of pure gold. My very first boyfriend who taught me so much about loving myself.

As my eyes continue to scan the room, I see more and more people who have contributed to my life in one way or another and as I see each face, names begin to pop into my head…Paul, Robbie, Alden, Gordy, Jenice, Donnie, Sue, Dan, Chuck, Kevin, Barb, Al….so many, oh, so many! They are having way too much fun! Paul is holding his latest fishing lure and waving it in the air so I would notice.

Oh, and there is Uncle Dale and he looks just fantastic, much like he did when he was a young man. A tall, slender, young version of Pat Boone, who was a singer from back in the 60’s. He is so handsome. He is sitting next to my Mother (his sister) and his brother. His parents (my Grandparents) are there too (Art and Esther) and they are busy talking to my other paternal Grandparents (Annie and Eddie).

Next to Annie and Eddie are many of their 12 children. I can see Chet, Bud, Roy, Vivian, Bonnie, Eleanor, Janet, Ruthie, Doris and Jackie. Looks like Don and Herbie couldn’t make it. Julie is there too, along with Kim and Shane. I think I see Jennifer but not sure because her head is turned as she talks to the person behind her.

Just then I felt a tap on the shoulder and a guy and his wife who seem to be running late are hurrying into the room to grab their seats before the music starts. Art and Verona! Oh my goodness, my Mother and Father in law! Verona gave me a quick hug as she scurried by and her sister Ruth was right behind her with her husband Ruban and gave me a sweet smile.

I can see Edith, my favorite childhood music teacher there and she is standing on the floor in front of the crowd sorting her pages of music, getting the crowd ready for the upcoming musical event.

The mood in the room is festive and I can hear many hushed excited voices and I am wondering what it is they are all anticipating? What are they waiting for?

I step inside the doorway to enter the room so I can find my seat, but a man steps forward and asks for my pass. “My pass? What pass?”

“You must have a pass to come in here. Do you have one?”

Confused, I said “Well, no, sir I do not…but there are many here who will vouch for the fact that I have been invited”

“That may be” he said, “but no pass, no admittance”

Incredulous I ask that he check the list. He goes down the list and then begins flipping over many, many pages as he scans top to bottom of each one. Finally, he says, “Here it is…I found your name”

Relieved, I say, “Oh good! I was getting worried there for a minute. I want to go in there now and see my friends and family”

He said, “Sorry, Ms. J…..today is not the day of your reservations. You must have written down the wrong date. I have a different day listed for your pass!””

“What? What do you mean? I am going to miss the concert and I want to see them so badly!”

He said softly “Oh you will see them in due course and there will be a beautiful concert in your honor too when it is your time. It just isn’t going to be today. Everyone is excited for that moment but they know you have more things to do on earth to fulfill your purpose. Now, if you don’t mind, please step aside because the guest of honor has arrived.”. As I did so, a small petite blonde woman passed by, giving me a sweet smile as she did, and the room full of people broke forth in shouts of welcome and songs of praise. Then the door closed.

Blinking….I woke up!

Slightly disoriented and staring at the ceiling, I wondered if somehow I had been gifted with a peek into my future home. Maybe a foretaste of the feast (or concert) to come? I continued to lay there basking in all the old memories of a life gone by. It was wonderful seeing all of them again and I have to say, I was shocked to see just how many people I have known who have left this world for the next one ahead of me.

I am not afraid of dying because there really is no death. Life to life is how I see it. Eternal life is there for the taking. All you have to do is accept His Grace. I have many loved ones who have gone ahead who have reached their eternal reward. My time is written in the book of life and I don’t know the exact date, but it is GOOD to know it IS there.

I throw the covers back, stretch my arms to the sky and hop out of bed. Today is the day the Lord has made and I am going to rejoice and be glad in it! I am also going to work on fulfilling my purpose, whatever form that takes. Now…a cup of coffee is sounding very good right now to this earth bound human.

Amen!

jjb/10/8/2022

Defining love

How does one define love? It depends on who you are talking about. There are so many different kinds of love…Mother love, child love, grandchild love, sibling love, friend love, love thy neighbor…Lots of different ways to love and so many people to care about.

But, I am talking about the love of a significant other….that person that makes your heart explode when they walk into the same room you are in.

It is interesting, this thing called chemistry. How is it that a girl can be in a room with many boys milling around, but only ONE catches her attention as the quick glance exchange makes her heart skip a beat, or two or three?

I remember the night I met my husband. I had gone out for the evening with two of my roommates after they spent quite a lot of time convincing me to do so. I wasn’t really in the mood to go anywhere but they did not want to go out with only the two of them. Those were the days when there was a sense of propriety about how women were seen in public. They thought it would look better if there were three of us. They wanted to go to a “ladies night out” that was advertised and hosted by a local bowling alley on the ballroom side of the building. I reluctantly agreed and off we went.

The evening did not start off very well as a couple of different guys came up to ask me to dance. Nope, nope and nope! Just NOT in the mood, they were NOT my type, and thank you anyway! Then I felt a hand tap me on the shoulder and I turned around to tell them again “NO THANK YOU!and there he stood. Little did I know it at the time, but my future was standing there in front of me with a head full of sandy blonde hair, an earnest grin, bashfully asking me to dance. He was very good looking but what attracted me most was his shy nature. I agreed to dance and that was the beginning of Chapter One of the book of our life together. We eventually got married and will be celebrating 50 years of marriage this coming February.

Chemistry….we still have it going! We were both very lucky to find someone where the love endured! It did not just endure, it grew and thrived! My heart still goes pitter pat when he enters a room I am in! He claims the same is true for him.

There are a number of things that did not work out as we originally intended. We have had our own fair share of disappointments and failures and do-overs! We have had some dreams go “poof disappearing into thin air. But, we have had a lot of blessings too along the way. It seems that life brings to us a series of contrasting experiences so we understand the blessings when we see them, similar to how comforting the warmth of a fire feels after being chilled, or how good a soft bed feels when one is exhausted. I think life is full of contrasts for the purpose of making us grow and learn gratitude.

Like many people, we got married, bought a house, and had kids. In the early years, we both worked to make ends meet. Then his career took off which meant we moved many times. Those years were exciting as the future seemed endlessly bright. We became financially comfortable, and I was free to be the Mom and wife I always aspired to be. Yes, I was that antiquated in my thinking. I was rewarded with the life I desired. We had more of life’s challenges along the way, but weathered them as best we could.

As I write this, many years have passed by and we are now old! I remember when our parents were our age and we definitely thought of them as old. But despite what others see when they look at us, we don’t see each other in the same way the world does. We do recognize that we are no longer that lively, fun loving couple who danced their hearts out the first night we met. Well, ACTUALLY, we are still lively and fun loving but we don’t have the same amount of energy that we once had. Instead of dancing the jitterbug, we are now waltzing through life.

We LOVE our life together. Retirement has brought us the gift of time. We have our devotions and prayer in the mornings after a walk. We plan our meals and work in the garden. We read books and enjoy researching various topics on the internet. We have quiet conversation on many topics just before dinner. Then, every Friday and Saturday night, we listen to a radio station called Heartland radio that plays the most beautiful soul stirring music and we let our spirits dance with the rhythm of the music. Sundays we go to church and enjoy visiting the Lord and seeing our various friends while in attendance.

We see each other at a heart level these days. We would not impress any other human being at all with our appearance on any given day. What is so beautiful about this is we are each living an existence with someone who sees our beauty through the wrinkles, the white hair and our misshapen older bodies. It is the purest of loves, really. It is a love that has no expectations but rather a love that wants to be of service to one another. Love is the way my heart swells when he walks by and pats me on the head as I am reading in my chair. Love is that passing hug we give each other on a whim. Love is the way a heart feels when watching the other sleep deeply during a daytime nap. We can see that we are not what we used to be, but God willing, theres a lot of life left to live. We know we are in it for the long haul now, and we are happy to do it!

