Sunday, May 30, 2010

Little Gifts

We stayed home this memorial weekend. When you’re retired it doesn’t make sense to leave home when the rest of the population is traveling. It’s difficult to be a recluse when on the road with millions of people.

Yesterday we did yard work. Like adventurers slicing our way through the jungle, we pulled the weeds and overgrown branches from the flower bed that is just outside our bedroom window. While we were pulling and chopping the birds made loud comments from the brush where the lawn falls off to the river below. We discovered a small nest under a bush with more than a dozen tiny eggs. The mother was gone, but we were pretty sure that she was the one making such a racket in the bushes at the edge of the lawn. We made a canopy over the nest with the branches that we had cut and moved on to another project. My husband commented that since we had disturbed the nest, the quail would probably abandon it.

This morning I could hear quail babbling in the backyard and I wondered if the mother had returned to the nest. I found her all fluffed up over her eggs. As I moved my finger to take her photo, she flew away. I snapped a quick picture of the eggs and retreated to the house. I won’t be disturbing her nest again. It will be so good to have little ones around the house again!

Life is good.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sarah Can Hear Again

I am a member of the Hermiston Lions. In fact, I am the chair of the Sight and Hearing Committee. The Lions focus in community service is sight and hearing. The majority of the money our club raises goes to community members who need assistance in paying for eyeglasses or hearing aids. With the down turn in the economy we have had an increase in applications for assistance. Just this past week we exhausted our budget for financial assistance until we raise additional funds.

Last week I listened to my answering machine and found a message from a 70+ year old woman, Sarah, who had applied for assistance from the Lion’s Foundation to get hearing aids. The foundation refurbishes donated hearing aids and provides them free-of-charge to candidates who have been referred by a local Lions Club. The local club provides funding for the applicant to get hearing testing and fitting of the aids.

Sarah said “Thank you, thank you so much. I can hear again. Thank you for once again allowing me to be who I am. I can hear again. Thank you.”

I could hear the tears in her voice.

There are some frustrations in administering a charitable fund. I’ve had applicants argue with me because they wanted more money than our club allows. Some applications contain untruthful information. People get angry if we can’t fund their application or if they don’t meet the guidelines for eligibility. I rarely hear back from the people we have helped.

Sarah was an exception. Her message made my day and reminded me that one small action can change a life. I am grateful for the opportunity to help.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Eastern Oregon Afternoon Storm

There was a weather alert this afternoon about 5:00 that warned of severe thunderstorms and hail.  We moved the cars into the garage and shop and got everything under cover.  Off to the west we could see a wall of black clouds moving toward us.  Within minutes the rain was pouring down, and just as quickly it was over.  The main part of the storm had missed us and we avoided the "hail the size of quarters" that fell in neighboring communities.  As the storm moved on the black clouds became a backdrop in the eastern sky to a rainbow.  Golden light illuminated the backyard.  It was a moment of natural beauty...  it's easy to be grateful when the storm passes and there's a rainbow!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Spring Silences

Our weather is finally turning. Spring is a beautiful time in eastern Oregon, but in Hermiston we get fierce spring winds. Today brought bright sun, vivid blue skies and no wind.  I love a hot day with just enough breeze to keep the bugs off. I ride my bike down the lane to the mailbox and revel in the warm wind floating over my body.

The neighborhood is quiet this time of year. Kids are still in school and their parents are at work. It’s only us retired people puttering around the neighborhood. On my bike I can sneak by the quail and pheasants without disturbing their routine. The neighborhood is serene and I can hear the birds, mostly the annoying magpies, twittering in the trees. The sun is on my back and the balmy breeze washes over me as I pedal around my kingdom. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Life is good.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Two-Year Anniversary

Today we celebrated the two year anniversary since my husband’s heart attack. We had a dinner of heart healthy salmon. A heart attack is a big wake up call. It makes you stop and pay attention. My husband was one of those people who never needed to visit a doctor. Other than an occasional cold, he was never ill. He was physically active and weighed the same that he did in high school. He was probably still wearing some of the same clothes! He was about to turn 60 years old and he smoked.

Late morning the day of the heart attack Paul loaded up his boat and headed off to fish in the Columbia River, a short two miles from our house. Alone in the boat on the river, he started to feel ill. He thought he had indigestion and he drank a soda to settle his stomach. When he didn’t feel any better, he headed back to shore and loaded up the boat to drive home. Two blocks from the boat ramp he blacked out behind the wheel of the pickup and drove into a utility pole. He knocked out power to an apartment complex and the loud bang brought a crowd of people to his assistance. Someone called 9-1-1 and a bystander found his cell phone and called me.

I could hear the sirens in the background of the phone call. The caller told me he had been in an accident but was conscious, was dripping with sweat, and was being taken to the local hospital.

