Thanks…for the memories

memory_box-800x533-jpg-pagespeed-ce-udtj0ynkc8“Sometimes,” said Pooh, “the smallest things take up the most space in your heart.”

Ah, the little things. The memories that are tucked up in your brain just waiting to sneak out at the smallest moments. People say the best thing about memories is making them; the next is remembering them. These days, it’s not always easy.  In fact, sometimes even a little remembrance can knock the wind out of me. Memory lane might be the hardest road to travel, even when it’s only to the grocery store.

I may have forgotten to mention that I hate grocery shopping.  But I have to eat so I ran to pick up a few things yesterday and as I was mindlessly sliding my credit card, a picture flashed in my mind. It was an image of my husband always whipping out his card before my hand even opened in my purse. I don’t know why – it all came out of the same account, but it was just a habit like so many others. Caught in that silly reverie, I almost missed the elderly man in front of me teasing his equally elderly wife, winking at me as he did, about her always needing ‘one more thing’ and keeping him waiting. As the two exchanged good-natured comments, I remembered joking with my husband that ‘one day we’ll be them’. them’.

That would be a no. Continue reading

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An Attitude . . of Gratitude

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The first time I knew Thanksgiving was never going to be a Norman Rockwell painting was the year my little brother died. His absence from the table – and our lives, was immeasurable. It changed all of us in many ways. My father, who was never the biggest cheerleader of any holiday, finally had a reason to hate them indefinitely. One year, a nicely browned turkey found its way, platter and all, to the wall putting makeshift ham sandwiches on that day’s menu. That was the only year turkey didn’t quite make it to the table, but real joy never quite made it either. A somber spirit lasted for years where my brother’s quirky, prankster personality had been.

As the years went on, husbands and children joined the mix and our Thanksgiving tables were full once again. We bought our first houses; grandparents and parents died, children and grandchildren were born. The full gamut of life’s events unfolded in my gratitude journal with blessings in abundance. There were always more than enough reasons to be grateful.

But last Thanksgiving, my gratitude journal went on hiatus. Continue reading

We’re Bigger Than This.

Flag USA July 4 Celebration Indendence Day ConceptYes, it was inevitable. Post-election fallout has forced everything else that populates my peculiar mind to take a number.  Actually, I suspect every everyone in the US has PLENTY of thoughts to share right now but these are my two cents — so, fasten your seatbelt!

No one escaped the stress and strain of a seemingly endless campaign that often defied description. Regardless of which side of the aisle you sat, the seats have been horribly uncomfortable. Constant rhetoric irritated tempers and eardrums. Hats were promotional party favors. The issues, candidates and constant rallies neatly sliced up this country and escape to Canada became a handy exit strategy.

Election night saw a fair amount of hand wringing, nail-biting and yelling at the TV. In the end, like white smoke from the Vatican chimney, the results were in – there was a winner. Some were thrilled; others not so much to put it mildly. Whether joy or anguish, there was certainly no lack of emotion on either side and some have not recovered. The dark horse won, not by popular vote, but by something most people only heard in high school history class – Electoral College. Social media was on fire, the airwaves were filled with ‘Monday morning quarterbacking’ and everyone was shell-shocked with either happiness or devastation.

Who I voted for and how I felt about the outcome doesn’t matter. I have plenty of company either way. But one thing seems clear. The real election results evidenced the tragic birth of us’ — and ‘them’. Yes, I realize that our treasured ‘melting pot’ has been melting, in many ways, for years beneath the surface of our indifference and complacency. It just took the proverbial last straw of this year’s vitriolic, inflammatory campaign rhetoric for the pressure cooker to explode – and explode it did. Wedges have been jammed between white people and people of color, LGBT and religious fundamentalists, liberal vs. conservative, urban vs. rural, educated vs. uneducated and — men vs. women. We’ve heard the most inflammatory statements. Racial harassment is rampant. A canyon has opened up and we are all in danger of falling into the abyss. No matter which camp you’re in, to say it all pretty much sucks is a mammoth understatement. Continue reading

Magic? I think not.

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Muddy shoes walked across it. Grand kids dripped ice pops on it. My 20 year old carpeting held ghostly remains of our long deceased kitty’s hairball episodes and shadows of spilled red wine. For years now, we wanted to say ‘sayonara’ to the woven wool beneath our feet that held (even when others didn’t notice them) stains of every variety. No matter how many times it was cleaned, the stubborn spots had a way, like the proverbial bad penny, of popping up again. The fact that its color was an ill-thought out pale cream didn’t help one bit.

Each holiday, every fall and spring, my husband and I swore it was the carpet’s last stand. But it never was, so the rug remained, mocking the overworked vacuum, the Oxy 10 scrubber and all attempts to remove 20 years of living.  Finally, as the summer of 2015 ended, we both decided that rug just had to go. It had more than outlived its allure. Unfortunately, the erstwhile carpet outlived my husband, too.

He died a month later. Continue reading

It is . . . what it is.

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I took this photo on the balcony of a cruise ship bound for Bermuda. That trip was not only our first cruise (courtesy of a travel writing gig) but the only time since our honeymoon we actually had an entire week away together. As I sat outside our room, in the wee hours of the morning, I remember feeling completely at peace, awash in the serenity that a magical sunrise over a eternal ocean can bring. It was a moment of bliss that would come back to my mind many times after my world was split in half less than two years later.

I’ve never asked ‘why me’ about anything. Maybe I believe in karma, the capriciousness of the universe or just, hey, that who am I in this galaxy’s scheme of things? With all the horrendous things that happen every day in this world, how could I possibly think I was singled out for anything? Like it or not, stuff happens in this life without our permission.

When I was 26, my younger brother died suddenly of leukemia. He was 3 weeks shy of 20 years old and even his doctors were shocked. His death brought an unexpected tsunami of pain and disbelief that rocked my and my siblings world. It nearly destroyed my parents. Continue reading