We can see the “Exit” sign clearly these days, knowing that the time is coming when one or the other of us will go through that door, but we do not dwell on it. Our awareness that this probability exists and is getting closer every year makes living in the NOW so very important. Our past is used up and our future is unknown. There is no point looking in either direction because it just steals from the moment of now. These days, I spend a lot of time in the NOW reflecting on my good fortune. I observe my husband going about his day and take joy just watching him and offer up many thanks to God for that very fortuitous moment so long ago when he tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around to see a very beautiful soul standing there with a smile on his face and hope shining in his eyes that I would say yes!

Yes! Yes! and Yes! A hundred times over through the years I have said yes to this person who makes my soul take flight. I cannot imagine my life without him which is my biggest incentive for living in the now! How do I define love? Loving another more than one loves oneself! That is the definition of love in our home!

Once upon a time when we were young!

jjb/9/29/2022

Math

I was sitting at my roll top desk today, sorting, discarding and sometimes pausing to read someones note or card on my desk. I enjoyed a ”visit” from my Mother who’s letter was written back when she was about the age I am now. She was commenting on how much there is to do in old age to prepare for the inevitable. I imagined her writing the note as I nodded my head in agreement and smiled as I read it.

Then I looked at a note that was written to me about 40 years ago from a friend who had just sold our home for us. She had placed the ads from the paper in the note card along with a contract on the house. We had unknowingly used a realtor who was not happy in his career and when the contract ended he quit and went off to be a traveling gospel singer. 😐 We had already moved to another state and the story is too long to share here, but her husband built a “for sale” sign (for sale by owner) painted it and placed it in the front yard. Before the paint was dry a couple asked to see the house and bought it. I wasn’t even middle aged yet at that point. We were thrilled but did not see it for the miracle it was.

I picked up an envelope of pictures a good friend had sent to me from her sons wedding back in 2004. My intent was to mail them to her for the fun of invoking old memories but for one reason or another, never got it mailed. She recently passed away and now I have missed my opportunity to put a smile on her face with that package.

Mom passed away long ago, and so did my friends husband who painted the sign. As I sat there riffing through my address book I saw many lines drawn through names. I cannot bring myself to erase them, because every time I see a crossed off name I see them in my minds eye and I find myself saying “hello…I miss you”.

I can see now that growing old, should God decide this is my journey, will be one full of a long line of subtractions and it makes me so sad. For the average person, beginning on the day we are born, we are surrounded by a big welcome and a lot of love. From that point forward we keep adding people to our life from our neighborhood, our extended family, our school, and our church. Then we fall in love…and if we are blessed we add more people to our life!

But then the time eventually comes where the additions become subtractions. Our parents die, friends die, other family and acquaintances die. Our children get married and move into their adult life. Now in this case it isn’t a subtraction, rather it is an addition of offspring and a shared role. We slide over and let our adult children become the conductors of our family orchestra, because we are no longer the “Maestro”….the lead conductor!

My point in this piece is that life is Math! There are additions and subtractions and sometimes even some multiplications. That said, more and more subtractions occur as we enter old age. I think there is a whittling down of ego too. By the time it is our turn to pass to the other side of the veil, we are aware that we are merely one tiny piece of a whole, similar to how the grains of sand contribute to the existence of a beach. Every grain of sand is an integral part of the beach but no one grain of sand stands out as more important than the next to the creation of the whole. We come from God and go back to God and somewhere along the way we realize we have been a small part of the whole of creation!

I miss my loved ones so much…and I do recognize the blessing each and every one of them were to my life. Every single person has left their mark on me, a lesson I needed to learn. Someday, we will reunite and that sounds so good to me. They are a beautiful part of my past but it is in the present where I live.

I enjoyed my visits from my past today and when I was done, I responded to a call from my husband saying it was time to make dinner. As we were making dinner I realized that we were making memories right now for future recall. Memories are being made every moment of every day! Cherish these moments because at sometime, somewhere, someone will be picking up one of the notes we sent to them. They will read them imagining our face as they do. They will pause and bask in the memories our words on paper evoke. The words will bring our memory alive and as they remember us they will smile. Then, the phone will ring, we will vanish and back to the present they will return. Just like that!

I miss my loved ones, which makes me cherish those who are still here even more! God bless everyone past and present and future! What a blessing this life is even with all the twists and turns on the road of our journey. Thank you God for the opportunity. If earth is this beautiful, I really look forward to heaven where perfection reigns!

jjb/8/21/2022

Italian Princess

I am feeling very down today as my very good, longtime friend is being honored by her family and friends at her funeral up in Minnesota. She was very loved by most everyone who ever met her and I am sure her funeral is packed. Texas is a bit far to travel to Minnesota on such short notice, so I have told her daughter that my plan is to come up to Minnesota towards fall to take her and her brother out to dinner and have a night of sharing stories in memory of their Mother. I have so many!

She was the rare person who was an open book about her life and feelings. Because of this, people felt a kinship with her fairly quickly. In a world of superficiality and societies obsessive competition with the Jones’s, she had neither of these traits. I always marveled at her ability to be happy for others in whatever they achieved or owned. She never acted jealous or envious of anyone.

When I first met her, I was enchanted with her dark Italian looks. She was tiny and always immaculately dressed. Her hands were beautiful and always well groomed with lovely lacquered nails. She could have been a hand model. Actually, she could have been a model for the petite section of womens clothing with her sleek trim body. No matter what she wore, she enhanced the outfit, rather than the other way around.

She had a fabulous sense of humor and I loved watching her laugh as her face and arms became very animated when something tickled her funny bone. She was rarely without a smile in her face.

We met in our very early 20’s and stayed friends for over 50 years. Even as my husbands career forced us to move hither and yon, it never broke the bond. No matter how much time passed, we could pick up the phone and begin a conversation where we last left off.

She asked me and my husband to be the Godparents for her son and we were honored that she did. She was a good and caring Mother to her children and was very proud of them.

She became a roommate of mine early on. There were 4 of us who shared an apartment, and we all eventually moved to the lower half of a duplex before we got married. We met up one night to introduce each other to our dates and as we walked toward each other, the guys reached out to shake hands and were happy to reacquaint with one another. She and I looked at each other and started to laugh. What are the odds that they already knew each other? Small world!

We got engaged and married within months of each other, had our children in close proximity of birth, and always, always stayed in touch. Through the years we watched each others lives unfold and we shared many happy gatherings. We were always happy to see each other because it meant sharing, caring and laughter.

Now, suddenly, she is gone from my life. I know that she has graduated to a much more beautiful existence, and so to emulate Terri, I choose to be happy for her for where she is right now. But, I am NOT happy to lose her presence in my life.

She was the Ethel to my Lucy. We named each other years ago as we watched old episodes of the “I love Lucy” show in our little apartment. I got the title of Lucy because she saw me as being crazy and zany and as unpredictable as Lucy (in my younger years) Lol. She became Ethel by default. The point of our annointing was that we always found ourselves in crazy innocent predicaments and we always soldiered onward with each other. We were fast friends with an unbreakable bond.

She was never judgmental about people. She LOVED people and always looked for the best in them. She was extremely social as a person, far more social than this mildly social introvert (yours truly). I used to listen to her social schedule and would be amazed at her energy level. She loved having friends and they responded to this trait in her because she had more friends than I could ever hope to have. Yet, she carved out a niche for me in her heart and it was always open to me to step right on in.

Yes, I am sad today, and I have felt an overwhelming sense of loss since I first realized she wasn’t going to make it. I have lost other friends too through the years, each time a painful passage to go through. I realize as these friends leave earth that I am losing a piece of myself with each and every one of them! They take with them our mutual experiences that no one else knows. No one else has knowledge of that little shared part of my life like she did. So, once a person loses a loved one, we are never complete again. It is as if the completed puzzle picture of our life has a piece taken out of it with each exit. When you look at our puzzle picture, you get the general picture of who I am, but with pieces missing. The observer can only guess at what part of my existence was in that now empty spot.

Terri, I will never be the same without you. When you left, you didn’t just take one piece out of my puzzle picture, you took many, because we shared so much of life. If heaven has a reception room, I know that a circle has formed around you of loved ones who have missed you since their own departures. I can hear laughter in the air and can see your head thrown back in mirth as your animated gestures remind all of your Italian heritage. I envy that gathering that I am not a part of.

