That’s Hilarious…..and Important

A few days ago I had the privilege of speaking with a most delightful fellow on the phone.  My little nephew, who just turned four, woke up from his nap and came in the room where my brother was on the phone with me.  The miles divide, but the heart does not.  Thankfully so.  When his Papa told him who he was talking to, the little guy got on the phone and said hello.

My brother was suffering with a pretty bad cold.  After we said our hey, how are you’s I asked my little friend about his father.  “So are you taking good care of Papa?  Since he’s sick?”

“Uh huh,” he said.  I could almost see his head nodding over the phone.

“Oh good,” I replied.  “I need you to take very good care of him, because I love him.  He’s my baby brother.”

“What?!” he exclaimed in disbelief.  He turned to my brother. “Papa, Aunt Tara says you are her baby brother!” He giggled as he relayed this silly idea.

“That’s right.  I am.  She’s my big sister,” I heard my brother say on the other end of the phone.

“What?!” my nephew repeated through his giggles.  “THAT’S HILARIOUS!!!!!”

Oh, the joy in hearing him erupt with laughter on the other end of the line!  Bless him, I miss my brother and his family.  The laughter was like a balm to my soul.

I’ve been thinking about that little guy and his shock and disbelief about our connectedness.  It was as though something like that had never even entered his mind.  About how we are joined together.  The string that connects us.

I am thankful for my nephew, his laughter, his joy, and his reminder that sometimes we might not know or remember just how much we are all–every single one of us–connected.  And oh–the joy and laughter that knowledge should bring.

Sometimes I think it’s easy to remember the things that divide us–those things tend to be so much easier to focus on, don’t they?

But wouldn’t it be nice if we had someone to remind us of that connectedness and laugh like a child with joy over that knowledge?

Hilarious.  And fabulous.

And one of the most important things to remember.

Love to all.

 

Gilligan, Tom Hanks, and That Deserted Isle Thing

As bedtimes were backed up this evening, and the children abandoned the street, and balls and bikes were tossed aside in anticipation of school starting in the morning, all the quiet was way too loud this evening.

It had me remembering another time that the quiet was bothersome.  When our Princess was eight days old, it was Thanksgiving Day…..and we were living in Japan.  Our little family had been invited to our friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, but the wind was whipping, and the cold was biting.  We decided it was best not to take our newborn out in all of that, even briefly, so I sent my Fella and Aub on without us.  We both would probably sleep most of the time they were away anyway.

As it turned out, only one of us did.

And it wasn’t me.

So I turned on the TV.  We got some channels from the states, so I flipped around and landed on a movie that, to this day, I cannot tell you why I kept it on.

“Castaway.”

Oh my land, I wasn’t crazy about it when I saw it in the movie theater–why on earth I thought I needed to watch it on Thanksgiving day while my sweet baby slept and the whole rest of the world was celebrating without me and I was miles and miles away from my Mama and Daddy…..well, I have no idea.

And yet I did.

I’m sure I flipped away from it a time or two, but let’s face it–putting on your best shows is not a programmer’s priority on Thanksgiving Day.  So Tom Hanks it was.

And then Wilson.

I canNOT bear that scene.  Volleyballs in stores send me back to that moment, and I will tear up, no joke.  Fortunately, that’s not something you see a lot of at the getting places around here.

This summer it finally hit me why I LOATHED that movie so much.

It’s not because of Tom Hanks either.  I LOVE him.  #SleeplessinSeattle #YouveGotMail #Big #Splash #andalltheOthers #except Castaway

It occurred to me on one of our OutandAbouts.  Sometimes I’ll let the crew watch something while we are traveling in the car.  This summer they’ve watched (and I’ve listened) to more than our fair share of “Gilligan’s Island,” including one of the followup movies.  (Tina Louise wasn’t in that one–it troubled me to no end, and I was only listening.)

I grew up with Gilligan and crew.  I KNOW how deserted island life is supposed to go.  I KNOW how much people pack to go on boats even when they’re only going to be gone for three hours.  I KNOW how much food is on an island, and I KNOW that others happen upon the “deserted” isle from time to time, so there’s NO WAY AT ALL that someone would need a volleyball for companionship.

And so I’ve decided that’s it.  That’s why I cannot tolerate “Castaway” and all of its suggestions to the contrary.  I’ve seen Gilligan.  It’s ruined me for any other shipwrecked or plane crashes and the like where you wind up on a deserted island type of shows.  Once you know the truth, fiction just won’t cut it.

