Flying Free

Flying Free

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Can You Hear Me Now?

About a week ago my two daughters wanted my opinion on whether or not they should allow a friend of my youngest daughter to move in to their home.  In the past, I would have jumped at giving my opinion; after all I thought I was the only one with the right answers and if everyone would do as I say every body's life would be perfect.  I hesitated in giving my opinion because I am working very hard at allowing my grown daughters to make their own decisions whether they be right or wrong.  I told them both that they are grown women and certainly capable of making their own decisions but they insisted they only wanted my opinion.

This young man in question is an ex-drug user or maybe I should say an on and off drug user.  My youngest daughter has known him quite a long time.  They are good friends when he is clean, and not so good friends when he is using.  Right now, he is not using.  For the most part, I like him.  He is respectful, friendly and has a good heart - when he is not using.  I don't know exactly what he is like when he is using because he doesn't come around to let me see that side of him.  I only know what most people are like when they are actively using - they are less than trustworthy.

So, my daughters asked for my opinion.  Hesitantly I gave them my opinion prefacing it by saying, "This is only my opinion, you both are old enough to do what you think is best."  I listed all the reasons why I thought that him sharing their home would be a bad idea.  I told them that he is not working a program of recovery and the chances that he will use again may be great.  I told them that if they gave him a key to their house and he did start to use again all the locks in the house would have to be changed because, for the most part, drug addicts can not be trusted when they are using.  I asked them how they would handle him bringing women they do not know into their house because he wants to have sex with them?  I asked them if they realized that if he lived there the freedom they have in the evening and morning wearing just their "nighties" would be over.  I even mentioned that when people who are friends move in together oftentimes that is the end of a friendship forever.  Ultimately I think they understood clearly that I thought the idea was not a very good one.

They told him he could move in.

They told me their decision today at dinner.  I nodded affirmatively.  My throat tightened as I choked down my meal; my scream stuck in my throat.  My heart felt so heavy in my chest.  I'm ashamed to say I couldn't wait until dinner was over and then I couldn't wait for them to leave.

As I watched them pull out of the driveway my tears welled up in my eyes and then rolled down my cheeks.  I couldn't stop them.  My throat hurt from suppressing the screams I wanted so badly to shout out.  I wanted to call them and say, "Please, don't do this.  Please, you are making a big mistake."  I had to do it.  I couldn't stop myself.  I picked up the phone and sponsor.

An immediate relief rushed over my body as I heard my sponsor say hello at the other end of the line.  I didn't waste any time.  The tears were flowing as I relayed what had just happened.  I told her I was scared.  I told her I wanted to tell them not to let him move in.  I told her that they asked for my opinion, I gave it and they didn't take it.  I told her I had to do something but I didn't know what to do.

When I finally shut up the phone was silent.  I waited for a couple of seconds.  My sponsor always pauses before she speaks to me when I'm upset.  I waited a couple of more seconds before I said, "Are you there?"  I could almost feel her warm smile as she responded, "Yes, I'm here."

What words of wisdom did she give to me?  She told me, "it sucks but we are powerless over other people's actions".  She said, "we want to get in there and run other people's lives because we think we know better than our Higher Power. It's easy to revert back to things that are "comfortable" but that doesn't mean those things are right.  Now that we know better we can do better".  She said that "it's not always easy to do the right thing".

I started to laugh.  Those thoughts were the exact thoughts I had expressed to my sponseee earlier today.  I said them to my sponsee but I obviously didn't hear them for myself.  I was so overcome by fear that I couldn't hear the words I spoke to my sponsee until my sponsor said them to me.

I'm feeling better now.  I've once again allowed my Higher Power to be in control of my life and the lives of my daughters.  I thought for a minute there He might have needed my help but I think He can handle it all on His own.  I'm sure there is a lesson in all of this; I just pray it's not too painful.

As always, let me mean it when I say, "Thy will, not mine, be done."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Box Car

This morning, as I was catching up on my blog reading, I ran across this post about The Holocaust that put me back a few years to when I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.  I only had an "intellectual" understanding of the Holocaust; it wasn't until I walked through the museum that I more fully understood what others had endured.

All the knowledge of the holocaust I had was obtained by books and history lessons.  I listened as teachers taught about the horrible atrocities and listened when others said that "it never really happened."  I researched the  Holocaust in college so I could write an "A" paper on it.  I thought I knew a lot about what happened in Germany during WWII when Hitler reigned supreme.   I knew absolutely nothing until I walked into the Holocaust Museum.  The museum took my breath and heart away.

