Posted in Changes, Memory, technology

My Swiss Army….Phone

Recently I shopped for a new phone.  In the twenty plus short years, the mobile device that we carried like a bag in our car for making phone calls has morphed and become like a Swiss Army knife.

It was a Christmas present from my husband, my first cell telephone.  I can’t remember the year, but I can remember how excited I was to get it.  I hadn’t even considered getting one.  Its one feature: to make phone calls from where ever I was.  Picture a large receiver with a pullout antenna and a flip out mouth piece.  It awed me!

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Calling someone from my own traveling phone was pretty spectacular.  Of course, I had to punch in the phone numbers.  Most numbers I called were land lines and the only time I turned it on was when I was away from home.  I would have never considered actually using it while driving.

My second cell phone was years between that one.  I remember because I asked John to buy me a phone that wasn’t complicated.  I was intimidated by all the capabilities of the much smaller phone.  It actually did things besides just phoning.  By today’s standards, it was a dinosaur.  The “Roaming” term, we avoided on the phone because it would increase the phone bill.  There wasn’t a ‘data’ plan.

I remember when a camera was introduced on the phone.  That was awesome!  Texting…super wow!  We’d actually consider the keypad configuration when picking a phone.

The capabilities of cell phones seem to top themselves each time a new phone was introduced.  Simply calling from a distance, away from a land line, wasn’t the goal anymore.  We had to ‘connect’ in other ways.

Now it has so many tools!  Honestly, when I pick out a new phone the most important feature for me is the camera.  I’ll go straight for the camera settings to see what it can do.  The rest of the phone’s features is just icing on the cake.  I do consider the price.  I’ll go for the least expensive, best phone I can find…with a good camera!

Recently my mom had to have surgery and while waiting in the waiting room, I did what most people do . . . people watch.  There were families and friends visiting and then there were the readers.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in waiting rooms there are less magazines then there once were.  The culprit, I believe, is the phone.

Is it generational?  Maybe.  I’m not sure the younger generation who’ve grown up with phones as a source of entertainment, would consider picking up a newspaper or a magazine to read, when it is so much easier to search for a topic or hit an app to find an interest.

 

Technology changes our lives.  Once the printing press was a technological wonder.  I remember the first time I witnessed a microwave working.   How awesome it was to watch a taped movie at home.  However, I’m chasing rabbits because I know lots of people could out do me with the ‘Remember when.’  Back to phones!

Not too long ago, a younger teacher laughed when I called it a ‘telephone.’  I’m not sure when the ‘tele’ was dropped from the word.  It was good enough for Superman!  (Even that may be mythified and you can use your phone to research it).

 

Have you considered how many times your phone is touched because of the different uses it has?

It’s my calendar.  I add appointments, meetings, and party dates, times, and locations.  I don’t keep any kind of paper calendar anymore.  Once, I would have had a large calendar on my refrigerator to write on.  I’d take the time to pick one out at the end of the year with really pretty pictures to inspire me.  I’ve let that habit fade away.

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It’s my picture album.  No longer do I have to send off my film to be processed.  The only albums I have now are all the old ones before digital cameras were added to the phone. Some of the old pictures are grainy and have lost their original color tone.  Other photos are in picture boxes or baggies hidden in boxes in the closet.

Before the camera phone, if you are or knew the third, fourth, etc. child of a family, I bet there aren’t a lot of pictures taken of that child.  Parents simply didn’t have the time or energy to find a camera to preserve that child’s history in pictures (unlike the first or second child) unless it was a special occasion.  Not so of parents today.  I even ask Cam when he’s out doing something to send me a picture, so I can see a part of his life.

When Cam was a baby, we snapped away.  When the video camcorder became our norm, we didn’t drag out the camera.  We’d make home movies.  It was when he was a freshman that I realized I had hardly any photos of him between the age of nine and fourteen.  I think that’s about the time that cameras were the norm on cell phones.

The night John passed, Cam took out the phone and snapped a few pictures of John’s tattoo.  It wasn’t as easy to get the pictures off phones in 2007 as it is today, so somewhere that phone is put away with the pictures stored in the memory.  Today, I have thousands of pictures stored in my cloud.  Occasionally, I’ll go to Walgreens, plug my phone in to the picture maker, and print a few special prints to put in frames.

Home movies on discs, tapes, or film are a relic of the past.  No more video cameras to pull out, carry around, and shoot.  If you aren’t born in a time where the cell phone video has always been, you’ll remember how silent everyone would get when the video camera was introduced into the situation.

