Sunday, October 12, 2014

Shifting Currents of life.

My day has been a mix of swirling emotions.  It is mid-afternoon as I sit in my chair wrapped in a shawl sipping a cup of red rooibus tea.  Outside my window, the beauty of my neighbor's red maple tree continues to cheer my heart as the clouds roll over the mountains at the end of my valley.  A thick layer of snow covers Pikes Peak while we in the valley below experience intermittent rain.

Since we've moved to Colorado Springs, I've always loved the rhythm of our Sundays:  leisurely afternoons filled with walks and reading were preceded by church attendance and breakfast or brunch out.  All of this has been disrupted by Jim's new work schedule.  Sometimes, he has to work on Sundays now.  Today, he went to work at 2:00.  I hated to send him out in the cold rain.  Soon after his departure, he sent me a text, "Glad I'm here.  Busy store. Lots of energy. (thumbs up sign, smilely face sign, big eyes sign)."  I love his cheery text.  I'm thankful he loves his job that has given him so many benefits.  His blood pressure is lower since he started working.  He has more bounce in his step.  He has new friends and new experiences.  Sometimes, we just do better working a bit after retirement.  Still, I miss, our quiet rhythm we had on Sundays, but we have other days and moments to share on other days.  

I came home from Pennsylvania on Wednesday of this past week.  I'd been there for two weeks. As I left Pennsylvania, I thought about how I had come to also love the rhythm of the days that I spent with my son.  I adapted to his living space and town after a few days of getting used to a new place.  Acclimating to changes in the time zone from Mountain Time to Eastern Time took a few days.  Mostly, I noticed it at meal time.  

Scranton had been a mysterious place to me before I finally went out to Pennsylvania to see my son.  He had described it, but I needed to experience its uniqueness myself to begin to appreciate its charms.  I'd always wanted to visit Pennsylvania ever since I learned about the meaning of the word Pennsylvania in Latin class.  I asked my son and grandson if they knew where the word Pennsylvania came from.  They did not.  So I told them that sylvania meant woodland.  I told them it meant Penn's woodland.  

The hills of Pennsylvania are so different from the mountains of Colorado.  I found them beautiful, but while returning home from the airport in Denver, I marveled anew at the blue skies of home that are so easily seen above the wide expanse of prairie lands that spread to the mountains in the distance.  I am Colorado girl.  I love the vistas of the West.  I don't think I could live without seeing the wide expanses of my home state.  

While in Pennsylvania, I did so enjoy looking at the beautiful old homes near Marywood University where my son is teaching.  I also enjoyed driving through the ethnic neighborhoods and seeing the diverse population that makes up the city of Scranton.  Much of the city is old, but it is interesting.  Again, the cities in the West are new by comparison to those in the East.  

I didn't venture out of my comfort zone much.  I would take Jon to work on some days and then take care of household duties.  I tried to cook him healthy vegetarian meals as much as possible.  I actually lost weight while I was there because I was living the vegetarian lifestyle he has followed for so many years.  I must admit I departed from this dietary routine when I was by myself.

One day, I was invited to lunch by Jon's good friend.  She took me to a great place called Canteen 900 in Wilkes Barre.  We met her mother for lunch and had a great visit.  I ate a great big juicy hamburger for lunch that day.  Jon's friend is a vegetarian.  She ate a yummy looking menu item that fit her diet plan.  We had a fun time at lunch.

It was great to have some time out with new friends and to get to know Jon's friend's mom.  They are both terrific women.

After lunch, I was treated to a massage at FK's house.  Yep, she is a massage therapist, and she promised me a massage.  Heaven only knows how much I needed one. F's house was fabulous.  I loved it.  She bought it several years ago and has painstakingly painted it, decorated it, furnished it, and make it her very special place of comfort.  I could have moved in.  I loved it!

Another day, I was by myself while Jon spent the day with his friend.  I remembered the shops that FK had pointed out to me. Guess where I spent that day?  Guess what I had to eat?  Steak.  I went to a steakhouse and ordered me a wonderful steak dinner.

I also spent a lot of time at the laundromat, a place I hadn't been to since the birth of my firstborn.  Jon and I found a very clean and pleasant place to do laundry.  I tried to keep towels and bedding and work clothes laundered while I was there so that Jon would not have to worry about that.

I also found a grocery store I liked that Jon had never visited.  I liked its convenience, friendliness, and the quality of its produce.  I loved that it was fewer than five minutes from the house.  I think I went there everyday after I found it.  I'd always think of something we were out of.

While in Scranton, I was reminded daily of a tragedy that had happened just before I arrived in Pennsylvania.   Bryon Dickson, a Pennsylvania State Police officer,  had been killed by a survivalist targeting police officers.  Officer Dickson's home was along the route I followed when I took Jon to school, or when I returned to pick him up from school.  A police car occupied by an officer was always parked in front of the house when I drove by.  At times, I would see one of the children of the fallen officer talking to the officer in the car.  Another time, I saw his widow.  The sight of this surveillance duty was always sobering and caused me to pray for the pain this family must be suffering.