Inside of the museum, the events of Hitler's rise to power, WWII and the Holocaust are etched into one's mind by words, pictures and sound.  The stories of the soldiers, the spies, the governments, and the every day people are told in vivid black and white photography; there are no shades of gray in the photos.  I walked through the rooms wearing my leather shoes while looking at the mounds of shoes that were taken from the dead for their leather worth.  I walked through the rooms lit by fluorescent bulbs while gazing upon the lamp shades made from human skin.  Looking through my own eyeglasses, I saw the heaps of spectacles from those who had been annihilated in the gas showers; the rims kept for the metal.  As I walked through the rooms in the museum I was overwhelmed by grief.  These "things," the leather, skin, eyeglasses, were more valuable than the human who wore them.  The museum was consumed by all those who gave their life to build this monument to an era of history that so many wish they could forget.

I walked into the room that held the "symbols" of all those who had to be marked by the beast.  I saw an actual yellow star that had been pinned to a Jew.  I saw an actual pink triangle that marked a human as a homosexual.  I saw other symbols that labeled people as less than human.  I wanted to scream but I remained silent.

The family photos on the wall, the linen tablecloths, the children's toys all took on a somber meaning.  Once items of joy to a family were now memories of things they would never see again once taken from the ghettos. Even seeing each other was a day to day luxury; removed not by death but by hatred which would ultimately lead to their death or a painful memory if they survived.

I walked silently through each room that told the story of human lives until I came upon the train car that transported the "less than humans" from the ghettos to the camps.  My hands trembled as I looked at the outside of the box car.  I read about these box cars.  The history books tell of "hundreds" of people packed into a single car; standing room only, as they rode to their new home in the death camps.  I didn't want to go into the box car but my mind and my feet had already carried me in.

I stood silently as I looked around the small train car.  How could "hundreds" of people have fit into an area that was no bigger than a small hospital room?  How could "hundreds" of people stood for days to reach their destination.  How could "hundreds" of people survived the foul smell of human excrement?  How could "hundreds" of people handled watching those they loved die while standing next to them?  Could I have survived holding the dead body of a loved on up with my own body?

I don't know how long I stood there.  I don't know when the tears started to flow from my eyes.  I don't know when I began to hear the screams of the children crying out for their mothers and fathers.  I don't know when I felt the heat of the ovens. I don't know when I started to smell the rotting flesh.  I don't know when I started to feel the ashes from those men, women and children who were burned in the ovens fall on my flesh.  I don't know when all those sensations started but they stopped when I opened my eyes.  By opening my eyes I could stop all those feelings but those that endured the reality could never open their eyes and make it all go away.

I know some would like never to hear of these atrocities.  I know that some wish they could forget.  Maybe I have the luxury of being able to remember because I would never have been told to wear a yellow star or another identifying mark that would separate me from others.  I would not have been herded into a box car to be driven to my death.  In that time era, I would have been safe from the harm these people endured.....but what about the future?

Friday, February 10, 2012

"God helps those....."

Do I believe in a Higher Power because I think he can make my life easier?  Do I pray and mediate only on the material things I want Him to provide for me?  When I go to my Higher Power in prayer, do I even ask for others?

I have always believed in God but I kept Him in a box.  I had a narrow view and understanding of God but thought I knew Him intimately.  Until the effects alcoholism brought me to my knees, I only had a slight understanding of the Him and His abilities.  I believed the miracles that God performed, but I worshiped the miracles and not the Deity who enabled them to be performed.  I began searching for the miracles and not the relationship with a Higher Power who cared for me.  I stopped to worship the "sign" but never attempted to continue on the journey. 

In times of trouble, I never rested in the arms of my Higher Power, I always helped Him do for me what He could not quite accomplish on His own.  After all, "God helps those who helps themselves."  When I could no longer help myself, when all of my strength in conquering a problem was exhausted, it was then that I "allowed" my Higher Power to take over without my interference.  It was only in utter defeat that I let go of my problem and "allowed" a Power greater than me to take over.  Did I do it because it was the right thing to do?  No.  I did it because it was the only avenue left for me to take.  Now I am more apt to believe that "God helps those who can't help themselves."

