Sunday, May 31, 2009

Home again home again jiggedy jig

We arrived home yesterday about 5:00PM after a successful two day drive. Jerry was feeling exceptionally brave and steered the RV home towing the truck through the Chicago loop. We always avoid that part of the country and prefer to go another 60 miles or so out of our way. But after 5 years he decided to give it a try. Likely it will be many more years before we even consider that loop again. Even if it did give me a view of the Chicago Polish Museum, reportedly something that entices those of us of that special ethnicity. The loop cost us about $48 in tolls. I guess we now own a piece of Chicago. At one toll booth, the toll taker-man asked, "Are you towing the truck?" To which Jerry said, "No it's pushing me!" The tollman laughed and commented that was a good one but that he had no discounts for wise guys. I guess not many jokes are shared along the Chicago loop toll way!

We saw many of those tiny cars of the future--the Obsama prototypes, you know the kind that people wear! I think anyone who drives one of those sewing machine sized excuses for a vehicle in heavy traffic is either very brave or nuts!

The pilot did better than the navigator through the loop. She would have begun to chew her fingernails, something she's never done in her life, but she assuaged herself by fondling her blackberry brick breaker game!

But here we are in beautiful homeland. And the roses have not yet bloomed nor have the peonies. Saved their blooms for me to see and I so appreciate that. Tomorrow will bring a ton of mail which has been held at the post office.

I am so happy to be back home again! Jerry is too and looking forward to riding his mower around the grass. Kentucky fried chicken never tasted as good as it did last night. Jerry's cousin and friend called and offered to get it and bring to the house. That was the best idea we'd heard all day! We four huddled around our tiny kitchen table and finished off the bucket. Last night I slept wonderfully in our own bed. And this evening after dinner I pedaled around on my bike. Tomorrow will see this body back at Curves. I missed my work out routine and am sure my body will protest a bit as it reacquaints itself with fitness.


There are the daily phone calls I will make to my Uncle. By the way, I figured it out--he is 91 not 90. When anyone asks him he claims to be in his 80's but readily gives his correct birthday--March 21, 1918! To which I said one day, "Well Uncle Carl you are 91! Not 90!" He replied, "well you're the one who kept saying I'm 90 I knew I wasn't 90." He still has not said he's 91 but he knows he's not 90. Well he is quite the character when he has his clarity and wits about him.

I pray that my aunt will pass along peacefully as she would prefer. To say she is not in good health is an understatement. She's 87, in a SNF, stage 4 lung cancer, metastasized from colon cancer five years ago, so they say, is somewhat alert, cannot get out of bed alone, weighs only 67 pounds, must wear diapers, and at times coughs up blood! Not the life she deserves and not the death she deserves. She's ready to be "taken home" and who knows why she still is here in this valley of tears we call life.

More later on the good things that happened while we were in PA. But I could not wait to get my fingers back flying across the keys at the computer. I suppose one could say I have keyboard addiction. Withdrawal is hell! Blackberry is my on the road pal, but thumb texting on it's teeny keys goes only so far.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why me--Well why not You!

Here we be in PA on a geriatric, whistle stop-merry-go-round. Monday, I had both "kids" 87 year old aunt, and 90 year old uncle to the doctor. One look at her and the doctor said, "to the hospital!" OK so now I have one to deal with getting social services, meals on wheels, things fixed, etc...my 90 year old Uncle Carl. He's amenable to many things but not to being told what to do when by women, let alone a "bunch of women" as happened yesterday at this home! Me, social worker, personal care assistant--all women we three. Fortunately they did send a male physical therapist; I'd alerted them that he really really prefers male companionship! But at least we are on a roll. One day at a time. Looks like we will not make it to the Carolinas again this year. Darn and double darn!