Tonight I’m thankful that my littles love Gilligan as much or more as I ever did.  I’m thankful for their giggles and that the sound of their laughter was the soundtrack for this summer.  As we stir ourselves in the morning and pull out the sharpened pencils and pristine notebooks and turn the crisp pages of new books, I hope that the spirit of the folks of the S. S. Minnow will prevail–love, friendship, ingenuity, loyalty, and togetherness.  And I hope that none of my children ask to play volleyball this year.

It’s still too soon.

Love to all.

Bob_Denver_Gilligans_Island_1966

By CBS Television (eBay front back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up…..But I Tried

Being the oldest of four siblings in the dark ages before internet access, I got to make up a lot of stuff. Stuff that may or may not have been true.  Stuff that the ones listening to me really couldn’t verify or denounce without going to Mama and Daddy.

Yeah, there were days that I was that sibling.

Summers get long and hot in Georgia, y’all.  Without AC you kind of have to make your own fun.

Mostly I would tell my sisters, especially Mess Cat, about celebrity relationships.  I don’t know why it mattered, but on those hot summer afternoons when we tried to do as little as possible since sitting still you would still sweat puddles, it was Something. To. Do.

It started with true stories.  About who was married to whom, like Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers) and Connie Sellecca.  Or who had been in what movie with whom way back when before they became famous.  Then the imagination would take off and I’d be making up all kinds of stories.  Inevitably, I’d cross a line–it always happened.  That line that would cause Mess Cat to glance at me sideways and cut her eyes just so, squinting, thinking.  I would hold my face still and just about hold my breath, hoping she wouldn’t see through my stories.

But she did.  Some days it took longer than others, but she always did.  Sometimes I’d continue to feign innocence for days, but eventually she found me out.

Oh the fun of the good ol’ days.

So it was that yesterday after the ball game (I watched that whole fourth quarter of the Seahawks/Panthers game–I’m a fourth quarter kind of girl, but that’s a story for another night), the TV was still on, and I was focused on what I had been working on.  I think I was crocheting another  stripe on my temperature blanket.  Whatever it was, my attention was not on what was on TV until I stood up to turn it off and leave the room.  It was then that I saw two men on the screen with the same last name.

My mouth dropped open.

It actually fell open.  I was frozen in place for a moment.  WORLDS COLLIDED.

Growing up we did watch CHIPS.  My favorite was not Erik Estrada’s “Ponch” character or Jon Baker, though they both were entertaining enough.  My favorite was Robert Pine’s character.  For whatever reason, I just really liked him best.  When I looked up at the screen yesterday, Robert Pine was pictured there. But it was the young man next to him that made my mouth drop.

Chris Pine.

What the what?

I have loved him since his Princess Diaries 2 days.  That’s one of my go to movies.  Yes.  If it’s on, I’m watching it.  As a matter of fact, it came on one of the channels the other day, and Aub said, “Mama, it’s like they know you.”  And we all sat here and watched it.  Again.

And so you might can understand how surprised I was when it all clicked and I realized that Robert Pine is Chris Pine’s father.

Of course he is.  I can see the resemblance now.

Wow.

For a moment though, I looked around to see if my sister Mess Cat was anywhere around.  She would have loved the poetic justice in that moment, I’m sure.

It’s fascinating when life surprises me with new stories, new things I didn’t know, things I never even considered before.  Even when it’s trivial things like who’s related to whom in the acting world.

Tonight I’m thankful for all the happy and lazy memories that yesterday’s discovery brought back for me. We worked hard, played hard, and lazed around hard all those summers so many years ago.  And we laughed and loved hard.  That’s what brings me the greatest joy.

Love to all.

LOL…..just don’t cut it

pic of lol

This afternoon my middle sister called.  She had a few minutes and wanted to share something that had happened in her adventures in homeschooling.  She got tickled as she told it.  So much so that her giggling overcame her voice, and she had to give into it for a moment.  Which started me laughing.  And before we knew it, we were both laughing and stumbling over words and neither could really understand the other.

Good, no, GREAT stuff.

See, we haven’t had a lot to laugh about together lately.  So much has gone on in the past four months, so much worrying, so much sorrow, so much business to tend to, so much to decide about.  And in all that I have missed her laughter.  Especially when it overtakes her story.  My Aunt says I do the same thing sometimes, that it reminds her of Mama.  Funny how I spent most of my life not wanting to turn into Mama, and now a random comment like that…..it becomes a treasure to hold onto.   I should be so lucky as to turn out like my Mama.