Today, I woke up very humbled.  I am once again unsure of my relationship with my Higher Power. Please don't get me wrong.  I am sure of the relationship my Higher Power has with me, I am unsure of mine with Him. I do not want to be the person who goes to prayer and meditation because I want "things."  I want to go to prayer and meditation to have a greater and more intimate relationship with a Power greater than myself.  I want to be able to say from deep within me, "Thy will be done."

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Many years ago, my mother would go to the nearest charitable organization about once a week and play bingo.  I thought the allure of playing bingo was the prospect of winning large amounts of money which is what brought the players back week after week; and for some that probably is, in fact, just the case.  As I look back on why my mother played bingo, I'm not sure that was her motivation.  She never complained about not winning money and when she won, she used to call it a "bonus."  I've been thinking about my mother a lot as of late and for some reason I started thinking about her bingo practices.  What was the allure of bingo for her?  

Last Saturday I called my brother and asked him if he'd like to go to bingo with me.  He chuckled at first and made the reference to mom and her bingo days.  After reminiscing, he said he'd like to go but he was in the middle of painting and he couldn't go that day so we made a date to go on Thursday.  I was excited and I gleefully told my daughters who in turn playfully ridiculed me about playing bingo.  "What are you Mom, like 80 years old?"  

Thursday arrived and my brother picked me up a little early so we could buy the necessary equipment and hopefully find out what we were doing.  It had been over 30 years since either of us had gone with our mother (at her request) to play bingo.  While waiting for the games to start, we studied our cards and tried to figure out the complicated game of bingo.  The woman sitting next to us must have been able to tell that we were new to the intricate dynamics of playing bingo so she graced us with her knowledge happily.  She was so happy to enlighten us with her bingo knowledge that neither my brother nor I felt it necessary to tell her that we had played bingo before; besides, we did need a good refresher course.

My brother and I must have looked like little children playing in a sandbox for the first time because another woman who was sitting near asked us if this was the first time we have played bingo.  After some light conversation with her she finally said, "It's good clean fun."  I agreed.

The games finally started.  I watched my cards, I watched my brother's cards; he watched his cards, he watched my cards and the ladies on either side of us who were playing multiple cards themselves watched our cards too.  We didn't win.  We didn't come close to winning.  So, why do I want to go back?

I learned that my mother was right, winning money would have been a bonus.  I want to go back because bingo allowed my mind to stay in the now without cares or worries of the past or the future.  Hmm, is bingo a form of meditation to me?  Was it a form of meditation to my mother?  I wonder.........

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Blessing of Despair

A new mother sat looking down adoringly at her 5 month old baby girl.  The child squealed delightfully on her mother's lap and the mother met her squeals with smiles.  It was when the mother looked up from her innocent child that her eyes and face told the story of the pain and anguish she was enduring.  She was angry and hiding it relatively well.  I could feel the turmoil radiate from her.  I wanted to jump out of my chair and hold her until all her pain fled; but once again the realization that I am powerless over the disease of alcoholism rushed over me.  I sat in my chair, trying desperately not to stare.  

The members of the Al-Anon group shared their experience, strength and hope and the mother remained silent.  She didn't shed a tear.  She desperately clung to the illusion that she was "fine."  We let her cling.  

I listened as the group shared.  Their stories were different but the same.  The stories were painful but these members, through the miracle of Al-Anon, could relate their experiences with laughter and hope.  I remember how terribly resentful I was at my first Al-Anon meeting because of the laughter.  I didn't understand that people could laugh while living through the disease and consequences of alcoholism.  In my mind, "those Al-Anon lunatics" couldn't possibly know or have been through what I had been through or they certainly would not be laughing.  All of us "lunatic Al-Anons" probably felt that way in the beginning.  How else could we feel?  We had lost our laughter; we felt that our joy had been stolen from us as sure as any thief takes something valuable.  Alcoholism has robbed us of our serenity and joy and had left in it's place nothing but despair.  

There it was.  The blessing of despair.  The one thing that gets many of us insanely obsessed loved-ones of alcoholics into our first Al-Anon meeting.  The new mother had that blessing written all over her face, she just didn't know it was a blessing....yet.

