Thursday, April 26

Bright and Shiny People

Life has been a little rocky for my family the last few months. As some of you know, my dad had surgery at the beginning of February to remove a tumor from his brain. It went very well and his recovery was well underway when suddenly there was a bump in the road that set him back. Mentally he's good, thank you, God. But physically he is very weak and has a long recovery road ahead of him. Things were very scary for a few weeks, and I'm still not able to relax at all. It may be a long time yet before I can. But this week so far has been fairly smooth. Infinitesimally small signs of progress.

It been a very hard couple of months, and I've had some tough days. One particularly bad one when I just sort of lost it. But even through the bad days and the exhaustion there have been some bright moments. Actually there have been some wonderful people who made the moments bright. And this is my little homage to them, in no particular order.

To the friends who listened and delivered hugs and distraction and were just generally there when I needed someone to just, well, listen and be there. That is not a little thing, let me tell you. If someone out there that you know is going through a tough time, and maybe you feel helpless to be of practical assistance, please don't hesitate to LISTEN. You don't have to fix things for them if you can't. The therapeutic value of a good listener is beyond price.

To the social worker at the VA who will always be in my family's prayers. She did her job and beyond. She was a guiding light in our time of trouble. You tend to only hear the negative about certain professions and I certainly didn't know much about this one before. I can tell you now that there are really really GOOD people in that profession. How they manage to keep from burning out is beyond me.

To my coworkers, bosses and supervisors who took a huge weight from my shoulders. You trusted me to be there and to do my job well when I could. And when I had to be elsewhere you understood. Not by one word, deed, thought or implication did I ever feel pressured. This whole thing would have been unbearable if I had had to choose. I didn't.

To the folks who have come into our home for nursing and therapy. Yeah, its your job. But you do it well and with compassion. You do it with understanding too, helping us find ways to make this work. And you did so with so little fuss that it felt almost seamless.

To the family members who took time to help us meet appointments, make things safer in the home, gave us a needed break from responsibility now and then, or just called to say that we were all in your thoughts and prayers ... we are blessed to have you in our lives.

To the guy who fixed that dent in my car and while he was at it fixed the squealing in my brakes without even saying anything ... yes I noticed, and yes it was appreciated. A moment of your time, maybe; but another small weight from my shoulders.

To the squirrel guys who walked into more than they expected when they came to deal with our little problem in the attic. You not only showed up when we needed you, you acted with grace and compassion. You'll get paid in cash for the job you came for; you'll get paid in memories and prayers for the rest.

To Kelly, my cat, who put up with benign neglect while everything was going on, things you didn't understand. And even though you HATE change and upheaval, you have stayed sweet and affectionate.

There are so many more people who did little things, things so small that they've probably forgotten about them. But those small things, person by person, action by action, have added up. Truly there are angels, and they walk amongst us.

Saturday, April 14

Pictures and Other Stuff

First and foremost, a picture of the April 1 (no foolin'!) CB meet in Crystal City, VA. Starting at the left and going around are Dee, RSS, Moe (CC's sister), CC, her friend Karen, JenB and Moi. I take extremely bad pictures so please ignore that corner of the photo. We met up at a restaurant called King Street Blues in the Crystal City Mall. It was nearly the only thing open since the Mall normally caters to the office crowd and this was a Sunday. So if you are planning to visit there sometime, go on a weekday. But we had a great time. Dee, CC and JenB provided presents!! In the form of books, chocolate and bookmarks. Boy do those girls know their CBs or what? Also margaritas were consumed as was bread pudding. We'll be remembering that bread pudding for a long time to come.

Second, take a look at the plant on the right and the close up below this paragraph. This is a plant that my mom grew from a cutting, taken from my sister's plant which she in turn grew from a cutting taken from my aunt. Nobody remembers for sure what its called anymore. I can tell you that mom has been nursing this plant along for a lot of years and it only just recently decided to bloom for her. The flowers are tiny star shapes, as you can see, that bud in the form of a pentagon. They are real as can be but have a waxy feel to them. Also a very strong, kinda spicy smell. If anyone recognizes it we would appreciate it if you'd let us know what its called. My aunt thought it was something like hoya but she's not sure.

Lastly, and completely unrelated to the photos, I recently reread Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October. I'd read it waaaay back when it first came out in the 80s and enjoyed it. Don't know what possessed me to check it out of the library recently but I'm glad I did because its a darned fine read. Okay, a lot of info dump. But even that doesn't bother me so much because it helps set the mood of the story for me. In fact I would have said that I really didn't care for info dump in a book but I have to say Clancy did a fine job with it. It reminds me of watching CSI on tv and watching them use cool gadgets and mix chemicals and stuff. I have no clue what they are really doing, but I like watching it. Oh, and as an aside, my mother once met a guy who claimed he was Tom Clancy's brother. Mom says he was very convincing so maybe he really was. I don't suppose that's really all that interesting is it?

Sunday, April 8

Family, Gotta Love 'em ... I Suppose

I'll start this blog entry by saying, very sincerely, that I have a wonderfully close and caring family. I'm very lucky in this respect. I don't want anyone getting the wrong idea, that I might not appreciate how blessed I am. I do know. Honest.

But nobody has the power to make me crazy faster. And nobody else thinks they have a God given right to do so. Why is that? Why is it that the people who love you most seem determined to send you to the funny farm? I sometimes find myself wishing for a nice dysfunctional family that ignored each other. Okay, not really. *sigh* Its just a little fantasy I indulge in once in a while.

I was having a conversation with my mom, with whom I really do have a great relationship - she's the best - and we were talking about how mom is still friends with girls she knew when she was a kid. I mean they've been friends for more than 50 years, how cool is that? Well I don't have 50 year friendships, mostly because I'm not 50 yet; but I do have one really tight 25+ years friendship. Maybe its been 28? I've lost count. And I have in the last few years collected a few more friendships of the type I really hope will last a good long time. You can never tell about that.

So talking to mom about her friends and talking about my friends, old and new, and I realized that a close family relationship is important but the person who doesn't have other good people in their life is the person who is really missing out on something. Because as great as family is, well they all have too much emotional baggage invested of their own. And family feels way too comfortable with their status so they feel free to be annoying. Plus which having known you your whole life they think they know you when in reality they know you just well enough to punch your buttons.

But friends ... friends care just enough to listen without telling you what to do. Or just enough to know when you need to not talk. The best situation is to have many different friends, to varying degrees. That way you aren't dumping too much on one person all the time. That's important. Because unlike family your friends are there by choice so they are relationships you have to be careful not to take for granted.

But I do love my family. I just need my little fantasy once in a while.