nurturing thursdays: compassion…

Old woman pouring tea, unknown artist, 19th ce...

As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more aware of others senior to me. In particular, women who are alone without that special somebody with whom to share their lives.

Recently, one lovely friend told me that as she sits alone in her home she sometimes wishes her life would simply cease. Having lost her beloved 91 year-old mother several years ago, and a younger sister to cancer last year, my dear friend professes weariness. 

In her late seventies, Annette has health issues that are of some concern. 

Having broken her hand a couple of years ago when she fell down her front steps because of ice, Annette continues to suffer the effects.  She’s also still dealing with the aftermath of cataract surgery. Both impact her job as a part-time sales rep/bookkeeper at the local antiques mall where I’m a vendor. 

How my friend drives the 20 minutes to and from her job, regardless of the weather or the time of day, is beyond comprehension. I’m further blown away when Annette drives an hour to a doctor’s appointment.

Underlying her physical ailments is her ongoing struggle with depression. You’d never know it though, for she rarely complains and always greets folks with a smile.

The woman is a tower of strength in a seemingly, frail body. She must weary of my saying…”You’re my role model.”

Perhaps if I were in Annette’s shoes (were I able to fill them)…a survivor of two divorces, the second one decades ago…family and friends left behind in Canada as a result of her first marriage…and was once the sole bread-winner with a couple of young children…I’d be a real Wonder Woman too.

Isn’t it a wonder how women manage what life dishes out…no matter our age?

It helps that Annette’s son lives with her, making his home in the large, finished basement. Her daughter, a school bus driver lives nearby as well. More recently, her 31-year-old grandson has moved in while he decides what he wants to do with the rest of his life.

So in spite of her weariness, Annette still has a lot of living to do. We all want her in our lives still…her children…her co-workers…and her friends…

…especially me…

………hugmamma.IMG_4127

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role model…you’ll be surprised!

I borrowed this from blogger friend Jo, Chronicles of Illusion at http://jobryantz.wordpress.com/

Jo’s one of the very few Aussies I know. If she’s what they’re like Down Under, then those folks…live life large… and they don’t care who knows it.

The following is an example of Jo’s humor.

Who’s Your Role Model for 2013?

This is fun. I promise you WILL laugh when you find the identity of your role model.

NO CHEATING! I was really surprised to find out the name of my role model. Don’t scroll down yet….

To find the identity of your personal role model, do the maths below…

Then scroll down to find your hero.

It is crazy how accurate this is!

NO PEEKING!

1.) Pick your favourite number between 1-9

2.) Multiply by 3

3.) Add 3

4.) Then again multiply by 3… I’ll wait if you need a calculator

5.) You’ll get a 2 or 3 digit number

6.) Add the digits together

NOW SCROLL DOWN

And with that number, see who your ROLE MODEL is from the list below:

1. Einstein

2. Queen Elizabeth

3. Snoopy

4. Bill Clinton

5. Mrs Brown

6. Gandhi

7. Barack Obama

8. Winston Churchill

9. Hugmamma

10. Jack Kennedy

I know, I know…. I just have that effect on people.

P.S. Stop picking different numbers!

I AM YOUR IDOL, JUST DEAL WITH IT!

…hugs to jo…for making my year!!!…Nashville 09-2010 00023

………hugmamma.

she served…

…my mother-in-law, that is.And now she is at rest in God’s loving embrace…where my father-in-law has patiently awaited their reunion for nearly a decade-and-a-half.

My sister-in-law Lil “hit the nail on the head,” according to her husband James, when she spoke of her mom’s life of service. Bearing and raising 12 children, 7 girls and 5 boys, was no easy feat to be sure. With the help of their dad and his mom, life with a big family was manageable.

It’s true that my mother-in-law served her family well. It’s also true that she did so with “joie de vivre.” While she may have verbally disciplined and even nagged like any mother of 12 would, it was never abusive. There was never any guilt trip. No “whoa is me.”

Once I dinstinctly remember my mother-in-law striding through the house in search of an errant son, who quietly snuck out the back door. “Gunfunnit that kid!” (Hawaiian-pigeon-english for “Confound it that kid!”) is something I occasionally heard as I sat waiting on the living room couch for my husband, then boyfriend. That was some 45 years ago.

My mother-in-law, in her 40s when we first met, was spry and quick on her feet. She stood several inches taller than me, was warm and welcoming. I could only imagine what she thought of me, the first girl her eldest son ever dated, and just a week after he’d returned home from 4 1/2 years in the seminary. But neither she, nor his father, ever took us to task over our blossoming relationship.

