Mom’s New Wheels

This morning, I’m reflecting on life since Mom fell. That’s kind of how life of an elderly person is gauged. At 92 and insisting on aging in place, it’s my brothers and my job to make sure she’s as safe as she can be. Whoever said parent becomes child, and child becomes parent was right. And it’s meant with the utmost respect. I’m thinking back on when I lived with Mom and Dad when my son Frankie was born, 50 years ago this October 20. I stayed with them while my first husband was in the service. He isn’t a Veteran of a Foreign War but of the Vietnam ERA. He was stationed in Europe.

They were doing a huge remodeling project to prepare for their 25th wedding anniversary party in their home. Once Frankie started walking (he did at 10 1/2 months and has been on his feet ever since!), it was our job to make that same house safe as he manipulated through it, walking or crawling at break-neck speed.

I’ll never forget her laughing when he grabbed a handful of her brand new white sheers and started chewing on them. Somehow, he snagged them. Instead of blowing her top, she laughed. Who was this woman? Her prized, very expensive sheer curtains, snagged. Ruined, really. She’d have killed any of my siblings or me for the same action. Wow. Wasn’t the first time my son has amazed me.

Isn’t life just full or ironies? I’m glad God has a sense of humor. Wouldn’t life be boring if He didn’t? I think it would be, definitely. Mom’s doctor told her she had to quit using the cane, and use walkers 24/7. Mom had been resisting. Sure, it’s a symbol of some independence lost. I had been trying to convince her all summer to use one. I pitched how much steadier she would be, and how it would actually save her some energy, something we’ve witnessed declining over the last 4 months.

Now, it’s a great idea since her doctor told her. Well, that along with if she keeps falling, it’s an assisted care center. Mom doesn’t understand how nice they are, and if she doesn’t want to participate in activities, she doesn’t have to. That also is a topic for another day.

The Babe looked in the closet the Post has with durable medical equipment in it, and found a walker with the seat on it. Old folks love them, they can stow snacks in them, and have a more secure walk. She’s a firm believer now. We did a maiden voyage Sunday to the wedding shower, and a second trip out yesterday to get her haircut and a perm. She was eager to try her new wheels out, away from the house.

She kept asking “What do you want me to do?” Who is this woman? I told her how I thought moving about to the driveway should go. She jumped right on it. It reminded me of how a baby can scoot around once they get used to their walkers. Back in the day, they had round walkers, with wheels on them. (Sadly, they’re no longer allowed. Too dangerous). Unless they were stopped by an ill placed throw rug, they could pretty much cruise on, full speed ahead. First, my babies, now my mom. Moving around is no longer such an effort for her. We’re thanking God she had enough of a scare to get her attention, and nothing was broken.

One of the most important things? Her spirit and zest seems to be somewhat restored. Her courage is restored. She is less afraid than a month ago. She has seen how she needed the assist of a walker. She says she had no idea how tired it made her trying to stay upright with just a cane or holding onto furniture while navigating her house. It’s a win-win. And nothing is broken. Not even her spirit anymore.

While my brothers and I enjoy a beautiful fall day in Nebraska (well, I will. They’re both stil working!), think about what you may be deep-down fearful of. Trying out a new hobby? Drawing? Art? Making new friends? Is something in you holding you back from enjoying your life? Get some new wheels for yourself. No, not a car. Send fear packing. Get your sense of adventure back. No matter what, you can still Live a Great Story! See you tomorrow.

It’s Been a Week.

We rode high from the outstanding success of our awards ceremony at the Post Sunday. We raised $2,020 for Nebraska COPS; a donation of $3,500 from ABATE and our Car Shows/Raffles fundraising produced $2,240 checks for both Guitars for Vets and Moving Veterans Forward. Life smacked my family with a giant, undeserved comeuppance at 4 a.m. Monday morning. No cause for alarm cousins. Just know mom fell and hit her head. She is ok, nothing at all broken.

