Snodgrass & the power of stuffies – bonus guest post

Bonus in so many ways.

The following is an e-mail Mom sent to the NC Women on the Internet dist list – she loved that circle of friends, many of whom she’d never met & never would, but held a special place in her heart.

Mom was in a suburban Philly hospital, where she’d been transferred for rehab after taking a serious tumble in late July, down in Alexandria, VA – we were there for a brunch she was throwing later in the day for family & friends in the Metro DC area.  Three weeks later, she would fly from her earthly nest, straight – she was certain sure – into the arms of her Own True Love.

 

Subj:         [women] Mindwalkers – Snodgrass and the power of stuffies

Date:        8/25/01 12:11:40 AM Eastern Daylight Time

From:        Mindwalker1910@aol.com

I am feeling more my old self today.   My tummy does not hurt, at least not seriously, but it is still bloated, which concerns the doctors which concerns me.

The surgeon who saw me in the wee small hours last Saturday has dropped in to see me almost daily.   I like Dr. Raner, he is what they used to call a straight shooter – he explained that they hope to treat this thing conservatively because I have a 1-in-3 chance of not surviving surgery.   He is concerned because the walls of my bowels are so thin and battered by the condition and testing that perforation or “dead” bowel – or both – is a possibility.   

Elsa had me give my word that I would notify the staff if my tummy pains returned, which would be an “indicator” that things were not good.   

I am not out of the woods.   He also explained to me in terms that I could understand why I am still on a liquid diet.   I am still not happy

about it and would dearly like to have solid food and do not really understand the ins and outs of what he said, but it made sense at the time.  

Whew – that was a lot!

Staff members are beginning to do what they did when I was in  rehabilitation at Elkins Park two years ago – dropping in to see my room.   It perks up their spirits.   My “boom” box usually has on a classical music station or I have on a classical CD.   Current favorites include the 2-CD set of “The world’s most relaxing classical music,” Bach’s “Anna Magdalena Notebook,” Wynton Marsalis playing Haydn, and a cd that includes the “Vivat Nova” on guitar.   I have had doctors drop in who have nothing to do with myself or my roommate, Mrs. Nordblom, because they have heard the music or because they have heard that I have an art display in my room  or they have heard about my health link chain and want to see it.  

 

Today, Elsa brought what made me feel better than almost anything – the rest of the   “headboard kids,” the stuffies off of my bed.   I have had Springerle with me since I entered ICU at Alexandria Hospital (he had come down with us for the overnight).   Elsa has brought “guests” by each day.  

Yesterday, she brought Chevy, the golden bear that Judy & Paul gave me for my 90th birthday, and Clarissa*, a more mature stuffie, a gorilla in a lace collar who usually sits on my night table.   At my request, she left Clarissa***  when she went home last night.   Then, today she showed up with all of the headboard kids – Chevy and Benita**(a hippo puppet with a long history of being a healing presence) and Bennett** (I have a great story about Bennett, a yellow duck puppet,   from a stay at Holy Redeemer over twenty years ago) and Smithy** (I think he is a spider monkey) and Snodgrass.   They are all a comfort to me, but there is something special about Snodgrass – Michael made him.

**put into my care by Mim     * put into my care by Brenda

Michael’s art teacher was Maggie Bostock.   She had the class make sock monkeys – grey monkeys with a big slash of a red mouth, long arms and long legs.   Mike’s always had a lot of personality, but it was after I accidentally put him in the wash and literally knocked the stuffing out of him that he really started to look like Mike.   When Kerry and Mike went to Australia all those years ago, Snodgrass came to our house.   According to Mim and Elsa, Snodgrass is the epitome of “cool,” as anyone who sees him can tell.     All day today and I am sure throughout tonight his long arms have been slooped around my neck and his head softly laid against my jaw.  He – and Clarissa and Bennett and Benita and Smithy and Chevy and Springerly – are bits of home that hug back.