This is my first computer access. Local library. So here goes, a funny tale from yesterday. I am ascribing to the old saying, if it will be funny some day it has to be funny today. Uncle Carl (90 yrs. old) is very amenable to most things. And frankly he had been staying over at his sisters--my aunt (87 year old.)who could barely care for herself let alone him too. What a joke that was. So he's happy to be back in his own home where he can pull weeds, putter, etc. But yesterday while talking with the physical therapist, I noticed a brown animal about big as a beaver in his front yard. "What's that?" Uncle Carl raises up quickly to see and says a wood chuck, good old PA ground hog! Then he and the PT begin to discuss ground hogs. And Carl adds, "we used to eat them" I guess so because he explained that he and my grandfather would dig them out of their burrows, haunts or whatever things the ground hogs descend into. Grandpap was a coal miner so I guess h3 knew how to un-ground the ground hogs. I had not heard this tale of eating woodchuck before so I asked in innocence, which Carl thought strange, "Well what do they taste like?" "Taste like Ground hog!" he replies looking at me like I'm a brick short of a load. (Like who really is partially demented here?) I said, "no, I mean do they taste like chicken or what?" With that he has reached the end of the afternoon tolerance for this niece whom he tells, "I already told you they taste like ground hog why are you talking about chickens?" Hearing this the PT almost falls down laughing. You had to be there to hear and see it.

Here I am doing all the legal things, etc. and here's Carl just tolerating me. The other day clearing piles and stacks of junk, papers, old boxes from tea bags he'd accumulated on his tables & shelves ,he looked at me and said, "well I just don't have time to do this." To which I replied, "well that's why we are getting help for you." A few more words exchanged and he is at the puzzled stage with me again, "when did you say you are going back to MN?" I think he's thinking he won't be so bothered once I leave town. I looked at him in the midst of a clearing and sorting frenzy and he was laughing at me. He thinks too everything is funny and cautions me,"Don't get old! It's a bitch!" To which I say, "we get older or deader."

At least he has a sense of humor. My aunt has become very down, worn out and nothing is funny. So we await further diagnosis and hope for the best.

As I said on Facebook, "Why me Lord?" And the God I know so well, has responded "Well why not you!"

Mother's Day was a bit tough for me--first year without Steve. Not that he fussed much about it, but there's a big gap left when you lose your adult son. Had a lovely email and text from granddaughter and daughter in law. That was lovely. Still, missed, that "Hi mom, just checking in." Ah well. I attended Sunday service at a small country type Methodist church here, Millerstown. A lovely service where those who lost their mothers got to stand and be remembered with white roses and those who still have a mother received red roses. Then the minister had all who had lost a child stand to have a yellow rose. I got those tears for a bit.

Well I must sign off and get back to the laundry and then we must get over to Carl's. By the way we had the best pizza last night--from Capris (sp?) here in Natrona Hts. Yummy real Italian. No speeka much Inglish there. The best.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Shack


"The Shack" by Wm. Paul Young has earned a place on my keeper book shelf. I avoided this book as it climbed the best seller charts because I thought it was just another mystery or a new age read and I have plenty of good mysteries still accumulating dust on my pending reading shelves. See it's gone beyond one shelf of to reads..that's the trouble with being a bookworm! Never a sale to pass up and always something good to pick up! But one day this past winter I relented in Barnes & Noble and picked up The Shack. I am so glad I did.

My friend Sandy,(in CA) told me that her church group were all raving about The Shack. She has a good mixture of friends there who read, think and discuss. So my curiosity got to me. I read this book in about a week and the reason it took so long was that I kept going back and rereading passages. No, it's not a retention or attention span issue, it's wanting to read that again and again. It is only 252 pages and I would have devoured it in a couple evenings but savoring the writing seemed more appropriate. It is that nicely written and I wanted to absorb some of these passages. My copy is now extremely highlighted and marked up. That's my bad habit with books, you know, and the reason I can't borrow from our wonderful little library.

The story line isn't all that appealing---a young girl, Missy, is abducted and killed while out camping with her dad and siblings. The family experiences tremendous grief over this. The writing outdoes the plot of The Shack. Narrated as through the father, Mackkenzie Allen Phillips, or Mack this is a personal expression of grief and journey and how to or not move on. I don't want to give away the story in entirety so as not to spoil it for those of you who might now pick up the book. This is a book I would give as a gift to people. It's one I heartily recommend to anyone who can open mindedly read these concepts.