Very lucky, for being ** years old; and truthfully, she looks like hell.One brother lives across the street. He and his wonderful partner called 911 and he went to the ER. He texted my younger brother and me; and took the day off and cared for her the rest of the day once she could go home. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday with her, going to her doctor and adjusting some things. No more canes for stability, she has to use a walker. Therapy at the house, too. Help her build some strength up. All normal stuff in the life of an elderly person.

Mom has been an exception to every rule since Dad died 33 years ago. She just picked up and went on with life. She worked, volunteered, learned, traveled, and did a lot of thing. Like hand feed an elephant at the zoo. Like babysit a baby orang and gorilla when their mama’s rejected them. If we couldn’t find her at home, she’d be at the zoo. Her stroke and reduced vision took that from her a few years ago. She gave up driving on her own; she knew it was no longer safe for her or others. She gave us a gift there.

I’ve decided to tell you about the rest of the week after I catch up around the house and the Post website. It’s got to be done to get the balance back as well as we can. Mom will lose a little independence, but she’s still at home, where she’s lived since 1949. Yes, you read that right. 1949. Bless her heart! Prayers gratefully accepted!

If you have your parents, call them. Tell them how you love them. Help keep them in their home as long as possible. It all takes work, but you will be glad you did it. They will thank you. Be Kind today. Be Grateful today. Make a difference today. See you tomorrow!

P.S. No, the photo is not of our mom!

Thursday, and Thankful!

Now I’m officially back in business, and communicating in all the many ways we do now. I had an interesting discussion with granddaughter Addison yesterday. She was at a Student Council Information meeting for a couple hours; the Babe dropped her off and I picked her up when she was finished. We talked about how we rely on our phones for so much, and how our lives are impacted by them. It’s been a lesson to be without the convenience of instant communication.

I fell off the daily habit of posting on Twitter and Instagram. I was fortunate to be able to keep up the Facebook Author page. Now, I need to get back to the rest of it. We also talked about high school. I told her Friday is my 50 + 1 Class Reunion and I would get to see people I haven’t seen in years. People I met at 14, just like her. She smiled her beautiful smile, and told me how cool that was. I told her it goes so fast, before you know it, you’re attending the reunions. I told her to think of me when she attends her 50th reunion. I know she will.

She has the heart of an old soul, and I pray the world treats her well. Her world is about to expand more than she can imagine right now. I know she’l have her heart broken a time or two; we all do. I know she’ll stand up for herself. She’ll stand up for people being bullied; she does that now. She can do many, many things I could not do at her age. I didn’t know how. She has a terrific sense of humor; she gets that from her Mom and Dad. Her dimples are as deep as the Babe’s are; so are her Mama’s. Can’t deny those genes!

Our grandson Joell had a stellar summer with his competition swimming. He is an excellent swimmer! Made it all the way up the ladder to Divisionals in Maryland. He has really grown a lot, taller than his Mama now. His voice is at that stage where it breaks up and is changing rapidly. He’s six months younger than Addison, so he’s in the eighth grade this year. He’s traveled more miles in his lifetime than the Babe and I have. He’s been exposed to so many cultures and countries! They travel a lot with his dad’s job, and spent a couple weeks backpacking in Europe. What great experiences for a young man to be part of. I hope the world treats him well; he has an old soul, too. Very kind. We’re proud beyond words of all of the kids.

I took the header photo a few weeks ago. The lovely ornament is a Hallmark specialty one from my dear mom. Along the middle of the Quill Pen is “Writing another beautiful chapter.” It was such a nice thing for her to do. She used to work at a Hallmark store, and has purchased many of their collectible ornaments. Mine will go on the Christmas tree, and I’ll hang it from my floor lamp in my studio office. It’s too pretty not to look at on a regular basis. Thanks, Mom.

As I move closer to tomorrow night, I’m recalling what girls I knew at school. A group of seven of us hung around together. Sometimes your friendships were built on a common lunch module (each module was only 20 minutes. Try getting into line after going to your locker, the restroom, and bookstore if you needed something from there. It was ridiculous to do that to us. I remember many times waiting in line and the bell would ring, I’d have a class right away. Three minutes in between. We were always on the run.

