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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Today we did the long trek to NH to see aunts and uncles in their 80's and 90's. There had been a number of changes since our last visit a few months ago. One uncle was admitted to a nursing home for back troubles which did not improve and his Alzheimer's worsened and it was determined that he probably would not be coming home. His wife has worsening eye sight and could not live without him, so she had to move to retirement housing, downsizing greatly.

So, it was hard to see the 95 year old aunt whose years of doll collections, needlepoint handiwork, beanie baby collection all had decorated her house for years, reduced to one room and all those things gone. Granted, she has a lovely room. She had her own furniture and it was decorated perfectly. She was happy and that's what counts. Right now I could not imagine myself reduced to one room--though at 95, what possessions do you need any more?

Next we were to visit her husband in the nursing home. She warned us that he probably wouldn't recognize us and that he had lost a lot of weight. Well, the latter was true, but mentally, he was just as we had last seen him. He recognized us and talked and talked. We have never seen the times when he lapses out of present day or doesn't recognize anyone. It almost feels like they made it up. It was hard to leave him in that depressing place--alone.

Last was my Uncle, the author. He talks so softly that you have to strain to hear. Some give up and feel that he is failing, but if you take the time to listen, you will know that he is still just as witty and a joy to be around. We had been to his nursing home, so we knew what to expect. His room is very depressing but the rest of the facility is okay.

Another Aunt who still lives in her home, was able to stop by the nursing home for a visit. She seemed to be doing well. I had been tasked by my cousin to give her a crash course in a cell phone--easier said than done since all cell phones are not the same. She took notes and could do it before we parted, but I wonder if she'll be able to do it tomorrow.

So, we had a nice visit with each person despite their surroundings. If we lived closer, we would visit them more often. I'm sure visits are the highlight of their days.

I look at the things surrounding me in my home--each bought or given to bring pleasure and then I imagine that one day it will all need to be gone. It sheds new light on what is really important. Looks like I need to start purging now. We had hoped to have a tag sale this spring anyway. I think I need to look with new eyes at my things. I hope I can keep this mindset as I start looking at each item and reminiscing. They are only things, after all. And boy, do I have things!

So, my advice today, if you have a friend or relative in a nursing home, go visit them and if you have lots of things--think about their true worth to you now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Writer's Festival at Tunxis

Well, I'm kind of back. Still am stuffy, but not as bad. Still a little fuzzy brained, but am getting better.

I had a nice day off today. I went to the Annual Writer's Festival at Tunxis Community College. I discovered this last year and enjoyed it so much that I stayed the entire fourteen hours! This year I did seven hours. The speakers were better last year, but this was still enjoyable.

First speaker was Lauren Baratz-Logsted, a small Jewish woman, who has written nine books. She was very informative about the writing process and she was also entertaining. One piece of trivia that I learned from her was that the teacher in "Dead Poet's Society" (one of my favorite movies) was modeled after Samuel Pickering, a teacher from UCONN.

The second presenter was Danny Cahill, a motivational speaker, author, playwright, etc. He gave a reading of his new play--let's say it was not my cup of tea and only could be put on in a liberal setting--pretty vulgar.

M. William Phelps was a crime expert, author and investigative journalist. He's written about that nurse in a nursing home who killed many of her patients and some other true life crimes. He had insight into the differences between male and female murderers. He also was entertaining and informative about the writing process. An author of 8 books to date, he is a high school drop out!

The movie, "Riding in Cars with Boys" with Drew Barrymore was based on the memoir of Beverly Donofrio, the next author. I thought she was pretty good. She was disappointed how different the movie came out from her book and her biggest disappointment was that the movie did not say that she went on to college. Unlike the speaker before her, she encouraged everyone to go to college. She was lucky enough that someone was able to work it out so that she could be on welfare (a single mom) and go to college too. I liked one of her quotes when she was talking about getting older and not writing. She said it dawned on her, "This is the ballgame, it's not the warm-up any more." Words to live by no matter what you want to do.

The final thing I stayed for was an impromtu panel when one speaker couldn't make it. I could have left earlier.