My wish is this…when it is my time to move on to the next life…I hope you are at the gate to greet me, usher me in and show me around. No doubt, we will not miss a beat as we dive into sharing what we each have been doing in our respective lives.

I love you Terri. You made such an impact in this life…especially to me! If possible, please keep in touch! ❤️

The art of being…

For me, life has been quiet for some time now…..Right now I can hear the clocks ticking as they mark time. No music is playing. No television or radio making a sound. I find it interesting how well my ears pick up every little sound. I can hear the lawn crew mowing grass outside and the occasional car driving by. I can hear birds singing in the distance. I hear the washing machine churning and swishing my clothes in the laundry room down the hall. I like this kind of environment. I like being a part of the daily hum drum of life. I like the quiet of everyday routine that makes up so much of my life.

We are now going into the third year of a Pandemic, though the critical nature of it seems to be waning. What this critical world event brought to me was a self awareness I haven’t had since childhood, because there was now so much time to fill at home away from others. When we were ordered into the lockdown, some people struggled with the restriction of staying home, but I found myself hunkering down and going about the business of reacquainting myself with ME….the “original” me, not the one who has long delivered to people their expectations of who I should be. I discarded the “me” who put so much thought into my speech and behavior for the comfort level of others. It wasn’t that I was being artificial, because that was a facet of me as well, but it was a learned one. That facet of me always felt obligated to step up to fit into society in a way that was considered the norm. So often, after fun filled parties and social gatherings we would come home and I would have a need to ”plug in” to restore all the energy expended while among so many people. “Plugging in” simply meant retreating back into the quiet and comfort of our home to rejuvenate.

Growing up I spent a lot of time reading. It was not unusual for me to go to the bookmobile and come back home with 9 or 10 books in my arms piled so high I could barely see past them. I read them all and brought them back in two weeks to gather some more. I spent many hours exploring the worlds created by the imagination and research of any given author. As I would read their stories, my mind was busy painting a picture of the characters involved and their surroundings, be it nature or architecture. I loved living in my head exploring the worlds laid out before me in the form of words in a book.

I also loved exploring the world around where I lived, whether it be laying on my back on the soft mossy earth beneath a fragrant canopy of tall pine trees, enjoying the view of the long slanted beams of sunlight, or wading barefoot in a lake or stream. I was often solitary in my pursuits because I liked going wherever the spirit moved me. Childhood was an excellent time in my life where we were surrounded by an abundance of relatives who lived nearby. The world was more innocent then and felt much safer. In fact, it never even occurred to our Mothers that harm could come to us as we roamed the woodlands with old logging trails, and swam in the rivers and lakes, not coming back home until our stomachs indicated it was time for supper. This is where I learned to be comfortable in my own company. I did have many cousins and local children with which to do childhood things and I enjoyed that as well. It was a well balanced life. We all ran the country side wild and free, and my favorite activity was swimming in a nearby lake.

Where I lived, it was an economically level playing field, meaning there was no competition or pecking order amongst the community members because we all lived the same kind of life. We had enough of everything but not an over-abundance of anything except for love….there was an abundance of that and plenty to go around.

I DO love people and relationships. I just don’t need a whole lot to fill my cup. One or two good solid friends have always been my preferred way of existence. It is wonderful communing with someone about life, having a special person with whom I can share my thoughts and feelings and have a friendly debate about our differences of opinions even as we stand in solidarity about other things. Yes, this is very nice!

The me that I rediscovered this past couple of years is far more open and fluid in my thoughts and actions and much more free in following my spirit’s desire. I don’t even think about it all that much. I put my spirit in the drivers seat and I go along for the ride. What an adventure it has been, though at times, quiet and pensive. I LIKE the child side of myself..the persona who lives free of expectations to perform in a certain way. I often invite my child to come out and play, to be authentic and real and free to BE who God intended her to be. She is happy to be herself in all her unique, awkward, uninhibited ways. I am far better off being an original than a poor copy of someone else.

My nature is a sensitive one which has been pointed out to me on occasion. People are generally much more impressed by the strong and practical type. “Don’t be so sensitive” they say, but I think to myself “thank you very much, but I like how I am.” I like my sensitivity. I admit being sensitive is sometimes the precursor to a wounded heart, but the good far outweighs the bad in the way I sense other peoples moods and how my heart always leans into the needs of others. This nature of sensitivity was part and parcel of who I was when I entered this world, and I figure if God made me this way, then there was a very good reason for my existence in the world as I am. Perhaps this is why I am happy in my own company.

I remain in a mode of self discovery and this morning I realized I haven’t written in quite a while. I have many home projects that are taking my time and attention these days and a courtyard full of plants and flowers that need a lot of extra watering during this unusually hot summer of skyrocketing temperatures. Summers are generally hot in the south, but this year seems to be a record breaker. When I go out there and spend time with my plants, I step out of the past (or future, depending on where my mind has taken me) and jump right back into the present. To live in the moment is the purest way of communing with God. I see God everywhere when I am outside. He is in the plants and the trees, the butterflies, the birds, the ants, the sunshine and the clouds. He is in the bright blue sky overhead and He is in the rain that helps me water my plant family. God is everywhere, but never so visible as he is in a garden of His creation!

Its a very good day today and I am glad I took a moment to jot down my thoughts. I remember a phrase I once heard quoted which was “me, myself and I” and it is a good one because we make a good team, we three! I think it is why I sometimes find myself thinking out loud. I often laugh when I realize I am talking to myself and then understand “the three that is me” gets a real kick out of these silly moments. By the way, it should be read as me, myself and I(am) because God is within methe great “I AM”

O.k. God…I will meet you outside now in my garden as I usually do. I can hear you calling to me. It is time to put away my musings and make some plants very happy as I hydrate them.

Until another time then….and thank you, “I”, for listening. With love and appreciation,…..”me” ❤️🙏🏼

jjb,7/19/2022

Friendship

Life sometimes gifts us with friends who come along just when you need that particular kind of a person. I have been so blessed in my life by the right people at the right time. While I dearly love having friendships, and I am always open to more, I have never been the kind of person who needs to have a lot of friends in my life to keep me busy.. I am always attracted to the kind souls who find joy in day to day living. I am attracted to those who love to talk and share and emote! Often these friends become my teachers by offering their perspective on things. Perspective! This is the definitive word in all communication. I am drawn to the deep thinkers in this world because they have spent time in wonder and exploration of the world around them. It is fun to exchange thoughts and feelings with this type of person. Oh the paths we go down as we share our viewpoints on all that is.

To my empath friend….Dianne…..It takes one to know one and I am so glad our paths have crossed! You are such a joyful shining light, and yet, within, you are a deep thinking, ever evolving spirit. What impresses me most about you, is your willingness to search within, looking for ways to love better and BE better. If only more people understood that this journey in life should include an ongoing self modification. It sure would create for all of us a better world!

jjb/6/2/2022

Honoring the past and those who have passed!

I wish I could have one more conversation with loved ones now gone. I wish I could tell them that only now do I understand the swiftness of the passing of time. I know that as we pray for the blessing of living a long life, we don’t really understand the complexity of what it is we are praying for. What age is old age anyway?

I imagine the younger generations may think the 50’s and 60’s are old, 70’s definitely old, and the 80’s well, they are just about ready for their dirt bed.

I have never felt old in the true sense of the word. Even as I type this, my spirit is ageless, of no particular age, and certainly NOT old. This is not a case of denial. It is simply not something I think about unless I read about the passing of a good friend, or a hospitalization of a contemporary, or when I visit a friend in a memory unit. Oh yes, this always gets my attention!

As I glance at my reflection in the mirror, I can see the passage of time. When one is young, we spend a leisurely amount of time in front of the mirror, primping and grooming and enjoying our reflection. These days, at most, the mirror only gets a glance. No point in reminding my youthful spirit of the aging body it resides in. My spirit looks outward into the world and as it does it takes on the energy of those who surround me. What older person does not enjoy being surrounded by young people where we can bask in their presence in all their vibrant energy?

