Thursday Thinking

It’s just the 27th day of the first month of the year. We already know of two people, lifelong friends, who will not be with us at the end of the year. It’s hard to learn that so early into this new year, especially after four significant losses last year.

The advantage to such advance notice is you get to say your good byes. You get to make visits and let them know what they mean to us. Sometimes, you see your loved ones health and body diminishes before your eyes. They are still there. Their minds are still as active as ever. They certainly deserve the respect you’ve always given them. And their spirits hopefully stay as vigorous as ever. They’re entitled to be sad, to be angry, and to be a little grumpy from time to time.

We are all going to meet our endings sometime. Some sooner than later. Others will be here a long time. It’s always too soon. Even when you expect the loss, it’s still a shock when it actually happens. Only God knows when our time on earth is up. There is an old Tim McGraw song, “Live Like You Were Dying.” We should all do that every day.

Why? We would enjoy ourselves much more while truly living. I have a friend who is turning 50 this year. She has vowed to do something different every month for the year. Different things she’s always been interested in doing, but has never tried. How fun! It’s great to try new things; keeping an open mind will help keep the mind working. Your world is bigger. Life is more interesting.

I’m lost in thought about our friends, and wondering about our other friend who just passed away; his remains are coming to Omaha for burial, I’m wondering when that may be. We are hoping for closure. Meantime, just keep this in mind:

Six Ethics of Life

Before you Pray – Believe

Before you Speak – Listen

Before you Spend – Earn

Before you Write – Think

Before you Quit – Try

Before you Die – Live

Make sure you hold your people close. Be careful out there, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

The Beat Goes On

No matter the year, the time of year, life and its beat keeps going on. And on. If we like it or not, it does. Things we don’t want to happen do. We cannot stop it. Since this long awaited year began a few days ago, we have learned of three families who have had someone pass away. There are those who will say terrible things about 2020 and the “curse,” but that’s not right. It’s life. It’s our human experience. We lose people.

One was a man in Ohio, who dated a friend of ours. Even though the relationship ended, there is still a feeling of loss. You feel bad for his family, and for his former girlfriend. Losses that are sudden are difficult. I believe he was in his 70s.

One was the mother of my good friend. She was about 90; I believe. They lost her a long time ago, to dementia. It is a blessing, yet there are still feelings and a significant loss. I believe once you lose both of your parents; you become orphans, regardless of your age. Sure, you’ve been on your own for decades (hopefully) but you still can see your parent(s) and talk to them (Lord willing). It was another sudden loss, even in these circumstances, you want to say goodbye.

The last one was tougher to hear about. A young 47-year-old man, a friend’s son-in-law. I haven’t been able to verify yet, but I think he just married her daughter last fall. They worried about having the wedding during COVID. If this is true, it’s a wonderful thing they did. Life is so fragile. You just never know. Now, his wife and children are wondering what, why, and how? This is hard to witness and experience.

So what can we do? We can learn to just be there. We don’t have to do anything but listen. Don’t offer platitudes of, “He’s in a better place,” “She is so much better off,” or “God only gives you what you can handle.” When your grief is huge, those things do no good, except alienate your friend from you. Any comment of, “Let us know if you need anything,” is most often to no avail. I’ve rarely called anyone to help. Most of us don’t. If you call and offer something specific, “I’ll bring over some lasagna,” “Let me pick up paper products for your families to use,” and perhaps one of the best things is call them after everyone leaves. Everyone else goes home after the funeral and resumes their own lives.

A person who has just experienced loss cannot resume their life as it was. I know if I outlive the Babe, there will be something HUGE missing from my life. From our bed, to our couch, to our dining table. Experience tells me I will live through it; experience also tells me I don’t want to have to feel all of it. But you have to. The more you feel and talk about, the sooner you will heal.

When our dad died, even though we knew he wouldn’t live until Christmas that year, it was still a shock when he died. He died on December 7, 1988. What a day of infamy for our family! In less than a month, we experienced Christmas and his birthday. A lot to cope with. Mom is a rather stoic person, and she would not talk about anything about his dying. She didn’t allow us to talk about him in her presence, so we all were quiet. It was very dysfunctional and all four of us grieved in terrible, destructive ways. Some turned to more drink and more drugs. Some isolated ourselves to insulate against the pain. The pain went to other people because of that.

This is a topic no one wants to discuss very frequently, and it’s one that should be part of our education. You should know how to do your income taxes and learn how to grieve. How the adults in a child’s life handle grief is what the children will mimic as they grow older. Break the cycle of stoicism and silence. We can only learn by what we observe. Let’s be mindful as we continue into 2021. All the “bad things” about life remain with us, despite new goals and a refreshed attitude.