When I wasn’t attending college classes, I was at my future inlaw’s house hanging out with more family members than I’d ever experienced in my own home growing up. The youngest of 9, most of my brothers and sisters had flown the nest to earn their own living, before I was even out of elementary school.

Since my husband was the eldest, I became like an older sister to his younger siblings. It was a position I relished for they seemed in awe of everything I did. I’d never experienced such unmitigated admiration and love before. It was heartwarming and humbling.

Through the years my inlaws have never waned in their affection for me. In fact it has only deepened with time.

We were best buds, my mother-in-law and me. She and I spent hours together during visits to Hawaii to see the family. We shopped, we lunched, we teased, we laughed and we had serious talks too. Since I was an “out-law” and lived away, she felt comfortable conversing with me as though we were best friends sharing small secrets. Nothing major. Just coffee shop talk.

What will I miss most about mom?

I’ll miss the twinkle in her eyes as she laughed and laughed…without reservation.

How we’d sometimes lean into one another when she asked me to repeat something I’d said.

The trust she’d place in me to help her find just the right outfit to wear to a special occasion.

Quickly agreeing to join me for a bowl of saimin at our favorite restaurant.

The look of love in her eyes as she gazed up at my husband…her son…priceless.

Her unassailable, maternal love for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

The camaraderie and affectionate love she shared with us “out-laws.”

How she treated friends, acquaintances, even strangers like “ohana”…family. 

Sitting around her small dining table where she served us all the foods my husband, daughter and I couldn’t acquire stateside.

Joy in her everyday routine…church visits…outings with friends…piano and ukulele lessons…lunching with daughters…or granddaughters.

 James, my brother-in-law, joined me in shedding a few tears about our mother-in-law’s passing. We agreed that she made each and everyone of us feel special. She cared how we felt…she asked after our welfare.

Mom always credited dad with their children having evolved into the warm, loving people that they are. And I always insisted that she had a hand in the matter as well. She liked to think she lacked the smarts to have made such a contribution. I assured her she was no dumb bunny.

I shared commonalities with mom. Our nationality…Chinese/Hawaiian. Our less than ideal childhood years. Our superstitious natures. Our iffy self-esteem. Our adulation of our spouses. Our untethered love for our offspring.

Mom was a role model. By example, she showed me how to love my daughter. By example, she showed me it was best not to utter words that I would later regret having said. In this I am still striving, for when I am blindsided by someone’s misplaced remark it is difficult to remember mom’s advice. By example, she showed me that service can be a loving venture…if one truly loves those she serves.

I will never again hear mom’s query…”How are you doing?…Are you taking good care of yourself?” Or her followup remarks…”If you don’t care for yourself, you won’t be able to care for your family. They need you to take care of yourself.”

She might have considered herself a simple, ordinary woman with nothing of note to recommend her.

Having known my mother-in-law for 45 years, I can say she was undeniably…the most extraordinary woman I have ever known…bar none!

I love you mom, and dad, for having always made me feel…

…more than deserving of your eldest

………hugmamma.   😆

a celebration…of life…sylvia’s

I’ve never set foot in an Elk’s Lodge before. Truthfully I think the stereotypical image I’d grown up with was that it was a refuge for white men of some means. Perhaps their wives would partake in the occasional festive celebration, but I wouldn’t imagine it was the norm in olden times. Of course I’m only speaking from hearsay; I’ve no concrete proof of what went on in the past. But I can speak to being pleasantly surprised by what I personally witnessed a couple of evenings ago.

It wasn’t raucous, but it was rocking for sure. My husband and I were probably among the youngest in attendance, being in our 60s. But the old-timers were the ones getting down, singing and dancing, and having themselves one heck of a good time. It was infectious, because we found ourselves smiling and moving to the rythmn of the band, if only in our seats. Gone are the days when I would beg my husband to take a spin on the dance floor. If there isn’t a crowd of folks among whom he can bury himself, he’s not jumping up to make a fool of himself before onlookers. At least that’s his viewpoint. Nothing I say will get him to budge. So I’ve learned to content myself with watching others dance, unless other women decide to go it alone, then I’m in. Dancing is dancing, as far as I’m concerned.