I wonder how life would be if we did not mark time. Every year we celebrate our birthday and people sing and wish us well.

“Wow! You are 5! You get to go to school!”

“Yay! You are 16. You get to drive!”

“You are 21! You are an adult now so you can vote!”

And so it goes….and then we reach that birthday 62 or 65. Retirement! Who ever invented that word anyway? It was Del Webb during a Marketing Campaign back in the 60’s in Arizona. Previously, it was not uncommon for people to die in their 60’s not long after obtaining social security. Del Webb was intent on selling houses to the older generation and they needed a dream to sell along with them. They sold the dream of the “golden years” and golf going hand in hand! They were surprised by how well received their new concept was. People liked the idea of living in the golden years verses the olden years. A new type of community was hatched.

Some of us get to blow out 70 candles! Even in our own minds, we can no longer fool ourselves into thinking that we are still young and we cannot ignore the ticking of the clock.

When we hit 80 people may say, “Isn’t he/she amazing, still so active and ALERT? “ (Oh dear, that word alert!!)

The very few who hit their 90’s and are blessed to have loving family are applauded and fawned over and well tended like a flower in a greenhouse. Sadly, there are others who are among the invisible, left behind by most everyone they once knew due to moves, bad health or death. They are the ones who are called the survivors…the tough bunch who have miraculously survived life’s toughest challenges.

Huge gratitude for lives given up for our country!

Memorial Day is actually a day set aside to honor our military who fought and died to defend our country. Through the years, people began to also honor their other loved ones who have passed as well. Remembering those we have loved and honoring them is a heartwarming experience and a good reminder that life has an ending here on earth and that we should make the most of each and every day.

Our parents graves are in the far north country of the U.S. and we live in the far south, so each year on Memorial Day, we have our own private memorial in our courtyard where we come out and sit and reflect on their lives and what they have meant to us. We miss them but we are happy they got to live long lives and then left the troubles of this world behind. It nice to know that they now live eternally in the most beautiful of places. There are certainly worse things than death in old age.

Our courtyard plantings were eviscerated by the dramatic and destructive 5 day snow and ice storm in February of 2021. Many of these plants behind our angel are replacements for what died. Even plants have an end game, but as I watch the new plants reach to the sky I am reminded that even as WE leave this earth, we too leave behind newly planted offspring who will grow to fill our place in this world. The wheel of life continues, no matter what!

jjb/5/30/2022

Minimalist

This last couple of years I have written frequently about our process of letting go and discarding things we do not use anymore. The letting go is an emotional, psychological and sentimental exercise as well as being physical. We all tend to cling to things that have memories attached to them, particularly if they belong to someone we love. I suppose it is because in keeping these things, we feel as if we have a small part of that person around us which gives us comfort.

Throughout this time of discarding things, I have carefully packed up items I knew our children would delight in having….Memories of times gone by…things I inherited from my Mother, Father and Grandparents were put into small boxes for them to unpack at a later date. But, I asked them first before I did so. No sense in foisting on our adult children something they do not want! Each one tells me what they are interested in and as always, each ones choices are as different from each other as they are.

I have already gifted some of my Mothers and Mother in laws things to our daughter who has them in her home where she can enjoy them now. She was given the choice of what she wanted and there were a few things she loved and asked for. It is fun to go and visit her and see these things when I am there. There are not many, because she did not want many, but what IS there, I enjoy, and so does she. She calls it the Ancestor Section which consists of an antique buffet of my Mothers on which sits a wedding lamp of ours and some photos of both sets of Grandparents plus a very few little collectibles. Not much, but enough.. Looking at these family things brings up all kinds of warm and happy memories of times gone by. I think the joy comes in the feeling of continuity of family through the generations.

Recently, we had our young neighbors over for breakfast in our courtyard as a gesture of farewell because they were moving the next morning to New York! They lived here in Texas for 5 years and now they were moving on. They are a young couple with a 14 year old daughter and as we sat and chatted with them, the subject of packing stuff for their move came up. She told me that they had packed the majority of their things themselves because the moving company rates were outrageous. She continued on to say that because she was a minimalist, the packing was not as bad as it could have been.

In our conversation, she began to talk about the differences between her Mother and her when it came to their homes. While she is a minimalist, her Mother is a collector of all things. She is not a hoarder, but she has a penchant for pretty collections which she can well afford as she is a Biochemical Engineer and her husband is an Attorney,

She laughingly talked of her parents attempt to downsize. Apparently, they had too many gardens to care for which became to much for them and she said they sold their home and bought another home that was the same size as their previous home but on a much smaller lot. She asked her Mother why they bought another big house since the adult children are all off living their own lives. Mother said, “Well, we want to have space for our children to come visit”. The daughter said ”But, no one comes to visit other than maybe once a year”. Mother said, “It doesn’t matter, I want people to be comfortable when they come to stay.”

She went on to lovingly mock her Mothers way of life and commented on how her Mother wanted to pass down a family heirloom tea set to her granddaughter who is the only grandchild on either side. Neither the granddaughter nor her daughter wanted it, but they finally took it begrudgingly at the insistence of Grandma. At this point of the conversation, Mother and daughter looked at each other and laughed.

I found myself shrinking inside to witness how some descendants of our generation see us and think of us. I felt sorry for her Mother because obviously her daughter doesn’t understand the mothers life story. She also did not have the intuition to simply be a gracious receiver of something Grandmother held dear. The “art” of gracious receiving did not exist here. Another thought flitted through my mind that many in our children’s generation do not seem sentimental about generations past. Many in the younger generation see things through a different lens than we did. We valued a loved ones material goods for sentimental reasons. So many of our descendants don’t feel that way and I think it is because a lot of this generation in America were raised in a world of seeming abundance.

As she went on talking about her Moms expensive collections which require display cases and curios, I found myself thinking of my own collections acquired through the years…figurines, artists proofs and prints, lovely dishes… (she said “my Mom has TWO sets of dishes and silverware….can you even imagine that?”)

( Uh, yes…I actually can.) ( 🥰 Lol! )

Then she and her daughter laughed while shaking their heads at their Mother/Grandmothers folly. She proudly said, “I only buy what I need. No excess for me!”. Neither Mother or Daughter recognized the intention of love attached to a piece of history behind the family heirlooms being offered. They were simply seeing the gesture as something to avoid.

Now, I DO want to add that as I describe our conversation that day, it may make our neighbor seem insensitive or unkind. I do not believe she was intentionally meaning to be either one.. She was simply and candidly expressing her thoughts and fortunately her Mother wasn’t here to hear it. She was expressing how she felt and it helped clarify to me how my generation may be seen through the eyes of the next generation. Ouch! 🙂

Heirlooms? These were things we once coveted when WE were young and first married. Beautiful antique furniture and home goods were a much desired acquisition in those days. But, in those days, there were still a fair amount of women who were housewives, raising their children while their husband put in long hours to support the family. Because she spent so much time at home, a woman enjoyed feathering her nest, so to speak. Most women are nesters of one form or another. We are a product of the era we grew up in and it all seemed perfectly normal at the time.

In the course of our long drawn out exercise of seeking the “Less is more” lifestyle, I have seen first hand the accumulation of what nearly 50 years of marriage brings about. In our case, we have moved a LOT of times which allowed for some discarding of certain things along the way, so while we are not buried in stuff, we still have much more than we need.

What I have discovered is that material goods hold very little value anymore because there is so much excess in the world we live in. The thrift shop in our small community built a much larger building about a year ago and it is already FULL of peoples cast offs. The cast offs in this area are very good quality because we live in a city in constant transition with people moving in and moving out all the time. One of the Managers of the store told my husband that they make about $100,000.00 a month in sales, which after paying their mortgage and utilities, ALL goes to local and city charities. All workers there are volunteers. This makes me feel good as we drive over with another load of things for them to sell, things we do not need anymore.