What are your memories of high school? I thought it would be different than it was in some ways. They were good times and bad times, all rolled together. And life continues to be the same. Oh to be as wise then as we all are now. These six other women I knew as girls helped shape me in some ways, and I helped shape them. I hope we have a great time, and all have long and happy lives into old age. We’re not there yet! Share you memories in the comments, please.

Have a beautiful afternoon. I hope you help someone today. It will make all of us be kinder and gentler. The world needs it, and so do we. See you tomorrow.

Thursday Thoughts

Another adventuresome day with Mom. Her vision was pretty bad today, and that frustrates her. She had difficulty getting in the car, too. I have an SUV. It is higher than a car. She was pretty worn out after we were home. She stayed in the car while I went in and got her prescription. There has been a dramatic reduction in her activity in the last six months. Please keep her in your prayers, she can use them. We just want to keep her safe from injury and harm.

I have found my mind wandering this afternoon, my friends. I want to stay in this moment. It’s important to remember life may make some enormous switches soon. We cannot plan for everything, and we don’t want to borrow trouble from tomorrow. We need to replace the worry with prayer. It’s all we can do.

The weather over the next few days will be brutal. We are in a polar vortex that just won’t let go. Again, I feel sad for the homeless and hungry. Drop off an extra coat at a shelter. Send an extra $10 to the Salvation Army. It doesn’t take a lot to be mindful of others during these hard times.

It’s time to finish some random tasks to get organized for my meeting with Cartney tomorrow about our book. We need to decide the project deadlines, page orientation (portrait or landscape), arrangement of cover, back cover, and all the pages in between. It will be a good start.

Take care. Stay warm. Check on your neighbors. Thank you for reading. Tomorrow we’ll know how soon we can talk about when we finish and release our book, “Roxie! What ARE You Doing?” I’ll see you tomorrow.

Tuesday at the Home Office

Happy Tuesday Afternoon!

It’s been a very strange day. I took Mom to her bank to move money around. She had an appointment with the person who does those things. We arrive, he was ill. She was upset. She gets agitated easily when things don’t go according to plan. She can’t handle surprises well anymore. She is home a lot, and she’s safest there. Not only do you have COVID-19, we also have extreme fall risk, some pride, and lots of stubbornness. It’s quite a combination. I’m glad I have the determination of both of my parents. Mom’s more of a steamroller; Dad was more of a prepare for the worst and be glad when it doesn’t happen. I’m more like Dad, but I can steamroll if needed.

So gets in the Branch Manager’s office, and handles first things first. Getting what she needed; then the paperwork; then the receipts. The money she had to “move” was probably unnecessary; as the account had special checks, which I’m sure are negotiable to write to a vendor, but she insists no. OK, Mom. Whatever you say. It probably didn’t have to be this hard, but it’s done, that’s all that mattered.

Mission Accomplished! We get back to the car, and she asked to sit there for a little bit so she could “collect herself.” The Babe’s Mom would say, “I need to get organized.” Little old ladies are so cute. They’re insistent on some things and other things don’t matter anymore. We went to Walgreens, and the only thing there was the “usual” toilet paper display at the front of the store was replaced by a paper towel display. I paid no attention to what she bought, but the cashier told her it wasn’t toilet paper. She felt terrible, and I didn’t watch what she was doing.

She said she felt terrible being such a mess. It’s confusing when she’s out, and I’m glad she does as well as she does. It could be a whole different game in six months. My brothers and me, we’re ready for whatever happens. I hope God’s good to her.

Tomorrow will be a big day for her, the stair lift will be installed. Like many older people, she’s not good with remotes. I hope it’s not a hassle for her. Practice. Just needs patience, which she’s not too good at with new stuff. Life is full of mysteries, isn’t it?