Afterward, we’d sit around our television and watch what was recorded and laugh.  I still love popping in an old VHS tapes and watching the home movies.  (Yes, I do have a VHS player).  Even more fun, loading the old 8mm film and watching the silent, laughing, silly people of yesteryear.  Part of my wedding reception was shot in super 8 by John’s dad.

Today, simply hold up the phone, tap, record, upload and share.  We can watch or send our videos out into the world instantly.  It’ll be interesting to see how the future generations judge our past videos.  Vacations, road trips, pets, nature, people, wild animals, silly stunts; we record it all!

Grandparents no longer have to wait for the mail to be delivered to receive a picture long distance.  Sharing has become as easy sending a picture across a message.  We post pictures on Facebook, Instagram  (I’m showing my age here because I haven’t learned how to use Snapchat) or some other social media.  Once a picture is uploaded, it’s fair game for whoever wants to share or capture it.  It no longer belongs to us personally.

Cameras…yes, they’re my favorite part of the phone besides using it to talk.  I adore taking vacation pictures and ‘selfies’ of my self on trips. I’m finding myself reminiscing as Facebook shows me “On This Day” from years past.

Then there are the everyday tools like the calculator, memo pad, address book (contacts), phone book, and whatever other type of tool you’d like to add.  I don’t keep a phone book around the house anymore.  I’ll just search for an address or a type of business I want and instantly hit the button for the phone to call that number.  Most of my friends numbers I couldn’t dial if needed because I don’t have their phone numbers memorized.  Funny, I can rattle off phone numbers of family members land lines or old places I worked because my fingers dialed them so often . . .  753-6496.  My favorite…663-1325.  Today, no one could answer.

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Recently, I went out with friends and their daughters.  The conversations that come up with a bunch of women are hilarious.  The phone was part of the entertainment and conversation.  We looked up urban slang and laughed loudly.  I’ll not go into what we looked up.  That’ll remain private!

We use them for banking, shopping, paying bills, and even sending money to our friends to pay our part of a tab.  My church has an app for tithing.  No longer do we need to carry cash, checks, or even a credit card.

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There are so many apps that make our life more dependent on our phone.  I do my bible devotions, read my email, check my security system, listen to music, plan road trips, check the weather, and keep count of my steps, to name just a few on one screen of my phone.  I don’t even wear a watch because I use my phone to keep track of the time.  It’s my alarm to get up. (Okay, its many alarms to wake up).   I can order food or a ride with just a simple tap.  Tapping….our way of life.

 

I use Google Maps to find my way.  Sometimes it is just across town to find a garage sale or while traveling on vacation.  Early on when it was new, I’d followed that GPS voice where ever she told me to turn.  I now know that she doesn’t always take me the best way, so I’ll ignore her directions to turn and follow my own instincts and make her reroute me.

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I teach my kids at school to read a real physical map for math.  I love their excitement when the Texas map is unfolded in all its glorious size and we use the population information and find the towns on the map.  For some children, it is the first time they touch an actual map because we use the digital one so often.

When Cameron was young, we’d give him a map in the back seat and have him ‘navigate’ us.  I remember driving with him in downtown Dallas when he was younger.  I was lost and he’d tell me where to turn.  Thankfully, we eventually did find our way to our destination with a lot of stress on my end.  He remained calm.

Gone are the days when we can escape from work and people.  It is a decision to ‘unplug.’  There’s areas where ‘reception’ is hard to get.  Mostly, we are reachable.  We compare and share our lives through social media and the phone makes it so that we can do it a dozen time each day.

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Parents today have it easier to contact children.  It makes me smile when I hear a parent call their dependent child to check ‘where’ they are.  In my generation and before, we totally could escape from our parents at least for a little while.  We’d use the line, “There wasn’t a phone or I didn’t have any money to call with.”  Once we were out of the house, we were only with the people we actually were with.  If we had ‘car trouble,’ on the road, we waited for help to stop.  Safety and security has improved with the carrying of the cell phone.

I’ll admit if I go more than four days without talking to my son in New York, I’ll make contact.  It may be a simple text or a phone call where we chat, but it makes my mom’s heart happier.  All those ‘crazy’ what if’s are put to rest.  It’s a ‘parent thing’ for you young ones if you haven’t developed that insane urge yet.

