I Have a Story

(I don’t have much to say lately, but my little sister has been telling some of the interesting things that happened in her life.  Here’s the first one she gave me, about our parents before they died.  I lived through this via video chat from across the states.)

The year finally came.  I began sharing my home with my aged parents and a close elderly family friend, whom I called “grandma”, so I could look out for their well-being on a daily basis.

One November, my father proclaimed his idea for the four of us to draw names out of a hat and buy that person a Christmas present.  That way, we’d all receive something nice for Christmas and still stay within our budget.  Grandma and I liked the idea, but my mother made it very clear to us that she wasn’t going to do anything for Christmas, and we shouldn’t, either.  My mother had Alzheimer’s.  In spite of her unreasonable bullying, Dad, Grandma, and I decided the three of us would do it and Mom just wouldn’t participate.

Christmas morning, the three of us gathered around the Christmas tree to open our gifts.  Mom stayed in the other room watching television.  Grandma opened her gift first.  Being in her 90’s, she was slow and my father had to explain what her gift was.  While they were engrossed in this, talking loudly because they were both hard of hearing, my mother suddenly entered the room, walked directly over to the tree, grabbed the present meant for me, and went back to her room.

Dad and Grandma completed their discussion, and Dad announced he wanted me to open my gift next. I told him that Mom had come and taken my gift and I handed him his gift to open.  After my father had opened his gift, he told me to open mine, having forgotten what I’d said.  Again, I told him that Mom had taken my present for herself.

“Well what did you let her go and do that for?” He exclaimed indignantly. “Go get it back!”

I went to my mother’s room, and she had just unwrapped my present and was admiring it, like a happy child.  It was something my father had picked out with my approval to be sure I would enjoy my present.

I said, “Mom, that’s my present. You chose not to participate, remember?”

She said, “Well everyone should get a gift at Christmas time, and this is my gift!”

I returned to Dad empty-handed and angry. At that time, I didn’t understand Alzheimer’s or dementia and just felt that my 88-year old mother was a bully and a mean-spirited prankster.

“Well? Where is your gift?” Dad demanded.

“Mom won’t give me the present. She is determined to keep it,” I replied angrily.

At that moment my mother appeared again in the room and she and my dad began arguing over my present.  By that time, Grandma was alarmed and loudly talked across them, asking me what was happening.  I had to raise my voice so she could hear me over Dad and Mom.  It appeared that all four of us were in a shouting match on Christmas morning in front of the Christmas tree.  This was not what Christmas should be like!  And none of us were giving in.

Finally, Dad took the present away from Mom’s hands and shoved it angrily at me.  I was angry, because my mother stole a Christmas gift that was meant for me.  Dad was angry because I had let her take it in the first place.  Mom was angry because she didn’t get to keep my present.  Grandma was angry because she was hard of hearing and nobody could explain what was going on loud enough.

We all separated silently to our individual rooms and shut the doors behind us.  My mother had made sure that if she didn’t want Christmas, then we weren’t going to have Christmas, either.

All the joy and happiness that should accompany this holiday was successfully snuffed out.  Over the years, Mom continued to fight me over putting Christmas decorations up, but I still did.  We never exchanged gifts again for Christmas as long as Mom lived. Mom and Grandma passed away a few weeks apart a few short years later.

Looking back on it, it was funny.  But at the time, Mom, in her dementia, believed I was an enemy and she had the need to control everyone, even in illogical ways.  It was very sad.

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Farewell

I looked out the window just now.
Water drops drip off the roof edge.
Blue-gray sky, sound of rain on the roof.
Wet brown field, wet green lawn.
The old year leaving us sadly.
Giving way to a new, young year.
I’ll hold your hand, 2018, as you go.
You did good.

The Biggest Battle

(Finally finished this thought from our trip to Gettysburg last April 2, 2018)

Walking through the grounds of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on a cold day in April, I read inscriptions on monuments about blood-puddled ground, rocks slippery with blood, and bodies of men and horses everywhere, dead or wounded.  Like at Little Round Top, where about 330 men were told “to hold at all hazards”–and they did, even after they ran out of bullets; and the 1st Minnesota, 262 men, fighting until only 47 remained when help arrived; and of course, Pickett’s regiment was wiped out.  I cried often, walking among all the graves.

Beyond this very real history, though, I kept thinking that this horrible battle was nothing compared to Satan’s forces against me and you, right now.  He uses all the canons (government, wars, invaders); snipers from the hills and trees (luxuries, hobbies, laziness), and the screaming hordes with all their rifles and bayonets (TV, News, work, school, tragedies, health).  I sometimes see the fallen around me among spiritual blood and gore, splattered everywhere, and think…do I run?  General Jesus says, “No, stand firm and defend your soul and your right to go to Heaven at all hazards!”  I sigh.  This is where real bravery, commitment, and trust come into play.

