Monday, December 29, 2014

Home for the Holidays

Reflections on the Holiday Season

Decorating the Christmas tree brings back so many memories of years gone by.
My festive Spanish bell purchased in Mexico so many years ago triggers memories of times with dear people whom were so much a part of my life in the 80's.
Feliz Navidad,
I remember Christmas season trips to New Mexico.
I think of all the wonderful Spanish speaking students whom I taught over the years.
I think of the rich cultural traditions that others have during this time of year.

Some years a few new decorations are added to tree.
This year, dried wheat bunches from the Thanksgiving flower arrangement were gathered together and tied with Christmas ribbon to create a new decoration.
It will be a reminder of the wonderful Thanksgiving we shared with my son and his wife and son
and with 
my daughter and her son and daughter earlier this year.

My tree always is dotted with bells, lots of bells.
Somehow, many years ago, I started collecting so many bells that I decided that my Christmas tree would have a bell theme.
And so, to this day, bells hang on my tree.
The bells of Christmas.
Each bell has a story behind it.  
Each bell carries a special memory.

I love the bells of Christmas.
The angels.
The lambs.
The red berries.
The pine cones.
The red and silver balls.
The lights.
I love the beauty of Christmas.

Christmas decorations remain on display at my house until New Year's Day.
It seems we are so busy before Christmas that I rarely have time to sit and reflect about the true meaning of Christmas until it is all over.

Julie's tree,
the tree that holds only her special ornaments,
gives me great comfort,
but it also sometimes sends fresh shock waves through my mind
when I see her things in my house as a reminder that she is not here to put them up in her own place.

I'm never quite prepared for
 the scent of Julie
 that overpowers my emotions when I open the hat box that contains her Christmas ornaments. 
Yes, the tissue paper that she placed around each ornament still smells like her. 
It got to me again this year. 
I miss you, Jules.
 I love you. 


The holidays really began for me when my high school girlfriends all gathered for our holiday party on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
(That's me, surrounded by my girlfriends, 
smiling broadly,  dressed in orange, and sitting midway on the stairs.)

Oh how I love these girls!
As a group, and individually, my life is much richer 
because I met these awesome ladies over fifty years ago.
We giggle like school girls while we open our gag gift exchange.
You don't even want to know what we give each other!
We laugh so hard we can barely breathe throughout the day when we have our get togethers.
This year, Dove could not be with us, so she sent a bottle of real maple syrup from Vermont, where she lives, for each one of us.

We cry and give thanks as
we share our list of gratitudes for the year with each other.
Each of us feels loved and blessed because
we belong to something that is rare and precious:
a sisterhood of
of girlfriends
 with deep roots that began in the golden days of youth
 and has lasted until our hair has turned to silver.
We are there for each other no matter what.
As we get older, the "no matter whats" become harder to bear,
but we don't bear our trials alone.
Our friend with Alzheimer's called during our lunch.
Her husband placed the call so we could talk to her.
Three of the girls drove to Kansas this summer to bring her love and gifts from the group and to take her out for the day.
That's what I'm talking about.
These girls are true, forever friends.


Soon, the next holiday was upon us.
Thanksgiving was so special this year.
Ryan and Sheridan brought oldest grandson with them as they flew in for a short visit for 

We have plenty of chairs, but these kids like togetherness.

Firstborn grandson Parker is in his first year of college.
What a treat it was to have him with us during his short break!

Daughter Amy and her children were here with us too.
The siblings took over the kitchen for mom.
That is a good thing since I can't seem to put it all together like I used to do.
After a run through the neighborhood, they whipped up dinner.
(We also had a bit a lot of help from Whole Foods.)

I was one blessed and happy mom on Thanksgiving Day.
Nothing makes me happier than being surrounded by my children and grandchildren.

