Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I was reading an article about 2,000 Nebraskans attending the funeral of a Vietnam veteran. The report said he had no known family. And asked the public to attend. Lovely gesture.

This fellow served our country and deserved a proper goodbye.

Drumroll. Marching in my little girl idealism. Hope I never get too old for it.

Wouldn’t it be so beautiful if everyone had a proper goodbye?

Maybe it’s religion, culture and tradition that warps my thinking. We (my people) have wakes, funerals, month’s minds, annual and memorial Masses. All a part of the farewell.

But that is providing that one actually has family and friends who organize the wake and funeral with the mortuary. Will attend the gatherings. Visit the graveside. Remember to contact the church to have Masses said in the decedent’s memory.

What if those people don’t exist?

Not everyone has family. But for those who don’t have family one hopes that there are, at least, friends.

This past Spring, an old work chum named Peter, posted a message, “No one should go alone.”

He wrote, “Don’t put all of your eggs in the “family basket” or you might find yourself alone at the end of the journey. Make sure to put half of your eggs in the “friend basket.” Said it was important to have one person that you can trust. Even if a neighbor or a landlord.

A couple of weeks later, Peter mentioned that it was his tenant, Bob, he was referring to in the previous post. Said that Bob earned his wings. He had been renting from Peter for three years. Bob became an instant friend and the family soon called him, “Uncle Bob.” Peter’s grandchildren would check on him, send up the mail or newspaper to him.

Uncle Bob was a bachelor and eighty-nine years old when he died. Only survivor was an elderly sister in Delaware.

Peter said that he and his wife would be attending a memorial service for Bob the following week. Wanted to make sure there were at least two people attending Bob’s funeral. 😦

He immediately got lots of comments from his Facebook friends saying how sorry they were for his loss. No one noted or seemed to pick up on the fact that Peter would be the only person attending this man’s funeral.

I was in Delhi preparing to come back home for the summer. I also chimed in and told Peter I was sorry for his loss and if I were back in the U.S.A. I would surely join him at the memorial service. He said, as of that moment, the only attendees would be the undertaker, the lawyer (will), Peter and his wife.

That made me so very sad. He told me the date of the service. I would have some jet lag, for sure, but I thought I could make it.

I showed up at the cemetery that morning. Joined Peter, his wife, the undertaker and the lawyer in saying goodbye to a stranger. Who also happened to be a fellow human being.

Wouldn’t it be so beautiful if everyone had a proper goodbye?

We’re all just walking each other home.

 

 

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I just wanted to take a moment to wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful that you continue to read along while I share my thoughts and experiences. I appreciate you and your feedback.

Today I am also very thankful that my family is having a traditional Thanksgiving in our home country. The four of us are actually under one roof. It’s been six years. It’s like a Thanksgiving miracle.

I am super thankful for my family. Even if they drive me crazy. Or maybe it’s me driving them crazy. But there are no words to describe my love. It’s that special.

I don’t just have love for the husband, kids and dog. I have more in reserve. It extends to the entire clann.

And to friends. I am really grateful for my friends and I love them.

When I was a kid if I liked someone I thought they were just beautiful. Like literally. Sure, I got some sidelong glances, maybe some eye rolls, as a result of that thinking. But you know what? I still believe that.

I remember asking my mother a question when I was older and pregnant with my first. After, of course, I wished and prayed for a healthy little baby. Was along the lines of, “What if I give birth to an ugly little sucker?” LOL I’m just being honest.

My mom, with no hesitation, answered with, “How would you know?”

That’s the thing. I think my family and friends are just beautiful. All of them. How would I know any different?

Wishing you all the love of family and friends! I hope you are surrounded by beauty.

 

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This posting is self congratulatory.  Also hoping maybe a little helpful to someone out there.

One year ago (and seven days) my husband and I quit smoking cigarettes. We both smoked for decades. Both in our fifties. You can figure out the math.

I was only being a supportive friend to my husband. He said he didn’t want to smoke on this certain day. We were in Mumbai and flying back to Delhi.

I said, “I won’t either.”

And we didn’t smoke that day.

There is some irony here. When we landed in Delhi it was the first day of the country’s “bad air quality” season. Could hardly even see the signs outside the airport. The next day the newspaper reported that breathing this air was akin to smoking forty-five cigarettes. A gas chamber of sorts.

The other thing was that it was a sudden quit. Not planned. So that meant we still had a bunch of cigarette packs. That was bothering me. I don’t like to waste. But we didn’t smoke them and eventually gave them away.

We uploaded a free app on our phones. It’s called Smoke Free. I’d recommend it to anyone who is in process of quitting. Obviously, the smoker needs to make the decision to quit but the app provides constant and positive reinforcement. Shows how much money is saved. How health is improving each day. How many cigarettes NOT smoked. How many life days regained. How much time not spent smoking. That one is insane to think about because they mean actual time you were smoking. Mine is up to 25 days.

It has places to post triggers, cravings, set goals, badges, etc.

For those of you who don’t know. Smoking is powerfully addicting. Terrible.

Crowds of people wouldn’t be milling about the entrances of office buildings, restaurants or bars if it wasn’t.