As the meeting ended I made a quick plea to my Higher Power that he would give someone an intuitive thought for this new mother.  As the beautiful young woman wrapped her bundle of joy up to warm her against the temperature outside I touched her arm and said, "I remember my first Al-Anon meeting when I thought that all the people there were crazy because they could laugh about what I thought was a hopeless situation.  I remember thinking that they could not possibly know what I am going through or they would not be laughing.  I remember being angry because those "lunatics" were laughing at a serious situation that I could find no laughter in at all."  She looked at me as I spoke, I thought I saw her let her guard down for just one second as she seemed to relate to exactly what I was saying but her guard went back up quickly.  I smiled and asked her to please come back.  She nodded.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dirty Dishes

Yesterday in the Al-Anon book Courage to Change, I read a story about dirty dishes.  I'm sure I've read that story more than once but yesterday it was as if I was reading it for the first time.  The story was about a woman who was ready to throw out someone she loved over some dirty dishes.

Sounds crazy right?

Well guess what?  I can so relate.

I can't tell you the multitude of times when I have come home after being away for a few hours to find my house in total disarray.  I have come home to find piles of dishes in the sink and on the counter when only a few hours earlier the sink and counter were empty.  I have come home to find not one single horizontal area free of clutter.  When I come home and find my house in such a state I can almost hear my deceased mother saying, "A dirty house is a disgrace to the woman of the house."  The thoughts that race through my mind will inevitably set the stage for disaster.  My serenity is lost and the monsters of self-pity and martyrdom take control.

In days of old, I would have spent several hours stomping about trying to clean up the mess that the people who professed they loved me had made.  I would, of course, make sure that my huffing and puffing could be heard for miles, especially by those who live in the same house.  My day would be ruined and I would try to make the rest of the day equally as miserable for those I professed to love.  "I'll fix them, they will never do this to me again.  I'll show them exactly how they make me feel."  Yeah, that didn't work.

Through the gift of Al-Anon, I don't perform as I did in days of old quite as often.  I have come to understand that I don't have to be everything to everybody and I don't have to be any body's live-in maid if I don't want to be.  When I stomped about cleaning everything up I didn't give the people who made the mess the ability to rectify what they had done.  Why would they if I was going to do it anyway?   A change had to be made and it had to begin with me because lord knows my loved ones weren't taking the great hints I was beating them over the head with.

Today, when I walk into my home and see the mess created by the ones I love, I can take a deep breath, close my eyes and say the Serenity Prayer to help ease my discomfort.  I can go to a quiet place and take a few minutes to pray and meditate so I don't give my peace of mind away.  I can even sit on the couch and play with my dogs and leave the dishes and clutter out of my mind.  Can I do this all the time?  No.  What I can say is that when I do "go there" I don't "stay there" for as long as I used to which in my mind is progress.

So, you might be thinking to yourself that I can now sit in a house filled with clutter and dirty dishes.  On some days I can and I live through it.  The more important blessing is that my husband has found an activity that he enjoys doing.  He tells me that when he does dishes he can totally remove himself from all outside interference and stay in the present moment . . . .  washing each dish at a time. . . . drying each dish at a each minute at a time.

Maybe someday I will learn that trying to do everything robs others of finding what they need.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Laundry Blues

I went to the laundromat to wash two king size comforters

 and one king size blanket.

 I ate one bag of animal crackers and drank one can of coke.

I left the laundromat minus $20.00

Lord, how can people afford to stay clean?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude

This morning I woke up rather blah feeling.  I brushed my teeth, ran a brush through my hair and looked at myself in the mirror.  (Insert silent scream here).  I shuffled into the kitchen to make myself my morning tea.  I sighed heavily as my thoughts drifted to my youngest daughter and the pain and hurt she is feeling right now.  "Why?  What did I do that was so terrible?  Why do I feel so unimportant?"  My daughter's words echoed in my mind over and over.  I wanted to scream out, "You didn't do anything wrong" but I remained silent in my opinions and just held her and told her I loved her and I thought she was very special.  I closed my eyes and asked my Higher Power to place his loving arms around her.    The microwave beeped informing me my tea was complete.  My fingers encircled the steaming hot cup warming my hands; the steam from the tea drifting up to warm my face.  My heart remained heavy.

I sat down on the couch in my living room.  My Dobie, sensing that I was feeling low, came over and placed his head in my lap.  I smiled down at him and patted the top of his head; tears welling up in my eyes.  I took a deep breath and started to pray and meditate.  Fifteen minutes later I stopped,  thinking, "this is futile."  I picked up my Al-Anon books and read the pages for today.  One of the pages was on gratitude.  Really?  Gratitude?  I began meditating on gratitude unknowingly; begrudgingly even.  "What do I have to be grateful for this morning?"  Nothing!  I have a daughter whose heart is breaking...... and then I stopped feeling sorry for myself.  The things I had to be grateful for came slowly at first and then they rushed in.  I looked down at my Dobie knowing he was one of the things I can be grateful for.  This morning, I offer you my alphabetical list of gratitude.