I was glad to have my son accompany me on this day. He enjoyed the cultural outting and wanted to stop at Border's on the way home for research material for a book he wants to write.

I have to also add that the newly renovated campus at Tunxis Community College is BEAUTIFUL! We were quite impressed.

So, this is a new annual treat for me. My only regret is that I didn't know about it 5 years ago when they started it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Temporarily Out of Order

I have a stuuufffy nose and all the other spring cold symptons--headache, body aches, rundown. Last weekend we spent 8 hours doing the taxes--our accountant quit and we bought a computer program--not as easy as we thought.

That's why I haven't been blogging. When my head clears, I'll be back.

Stay tuned.
You all come back now you hear.

Friday, April 11, 2008

When counting sheep doesn't work...

First, why count jumping sheep? Has anyone ever seen a sheep jump a fence? Can they jump? Wouldn't it make more sense to count jumping frogs or kangaroos or grasshoppers? Maybe subliminally the fluffy sheep make us think of our pillows? Hey, you come up with a better idea!

Anyway, I was tossing and turning one night and then I started to compose this poem and fell asleep--side note: a dear friend used to tell us if you want to go to sleep, start naming your blessings by letter ex. A for apples, B for brothers, etc. She said that it would tick off Satan enough that you wouldn't get to Z. I wonder if that's why I fell asleep before I finished composing this. Well, I got it done today and thought I'd share it.

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my thoughts to keep
When worries wage war in my head
As I toss and turn upon my bed;
Or anger like a stormy sea
Takes a firm hold of me,
Or tears of sorrow blind my eyes;
Or over again I hear the lies
Lord, take these things that stain my sleep
I pray dear Lord, my thoughts please keep.
When morning comes, help me to know
Which to take back and which to let go.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Remembering A Friend

I believe today would have been the birthday of the nicest woman I ever knew. When I was growing up, she was a mother of one of the boys in my grade. I used to see her at church. I didn't really know her well then.

Then about ten years later, our paths crossed again. Imagine my surprise when I showed up for my interview at the post office and there she was. She wasn't the boss, but she was the only clerk and she highly encouraged the boss to hire me, which, of course happened 28 years ago next week.

Evelyn was the most caring, thoughtful and kind person. If someone was short a little on a transaction, she would put it in for them. There were so many people that never knew the times that they forgot to put on a stamp or did not put on the right amount of postage and she put it on out of her pocket. She was not rich financially, but she was rich in love.

She was the best example of how a Christian should live and she was a wonderful example for me. I have never forgotten the day that an angry customer was rude and hurtful to her. I felt myself growing so angry and wondered why she did not defend herself or say something other than apologize. After the person left, she told me that she felt sorry for that person because they must have something terrible going on in their life and I know that right then and there, she said a prayer to herself for them. She was the perfect example of God's unconditional love for us. The people from her church knew to come to her if someone needed prayer. God was first in her life.

I wish I could say that her life was trouble free, but she lived through many crises such as her house fire, her husband and son's death and the death of a sibling. She still remained faithful to God and steadfast in her faith. She was an amazing person and I have been so blessed that she was in my life. Many were blessed to have known her and many others did not even know that this woman was praying for them. How blessed we all were.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"On Cloud Ten"

--not nine, ten...That's what my Uncle said about his first book signing for his joke book at the nursing home on April Fool's Day. He was in three newspapers and the local TV news. I am so happy for him and proud of such an accomplishment at age 83. I see my cousin has been busy helping him out--I saw the book online at Amazon and Target.

The good news is that the nursing home says as long as he doesn't get rich, he will be able to keep the money!

I have to tell you the last time we saw him, he didn't look so well. When I saw the picture of him in the Lawrence paper, he looked great! I think this has had such a good effect on him emotionally and probably physically.

At one time we were afraid if this got published that it would take away a reason to live--that's not the case. He's working on book two! I am so happy for him.
I haven't been able to find out the names of the other newspapers, but if you want to see one article, here's the site: http://www.eagletribune.com/archivesearch/local_story_092061856.html

I can't wait until I get up there to get my personally autographed copy of his book.

I guess there's still time for me to get a book written--though, I don't really want to wait that long--but certainly better late than never.