We have been in many filthy international airport smoking rooms because not smoking during a layover was unthinkable. There is one lounge where you had to lean your face into this machine to light your cigarette. Similar to a car lighter. Looked like you were kissing a big silver machine. That many had previously kissed. Gross.

Of course, the duty free shop at the airport is where we would buy our cartons of cigarettes.

Weather would never be a deterrent.  Puffing away in all sorts of weather and every season.

Would have a cigarette outside airport before picking up bags at the luggage carousel.

Always ensured you didn’t run out of them. Or even ran low.

Nor’easter heading your way? Stock up on milk, bread and cigarettes.

I was pretty good about usually keeping the cigarettes at home when not traveling. If I was out and about during the day I didn’t bring them with me. We also didn’t smoke in the house or in our cars.

Here is the surprising thing. It was easier than I thought it would be.

Way easier. My husband agrees. I stated that we would only do it “cold turkey” and not vape or substitute something else. Because I thought that would make it more difficult.

I am not saying it’s easy. Cravings do occur. I sometimes missed it. But it truly was easier than I thought. You just distract yourself. I personally did a ton of walking. Outside in the polluted air. 🙂

I do believe anyone can quit. It is so liberating. No longer being held hostage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another obituary I thought was nicely done.

Back in September a friend of my husband’s family died in Connecticut. So I had a look at the write up. It listed the activities of an accomplished, active and hardworking woman.

It stated that the burial was private and there would be no calling hours.

Last line was this.

Audrey would rather you take a friend to lunch or reach out and perform some act of kindness.

I thought that was just lovely.

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Last month I came across the obituary of a fellow from a nearby town. He was sixty-four years old and it appeared he died from cancer. I did not know him. But when I was reading the notes of on-line condolences I started wishing I did.

I was inspired by a total stranger who passed away. Because of the things other people said about him. See below for some of those messages of sympathy. The poem is also beautiful.

“Steve and Liz were dear and wonderful neighbors for so many years on the corner of Bay and Governor Bradford Rd…we were all so blessed to have them next door. Mr. Perry, as my kids used to call him, was forever trimming the rose bushes that bloomed on their property. One day, my then eight year old daughter leaned out of the upstairs window and called to Steve as he pruned the rose bushes,

“Mr. Perry,” she asked, “Why are you always smiling and so happy?”

“Because you’re my neighbor, “ he answered with a grin.

That was Steve Perry. One of the nicest people I’ve ever known.”

“My heart is so heavy for your loss. He was such a wonderful man to so many that his leaving will be felt for a very long time but his memory will always remain in the good works and love he left behind. Prayers and sympathy to his parents and siblings, to the kids whom I watched grow up under his wing and to Liz who always made his eyes twinkle.”

“I always enjoyed time spent with Steve away from work, whether it was playing softball for TFC, blue fishing on Barrington Beach, or sledding with the kids at the cemetery. He was just a good guy with a bright and engaging smile.”

“Steve was a wonderful man who cared deeply for the needy and homeless. When we decided to form our ministry he named it Breadlines from the picture his parents displayed in his home when he was a child “The Christ of The Breadline.” Now your request for contributions in his memory continue his wishes to care for those in need. God bless you Steve from all the Breadline volunteers. We will remember you always.”

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze,
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch her until she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says: “There! She’s gone!”
Gone where? Gone from my sight – that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side,
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of her destination.
Her diminished size is in me, and not in her.

And just at the moment
when someone at my side says: “There! She’s gone!”
there are other eyes that are watching for her coming;
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:
“There she comes!”

“My heart is broken. All my love goes out to my Perry family… Steve was simply the best!”

“I knew Steve as a colleague, neighbor, friend and fellow adult leader of a Boy Scout troop. As the Scouts, say he was always helpful, friendly, curious, and kind. Steve’s gift of empathy was one of the things I admired most in him. He and Liz have raised a wonderful family.”

When I finished reading all of the comments I sat and thought. About a lot of things.

A life well-lived. How Steve sounded so special. Loved his family. Was a kind man. Liked to smile. Good-humored. Engaged. Cared about his community and friends. Fed the hungry. Enjoyed the outdoors. Was a good neighbor. Had empathy.

I pondered all of these things. Then I thought, “Well, why can’t we all be like Steve?”

Is it that difficult to smile? To be kind to others? To volunteer? To spend time with our families? To be engaged? To laugh? To enjoy nature? To be a good friend?

No, none of it is difficult. It’s quite easy. We just need to be mindful.

Steve left us all with a gift.

Inspiration.

 

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Well, hello there! I hope you are all well.

My apologies for being a slug and not writing sooner. Had a very busy summer. Not a moment to think! Don’t get me wrong. It was lovely and fun. Filled with family and friends. As well as new experiences. Just super busy.

I thought when I arrived here (in the U.S.) during the Spring that I would have all the time in the world.

Then I blinked and summer was gone. Just like that. Snap.

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The original plan was to head back to Delhi, India at the end of September, hang out with my husband and begin exploring the country again with my newfound friends.

tuktuk

But we all know about plans. I suppose we need a constant reminder to always view them as fluid. And go with the flow.

