Forty years ago today was a big day in our lives…
(We were both 14)
My mom turns 85 this month.
I wasn’t sure what to get her.
What do you get for someone who doesn’t want or need more stuff?
Decided to take her out on a date.
A coffee date.
I am scheduled to pick her up tomorrow morning at 9.
Just the two of us.
I’m her first-born.
If you were to ask me to summarize my relationship with my mom in a word, I would say Confidant. (And it goes both ways.)
Confidant: One to whom secret or private matters are disclosed. A person with whom you confide things.
Mom lost her father when she was three. Raised by a single mother. Grew up during the Depression. Told me once, “She never realized she was poor, because everybody was poor in those days. Her grandmother helped to raise her while her mom worked. There was no social security in those days. Your family was your safety net. They ate pigeon pie. Fish her grandpa would catch. Her grandma has a big garden. Took turns sharing the bath water with half a dozen other kids on the back porch every Friday night. ”
Here’s where you (my blog readers) come in… 🙂
Mom and I will have no trouble carrying on a conversation when we are together. It never is.
BUT, I wouldn’t mind taking the opportunity to ask her a question or two about something of substance.
Early picture of my mom and three of us.
24 hours later….
Coffee date with her eldest
As it turned out, it was the perfect outing. We did talk family history, but it wasn’t forced. Found out mom initially went to college to become a teacher. (I never knew that.) Two different local businessmen offered to help her out with her tuition. (Never knew that either) 🙂
I met Lois 13 years ago.
She and her friend Floe had signed up for a class I was teaching at our local community college called “Bible for Dummies.”
Lois was 80 years old. Farm wife. She had a couple of hundred chickens/ sold eggs on the side. Sharp mind. Quiet, sweet personality. I remember thinking no way is this lady 80 years old…65 maybe. Floe told me on the side Dave her husband could be a little “overbearing.” Said Lois didn’t get away from the farm much. Hard worker. It was “good she was able to take a break and get away from the farm for a few hours.”
After that class ended, wife and I would occasionally stop by Lois’s farm and buy eggs.
We read in the obituaries a few years ago, Lois’s husband had died. I think we may have gotten eggs from her one time after that. I think of Lois every time I drive by her farm. Christmas night, feeling nostalgic I googled her name to get the address of her farm. I was thinking about dropping her a note. Two addresses came up for Lois. Her place that I knew about and a 2nd local address. It was a care facility. White pages said she was 93 years old.
As I was driving past the exit to the care facility this past Thursday morning I thought, what the heck, I’m going to stop and ask if she lives there. No harm in that.
Walked up to the front door. Doors were locked. Needed a security code to get in. Off to the right, were the instructions and code numbers. Punched them in, sure enough, this time the door opened. Straight ahead was an office with two secretaries and a resident, so I popped my head in the door and asked, “Does a Lois, so- and so lived there?”
The secretary in charge looked at me as shook her head slowly and said “Nope.”
I went on to tell them the details of why I there…It was spur of the moment. Wasn’t even sure she was there, just that the computer said so. Told her about the class Lois was in years before with me. Told them I’d occasionally stop by her house to buy eggs, but it had been a while…
At this point, the secretary does some non-verbal signals with her eyes toward the resident sitting in the chair next to her desk, three feet in front of me….
It was Lois.
I did not recognize her.
Different hair style and her face was puffy. I’m guessing she’d put on 20 pounds.
I asked how long she had lived here? Secretary guessed maybe 3 years.
All this time Lois just sat listening to me banter, then reached up and grabbed my hand…didn’t let go until I left. I looked her in the eyes and asked “Lois, do you remembered me?
“Yes” she said in a quiet voice.
We all had good laugh.
Secretary said she thought I was joking initially.
I’m still processing that little adventure.
I did write Lois a letter last night and pop it in the mail.
For the life of me, I can’t imagine going from the active lifestyle that I have currently… where I can do whatever I want to do, make home-made bread, have a big garden, tend 80 apple trees, build furniture in my wood working shop, ferment sauerkraut, have a dog…..to moving into one room where all of my earthly possessions have to fit.
(And I couldn’t bring my dog).
Libby (our dog)
I watched a friend of ours (Helen) transition from living on her own, to moving into two different care facilities as her health declined…She pulled it off with amazing grace. I’m not so sure I want to wind up like that.
(Not so sure I have too much say in some of those details either.)
Radio DJ Friday morning was talking about her grandmother. Grandmother lived through the depression of 1929-1939. She said her grandmother had a remarkable cheerful disposition, in spite of all she went through. She asked her grandmother how she did it?
Grandmother told her… “It is a choice.”
