On Death and Dying

Twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be sitting in a hotel in Huntsville, Alabama thinking about my final exit from this earth. Yet, while my grandson is enjoying his first experience at Space Camp, I am pounding out a proposal for a new work of non-fiction that has to do with dying. Those that know me, really know me, understand I have no fear of dying. And I am just crazy enough to be able to say it! My peace about dying is assured.

Why am I blogging about it? Because I am beginning to find humor in all that remains to be done! I swear since I have been born, I have been on one big run. From a child, I remember being told to “slow down.” But when you are “wired” for speed, you can’t slow down, just like if you are “wired” to laugh when you are afraid or are being yelled at. (Yes, I do that, as well.) You can imagine as I approach a BIG birthday, why the thought of dying and death crosses my mind a little more often than it used to. It seems I am racing toward a finish line with no ability to slow time down. I’m feeling out of control. (Which I am.)

Every ache and pain that arises out of nowhere is a constant reminder of how much I need to get done before I go. I know my days are numbered but do I really want to leave my closets and cupboards in such disarray for my son and his wife to clean out?  I can hear my daughter-in-law’s voice when she arrives at my stuffed closet and pulls out that Little House on the Prairie dress I have saved for forty-seven years. She’ll probably say “Really? Bless her heart.” Those words will reverberate in my ears until I clean that closet.  She won’t get that was the dress I wore on the day I told my beloved father-in-law I was pregnant. She won’t understand that he’d laughed with delight, but told me he’d figured as much because the dress made me look like I was already nine months pregnant. I was briefly crushed as I thought that calico dress made me look really pretty. When he died of a heart attack a few days later, I could never let that ugly dress go. I have it still, a reminder of a father who loved me.

So I think. Will the toilet be clean should an EMT have to use it when they come get me? Should I shave my legs should one of them pat my skin while we ride to the hospital or morgue? Maybe it’s time to cut my hair really short as someone could run their fingers through it to help me look more presentable as I waste away in a hospital bed.

Then there is the eyebrow situation. Maybe I should take my good friend’s advice and just get them tattooed on. With my luck, I’d have a beautician who paid more attention to her cell phone than my face and I’d end up with brows that looked like I was always asking a question.

I don’t want anyone fighting over my fur coats. Or jewelry. My daughter-in-law will take anyone out when it comes to diamonds. We are bling girls, her and I. But she hates fur so they will be distributed as promised….maybe. She loves animals and without my unwritten will they might get tossed.

How will my son find the passwords to all my social media sites? If he can’t find them will his friends forever remember me by that one photo posting mistake where I’m on top of a table, and my dress is pulled up over my head?

Have I made my wished known about burial or will I be relegated to the burn barrel and Bic lighter my son has threatened for years?

Will anyone have anything good to say about me or will they only remember I talked too much?  Did I make a difference in anyone’s life? Is being prepared on the inside enough to eliminate the chaos I may leave for others on the outside? Will my clutter be forgiven?

Just thinking……and laughing inside! Got to run now.  After all, it’s what I do!

 

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What’s Stopping You????

I am sitting at my small desk, quite a departure from my previous “office” of my last house. I now live on the second floor of a three story condo. Two bedrooms, two and a half baths. Small in comparison to the four bedroom, two car garage home I left behind. This past year, life has changed once more and it gave me an excuse to put down my pen for awhile. Too busy with the move and the changes that have come hurling at me as fast as a wayward hockey puck. have two big windows in front of me that face the road to the community garage. Cars come and go quite routinely. Being hyper-sensitive to distractions, my head bobs as though on a spring every time a car drives by or a neighbor decides to go for a stroll.

Before, in my large office, my windows faced a sprawling, peaceful field of gold. Rarely did I notice anything more than a fleeting butterfly or bird. Now, I have two big windows in front of me that face the road to the community garage. Cars come and go quite routinely. Being hyper-sensitive to distractions, my head bobs as though on a tightly coiled spring every time a car drives by or a neighbor decides to go for a stroll. To say I am distracted would be an understatement. Another excuse.

I close my eyes and say a little prayer for the wisdom and guidance I need to push myself   into the world I love. Suddenly, the words and thoughts start to flow! My fingers rattle over my keyboard and my words begin to come to life!

So it goes as a writer. One moment we are empty and giving ourselves a thousand reasons why we “can’t” write today. Then the next moment our minds are so full of stories, characters, and endings that we cannot be dragged from our desk for hours.

It is then I realize that the biggest enemy to my writing is ME! I am the one making excuses! I am the one putting my work out there! I am the one scared of rejection!

And so I pull down the shades on my windows and plod on. How about

How about you? What’s stopping you?

 

A Big, Fat Butterball!