I found out the details later. The police were the first official responders and they thought he had been drinking. The police officer kept asking him “How much have you had to drink?” and not accepting that he had not been drinking. There were two unopened bottles of beer in his cooler, along with another can of soda and bottled water.

When the paramedics arrived at the scene they knew right away that it was a heart attack. They wasted no time in getting him to the hospital. I beat them to the hospital by a few minutes. His EKG was transmitted to a cardiologist at the regional trauma center. He received the miracle clot busting drug and was loaded back on the ambulance for the 30 minute drive to the regional center. The ambulance driver told me to meet them at the hospital but not to try and keep up with them. “We’ll be driving with lights,” he told me. It was only much later that I realized he meant the flashing ambulance lights.

I got to the second hospital as they were running with him on a gurney down the hall to the operating room. The surgeon stopped at the door to the operating room and told us to say our good-bys.

Paul received two stents. He was conscious during the procedure and told me later that it was immediate relief when the blockage was finally cleared. The pain stopped immediately.

It seems strange to say, but the best thing that happened to him that day was that he ran into a utility pole. If he had stayed out on the river, he might not have made it to shore alive. If he had driven home he would have crawled into bed to take a nap and I would have found him dead. Hitting the pole assured that got the professional attention that he needed to live. The paramedics immediately recognized the signs of a heart attack and got him where he needed to be. Although it was late afternoon on a Saturday, the cardiologist happened to be in the hospital when the call from our local hospital came in. He stayed and waited for the ambulance to arrive. They got to the operating room within the golden hour.

We have much to be grateful for. Two years later Paul has made a complete recovery. He quit smoking and has made significant changes to his diet. We rarely eat red meat anymore. He’s not as good as he should be about exercising, but we definitely are living a healthier lifestyle.

We have much to be grateful for, but time tends to dull the memories and we forget some of those lessons that were learned the hard way. It’s good to celebrate these anniversaries and remember how close we came to a different ending.

Life is good and we are grateful.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Story Where Everyone Hates Nana

I’ve written frequently in my blog about my granddaughters. Being their Nana is one of the joys of my life. I’ve written about the cute things that they say and our adventures when I visit them in Austin, Texas. I just returned from my latest visit where I attended the wedding of my son-in-law’s sister.

The granddaughters were the flower girls in their aunt’s wedding. They had beautiful dresses and wreaths of flowers in their long blond hair. They were picture perfect. They each carried a basket of petals down the long aisle and only remembered to throw them when they reached the alter.

My job at the wedding was flower girl wrangler. I managed to get them bathed and to the church on time and keep them clean and out of the baptismal font before the start of the ceremony. (Although later we wondered if we should have let Hunter take a dip to drive the demons out.) From my seat in the fourth row I watched them walk slowly down the aisle and whispered to them as they passed me “Throw the flowers, throw the flowers!”

At the reception they roamed with a small pack of children and I watched to make sure they didn’t get too wild. We enjoyed the buffet and they managed to finish the meal, complete with beverage, without a spill. They had been remarkably well-behaved throughout the event, but we knew not to push our luck. We had decided to take the children home after dinner, and after a long exciting day, get them to bed at their regular bedtime. Nana would stay with the kids and their parents could enjoy the drinks and dancing at the reception with their friends and family.

Implementation of the plan was going just fine until the girls realized that Mommy wasn’t with us in the car. Daddy, who hadn’t made even one visit to the open bar so he could drive us home, was in the driver’s seat, but Nana was sitting in Mommy’ s place. As we left the parking lot the wails started.

“I want my mommy!”

“I want my mom…mom….mom…eeeee!”

Calm explanations by Daddy and Nana were having no effect. It was obviously all Nana’s fault that Mommy was absent. Soon a new chant filled the car.

“I hate Nana.”

I hate Nana; I want my mom…mom…eeee.”

Two high pitched, wailing voices chanted the whole way home, “I hate Nannn……nnnnnna!”

At the house Hunter threw herself on the floor screaming for her mother. Picture a red-faced cherub in a pool of ivory organza with tears streaming down her face. Her sister kept up the chorus wailing “I hate Nana.”

I told my son in law to go. “They’ll be fine.” I said “They’re just tired.” And I crossed my fingers that it was true.

With one uncertain look back at me he left. Two minutes later I turned on a video of Cinderella, changed them into jammies, and fed them a snack. The wailing ceased and they snuggled with me on the couch to watch the movie. I called their parents to report that all was fine.

At 8:30 we were snug in bed reading bedtime stories. Hunter dozed off before we finished the second book. As I cuddled with Megan she said “I love you Nana.” And I resisted the urge to tell her “That’s not what you said earlier!”

That’s the thing about family. We aren’t always kind, but in the end we really do love each other.

I'm grateful for family...even the ones who hate me!
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