Would love to hear any thoughts any of you have on this issue of aging, transitioning from one season of our lives to the next.
I am taking notes 🙂 DM
Across the street from where we are currently working is a group home for handicapped young men. The first day we were on the job, I swore I heard an auctioneer. Looked out the window and there was Billy, pacing back and forth with his microphone calling out to an imaginary crowd.
“Who’ll give me five dollar? Who’ll give me five???”
On and on it went, for 15/ 20 minutes.
If you didn’t know any better you’d have sworn it was a real auction.
This will be the 4th week on this same job, and Billy has probably had a dozen auctions since I’ve been on the job. He’s crossed the street a couple of times just to give us give us some crap.
(Crap is German for good-natured teasing by the way.)
Billy is a big boy. Place him in his mid 20’s. He’s all of 6 ft tall, 220 pounds. Cusses like a sailor…worse than a sailor actually. But behind that intimidating exterior, is someone’s little boy. I have no idea who his parents were, or what the specific details of his disabilities are. I do know he can walk. He can carry on a conversation. I think he works part-time @ a local can sorting place for people with disabilities.
Having 2 grandchildren ourselves with disabilities has given me a whole different perspective on people like Billy than I used to have. He’s mobile. Lives on his own with minimal supervision. He has a job. Has a lot going for him.
Where I’m going with all of this you may be wondering….
Well, yesterday I decided to buy something @ Billy’s auction. I was working in the driveway, cutting out stair treads when I heard him again. Looked across the street and it looked like he was pointing right at me while he was calling..
So I raised my hand and shouted “Yep.” Then “Yep” again. Finally shook my head and made a cutting sign across my throat, indicating I wouldn’t go any higher.
Pretty sure I just bought my own truck.
Two weeks ago, I followed a young couple into our local farm and fleet store. She had a noisy pair of boots on that were going “clomp, clomp, clomp.” There were purple wisps of hair sticking out of her head scarf. I couldn’t help but hear the tone of her voice as she talked with her man. It was short and snippy. I found myself forming a judgmental attitude not because of how she was dressed but because of her attitude and tone of voice.
Three minutes later when I went over to the stain and paint isle, they were standing right in front of the dark walnut stain selection, the last item on my list. I asked they if they could see any cans of dark walnut stain?
The woman turned to look at me and inwardly my judgmental attitude was suddenly gone.
I recognized the two of them.
I was ashamed.
I knew part of their story….
They had been in a terrible car accident two winters ago. The roads had suddenly turned to a sheet of ice, and as they approached an intersection, they couldn’t stop. Their car slid out into the path of a semi. There were several fatalities and both of the two people standing in front of me that day had spent weeks recovering in the hospital, and to this day are still dealing with medical bills and reconstructive surgery.
Just within the past month, the woman had confided to someone I know, that she has to take a lot of medicine in order to “Keep her s*#@t together. ”
We never know what other people are dealing with when we see them in public.
In the middle of that night, I woke up thinking about that young family and what they are still dealing with. A thought began to form in my mind… I wanted to do something/ anything/ to encourage them, yet do it anonymously.
Since we live in a relatively small town, I had to be careful and keep the details kind of vague. Decided to posted the following on our facebook page:
“I stood in line behind a young family today who has had some serious heartache the past year or so. I don’t know them personally, just knew who they were. When she turned to say something to me, I could literally see the pain and brokenness in her eyes. Anyway, I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about them and wanting to do something anonymously for Christmas. I happen to know where the wife works, and also know her boss…here is what I’m thinking…I would like to give them a card and a gift in the form of either cash or gift cards to Walmart, the grocery store, etc. If you want to be a part of it, or know more specifics, shoot me a message. …. Going to give it to her boss Friday the 21st…the first day of winter. .
PS this will be the only time you see this post…won’t keep seeing it on our feed.
7 people stepped forward and said they wanted to be a part of the action.
I’ll be dropping the $ and gift cards off this coming Friday.
Kindness and love are still alive and well in middle earth.
Do not doubt me.
About the title…
Much to be thankful for.
Where do I start?
I took the lid off the hive yesterday to finish insulating the top and return two frames of honey I’d thought about keeping for myself until I remembered they were in the hive when I treated for mites back in September. The temperature yesterday was in the mid 20’s so I assumed the bees would be huddled down in the bowels of the hive trying to stay warm.
Hundreds of robust looking honeybees milling around the top frames on the hive. I find it fascinating and exhilarating to be able to approach a bee colony with tens of thousands of bees and work with them. I freely admit being a “new bee” when it comes to raising bees. The learning curve is crazy steep. I still feel like I really don’t have a clue. Fortunately for me, there are two new local bee keepers who have been willing to share with me their experiences, and the Internet.
