Fascinating, Comforting, and a Little Troubling

I just finished watching the first episode of “The Story of God” with Morgan Freeman on NatGeo Channel.  This episode explored what different religions from the past and now believe happens when we die.

There were a lot of moments that had me going “Huh” or “Wow” or “That’s really fascinating.”  One such moment was learning that the ancient Egyptians believed that the afterlife of their Pharaoh was crucial, as it ensured the sun would rise each morning.  All I could think is that yes, after both of my parents passed on, the thought that they are continuing on just on the other side of the veil,  that’s pretty much the only reason I was able to get up with the sun each day.  Any thoughts otherwise and I would have given up.  It was an interesting connection with this ancient civilization for me to think about.

It was, however, the story towards the end, that blew me away.  A couple have designed a robot (head and shoulders only for now) that will be a storage unit for memories, beliefs, and values of someone who has passed.  Morgan Freeman met the android which replicated one of the creators.  It was eerie, listening to her speak (the android, not the person).  The idea is that this will allow people and their thoughts, stories, and memories, to live on forever.

Ahem.

I was not able to choose the time and day that each of my parents ceased existing as they had before and left this world.  I am thankful it was not my responsibility to do so.  Imagine, though, that we had had the opportunity, prior to their passing, to create such an android?  How long would we want them to hang around?  Let’s say my children have one such robot made of “me.”  Who would be the person to turn me off and let me go?  Finally?  (Actually, I can practically hear my children, “Somebody go in there and turn Mama off.  She’s making me crazier than she did when she was really alive.”)  Seriously though, I cannot imagine making that choice about someone I love, robot or no.  And I mean, you figure, enough generations will pass, and then the robot would be someone no one really knows anymore…..someone’s going to have to turn G’Ma off eventually.  And let her go forever.

I shudder at the thought of all this.

I appreciate technology and all of its life-saving and life-protecting ways.  But life-preserving?  Like this?  I really hope this doesn’t become a thing.  I cannot imagine what it would be like–all the discussions and arguments about who gets “custody” or has to take “custody” and yes, in reality, when does the whole thing become mundane, and someone has to literally flip a switch and turn the robot, the “essence” of their loved one, OFF.  Or refuse to pay to have him or her “repaired.”

Just no.

Tonight I’m thankful for the mystery of life and the mystery of death, and I give thanks for the beautiful conversations Mr. Freeman had that, with the exception of the robot, brought my soul hope and peace and joy.

Love to all.

Story of God Morgan Freeman

“Story of God” with Morgan Freeman, courtesy of NatGeo Channel http://channel.nationalgeographic.com

 

And the Winner Is…..

For whatever reason, this fall our whole family has watched “Dancing With the Stars” together. We recorded it and waited until Aub was home from college and could watch it together. Thank you, DWTS folks, for making the finale this week, when she was home and we could watch it LIVE–something we never do. #wedonotdocommercialswell It has been a joy for many reasons, among them the age of my children, where we all picked our favorites and enjoyed the competition, and the different personalities of the dancers and pros. But the biggest reason we have so loved this season is, I believe, this has been the kindest and most fun cast of celebrity dancers ever. They built relationships with each other that were such a joy to see. As Aub said tonight, “I want to be friends with them.”

So do I.

Since we spent time watching the finale tonight, as I muted the commercials (why can’t they make those family friendly as well?), I composed some haikus about the evening.  As for who won, it was US–my family and all who shared the journey with this fabulous group of people.

Wishing you all something joyful or a good song (might I recommend one from the Back Street Boys?) to get your feet tapping. And if you missed this season, check out some of the showstopping dances on YouTube.

425_dwts_mirror_ball

whole season of dance
laughter, tears, and all the feels
mirrorball trophy

Paris train hero
danced his way into our hearts
and learned to love dance

Back Street Boy came back
with steps both strong and graceful
he can sing AND dance

beautiful daughter
of the Crocodile Hunter
her smile is pure joy

now it is over
only memories remain
thankful for YouTube

Love to all.