A is for Amy, B is for Bill, C is for Caring friends, D is for Dad, E is for Evening when I can rest my weary mind, F is for Felicia, G is Gratitude (that my Higher Power gave me this morning), H is for Helen, I is for Icing, J is for July (the month of my birth), K is for Kisses, L is for Laughter, M is for Mom, N is for good Neighbors, O is for Open Minds, P is for Prayer, Q is for Quiet time, R is for Rory, S is for Sara, T is for Troubled times that I can grow through, U is for Undying love that my Higher Power has for me, V is for Victory (knowing I don't have to fight the fight), W is for Wealth (and not the monetary kind), X is for Xander, and  Z is for a Zest for life that hasn't been in my all my life.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Growing through Pain

My youngest daughter's relationship with her significant other is on the rocks.  While I have my opinions on why this is happening and what she should do; I can not express them.  My motives in expressing my opinions would be strictly selfish.  If she did what "I" wanted her to do; it would serve only to ease my discomfort and not hers.   One of the many things I have learned in Al-Anon is that no matter what we think may or may not be right in any situation; it is the person directly involved that has to be the one to do what is right for them.  It is them that has to live with the consequences of their actions.

Not to long ago, I would have taken over the situation in my attempt to fix things and make everyone feel all right.  I would have been specific in my recommendations and when things did not go as I planned I would have had to take responsibility for the mess that I created.  Such a heavy burden to carry; not only for the person I encouraged to do things my way but for me as well.  When I arranged everybody's life, I stripped them of their dignity to handle things in their way.  I prolonged the inevitable pain that everyone must go through to grow into the productive, compassionate people that our Higher Power wants us to be.

My daughter's heart is breaking and so is mine.  I wish I could take all the pain and discomfort away from her that she is feeling right now but I know that I can not.  Even if I could take away the pain, should I?  Would that strip her from growing into the person she will be by going through this tough time in her life?  For me, this is another situation where I am truly powerless.  Yes, it still hurts that I can't fix things but I never could and today I realize that stark cold fact.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thank You for the Painting

This morning I was in absolute awe of the painting left in the sky for me by my Higher Power.  The colors were the prettiest shades of red and pink mixed with a subtle purple perfectly accented by the bare winter trees reaching their naked branches towards the sky in some sort of silent offering.  The sky was perfectly painted.  I  vacillated between wanting to keep starring at the perfect picture and wanting to break my gaze by running to get my camera to make the Kodak moment last forever.  Although I wish I had a picture of the way my day started, I'm glad that I didn't break my trance from the site before me.  I will have to keep this sunrise inside the Kodak of my mind's eye.  Sometimes remembering things the exact way we experienced them is better than a photo.....sometimes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuning in the Channel

 Right after I brush my teeth, wash my face and make myself a cup of steaming tea, I begin my ritual of prayer and  meditation.  Before I begin my morning of prayer and meditation I have to fine tune the channel.  Tuning my prayer channel reminds me of years ago when I had a radio with a dial on it and I had to play with the dial to make sure the radio station was at it's best so I could listen to my favorite tunes clearly.  I would work the channel so precisely because listening to a crystal clear channel was important to me.  Now, listening to my Higher Power as clearly as I can is important to me so I have to fine tune the channel of my mind.  When I first start praying and meditating in the morning my mind may wonder to what I  have to do that day or what happened yesterday or what may happen tomorrow and I have to tune those bits of static out and fine tune my thinking back to the present and my prayer.  Some days tuning my channel may take more time than other days but it is always worth the little extra time spent to be able to hear a crystal clear Power.

Prayer and meditation was not an easy thing for me to grow accustom to.  I learned their valuable worth through Al-Anon.  In the past, my thoughts on meditation had a very strong visual attached.  I believed you could not meditate unless there was some very strong incense burning, you sat on the floor with your legs contorted into an impossible position, your arms were outstretched, you made a low humming sound and your eyes were closed.  Prayer was always something I knew about.  Prayer was me begging God to do what I wanted Him to do and Him saying "No, you've been way to bad for me to do that for you."  Having those ideas in my mind gave me permission not to pray or meditate...EVER.