The trip to my house was a quick one for the newlyweds.
I'm grateful they were able to come at all.
The day after Thanksgiving was Black Friday.
The next day was Small Business Saturday.
Sheridan, as a small business owner, took time to be with us, her family,
 before she was off for the Christmas rush at Hip and Humble in Salt Lake City.

The day after Thanksgiving, Jim was also off to work at the Apple Store.
With me also working, this was a crazy, busy Christmas season for us.

Somehow, we managed to decorate the house,
shop for presents,
write and mail a Christmas letter,
and attend other holiday get togethers with friends and family.

My new best friends became the folks that own the nearby
PostalAnnex in the University Center in Colorado Springs.
I literally dropped gifts on the counter and asked, "Can you wrap and mail these for me?"
They did just that!
I didn't have to go to the post office or FedEx or UPS one time during the Christmas season.
Check them out for all your mailing needs.

A special event each year is hosted by my cousin and her husband:  The Cousin Christmas Party.
Thanks, Diana and Steve for again being such gracious hosts.
We shared great food and deep belly laughs throughout the evening.

On Christmas Eve, we celebrated with Jim's daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren at daughter Thia's new home.
What a fun time we all had.

Christmas Day was a very quiet day for the two of us.
Jim said, "Don't get me anything for Christmas.  I don't need a thing."
I thought of a few things he needed.
he needed new gloves that would keep his hands warm while he walks the dog
and navigates around his iPhone.
He needed technology friendly gloves.
"You can text while wearing these gloves," I said.
"No kidding?" he replied.
Then he happily tried them out and was quite excited about the new gloves.

He also needed another winter hat, one that he could wear to work.
He loved his new brown wool cap.

I also surprised him with new "tennis shoes" that he likes to wear to work.

Jim finds great comfort in honoring and remembering his heritage when we light the menorah.
On Christmas morning, my dear, dear Jewish friend in California sent me greetings via a text.
She then sent me a photo of her daughter and her husband, home for the holidays, seated in front of a lighted menorah.
I sent her this photo of Jim.

Jim spoiled me to death with many wonderful gifts.
He didn't listen to me either when I told him that I needed nothing for Christmas.

Cooking a large Christmas dinner has never been high on my list of things to do on Christmas.
Instead, I've traditionally made Christmas brunch.
This year, just the two of us enjoyed a brunch of chili relleno casserole, hash browns, a spinach salad, a fruit salad, and stollen. (We forgot we had also planned to have bacon.)
As we leisurely enjoyed our morning and early afternoon, I realized that we had not spent an entire day together without any obligations or work since mid-September.

Christmas Day the air was cool and crisp, but the sky was a brilliant blue.
We decided to walk in the Garden of the Gods.
We'd not been there in months.
Boston could hardly contain himself with joyful anticipation as we approached one of his favorite walking places.
We thought it would be the perfect day to enjoy the great outdoors now that all the summer tourists have gone home.
We were wrong.
Throngs of people had the same idea we did.
I don't know when I've seen this beautiful place so crowded.

Despite the crowds,
and Boston's over-enthusiastic reaction of being in a favorite place filled with lots of great smells,
 and lots of other people,
we enjoyed a crisp Christmas afternoon walk.

Home for the holidays is an ideal I have carried in my head for a long time.
I envisioned that this meant all of our offspring would gather around the table with us to eat a Christmas meal, or open presents around the tree.

the three D's of Christmas,
 have robbed me of much happiness at Christmas over the years.

