Lent

About 10 years ago I started taking this season seriously. I have way too much baggage in my past to believe I get to skate in any aspect of my life. I did not grow up in a family that lavished luxuries on either my brother or myself. Whatever I had I had to earn. We always had more than enough. But I remember a Christmas when my mother asked my brother and me if we would welcome an orphan for that day. I did not want that. So neither did my brother. I wish my mother had sat down and tried to help us understand what opening our hearts would have meant. I remember the pain in her eyes.

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Over the years I came to understand this season. Not quite as well marked as Christmas with so much hype. There are no Easter “carols”, no beautiful trees or decorated houses, no candles lit as Advent. I only recently discovered boxed Easter cards. Anyway, where Advent is a time of excited anticipation, Lent is a time for examination. Mourning in a way of the things we did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say and a time to shed what we were for more of who we could be. Or something. So people give up sacrificially to get closer to the person we’ve buried or hidden from ourselves. I decided those many years ago to stop watching television. I never believed I’d make it the whole 46 (yes. 46 because ‘they’ don’t count Sundays) days, but I did. Each year it’s gotten easier, even a few years ago when I became so addicted to schmaltzy Hallmark movies.

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In fact this year it seemed so easy I felt like I was cheating so I looked at what others do. Give up coffee. At a fellow blogger’s suggestion I tried that last Advent. It isn’t as easy as you’d think! One year when my son was in high school we divided Psalm 119 into doable segments and read through it during the season. I realized many well-known verses are from this psalm alone, “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path,” for one.

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Other suggestions were to add something. Pray through the psalms. To pray for one specific thing each day during the time. Another was to give up sarcasm. Another, be more mindful. For an impulsive person like me this would certainly be a challenge.

In everything I do I hope to shed some old me that is worn, fearful, outdated. Then, when Easter Sunday comes I am more me. He knows what I mean.

 

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aMusings

I began this blog around 6 or 7 years ago. Back then I idyllically imagined I would use this as a platform for epiphany, revelation or eloquent personal disclosure. Funny maybe, having some depth, but hoping to not become a forum for aging, malady or complaining (whining).

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Maybe leave a trail of insight or hope, or just encouraging words.

There are bumps in everybody’s road. Forks on the pathways. Brick walls. Cliffs. Mountains. Brambles. Woods. Wild animals. Hurdles. Chasms. Insurmountables and unfathomables.

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And then there’s root canals.

I have never liked dental appointments. So moving to a new place too far from a dentist I had come to trust I had to start over again. For someone with serious trust issues in general it isn’t easy. They tell me what needs work. I make an appointment and soon after I cancel it. I am an adult, this is silly.

So when the dentist said he had to send me to an endodontist my brain shut down. I made the appointment and did not cancel it. I went to the appointment. Exactly one hour later, the lower left half of my face in paralysis  they had finished. The most painful part was paying for it.

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The day after an arctic freeze arrived after torrential rains. Thankful rescue dogs Lily and Lulu woke me early to go out or I’d have missed the 5 minutes of snow flurries. The rest of the day was icy cold with brutally cutting winds making walkies a near impossibility.

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But beyond conquering dental fears, bitter cold, I think the hardest thing I faced this week was a cryptic phone call from my son. I have mentioned in posts that his girlfriend does not care for me (it’s the only conclusion I came to based on monosyllabic responses, or no response at all). This incrementally alters the relationship with my son each time I encounter them. They have been together about 10 years, living together for 7. I realize it is expected that children grow up, leave home and begin lives of their own. This exclusion though was hard to accept at first. It does not get easier, but I get better at dealing with it. I cannot say whether this arrangement he lives with is right or wrong, but I am sorry I am not a part of it. To say it’s worse than having a root canal, well, it’s an analogy I did not think I’d ever make.

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final

My mom passed away 31 years ago, today. It was a Wednesday. When Dad called me all he said, after I said “hello?” was, “your mother didn’t make it.”

Then dial tone.

I called Mom’s closest friend, told her what Dad had said. She had no idea what it meant.

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I knew.

Mom was a strong person. Maybe the strongest woman I ever knew. After college, 1943 she went into the Navy as a psychologist in WW II, in charge of a hospital psych wing in San Diego for Navy pilots. After the war she stayed in the reserves, became head of a NY ad agency’s accounting department. She and my father married, then moved to NC because they did not want to raise a family in the city. She was DAR, Junior League, in book clubs, bridge clubs, garden clubs and a scratch golfer. A lot for a daughter to live up to.

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I could never.

