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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Walk, Ride, Walk

It was going to be interesting, this visit to see a doctor. The DMV, after my collision with the Yellow Cab, had ordered that I take a driving test and get a doctor's declaration that I'm fit to drive and so here I was sitting in the doctor's office, not knowing what to expect. Before I'd even met the doctor his nurse came in to take my blood pressure. She also had a queer looking device. "What's that?" I asked. "This is an EKG." she answered, and then explained how it would measure something or other about the heart.

After that I said, "Everything OK?" She smiled and said, "The doctor will talk to you about it." When he stepped in I immediately liked him, told him why I was there, and that I'd not been to see a doctor since I broke my hip about ten years ago. "I've relied on prayer all my life," I said. "I believe that clean living and clear thinking keep a person healthy but..." and then explained how the car accident had required a doctor's OK for me to drive in order to keep my driver's license.

All I remember about that visit was Dr. D's gentle manner. I instinctively trusted him, but I admit being somewhat surprised to hear him say, "I've ordered a wheel chair for you to go down to the ER." Since his office was in the hospital it was only a matter of going down the elevator and before I knew it I was on my way, along for a strange ride. The next five days I had a "vacation" totally out of my known world.

Along the way I kept thinking that God was with me. I wasn't afraid. I didn't balk at what was happening or what was being done for me. I just knew, as I had known moments after the accident, that "there is some good reason for all this." With the Psalmist, I said, "Whither shall I go from Thy presence...If I make my bed in hell, even there shalt Thou guide me." And so here I am, home again with a strange little device implanted in my chest called a Pacemaker.

All this for the privilege of driving a car? No, I think it was another example of how God meets our needs right where we are spiritually and mentally. A stubborn adherence to claim a position in the understanding of Truth that I had not yet earned vs. taking the temporary steps to prolong my earthly days without being a burden to my family. I chose the latter.

All through life I see that we either walk or ride. As long as we're moving forward, embracing life and its opportunities, it matters not much the means by which we progress. To my dear family, friends and fellow bloggers I share my philosophy:

"Trust in God and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths." I'm thanking God for His guidance, His love, and His care wherever there is a human need. Knowing this I walk, sometimes ride, and then walk again. Life is always interesting. With the knowledge that God is with us, it's always good!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tapping Into Knowledge

From the very start I have loved schoolrooms. But I don't mean only the ones with four walls, a door and blackboard, although those would have to be included in my affections. I simply want to learn in the easiest way possible. Good teachers are essential along with libraries and educational media. My problem is that I can't get beyond the initial peeks. I get side-tracked and before long my house is littered with partially read books, magazines, newspapers, CD's, DVD's and the contents of the daily mail delivery.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm interested in nearly everything but not to the point of giving many things a careful, dedicated uninterrupted study on a daily basis. I'd like to be able to glance at a book and take in its pertinent points without giving it the time required for reading it through. One exception to that is the savoring of a good novel in which I can lose myself to another life. But for sheer knowledge I'm lazy about what others have written. Sit me down with a pad and pen or in front of a computer and my tapping-in to ideas opens a way for sorting out the problems of life apart from academia.

I just this morning read that the Bible is still the world's best selling book and, for me, I find moments to explore its treasures every day. Like a cozy fireplace, where no wood-burning fire is identical to another, I can sit and ponder passages I've read hundreds of times before and get new meaning out of them. Then again I've found answers to deep questions in simple statements that come undocumented and anonymous that give me great insight and inspiration. One such thought is this: "God is that Being whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere." I don't know who first uttered that idea, but it suits me just fine to think that God's center is right where I am at any given moment and yet unconfined to a personal me. It gives me a sense of intimacy and the feeling that the reason God is so hard to explain is that his Being is too close to examine objectively. Yet the idea that this is true for everyone and that even the stars and planets and galaxies can't provide a circumference for God's being,  lends a sense of infinite pleasure, purpose and progress to life.

I like the name Mind for God and the definition above indicates that God is my mind, but as divine Mind, God is still relatively unknown to me or anyone. That's why I don't get disturbed by anyone claiming to not believe in God. The proof for or against is up to us and we have a choice as to which side we'd like to come down on.

Still, I know enough of this Mind that I can feel totally comfortable with it. I can feel a relationship with it that might be similar to a Mother and Father's where there is total acceptance and love such as a very young child might feel. No requirement, no daily assignments, no pressure to grow and learn, just daily acceptance of the circumstances whereby growth and learning can take place.

Tapping In is what I call my favorite occupation, even though I have a long way to go in order to get more than the milk of what is there.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pajama Party Time

If I ever get transferred to a nursing home, (please, let that not be!) I will miss most the fun of having overnight guests. My bedroom has two beds in it and one wide screen TV. If I could have foreseen such a thing in my childhood bedroom I'd have swooned! Instead, on the rare occasions I had a girlfriend over to spend the night we'd lie awake for hours talking about everything under the sun and laughing in the dark until Daddy would come in and say, "Quiet down, girls, the rest of us want to get some sleep!"

