Monday Music #14/Just Breathe

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“I have always found that I did not get so tired, and my day seemed shorter, when I listened to the birds singing or noticed, from the window, the beauties of the trees or clouds.”           – Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

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Grief

momdadweddingwedding

Sometimes when you are grieving it helps to talk to someone. But, sometimes it helps to just lose yourself in a book (or TV show) and relate to a fictional character or situation. And cry.

“When you lose someone suddenly and unexpectedly it hurts differently…it’s like a lightning bolt you can’t even see reaching inside of you and tearing out your guts…” – Randall, This is Us

That was exactly how I felt when I got the call about my mom- like my guts were torn out. And then I had to go full steam for a while.

“And then I thought about my friend Bluford Jackson, the one who got lockjaw after firecrackers burned his hand last Christmas. He had died soon after New Year’s Day and now nearly six months later I was just finally seeing that Blue was gone for good.”  – Will, in Cold Sassy Tree by  Olive Ann Burns

I can relate to Will’s feelings. It’s been three and a half months since Mom died, and it hits me in unexpected moments more and more. Grief is sometimes elusive, sometimes a pressing weight.

“Grief is different from unhappiness. In unhappiness one is stuck in time. In grief, time is totally askew.” – Sold Into Eqypt by Madeleine L’Engle 

“When people die, they are not wiped out of our lives as though they had never been, they are still and always part of our history. ” – Sold Into Eqypt by Madeleine L’Engle  

Today would have been my dad’s 86th birthday, but he died at 63. After 23 years, he is still a part of so many stories we tell, so many memories we cherish. He is in the height of my older son and the curls of my younger daughter; he is in the work ethic of my brothers. I read his words of love in the letters I found after Mom died, and although he had a hard time expressing those words aloud sometimes, I knew it was there.

 

 

 

Thoughts Inspired by This is Us #2: Moments

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S2/E11    –   “The Fifth Wheel”

While Kevin and his mom are talking he backpedals a bit, saying  “I didn’t have an unhappy childhood.”

“It wasn’t as good as I thought,” Rebecca says sadly. “But I know we had moments,” (and we see them sleeping together on the floor during a thunderstorm) “you and me, Kevin. I know we did. I feel it in my bones.”

Thinking about moments with each of my children. The scene of Rebecca and Kevin sleeping on the floor reminded me of the months of my last pregnancy. The two older kids were in school, so me and #3 had a lot of time to spend together. He was my sidekick, my shadow, my nap buddy. After lunch and before his siblings got home, we would snuggle up together on the couch, often to the drowsiness inducing sound of the dishwasher running in the kitchen. These were sweet moments.

There was the terrifying moment I had with #4, holding hands with this eleven year old girl as we rode in the ambulance together after our car wrecked, this child who was thrown out of the back window. Those seconds when I could not see her were the longest I’ve ever had. God’s grace was on us that night, cushioning the landing of my youngest in the tall grasses on the side of the road.

Then there was the moment when I landed in Shannon, Ireland. My older daughter, who took a different flight, had arrived an hour earlier. She had made a CD of the Duhks for me to listen to on my flight over the Atlantic. I was so excited and relieved at the same time when I saw her there waiting for me, and the next week was an adventure I’ll always cherish.

A moment I remember with my eldest was in 2003 when I went to visit him in DC. We were riding around, seeing a few sights, and he was concerned because I was so quiet. I didn’t realize then how sad I felt – I couldn’t put a name on it, I couldn’t call it depression. But, he reached over and held my hand. Now, 15 years later he is a nurse, often working with patients who are suffering depression. He stills shows that empathy. He knows.

 

Thoughts Inspired by This is Us #1

I started binge watching This is Us in early February, and midway through season one, I got a call from my brother. Mom was gone. No forewarning, no long illness. This was Mom who, at 81, wasn’t on any meds except the recent prescription she’d finished taking for her knee. This was Mom, who told me she’d only had one headache in her life, who didn’t remember any symptoms of menopause except,  “Well, I guess I did get a little hot.” This was Mom who packed a pistol for her trips to Georgia, who drove her friends to the store and hairdresser, who ran the Bridge Club. Now, I will eventually go back to watching This is Us, but I’ll be thinking of all the This Was Us episodes of my life, Mom’s life, our life. Below is what I’d written before I got the call.

S1/E8                                                                                                                          Pilgrim Rick

Yes, it’s February and I’m watching Pilgrim Rick, the Thanksgiving episode from season one of This Is Us. Better late than never. I was able to watch the first two episodes online – enough to know I HAD to watch them all. The three day wait for my DVD to arrive from Amazon was a long stretch.