This year,
acceptance of those things over which I have no control
allowed me to
with peace and joy,
a quiet
Christmas at home.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Letter to Friends and Family - 2014

The Big News of the Year:
The Wedding of Ryan and Sheridan 

Our family was greatly blessed this year when Ryan and Sheridan were married in June.  It was the greatest, most fun family wedding ever.  Siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas, and family friends spent a weekend hiking, fishing, making and eating smores, laughing and talking around the campfire in Boulder City, Utah when we gathered to watch two families become one during this very special occasion.  Welcome to the family Sheridan, Max, and Henry.  We love you!
Henry, Sheridan, & Max

Parker, Ryan, Bridger, Regan

Other Family Milestones:
This year was a momentous year that meant many trips to Utah for weddings and graduations.  Jim’s oldest grandson Caleb married Rachel in Logan, Utah, in May.  My oldest grandson Parker graduated from high school in Utah this year.  He is attending Utah State.  Jim’s oldest granddaughter Daphne graduated from high school in Colorado and is attending BYU.   We were back in Utah in June for Ryan & Sheridan’s big day.  
The Year in Review:  
I must begin by saying that I scarcely know where the year went.  We celebrated last Christmas in Utah with Ryan and family and with Keicha and Gillian.  Then, we were kept very busy with family events throughout the spring and summer.  
Sally’s year has been dotted with health issues.  She is doing much, much better after gall bladder surgery in April and a heart ablation in July.  In fact, she is doing so much better that she ended the year by teaching English to international student at UCCS.
Jim also has big news this year.  He began a new career selling apples.  More correctly, he is working for the Apple store.  He loves his job.  It has been the best adventure for him.  A great fan of all things Mac, on a whim, he applied for a job with Apple and was hired in June.  It has been a challenge for Sally to get used to a husband working retail.  He only works part-time, but hours during the Christmas season have been a bit more plentiful.  His patience and teaching skills are a bonus when it comes to helping others with questions about Apple products.
Retirement is not on hold for us.  I will re-retire when the semester is over in a few days.  Jim is still retired on his days off.  He also stays busy with his position on several boards.  He greatly enjoys his daily walks with his best buddy Boston.  Sally will be happy to return to having time to do more writing and blogging.  She also greatly enjoys her Bible study groups and other fellowship opportunities at her church.  We are planning a trip to Florida in February.  
Family Photos from 2014
Keicha & Amy

Hannah, Regan, Gillian

Daughter & Son
Amy & Jon
Grandson Atticus with Boston our dog
Grandsons with Grandpa Jim
Bridger, Parker, and Mason

Many no longer send out Christmas cards or Christmas letters, but it has become a tradition for me that I enjoy doing.  With a family the size of ours, it is difficult to distill the family happenings into a small newsletter.  Jim’s daughters all live close by, so it is nice to spend more time with them.  The highlight of the year for the Wessely family was the wedding of Caleb and Rachel in Logan, Utah.  We also had great fun when we all went to Moab for a marathon that Thia, Brad, and Trinette ran in April.  We will all celebrate Christmas Eve together soon.  It will be good to see the newlyweds and Daphne.  These three have been away at college.  
Grandson Caleb's Wedding
Sally, Jim, Caleb, Rachel, and Grandfather W
The year has certainly brought our family great trials, and challenges, but Sally has witnessed the continued faithfulness of God in her life and in lives of those she loves.  Along with the trials have come much to celebrate.  

It has been such a joy this year to witness a new family come together with the marriage of Sheridan and Ryan.  They live in Bountiful, Utah.  They are very busy keeping up with their children while they also manage Sheridan’s business Hip and Humble.  Visit any of her three locations when you are in the Salt Lake area. 
Keicha and daughter Gillian live in Ogden, Utah.  She just had back surgery and will end the year recuperating.  She has been employed by the credit union where she works for over 25 years.  She continues with all of her community work.

Amy is loving her new job in HR with a company located in downtown Denver.  She and her children, Mason and Hannah,  live in Erie, Colorado.  

Jon is in Scranton, PA with his family where he teaches at Marywood University.  Sally spent two weeks in Scranton with Jon this fall after Jon suffered a terrible accident that nearly took his life.  He continues to recover from his injury.

My mother is going strong at age 98.  She remains an amazing woman who lives in her own home.    