I miss her. She did not suffer fools, at all, and if I ever went off track she had little patience. If I ever complained as a kid she’d tell me to tell it to the marines.

She was tough. She was smart. She was brave. So when she died I had been a single parent a few years and she and I, once as close as sisters, had drifted apart.

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The Sunday before she died she called me. She had just got home from suffering two heart attacks in hospital. We talked about everything and nothing. She said some bulbs I had planted for her had come up, were they narcissus or freesia? Would I like to come visit soon? Yes.

The conversation wound down. “I love you,” she said.

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”I love you.” I replied. We hung up.

So when Dad called I was blindsided. But like so many things we just never know.

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not sissies

Occasionally as a know-it-all young adult I’d be among older people. They would joke and laugh about aging which I was certain I would either not do or do way better. A favorite thing they’d often say was aging isn’t for sissies.

They were 100% correct.

I am older. At the age I was then I never considered the age I am now. I should have listened.

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I have never been what I consider athletic. Not sedentary, just competitive other ways. Like all students I had phys ed classes which I begrudgingly participated in. I learned to play basketball (not well), field hockey (ditto), volleyball (some better), other sports. My favorite form of exercise is walking. There were a few years after I retired and had way too much time on my hands when I ran 4-5 miles every morning. Husky mix rescue dog Lily was a fun companion. When we adopted terrier mix rescue Lulu we stopped. She is not fast-moving.

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Any large puddle will do. Water resistance is good exercise. Also thirst-quenching.

So aging. My brain still thinks like it did when I was 17. Not arrested development, exactly. Just filter. Mercifully I have the benefit of several decades of age, experience and  (I hope) subsequent wisdom. But I am now seeing a glimpse of what may be coming. Response time from mental concept to physical action is unsatisfactory. Maybe I have unreasonable expectations. But it’s an indication.

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I remember art classes. We learned dimension, spatial thought and perspective. Funny thing, seeing everyday images through artistic eyes. Vanishing point I will never forget. The term for what you see when you stand in a road and look toward the horizon. The point where the lines of the road’s edges come together. It kind of objectified the romantic aspect of a rambling country road but made it easier to draw.

So we move on through the days. Taking what comes, moving things around, some we can control some not.

But, still here. Thankful.

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crowds

This was a pretty non-descript uneventful week for me. Tuesday I went to get a haircut. As I parked my car I noted a sketchy guy lurking in the parking lot. I avoided eye contact but as I walked by he said in a slurry voice, “Can you spare a couple ‘a dollars for Wendy’s?” So I turned toward the fast food place replying, “Ok, I’ll buy you a meal.”

“Oh, you don’t have to go over there,” he said. (translate: you can just hand me the money)

“Actually, I do,” I said.

So I bought him his order, asked if he was ok, he said yes, and I went on to get my haircut.

IMG_0464.JPGI have no idea why this truck is here. Worried for intracoastal overpass integrity?

Wednesday I stopped at the post office to drop a letter. There was a guy standing near the door looking a little confused at some items in his hand. I walked by, deposited my letter. As I walked back to my car across the parking lot I saw folded dollar bills on the ground. I turned to take them into the post office in case someone asked if it had been turned in. Same guy is walking toward me, still looking at items, confused. I called to him, “Sir? Did you drop something?”

He looked at what I was holding out, asked if I found it by the electrician’s van parked near my car. I had, so it turned out to be his.

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I felt rather good about all this, and it came to mind today when I let a crowded grocery store get the better of me this afternoon. I buy local honey because I firmly believe it helps allergies. And I like supporting local businesses. This particular store chain is the only store that sells it.

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu and I had just enjoyed a nice walk by the river and I stopped at the store to buy said honey. Noting a Girl Scout table loaded with cookies outside the store I avoided buying and quickly ducked into the store, found the honey and went to the self-service registers because- Super Bowl weekend -the store was wall-to-wall people. Don’t get me wrong, I like people ok, but grocery shoppers are single-minded and focused. So I checked out and requested cash back.

Which I left the store without, leaving it at the register.

I have never done this before. As soon as I walked in my house I realized what I had done. I called the store. Customer ‘service’ being what it is these days they did not even look to see if, by some miracle, that money was still there.

I am so careful with how I spend money, believing I am a steward of that which is on loan to me. I may never do this again, I hope, but I have learned a painful, embarrassing lesson.

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While someone else won the surprise grocery register ‘lottery’.

IMG_0462.JPGLily and Lulu never worry for anything that is lost. Keep moving forward.

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