In the midst of life we are in death.

In the midst of life we are in death. This phrase is often heard at funerals. What does this mean? It is a reminder that life and death are linked. From the moment we are born we are dying. That is not morbid it is just the truth. In fact, from the moment we are conceived we are dying. We are set into motion like the winding of a clock. At some point it will wear down and stop. In our world it can be snuffed out by an illness, accident or crime but nevertheless we each have an expiration date.

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Some cultures accept this fact easier than those of us in the western world. We worry about death. We can feel fear and panic just thinking about it.

Before I was a nurse I had ideas about death. I never wanted to think about it or be with someone at their death.  After being at many deaths I have changed my feelings. I have seen people in so much distress that death is a friend.

Most of the people I have been with just slipped quietly away. No anxiety, no visible fear. Some spoke to relatives on the other side. Whether they really saw them I don’t know but I would like to think they did. Some expressed peace.

A long time ago I complained to a minister friend that I was upset about the death of a child in an accident. I fumed that her life had been cut short. He said he had a different perspective. He viewed each person’s life as a candle that burned until it went out. That could be when the candle is completely burned or just after it is lit. Each person has a life span that is different. This view was a comfort to me and still is.

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Death is not something to fear. When we remove that from our minds life becomes brighter. It is not easy to do and we may waver from time to time. It is difficult to imagine not being alive and can produce sadness when we wish we would still be around to see grandchildren or great grandchildren marry and have children of their own.

 

No matter our age and the length of life no one wants to be gone. Life is beautiful in spite of any trials we face. The important thing is to treasure each moment and when we come to the end say “I have lived!”

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Let Joy Abound!

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The winter solstice is past. Darkness will be gradually fading and the light will win. Christmas is upon us. The things that we haven’t done will not be done. It’s time to take a deep breath and relax. I hope that most of us will not be too exhausted to enjoy the day. It can be a day of joy or a day of frustration and challenges. I hope that the latter will not be true for you. I hope that each of you will share a day of love and peace. See the beauty that Christmas brings…the smiles on the faces of children, the magic of twinkling lights, and the smells of favorite foods. Have a happy and Holy Christmas!

 

Scrooge’s Ghosts

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This is the time of year when the Scrooge story is on TV. I started to think about the ghosts that visit him. Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. I always think about Christmas Past. I think about the time when we had small children and Christmas was so joyful and exciting. Seeing the children as they opened their presents was wonderful. That time is gone for me. I’m not sure I completely appreciated it. I didn’t lock it away and say to myself “remember this, it won’t come again.” We don’t usually think such thoughts when we are experiencing life. I don’t know if we have to or should. It might bring sadness into the picture….the thought that time is moving on and this moment will be gone.

Each phase of life is different. Years ago I studied Hindu thinking with a practitioner and liked the idea of the eight-fold path. We have important things to accomplish in the different ages we live. My age should be concerned with understanding life in all its aspects. I think that is what I am doing. I can look back…not to bemoan my faults …but to glean the wisdom I gained. I want to accomplish this and share what I discover.

I do miss the joys of Christmas Past but it was a different time and I can’t go back. I don’t think I want to. I just wish some of it would stick around. Instead we have another wonky Christmas. We will be gone next week for Hap’s therapy and my daughter will come the Friday we arrive back to celebrate early with us. She will be working Christmas week. We celebrate with my son and his family Christmas week. My other daughter and her family we will not get to see.

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It is life. I will concentrate on the reason for the holiday and enjoy the family time that we will have. I don’t have time for regrets and wishing the past was back. I have too much living in the now to do. After all, who knows what Christmas Future will be.

 

 

Life is for living!

life hits you

Why is it that we have these times of doing well and the suddenly life smacks you. My friend’s husband fell last night and broke his hip. She has been caring for him…physically..for over a year now. She is the reason that he is alive. Medicine today requires that you have an advocate and she is his. He was doing well and improving, walking with a walker and talking more and now we are back at square one. I am brokenhearted for her and for him.

My daughter’s father-in-law died yesterday. She has been helping to care for him for the last eight months. His was an expected and peaceful death but there is still much to get through. In life we are in the midst of death.