Jim and I end the year healthy and happy.  We rejoice over all of our rich blessings.  We look forward to the coming year.  
*Blogging friends, this post is a copy of the Christmas letter I sent out this year. I look forward to the coming year when I will be reading all your news, insights, thoughts, and reflections on your blogs.  

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I've Been Busy...

Wait, I better not say "read my blog" if you want to catch up with what I've been doing.  I haven't been blogging.  I have been busy.  I suspect we all have been busy, but somehow, blogging has been placed on the back burner of my life lately.

A few words that describe me during the last few months of my life are:

  • foggy
  • unfocused
  • distracted
  • busy
  • going in too many directions
As my husband and I drove towards home today, I observed the route I take daily as I travel to and from my home and wherever else I am going with unbelieving eyes.  Surely I had not completely missed the passing of summer to fall and from fall to winter, I mused.  Yet, in my heart of hearts, I had to admit that in many ways I had missed much of the glories that come with the changing of the seasons.  I simply have been too distracted to drink it all in.

When I last wrote, I had just returned from spending time with my son in Pennsylvania after he had been injured.  As an update, he seems to be coming along in the healing department as well as can be expected.  He still has not recovered the use of his right arm and hand, but we remain hopeful as his injury heals.

Mid-October, I had planned on going to Vashon Island in Washington to again meet with my dear blogging friends.  (Read about our previous weekends here:  A Weekend To Remember and Time With Dear Friends I'd Never Met.)  I was so excited to spend time with DJan, Jann, Linda, Deb, Sandi. My tickets were all purchased, and I'd sent my deposit for the weekend.  I needed a weekend away.  I needed laughter and talks with my dear friends.  What I didn't need was the rash that appeared on my upper body about ten day prior to my departure for Vashon Island.  I used ointments and creams and self-remedies.  I saw my dermatologist.  No better after all of this, I saw my allergist.  My body had experienced an allergic reaction to some unknown trigger and the hives and rash that was making me miserable was just not getting any better.  My allergist told me she really did not want me to travel in my condition.  I considered my options, thought about the reality of having an even worse reaction to something that might require me using my dreaded EpiPen.  It really would not have been wise for me to travel in the condition I found myself, so I missed that special event and stayed home.  In the meantime, my allergy medications were increased and I spent my time trying to relax.  Finally, thankfully, the rash went away, and I stopped itching.  I could again tolerate clothes rubbing on my skin.  I decreased the allergy medications, and so far, I have been fine again.

October 22 is my dear husband's birthday.  I always look forward to his birthday because it comes at such a beautiful time of year.  This year, a few days before my hubby's birthday, on a day when he did not have to work, I asked if he would mind celebrating his birthday by visiting the Denver Botanical Gardens.  It had been several years since I had been to one of my favorite places.  Even though my hubby really doesn't get as excited over gardens as I do, he agreed to celebrate his birthday by doing something that I really wanted to do.  What a glorious day we had.  The gardens were even more spectacular because of the beautiful artwork of Dale Chihuly which is now on display throughout the garden.  

Since my outfit matched the sculpture at the entrance to the gardens, Jim took my photo.  

If you live in Colorado, and if you have not yet gone to the Denver Botanical Gardens to see this display, you must go.  The Chihuly Exhibit is there through November 30.  We were very surprised how popular the exhibit was on the day we were there.  We literally took the last parking place in the parking garage.  There was a line to buy tickets.  The garden was full of people.  Despite all the crowds, we really enjoyed our time.  The trees in the garden were still colorful and some perennials and roses were still blooming.    Here are some of the highlights:

Flowers of glass against a fountain

A beautiful rose 

"Easy Does It"  Rose 
The rose that I planted at our home in Pueblo in memory of Julie was especially beautiful.  Seeing it in bloom brought great joy to my heart.  

I loved the oranges, red, and yellows in this display.

Lots of color and shapes to delight the eye

The pairing of "Easy Does It" with orbs of orange and yellow brought thoughts of Julie to my mind.

One more shot of my favorite rose.