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I guess the funniest thing I notice about phones is how we ignore the people we are with to see what’s going on in other people’s lives.  I admit that I have done it too.  Checked my phone while I’m with other people.  I don’t know why we do it.  Do you?

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The phone isn’t used, just to ‘reach out and touch someone’ (You have to be older to get that one), but a significant tool that moves us along in our life.  So how many times a day do you touch your phone?

“Tele” over a distance.  “Phone” a speech sound.

It’s a wonderful invention that is progressing at an astounding rate.  Its initial use was for conversation.  Remember to use it for that also.  Call someone and invite them over.   Life is better when we actually ‘do life’ with other people.

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Posted in Changes, Memory

With Love, Paul and David

I started with six brothers.  I’m down to three now.  Three have passed on and all were sudden deaths without a chance to say goodbye.

My family is a blended one.  My dad had one boy and my mom had three when they married.  I’m the actual first child of my parent’s union.  Two boys followed me.  I’d like to say that I had the perfect secure childhood, but I didn’t.  My parents flittered job to job which means we moved more times than children should have to.  I was always the ‘new kid’ at school.  The gaps in our education from moving school to school took their toll on us.  I was the only child out of the seven that actually finished high school with a degree and graduated from college.

My brothers are all extremely hard-working, wonderfully smart, and full of common sense.  My parents made sure we all had a good work ethic.  It’s the only way we could survive in a household of our size.  We all had chore lists to do or if our parents were running a theater, then we’d be the janitorial staff, work the concession stand, and could run the projector.    Our parents both worked, which means we took care of each other a lot.  There never was enough money to go around for bills and food.  My parents did the best they could.

I’m looking backward as an adult and making speculations because as a kid, I never knew that.  We were mostly a happy lot.  We played and fought.  Sometimes the fighting got physical and punches flew or pushing happened.   I remember once throwing a toy at my younger brother, Johnny.  He had that small scar on his eyebrow for the rest of his life.  You should have seen us piled up in our station wagon.  I’m sure we were a sight, filling every seat and hanging out the windows when the car stopped!

I remember the good times.  Running around the neighborhood and playing in the woods, swinging on grapevine.  We’d play cowboys and indians or cops and robbers chasing each other and shooting each other with sticks.  Johnny was the one I remember playing with the most.  I can’t count the number of times, we’d play with those small plastic horses: galloping them on the floor and making neighing sounds.  As my brothers matured and drivers licenses happened, I remember riding with Paul and doing donuts in parking lots.  Timmy giving me a ride on the back of the motorcycle.  That happened just once because Mom was furious with him for taking me for a ride.

Sitting around the table at dinner and the boistious noise that ensued as bowls were passed and all were straining to be heard as we talked over one another.  Cleaning the kitchen was always done in pairs or in threes.  No one ever had to clean the kitchen by themselves.  These are the memories that make me smile.

Steven, the oldest, left the house when I was about ten.  My dad signed for him to join the Marines when he was seventeen because he seemed to always be running away when I was a child.  That decision changed Steven’s life.  He was a career Marine, staying twenty-eight years before retiring from the corp.  Steve would stop back in the family while on leave and I remember small gaps of time with him as I grew up.  The last was when I was a junior in high school.  After that, meetings were brief.  He always called me “Sis” never Becky.    I loved that he thought I was special.

David is the baby.  Enough said.  I think he got away with the most.  He’d say that wasn’t so, but I’d have to disagree.  I don’t remember him having to do many chores.  As an adult, David is precious.  He is generous to a fault and has a wonderful sense of humor.  I love his deep laugh and his love for his family.

Between those two, we have Timmy, Paul, Mike, Me, and Johnny.  The boys used to accuse me of being spoiled.  Maybe it was so, but I don’t believe I took advantage of it.  There has to be a perk to growing up in a household full of boys.

I don’t have much to say about Timmy and Mike.  I have to say I don’t like all my brothers.  Love, yes, love is there.  Some people are hard to connect with and the thought comes to mind, “How can I be related to that person?”   Simply personality differences.  Thankfully, the connection happens in a large group and we are a large family.

Johnny, one below me on the ladder of our family, was one of my favorite playmates as a child.  We shared a room when we were young and would hide under the covers when we were afraid of the dark.  We’d play horses and army men. Later, we were coconspirators.  We’d roll our eyes at our grandparents when they made silly comments.  He liked to tease.  When he hit about fifteen, the girls started to find him attractive.   He had the biggest ego.  I used to say, when he passed a mirror, he’d stop and say, “Damn, I look good.”  He left to join the Army not long after I married.  He was gone for long stretches of time and I missed seeing him mature.  When he did come back as an adult, he loved to cook.  He was the adventous brother.