When I first started this project, I often felt overwhelmed as I sifted through years of goods that brought about memories. I was one of those Mothers who really believed in what the Norman Rockwell paintings conveyed. This was what I dreamed about and hoped for. What I did not realize was how much times were changing and how those beautiful paintings were depictions of times gone by, not of what the future would present. My material possessions were always purchased with the intent of serving our family and friends and creating memories. It was all innocently done with the best of intentions.

These days, we tend to gather more frequently as a family at our children’s homes where casual is the name of the day. We LOVE spending time with them at their homes where we can be the company versus serving as the Host, Hostess, Chef, Server and clean up crew. Yes! I like this new way of doing things.

If life were a banquet, I see us starting out as an appetizer followed by moving on to the soup and salad of childhood. Then we grow up right into the main course of adult and family living. When we grow old, it is then time to cleanse the palate before ingesting the next course. We clear away our things much as the hostess clears the table in preparation for the final course. Since we have enjoyed the many rich and varied flavors of the main course of life for so long, perhaps the final course will be a delectable dessert, a smaller and sweeter helping of life as we experience the completion of a banquet filled with so many sensory pleasures.

Well, enough reflections for the day. It is time to get back at the thinning out of worldly goods. It has been a rewarding exercise, allowing me to reminisce upon each item I handle while pondering its future. This ongoing project is being executed for the day I am brought home by the angels, where my children can walk in, make quick work of what remains at our house and get on with their lives. I don’t want them to feel burdened by my worldly possessions. Until then, with every load to the thrift shop, my square footage grows along with my sense of peace that comes from simple living. This has been a extended time of counting my blessings! Less is more! Yes it is!

jjb/5/21/2022

Home again, home again, Jiggity, jig, jig!

Interstate 35W is the route we usually take to our daughters in North Texas and as the years have gone on, the traffic just seems to get worse and worse. Many long haul truckers and semi’s are constantly whizzing by at 70+ mph with cars zig zagging in and out of the traffic trying to get ahead of these monster trucks. White knuckles grip the steering wheel and each year we feel our age more…or, perhaps these drives are what ages us?

We decided that there just must be a better way to go between our two homes so we started searching the maps of the countryside for roads that could take us home even if it took us a littler longer. Hubs found a route and we took it and now wonder why we had not checked this out sooner. We had good 4 lane roads with little traffic and NO semis, thank the good Lord! The countryside was dotted with live oak trees and cows, goats and sheep, so an entirely improved experience.

We happily drove along, sipping our latte’s and nibbling on our tiny scones…(everything has been reduced in size with increased cost of ingredients). This scone was easily only 1/3 the original size purchased previously. That is ok since our waistlines don’t need the calories, but the price stayed the same. It wasn’t until we got back in the car and looked into the scone bag when we realized how much we had overpaid. Lesson learned for sure!

It only took us 20 minutes longer to reach our destination and we felt the time was a good investment for our increased comfort. Soon we pulled into the driveway and after 6 weeks away, my heart did a little blip just to be on our own property. I walked through the front door to our courtyard and stood there with a dropped jaw looking in astonishment at what I saw. Covering everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, was a thick layer of pea green pollen. It was just a terrible sight to be the first thing I saw on my arrival back home.

I let my husband unload the car and I went to work with the water hose and washed everything down with water. The porch was thick with green pollen dust so I methodically rinsed down everything in sight. This has been an exceptional year for pollen but I have never seen it to this extent before! I spent 2 hours hosing and rinsing, moving furniture where needed, and also watering plants along the way.

Once done, it looked welcoming and I felt less stressed…though I felt somewhat emotionally disoriented. After 6 weeks away…it feels surreal and even foreign to be back here. So, I began a walkabout looking at my plants of which many were newly planted a year ago to replace the devastation left behind by our freak February snow and ice storm.

Here stands my newly planted dogwood tree. it is just a baby, yet it put on a show for me. The blossoms are a delight!

I continued along the path and a couple of my cactus caught my eye. I love these little guys who take so little care but offer so much joy!

Further along I spy a few of my perennials blooming…

My purple smoke bush…newly planted last year…

Then I sit down in our swing and turn to look at our fountain!

My pump in the picture below brings back childhood memories of one child pouring water in the pump to prime it and the other child pumping the handle wildly up and down until finally, finally, the gusher erupts! Ahhh, cold water on a hot day! it was definitely worth the effort.

As I sit here, look who comes to visit and take a bath!

Looking me in the eye!
Kiss an angel Good Morning!
Yes it is!

So, as I was typing this, my husband happened upon the scene with a freshly squeezed icy lemonade! I am feeling at home once again and ready to see what God has planned for us tomorrow! Home Sweet Home! It feels good to be back to the familiar!

Texas Roses!

It feels like spring today with warm sun and cool breezes.

Me contemplating this life I have been living….

Pies served daily ? Not so much. Love lives here? ALL THE TIME!

The grill is beckoning me….and my stomach is growling so off I go! I still love Texas no matter where in it I live! Praise and thanks to God for His powers of healing. Thanks also for the gift of life itself for ALL living things.

jjb/4/18/2022

There I am!

I am leaving for home tomorrow and after 6 weeks away, I have mixed feelings. Excitement and longing for my own nest is the greatest emotion, but right on the tail of this is regret and sadness to see this chapter come to a close.

Humans are perfectly imperfect, are we not? We can, on the one hand, feel great joy while at the very same time, we also feel a sense of melancholy. When God created us, He must have said “Let these beautiful beings be complex in every way for a greater learning experience”. The vast array of emotions we experience in our lifetime is unique to humans which creates a very rich, diverse experience.

What started as a health scare for our daughter, turned into a six week period of time where Mother and daughter came together in one place alone. There has been a whole gambit of emotions to be dealt with as our daughter chafed at living under the restrictions of no driving for three months. Her husband travels with his job, so they needed someone to stay with her and be her driver. We realize that we could have hired an Uber driver for her needs, but I felt she needed someone here for emotional support as she came to terms with yet another new health challenge. Before 2020, she was in excellent health and in the last two years, it has been one thing after the other. Not sure what is happening, but, since we have limited control we just pray and make the best of things.

I told her brother when he called that I thought she may be feeling smothered by having Mother around all the time. Thank goodness she could go to work three days a week to give her some breathing room. This left me in another persons home, in a strange town with nothing to do until my time came to drive. Hence, began the projects. I knew if I just sat around for 6 weeks (as if I were a houseplant) things could spiral downward in a hurry due to restlessness and frustration on both our parts. I asked permission first, received it, and then rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

In the beginning she and I cleaned out three full suburban loads of stuff collected from all the closets and cupboards and drove it all to Goodwill. After that, I asked her permission to paint things in need of refreshing and she granted the request. I began painting doors, walls and ceilings in the laundry room, guest bedroom and guest bathroom. While I was in action, I did quite well, but once I sat down at the end of the day, my body went into full body stiffness. It was so crazy. When I was in motion, I felt as I always have. When I stopped, it was like I was an old jalopy seizing up. What the heck is that all about?

I have decided that “what this is all about” are many lessons wrapped into one. The lessons are here in a broader sense of this time together. The physical aspect is only one part of it. Lets face it, I am not even middle aged anymore though my spirit just does not understand this. The reason my body rears up in anger is because the body and spirit no longer match. My spirit is young and my body is old…it is as simple as that. As my Dad used to say, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!”. haha! I always laughed when he said that, but it is clear to me now that he was not joking. It is true!

Miraculously though, as the weeks passed, my body got stronger and stronger. Climbing a ladder was easy peasy and painting a ceiling with a long handled roller with my head bent towards my back became second nature to me. I realized as the days passed that when “purpose” returned to my life, so did love of life itself. Humans are meant to have a purpose of one kind or another as long as we walk this earth, or we become stagnant and useless in our journey.