Another sculpture…

The same sculpture up close…

These sculptures reminded me of the glaciers we saw in Alaska.  I thought they were especially interesting.

Fall in all its glory is punctuated by these red spires.

More red spires…
These looked as if they were growing out of the ground.

The day at the gardens was a special outing for us.  Thankfully, we had a day together in sun drinking in the waning days of fall.


On October 22, Jim's actual birthday, we both had to work. Yes, I have taken a job.  That is why I am so busy.   I was unsure whether or not I would take the job after it was offered to me.  I had not officially applied for it.  A teacher quit and there was a need for another teacher to replace her.  I was called.  I visited the class prior to accepting the position.  Stepping on campus, I realized I was a goner. Who could resist this view everyday?  This campus is absolutely beautiful.  

I actually began my new job on October 22.  I am teaching international students English at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS).  Yes, I am indeed back in the saddle again.  Perhaps, this is why I have felt overwhelmed, foggy, distracted, and as if I were going in too many directions.  I also have been quite happy when I am actually in the classroom teaching.  I've told friends that the best way to actually cure the fantasy of going back to work is to actually go back to work.

I love teaching again.  It is good for me to be on campus with young people.  I love the campus atmosphere.  I have missed it so much.  It is also great to be working with international students again.  I love doing that.  Also, it is good for me to be involved with others in an atmosphere where I am constantly challenged to think, create, and teach. 

 It has been a greater challenge than I anticipated to teach this time around.  I gave away or threw away nearly all of my professional resources when we moved.  Everyday, I feel as if I am reinventing the wheel as I try to bring in interesting activities to enrich the lessons I am teaching to my students learning English.  Thankfully, my class only meets two and a half hours a day, four days a week.  This means that I have a schedule that does not tax me physically; however, I find that I spend every morning in lesson preparation before my 2:00 p.m. class. 

This opportunity to teach came along without me really seeking it.  I am grateful for it.  It has expanded my horizons yet again.  I will only be teaching until mid December.  By then, I'm sure I will happily reclaim my title of Retired English Teacher.  If I don't get around to visit, please forgive me.  I miss reading your blogs, but I am a bit bogged down right now.  I hope to be back among you all soon...

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.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Unplanned Time with My Son

Where to start?  One day, I was trying to adjust to idea I was in the waning days of summer with autumn fast approaching, and the next day, I was on a plane flying to Pennsylvania to be at son's side after he had been involved in an accident that nearly took his life.  On Sunday afternoon, September 21, a message was left on my phone from a nurse at a hospital in Scranton, Pennsylvania, telling me that my son had been in accident. "He's ok," she said, but I needed to call because he wished to speak with me.  My heart stopped when I heard the message.  Then, for another twenty agonizing minutes I could not reach the nurse because she was with my son who was having a MRI done.  No one could tell me what had happened because of HIPAA rules.  

Finally, I was able to connect with the nurse and more importantly with my son.  He had suffered a terrible trauma to his brachial plexus on his right side when he was cut by glass.  He is fortunate to be alive.  He received seven units of blood.  Surgery was performed to save his life.  In the process, somewhere along the way, damage was done to his nerves on the right arm in the brachial plexus area.  I think we all were in shock those first few days.  Certainly Jon was.  Certainly, I was.  

Two days later, On September 23, I flew from Colorado to Pennsylvania on a one way ticket.  I wanted to leave the date of my departure open.  By the time I got here, he'd been discharged from the hospital right from ICU.  I guess at that point I became his trauma nurse.  

For three days, I tried to navigate the unknowable medical field waters in search of aftercare treatment. My son was and is paralyzed from the shoulder down on the right side of his body.  He had an incision that is about seven inches long and contains over twenty stitches and staples.  Not being from this area, and with him being new to the area, I had no idea where to start in finding the help I knew he would need to heal.  For three days, I tried to get him into doctors and therapy.  Finally, this week it all began to come together.  We were able to connect with an occupational therapist whom I think will really be a source of great help and encouragement for him on this journey.  We also found a straight shooter for a primary care doctor whom I think will put together a plan to get him into the specialists he may need in his recovery.  We are optimistic that he will recover the use of his arm.  