I wonder if the overwhelming laughter could be genetic because my Aub does the same thing sometimes, as she shares her stories.  She’s really good at that–sharing her stories.  I don’t take that lightly.  That’s another treasure.  And we can “lafe and lafe” as Andy Griffith might say.  It can take us quite a while to get through one story sometimes, just because of the laughter.

As I went on my walk tonight, I was thinking about my sweet neighbor who is moving soon.  Oh, how I will miss her!  We spend pretty afternoons standing in her yard or mine while our littles play, chatting about our days, our families, our children, our dreams, or what’s for supper.  We have texted about this and that from time to time, but our relationship consists mostly of face to face, can I borrow an egg or a can of tomatoes, real-life conversations.  And now we won’t have that.  I made a promise to myself tonight, thinking of my sister and her precious laughter, that I won’t let my relationship with my neighbor and friend become a texting or e-mail or facebook relationship only.  I love her laughter, and I love hearing her stories.  I hope we will be able to make time for regular phone calls and for visits when they come to town.

I am very thankful for the benefits of modern technology as I’ve said before, but I do think it has done us a disservice on this front.  So much of our communication with others is by text or e-mail.  I am guilty of this too.  Oh sure, we 🙂 and LOL, but there is nothing like a hearty guffaw in your ear when you are on the phone or right in front of you when you are sitting with a friend.  I love the camaraderie of laughing with someone until tears are rolling down my face.  And believe me, that’s the stuff that joy and healing are made of.  Honest to goodness Laughing.  Out.  Loud. Together.  That’s the best right there.  LOL just don’t cut it.

A Thank You to Our Nurses With Love

pic of nurses' weekThis is Nurses’ Week.  It is my pleasure to send out a big hug and many thanks and a virtual cup of coffee with a fresh Krispy Kreme to each and every nurse who has touched our lives.  We have been blessed by your kindness, your skills, and your dedication to what you do.  Thank you.

My first eye-opening experience with those of this profession was when I started work with our local Hospice in the Fall of 2000.  For over two years, I worked as a team with these beautiful people who made the journey from this life to the next one a lot more peaceful and a little less frightening.  When Mama and Daddy made the decision to call Hospice for Daddy in September of 2011, I was so hoping for just the right person to come in.  And she did.  A sweet spirit, calming and loving.  She was just the perfect person for Mama and Daddy.  And when Daddy was gone, she still cared for Mama.  Because of her, Mama found a whole community of people who loved and supported her through the next fifteen months.  And when Mama left this earth–our wonderful nurse was there, loving us and Mama, and holding Mama’s hand.  Just as she did a week later when our cousin Miss Betty took her last breath.  I know that calling her an “angel on earth” seems rather trite and cliche’, but I don’t know how else to decribe her.  Without being intrusive she became a part of our family.  To this day.  I love her with all my heart because of what she did, but even more because of who she is.  It takes someone special to be a nurse.

When Mama went for the second HospitalStay in January, we felt like we were old hands at this in some respects.  This was, however, my first experience with ICU nurses.  PHENOMENAL.  These men and women do so many tasks that are delegated to others on other floors.  I’ve watched them do things that I won’t describe here, but let me tell you–hearts of gold, stomachs of steel.  Enough said.

I won’t be able to mention each one, but most of them were pretty doggone great.  The joke amongst the family became that I got into in-depth conversations with the people who took care of Mama, while my baby sister felt like she was interrogating them by comparison.  (She would say, “Tara asks, ‘So where did you go to school?  Oh that’s great,’ while I say (in clipped sharp tones) ‘So.  Where did YOU go to SCHOOL?!  OH, that is just great.” )  I just shrugged at her version of it, and said, “I’m looking for my new BFF for-evuh!  I’m convinced I’m going to find her during the HospitalStay.”   And I tried.  We met some interesting people.

Tony who-smelled-good was our first nurse that night when Mama was moved unexpectedly to the ICU.  He was on again when she was rushed to surgery the next night.  He cared for her after the surgery.  He is precious to me because he is one of the few who remembered her awake and alert, how she smiled and made conversation through the pain.  He comforted her in her anxiety as she headed down to surgery.  He was the one to whom she bragged about her soon-to-be-born grandson.  He smiled and listened.  Listening.  That is huge.