Paul is the glue that holds us together.  He’s the humorist.  Need to calm a situation?  Humor is the best way to bring it back to normal and he’s good at it.  He doesn’t mind being silly and making us laugh until our tummy hurts.  He’s smart and can figure out how to fix a problem.  He is the hardest working brother I have.  He always has things to do.  His legacy is all the people named after him.  I don’t know how he did it, but there are so many of his kids and grandkids named after him that I tease him that the world doesn’t need any more ‘Pauls.’  He says, “Oh, no!  There’s always room for another Paul.”  He truly is our rock and I love him deeply.

Now there are three gone.  Timmy died of a heart attack.  Johnny died while scuba diving.  His offical cause of death was drowning.  This week, Steven, died of a heart attack.

My mind drifts back when for a brief time we were young and all lived in the same home.  That ended about forty-four years ago when Steven left and slowly, over time, we all moved away from one another.  It was rare when we were all together at the same place.  There are a few pictures with us together.

When Timmy died, we took a picture of us together after the funeral.  It’s become a tradition to do that after funerals.  Today, there were three of us.  Yes, there should be four and Mike is missing out of the picture and I don’t forsee him ever joining us.

 

So today, David, me, and Paul, took a picture and we smiled and laughed because we know how precious our time is together.

 

With love, to my remaining brothers.

Posted in Blessings, Changes, Memory

To Cam on Your 27th Year

For Moms … Babies are precious.  Toddlers are cute.  Preteens are awkward.  Teenagers can be exasperating and fun.  College students are inspiring.  Young adults are humorous.  When the other side of mid-twenties roll around, we stop and take stock of how fast time is moving.  I want to say ‘Stop,’ but then I wouldn’t get to move forward and see all those other stages ahead that, I’m sure, will be equally wonderful!

Cam…. It’s hard to grasp that your twenty-seven today.  Looking backward,   I’ve enjoyed all the stages of your life.  Who knew so many years ago, that time would move so fast?  I know …   All those mom’s who’ve gone on before me!

I’m appreciative of the person you are now.  I miss seeing you.  So much to miss; a hug, sharing meals, teasing remarks, your quirky sense of humor, hanging out watching television and making comments, simple talks, and watching you putter around the house and play with the dog.  I miss that Cameron smile.

Today, I’m remembering and treasuring the precious moments of your childhood.   I’m smiling recalling the joy of your birth and the fun of you growing up.

Your love of Trains and Thomas.  Playing with Legos, Pokemon cards, and all night video games.  Being creative making movies, going to church, and band filling your days.  Your first girlfriends and heart breaks.  Your strength as you grieved your dad.  How much I missed you when you moved away to college, but loved hearing about all you learned as you moved into independence.  Incredible determination dealing with kidney failure and the transplant.  Your first apartment.

I am awed by your positive outlook on life.  I never doubted that you would and will succeed in whatever you set out to accomplish.

That being said, thank goodness for cell phones!  I’m so happy that you share with me your thoughts and the decisions you’re making.  I like hearing about your work and what you’re learning and doing.  I enjoy listening to your views on politics and what’s going on in the world.  Believe it or not, I do appreciate your opinion.  It makes me happy hearing about the small details of your days.  I like talking with you about what you’re making for dinner and how roommate living is going.  Descriptions of Zipps and his antics makes me smile.  I can picture him climbing and scrambling around your room being his cat self, slightly annoying.

I appreciate when I visit, you giving of your time and entertaining me around town.  Sitting with you in coffee shops and having dessert is a ‘sweet’ moment in time.  (pun intended)…. walking our legs off and being a good sport about directing me through subways.  I thank you for these sweet memories.

I am simply a proud mom and I love you!  Happy 27th year of celebrating your birth.

Our ‘traditional’ pose

 I know your dad is proud of you too!

Posted in anticipation, Changes, Memory

December Has Arrived

It’s hard to believe how time can fly by so quickly.  Another season is about to change while life seems to be puttering by without any major change happening in my life.  The beginning school months have come and gone and the Christmas season is upon us.