Jonathan amazes me with his determination.  I'm not surprised.  He is one amazing kid.  He has had many adventures in his life.  Perhaps, he has lived life a bit too much on the edge.  He's always been daring and ready to push the envelope.  

He returned to work on the following Monday, September 29. He is teaching a full load of classes at the university.  I am here until next week trying to support him in any way I can.  Mostly, I'm just being mom and trying to keep body and soul together while he adapts to his new normal.  I am grateful to have this time with him.  These are treasured moments.  I get to be a participant in my son's life.  I get to observe his determination and hard work as he works so diligently on his classes.  I am able to be here with him in the hard parts of this journey when we can share what is in our hearts.  

On last Saturday, the sun was shining and we went to a nearby park for a walk.  I felt so blessed to walk in these Pennsylvania woods with my son and his son.  

Gratitude: walking in the woods on a sunny early fall day with my son and grandson.  

I gather up these memories and store them in my heart.  I may be here because of an unexpected and unwanted event, but I am here with my boys and for that I am grateful.  I also am most grateful that my son is here standing upright and able to show me this place so soon after his accident.  Youth and good health is on his side.  

From the shadows into the light, we follow the path we find ourselves on.  

Sometimes the paths of life are not as well laid out as the one we see in this photo.  In those cases, I always think of a path that is new to me.  Parts of it are rocky and obscure.  Other parts have waters rushing across.  I'm not sure how the path will end.  I sometimes feel very lost. That is when I think of this American Indian story:
 "You are deep in the woods, and you think you are lost; stop, look at the trees, the rocks, rivers-they are not lost.  They are here.  You are not lost, you are here."

Last night, Jon's son Atticus came to spend the night.  I was quite touched to see old Oso in Atticus' suitcase.  I gave this bear, as is my tradition, to Atticus on his first Christmas.  I must say no first Christmas bear of any other grandchild has seen the adventures this bear has seen.  He lived in Colorado to begin his life.  He then moved from there to Boston.  This dear bear, Oso, already rather travel worn, made his way to Bangladesh.  After a year and a half there, Oso, always at the side of Atticus, flew over the North Pole and home to the United States.  After living in Boston, he made his way to Pennsylvania.  I was glad to see this old friend from my grandson's earliest days.

Life seems complete when I have my kids by my side.  It is good being here cooking meals, driving my son to school on some days, he drives on others.  I try to keep the house running as he keeps up with his school work.  He tires easily and comes home exhausted and ready to have a big rest before the evening activities, but each day he seems stronger.

I will fly home next week.  I hate to leave.  My former husband and father of my children will come to spend some time with Jon the day before I leave.  He will be here for the next leg on this journey. 

It is so hard when your baby chicks grow up and leave home.  They seem to go to such far away places.  The miles separate us, but in this day of modern technology, we are only a text or a phone call away.  For that, I am also grateful.  

In the end, as a mom I've learned I must ultimately leave my children in hands that are much greater than mine.  They are all prayed over, and prayed over some more.  Whether they believe in my prayers or not, that does not matter.  I pray for them.  Each of them.  Everyday.  And, I thank God that I was blessed with each dear life.  Being a mom is hard, even when they are all grown up, but being a mom, I also know the rich blessings that I have in being a part of the journey that each child is on.  Their stories are intertwined with mine.  They are part of the story of my life.  We walk down this path together.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Moments of Being

My daughter Julie was a Virginia Woolf fan.
While she was working on her English degree at the University of Utah, 
she took a class on this great writer.
I visited her in Utah not long after she finished the class. 
While visiting her, I started reading an essay by Woolf, "A Sketch of The Past."
It was while I was reading this essay that I first encountered the concept of the term
"moments of being."
As I read the essay, I began to identify with Virginia Woolf's words at a deep level within my being.
I too had experienced those moments of being when I sensed an intense awareness of my surroundings. Such experience seemed to be imbued with the essence of the beauty in life.
These "flashes of awareness" are rare experiences. We spend most of our days in moments of what Woolf calls "moments of non-being."