Perhaps when I am finally sprung from here and back home, I will have a “coming out” party to celebrate my return home and to introduce you to the stuffies of Squirrel Haven.   It might sound foolish to many of you for a grown woman to be talking about stuffies, but think about it for a moment.  

What person – especially adults – would not be well served by something that is always there when you need a hug.  

Look around your bedroom – is there a stuffie within hugging range?  Think about it.

Love to one and all – Grammie

((Can you tell I am feeling more human today?))

 

*** “Clarissa,” said in a loving voice, was Mom’s last word, on 09/16/01

“Dear Mom” – guest post

A friend posted this on Facebook.  How well John & I know the feelings she describes! Took us by surprise, the first time it happened.

Am grateful that my John understands that when I’m feeling really miserable – for some reason, especially with the flu – that what I really, truly want above all else is for Mom to walk into the bedroom with a glass of ginger ale (on the warm side, no ice) or a  big mug of steaming hot Campbell’s chicken soup – the standard can, not the chunky – and crackers.

Dear Mom,
I am ending a fairly miserable day with a long stay in my bathroom. For whatever reason–either the generic “tylenol” was contaminated with gluten, or I got exposed too closely to my students’ lunch, or maybe this is a plain old intestinal virus–I am sitting here at nearly midnight clutching the empty trashcan and praying that i wont need it again.

I miss you so much! You were always such a compassionate nurse, and even when you couldn’t stop the natural progression of an ailment, you knew how to lighten its effects. Sure wish I had someone like you around.

Much love,
LJN

newest discovery – C. Joybell C.

No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!

Just settling down after taking my morning walk – a brief commune with the world, getting my heart rate up, my little grey cells perking.  Set a big pot of water to boil (low flame) to cook the small potatoes that have patiently waited for me to transform them into a luscious late summer salad.  Headed up stairs, fired up the the laptop, primed to write a posting about the JOY of stepping into, at 65, into an organized scheduled life.

And everything shifted.

Finding the opening quote introduced me to C. Joybell C., who hooked me with her 08/22/17 blog posting – Comfort & Earthquakes, a book so recently published (ten days ago!), it’s not listed on her Facebook milestones & I can only find on Amazon, where it is described as, “An unassuming collection of poetry and mini essays composed by the one and only C. JoyBell C. Every word here is designed to effectively comfort and shake the human heart during a time when comfort remains a very scarce, precious commodity and hearts are often numb.”

For a deeper description, I turn to the author, who explains, “I wrote this book because I recognise the extreme lack of true comfort in this world right now. I believe that the single MOST scarce commodity on this planet, is comfort! We have many kinds of fake comfort available in the world today: fake spiritual comfort, fake mental comfort, fake emotional comfort, fake religious comfort, so on and so forth. There is an extreme lack of true, genuine, raw comfort of the nature that HEALS the mind, heart, spirit, soul and physical body. I decided to provide this within a book. But then I also recognised the abundance of numb hearts in this world, hearts that must be moved, shaken and softened. And that is why I added ‘earthquakes.‘”

Comfort & earthquakes – describes my at-this-moment life.  And earthquakes in the sense of ground-shifting moments, massive rivers of ice moving at glacial pace eroding what is there & carrying away the debris;  new ideas slamming up again old, raising consciousness to the skies.  Sheez – just discovered C. Joybell C. & am already quite poetic!

How is it possible that someone who looks like she just graduated from college is already the most frequently quoted author on Goodreads?  Readers seem to go wild over her. Amazon quotes one reviewer extolling that she is  “… like “The Beatles of writing.” It will never get stale and the meanings will reveal more to me each time I read them.”  And per someone quoted on the back of Vade Mecum – “The effect you’ve had on myself and other people’s lives has been astronomical… you are so loved by many!!! You are in every sense of the word the ‘TRUTH and if anyone is stupid enough to think otherwise, they should go and fart peas at the moon!!

Gosh, this is a woman I’d never HEARD of an hour ago!  My sense is that she is a writer who transcends age, adored by people across the life spectrum – and leaving countless others scratching their heads over what all the fuss is about.  Dragons?  Seriously?