But on this particular night, friends and family were there to celebrate Sylvia’s birthday. She’s everlastingly young in appearance and spirit, that I never think to ask her age. I know she’s in her 70s, but even that surprises me. She seems no more than a couple of years my senior, if even that. She continues to be a role model in aging ever so gracefully.

As I observed those around us having a great time, I admired their joyous abandonment. Yes, they were seniors, but they laughed, joked, sang, boogied, ate heartily of hot dogs, hamburgers and cake, and downed glassfuls of beer and wine. I saw no sorrow, no giving into the ravages of time, no letting up on living. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a group so intent on squeezing out every last ounce of “joie de vivre!” I felt lucky to be a witness, and yes, to partake in a celebration…of life!

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i’m blest to have sylvia…in my life…hugmamma.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY…GIRLFRIEND!!! …and many, many, many more…

a role model?…more than

Most of you know of my dear friend Sylvia. From time to time she visits me on the internet, sharing some juicy tidbit sent by her UK network of friends and family. I first wrote of her in my post, “role models, aging gracefully,” dated 8-24-10.

My friend who’s 70ish is admirable not only because she’s such a fashion-plate, which she is, but also because she is laden with health issues that would bring a younger, stronger woman, like me, to my knees. I’m a wuss by comparison. Like an older sister, sometimes a mom, my girlfriend was a smoker for many years, but was finally able to kick the habit. Whether as a result of smoking or having had it beforehand, she continues to suffer with emphysema which is compounded by asthma. Weighing under 100 pounds she’s a lightweight, but she can be as “tough as nails” when debating her opinion. I’ve never tested her, and am not about to try. I’d rather have her in my corner. When a coughing fit overtakes her, she can easily bruise some ribs. As a last resort her doctor prescribes prednisone which eliminates the cough, but leaves my friend with side effects that linger. She has bouts of diverticulitis which has her curled up in great pain. Throughout our 13 years of friendship, she’s been poked, probed, xrayed, cat-scanned, MRI’d more than anyonelse I know. With the help of a physician who’s cared for her, REALLY CARED, my amazing friend always seems “as fit as a fiddle.” I forget her medical history until another episode occurs, and it always does.

I think I dress rather smartly, but when I’m out with my friend and her husband I know she’s outdone me. Not that I mind, for I am simply in awe of  her sense of style, wearing skirts and dresses that I never would, simply because they wouldn’t look as well on me. They’re not my “cup of tea,” but they suit my girlfriend to a tee. And the jewelry, she can wear several gold bangles, rings on several fingers, including on her toes, and of course, earrings. Stunning is the only word to describe her. Whether she’s lounging at home or stepping out, in my estimation, she’s always “dressed to the nines.”

You can continue to read more wonderful things about Sylvia, for there’s definitely more good things to be said about her, by going to the original post mentioned above. I just wanted to give you an inkling of who she is, before you read further. And you’ll want to read further, I guarantee you. Enjoy this little “gem” from Sylvia…

NO CHEATING!!!

I was really surprised to find out who my role was.

DON’T scroll down until you do the SIMPLE math below. It’s crazy how accurate this is!

NO PEEKING!

1) Pick your favorite number between 1-9
2) Multiply by 3, then
3) Add 3
4) Then again multiply by 3 (Go get the calculator…). You’ll get a 2 or 3 digit number
5) Add the digits together

Now scroll down…

With the last number, see who YOUR ROLE MODEL is from the following list:

According to Keirsey, Oprah Winfrey may be a T...

Image via Wikipedia

1)  Bill Clinton
2)  Oprah Winfrey
3)  Jessica Simpson
4)  Sarah Palin
5)  Laura Bush
6)  Hilary Clinton
7)  Ronald Reagan
8)  Ron De Roma
9)  my friend Sylvia
10) Barbara Walters

 

I know. I know. I just have that effect on people. One day, you too can be like me.

P.S. Stop picking different numbers! I AM YOUR ROLE MODEL! Deal with it!!!

now she’s your role model too…gotta love sylvia…i do…hugmamma.

role models, aging gracefully

I’ve become acquainted with a 91-year-young woman through a very dear friend who’s in her mid-70’s. They belong to the same senior center’s group. I’ve only chatted with the elder woman 2 or 3 times, but I’m always amazed at her vitality. She still drives herself to their weekly gatherings where they do needlework, chat, and snack on goodies they, or others, bring to share. This acquaintance dresses stylishly, right down to matching earrings, handbag and shoes. I admire her youthful glow which obviously emanates from within. Her image is always in my mind’s eye when I think of someone aging gracefully.