Being alone on this rainy Sunday afternoon has given me time to reflect on how the rhythms of our lives are so easily disrupted.  Three weeks ago today, I got the call that Jon had been injured. Thankfully, I had the health and resources to go to his side for a few weeks.  During our time together, it was easy for me to shift back into the role of mom.  In my heart and mind, I've never stepped out of that role.  As the mother of adult children, I try not to interfere or help too much in their adult lives.  Notice the use of the words TRY  NOT TO INTERFERE.  Having said that, I hope they know I am here always, only a phone call away.  It is a fine line parents to adult children are asked to walk.  We are here to extend help and advice when it is asked for.  We are here to garner all that we have at our disposal to aid in the time of crisis.  We also must let them live their own lives and find their way during times of change and turbulence.

In the past four years, our family has been tossed about by more winds of change than any of us thought possible.  Our lives have been upended and tossed about as it seemed we were walking "against the wind." I couldn't help but relate to this Mama Duck in this video I saw on YouTube. I love how the ducklings came to each others' sides as one or another was tossed about.  I also liked how the Mama's main priority seemed to be getting herself back on her feet.  She then proceeded to lead the ducklings down the path of life with just a quick glance back to make sure they all were still there under her care and watchful guidance.

While I was in Pennsylvania, I spoke with my oldest daughter one day.  She was home from work that day suffering badly from asthma.  I could tell her breathing was labored.  She has suffered from such terrible asthma since childhood.  That day, she was across the country from me.  I know she's fought this disease by herself for years.  I know she knows how to care for herself while she is sick with it better than I would know how to do. Still, I worry about her.  As we hung up, I said, "Please take care of yourself.  Go get your medicine.  I don't like you being there by yourself.  I worry about you."  Her response was, "Yes, I know you do, Mom.  That's your job."  


Today during our church service, we sang one of my favorite hymns, Rock of Ages.  How grateful I am that I have the anchor of my hope in a Rock that higher than I to hold me during these times when the currents of life rush around me.  In the midst of change, and of turmoil, and of injuries, and illness, and loss, I have always found that I am held by my God and by those who love me and my children.

Thank you dear friends  for your words of concern and comfort during this time.


LC said...

Your post, with all those words from your heart have lifted my spirits, encouraged me and alerted me to continue praying for you and yours even when -- or especially when-- I am in a discouraged state. You have reminded me where my hope abides. Thank you, my friend.

Barb said...

Dear Sally, You're so right, even when our children become adults, we parents still worry. As your daughter reminds, "It's your job." Bob and I were born and raised in PA and lived there until our children were in college. I went to college myself near Scranton. I no longer feel "at home" there - CO is my heart's home, and I can't imagine returning to the East Coast to live. I guess I've become a Colorado girl, too. It sounds as though Jim has found his niche. Now you must adapt to some alone-time. I couldn't believe that duck video - how the mother and the babies were buffeted but got back on their feet and came together again. It was a good visual lesson about getting on with life! Hugs to you, Sally - I'm glad you're back home in CO.

Linda Reeder said...

I have been catching up. I didn't know about your son's accident or your trip to Pennsylvania. I love your words about being a mother that you ended your last post with. It's hard not to worry about our adult kids.
I hope your son finds the healing he needs.

#1Nana said...

I am that mother too! My daughter is having surgery this week. She didn't want me to come because "it's no big deal." It's always a big deal when it's your child! I'll worry from home and be on pins and needles until my son in law calls and says everything is okay. I'm looking forward to catching up with you this weekend.

Grandmother (Mary) said...

My Honey also works part time and he loves it and it energizes him. We're lucky to have these fine men in our lives and take the time to reflect on that.

Terri Tiffany said...

I so wish we could have met. It sounds like you had a lovely time! I love the oldness of PA as everything is new here in Florida. I miss it already. So glad you got to visit.

Olga Hebert said...

Motherhood is a lifetime job for sure.
I was born in Scranton and although we moved away when I was 3, we went back to visit family very often over the years. My mother really, really wanted me to go to Marywood College. Now when I drive through that area, I wonder how my life might have been different had I taken my mom's advise.

DJan said...

I am so looking forward to seeing you in just a few days now. And then I can find out all the details of you son's injury. I'm so glad you were able to go there and take care of him. It sounds like it was a good trip for you, too. :-)

Marty Damon said...

Like Linda, I've also been away and have just now learned of Jon's accident. It sounds as though your visit was helpful in so many ways. Your post also caused me to reflect on my own very adult children and my part in their lives.
My very best wishes for Jon's full recovery.

Rose said...

I am glad to hear that your son is doing better, and I send my prayers for continued healing for him. I always think of the old saying "A mother's work is never done." So true; we never stop worrying about our children and wanting to help them in any way we can. I still ask advice from my own mother!

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Sally, somehow I missed your earlier post about Jon's accident. How fortunate for him that you were able to be there and line up some health care resources, plus all the mothering you were able to do. I like the fact that you explored Scranton and his world a bit while you were there. And how lovely that Atticus showed up with his bear. So much pain, and so much richness. I hope the healing continues all around.