Today, I know that prayer and meditation is just a sweet conversation between me and my Higher Power.  The prayer part is me asking to have my Higher Power's will done in my life and the meditation part is me learning to listen.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Great Day!

Ever have a day that you wish would never come to an end?  Today was one of those days for me.  It's not that the day was packed with things out of the ordinary to see and do; it was more of a feeling.

A little after 9am, my brother drove to my house to pick my father and I up for breakfast.  Generally there is a huge family crowd that goes out to breakfast but this morning it was just the three of us.  My father sat in the booth across from my brother and myself which was kind of odd since my brother likes to sit by himself on his side of the booth.  The three of us sat, ate and enjoyed each other's company.

I don't know if my brother is having a difficult time with my father's age as of late but he keeps repeating, "I can't believe he's 80."  It is a difficult concept to grasp when the man who is 80 is doing as much for you now as when you were a child; or at least you think he is.

After breakfast, my brother dropped us off at home with a quick, "I'll see you guys later at dinner."  We both waved goodbye to him as he drove off; the snow crunching beneath his tires as he drove off.

I grabbed my father's arm so he... I mean I...  wouldn't slip on the sidewalk.  The pace was steady but slower than it was years ago.  I didn't mind the slow pace, but I knew that it bothered him.  Lately, he's been telling me a little too often how he is "feeling his age."  He keeps telling me that he thinks he's a little less sure-footed when walking.  Today, I made a point of telling him that he had to walk me to the house because I was afraid I was going to slip and fall.

When we entered the house we were greeted by our three dogs; each of them vying for the immediate attention of my father.  The dogs have been my father's earthly salvation, bringing him out of the depths of depression after my mother died.  I fondly tell my father often, "If I would have known that all it took to make you nice was to get a few dogs, I'd have done it years ago."  We both laugh, but we both know that those dogs have done for him what no other human being was able to do.  The gave him back his reason to live.  My father spent years taking care of my mother and when she died he didn't feel needed anymore.  The dogs need him.

After playing with the "pups" as he calls them, he went to his room for a little nap; the two small dogs curling up in their beds situated on the floor beside his bed.  I puttered around the house not doing anything important.

I woke him up about an hour before the big "birthday dinner" to get dressed.  "Well woman, go get me my tuxedo to wear."  I rolled my eyes at him as I trotted off to get his "good clothes" to wear.  Ok, I have to tell you that if I don't hide his good clothes from him he'll wear them to fix the car, work in the garage, paint the house or whatever strikes his fancy at the time.  I have learned that I have save a few good things for him to wear because if I don't, when we have to go somewhere nice, he doesn't have a thing to wear.

Dinner was good, the conversation was pleasant, and the company was great.  Dad sat at the head of the table like a king; the only thing missing was the crown.  (It was invisible so only the family could see it.)  After dinner we made our way to my brother's house for cake and ice cream.  My sister-in-law had the house decorated with balloons and streamers and signs that wished him a happy birthday.  His  four grandchildren surrounded him as we sang happy birthday; the 80 candles (yes 80) melting into the cake.

After dishing out the cake and ice cream, my father opened up his gifts.  Most of his gifts had a New York Yankees theme; after all what do you buy a man who has everything he wants and tells you he doesn't want any gifts?  I broke the theme and had a t-shirt made with a picture of his dogs on the front.  I think he liked it.

Soon the festivities were over and it was time for us to go home.  Once again as he and I walked in the snow I grabbed him arm so he could help me in the house.  As we walked into the house he said, "You know, I don't want to be President, the days are too long."  I didn't say anything, I just smirked.

He took off his coat and flung it over the dining room chair.  He grabbed two hot dogs from the refrigerator and microwaved them.  He gave our big dog a pat on the head and scratched behind his ear.  He took the hot dogs back to his bedroom so he could give the two smaller dogs their evening treat. "That's life big boy and big girl," he said to the dogs.  "That is life."  I'm not sure what he meant and I was too afraid to ask.

When I finally got myself all settled down and started to take his presents back to his room he was sleeping in his bed.  He was still in his "tuxedo" and he was sound asleep.  I watched his breathing for a little while and then I shut his door; still holding most of his presents in my arms.

Toasting with a Plastic Glass

My father lives with me.  Today is his 80th birthday.  Wow, 80 years old.  Just this week he dug a whole in my basement and put in a new sump pump, built himself a new TV stand, and transplanted a huge shelf that he made a couple of years ago.  This morning, when my brother and I were out to breakfast with him, he asked me when I was going to get the paint so he can start painting my daughter's kitchen.  He tires me just to watch him "keep himself busy."  