Nowadays Katie, my youngest granddaughter, comes over once in a while and we each fix our own refreshments to take to bed and watch TCM movies one after another until I wake up about 2 am with the TV still going, turn it off, put a coverlet over Katie and her little dog, Dolce, and turn in for the rest of the night.

Katie's choice of entertainment may include modern movies with a boyfriend but her preference is in the old-time genre. TCM is right down the line for both of us. There are two great features to this channel: no commercials and black and white photography. The story lines may sometimes be contrived and predictable but they please us by taking us back to the times I well remember and the ones Katie wishes she had grown up in. She knows the old/young actors as well as I and has her favorites, Robert Young, Dana Andrews, Robert Mitchem, and especially Humphrey Bogart.  Of course, Marilyn Monroe, Katharine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, Elizabeth Taylor and others too. Never mind that they are all either dead or old and wrinkled by now, they will be ever young and beautiful on the screen.

I like to glance over at Katie as she sits up against her pillow watching. She herself has a beauty that surpasses the best of those she's watching and she knows it but her aspirations, so far, leap over any inclination to stardom and fix on a handsome lover, (the current heartthrob maybe?) who might become her husband, be the father of her children and live out a happily ever after with her. Katie has a good job in a flower shop and can stand up to the best of floral designers but she'd trade it all for a man who would take care of her and their family in the old-fashioned way.

Right now she can taste of that vicariously with her older sister, Jennifer, who is married to a handsome young Costa Rican and has an adorable baby boy, little Jack Carlo. We see a lot of this little family and Katie loves being "Aunt Katie."

In looking back over the years I can feel fulfilled. This morning I wound the grandfather clock Wally G. gave me when we moved off my beloved ranch in Oregon. The clock,  a handsome Colonial one, was a consolation prize Wally G. bought me for leaving our paradise. Life goes on chapter by chapter and now the days are coming closer to an end. Still, at 86 I can hope to see my great grandies, five so far, grow into their teens. How cool would that be?

My bedroom works for female friends too. Joanie, my friend from St. Louis, will be coming the end of this month. Arlene, who lives in Florida, stayed a few days last year, and Hannah came not long ago from Boston. Erin, my San Francisco granddaughter stays with me when she comes, and my one and only grandson, Jordan, comes now and then from Glendale. Kimmie and Mitch live in Monrovia and they come with their two darlings, Samantha and Max. April and Jaime who live in Santa Barbara visit me with their baby boy, Kingston, now and then. Rosalynd has a new baby girl, Amy, but she and Gray live in New York. Of course there are my sons, Wally and David along with their dear wives, Nancy and Susie. You've heard of Robin in my last blog. She and her Paul live only a few steps away. I could have any one or two of them overnight should the occasion arise. But not in a nursing home.

No, I may be using a cane but I can get around the house and on short walks without it. I feel quite fit and although I never lack for something to do in my little creekside haven, I'm always open to overnight company. When we get through our reminiscences and laughs we can always turn on the TV and watch an old movie. One way or another we can all be young together when it's pajama party time at Grandma Joy's house.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Travel at Home and Abroad

My grandmother was once told by a fortune teller that she would travel abroad before death but, though other predictions came true, the travel one didn’t. (I sometimes wonder if Grandmother didn’t put off travel abroad to put off death? She lived to age 89.) With no such soothsayer’s prediction for me I decided in my late fifties to take a tour to China. It was the first and most exotic of my few excursions beyond our shores.

Nowadays I am content to travel by means of television, computer, print and picture page, and whatever means of concrete transportation such as car, rail or plane that can get me there and back within a day or two. At home I can stretch my mind, if I choose, to boundless heights and depths, even to thoughts of timeless, spaceless being. The opportunities for arm chair travel offer fantastic feasts and feats. Wow!

Yesterday the weather was pure perfection and I took a day trip to the island of Catalina with my daughter, Robin, who had been given a free ticket because of July 3rd being her birthday. I loved it! All the adventure, mingling with humanity, color, excitement, freedom and fun we could possibly pack into one day, awaited us and, best of all, without packing a single bag!

Going anywhere with Robin assures one that the occasion will be fully documented by a slide-show of beautiful picture remembrances. Her trusty little Canon camera captures it all. Far from slowing her down, (I with my new cane,) she was often behind me caught up by some boat, seagull, tanned skin beach bather or colorful beach umbrella that might someday appear in one of her paintings. Plants, flowers, even cobbled streets and tree trunks are of interest to her, but a little boy bent over a dispenser of fish food on the pier might even form the centerpiece of a future painting. 

Many of the people we encountered had something in common with this daughter of mine. They also were born on the 3rd of July and had been given free trips to the sunny island. Evidently, the tourist industry has found this a good come-on for customers and, wearing the Happy Birthday tag, she got a lot of birthday greetings. 