I have been on this current project for 3 months. Should finish up tomorrow unless the home owner wants our help on insulating or trimming. Other than some help issues and a very rainy fall, it has been a treat to work on this project. 90% of the time it doesn’t feel like “work.” I love what I do and I don’t take that for granted. We took a 1120 square foot ranch, and turned it into a 2000 plus square foot home. Added a 3 stall garage, and new 4 seasons room.
Want to say something about work and attitude.
We stopped by my aunt’s this past Saturday for lunch. She mentioned in passing her son (my cousin) is planning on retiring after the first of the year. He is 4 years younger than I. He’s worked in a factory setting for 30 + years. Great union benefits. I heard that and found myself battling feelings of failure. That is not the first time this has happened. Rather than just be stuck in those negative, energy sucking thoughts, I decided to tell some friends that we get together with on a regular basis about it. Just as I’d suspected. Every last one of them (5) confessed to battling similar thoughts at one time or another.
“So what do I do about it?” I asked????
Be thankful. (And they proceeded to list off a plethora of things in my life I do have to be thankful for.) Just admitting those feelings of comparison and inferiority out loud to another human being, (and in this case to 5 people) then being thankful for a host of things removed the sting.
It really did.
Here are a few before and after pics of my current project…
Back of house:
In 2014 I wrote a series of posts on the financial stress I was feeling.
I sometimes think it word pictures in case you haven’t noticed. 🙂
The word picture I had at the time in my mind was this….
I felt like I was flying a loaded 747 and we 15 to 20 feet off the surface of the ocean. Yes I was still in the air, but the waves were licking @ the wings, the weight of financial stress was nonstop and I was getting tired. Credit card debt, car loan, medical bills..etc.
Here’s a portion of the chart I put on the wall in front of my desk:
The chart showed where we were currently,as well as where I wanted to head.
Flash forward to today.
Our financial situation has changed. Same job, same basic income….
Credit card is paid off. Car loan is paid off. Medical bills are currently all paid off and there is a surplus in the medical checkbook. (Although that could change in a heartbeat).
Today there are two different word pictures in my head.
First, the one with the airplane… We have created distance between those waves and our plane. Today we are at 10,000 feet and climbing.
The second word picture in my head is that of a beehive.
Imagine that 🙂
I feel like a bee going into winter with multiple frames of honey stored up.
Well, I guess I need to wrap it up. If you’re reading this post, I would love to hear from you as well. If nothing else, tell me three things you have to be thankful for.
I (DM) got a phone call two weeks ago from our local nursing home. Halley (director of activities) wanted to know if they could stop by in a bus, then I could tell them a little bit about our setup. It wasn’t going to work with my schedule, but I did offer to come to town to the nursing home and do a little program.
That was yesterday morning.
It was a hoot. I made up a version of Jeopardy.
Guys against the girls or as we put it. drones against the worker bees.
Some of categories included: Apple Trees, The Birds and the bees, Enemies of the Orchard, and Johnny Appleseed. Rather than me just talk, it was an interactive presentation. Even with my helping (just a little) the drones lost. I started out asking if any of them could remember the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940? (Several could) Reason I asked that was because before that storm, Iowa was number 2 in the nation in terms of the apple producing states, second only to Michigan. The blizzard and ice storm decimated the apple trees and since farmers could not afford to wait 5 to 7 years for a paycheck, the orchards were plowed under and turned into corn fields. How sad. 😦
The following ditty I found on line, was in the back of my mind as I looked out over the men and women sitting before me:
“What do you see nurse?
What do you see, nurse… what do you see?
Are you thinking – when you look at me:
“A crabbed old woman, not very wise;
Uncertain of habit with far-away eyes,
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice ‘I do wish you’d try.'”
Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe;
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you’re thinking, is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse. You’re not looking at
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still.
As I move at your bidding, eat at your will:
– I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another;
– A young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon a love she’ll meet;
– A bride at twenty, my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep;
– At twenty-five now I have young of my own
Who need me to build a secure, happy home.
– A woman of thirty, my young now grow fast.
Bound together with ties that should last.
– At forty, my young sons have grown up and gone,
But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn;
– At fifty once more babies play ’round my knee
Again we know children, my loved ones and me…
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead.
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years
and the love that I’ve known.
I’m an old woman now, and nature is cruel.
‘Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart.
There is a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
And now again my bittered heart swells;
I remember the joys, I remember the pain
and I’m loving and living life over again;
I think of the years, all too few, gone too fast
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last;