My friend who’s 70ish is admirable not only because she’s such a fashion-plate, which she is, but also because she is laden with health issues that would bring a younger, stronger woman, like me, to my knees. I’m a wuss by comparison. Like an older sister, sometimes a mom, my girlfriend was a smoker for many years, but was finally able to kick the habit. Whether as a result of smoking or having had it beforehand, she continues to suffer with emphysema which is compounded by asthma. Weighing under 100 pounds she’s a lightweight, but she can be as “tough as nails” when debating her opinion. I’ve never tested her, and am not about to try. I’d rather have her in my corner. When a coughing fit overtakes her, she can easily bruise some ribs. As a last resort her doctor prescribes prednisone which eliminates the cough, but leaves my friend with side effects that linger. She has bouts of diverticulitis which has her curled up in great pain. Throughout our 13 years of friendship, she’s been poked, probed, xrayed, cat-scanned, MRI’d more than anyonelse I know. With the help of a physician who’s cared for her, REALLY CARED, my amazing friend always seems “as fit as a fiddle.” I forget her medical history until another episode occurs, and it always does.

I think I dress rather smartly, but when I’m out with my friend and her husband I know she’s outdone me. Not that I mind, for I am simply in awe of  her sense of style, wearing skirts and dresses that I never would, simply because they wouldn’t look as well on me. They’re not my “cup of tea,” but they suit my girlfriend to a tee. And the jewelry, she can wear several gold bangles, rings on several fingers, including on her toes, and of course, earrings. Stunning is the only word to describe her. Whether she’s lounging at home or stepping out, in my estimation, she’s always “dressed to the nines.”

Her hobby, more like a full-time job, keeps my girlfriend in constant stitches. (Pun intended.)  She is never without a knitting project spread out across her lap, fingers and needles furiously working “knits” and “purls.” Her handiwork is so exquisite that I’ve often said she would make good money selling her sweaters, vests, shawls, afghans, and baby things. But she takes such care that she prefers to give them as gifts, rather than sell them. A few Christmases ago, my husband and I received a deep, red afghan pieced together with several large, knitted squares in different designs. Needless to say, it’s rarely used as a coverlet. The afghan lays decoratively across the back of an oversized, upholstered chair. 

With little success I’ve tried to knit, my friend sitting patiently at my side, encouraging. But when I’m alone I’m in a quandry as to how to correct a mistake, so I undo everything and start anew. Exhausted and frustrated after several hours of undoing my knitting and redoing it, I put my yarns and needles aside. They still sit in a Nordstrom shopping bag against the far back wall of my closet. Now that I’m blogging, who knows when my attempt at knitting will resurface. I wouldn’t place any bets.

My girlfriend is one of the most charitable persons I know. In spite of the toll it might take upon her health, she is committed to helping family and friends in need. Regardless of her step-mother-in-law’s incessant complaining, my friend and her husband regularly visited the aging woman who lived a few hours away. While there they would help however they could. Until she died they spent Thanksgiving with her, foregoing a gayer holiday with their own children and grandchildren. Before putting her into an assisted-living facility, my girlfriend and her husband helped clean out decades of clutter from her mother-in-law’s home. While she lived, there was no indication of her appreciation for her daughter-in-law’s constant concern and care. But after passing away, my friend was bequeathed the old woman’s engagement ring. A just reward for a just person.

As I write this, my girlfriend is hosting friends who are visiting from out-of-state for a month. It may become an annual occurrence, for they welcomed their friends last year at this time. When other friends who live in the same retirement community vacationed at their condo in California earlier this year, my girlfriend took care of their sick dachshund. She went to live at the dog’s home so that it would feel comfortable in its own surroundings. Her husband visited, and she would return home to prepare and have dinner. When we planned our trip to Venice, my friend offered to care for our dog, even contemplating moving into our home so she could also care for our cats. It was a generous gesture, but her husband convinced her that it would be physically challenging for her to walk our dog up our steep driveway without his help, and he was not planning to live here with her. He had their home and dog to care for. We happily agreed to send our dog to their home, and have someonelse care for our cats.

Our family is grateful for the years we’ve known my girlfriend and her husband. I’ve especially cherished her as a role model for living robustly, despite personal hindrances. I hope I have her strong constitution, generosity toward others, and energetic vivacity as I live out the remaining years of my life. With my friend leading the way for a long time to come, I know I’m in good hands.

hugs for role models…hugmamma.