You work hard your whole life, and your kids leave. Your empty nest is fun for awhile, then if you have grand kids, you get to watch them grow up, then they go on and live their lives. You see them less often, too, it’s important for them to stretch their wings. And you kind of wait around to see what the next chapter has. You’re too vital and interested in life to sit and do nothing. That’s where I’m so glad to be creative. There are so many things I love and am good at, it’s hard to choose a hobby of the day. Right now, it’s writing. And watching videos. I have more to finish up with, and will do that. There are many interesting ones to catch up on and share with Cartney, my illustrator. I even purchased a book Arree Chung wrote, “Mixed.” It’s a beautiful book. The photos match the story so well. If you have young kids, this is a must have. It explains mixed race marriages in a wonderful way. Hat’s off to you, Arree! I’ll have a photo tomorrow, my devices aren’t synching right now.

We are on duty today to pick up addison from school soon. It’s nice to see her and hear how her day went. The Babe found some old photos on his phone this morning from when she was in first and second grade. Wow. She’s a young woman now, no longer a little girl! Time. It flies too damned fast.

Be safe out there. I’m praying for a safe Inauguration Day tomorrow. Regardless of anything else, we will all have a new president and vice president. I hope he is well enough to withstand the stress of the office. My prayers are especially for all law enforcement and military who are keeping the peace tomorrow. May the crowd have respect and be ruled by sensibility. God Bless the USA! See you tomorrow.

Tuesday Trifles

Bet you’ll all wish you could do what the Babe and I just did. We just signed paperwork to invest in a new HVAC System for our home. We figured it would be an expense when we moved in, and the current one is the original system. Knowing that, we’re glad it lasted a few years after we moved in. Nowadays, a Water Heater is included in the package. Good thing. The hard water probably destroyed our old on. Furnace, A/C, Water Heater, and a device that cleans the air. It sounds as if all the cool kids are getting them.

I’m not going to grumble about it, though. We could choose to, but it would only rob the joy from the day. We are grateful to have a home. We are grateful to be able to afford a new furnace. They will come tomorrow to install it. The good thing, installers are not very busy during this time of year. They were available and we’ll get it all taken care of. Lots of reasons to be happy and grateful!

Two brothers and I met with our mom this morning. She is having some adjustments made within her home to make life easier for her. We support her decision. And, at the same time, we know change is hard, especially with older people. Accepting things are so different now is hard for her, too. Banking must be done in person. Drive through banking is not real banking. There are a number of things she remains steadfast about. Baby steps, I suppose, are in order again. And lots of patience. On everyone’s part.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We are not experiencing anything many experienced before us. If anything, we’ve been very lucky, and we know it. Mom’s fiercely independent, which is good and bad. It’s good because she won’t ask for anything, and it’s bad because she won’t ask for anything. The three of us are working with her very hard to keep her in her home. She’s usually pretty grateful, and today was tough for her. We all have our parts to do, and I’m grateful my younger brothers are so helpful. It makes things easier.

I’m taking a Picture Book Class from Storyteller Academy. Yesterday’s class was awesome, it talked about how important the feelings of little children are in any story. They have a lot of fears as kids, some are reasonable, some are not. They need to feel safe, they need to feel calm. So much anxiety can be alleviated if kids are treated as people, too. Their feelings are big, their fears are big. I missed the session today, I’ll watch it later, or tomorrow.

Ah yes, tomorrow, the workers will be here, and the furnace, water heater, and A/C will be replaced. We will also get a great newfangled air cleaner that will rid the air or dust, allergens, dog dander, etc. It will help my allergies and asthma, so it’ll be great. The only trouble will be the dogs being cooped up a lot. The workers will enter and leave through the sliding doors in the lower level, but they will have to be sure the gate is closed, so the dogs don’t get out.

I’m sure it will be a day. Hope you all have a great evening, and night. See you here again tomorrow. Be Safe. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Let’s be good to each other. It’ll help in the grand scheme of things. Take care.

Monday, Full of Promise

Good morning, from the sunny Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. If you don’t appreciate the beautiful blue I can see this morning, I’ll say a prayer for you. It’s been dark and overcast for a few days. Even without talking with Mom, I know she’s grateful for more light to maneuver around in. It also makes the day go faster, your internal clock gets off kilter with too much darkness. Hang in there, Mom!