Andrea was another beautiful soul from the beginning of our stay.  She had Mama several times before we were moved to the STICU.  She and Miss Betty, the patient care tech, made a great team–comforting us in our concerns, answering our questions, and oh, the healing laughter.  They laughed and filled that room with joy.  They told Mama, who was still sedated, funny stories and made up nicknames for each one of them.  Andrea left us a note on the obituary on-line.  That connection.  Thank you.  She let us know Mama was more than just another patient.  She was also one who let us stay even though visiting hours were over.  She knew the situation and decided accordingly.  That was such a gift.  We didn’t really know it at the time.  I will always remember this beautiful woman who was a surprise to her own Mama–she was a twin born to a woman expecting only one.  What a precious surprise she was.

Janel, and I may not be spelling her name right, took the time to teach us how to take care of Mama.  Mama ran fever a lot, and for several reasons, they couldn’t give her medication to bring it down.  Janel was the one who said “Let’s mini-skirt her and wipe her down.”  She would tuck the gown up a bit, and then she used a wet washcloth and wiped Mama’s arms, face, hands, and legs.  She asked if we’d like to do that.  Thank you, Janel.  Because of her, I wasn’t afraid to move around the wires and cables and touch Mama, love on her.  Though Janel was only with us one day, we started asking other nurses if we could do that, and by the time Mama was moved to the STICU we just started asking for washcloths and telling them what we were doing. Janel believed in the family being a part of care.  She even said, “If she were my Mama, I’d be crawling in the bed with her.”  She got it, and for that I give thanks.

There were so many other great nurses and patient care techs who touched our lives with love and a tender touch.  I am thankful for each and every one, even the ones who kept “ma’am”ing me.  (Boy was that hard to hear!)  I would have taken any of them as my new BFF for-evuh.  Loved.  Them.

When our cousin Miss Betty was admitted into the hospital in Warner Robins two weeks after Mama, our family decided it was best if Miss Betty didn’t know about Mama being in the hospital.  She would not have understood.  Mama was her guardian, and it only would have frightened her.  We hoped it would not be necessary.  And it wasn’t.  Just not in the way we anticipated.

So each time we spoke with a new nurse at the hospital there, we explained two things–that Mama was in the hospital so we couldn’t be there as much as we would like, and that Miss Betty wasn’t to know about Mama.  The team of nurses on the ICU and step-down unit were so incredible during this really hard time.  They became Miss Betty’s new BFF’s.  It was precious the night that I was visiting with her, and the night nurse Miss Cece came on, walked by and waved.  Miss Betty waved back, and said, “That’s my friend.”  I never worried once about Miss Betty’s care.  To this day I give thanks for that great group of nurses.   From the first day with Amber who took Miss Betty and my sister under her wing, to our last night with Mary, who was there to mother me as much as to care for Miss Betty, we were blessed with caring, compassionate people–among them Willa, Brett, Brandi, Cece, Mary, and so many others.  If we saw one in the hall, even when she wasn’t Miss Betty’s nurse that day, each one would ask how things were going.  They remembered and cared.  One I owe a great deal of sanity to is Aimee.  On the way to see Mama during one of the very strict visiting times at the hospital in Macon, I had hoped to have time to swing by the hospital in town to see Miss Betty first.  The skies looked ominous, traffic was awful near the Base, and I knew that if I did drive to Miss Betty’s hospital, I would probably only have 1/2 hour out of the two hours allotted to visit Mama by the time I could get there.  With no other options, I called and asked for Miss Betty’s nurse.  Aimee.  I told her my situation and asked that if I got there a few minutes after visiting time was over, could I please still see Miss Betty before I needed to head home?

This sweet and compassionate woman gave me the gift of grace.  “You go see your Mama.  Take your time, drive safely, and when you get here, no matter when, you can come on back.”  I cried right then and there.  Later that evening when I finally arrived to see Miss Betty, Aimee was there, ready to change shifts.  She stayed to ask how things were going in Macon with Mama.  She listened and she laughed with me and let me just be.  What a gift of love.  Tonight I am particularly thankful to Aimee for my being able to have that visit with peace in my heart, as it was only three days later that I had to tell Mama goodbye.

Dear nurses, you have a thankless job.  I know.  I saw and heard things during our HospitalStay that broke my heart for you.  But please hear me say this, I owe you all a debt I can never repay.  You took the time to make sure my Mama and Miss Betty were safe and comfortable and had the greatest of care, just as you do for each one of your patients.  And you took the time to talk to us, to answer our questions, to listen to our stories, and to just let us be.  You are loved and treasured.  Thank you all, those whom I have met and those whom I have not.  Please don’t ever doubt that what you are doing is making a difference.   You are healers of body and spirit.  With your gentle hands and your full hearts.  Thank you.

pic of heart with bandaid