The decorations for Christmas are up and the countdown to Thanksgiving has just begun. I know there is something not quite right about that, but it is what it is. I’m in a new house and will be doing some entertaining over this holiday season, so I wanted to be well prepared instead of crazy-legged, as I normally am.

With everything in it’s place, I decide to trot to the store for a turkey. Mind you, the crowd at my house will be small, as my son is in Guam and my daughter-in-law is excitedly awaiting her parents arrival. They will be feasting on their own turkey, fixed in the lovely tradition of the South.

And my bird? With only 3 or 4 people, I thought a bird of about 10 pounds would be enough. Plenty of leftovers for the turkey sandwiches we’d enjoy after the afternoon naps.  But just inside the doors of the local Food Lion, I hear a muffled announcement that sounds something like this. “Attention shoppers! Fur ruru rur Thanksgiving rur rur rur turkeys  rur rur fur pound! Buy rurrur NOW!”

A second later, I see every one in line dashing toward the back of the store. Well, I didn’t want to miss anything, so I beat feet down the health food aisle, (the least trafficked aisle in the place,) and round the corner as though I were A. J. Foyt headed to the finish line. People are climbing over each other, tugging medium-sized turkeys from the case and clutching them to their chests as though they homely children.

Not to be outdone, I drill myself under the armpit of a wide-berthed woman and latch onto a piece of plastic mesh I am sure is attached to just the turkey I had come for. All of a sudden, I feel a tug on the other end of my bird. I can only see a pair of big hands, but I know they are connected to my turkey, so I pull. In the meantime, the wide-berthed woman in whom my head is lodged decides on a tiny bird that could pass for a pigeon, just like the old woman standing beside us. As I pull on my bird, I realize from the look on the woman’s face that there are no more to be found. I am having a tug-of-war  under the armpit of this wide-berthed woman, see-sawing back and forth with Big Hands, while this same woman is trying to retrieve a frozen pigeon from the basket of the old woman beside her. I feel the grip of Big Hands start to give way, when all of a sudden, the old woman swings around, her basket hitting the wide-berth woman and knocking her into the freezer with me attached under her arm. My turkey flies loose sending Big Hands into the milk counter and the turkey into Wide-berth. It took several minutes for the horrified crowd to react to the situation, but by the time the store manager arrived, we were all upright again.

Too embarrassed to glance up at the crows or the bird, I tossed my turkey into my cart and ran toward the cashier. $36.63 was the total. A Butterball. Big. Fat. Butterball. All 37 pounds of her.

Let’s just say I’ll be eating turkey until Easter.

 

 

 

Yes, Ms. Bonet, I Do Remember You!

I am sitting at my writing desk fumbling with an aqua-colored  button given to me by a thin, aged woman I met one winter day on my way to Chicago several years ago. We were sitting side-by-side on a United 737 airplane when I saw the button fall from her hand knit sweater into her lap. She hadn’t noticed it and when she crossed her legs it fell to the floor. I patted the floor to retrieve the tiny bit of plastic and placed in to her trembling hand. I complimented her on her sweater, as I had never seen such a delicate weave or color before. One thing led to another and soon we were chatting about how the sweater came to be.

Her name was Yvette Bonet. She shared with me that the sweater was almost seventy-years-old, passed down from her grandmother to her mother and then to her. She had owned it since she was sixteen, a gift passed to her on that special birthday. The wool was angora, imported from France and dyed the pale aqua by a clothier in Paris. My eyes ran over the covering again, seeking ordinary pilling to a small hole that might give away the garment’s age, but their was none to be found. The buttons I thought were plastic, were actually dyed bone, craftsman carved and held in place by strings made of leather.

I watched her as she wove the leather of that missing button through her fingers and listened as she told me about her journey from France to the United States wearing that very sweater. Her eyes teared as she talked about leaving her beloved country, knowing again she would never see the grandmother she had come to love.

I shared the fact that the color of the buttons reminded me of a favorite aunt’s kitchen table. As we spoke, I found myself closing my eyes and swore I could still smell the six-inch high, fresh rolls that seemed to emerge from my aunt’s kitchen any time a neighbor or friend arrived. I knew the warm butter mixed with homemade jam would drop from my lips at any moment.  In that short journey, this stranger and I shared vivid memories of the bright moments the color of those tiny buttons evoked.

As we hugged each other goodbye, she placed the tiny bone button in my hand. “You gave me back the memories I thought were lost. Remember me with this,” she said as we parted.  “I have no children to pass this on to, but you will remember me, won’t you?”

God is so faithful in the way he has given me out-of-the-blue recollections of so many people I have travelled with over the years. Yes, Miss Bonet, I do remember you.

I push back my office chair and smile at this tiny aqua-colored button that rolls in my hand. It is a good memory.