In some ways, my daughter and I together actually do resemble an old jalopy where early on in this journey we had the herky-jerky motion of one stepping on the accelerator at the same time as the other stepped on the brakes. She is no longer a child but I think she felt like one as I drove her to and from work much like I did when she was in junior high school. She hated it and was vocal about it. As time moved forward, she got used to it and realized she could see an end in sight. On my end, I have always been a person who burned the midnight oil. I have always been a night owl, and because of this habit, I enjoyed sleeping in a little bit in the mornings. Now I was on a new schedule of getting up at 5:30 a.m. and once again, my old body rebelled, but “spirit” firmly put it in its place. This was our new temporary life and “body” may just as well decide to adjust! So there!

I just graduated with an “honorary masters degreein the mastering of keeping my opinions to myself. Oh boy, there were so many moments when I wanted to play the “Mother knows best” role, but I knew it was actually best to not go there. Daughter was suffering so many emotions and adjustments, she did not need to have a manager mother around on top of everything else.

During this time, I learned what it would feel like to be a solitary older Mother living with her adult child and it was unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory when viewed in this fashion. I missed my partner so much. I realize that after nearly 50 years, we are no longer separate human beings. Somewhere along the way we fused and became ONE, so living without the other speaks to what life would be like living as a HALF rather than as a whole. I doubt a person ever feels whole again after such a loss. I only got a peek into this, and the thought of it nearly broke my heart. It makes me feel grief for my friends who have had to continue their journey in life as a half. In truth, we are ALL whole and complete unto ourselves and I do not mean to imply otherwise. I only mean that it “feels” as if we are not whole until life kicks in and we can find our true solitary identity once again.

She and I have had our ups as well as our downs. We have had some words, both positive and negative. We have shared tears and then great joy and laughter. In the end, we came together very well and I feel blessed for having had this once in a lifetime opportunity for a Mother and Daughter to be alone together in one house for 6 weeks. In the back of our mind we knew it was not a permanent situation, which I am sure helped with the adjustment on both accounts.

She says she has finally figured me out! haha! Well good luck with that thought, daughter dear, because my own Mother died never having done so. She used to scratch her head in bewilderment with some of my thoughts and actions. I think the same will be true with my daughter as well when she reflects on me after I have left this earth. Truth be told I haven’t even figured me out. I don’t understand even half the thoughts and feelings that percolate through my mind on any given day. I am old enough to know that we are not really meant to figure out everyone and everything. Sometimes we just go with whatever happens and let our spirit take over. Go with the flow as they say because our lessons are happening all the time.

As for my understanding of my daughter, I am leaving with happy thoughts. I leave with the knowledge that she is not nearly as sensitive as I am which will save her a lot of grief in this world. I used to worry about her feeling lonely as her husband is away often with his career. I realize now that she is very independent and has many friends to talk with to keep her company. She is just fine in this regard. Her love of her dog has seeped into my being and now I love Lil Nugget too. Six weeks of me and Nugget spending countless hours together while A is at work has created a human/canine bond that did not exist before. I was never one who had to have a dog in the home although we did when the kids were young. When Max was brought home as a puppy, he had to follow strict rules. NO getting on the furniture was ever allowed and that especially meant no sleeping with a dog in our bed. This little dog sleeps with A and G. Nugget also likes to curl up on the sofa or chair to sleep. This is allowed in their house rule book. After 6 weeks she sometimes chooses me over A and snuggles up next to me on the sofa. It has become so second nature these days, I find myself absentmindedly petting her as I read my email and she just presses herself against me and burrows deeper into slumber. I have to say, I have grown to love our little grand dog, and it is just fine that she is on the sofa, which is proof of everyday miracles when it comes to me.

Thank you God for this time together of one older Mother and her almost middle aged daughter. (Seriously, can these ages really be so?) Despite the continuous daily adjustment of one human with another, in the end we came together with a new appreciation of each other. Mothers and daughters are a part of Gods lessons to us in understanding that one can love another person even if their personalities are mirror opposites of one another. Where one is weak, the other is strong and therefore, if we are open to it, we learn to hone our life skills through another human being.. I doubt this kind of arrangement will ever happen again, and I am delighted to have experienced it. No matter where you find yourself in life, no matter what is happening at the time, it is likely not a permanent situation. With life comes change so I find comfort in what my Mother used to say in response to their frequent career moves. She would say, “No matter where I go, there I am!”. haha! It still makes me laugh. Yes, indeed, no matter where I go, “there I am!”. Hence, in life’s ever present sea of change, we find the familiar which consists of me, myself and I.

Everywhere I go, THERE I AM! Amen!

jjb/4/16/2022

Fly birdie fly!

It’s morning again….and this time I am sitting in “the office” as my daughter calls it, which consists of me sitting on her sofa in the living room. I am hunkered down in the corner of the sofa closest to her big living room window which looks out on the street.

I am tired today and my muscles are sore from painting her laundry room yesterday while she was at work. It is not easy to paint a small space with big appliances. I was in various contorted positions…up on a ladder, to edge paint along the ceiling, then I was bent over at the waist, squashed between the washer and dryer trying to paint the wall behind them. I had to move both machines back and forth as I painted just to finish the wall. I had no trouble doing any of this….but man oh man, am I paying for it today! I have muscles I didn’t know I had and they are in protest of yesterdays activity. But, I feel satisfied, none the less, for having a beautifully painted room to present to my daughter when she got home.

Why am I doing all these projects? Because I can’t imagine just sitting here day after day for 6 whole weeks. I need to have a purpose and she and her husband are the beneficiary of that same purpose.

Its the work ethic I grew up with. Idle hands were often put to work if you could not find something to do, so we learned quickly to choose for ourselvess. This work I am creating for myself is good for me if sore muscles are any indication. It means that I am using muscles that have been dormant for far too long.

I have been busy the entire time I have been here, always asking permission before each project. Today, I paint the guest bathroom. Why not? Neither my daughter or husband have a lot of spare time for extended projects. Hence they have free labor at their disposal. Our daughter is very pleased and said “MOM! You are a machine!”. I have heard that before!

This writing was put aside as I ventured into more projects including painting the guest bathroom and bedroom, which were, thankfully, the last of the paint projects. All physical work was offered and accepted. Now they have three fully refreshed painted rooms. I also worked outside in the backyard filling pots with flowers which of course is my first love…Being outside in the garden is good for the soul!

It has been an interesting experience living in our daughters house for so long. We are both learning to co-exist in a respectful fashion towards one another. In some ways she and I are much alike, but in other ways we are very, very different. For starters, we come together from two generations which the span from one generation to the next in this day and age is HUGE.

Our preferences are often different. Music is a big one. I love soft flowing music and she loves faster louder music. I love routine from day to day and she flies by the seat of her pants as they used to say. I love deep philosophical discussions whereas she communicates in sound bites. The good thing about being together for 6 weeks is that when one is with a “soundbite” conversationalist, you need a lot time to piece together their thoughts to understand how they think. I have learned a lot about my daughter and most of it is good.

My husband is coming to pick me up to bring me back home for Easter dinner with our son and wife who lives in the same city as we do. We have reservations at a restaurant late afternoon and I look forward to the lively conversation and really look forward to being waited upon. Oh yes, there is that side of me as well. ”Waiter, oh waiter! “ ha! ha!

Time just keeps moving along bringing to me one new adventure and lesson after another. The biggest lesson this time is understanding how very independent our daughter is. She doesn’t really “Mommy” anymore, but she does love and enjoy her Mother/Friend. Her Mother enjoys her back. She is a powerhouse full of confidence and resolve. No one will ever take her down in life. If we were turtles, she would be the one with the shell, and I am the one minus the shell…She has a sensitive side as well, but it is protected with the armor of youth. I am sensitive which some may consider a weakness, but I think of it as a strength. Where we are weak we are strong, or at least we learn to be. Strength with a sensitivity towards others has its place and is needed in this fast paced society of people too busy to ponder the life of another.

My daughter is home today and she keeps asking me if I am o.k. (no doubt because I am so quiet) I am just tired and today is my day to do nothing but read and write and relax. Our projects are all done and she said she felt that these projects have contributed to a stronger bond between us. I am glad to hear this. A health scare on her part brought me here in the first place and has kept me here for 6 weeks. She is doing great and her husband soon comes home from his traveling career. He will be here for her for the next 6 months and then in 6 weeks time she is free to drive to her hearts content. She will be THRILLED!

