Saturday, May 19, 2007

Apologies... I'm Blog-Challenged!

I got so wrapped up in a private email conversation with Bobbie Bobstein yesterday and today that I totally spaced on writing a blog yesterday... and here it is 4:36 Saturday afternoon and just realized I hadn't written one today yet, either! Hey... writing is writing! As long as I'm writing, I'm totally happy! I just have to remember that others can become totally UNhappy if I don't keep my commitment to blogging.

I hereby recommit!

It isn't like I have missed a lot of blogging days since I started this in February, is it? Perhaps three? That's pretty good!

This morning I took my 93 year old aunt to Wal-Mart, the Dollar Store and Safeway for some essentials and then my sis Jackie and I went out to drive by some duplexes a realtor friend told us about. We looked at four and chose two to actually make an appointment to see sometime this week. One was built in 1998, the other (a two-story converted home) in 1956. We both like both (to drive by). The yard is very small at the older place, so Jackie is not keen on it, although its location is just great commute-wise for both of us. The newer one would involve a commute, but not a too-hairy one... so we're going to take a look-see and make a decision: pick one of these two or keep on looking! We're in no hurry, but we are motivated to find something that will give us both grins and a feeling of "we're home!"

Anne from Australia called this afternoon. She says it's cold there (near Adelaide) today. It's cool and rainy here in Tacoma. Well, rainy off and on, as is usual with Tacoma-area weather this time of year.

I enjoy the variety of weather we receive. I got awfully tired of desert weather when I lived in North Hollywood for 13 years. There are self-proclaimed "desert rats" who love desert weather, but they usually weigh 99 pounds soaking wet and are thin as reeds. That does not reflect my characteristics. I am okay with 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but not much above that. And if it's humid and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, that's too warm for this kid... The fans go on and if I'm at home I'm in my underwear... Heat and Kris are not friends.

I've been praying for some people this week: Barbara Hendrickson, who (as you know) lost her husband Rick a couple months ago... Mark Ballard, a teacher in Texas who lost his wife several months ago... Alison, who is beleaguered in a number of areas... When I have what I consider a rough day, I think about people who are going through loss the way I was seven years ago when I lost my mom, DeForest Kelley, and my dad in a 14-month period and whatever is bugging me that day seems picayune and at times even childish. My mom was a great one for telling me, "If this (whatever I was going through at a particular time as an angst-ridden teenager) is the worst thing that happens to you in your whole life, you'll be lucky." At the time she said it, I thought it was a pretty indelicate thing to say to me, but you know what? That piece of advice has stayed with me and it works like magic almost every time I am in some kind of situation where I think life stinks or something isn't fair.

Even when Mom was dying of brain cancer she was counting her blessings: "I'm just so fortunate that I have this kind of cancer rather than so many other kinds. It isn't particularly bothersome [pain management worked in her case] and when I go in for chemo and radiation I look around at little bald-headed children or at bald-headed moms with young children at their knees and it's impossible to feel terribly sorry for myself. I've lived my life and my children are grown and on their own..." When you have a blessings-conscious parent like that, you are blessed! I am one child richly blessed by a Mom who always reminded me of the silver lining attached to every cloud.

Rick Hendrickson is being memorialized by Yuba County at Animal Control for his lifetime commitment to the well-being of animals. Barbara sent me photos of the reflection point where a plaque honoring her husband is displayed. There's an ornate bench there. Rick was truly Yuba County's Steve Irwin -- a truly dedicated animal advocate...

Mark Ballard's wife will be memorialized and remembered during the dedication of the Shelley Sullivan-Ballard Reading Center in Mark's (and Shelley's) school library soon. My Mom is being memorialized with a tree planting in the Holy Land very soon, compliments of Bobbie and Joel Bobstein.

The best thing about the above is that all of the people being remembered truly LIVED -- and not for themselves alone. Rick lived to alleviate and eliminate suffering in animals. Shelley lived to educate, inform and inspire students, as does her husband/widower Rick. My mom lived to serve and to come alongside people who needed grace, help and mercy (my Dad among them).

None of us have a clue what our ultimate legacies will be. We may think we do, but I have a feeling we're pretty far off the mark. We're really too hard on ourselves in some ways and not hard enough on ourselves in others! An example: My dad could be a real bear and as a result didn't like himself much (nor did we like him much on hundreds of occasions), but what we recall most, seven years after his passing, are the times he was sober, reflective, vulnerable and honest -- the times we recognized his woundedness and were able to fully and completely forgive him. Despite the damage a dysfunctional upbringing inflicted upon him, we know he would have given his life to save ours.

Our legacies are probably more secure than most of us believe -- and will be better than most of us believe we deserve. That's one very noble aspect of our humanity. Moments of love and connection are what's remembered after someone dies -- the rest, the chaff of their imperfect actions, is expelled from the memory while any essential, un-damaged goodness of the person remains. In the same way that a beautiful pearl is formed around a source of irritation (a grain of sand) inside the shell of an oyster, our legacies are formed... At the end, the grain of sand (the source of irritation) becomes invisible and impotent, safely sealed inside the pearl of great price and we treasure what was most real about the person. Their love. God's love made manifest in a human soul.

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