Listening to the sounds of Bruce Springsteen right now, “Letter to You.” It’s a nice collection, all what I would expect from him in his later years – he’s 71 years old. The words ring true in my heart right now, as I listen. We all have fears and doubts that haunt us right now.

I see it through the eyes of a believer in God. He provides for us, maybe not what we want, but what we need. We sometimes don’t know the difference between the two. It’s amazing if you’ve seen His timing in your life. An event can happen that puts you on a totally different yet much better path than you are on at the time.

I put my worries in God’s hands right now. I don’t know how we will end up at the end of the week, but I cannot drive myself crazy about it. What good does that do any of us? Our mental stability is shattered and that is when trouble happens. We hear all sorts of rumors and dis-information, I don’t trust most things I read online anymore. And television news? I think not. I suppose my information will all become “after the fact,” and my primary concern is for law enforcement in Washington DC, the Capitol Police, the Secret Service, and all the other agencies who are keeping order in our nation’s capitol until after the Inauguration. I hope Biden and Harris help us settle down. He is my president, whether I voted for him or not. Let’s just move ahead.

I had a noon class today with the Storyteller Academy. It’s a free, seven day series of classes about Picture Books. I gleaned something very important during the class today. Jim Averbeck mentioned you need to consider the child’s emotions. I’m so glad to hear this. It is about the child, and things which may evoke some strange feelings they are unfamiliar with. My book talks about loss, and how they feel. It is offering ideas to cope and heal, too. It’s a topic people don’t like to talk about, which is exactly why we need to talk about it. Grief can derail your life if you don’t know how to handle it.

Let’s have a positive attitude for the rest of the day. I’ve accomplished a lot, although I wish I could have published this sooner in the day. I’m plotting about how to do more in a week than we do now, and if it’s possible. These books won’t write themselves!

Thank you for reading today, we’ll see each other tomorrow! Be Safe. Hugs and Love to all of you.

Terrific Tuesday, 2021

This has been a good Tuesday, as Tuesday’s go. Mom and I had haircuts today and went for lunch. She is not getting out too much, and after her neighbors tested and found out they were COVID-positive, she retreated even further. Yes, It’s January in Nebraska. It’s cold with icy walks at this time of year. She’s been a powerhouse in her thirty-three years of being a widow.

In the past seven to ten years, she’s had a couple strokes and slowed considerably, with vision loss, extreme hearing loss (unless we whisper behind her back!), and isolation from not joining her friends at the Zoo. Omaha’s Zoo is incredible, and for the past 34 years, Mom was a Docent, (it means teacher), and she did a LOT of things. She’s hand fed an elephant; she’s petted a tiger who was under for some dental work; she’s been on baby watch for the “name any animal here;” she’s bottle fed an orangutan AND a baby gorilla (but not at the same time); she’s scrubbed in and cared for the formerly protected black-footed ferrets and given a speech about them at AZAD, a national convention of Zoos. Go Mom! I’m sure the list extends beyond things I can recall now. It was funny when she had overnight duty at the zoo. My brothers and I received calls stating, “If you need me tonight, I’m at the zoo, I’m not out partying.” Um. Sure, Mom. Sure.

And now, this little old lady with all these experiences is pretty much homebound because of COVID and the weather. She loves her home, she’s lived there since 1949. That’s more than a lifetime. We have seen tremendous changes to our old rooms, but the good bones are still there in the house. I never park on “Dad’s side” of the driveway, even though he died a long time ago. There are some things you just didn’t do, and it’s funny you continue those habits long after you have to. We all remember which old-fashioned light fixtures use which switches, and she always asks, ” if there is enough light on the stairs, I don’t want you to fall.” She can’t help but look at everything through her weakening vision.

My Baby Brother Tim (he’s single, ladies!) and Mom, Christmas 2021

I need to take photos of Mom and me. I don’t have any to speak of. Tim is her favorite, and we can use that to our advantage. He can get her to agree to things, and it’s just easier on everyone. Thanks, Tim. You make it all easier! Brother Steve lives across the street from Mom and checks on her daily, several times if it’s a weekend, many times a day. You save a lot of trips for me from Gretna.