Julie promised to discuss both Mrs. Dalloway, and To the Lighthouse with me.
In these books, I would have found examples of Virginia Woolf using characters within these novels to illustrate how they were receptive to moments of being. 
I did read Mrs. Dalloway
Julie and I attempted to discuss Mrs. Dalloway, but I was such a novice at reading Virginia Woolf that I think Julie did most of the discussing.
She promised to explain To the Lighthouse to me.
That never happened because I never got it read before Julie died.

I miss the talks I once had with my daughter.  She had such an intelligent, well-read insightful mind.

Since her death, there are times when I barely function.
My mind is clouded.
I lose all track of time.
I have been unable to comprehend the works of literature that I once was able to enjoy and critique.
I have struggled to attach to the world at large and live life as I once did.

I think all of this is a result of doing deep inner work in my soul to integrate the loss of my daughter into the fabric of my life.
One of the first promises I made myself after she died was that I would not live my life compartmentalized.
I promised myself that I would
the loss of my daughter and my grief over that loss
 into the very fabric of my life experience.

As I work through the pain of loss,
and as I deal with the health issues that have caused me to rock back on my heels,
I am grateful for those rich experiences when  I have "moments of being."
It is in those moments when I feel most alive to the beauty of this broken world in which we must live.
I sometimes capture the images of these moments with my camera.
I cannot always ascribe meaning to these moments.
They are just moments when I rejoice in the powerful beauty of connection
 between myself and my surroundings.

On the trip home from my mother's home last month, I was ill most of the time.
Graciously, my cousin drove for me.
We stopped at a rest stop along the way so I could use the restroom.
The name of the rest stop is "No Name."
I walked into the restroom fatigued, foggy, and feeling quite faint.
I walked out and saw these flowers off in the distance.
I nearly ran to the car for my camera.
I had to capture their beauty because they had brightened my day in a way that brought me cheer when I needed it most.

My cousin called out to me.  "Where are you?"  
"I'm over here."
"Here, getting pictures of the flowers."

Flowers of brightest yellow against blue skies don't last for long.
Moments like this when one drinks in summer during the autumn of life must be captured even if those moments are truly momentary. 

Cheerful, bright yellow roadside beauties in No Name lifted my spirits and brought new energy to my weary body.
My cousin and I took a few more moments to enjoy this spot by eating fresh peaches that we had purchased before we left Grand Junction.
Again, it was a moment of savoring the fruit of summer.

Today, exactly a month later after this experience, the snow will fly in the mountains.
No doubt these flowers are now dried and shriveled.  What is left of them will freeze tonight.
Such is life.
For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. 
Psalm 103: 14-16 KJV
The moment remains in my memory and the image is captured on my camera.

While some may think such fleeting moments make life seem fruitless and hopeless, they seem to bring me a sense of hope and meaning.
They speak to me of the importance of life.
They whisper to my soul with words of comfort and healing.


At sunset, I am fascinated by the grasses illuminated in the evening light.
I'd been pulled from my desk by the changing light outside my window.
Alive to the moment, 
I went seeking beauty.
I went seeking connections to the world in which I live.  

The moments may be as fleeting as the grass, but they serve to bring healing to my soul.
They bring meaning to life.
Life is a gift.
It is a treasure.
No matter how dark the night that follows moments of light such as these,
I rejoice in knowing that I have life and I have these moments of being.  
They are a gift.
They become visual reminders of my faith and hope for the future.

If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven;
how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Luke 12:28 KJV