I too was continuously reminded of that day, rather night, when the doctor said, “You wanted a little girl? Well, you got one!” The fact that I would enjoy vicarious pleasure in her becoming an artist someday, as I’d hoped to be, was a joy yet to be discovered. But that she would become the dearest companion of my life puts a cap on my mother’s dream of a baby girl after two great little boys.

Robin has an interest not only in art but in humanity. She often donates her work to worthy causes, especially for women. She always finds opportunity to connect with individuals. As with the two men, both born on July 3rd, we met at a shuttle stop waiting for a ride to the Buffalo Nickel Restaurant where free meals awaited the birthday patrons. The wait proved to be lengthy enough that we got well acquainted with these men, Walter and Leon, and the fact that they were each 90+ put them in my age bracket so we could relate with the olden days. This made not one iota of difference to Robin. She was as interested in them, maybe more so, than if they'd been in her own age bracket. It ended up that we sat together at lunch and had a delightful visit.

We spent the rest of the day shopping (not buying), walking along the streets, stopping to rest here and there, and finally finding a sidewalk table where we could try an unusual repast, talk with a friendly waiter and twin women at the next table who shared Robin’s birthday. That put a pleasant cap on the day before embarking the ship to sail home. 

Robin is that daughter I could not have wished for because she exceeds all my dreams. That little strawberry blonde whose “tony pail” hair swished back and forth as she strode down the hill to her school bus stop is the grown-up girl who will always be young because she has the gift of joy and love in taking what life offers with immense gratitude and appreciation.

Now, this blog, which stated out as a piece on travel, has become more about my traveling companion. That, too, is a most important element to any trip, at home or abroad. I think someday the world will know my Robin through her art because she puts her heart and soul in it and people see and feel that. She touches other hearts through their eyes. 

For now, I’m looking forward to opening my e-mail and finding a slideshow of our day and travels at home and abroad. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How To Handle the Downsides

Lest anyone think there are no downsides to my theme of getting older is getting better, let me say there are. The biggest one is the general belief about old age. That is not good. It's a hard sell preaching the better sides of growing old. Many abhor it to the point of dying too young and often I've heard people say, "I wouldn't want to live to be 100!"

The only reason I can see for such a declaration is that those people envision all the negatives instead of the positives. All through life we do that, so what's new? As my few readers can see, I'm definitely on the positive side, yet once in a while I have to do a bit of finagling to turn some negatives around. I believe it's wise not to attempt the impossible or improbable. To make the best of life you need to keep excuses out of the way. That just makes sense to me.

I recall a time when my husband and I went to see a man we had admired from a distance. We had heard a talk given by him and were so impressed that a man of his age could present such joy and vigor we wanted to know him better. We'd made an appointment yet upon our arrival his housekeeper invited us to sit in his drawing room and wait. After some length of time we wondered what the problem might be. At last he came in to see us and he was not looking good. He was using crutches and struggling to get to his chair, yet he greeted us with a broad smile and said, "I apologize for my appearance. I have no excuse but to say I'm doing the best I know how and that's all the angels are doing now-a-days!"

Funny how encounters with certain people leave such an impression on us. Our visit turned out to be very pleasant and enriching without further reference to his problem. How different have been other encounters where the person has unloaded a tale of woe trying to make hay out of misery!

Would you like to hear of my recent "downside?" I'll make it brief. A week ago I started out the day with a stop at the gas station. After filling up the tank of my little Vibe I proceded to go out the drive to take care of some other business. Now, I've been driving without serious incident since I was fifteen. I know the rules and so I'm sure I did what I always do, look both ways before emerging onto the street. So where did the yellow cab come from? I could swear it just materialized out of nothing because I didn't see it until I heard a loud bang and felt a sudden stop. Then the cab driver pulled off to the side and I managed to get near enough to where he parked in order sort out the damage. He was a young man. Rushing over to me he said, "Are you all right?" No blame, though it was obviously my fault.

The whole incident was taken care of harmoniously, including the help of a friendly policeman, a friendly tow-truck driver, a friendly insurance man and a friendly rental car agency. The story is not ended. The car is being repaired. So is the yellow cab. No one was seriously hurt and I can see a few upsides to the whole picture. I prefer to focus on these. But one of the downsides is that I'm again being reminded of my age. Although I have an impecable driving record I now have to go to the DMV with a doctor's report on my physical and mental condition and take a driver's exam.

At first I was tempted to throw in the towel and give up driving altogether. I can go wherever I want with the help of my daughter who lives nearby, a transit system on our street, or a taxi. I might even still do that, but before I do I'll go ahead and take steps to restore my driving privileges. I'll let you know how it all turns out. Thank goodness for the Upsides. Every Downside has them. I'll keep remembering to do the best I can. Along with the angels.