I have a feeling this year may find some changes to Mom’s living situation she may not like. Time marches on, if we want it to or not. It’s inevitable. For all of us. No one knows what tomorrow may bring, but we can do enough today to not only prepare, we can make the most of each day we have. See the sunrise, see the sunset. Enjoy high noon during the summer, hot as it is. Be someone who knows how to get the most of each day. I know it will be hard for me if I need to live in assisted living and I have to hear everyone’s loud tv’s and radios. Most folks in those facilities are very hard of hearing. They turn the volumes waaaayyyy up so THEY can hear. It won’t be good. Until then, I’ll just chuckle at it.

Tomorrow I’ll blog much earlier. I’ll be home until we go to the Post for a regular Hamburger Night. It’ll be good to be with our friends again. I’m looking forward to purchasing my new software tomorrow and start to layout some pages for my children’s book. This year will be wonderful!

Thank you for reading, I am grateful for your time. Let’s be kind, supportive, thoughtful, and wonderful humans. Wear masks, wash up, and let’s round the bend to the other side of this pandemic. It works if we work together. See you tomorrow!

Marvelous Monday Morning

I’m actually starting this on Sunday just after posting my Sunday blog. Today (Monday) Mom starts her individual therapy for her back. I think she has eight sessions and we’re hoping she keeps using these mechanics and newly gained strength as she gets back out in her flower gardens this spring and summer. We talked to her doctor last fall (I spoke for my younger brothers and myself) about our seeing Mom as losing strength and tottering around, since her balance is impacted by her diminished vision and her hearing loss. Mom was not happy and felt picked on, but when I left, the doctor must have told her how lucky she was that we not only noticed her failing, but actually said something. Mom’s a very stubborn person and is hard to mention something that could be improved. And, as her ENT says, “All old people lie.” I like that statement, because they do! They all want to stay at home even when it becomes unsafe for them to do so. Many old folks turn the comment around, and point out things they don’t like that you do, and that makes it worse. At any rate, I hope she learns what she needs to so she can stay in her home for at least another year or so. Steps are dangerous at her age, and the bedrooms and bathroom are on the second story. Lots of opportunity for a disaster, especially adding in a cat who wanders all over the place. Yikes!

This is a special date for the Babe and me. On March 2, 1996, we met each other for our first date. The guy kept following me around and convincing me he wasn’t going anywhere. I folded like a cheap tent. Seriously, I did not have a great dating record. I picked people that weren’t right for me, and once I got over that, here comes this guy that tells the truth. He calls when he says he will. He wants to spend time with me. He thinks I’m wonderful. And I think he is. And he says, “I love you.” in the first week we’re together. I say, “Oh, no you don’t. You can’t. You won’t.” I just don’t want another disappointment. And here we are, married for 22 years this October. He’s not going anywhere. Neither am I. He’s my best friend and my greatest fan. I’m his, too. I told him it would be an honor to be his wife. It still is, Babe. So on this, our 24th anniversary of knowing each other, I say, “Thanks, Babe. For being who and what I always hoped for. I had been told it didn’t exist. But I found it in you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Love you.”

October 3, 1998 – we were 46 and 48, respectively. Babies! Photo courtesy of Janet Nichols.
Lucky us, to still have each other. This year, we’ll be 70 and 68, respectively. I’m his much younger wife.

The Babe is a man of his word. He vowed to turn my hair gray when we got married. Nearly twenty two years later, see what a good job he did! It’s been a wild ride, mostly due to health issues. Cancer (me), heart disease (him – over and over), a stroke (him), carotid artery surgery (him). From the beginning, we thought we’d be lucky if he lived twenty years – and he has beaten that number and we reap the benefits of it every day. We are grateful.

Enough mushy stuff, as my son Frankie would say. It’s pretty overcast this morning. We had a snow shower, but only in the back yard. There are piles of snowflakes there, but the front yard is bare. Go figure! This past weekend was Addison’s first Dance Competition, at the MAC in Council Bluffs. Waiting to hear how she did, but usually she’s high in the rankings. She has eight dances this year, so there are eight opportunities to shine.