Oh, yeah!  My first toe in the the waters of C. Joybell C. (what should I call her?) will be The Conversation of Dragons (volume 3 of The Conversation series, as I am feeling very dragon-ish, which is a good thing – – am newly acquainted with my inner flame, discovering the good it can do rather than the bad I grew up imagining.

C. Joybell C. is apparently a young author & the fans I’ve seen are also young, yet my feeling is that her books could cause a much-needed ruckus in the lives of a lot of use oldsters elders & ancients.  Stay tuned – won’t be reading it by the end of summer, but thinking it will be a perfect book for crisp fall days easing into the chill of winter.

There I go again – just thinking about C.J.C., am seized with the poetic!

THE AGELESS WAY ~ Karen Sands

Much as I appreciated the insights gained by reading Karen’s Visionaries Have Wrinkles , her book, THE AGELESS WAY, left me floored.

Opening up the large book, was impressed right off the bat with how it leaves plenty of space in the margins for jotting notes – priceless! Because of the generous margins it offers for jotting notes in the margins, it’s almost over-sized.  Praise be!

I am only up to page 121, but had to make The Ageless Way my first official book bravo. Oh, to have the financial wherewithal to put a copy in the hands of every 25-year old!

Karen describes herself as a “visionary trailblazer and game-changer” ~ my description is force of nature.   She is larger than life, ebullient yet grounded, a major force in rocking staid stodgy stultifying ideas of “aging” to their out-dated roots, ripping them out, replanting bold & bodacious ways of moving along the age spectrum.  What joy for me that we met & talked at last year’s Positive Aging conference, that we’ve stayed in touch (however lightly) since.

It’s no joke to say that Karen has A LOT of Forrest Gump in her.  She has a knack for being present at mega paradigm-shifting moments.  It is a thrill to see how all she is, all she has developed & nurtured throughout her life, is making such a magnificent difference in the lives of all of us because we’re ALL aging upward!

Confession:  I set this book aside on first reading, weirded out that she put 40+ younguns in the same category of Boomers.  Now,  a third of the way in, I deeply appreciate that she includes midlife.  I’d start even earlier!

How to describe The Ageless Way?  At times it feels like Karen is sitting with me, sharing a cuppa, telling me tales from her decades of work as a world shaker, trailblazing firecracker!  At others, it feels like I’m in the best sort of seminar.  Or having a literary version of a Vulcan mind meld.  And then there’s the task master, setting out at each chapter’s close “The Ageless Way Reflections” – – questions & exercises designed to help us along our own Ageless Way.

Throughout what I’ve read have been echoes of women & men who’ve graced my life from early childhood, who helped protect me from those staid stodgy stultifying concepts of aging upward that held so many others down.  I grew up with the image of women as amazing agents of change.  First & foremost – my mother.

While most other girls my age had mothers who silently telegraphed the message that getting their MRS was the most important thing they could do, mine was telling about her dream of being a steward on a great ship, a dream she pursued in her early twenties, learning that to get the position, you had to have experience & the only way to get experience was to have the position. She loved her job in the Book Section at Strawbridge & Clothier, delighted in sharing stories about the different famous authors she met, one of whom – Marguerite de Angeli – would become a dear friend of the family in later years.

As she grew upward, Mom modeled the best of best practices, sharing with youngers of all ages that as we grow older, the concepts we held of being, time & relationships ar liberated.  “My feet drag somewhat and I move a lot more slowly than I did, but most days my spirit soars, making itself felt more and more.”

How Mom would have smiled, reading, “This new sense of freedom to stand in her own shoes, to raise her voice” and agreed 100% that  “it brings with it a childlike energy – one of spontaneity, play, laughter & creativity.”

It was from Mom & her circle of friends that I first learned that younger folk might like to think they know it all, but it takes scores of years – not mere decades – to understand, that there is a vast chasm between intelligence & wisdom.