This is the season of anticipation. Waiting for a birth and yet death and suffering continue. The cycle of life. It is interesting at my age to think about the years coming and know that I won’t be here to see the future. This is not an unhappy reflection but a reflection on life itself. Everything is a cycle of birth and death. Even stones are worn away into sand. We also return to the earth. This is as it should be.

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Today I am fighting IBSD and that is part of my cycle. This too will pass and life will continue to be born. There is today and more days to come. Take each of them and treasure them whether they are joyful or challenging.  Life is to be lived.

 

 

Time moves on

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This week I have been sad. I don’t know if it was my birthday and getting older or the autumn and the darkness. It could be all of the above. It has brought to mind some things that I used to do and don’t any more.

I used to bake for Christmas. I made lots of sweets for everyone.  I no longer have someone to bake for. The two of us have no desire to eat lots of Christmas sweets. My grandchildren are grown up (all except one who is in his teens) and not around to bake for or with. It was fun to make treats with my children and grandchildren.

For some reason I stopped sending Christmas cards. Our years of moving around made me lose track of many people. Our life is different now and it seems that there are many people who don’t send cards. In a way that is a regret. It was a job to get them done but a wonderful way to keep in touch.

I don’t have as much money to spend on gifts and so I try to be resourceful and creative in the things I find. This has been a plus as it has helped me to spend time on what really matters. It also reminds me of those who have nothing.

Again, life changes and we have to experience each phase. We can’t opt out if we plan to live on. Getting older can present challenges but so do other phases of life. To really live we have to seize each moment and know it will not come again.

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Even though I have been sad sometimes sad can be a season of remembrance. It can be a time when we think about how different things are and plan to choose to live this moment. In this season of darkening skies and leaves falling life continues. Winter will follow and spring and on and on. The world is turning, time goes forward and I am still here to see it.

Grief is a journey

grief journeyWhen we experience the loss of someone or something truly significant to we can be overwhelmed. Sometimes numbness sets in and we are separate from things going on around us. When the grief begins to explode our psyche we don’t know what to do to help. There is a danger at this point. We want so badly to help the pain that we can reach out to things that can put a band aid on the hurt for awhile. Sometimes those things are knee jerk reactions and end up adding to our emotional crisis. That is why most advice says don’t do anything hasty. Usually the advice is about selling a house or moving. But there are other things that can crop up.

One thing we seek during immediate grief is connections. We need others to see our pain. Most of the time people don’t know what to say or how to help. Many say the wrong things. There will be some who understand the things that you really need. Hold them close…they are your lifeline.

If this happens to us early in life ..losing a spouse or loved one…we so want the grief to relent that it is easy to dive into another relationship thinking that is the answer. I have a friend who lost her husband early on and had two disastrous marriages before stepping back and eventually making a  loving and lasting connection. She just wanted the pain to stop.

Grief is not an easy thing and it does not follow the same pattern for everyone. Small things can cause waves of pain.. a smell, a song, an event. There are so many more.

griefpoemfinal-740x628There will be life following. It is fine to laugh, have good days and momentarily put thoughts of your love from your mind. Don’t be guilty. You are allowed to go on. You still have God given life and you can live it.

 

 

A letter to my grandchildren #2

I have been thinking about what bits of wisdom I want to pass on. Can I say anything that will matter to you? Will you be willing to listen? Years of life do teach us things that we wish we had know earlier. These thoughts are simple ones.

Enjoy what you have and not what you don’t have.

Enjoy-Where-You-AreIt is so easy to focus on the things we want. They may not even be things we need but just things we think we should have. If we have a place to call home a bed to sleep in and enough to eat we have enough. Don’t struggle to keep up with other people. They don’ really matter. Instead be grateful every day for your life and health. If you have people in your life that you love and who love you ….you are blessed. Thank God every day for them. Show them that you appreciate them. Life is short and they may be gone before you can blink an eye.

Appreciate the moment

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Every moment is precious. Even the ones that aren’t so good. Don’t just let them slip by but store them away in your memory. They won’t come again. Remember we only have NOW. Tomorrow is a day away and yesterday is gone.