Cait O'Connor said...

I am sorry to hear of the accident but pleased your son is doing better.
At this time in my life I really understand how important families and friends are when one is in need, then love is all that really matters.

Meryl Baer said...

Glad to hear your son is doing better. My son is also a vegetarian, and when visiting have the same plan - eat vegetarian with him (and his family) and enjoy meat when out without him!

Arkansas Patti said...

Your daughter is right, it is your job and there isn't a child anywhere that doesn't love feeling that cool hand on the forehead when sick and knowing, Mom will make it all better.

Jeanie said...

What a beautiful post, Sally. And so spot on. Sometimes -- not always but sometimes -- things that are so awful bring us a grace we didn't know we had. The ability to step up to the plate that very minute, go and do what needs to be done, reconnect and in doing so, find a part of ourselves; a revitalized realization of what all matters. I'm so grateful you were able to be there for Jon and that while you were there you were able to venture into and discover more of his world. It sounds like a good one.

Yes, it is your job. And you do it well!

Betsy Adams said...

What a wonderful post, Sally. We "mama hens" will always want to take care of our children --no matter what age they are.

I'm sorry about your son's accident --but it was great for you to get to spend some quality time with him. God had a hand in that I'm sure.

I had no idea (don't know how I missed this) that Jim is working again.. OR if I knew, it went out of my head!!!! ha... What is he doing? Glad he likes his job... Some men just NEED to work. My Sweetie has so many hobbies and interests that he is doing fine without working. BUT--my 'ex' went back to work part-time and it really has helped him... Of course, he needed the money also.

Maybe you can find a new day to take those walks with your Sweetie when he works on Sundays.


troutbirder said...

It strange how often your family experiences parallel my own from loss of an adult child to suicide, another with a serious chronic disability and the balancing act of helping but not interfering. I find comfort in how you cope Sally as I try to do the same....

Friko said...

That is a delightful clip. mothers are like that, aren’t they, clucking and chivvying and guarding their young and worrying all the time.

Your son sounds well on the way to recovery and you did your bit to take him there.

I hope you will have some time to look after yourself too and enjoy the life you have with your lovely Jim.

Cape Cod Kitty said...

I just love your posts so much. No matter what is happening you find the good and convey it to us in ways that our lives are changed for the better.
How nice you were able to come east to be with Jon. I did see that you were having a great visit. Such a nice time of year to be in PA.

It was also so nice to read about Jim's response to working a bit. A little tidbit I am stowing away for myself after a few months of settling in to retirement and having a knee replacement this coming Feb 2.

Thank you as always for your beautiful way with words and sharing your life as it is! Love to you!

Maggie May said...

That video really illustrated so well the theme of your post. Quite remarkable that they all seemed to survive and the maternal instinct of that mother duck made me realise that no matter how old our children get, we never stop worrying about them as she did.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

rosaria williams said...

Take good care of yourself, Sally. Mothers are always available, and know just when to pitch in, a balancing act for sure. All we go through can take a toll on our health.

Lin Floyd said...

change is a known constant throughout our lives...

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Life tosses each of us around. But our will to survive is strong and you are a survivor. Hubby working is good for him. Mine is nearly 75 and goes daily:) he needs this to keep young and vibrant.
Seems there is no mention of joining the blogging group reunion. Hope you are okay.

Joanne said...

I absolutely love Pennsylvania. I would like to retire there. I'd spend summers there and winters in Florida. What a blessing you are to your children. I am glad that your son is feeling better though I know you will still worry.
and it never stops does it?

Blessings, Joanne

The Blog of Bee said...

What a wonderful blog I have discovered here . I came through Friko's blog and am so glad I did. I can identify in so many ways. I try never to interfere in my adult children's lives but occasionally my 28 years old daughter will be heard to say 'Mummy, I'm 28" when I ask her if she had taken her medication!!!

I have moved so many times in my life and lived in the Far East, Middle East, Africa, Europe and of course the UK. I presently live in the West Indies. I marvel at the experiences I have been blessed with, the many cultures I have been fortunate to experience and the people those countries have brought into my life. A gypsy at heart!

I like that your faith gets you through life's ups and downs as does mine. In fact presently I am overseeing a Catholic Women's Conference and we have four speakers from the US. We opened tonight with a bang! The next couple of days is going to be tiring but it will be well worth it.

Perpetua said...

I think we mothers are all Mama Ducks at heart, Sally - always wanting to care for our offspring, however old they are, and keep them from harm. I'm glad you could help Jon recover from his accident and also that Jim's new job is proving so good for him. Life is full of ups and downs, but those are good ups.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I'm so glad your son is doing better, Sally, and hope that your daughter feels better soon, too. The mama duck video was so apt! I don't think mothers ever stop worrying about their children, no matter how grown up they are. Thank goodness you had the health and resources to be there for you son and yet I so understand the fine line that the parent of an adult child has to walk at times!