Drama East of Cleveland

(This happened last August 7, 2018)

Run heavily up old wooden stairs as fast as you can then

Roll back down them full body banging against walls and stairs then

Flip the lights on and off several times and

Throw a glass punch bowl across the hall into the wall and

Flinch at the loud crashing crushing tinkling sounds of breaking

glass after the loud thud on the wall

Run back up the stairs and jump down while skipping every other stair

Slam a metal bat into the picture window and

scream when the shattering glass sklatters around you

Flip the lights on and off again and run for dear life when the

747 airplane crashes through the roof crushing blasting shrieking roaring….

Over and over and over

The sounds of an impressive triplet set of thunderstorms passing through last night east of Cleveland

Brenda & Tam’s Great Adventure

(This happened on September 5, 2018)

This morning I went to visit Brenda

Brenda and her husband Fred and I chatted over the after-breakfast table (I snagged a couple of bacon slices…sigh)

Fred left to work around the farm, while Brenda and I went for a wild ride in her 4-wheel farm utility vehicle, her two dogs ran around us, baying at the fun

Brenda confidently took the vehicle off the road, onto field edges, through woods on vague paths with tree branches whipping, trying to pull us out

She showed me what oak trees look like, ash trees, maple trees, and her personal big-rock-patches (piles of rocks), and she found an old hickory nut for me

She stopped so I could run a fox-tail weed head through my hands, so soft

We saw butterflies, white, yellow, and then a monarch… and

Brenda took off to hunt for milkweed, the plant that monarchs lay their eggs on

She drove back over the field edges, but no milkweeds, drove slowly down to her mail box, looking intently at all the weeds at the side of the road.

I learned what Stinging Nettle looks like ( I have the dried leaves in tea bags!), still no milkweeds.

She turned around and drove back past the chicken coop, then abruptly stopped

Milkweed on my side!

She got out while I hung out the side of the vehicle to investigate the milkweed (now I know what it looks like)

Found one with a gorgeous monarch caterpillar, about 1 1/2 inches long, stocky, with a variety of colored bands wrapped around its body

We wondered, if we stretched out the caterpillar, if those bands would look more like monarch colors, but we only wondered

We soaked up the beautiful creature into our memories (didn’t have the camera)

Then Brenda drove further looking for possible chrysalises of the teenagers incubating into butterflies but

I was very hungry, lunch time, feeling like the caterpillar–gotta eat

Brenda drove back around to her house, the dogs looking exhausted but satisfied, and we said goodbye as I got into my car, with a smile on my face

I saw a monarch caterpillar.  Me.

Falling Stars

(August 13, 2018)

The alien called Skid-loader noisily arrived in the dark, its bright lights blinding us

beckoning us to put our folding chairs in its yawing mouth and sit on its upper lip

Lifting us up a few inches, it backed up and slowly, bumpily

took us behind our friend’s farm in northeastern Ohio

its lights bounce-playing on the rows of tall corn as we passed

I screamed when the alien tilted and tipped on uneven ground

The Husband kept manfully-quiet but hung on tightly

Skid-Loader stopped close to the folding-chair-reclined figure of our friend’s wife

near an open field

highlighted in the alien lights

staring up at the dark, starlit sky

We stepped off Skid-loader’s mouth, thankful to be safe, and unfolded our chairs as

it moved around beyond us and shut down to rest

Our friend appeared from behind and reclined on his own folding lounge chair

We all stared up into the gorgeous starry sky

Glossy clouds tried to cover our monitor into space but stayed away just

enough for us to see past them

Many airplane lights flashed, heading in different directions, then

what we came for happened!

Here… over there… down there…

“Oh!  Did you see that!!”

“Huge flaring arc!”

“Yeah!  A long one!”

All this to see meteor showers or as we enjoyed calling them

Falling Stars

Kind and Sad Both End in “d”

Kindness happens because we care, sadness comes because we lose what we care about.  If we didn’t care, weren’t kind, we wouldn’t feel sad about loss, but deep inside, we’d feel sad about being lonely.  I’d rather be sad because I cared.

We’ve had a very sad morning.  Our new friend, Kitty, didn’t come for breakfast.  While calling her, Chris saw a body on the highway, in front of the gas station.  He checked and then I checked.  It was Kitty.  We were so close to getting her to stay in the garage, but she was afraid of it.  She wasn’t afraid of the road, though, loaded with deathmakers, like most people, spiritually speaking.  God offers a place of safety, but they are afraid of it, for whatever reason, and prefer wandering around on the broad road leading to death.  Chris is hurting bad about Kitty, but we were able to give Kitty friendship, food, and company for a couple of weeks, which she didn’t have before.  Which she didn’t have before.

First Kitty Sighting
2018, August 11, through the front door window.
Kitty Sighting
Yesterday morning, Aug. 11. Our last morning together.