 

 

the days of my life

there have been days on this journey that were very well suited for an Afterschool Special,
complete with lesson and resolution in thirty minutes or less
with ALL the awkward moments

other chapters of my story would have won awards as a Lifetime movie,
with drama and suspense and betrayal and hurt and good versus evil

and then there are the bits that would require lots of tissues and
leave one feeling as good as those movies Hallmark makes,
all the warm fuzzies and love and twinkly lights

I’ve lived through my own versions of “What Not to Wear” and “Chopped”
and there’ve been days of being voted off my very own island
but I’ve always been a Survivor

much of the time it’s been a sitcom though–
“I might have said that. I say a lot of things.”
“People aren’t mail.”
“…..but look how nice you made yourself look for me.”
“Couldn’t even if I wanted to.”
with all the laughter or conversations over coffee
and life with the fun and zany

from the days like those on the soaps that seem to go on forever
to the moments that, like sand in an hourglass, pass all too quickly–
some relationships get cancelled quickly for good reason and I have to move beyond
while still others are rivaling Frasier for longevity of character and winning awards left and right

in the end, this story I live has its mundane moments seemingly more about nothing than an episode of Seinfeld
and yet so many over the years
have been more educational than Schoolhouse rock
and near about as memorable as Linus’ monologue
in the Peanuts’ Halloween special

as I reflect back over the years
and I watch the world today,
I realize that maybe we spend too much time
worrying over things like “Who shot JR?”
and not enough on why Oscar is so grouchy

and if we could help him by listening

all these years, all the years to come–
through all the hills, streets, blues, and joys,
it’s been one Amazing Race

and I am thankful

1950's_television

“1950’s television”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1950%27s_television.jpg#/media/File:1950%27s_television.jpg

 

But What Does It Do?

This one starts off like the classic meme–

I don’t always watch the commercials on TV, but when I do…..

they make me sad.

Forget the ones that are inappropriate and the main reason I cannot watch live TV with my children.  (Well, don’t forget them, but we’ll set those aside to discuss another night.)

Never mind the ridiculous ones.  I’m a little over the two guys eating in the car at Sonic.  They might have been funny once, but, really?  Enough.

And don’t get me started on the movie trailers that get us all hooked and then they say, not yet rated.  I KNOW what that means, and sure enough, another one we were looking forward to is shelved until the littles are older.  Thanks Marvel and Disney.  Way to go.

No, this one’s about the ones that make me really sad.

The ones for the stuffed animals.  But wait, there’s more.

These stuffed animals aren’t just stuffed animals.  There’s one that rolls into a ball and bounces.  There’s another that you can use as a bag to hide your unsightly pajamas–you know, because tucking them under your pillow just will NOT do.  The one that really takes the cake is the one that has a fish tank in its belly.  I kid you not.  A fish tank.  Or you can store Legos or other small things inside the see through stomach on this stuffed animal.

Wow.

What a world we are creating for our children when even their stuffed animals must multi-task.  What happened to the cuddly stuffed animals that you just wrapped your arms around and let your cares melt away?  I’d even take the ones that talked when you squeezed them over this.

It’s what the world is like now, isn’t it?  We can’t just be.  We must also be able to do…..so.  much. more.  And it breaks my heart.  I see it a lot as a stay at home/homeschooling mom.  I saw it when I was a working Mama.  You’re introduced to someone and the next thing after hearing your name is, “Oh, what do you DO?”

It’s how we relate to each other.  We categorize and compartmentalize and move on.

Now we’re doing it to our children’s toys.  Nice bear…..but what does it do?

*sigh*

What these little folks must be learning from us.  Go, be, do, and then do more.

Just no.

I’m more than my Mamahood, though that is a huge part of me and I love it.  I’m also more than the homeschool teacher.  I’m more than I appear and way more than what I do.  I’m what I feel and whom I love and a composite of every moment I’ve breathed on this planet and every decision I ever made.  I am more.