My father is a proud man.  He's always been self-supporting and self-motivated.  He likes to do things himself and takes pride in his work.  His mind is quick and his body is aging.  It frustrated him that it may take him twice as long to do a job as it did a few years ago.  I am constantly reminding him that he is so much younger than the 80 years he has become.  He doesn't see it, but I do.  I see a man so much more active than many of his 80 year old counterparts.

One of the things that my father tends to focus on is his inability at times to grasp items in his hands as firmly as he once did which has resulted in many a glass, coffee cup and dish crashing to the floor and shattering to pieces.  This "flaw" tends to frustrate him the most.  I have attempted to ease his discomfort by buying plastic cups and paper plates so that his accidents are not shattering.  In my mind, it is a very small price to pay for a man who does so much for me.

Not to long ago, as a plastic glass slipped through his fingers and the contents spilled over the floor, he looked at me and said, "Don't you get sick of this?  Aren't you embarrassed that you make people drink out of plastic cups when they visit?"  

"Nope, not at all," I replied.

"I don't believe that, you have to be a little embarrassed."

"Sounds like you are more embarrassed than I am.  If it makes you more comfortable, I'll use the good paper products for company."  I gave him a quick grin and went back to cleaning the contents of the spilled drink.

I could almost feel him smiling as he shook his head.  The truth is, I'd trade all my dishes, glasses and cups for his comfort and not feel one damn bit ashamed about doing it.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Child's Laughter

Years ago, I remember "everyone" saying there isn't anything better than a child's laughter.  While agreeing that they were probably right, I thought that people must have meant that the best laughter was from a child under the age of adulthood.  Last night I opened my eyes and ears and knew I had been wrong for so many years.  My daughter is a 32 year old professional woman with a life of her own.  I have always thought that she got a little too excited over "childish" things and just accepted it as being "her."  I learned a very valuable lesson from her excitement last night; one I should have learned years ago.

Last evening, my husband and I went out to dinner with our two daughters.  Dinner took a little more time than anticipated so I made arrangements to ride home with my two daughters and my husband would pick me up after the meeting he had been planning to attend.  The three of us had a pleasant evening.  The two of them made jokes about me not being able to adequately use my smart phone and I told them that they probably wouldn't know how to interact with the human race if their smart phones didn't have a google app telling them how to do it.

While discussing what can and can not be done with a smart phone, the two dogs, one being a very active 10 week old puppy, began feeling neglected and demanded attention.  All three of us turned our attention immediately to the neglected canines.  Her ferocious canines playfully mauled us and each other as they fought for our attention.  The dogs determined that 20 minutes was enough time to exercise their humans, so after the allotted time, each retired to the side of their owner and all was quiet except for the pleasant sounds of human conversation.

Suddenly there was a knock on the door and both of the dogs raised their head and looked up to their owner as if to say, "how dare someone disturb our quiet family."  Knowing that it was my husband at the door, my eldest daughter jumped up from the couch like a toddler excited about a present being given to her.

"Oh my God!  Oh my God!  It's your grandpa pups, it's your grandpa!"  She started to do the Snoopy happy dance and incited the dogs to a near ecstatic frenzy.  Her dance continued as she opened the door and her affectionate dogs greeted my husband.  The dogs tails were wagging excitedly and if my daughter had a tail hers would be the one that was wagging the most.  She laughed and laughed, her entire face engulfed by her laugh.  I sat with amazement as I watched her face and actions being engulfed by her laugh.  Yes, this was a childish act that I will treasure forever.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Things My Father Says

As I was surfing the web this morning I ran across a twitter site called "Shit my dad says."  I couldn't stop laughing once I started reading the words of wit spoken by a 74 year old man.  What I found so hilarious about the quotes was that they could have been spoken by my 80 year old father.  Apparently, with age and maturity comes the liberty of saying whatever it is you want to say, in whatever manner you want to say it, and in front of whomever you want to say it..  For those of us who have not quite reached that age of maturity that our parents have obtained, it is sometimes more than a little embarrassing to us when they spout off their opinions. 

Often times I have felt my face turn scarlet or rolled my eyes to the outlandish words uttered from my father's mouth.  I have to stop and remind myself that these moments of embarrassment will later turn into the memories that will turn my tears into laughter.