It’s time to finish cutting out some fabric for my Poppy quilt. It’ll be good to have something new to hang on the freshly painted wall. Quilts will be my Art for the rest of the year. I want to concentrate on publishing my books, and quilting, not add any more to my plate. The Nebraska Writers Guild has created online training for Authors posting on social media. The concentration right now is on Pinterest. I need to make some time in the next couple months to learn this well, so it becomes second nature, kind of like Facebook is. So many pieces to create your marketing plan. It’s amazing.

Thank you so much for reading today, I appreciate it. I’ll be here tomorrow, I’d love to have you return. Have a beautiful Monday.

Mom’s Addicted to Christmas

On this cold, windy Tuesday evening, we’re snuggled together around the Christmas tree and evening news. The Babe and I both went separate directions today. He had some VFW business to tend to, I needed to take my mom to Hobby Lobby and a couple other places for her last gift cards. She was eager to get out. When you’re 90 and don’t drive, I can understand that.

But to Hobby Lobby?? For Christmas decorations?? This woman begins decorating in October. No kidding. One year she had sixteen trees in her two story, eight room home. At least three five foot or taller trees on the first floor, and one in each of the four bedrooms upstairs. Nothing in the bathrooms, thank goodness. Every year she swears she’s downsizing the decorations. She works very long to string the lights and it’s hard on grey days with her vision problems. She claims she’s half blind, I believe the correct phrase is low vision from a stroke three years ago. She is quite fortunate she did not have any others yet. Its a good thing she voluntarily gave up driving, as it was making her too anxious. I’m glad she gave it up.

As soon as the decorations hit the shelves, she’s wanting to look. Over the past few years, we have scoured the aisles of Shopko (now closed), Hobby Lobby (several trips there every season), Menards (they have always had great decorations), and wherever else she can think. She’s never been to WalMart or Target, so we’re safe from them so far. She started collecting Moose about ten years ago. Her sisters went in together and got her a lighted moose for the yard for her Christmas gift that year.

Mom’s sister Judy called me about it, and the Babe and I happened to be in Menard’s on a Sunday shopping. They had the moose, so I picked it up for them. I was commissioned to take it to her house and assemble it in her living room while she was gone. (She still drove then and was usually gone on Monday). I stole into the house, and it appeared the house was deserted. I set to work.

As I opened the box and connected things to set him up, I heard her voice say, “What do you think you’re doing”? She was upstairs yelling downstairs. I said “Nothing”. She was yelling at the cat, not me. Good old Catholic guilt still has it’s grip on me. She stayed home that Monday because she was tired. She loved the Moose.

Mom’s sisters all loved Christmas decorating. They all did their homes up beautifully. They got together when they all lived in Omaha. Gatherings slowed when one moved to Arkansas thirty years ago. Their mother had passed, one moved away, leaving the three. They gathered when they could, taking turns at each other’s homes. This past October, Mom’s last sister died of cancer, so she is the lone survivor of their family. She is the oldest. Still decorating for all the sisters and their mother.

I’m glad they all loved decorating for Christmas. It means that despite losing their father to a sudden heart attack on Christmas Eve in 1964, they did not adopt the Bah Humbug attitude towards one of the most beautiful seasons there is. The one where we all receive the gift of eternal life through the birth of Jesus. They all carried on for their children and husbands, and their Mother. She lived until 1988, and saw many happy Christmases after losing her husband.

I introduced Mom to Jim Shore a number of years ago. And she had quite a collection of his Santa Clauses. Each is unique, from a different country, and in Jim Shore’s unique workmanship. His figures are dressed in clothing that has quilt blocks in them. Here is a sample of her display.

I am planning on releasing several books next year. One will be the story of losing Grandpa on Christmas Eve when I was twelve years old. I have a friend who experienced the same thing at the same age, and he is my co-author. It will tell a story of dealing with something terrible, and making good come from it. I know you will like it.

Thank you for reading today. Keep decorating and be kind to people you encounter. They may be experiencing some really difficult times. I will be back tomorrow, and I hope you are, too.