But not because I DO more.

Simply because I am.

So no, I won’t be ordering the bubble belly bear or the boucing ball hippopotamus.  I just can’t do it.  We’re quite happy with the simple ones we cuddle with and wrap up and play ‘ten like with.  Then they can be and do anything we imagine.

And without letting myself be put in a box, so can I.

Love and wishes for a soaring imagination to all.

A Time and a Place

Today the littles had their semi-annual dentist appointment. We arrived in the office on time to find that the “let us take your picture to check you in” computer was gone. We are back to signing in. I don’t know why, I didn’t ask questions, I am just so happy it is GONE. I hated that thing. It was incapable of taking a decent picture. It gave you ten seconds, counting backwards from ten. Try to pick a right expression in ten seconds–right now. I can wait.

You changed expressions half a dozen times, didn’t you?  Now imagine doing that while looking at yourself.  Exactly.  Not a good thing.

I think I would pay our doctors to put this on their tv screens.  Pic courtesy of 9gags.com

I think I would pay our doctors to put this on their tv screens. Pic courtesy of 9gag.com

So we sat down to wait.  The television that seems to grace every single doctor’s waiting area was there.  With a news channel on.  I don’t watch enough tv to remember which one, but they were covering the George Zimmerman trial.  Words were floating through the air, “Murder…..gunshot…..screams…..violent.”  And so much more.  I often try to distract my littles when the television is on a channel that I’d rather them not watch, but today it was impossible.  The volume was up and it was a small waiting room.  My Princess asked, “Mama, what is all that about?”

I don’t intend to keep them out of the loop forever, but there are some things that I don’t think their innocent little hearts or minds can grasp, and this is one of them.   I hate that I’m not given a say in this.  The channels are on what they are on.  Fortunately, my two were called back just then, and I asked the hygienists to please put their channels on children’s programming.  (Later, I found out my little guy had been watching Cartoon Network.  Great.  Some programs on there are okay, but mostly, ummmm, no.)

We were at another doctor’s office a few weeks ago and they had the TV on a talk show.  Someone on there was discussing the latest pictures taken of Miley Cyrus.  I hadn’t seen them before this, but I could only imagine what was coming, so I took that commercial break opportunity to ask the receptionist to change the channel.  As usual, she was very nice about it, but honestly, do these people not realize children are coming in?  Do they let their own children watch this junk?  And they have a lovely little play area RIGHT. UNDER. THE. TV.  Makes sense, right?

While I was waiting for the littles to have their teeth cleaned, (yes, I have graduated to letting them go by themselves!) I thought about the TV’s at the hospital during Mama’s HospitalStay.  Mama never wanted a TV on during her time in the hospital–neither last August nor during her latest stay in January-February.  She’d offer last fall for me to watch what I wanted to, but we rarely turned it on.  I take that back, I think we watched some of the Olympics.  She was sedated during most of the first two weeks this last time, but one of the nurses told us that Mama could hear what we were saying.  I don’t remember how we discovered it, but my sister and I found a music channel that had calming music and streamed beautiful scenery with no breaks or interruptions.  We put it on that channel with the volume at a pleasant level.  One of our dear friends came in and said, “Miss Barbara, this is a lot like a spa.  You’re gonna wake up telling us you dreamed about being at a spa.”  The room was spacious, the halls were quiet, and the music was relaxing.

Then one morning we came in and the TV was on Dr. Phil.  Now I don’t usually use foul language, but I promise you one thing, the expletives were lined up, ready to flow.  Ain’t NOBODY got time for that!  Like my Mama needed to be listening to that drama.  Seriously, you’ve got a patient who can’t speak for herself and you put the channel on what YOU want to see?  For the few minutes you are in and out of there?  Unacceptable.  We changed the channel and scrounged for some paper.  We used medical tape to attach a note to the remote–“Please leave on Channel 74.  She really loves it.”  Well, why not?  Might as well leave them wondering.