As a teacher, August is a whirl of activity preparing for the new school year as summer fades away.  September seems to drag its feet as new routines are taught and carried out. I become more accustomed to early mornings and working on lessons to be taught and the preparation that is involved seems endless.   Summer, now is only a sweet memory, and the next significant time off from school is the Thanksgiving break, which looms off in the distance.  I swear September and May are the longest months in a teacher’s life!

However, September finally lumbers away.  October, with the anticipation of Autumn activities, moves much faster.  Routines are now established and the classroom runs more efficiently, and maybe I have gotten used to those early mornings.

November arrives and the week of vacation beckons for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Counting down the days in anticipation, makes the weeks fly by.  Finally, the Friday before Thanksgiving came and joyously staff and students left the building, knowing how quickly nine days will fly by with activities.

For myself, I looked forward to staying up late and sleeping in without an alarm to prod me out of bed.  I love to watch morning television shows and laze around without any specific task to move me out of the house.

Just as promised, the days moved like The Flash on a mission and school started again.

Smiling, the Christmas break draws near.  Which brings me back to today.  Tomorrow is December 1st!  Fifteen days to our next extended break.

December… a month I get through.  With it brings all sorts of memories; happy and sad.  We’ve had the normal family Christmases and those sweet moments linger in my mind.

A little blond, Cam, singing carols in front of the Christmas tree.  The joy of his face when he got a bike or a train, and then when older, an XBox.  The passing out of presents and watching one person at a time open them, watching with slow smiles as the gift was received.  Hardly ever being able to surprise John with an unknown gift because…One, I have trouble picking out a gift.  Two because John and Cameron (had) have an uncanny ability to guess what I bought by shaking the gift!  So it was rare that I actually surprised those two.

My favorite memories; eating Christmas dinner with his family with all the noise and teasing going back and forth.   After dinner, the gifts and cards were passed out.  The Christmas card always contained a crisp fifty dollar bill from his parents and afterward, we’d go back to the kitchen for dessert.

I try to remember those sweet memories more than the shattering Christmas week that brought the grief.  It’s hard to believe that this year will be nine years since I held his hand and said goodbye.  Missing never stops, but with time comes healing.  The new normal becomes regular life and with God’s help, I learn to count my blessings because I do have joy in my life.

This year, I won’t be here to visit the graveside.  I’m heading to see Cam in NYC.  My ticket is bought and I’m anticipating spending time with him and seeing the city in all of its Christmas splendor.  Having plans does have a way of brightening the immediate future.

My tree is up and I don’t expect to have gifts under it, but I’m enjoying the twinkling lights and the memories of the ornaments on it as I count down the days until the break.  I’m smiling and listening to Christmas music and December is coming.

 

 

Posted in Blessings, Memory

Happy Birthday, Cam!

Cam,

There are so many tiny moments that I have engraved in my memory of you growing up. Tiny moments printed on my mind.

Just thinking of these times melts my mom’s heart and makes me cry and smile at the same time.  I know your dad would be so proud of you!

It’s these precious moments that I wish I could bring back and experience them all again.

Your small hand reaching out to curl around my finger.

Watching your beautiful blues eyes watching me while you were feeding.

Seeing your first teeth emerge.

Watching you sleep.

Discovering you can sit up alone.

Watching your dad rock you in the recliner.

Pulling you in a wagon behind us.

Small legs toddling around the yard exploring.

Reading you stories at bedtime.

You obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine or any other train.

Waiting for trains to come through the train station.

Watching you play in the flowers instead of watching the baseball in the outfield.

Playing with papa and eating small cups of marshmallows and treats at Grannie’s house.

Driving you around trying to get you to sleep.

Singing Christmas songs by the tree.

Holding hands when walking to the car.

Playing with you in the bath tub.

Listening to your dad make up stories for you at bedtime.

Sliding down the hill on a box on a rare snowfall.

Watching you and your dad play video games.

Birthdays with cookie cakes.

Watching you be silly with friends and so very proud of how loyal you are to them.

Midnight runs to get Harry Potter Books when they were released.

Watching you find your strengths.

Waving out the back window in the truck.

Riding the trains together.

The joy of you and your dad riding roller coasters at Six Flags.

Watching you discover cooking and enjoying it.

Watching you become a child of God and grow in your faith.

TV’s and computers strung all over the house with boys attached to each one.

Going to Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings Movie premiers.

Watching you march at football games.

In the car with you when you learned to drive.

Enjoying your laughter.

Watching you perform in plays.