 

Find the good in everything

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Watch the movie Pollyanna and absorb her philosophy. We can find good even in the bad things. Some good can always be found. Don’t spend time bemoaning the negative. It just makes you miserable and who wants that. If you must express your sorrow, frustration or anger give yourself 24 hours for a “pity party”and then move on. You earned some time to fuss about your fate but after that get up and go on. Just being alive is a gift so appreciate it.

Don’t regret what you can’t fix.

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If you did something that you are sorry for do what you can to fix it and then let it go. To hang on to guilt does nothing to help. Some things in life just can’t be fixed. Remember that. The only thing you will do is to frustrate yourself. Let it go.

 

 

Get a decent meal and a good night’s sleep.

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Some food in your stomach and some sleep to rest your mind can change your attitude and your approach to things. Things tend to look different in the daylight. Worrying doesn’t help so have a good night and be ready to tackle the next day. Remember, all things pass….for good or ill. Perspective is everything.

Love, your grandmother

 

Savor good memories but live in the NOW

chipmunk-clipart-transparent-background-16We were without power again today. A squirrel committed suicide at the transformer. So sorry. I actually like squirrels although a lot of my neighbors don’t. I’m not sure why as they seem to cause few problems. We actually put food our for them as the trees here didn’t make their quota of nuts and the squirrels have been hungry and getting ready for fall. My dogs love to chase the squirrels but very, very rarely catch one. (thank goodness!)

This is the first day here that has felt like fall and although the days are shorter I am enjoying the cooler air. The air feels good. We live on the salt marsh and have an 8 ft tide. For most people who move here the smell of the marsh is not pleasant. Having been here most summers of my life and lived here for 42 years it is a joy to me. I love the smell. It reminds me of summers going to the beach. Good memories.

Fresh oranges on wooden  background. Selective focus.

It is amazing how smells can trigger memories. My mother always wore the same perfume and when someone is wearing it I immediately think of her. Those kinds of things bring good memories.

There are also things that trigger bad memories. Recently a smell triggered memories of time spent in the hospital with severe bowel problems. Not a good memory. I immediately pushed that memory away.

I have found that it is possible to wallow in a good memory and accept all the pleasure that it brings. I have also worked on letting the bad memories slide in and out of my mind by mentally pushing them away. Usually it works. I focus on something else and drag my mind away.

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Memories are part of our lives. It is part of what made us who we are but we don’t have to live in the bad ones. Living in the past can become addictive. We would be wise to enjoy the good memories and then move back into the NOW. Dwelling in the past can stop us from experiencing the present. NOW is what is important.

The marsh—my blessing

Today I am counting my blessings. I do have many. It’s sad that we tend to think more about struggles and problems. Today I give thanks.

From childhood I have always love the sea and all things related to it. I now live where I can look out at the marsh and watch the tide. We have an eight foot tide here so when tide is out there is a lot of marsh and marsh mud exposed. I love that smell. We have floating docks since you couldn’t reach the water if tide is out.

 

egret in marsh

There is so much life in the marsh. Many different birds from marsh hens to egrets. Lots of sea birds and pelicans love to fish in the creek in front of the house. Painted buntings love the marsh but like a particular plant which is disappearing here due to building so we don’t see them often. I love to watch the birds in my bird bath bathing and coming for water.

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not my photo

We have blue crabs here and shrimp. Fish of all sorts and dolphins swim by often…sometimes with their young.

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crabsThe tide moves very fast and if you are swimming (even if you are a strong swimmer) it can take you with it. We taught our children and grandchildren early on if caught in the tide to swim to the next dock and walk back.  We have often thought of putting in a water wheel for electricity.

Once a mama dolphin brought her children to see my granddaughters who were swimming in front of the dock. My kin almost walked on water getting out. They didn’t care that people pay money to swim with dolphins. I’m sure mama and babies were disappointed.

The beauty of God’s earth surrounds me. I need to take more time to immerse myself in it. It can help to put things into perspective. I am blessed. I treasure every moment I get to watch a ship entering or leaving port, watching the tide and just rocking on the porch. It won’t last forever but I will keep all of this in my memory-safe.