Learn to Deal. Don’t sidestep. You need to meet it head on. You’ll get through it better. You’ll help yourself and others by talking. Telling stories is healthy and necessary. Your stories are how your loved ones will live on. It’s our duty to talk and listen. I hope my kids will talk about me, and I hope it’s good!

My friends at the Centering Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska, are an excellent source of information about grieving. They have books, materials, workshops, and support for those of us who grieve. They have an impressive story, check them out. It is a treasure for when we need it.

As I remember my friends and their losses today, I hope we all are kind to each other. I hope we are all patient with each other. I hope we are loving to each other. Forgive old wrongs. It’s ok to stay away from someone toxic, forgiveness can have boundaries attached. We can learn how to do that.

This year will have its share of joy, kindness, loss, change, love, and whatever we put into it. Leave out the negatives. Kick hatred, malice, gossip, meanness, and nastiness to the curb. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be how you want to be about. It will make all the difference in the world. Thank you for being here today. I’ll see you tomorrow. Blessings.

Wednesday Already?

My cousins and I are mourning the loss of our cousin Rich. Rich died from cancer and he’s the first of our immediate family of our generation to die. We’re so sorry for all of his kids, and hope they find comfort in their memories of him. He served in the USMC in the mid-seventies, and was an excellent carpenter. He must have inherited that from his biological father, who was a carpenter. He was adopted by his step dad, along with his brother Mark, and sister Joleen. Hugs to Mark and Joleen. What a time to lose someone, when you cannot even hold a funeral. Tough times in those situations.

Following a lot of folks on the Facebook, I’m glad I’m not the only one who loses track of what day it is. It’s the bane of retired folks, but with so many people home all day, I think it has finally struck the general population. I think it’s perfectly normal, and we’ll get adjusted how humans have adjusted for centuries, and then it will be time to go back to whatever normal will be. Retired folks will still have the problem, but it’s an ok problem to have. Really. Trust me!

Music of the Day. Love to have Jimmy serenade me while driving to and from Mom’s. Relaxing!

My listening stuck at Jimmy Weber today while driving to Mom’s for her last PT appointment. It’s been a very long three months (for me) and it has helped her a great deal. She’s still not super steady on her feet, balance is affected by her loss of hearing and sight. At least she’s stronger. Her right leg remains much weaker, which is from the strokes a couple years ago. She is looking forward to working in her gardens this year. Mostly all flowers. I always joked, “It keeps you out of pool halls.” And it does!

We are truly living in strange times. Just driving into Omaha and back, the number of cars is fewer than before. It seems like a lot more semis are using the roads, and a big thanks goes to the truck drivers. You and the railroads are moving much needed goods in America right now. I’m just going to need to by some toilet paper by the weekend, I do believe. We have three bathrooms, so each is stocked, but with sharing back and forth the supply is dwindling right now. I think a lot of people that aren’t in their 60’s are going in at old people hour and stripping the shelves earlier. We, as a country, need to share with others better. C’mon, let’s be good humans. Leave some for the rest of us. Please. Thank you!

I typed over 1,000 words for my book yesterday. One of the characters really started to take form. I’m telling about each person separate from the story. It’s a hard choice to make, backstory, as they call it, ruins the flow of the telling of the story. I’m trying it out to see if the juicy tidbits about this crazy family can be told alongside the story to fill in what may be missing. If it doesn’t work, I’ll have more research to do. How do you introduce characters who are close to seventy years old and reveal how they got the way they are? Any suggestions? Ideas? Leave me a comment at the end here, we’ll learn how to do that together.

It’s too late today to really dig in and get much done but I’ll be able to do that tomorrow. It’ll free up a lot of my time now that Mom’s finished with therapy. Another new normal. And pray she doesn’t fall and get hurt! She’s been so fortunate thus far. Hope it continues.

I also want to take a walk around the yard and see if there are any flowers trying to push their way skyward. I didn’t get tulips planted in the ground, but did in a pot. Might be time to start watering that and hope for the best. They can go in the ground anytime after they bloom. Crossing fingers, hoping the dogs didn’t dig everything out. Goldie will have to be taught not to eat the stems, leaves, and blooms. They all go through the billy goat stage, I just hope hers doesn’t last long.

I think the reality of our nation’s situation is business will not be back by April 12. Not if we want to live. I see more info regarding quarantining for at least another six to eight weeks. That sounds much more reasonable to me. I think the President is trying to say what everyone wants to hear. I think some folks dislike him so much, whatever he says will be criticized. No, he’s no wordsmith, I’ll agree with that. I would bet there is so much more to everything right now he must be switching gears quicker than anyone can. He gets stuck going back and forth, hence the hesitation. Let’s just be civil. And safe. And stay home. Wash. Be positive. We all need it!

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your time. Please be safe. Be positive, and we’ll meet again tomorrow. I’ll be here.