The Ageless Way is  a book that could only have been written by someone who remembers life in the dark past – 40+ years ago – when tick tocking past 65 seemed to many a fate possibly worst than death.  I marvel at all she has seen, at the changes SHE has helped bring about that brought us to this place, this moment where astonishing wonders reach out & touch everyone on every spot along the age spectrum.

Young people need this book because they long to hear voices like Oliver Sacks, quoted by Karen, talking about the 80s being one of the most enjoyable decades of his father’s life, how the older man felt “not a shrinking but an enlargement of mental life & perspective.”  Younger people NEED  to hear that, whether they are in their late teens, thirty-something, or making their way through the midlife maze.

Being Ageless means, in part, developing this ability to step outside our lives, to step outside time, and see the world & life as it really is.  To go beyond simple knowledge & take that step into knowing.  To feel in our bones what time really is & to appreciate both the transcience & the beauty that is Ageless.”  – –  Thanks, Karen ~ I needed that.

So do we all.  Oh, to be able to give A) this wondrous book to everyone post-high school member of my circle of loved ones, along with B) the time to read it, then share their own impressions.  Maybe take a month or more to discuss it.  To talk about older role models it brings to mind, the qualities we most appreciate in them, how what they lived connect to what Karen writes.

The Ageless Way & Karen are to be savored like a fine aged scotch or fine vintage port – slowly, with attention to the layered flavors, with awareness & awe.

 

Organized? Me?

In the month since my return home from IAGG, John & I have found our home church, are regular participants in a weekly mutual support group, participated in a full moon drum circle, started a meditation practice, take dinner every other week to a young friend & her two strapping sons & go out on a walk every night before bedtime.

John might very well wonder who absconded with his wife, although he seems happy enough with the changes.  The front room is finally cleared, the front lawn (my responsibility, with the rotary mower) is being shorn, we’ve shifted from nominally to healthy vegetarian meals, am up every day at 5:15 a.m., do my morning rituals then am out the door by 5:40 a.m. to get the heart rate going with a brisk walk around the block before settling in for journaling then at least an hour of writing.

Have even blocked out an editorial calendar for this blog.  GASP!  At the moment, it’s shaping up as follows:    Sunday – Mindwalker1910 guest post  ~    Monday – writing prompt  ~   Tuesday – book discussion   ~   Wednesday – guest post  ~    Thursday –  share a website    ~   Friday  – share a TED talk  ~   Saturday – introduce one of my heart mentors

What I shared with a friend from IAGG as we grabbed one final grab at the very tag end of the IAGG World Congress has turned out to be utterly completely FABULOUSLY spot on  – – unlike every other workshop & conference I’ve attended since 2014, I did not feel changed, transformed at the end of this one.  I felt whole, completed, at one with who I am.

Organized?  Me?  NOT the inspired winger I always saw myself as being?

Not quite.  Organized – yes!  And  still inspired.

Am found of a quote from Harvey, where a character shares with new friends, “‘Elwood,’ my grandmother would say – she always called me Elwood, ‘Elwood,’ she’d say, ‘In this life, you can be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’  For years, I was smart; I recommend pleasant.”

For years, I’ve tweaked that to say it IS possible to be BOTH smart & pleasant.  Likewise, am here to attest, on this day of our Lord August the twenty-ninth, two thousand & seventeen, it IS possible to be BOTH organized & inspired.

Just watch!

 

 

Dreams of – and channeling – Mom

Great dream last night – at a gathering of friends, someone said, “Hey, look who’s here!”  Julie Conaron came forward with her arm through Mom’s – who had apparently dropped in from The Great Beyond to party with her peeps.  She looks wonderful, glowing – much like she at around 87, when we drove the seashore route down to DisneyWorld & took the mountain route home.

We all basked in the world’s best smile & got fabulous hugs.

Was the dream related to channeling Mom for a couple hours yesterday, a Beyond The Veil  high 5 for sharing some much-needed Momisms with a hurting friend?  Gotta think such a lovely experience was more than coincidence, serendipity.