Here, I'll share a couple passages--
pg. 136..."Rumors of glory are often hidden inside what many consider myths and tales..." spoken by Sarayu, the Holy Spirit presence.

pgs 136-137.. Sarayu and Mack discuss what is good and what is bad..."When something happens to you, how do you determine whether it is good or evil?"...""I'm not sure I have any logical ground for deciding what is actually good or evil, except how something or someone affects me." .."Then it is you who determines good and evil. You become the judge....that which you determine to be good will change over time and circumstances. And then, beyond that there are billions of you, each determining what is good and evil..."

pg. 147....Here Jesus and Mack are discussing love and free will--you know that thing given to us humans that has been messing with us since the Garden of Eden. "Have you noticed that even though you call me Lord and King that I have never acted in that capacity with you?....To force my will on you...is exactly what love does not do. Genuine relationships are marked by submission even when you choices are not helpful or healthy....Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience. It is all about relationships of love and respect."

Pg 149... By choosing to declare what's good and evil you seek to determine your own destiny. It was this turning that has caused so much pain."

pg. 156..."If a rainbow makes a sound, or a flower as it grows, that was the sound of her laughter. It was a shower of light,,,," Mack's description of the Holy Spirit.

pg. 230..."Tears can be healing waters and a stream of joy." spoken to Mack by the Lord.

Mack sets off alone on a journey back to the scene of the crime while his wife and the other children are off to visit relatives. What happens to Mack on this journey is the gist of this spiritual book. He does encounter the Lord and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Only perhaps not as most people could imagine. Me, though, I can imagine anything...once while teaching Sunday school a little girl asked, "What if God looks like a big mouse?" I laughed and said, "well what if and why not.?" The kids were about 9 years old in that class and there was a lively "what if God looks like a....", thoughts ran the gamut from mouse to Super Dog, to wild bear, to chicken! I've always wondered what does God really resemble; are we in for a surprise the other side? We read about the experience of light, love, warmth. We Christians have our Bible photos and thoughts but is Spirit really like that? Is Jesus really as we picture--it was in another part of the world where the folks are much darker complected. They were nomads.

I understand why there may be some religious (church)controversy/objection about The Shack . It is not a book that promotes churches or religion per se, but it does instill spirituality and the belief in our Christian trinity, but maybe not just as the only path.

When Mack questions how evil can happen to an Innocent little girl,(I have wondered about this all my life and where's God then?) the dialogue bears reading and rereading. pg 175 & on."she was never alone. We never left her, not for one instant....Did she know you were there?...Not at first the fear was overwhelming and she was in shock. It took hours..."

My very favorite passage if I had to choose just one in The Shack is about forgiveness. We hear forgiveness preached and discussed all the time. I have had many experiences in my lifetime that have caused me to ponder it intensely. I've heard forgive and forget and I believe they are two different things--not joined together. I have read books about forgiveness and I know it frees the one who forgives. I have never felt that forgiveness means we go right back to square 1 and reestablish a relationship with the person we've forgiven. The person may be long gone from our lives. The person may be dead and we may be grateful for that. Sometimes forgiveness is just that we move on in our own minds. But we remember and we take the advice, "when people show you who they are, believe them the first time." My friend, Sandy thinks that as long as there is anger there cannot be forgiveness, and I disagree with that. Forgiveness is summarized, Pages 226-230 in a discussion between Mack and God ...."Forgiveness is Not about forgetting...It is about letting go of another person's throat......Forgiveness does not establish relationship....Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their minds and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible......When you forgive someone you release him from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established...So forgiveness does not require me to pretend what he did never happened? ****Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive...forgiveness does not excuse anything***..." The discussion is that forgiveness requires repentance from the other side and a change in the behavior, not acceptance of the same bad stuff. Also the discussion covers anger as a very approroiate response to wrong, to evil, to what was done. Anger is appropriate! Hallelujiah! What a concept! In the Bible, even Jesus became angry. One can forgive without a relationship being reestablished with the offender to move on, to release themselves. We learn here that a bridge of reconciliation may lead to fully restored trust, but only when the other changes!

At the end of the book the writer asks that we share this book, published by windblown media. I think it might have been on a shoestring budget and has astounded the author with overwhelming success. It asks that we write review and I thought, they read my mind, That's what I've started to do on this blog, both to remind me and to let you know what's on the reading nightstand now. They have a website which I've not yet checked out, but share here with you, it is The Missy Project, www.theshackbook.com