The tears began to roll when the Pearson family ended up at the Pinewood Lodge. My flashback was to Christmas of 1995. We were about to have an early Christmas dinner and celebration with my husband’s father who had traveled three hours to our house, when I got the call. My dad was sinking fast; I should come home. So, we packed it all up; some food; the kids unopened presents, including hockey sticks; clothes for a few days; presents for extended family; and then we piled into the car. Our younger son rode with Grandpa Bell, the rest of us were like sardines in a can, cushioned with jackets and backpacks and suitcases into our Chevy Lumina. On the road to Jacksonville we sang along to Stevie Wonder cassettes and I tried to prepare for what was ahead.

We were fortunate to stay in the Homewood Suites sans Pilgrim Rick, where we had our family Christmas, the six of us snuggled together. We opened presents and laughed and hugged, making bittersweet memories. That night our younger son saw Star Wars for the first time and now, 22 years later, he is still a fan.

The next day we spent time with my brothers and their families, trying to be cheerful but not sure how to act without Mom and Dad there. Dad rallied for a few weeks, and I was able to stay with him and Mom for part of that time. He died on January 6, 1996, Mom holding his hand and me holding Mom.

_______________________________________
S1/E11
“Do the Right Thing”

Watching Rebecca and her mother discuss the prospects of life with three babies brings me back to when I told my parents I was expecting for the first time. I was so excited, but my joy bubble burst when all I heard in their voices was doubt and worry. It took them a while to adjust to the idea, but they hit the road as soon as we called to tell them it was time. They made the four hour drive to Clearwater, arriving just minutes after the birth of our firstborn. They didn’t persuade us to return to Jacksonville, but when we decided, they had a home ready to rent to us. Four years later we purchased it and two more children later we sold it. With those two children there was still hesitation on their part, the slow acceptance that this was our life and our family. But, they were there for us over and over – loaning us money and babysitting and being there at the birth of not only those next two, but the last, also. They drove to Georgia to be there the day our youngest was born. Mom was with me up until the last few minutes.

Mom is still with me and I’m grateful for the support and model she has been. Not perfect, but neither am I. Not by a long shot. The picture is of Mom and me, both pregnant with our firstborn.

me n mom prego

_________________________________________

It wasn’t long after I’d typed those words “Mom is still with me” that I found out she wasn’t. I pray that all she taught and modeled for me will live on in me.

Happy Birthday, the United States of Erica

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7-4-2013

 

“Out on a spin in search of curry powder and hot peppers- a man on a voyage to the grocery- he stumbled onto the land of heroic Vikings and proceeded to get the credit for it. And then to name it America after Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian who never saw the New World but only sat in Italy and drew incredibly inaccurate maps of it. By rights, it should be called Erica, after Eric the Red, who did the work five hundred years earlier. The United States of Erica. Erica the Beautiful. The Erican League.” – Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor

I’ve tried to avoid all the patriotic and unpatriotic posts today. But, a few jumped out at me anyway.

On one extreme was the photo of the family dressed in red-white-and-blue for ‘God and Country Day’. On the other extreme was one who was going to wear black today and she didn’t celebrate for the first time in her life because of her newfound enlightenment.

But, the very best thing I read all day was from my acquaintance/friend, Jamie, who said,

“If Lee Greenwood sees his shadow, we get 6 more weeks of freedom.”

Thanks for the Memory

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London, July 26, 1943 – “When the time for recognition of service to the nation in wartime comes to be considered, Bob Hope should be high on the list. The man drives himself and is driven. It is impossible to see how he can do so much, can cover so much ground, can work so hard, and can be so effective. He works month after month at a pace that would kill most people,” – from Once There Was a War by John Steinbeck

bob

After reading this, I had to do a little research on the man. I’ve enjoyed his movies over the years, and knew about his USO work, but I wanted to know more.

The song “Thanks for the Memory”, which later became his trademark, was introduced in the film The Big Broadcast of 1938 as a duet with Shirley Ross, accompanied by Shep Fields and his orchestra. The fluid nature of the music allowed Hope’s writers to later create variations of the song to fit specific circumstances, such as bidding farewell to troops while on tour. It has been sung by many of the greats over the years, including Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney, as well as in numerous parodies. When I was in college, my sorority wrote several parody songs and jingles to use during rush, and this was one of them. I sure wish I could remember the words we sang!