Had a cuppa yesterday with an older friend adjusting to widowhood, after a long, tender marriage.  She apologized for still tearing up talking about her O Best Beloved, months & months after his passing.

In that moment, for the first time, something in me CLICKED.  All my years of being by Mom’s side over her 28-year earthly separation from Dad came to the fore.  I’m not a widow, but I learned a lot from her, things I can share.

Mom NEVER came to terms with losing Dad.  Ever.  For years afterward, she’d wake up in the morning forgetting he was gone, would move her hand across the bed to touch him, only to feel…  nothing.  No one there.  And she had to experience the fresh grief all over again.

Always & forever, Mom missed the touch of his hand, the warmth of his smile, the sound of his voice.  The feel of his arms around her – that was the thing she missed more than anything.  Can recall one day she seemed especially heartbroken ~ she’d realized she could no longer remember the sound of her beloved Pete’s voice.

Heartbroken, but not crying.  Never crying.  In all our years together, I only saw Mom cry once & it had nothing to do with Dad.  That’s a different story, for a different post.

I have no memory of Mom breaking down in tears when Ian, her youngest son, was killed; can recall Dad falling apart, not Mom.

About twelve years after Dad’s passing (long before I flipped for John),  I questioned her stoicism after Dad’s death. Mom never wept in my presence after the stunning blow. As she told it, Mom felt that if she let us see the depth of her heartbreak, Mim & I would gird ourselves against such terrible sorrow.  Astonished, I asked her if SHE regretted leaving herself open to such fearful loss.  That gave her pause.  Yes, her heart was ripped apart by Dad’s passing, but she would not have missed the missing.

In fact, it disturbed Mom when people seemed surprised that she still missed Dad – “But, Kay – it’s been over ___ (fill in blank) years.”  She was especially shocked to hear her own doctor said,  “Kay – it’s been over two years.  You need to move past it.

After I mentioned this yesterday,  my friend suggested that maybe the people who made said such things had never experienced the depth of love & friendship with their spouse that she & Mom had every day with their husbands.  We both agreed – how sad for them.

Which lead us into discussing remarriage, on which Mom had strong opinions.  She cheered for friends who found love after loss, was all for them rediscovering wedding bliss.  She even thought about it for herself – Mom could envision being married to someone other than Dad, she just couldn’t imagine GETTING married to anyone else, couldn’t imagine going through the ceremony.  On hearing that, my friends eyes lit up & she leaned forward, more animated & engaged than I’d seen her all morning – “I’ve wondered about friends who remarried with a justice of the peace!  Maybe that’s why they did!”  We both smiled big smiles.

Funny – the reason I connected with my older friend yesterday is because I’m feeling the lack of older friend wisdom.  We got together for me.  Yet there I was, channeling MUCH older woman wisdom for her.

There is a lot I learned about being a widow from hanging with Mom – and her even older friends, people like “Grandma” Rose & Viola Ridgeway & “Uncle” Ken.  And I learned about the value of creating strong partnerships if not blissful marriages from Gig & other friends/family.  What have other friends & pleasant acquaintances learned from THEIR older family & friends about losing spouses & other loved ones?  What power there would be in gathering together passed-along wisdom that we might not even realize we have!  And pass around some of our own.

Like from a dear friend who lost his wife at a youngish age, reconnected in his 60s with a schoolmate who’d secretly adored him since grammar school, now happily married to her, to the delight & blessings of family & friends.  John & I take special delight them, invariably holding hands, aglow with happiness.  What a story that would be to share!

I’d love to have a guest post from him – from them.  I’d love posts from people who feel that such marriages are somehow wrong, that we are meant to have just one husband & wife, who hold remarriage as out of the question.  Or from people like Mom, who could envision it for herself, but never fully imagine it in her heart.

My dream for this blog…   Yesterday, to my surprise & delight, I channeled Mom for a friend & it made a difference, to her & to me.  From my first posting on this blog, have envisioned it as a place for an embrace of voices sharing what they’ve learned about this one wild wonderful life, through their own experience or via others.  A place of lively discourse, of shared aha moments.  A blog worth drawing a heavenly following!