I am lonesome for my husband….I have never been away from him for so long, although he did come here for a couple of days two weeks ago. It has been a good and rewarding time, but I am now like a birdie ready to leave someone else’s nest! Fly birdie fly. She flew out of our nest 25 years ago and now I am flying out of hers. I can relate to the euphoria she must have felt back then.

I look forward to wandering around my own gardens, sitting on my own sofa and sleeping in my own bed. I look forward to going back to a contemplative life full of books and flowers and conversation with my other half, my very favorite person in the world! It is with him where I belong, where I will live out my natural life. I was so blessed to meet him so many years ago! I am so blessed to still have him in my life.

Life….It has been a privilege to have had this journey. I look forward to many new adventures!

Out with the old…

How quickly we go from the height of our strength, health and beauty to joining the club of the aged. Well, wine is better when its aged and so is cheese, right? Hopefully, so are humans…at least to their loved ones. Where did time go? How did it pass by so fast?

About 3 weeks ago we got a call from our son in law to tell us our daughter was in the hospital again and this time for a 7 minute seizure. At the end of the day, and at the end of all the tests, they could not find any cause. There are a number of possible reasons but nothing conclusive.

Before the pandemic hit, this girl was healthy, but since 2020 its been one thing after the other and not all of them related. Right now, since the seizure, she appears in tip top shape. She is back at work and the reason I am still here is because after a seizure, state law dictates no driving for three months. So I am her personal chauffer. Her husband travels a lot with his career, and he will be home for Easter and will be working from home after that. Then I will go home.

This 6 weeks has been a bit of a gift in a world of constant movement. Everyone is SO busy. Everyone is TOO busy. We rush here and we rush there, always on the move. Now, I am in a quiet zone of non busy and in a zone of just Mother and Daughter. We have had our moments of adjustment, but as time ticks by, we are developing a rhythm to this new temporary life. She had a difficult time at first, losing control of her health, losing her freedom to drive here and there, and having someone being injected into her home and life because of state laws concerning driving.

We have done very well and have filled the time deleting “Stuff” from her closets on her days off from the ICU, and as we have gone along, she gets more and more motivated to get rid of even more stuff no longer serving its original purpose. Slowly, closets are opening up, and the house seems bigger. I think the poor girl felt like she could never get rid of things that parents and grandparents have given her, and once I gave her permission to donate things, her enthusiasm escalated along with her joy.

We are two different generations coming together and discovering how different we are in our tastes of the material things we value and lifestyles. Times have changed and it is important to give our adult children permission to carve out a whole different identity from our own. We packed the Traverse suburban completely full two times (almost ready for the third trip) and off to Goodwill we went. Out went Grandmas china and crystal, out went gifts long ago received, out went all sorts of household stuff no longer necessary to her life. Maybe they were never necessary, but she was too polite to decline.

I told her about when my Mother died how I chose to not take anything of hers home with me other than a tapestry purse she always carried with a chiffon scarf inside that she always wore when it was cool outside. I did not need anything to remind me of my Mother. She was and still is as present and clear in my mind and heart as she ever was. We had a deep love and respect for each other, and now my daughter and I are building the same kind of relationship.

I will miss her when I go home and I sure hope she will miss me. I think she will. I know she will. In my mind, she is still that little girl in a picture of our family from long ago. In my presence she is a strong, independent 43 year old for whom I prayed and prayed when I was pregnant with her. “Please God, give me a girl”, I prayed over and over. When she was born, I was beyond thrilled. Now, 43 years later, I am still thrilled. God is good!

jjb/3/29/2022

Getting it right!

It has been 21 months since the beginning of the Pandemic and life has been turned upside down and inside out. The majority of the news has been rife with doom and gloom and dire predictions on every aspect of our life. One has to search extensively to find uplifting stories that stir our hearts and bring a smile to our faces. The sheer magnitude of negative news and misinformation is staggering. After a while it just clutters up the mind and weighs a person down..

Yesterday I started putting up Christmas decorations. Usually this is something I enjoy doing. All through the many years, Christmas music has always wafted about our place as I pulled out time worn holiday decor from their storage spots in our closet. Each item brought back memories from long ago. This year, rather than reveling in this tradition, it somehow became a chore!

We no longer have a large Christmas tree. We did away with that years ago when climbing a ladder to decorate a 10 foot Christmas tree became a risky task for an aging body. We settled on a small 4 foot table tree which remains decorated year round. After Christmas, we simply put a large plastic bag over it and store it in one of our closets. I do not miss the time I used to spend dressing and undressing the tree each year nor the time it took to painstakingly store Christmas bulbs in little partitioned boxes.

The tree was set up in no time on our buffet table. After setting it in place, I pulled out a choir child centerpiece of my Mothers that goes back to 1965. Every time I see that piece, my Mothers smiling face comes to mind. My goodness, my heart still misses her. She was such a good Mother and an even better friend. Life goes on, as they say, but there are always those special moments that come about that I wish I could share with her and when I wish I could have one more conversation with her. Lifting this centerpiece out of the storage box brings about the yearning for a reconnection to my Mom.

In the center of our family room and in front of the fireplace sits a large square coffee table and this is where the centerpiece rests each year, and this is where I place it now.

I then set about decorating the mantle. I struggled with this for some unknown reason. I just could not get it right. While it looked nice, it gave me no joy. Why was this?

On to the dining room table…another centerpiece.

I put all holiday items not used this year into boxes to be taken to the thrift shop. Some were more difficult to part with than others. I suddenly felt weary so I just left the boxes designated for the thrift shop sitting about and went to sit down in my chair. As I looked around the room at the Christmas decor it felt cluttered and overdone.

My feet were aching from moving around in slipper socks on hard porcelain floors. No forgiveness there. I felt very tired and my spirit lagged! What in the world was the matter with me?

I fell asleep in my chair and when I woke up I realized a lot of time had passed. Looking at the clock I knew I better go to bed and catch a few winks of sleep because it was well after midnight. I toddled off to bed and I slept soundly for a few hours but then I awakened from a bad dream. The dream was disjointed and in it, I was searching for my place in the world. Somehow I did not know where I was, but I also could not remember my way back to where I belonged. I tossed and turned and finally got up and came back out into our family room and my chair. What in the world was going on here?

I think the Pandemic has completely altered my view of life and what is really important. For much of the last 21 months I have been packing up small boxes of things and sending them to the thrift shop, It isn’t difficult to part with things if one does it in small amounts. Bit by bit, our things keep going out the door. Bit by bit, I enjoy the space that emerges as things are lifted up and sent off. I always offer these things to the kids first and sometimes they happily take things and sometimes they politely say “no thank you!”. No hard feelings on my part for I am happy to purge one way or the other.

Interesting to me is my uneasiness with the Christmas decor. How much of this seasonal fare does one need after all? This morning I eliminated the mantle decorations and the table decorations entirely. I kept my Mothers choir child centerpiece (purely sentimental) and the 4 foot tree on the buffet table, along with a few decorations under the tree. Everything else was put in a box for the thrift shop.

My spirit lifted! Well, now, things that once gave me great joy no longer serve that purpose because I am no longer the same person. I guess you could say I am evolving.

A lot of clutter and uneasiness had taken root in my mind and emotions these past 21 months due to being inundated with an avalanche of negative news and dire warnings. Happily, it now seems to be dissipating since shutting off the devices that delivered them to my psyche. Eliminating social media was also helpful. I desperately needed a feeling of solitude and peace wherever I could find it. Rather than listen to everyone’s else’s life narrative, I chose to investigate and marinate in my own thoughts as I worked out in our garden. I enjoyed communing with the birds, the bees and the plants while pausing for a moment now and again to give notice to a soft breeze on my face or the warm sun on my body. I have allowed myself the luxury of time spent reading a good book here and there and relaxing time reclining back in my chair, eyes closed, taking in some beautiful soul stirring music.