Hope performed his first USO show on May 6, 1941, at March Field, California, and continued to travel and entertain troops for the rest of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the third phase of the Lebanon Civil War, the latter years of the Iran–Iraq War, and the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War. Sometimes his wife, Dolores, joined him and once his granddaughter, Miranda, did also. Hope made 57 tours for the USO between 1941 and 1991 and was declared an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces in 1997 by act of the U.S. Congress.

bob-with-gis

1944

 

Other things I learned:

  • He and Dolores were married in 1934 and they adopted four children.
  • He was very involved with Fight for Sight, a nonprofit organization in the United States which funds medical research in vision and ophthalmology.
  • “Thanks for the Memory” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
  • Hope was an investor/part owner of the Cleveland Indians.
  • Hope died of pneumonia at his home, two months after his 100th birthday.

Here are the original lyrics to “Thanks for the Memory”

Thanks for the memory
Of sentimental verse
Nothing in my purse
And chuckles
When the preacher said
For better or for worse
How lovely it was

Thanks for the memory
Of Schubert’s Serenade
Little things of jade
And traffic jams
And anagrams
And bills we never paid
How lovely it was

We who could laugh over big things
Were parted by only a slight thing
I wonder if we did the right thing
Oh, well, that’s life, I guess
I love your dress

Thanks for the memory
Of faults that you forgave
Of rainbows on a wave
And stockings in the basin
When a fellow needs a shave
Thank you so much

Thanks for the memory
Of tinkling temple bells
Alma mater yells
And Cuban rum
And towels from
The very best hotels
Oh how lovely it was

Thanks for the memory
Of cushions on the floor
Hash with Dinty Moore
That pair of gay pajamas
That you bought
And never wore

We said goodbye with a highball
Then I got as high as a steeple
But we were intelligent people
No tears, no fuss
Hooray for us

Strictly entre nous
Darling, how are you?
And how are all
Those little dreams
That never did come true?

Awfully glad I met you
Cheerio and toodle-oo
Thank you
Thank you so much
Songwriters: Leo Robin / Ralph Rainger

There are so many versions. Here’s a clip from the movie – some of the words are different from those above.

 

Pinterest Worthy? Huh?

This post is for me, but maybe it’s for you, too. In reading a recent blog, I came across some interesting statements.

“Make your home Pinterest worthy”

Is that a thing? Are we now striving to make our homes worthy of Pinterest? I mean, I really enjoy Pinterest. I’ve found lots of cool stuff there, and I use it to keep things organized, like books I want to read and recipes I want to try. But, the ideas I find and/or use from Pinterest are to help me, not so that I can feel like I’m worthy if I use them.

“Who doesn’t want their life to look like a Pinterest board?”

Me. Sure, I’m excited that the kitchen cabinets I painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint turned out well. So did the Superhero Tootsie Pops for my grandson’s birthday. But, it’s not my goal to spend all my time trying to have a perfect house. Even so, I HAVE succumbed to the lure of the before-and-after pictures and the DIY projects. I have gone to Pinterest to just browse for five minutes and found myself surfacing an hour later, with new pins and a house full of dusty furniture.

“Curate your coffee table”

This one was actually funny. I dream of flowers and artfully placed books, but I end up with neatly stacked magazines on a good day.

A few days after I read the above quotes, my daughter-in-law posted something on facebook that I think ties in well here. She quoted the following from an article on HuffPost.

“despite the parenting books, the blogs, the Facebook groups, the Twitter hashtags, the Pinterest boards pumping us full of so much rhetoric and infinite guilt our instincts and sensibilities have vanished into thin air — the singular act of raising a child hasn’t changed all that much over the years. It’s still so damn hard. And like the generations of parents that came before us, we’re all making it up as we go along.”

When I was a young mother, I didn’t have the pressure of social media. There was no facebook for me to live up to by posting numerous pictures of my happy little family. There was no twitter to tell everyone how cool I was. There was no Pinterest to make me feel as I should be working on home projects and throwing elaborate birthday parties.

I’m grateful to see that some of this is dawning on my sweet daughter-in-law. Now it’s time for me to face the music. As an empty nester, I find myself unwisely wasting time on the internet, and comparing my home, my family, even my book reading, to people I hardly even know, or don’t know at all. It’s time to harness it all in; to use the good parts as a tool for good and to be wiser in the use of all the time wasters I’ve fallen prey to.

If this helps or causes anyone to stop and think, I’ll be pleased and grateful.