You and your dad making Zoey chase her tail.

Making movies in the backyard.

Waiting on me at Chick-fil-a and cow moments.

Seeing you discover girls and start to date.

Watching you give your testimony on the streets of New York City.

Grieving with you as you said ‘goodbye’ to your dad.

Rising to the challenges far beyond your years.

Driving away from you, trying not to cry, because you were so excited about going off to college.

Listening to your opinions even when we don’t agree.

Watching you mowing the yard with your head phones on.

Talking to you on the phone and so happy when you are talkative.

Trying on hats in Canada.

Enjoying traveling with you and sharing conversations.

Appreciating your sense of humor.

Loving your positive personality.

Watching your bravery and courage through hospital stays.

Listening to your future plans.

Seeing you develop your gifts.

Getting hugs from you.

Laughing with you!

Taking pictures in our ‘traditional’ pose.

As you continue to grow into the man that you are becoming, I am so happy that God chose me to be your mom.

I Love you….and I’m so proud of you!

Posted in Changes, Memory

There Is Beauty In Our Seasons of Life

I’ve been more aware of the different stages in people’s lives around me.

Seasons…

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Most of my friends are married.  I have a few divorced or widowed friends, but the majority have a spouse.  I’m a bit envious.  That’s where I imaged my life would be as I passed middle age now.

Many of my friends are empty-nesters.  Their children are off at college, or graduated and starting careers.  Some of their kids are married.  There are a few with older children still at home, but they are getting fewer.

This past week, I’ve had a friend, Sally, turn 50 and another, Katie, turn 60.  I happen to fall between their ages.  Both are relatively new grandparents.  The love for their grand babies is apparent in the smiles, gushing, and general pride of their children’s offspring.

 My single friends who are divorced split their time with their kids between the other parent.  I don’t know how that feels.  I’m sure sometimes loneliness is their companion, but it does allow for some alone time for themselves.

This week, I had a friend from my single group, go camping with her boyfriend.  Her Facebook posts made me smile.  How sweet it is to discover the idiosyncrasies of another person.  I look forward to that.

I wonder about the few people I know who are haven’t married.  Do they feel as I do?  Precious time slipping away and the longing to belong to another before death comes.  Some singles never feel the need for marriage, happy plugging along with their life.  I do understand the freedom to do whatever with the free time without having to ask anyone opinion.  It’s a ‘me’ centered lifestyle.  I am experiencing it too.  I’m happy to spend time alone when I like and find activities to do when I feel like being with people.

This week, I watched a young couple enjoying the beauty of a child.  Conversations seem to be centered around eating, sleeping, and playing.  I smiled understanding that working and raising a family is a bit stressing, but the joy of experiencing each second is priceless.  How fast the time flies!  When you’re experiencing the daily routines, it seems as if it’ll go on forever, but before you expect it, they’re grown and off, and you’ll wonder how it went so fast.

I love being a mom, but a mom’s role changes as a child ages.  At first, we simply teach and love, but gradually a hand is let go and freedom is given.  Hopefully, we set forth an example to be followed and improved on.  Love is there, but adulthood is too.   I love the man my son is and the one I know he will grow to be.  A thirty minute phone call from Cameron to simply talk about work, pets, and what’s going on in our life connects us when distance separates us.

I’ve enjoyed looking at all the pictures of families doing things on Spring break.  Cooking with their mom, geocaching, cruises, movies, and spending time with grandparents.  So many little snatches of their lives posted, comes together like a mosaic of life.  Frozen memories on a timeline.

Transitions are bound to hit every one’s life.  Mine at this point makes me feel out of control.  I go from eating everything in sight to forgetting to eat.  I try to remind myself that from every situation I’ve grown toward God and that He holds me dear.  This change is bound to bring positive change.

I’ve spent the Spring break week working on the house to sell.  I’ve had a list to follow, but doing one thing on the list leads to doing another task that’s not on the list.  I’ve worked endlessly this week and I do see progress, but I’m so tired and my body is sore from going up and down the ladder, painting, and generally being on my feet most of the day.  My arms have been getting their workout!

Cameron came home for two days.  The first one, we simply enjoyed each other’s company, but the second one, we went through his room, cleaning out closets and trying to pare down what to keep from his childhood and what to let go.  I smiled as a few childhood books that we read to him when he was young was kept as mementos.  He handed them to me and I couldn’t help smiling.  Sweet memories.