We are happily repatriating after seven years of overseas living.

Do I wish I had more time in India? Yes, I do. I swear a person could spend a lifetime in India and not fully see or appreciate that amazing country. So diverse. Language, terrain, people, food, climate and especially the colors!

chili

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Some folks complain about moving. I get it. Each person and circumstance is different.

Fortunately, I am not one of them. I view our past moves as experiences that continually added depth and a ton of beautiful people to our lives.

I counted thirteen moves in our nearly thirty-two years of marriage. No, of course it’s not always Skittles and beer. Each and every move created indelible memories. Some happy and some sad. Leaving beloved family and friends. The excitement of exploring new places. A clean slate. Missing important family occasions. Adding new friends to the list. Losing people along the way.

Knowing that each move means you’re a little bit older and so is the generation before you. Everything changes and time does not stand still. At all.

I still do not have any regrets or complaints. Not even sure if this is our last move!

Below was the view from our balcony. Enjoying the calm before the packers got busy.

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nextdoor

This last move was going according to plan. The fellas are punctual and ready to get cracking. I oversee the operation. Like they needed my assistance. 🙂

someboxes

empty

At the end of this first day we are at the hotel. My husband is visiting with a friend by the pool and telephones me. He is cheerful and says, “Come join us.”

I replied, “Be down in a jiff.”

Two minutes later, I am heading down the stairs and my mobile rings again. I was thinking, “Why on earth is he calling me again? I’m on my way already.”

I could tell something was wrong by the way he said my name. It was. He just got word that his mother had died in Syria. 😦 I think losing your mom has got to be one of the saddest things. Like it’s your mom. The only one you ever get.

That was a Tuesday and we were leaving India on Saturday in the wee hours. Honestly? This move, in a weird way, provided a huge distraction during a very sad time. Because we were in the midst of decisions and a constant state of busyness we were able to get through each day of this week without despair.

So this particular move will always be associated with the death of my mother-in-law. His mom, a beloved grandmother, mother-in-law and someone who has been a part of my own life history for more than thirty years. Still seems a bit surreal. I thought she was going to live forever.

But like all of our moves it is never about just one thing or feeling. There is now also some excitement. Starting a new chapter in my home state. We haven’t lived here since we left in 1994! So while it’s still familiar it has been awhile since we permanently hung our hats here. A lot has changed but it feels like we have sort of come full circle.

We are enjoying this transition back to the U.S. and enjoying the great (and clean) outdoors. Our air shipment (14 moving boxes-clothes, linens and personal items) arrived last Monday. The sea shipment (furniture and rest of it) will follow in the middle of November. I don’t care too much about “things” but I will be glad to have our photo albums, framed pics, art, personal papers and family history back with us.

I feel so very fortunate. It’s like my being has absorbed all of the people and experiences on this twenty-four year journey through Texas, California, Malaysia and India. So that I can always carry these people and places with me. Ensuring that I will never forget any of them.

So that’s my news. This is where I am. You are officially updated.

I look forward to working on this blog with more frequency. Lots of writing to be done.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

 

 

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There are a few issues in the U.S. that need addressing.

We need to start respectful, serious discussions.

Mass shootings in America has totally gotten out of control. I think we can all agree on that. What we cannot agree on is how to fix it. Or prevent it.

There is always someone who will say loads of people die from drugs, alchohol or car accidents. Should we ban driving? Again with the Prohibition?

Someone actually did say this.

No. But as a nation if we can keep improving why wouldn’t we try?  In many ways we have shown so much progress.

Our children are strapped in secure car seats. Probably saved a few lives. While biking we have our kids wear helmets. I am sure that prevented a head injury or two. We still have cars but almost every American buckles up once they are behind the wheel. Think that kept a body or three protected. Cars are now outfitted with air bags. I can tell you that helped me when I was in a head on collision many years ago.

The age to use/buy alcohol was changed and while young folks can/will still find a way to drink it might just have decreased the rates of alcohol related accidents/deaths and early addiction for some.

So why, when it comes to our children being safe while learning their ABCs or attending a concert, would we not want to look at any/every possible way to keep them secure? Have safety measures in place?

I feel like it’s closing in on us.

Long time followers of this blog will remember that my niece and nephew lived in the next town over from Newtown when that horror took place. Neighboring schools went into lockdown mode. My nephew was under the desk and couldn’t understand why his teacher was yelling. My niece was sent into the cubbie with the teacher pretending it was a game.

That was right before Christmas. Next town over but it effected everyone in the area. My brother and his wife were sick about it. Could hardly talk about it. Who wouldn’t be sick about it? I just can’t imagine the pain of a parent losing their baby like that. The fear those children must have experienced.

Not too long ago there was a terrible shooting in Las Vegas. Wasn’t in a school but during an outdoor concert. A young girl, whose mother worked in the office at my daughter’s California school, was shot in the head that day. A guy who attended high school with my friend Karla was killed.

Something has to be done. A lot has to be done. And maybe both sides of this debate can make the decision to move a bit closer to ensuring the safety of our children.

They can be the future.

If they’re safe.

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