My goal to surviving this Pandemic is to cultivate a relationship with self and to enjoy communing with my creator. I am reclaiming my place in this world, and MY place is “within”. This is where I find comfort and joy and where I find a sense of belonging. I still enjoy spending time with friends and of course I love my family and the times I spend with them, but all the rest is just a bunch of noise. In the Bible there is a short verse where it is written “Be Still and know that I am God”. As I remember my dream, I realize that finding my way to where I belong is to understand that while I am “in” this world, I am not to be “of” this world. I don’t have to let the people and events of this world intrude onto my inner space where God resides in the form of the Holy Spirit.

I continue to feel a sense of urgency in wanting ALL excess clutter removed, be it material goods or mental processing! My mind wants peace and quiet and a place where I can hear God speaking to me! It has been difficult for me to tune Him in amidst all that horrific negative static.

Simplifying feels like a good way to honor Christmas. Jesus was born in the most simple and humble of places, yet the story of his birth was majestic. Imagine in those days the quiet vast expanse of inky black sky dotted with countless stars under which the Wise men traveled. Imagine how one star stood out from all the rest as the brightest of lights beckoning and guiding their way to the Christ child. Imagine the stable wherein the focal point was a Mother, a Father, and a brand new baby Jesus. No clutter….just a simple place where animals and humans stood anchored and connected in the sweet smell of soft hay.

O.k. The coffee cup is empty and now I need to pack up the discarded pile of Christmas decor. Another trip to the gift shop is in my future.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and I pray that in the not so distant future we will be living a life that encompasses

more love than hate,

more joy than sorrow,

more positive than negative,

more good than evil

and a life devoid of the all distractions that clutter brings.

I am forever indebted to my Mother and all my loved ones who introduced me to a living and personal God! I am never alone. I will always keep close to my heart God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost! I do not know how I would have managed in this life without Him.

Praise be to God!

Luke 2:7 ESV

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Jjb/12/3/2021

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Having a moment…

Today has been one of those days. It started out simply enough with a quiet morning, a cup of coffee, and a walk in the courtyard while planning my day.

We have been absolutely swamped with yard work since the historic Texas snow and ice storm destroyed over 30 percent of our trees and bushes this past February.. 23 years of growth gone in a few days. I rarely cry, but cry I did as we walked around our property assessing the damage shortly after the storm. So many of our plans and plants gone, gone, GONE ! This at a time when we have a very limited access to landscapers who could take care of the storm aftermath due to them being swamped with excess work. So here we were, Mr. B and me, day after day going out there to cut and trim and dig and plant. Not exactly what we had envisioned for ourselves at this stage of our life. I had actually envisioned the two of us sipping Mimosa’s on a summers eve while swinging on the swing in our courtyard. Instead, we were gulping water to quench parched tongues as we labored away.

That said, we are now a few days away from June and everything has been sorted out. Things don’t look as full and lush as they did before the storm, so we are now watching baby bushes and trees growing upwards and reaching for the sky. Hope springs eternal.

As I walked around assessing the new plants and their growth, I was surprised by how my grief over the loss of my plants and trees had morphed into a “looking forwardto how things were going to shape up.

We are now on the 15th month of the Pandemic. Life has been severely altered from what it was before. Will it ever go back to what it once was? This is doubtful because life is on an ever changing trajectory forward. I am a person who does not embrace change, even though I understand that change is at the very heart of our journey through life. It is how we learn and grow.

As I stepped back into the house, I got a call from Mr. B sharing with me that our daughter was in the emergency room with acute kidney failure. I was stunned because this exact same situation happened to her last year when she was struggling with covid. We discussed the situation with her husband and we were put on standby mode for driving the 4 hours up to support her. Her husband is back in town and taking very good care of her and both she and he said to “sit tight”.

I felt like I was abruptly jerked back in time to the last time she dealt with this. She is part of a group of people who are known as “Long Haulers”. She is one of those people who dealt with the symptoms of covid far longer than most. We thought her 4-5 months of lingering and ongoing symptoms were finally gone for good. But, here now, after about 6 months of good health, her body reared its ugly head in the form of acute kidney failure and an inflamed pancreas. I have to say, this incident took my breath away because I thought we had left that particular route of our life journey behind. We are now on what could be defined as a detour back again.

This time I found myself reeling with emotion. Is this going to be her future? Will she live a normal life punctuated periodically by health crisis? The bubble our family has lived in for so many years felt like it had developed a pin hole and was deflating around us. I found myself imagining many life altering scenarios which made me feel helpless and afraid. There are just too many “what if’s” to consider, and it overwhelms me.

The thing is, we have dealt with problems before, but those were things that affected us personally. Some were pretty tough to get though but we managed. We have had times where I felt a lot of fear where I could barely breathe. This is what happens to someone not previously challenged. What we discover is that with each challenge, we grow tougher, more resilient and more courageous. Our faith grows too!

Faith does not come to those who are sitting on a peaceful lagoon under a cloudless, sunny sky. There is no real need to check our faith then. We may talk philosophically and theologically about faith in those times, but it is a “thinking mans” lofty ideal rather than a work in progress. The test of faith comes to those who are seeking a strength they do not possess. A test of faith comes to those of us who have taken our unblemished good life for granted, assuming life would always be a joy filled ride. But then we blow a tire and swerve to avoid hitting a tree and end up in the ditch.

This morning after the phone call, I was wiping down my kitchen counters and my imagination was high jacked with troublesome thoughts of what could be. In those moments, I looked around our lovely home and realized how little any of the physical stuff really matters to me. Of course I have been in that mental zone for a long time now, but today it really spoke to me.

One does not realize it at the time, but when we decide to have a child, we are signing up for a life long journey filled with enormous love, parental pride, celebrations of achievements, and a rediscovering of the world through the eyes of a child which give us many joy filled moments. However, these moments are also punctuated by the wringing of hands and concern over another person’s welfare. Their pain is our pain, their disappointments are our disappointments, magnified! I think we actually feel their dips and lows in life more acutely than they do. I doubt I ever worried nearly as much about my own life outcomes as I have over my children. I had no idea how completely invested I would be in the life of our children and that emotional investment grew right along with the child. By the time they were adults, we were so melded into their life that we almost felt like we were having an amputation done when they left home. Of course, we adapted to this in time, but the commitment we feel toward them never leaves us.

What value does life hold without our loved ones? I was remembering the day of our daughters birth and how fervently I had prayed for her! Every day of my entire pregnancy I prayed for her and had total faith that God would reward me with a daughter, and He DID! I remember holding her in my arms and my joy spilled over onto everyone in the surrounding area.

This little girl was a force to be reckoned with. She was never the shy retiring little flower at the edge of a garden! She has held her own with her two older brothers and has held her own with her moral compass and principles in life. She is strong, decisive and focused. She has a confidence about herself that I did not achieve until I was much older. I admire her greatly.

She has been a blessing in more ways than I could ever have imagined during the gestational months I carried her! I always imagined her in my life as I grew old. Yet, there are never any guarantees! Thinking of this made my eyes well up. No guarantees! It makes me think of that old saying “When man makes plans, God smiles”. Indeed….we just never know.

There is a major thunder and rain storm passing over as I write this. High winds, heavy rain and lots of thunder. The angels are bowling in the sky, we used to say. It matches my mood.

I have talked with our daughter and she is being pumped with fluids by IV. 4 one liter bags so far! Thank you God for this day and age of modern medicine! Thank you God for the reminder that prayer and faith are sometimes rewarded. I have thought of so many people who have dealt with significant loss and my heart goes out to them. This Pandemic has altered the lives for most of us forever. I, for one, will never take anything for granted again, most especially the relationships and love of those who are near and dear to me.

Please, Lord, take care of our “little Tootie” as her Grandpa used to call her. Please also give comfort to all those who are burdened with so many of life’s problems. I pray that we can soon move forward and away from this Pandemic life so that we may live the way You intended for us to live. Thank you Lord for the reminder that we should live one day at a time. “Do not worry about tomorrow for today has enough troubles of it’s own.” So, TODAY, Lord, I pray for restored health!

Amen and amen!

jjb/5/28/2021