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My Childhood Treasures

Going through plastic bins in the garage, I found my own childhood treasures.  As I opened the plastic tub, I laughed!  There were treasures from a very early season in my life.  What in the world possessed me to tuck these things away?

A much-loved stuffed tiger with one eye missing and matted hair.  A very sixties flower print Tutu, I just had to have from Goodwill when I was about five or six because I wanted to be a dancer.  A few dolls, now with very deteriorated eyes, had to go, except one.  A plastic jewelry box with tiny rings and junk jewelry, I picked through.  Baby clothes and blankets, I kept.  I have to admit, I rescued the tutu from the garage sale pile and it’s back in my room.

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The sign that led John to me

At the bottom of the bin, I found the sign that I wore when I met John.  (Yes, I’m a bit sappy!)  His name is to the left of ‘Dorothy.’  After 35 years, I finally threw it away, but I did take a picture to treasure.

Another week and I should be finished and ready to put the house for sale.  I’m glad because I’m emotionally and physically tired. Tears were an outlet at church today.  I could feel them bubbling up on Friday and I should have let them go.  Instead, I held them in and they found their way out when I felt the most vulnerable.  I hate showing that part of myself.  I’m the ‘suck it up and deal with it girl.’

Thankful for Cheryl and Ty who happened to walk to where I was sitting.  (Thank you God, I needed contact).  She held my hand.  Isn’t it funny that such a small gesture can have a huge impact on our soul?  God built us for relationships.  Congregation singing today of “Amazing Grace…My Chains Are Gone” made me think of John.  It helped.

Wisdom comes through the many experiences of our lives.  We learn that wisdom through trials and over coming them.  One of my favorite verses is Romans 5:3-4

And not only that, but we also rejoice in our affliction, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.  (HCSB)

Sometimes, people share that wisdom.  Sometimes, the wisdom is kept internally until it is needed to be shared.   I can’t imagine being a Mom-in-law until that time comes.   I won’t know what it is really like to be a grandparent until that happens.  These are experiences that I’m joyfully anticipating experiencing.

Most of my friends have no idea the state of loneliness widowhood brings.  Divorce isn’t the same, except in its outcome of singleness.  There’s a heart wrenching ache that etched itself in the soul as we are separated until death.  Time does allow an adjustment to dealing with the hurt.  Just as I can’t imagine how hard it must be to say goodbye to a child that is gone too soon or a parent that has taken their last breath.  It’s these experiences that causes growth, and deepening our relationship with our Savior.  We look for guidance and peace.

There are also physical seasons and I’m experiencing them.  Gone are the carefree days of movement without thought and smooth skin.

Menopause…that’s probably a curse from Eve (my opinion only).  All the lovely conditions that come with it the change in our bodies.  My favorite;  hot flashes (sarcasm).  Nothing like the shared knowledge of smiles of women who are experiencing it too.  If you see fanning and it’s not hot…think internal furnace.

Aging…. Graying hair; we either color, highlight, or let it go.  Crows feet and wrinkles; I prefer to think of them as laugh lines.  Gravity; no sense in even going there!  The creaks of our bones and joints as we move and the groans that escape our lips as we bend, squat or sit.  Age spots on the hands!  Yuck!  They once were referred to as liver spots, which sounds even worse.

Eyes that won’t focus until we either hold the book or paper arms stretch way back or as close as we can get it.  ‘Cheaters’ are bought at the store to help magnify.  We look for the ‘fashionable’ kind because we don’t want to look nerdy.   Finally, we give in and actually go for an eye exam, only to find that we really do need bifocals to see.

Life experiences shape and change us, and age makes us appreciate what has come before and what is to come after.  Seasons…life continues and how beautiful it is.

Posted in Memory

My Pounding Heart

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Judge Roy Scream

I can hear the chain moving….making a rapid clicking sound as it pulls the train of cars up the hill.  I’m scared…unbelievably nervous.  My heart is pounding and I feel as if I’ll never be able to breathe again.  I take a deep breath and start screaming, as we wait ever so hesitantly, before we plunge down the embankment of the man-made mountain.

My heart is no longer in my throat.  Looking back at the ride as we walk away, I wonder why a roller coaster is such a nerve-wracking experience for me?  Where some people experience the rush of adrenaline, to me, it is a dread of anticipation.  I don’t think I’m physically going to fall out of it, but that I may actually not live to get off of it.  Why then, do I allow myself to be persuaded to get on the rides that push me to such extreme fear?

