Today is my 60th birthday and I think I’m celebrating with one of the best gifts ever: a cross country driving trip with my daughter. Of course it is bittersweet as well because she is moving to South Carolina and at the end of this adventure I’ll be returning home without her.
As we were driving through the beauty of Montana today, I shared how one of my women’s groups celebrates decade birthdays by sharing gratitudes for each decade. So my daughter and I did that together, my 6 decades and her 3.
It was good for me to realize I’m quite thankful for the gifts of my decades and for her to see the gratitudes of her decades becoming great foundations for the next to come.
I see on Facebook that one of my cousins on my dad’s side is celebrating a birthday today. We only saw each other a handful of times when we were growing up on the east coast. Now she lives a couple of hours away but what I know about her is only what she reveals on social media.
Yet I still feel a connection as she was one of three cousins my age. My parents were the renegades who deliberately moved away from “family.” When they did, I think they missed the summer visits to Cape Cod and Cooperstown because they were special places but they didn’t really miss the complications of getting along with aging relations.
So I’ve had to learn for myself what “big family” means. By that, I mean family relations beyond mom and dad, brothers and sisters. Since my marriage and having kids, I am now a part of family that gets together regularly, celebrates the unique and special relationships between cousins and the lovely and unique quality of grandparent-grandchild relationships. I really wish I’d been able to have some of this for myself growing up but I’m glad it is there for my kids.
Sure, the relationships can be tricky as we age and become stuck in our thinking and sensitive about various issues. But family is the first way and last way we learn about community and how to really live among different people.
So Happy Birthday cousin, it’s been fun to see the toasts from our far-flung family on Facebook and I hope you have a banner year!
conversation with my 5 year old pirate today
You see that bird over there – the crow?
Crows are smart;
he will learn your face.
When you are out walking,
that crow will look down from a tree
and recognize you,
where ever you go..
walking around, walking around,
that crow will see,
you are you.
Just like me – next year and the next year,
I’ll see you walking around, walking around,
and I’ll know it’s You
and I’ll say “hi!”
missed the sunrise, stayed in bed
waited to have coffee
then walked in the park with hubby instead.
I’m amazed to hear about various kickstarter campaigns that have been started – some of them goofy like the goal to make the largest potato salad, some of them tear-jerkingly commendable like raising money for a special treatment needed by a Seattle police officer.
And now with social media, we have the opportunity to hear about these commitments to help others made by regular people like you and me all the time. If we choose, we could be inundated with information about good stuff happening in the world – this world, right now every minute of the day. Imagine!!
At the same time it is just as easy to access the bad stuff – crazy rhetoric and horrible images of hateful acts against humanity. I am not advocating that we put our heads in the sand or become Pollyannas but I am asking for more assertiveness in lifting up and shining lights on the positive rather than the negative.
Ghandi said: “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate, but it is fear.” I believe there is amazing power in positive thinking and action and the fact that so many kickstarter campaigns get funded is proof that people really only need the teensiest nudges to do good in the world.
It’s all in the power of the narrative – so get out there and tell good stories folks – and spread some good around.
Here’s a video to get your positive juices going – 22 random acts of kindness.
My friend and I arranged a month ago to attend an event featuring author Ruth Ozeki chatting about her documentary, Halving the Bones. I was really looking forward to it. At the last minute we found out we should have reserved a spot at this “free” event. We hadn’t and now it was “sold out.” Bummer.
A young woman in my friend’s life said, “Who cares! Just go out for a girl’s night!” So we did. Wine and appetizers and conversation. We are already thinking of where we might go try another happy hour some time.
Happy Hour – I never did this as a young woman. My daughter does it all the time. The younger teachers at school do this. I know why I didn’t do it when I was their age – no money, 2 kids, a husband who worked swing so no time to get away either.
But there is no excuse now. Well maybe the money thing but we can become Happy Hour coupon shoppers!
So while I am truly sorry I didn’t get to see Ozeki’s film, I am really thankful these bones of mine got to sit across from another bundle of bones and chew the fat.
she was supposed to be gone hours ago
early this morning she telephoned to ask if we’d take care of her cat –
she was headed south to be with her dad who was coming out of hospital
her sister would be joining her to do some research into “facilitities”
“too soon,” says dad
this was the conversation we had midday on the stairs
she was taking her trash out, purple cleaning gloves on her hands
she was supposed to be gone hours ago
but now in late afternoon I hear vacuuming upstairs, every single room
cleaning dust bunnies from every nook and cranny is easier than difficult conversations
I feel abandoned; I admit it. You’ve all flown off to sunny-warm-peaceful-lazy-dazy-sleep in-and swim-at-night Hawaii and I’m here alone in cusp-of-spring-but-more-like-winter-sometimes blue-but cold-and-yes wet-PNW February.
I saw the first signs I would be in this situation after Christmas when you packed away your trees or put them by the curb and stopped talking about the warm glow of family time and began haunting internet airline and VRBO sites hunting down points and rental cars and sleeping accomodations. I noticed when your cheeks began to burn in mid-January because you’d made your plans, a result of your reluctance to share the secret of your plans to run away with us, the “Left Behind.” While we celebrated and counted the additional minutes of daylight each day with joy, you were madly counting your days until take-off, dreaming at night of warm sunlight, beaches and ocean breezes.
Work and reality kept me from the full realization of my abandonment until the Facebook photos appeared: bare toes at the edge of ocean beach scenes, drinks sparkling on little tables close at hand, fish caught fresh for dinner. But it wasn’t until the photos stopped that I really felt the slap – because you are now really gone.
You’re having fun, you’ve left reality behind, you are in Never Never Land with Peter Pan. No pirates, no crocodiles, no ticking clocks.
And I’m here with my shadow! Friends and Countrymen! Could you at least send Tinkerbell to keep me company?
During October, I participated in some discussions at our church titled “Living Better, Dying Better.” I was only able to attend 3 out of the 4 sessions but it was enough to jumpstart my thinking about how to support family members to have discussions about how they want to live as they die.
I think my parents have filled out Advance Directives – and given me and my sibs copies – but it is time to revisit them. A suggestion is to review them every 5 years.
Today I visited my 92 year old mother-in-law and began the conversation. I know plenty of fuss has been made about her will and finances etc. but I wasn’t sure about the health side of things. I took her a copy of the Five Wishes pdf and another document that supports this conversation as well.
“No, I haven’t talked about these things,” was her answer, “but I can see it would be a good idea.”
So I left a purple folder with the documents and suggested she sit with them and write on them as though she was writing a letter. She writes beautiful birthday card sentiments. Her own birthday is coming up in December. So this can be her birthday and Christmas sentiments to us all this year.
I know I’ll have to bring the topic up again – because it is hard, and because she’s forgetful and because it should be something shared with her family.
It is a discussion I need to think about and plan for myself too – so I’ve downloaded the starter kit from the Conversation Project and this Christmas, it will be some homework for me.
Abundance is being in a circle of people, some friends, some strangers, and all of us knowing the song begun by the elder – or at least enough to produce a beautiful sound.
And singing the song more than once