 

Drivetime Radio – writing prompt

Gooooooooood morning, World!  It is a great Monday morning, just around 6:45 a.m. – weather forecast is sunny & mild.  It was DARK & cool as I headed out an hour ago on my morning perambulation around the block.  It’s not far, but enough to get my heart rate up & my little grey cells working.

Time for the week’s writing prompt.  Imagine flipping on the radio – driving to work or on errands, maybe heading up the River Road on a lazy meander, or working around the house – to your favorite station, your favorite show.  What’s the station, what’s the program?  If it is a music station, what’s playing?  If it is talk radio, what’s being discussed & by whom?

You could reach back.  Someone in my neck of the woods might opt for WIBG am (aka “Wibbage”) & its glory years, from the mid-1950s to mid-60s – –  Joe Niagra, Hy Lit & others spinning rock & roll, rhythm & blues vinyl.  Or WFLN fm – it was all classical music, but my favorite program was Ralph Collier‘s interviews, sponsored by the Campbell Soup Company; I loved the quality of his mind, the interesting guests & topics, that I felt somehow MORE after listening.

My guess is that John’s prompt pick might be the 7:15 a.m. “SOUSA ALARM” on WRTI fm (which added classical music to its jazz format after WFLN went off the air in the late 1990s) – will have to check.  FYI – checked the time & just turned it on – Sousa’s  The Glory of the Yankee Navy!

My pick would be Marty Moss-Coane’s 11:00 a.m. “RADIO TIMES” over on WHYY fm (NPR).  Although Marty tends to be overshadowed by the internationally known & oft deliciously parodied Terry Gross, whose Fresh Air is also produced by WHYY, I prefer her interviewing style & love that her topics often include people & issues close to home.

Marty says her favorite interviews were with Christopher Hitchens, Salman Rushdie, James McBride, Maurice Sendak, and an Indian writer named Sherman Alexie.  A lot of people know at least the names of the first four, but find themselves stumped by Sherman Alexie. He was a gift from Marty to me.

Sherman Alexie is Indian – as in American Indian.  A kindred soul I would never have discovered without Marty.   Hearing them talk about his book,  You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me,  was heart-opening  –  while his experience was more intense & horrific than my life, much of it brought up thoughts of relationships with both my mother & considerably older, massively complicated & complex sister, Mim.  His description ~  “She protected me against cruelty/ Three days a week” ~ of his mother was spot-on Mim; it was the nudge I to start my own book.

For me, the magic of Marty is that while Terry always entertains, Marty makes me feel like we’re sitting on the comfy cozy couch at Be Well Cafe, sharing a cuppa as she fills me in on what’s happening around us.  I come away feeling smarter, deeper, enriched.

On a personal level, I love that Marty grew up on the beautiful campus of St. Andrew’s School , well south of Wilmington DE – the alma mater of my American niece & nephew (and where they shot Dead Poet’s Society) – where her Dad was teacher & later head master ~and~ that, like me, she lives in Bucks County, albeit in a Victorian with a wrap-around porch.

Okay, so that’s this week’s writing or simply pondering prompt – what would you pick as your favorite radio station,  your favorite program & what about it captures your appreciation & loyalty?  If you don’t journal, share it with a friend or a pleasant acquaintance, ask about theirs.  Or write to me about it – deev.murphy@gmail.com.

Start your week by opening your mind & saying, “Awe!”

 

Today’s (08/28/17)  Radio Times  is a teacher round-table – “We’re just a week away from the start of a new school year. Parents are shopping for school supplies, students are squeezing out their last days of summer fun and teachers are prepping their lesson plans. In this hour, Marty talks with a roundtable of award-winning teachers in the Philadelphia School District about their plans for the year. The guests include a first-grade teacher at Mitchell Elementary School, a language arts and social studies teacher at James Martin School and a social studies teacher at Frankford High School (fyi – my John’s alma mater!).”