Because I think that if I do it a few more times, then the experience may have a different outcome and I won’t be so afraid of rides that even seven-year old children enjoy.  I know this is supposed to be fun, but for me it is a terrifying ride.  I close my eyes and my body seems to feel suspended in air briefly as we careen around loops and make a few more hills.  Laughter echos around me as I feel the air whip my hair.  My head is turned toward my partner, lowered, and I try to keep contact with my arm looped around his elbow and hanging onto the safety gate as if it were my lifeline.  Slowly, I feel the cars break and stop, jerking gently.  It’s over.  Now, I let out a giggle of survival.  I made it through the roller coaster ride.

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SkyWheel

What causes a person to experience fear?  The fear of dark, spiders (That’s me too!), snakes, dogs, small spaces, frogs, and other phobias, can cause a person to shriek, cringe, and have other emotions that are usually out of character for them.  I’m sure that I’m never going to enjoy riding rides that go fast, turn quickly, and plunge.

It’s really not the fear of height because I can go high up and eventually love the experience.  When we were in high school, we went to NYC and to the top of one of the Twin Towers.  I’ve been to the top of the Empire State Building, and to the crown of The Statue of Liberty.  I’ve ridden the SkyWheel at Niagara Falls with Cameron and loved it. Of course, it did go at a snail’s pace to enjoy the view.

I wonder if our experiences in our younger life made us internalized fears.  I remember my brother, Steven, jumping up outside a window when I was taking a bath and scaring me.  I think I was about five at the time.  To this day,  I hate seeing black windows without lights being on outside.

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Chased Cathy with these

When I was in second or third grade, I remember chasing my younger cousin, Cathy, with the shells of cicadas, while she fled running and screaming from me!  I laughed thinking it was crazy that she was afraid of empty bug shells.  At the time, I’m sure the fear was real to her, but I have no idea if they still make her cringe

I went on my first date the Fall before I turned sixteen in January.  The boy, (I can’t even remember his name.) took me to a fair.  I hadn’t ever been to one before.  We got on a ride that resembled an umbrella with double seats under it.

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This ride terrified me

I think that was the beginning of my fear of roller coasters even though it wasn’t actually one.  It went around (seemed fast at the time) and up/down and then the silly thing turned around and rotated backward. I hated the feel of my stomach dropping over and over again!  I wanted it to STOP!  Yet, I had no control over it.

Control….we have it or we don’t.  With adventure rides, most of us enjoy the sensation of exhilaration of the loss of control….or in my case, NOT.

In everyone’s life there will be experiences that they’d like to stop, but can’t and it sends us on an emotional roller coaster.

Frodo:  I wish the Ring had never come to me.  I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf:   So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide.  
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
J.R.R. Tolkien    
The Lord of the Rings

The loss of our love ones, makes us feel ultimately out of control.  Our lives are changing in ways that we never thought about.  We’ve lost the one that kept our heart safe.  With that person gone, our life feels as if we’ve lost all ways of maneuvering it.  A person never truly feels THAT sense of loss of control until you live through it.

However, we do find ways to maneuver and we find our feet.   We are still breathing in and out.  Our life, although now totally changed, is still going forward.  If you are a Christian, you still have a purpose to fulfill because I believe God uses all things for the good of His purpose.   I am confident, my love one, still lives.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NIV)

We can’t control other people’s’ reactions, but I can control how I react.  For Instance, I can choose to be POSITIVE … JOYFUL … BLESSED!  I know sometimes, I don’t always rise to the occasion, but I don’t let myself stay low.  I still feel as if my life is somewhat off course, but I am still here until the Lord calls me Home.

There are other things that I’m discovering that I Do like to do.  I have discovered that I enjoy kayaking, dancing, sailing, road trips, and writing.  These are newer experiences that I’ve done since being single.  I’m sure I’ll continue to discover more things that bring me joy.

What makes it even more special is that I’m looking for new things to try!  God has given me the gift of a joyful heart and that makes me want to continue stepping forward.  Scary things will still make my heart beat quickly.  I may never enjoy a roller coaster, but that doesn’t mean I won’t ever ride one again.  My life is different and sometimes, yes, I feel like I’ve lost the control of how I wanted my life to be, but I do know the ONE who balances the whole world and I’m secure.

With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation.                Romans 10:10 (HCS)

Wherever we go…..  Whatever we do…..

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
John 20:21 (NIV)