It was about a week or so later when Mama had been moved down to the STINKU (okay, STICU), that I walked in and found her channel had been changed again.  These folks were already off my birthday list; the unit was loud and crowded and it was hard to get people to be timely in responding to urgent needs.  They were very strict about their very limited visiting hours just when Mama was coming out of sedation and really needed us there.  I’ll be upset over this one for years.  And to top it all off, the channel was on ESPN, with replays of the big basketball game from the night before.  I know exactly who changed it because this nurse talked about missing the game from the day before because of work.  Never in her life has Mama cared about the big basketball games the first time around, never mind the replays.   I was livid.  It was the ultimate in not being able to make sure that Mama was being cared for properly–the fact that her needs and wants were not being respected made me sick.  We talked to the floor supervisor about it and a computer generated sign was placed below the television–“Do not change channel.  Please keep on Channel 74.”  Finally.

At the same time that Mama was at her HospitalStay in Macon, our elderly cousin whom Mama was guardian of was in the hospital in Warner Robins.  My sister and Mama’s neighbor and I took turns checking in on her.  I made sure that the channel stayed on a “safe” channel for her.  As she was mildly developmentally delayed, Mama was very careful about what movies and shows she gave her to watch.  Finally I settled on Disney channel.  She seemed to enjoy the tween/teen shows.  One time I was visiting with her and she pointed at the TV and said, “She’s not very nice.”  I’ve seen it.  She was right.

About two weeks after she’d been admitted, she was not doing well.  Hard conversations were had, and I found myself having to make a hard decision.  The first of many without my Mama to guide me.  I lay there that Saturday night on the couch/bed in her hospital room with blankets and pillows brought to me by the patient care tech, bless her heart.  As I listened to our cousin breathing and watched her vitals on the monitor, Disney flashed across the screen.  I had muted it much earlier in the afternoon.  It occurred to me that I was on Holy Ground, so I got up and turned off the TV.  It just didn’t seem right.  And it stayed off, all through my signing papers the next morning and all that followed that.

Mama said quite frequently, “There’s a time and place for everything.”  I think she was right.  And I’m beginning to question the right times and places for things like televisions in doctor’s offices and hospitals.  At least, if they have to be there, please let them be for the patients and not for the folks who are working there.  And seriously, would it hurt any of us to sit in quiet or to actually talk to other people?  Or to remember to take a book along? I’m thinking no, but then, I haven’t had a nap today.  And I might just need one.

Where are the Channel Changers?

A few nights ago my neighbors and I were visiting in our backyard while our children played for a few minutes before heading in for baths and bed.  The husband and I somehow got into a conversation about who had it “harder” growing up, while his wife stood back and laughed.  “Y’all sound like a couple of old folks,” she said.

Things like when we got a color TV, how old we were when we first had central heat and air, and such as that.  It made me laugh to think about how different my own growing up was compared to what my children will remember.  We had baseboard heaters and an attic fan that pulled cool air through the windows–only if there was a storm you couldn’t use it because it would pull in rain too.  I was in high school before we had color TV or a VCR or a computer.  Our first computer was a TI-99/4A that hooked up to a tv–yep, a little black and white.  I was SO excited when we got it.  Wow.  Little did I know where that kind of technology was headed.  Today what used to be huge bag phones are really pocket-sized computers, cameras, and boom boxes all rolled into one “smart” phone.  Amazing.

I think what we laughed the hardest over was our televisions and how we changed the channel.  This was back in the day before television remotes.  Hush your mouth, you mean there ever was a time such as that?  There sure was. Hard times.  You had to get up and WALK TO THE TV to change the channel or the volume.  I think I was grown and married before I saw a remote for a TV.

My friend said that he and his sisters sat just far enough away that they could still turn the dial for changing the channel with their feet.  Usually his older sister, the tallest of the bunch, was elected to do it.  I love the picture of them scooching across the floor until just close enough to use their feet to operate the television.  Too funny.

But I win.

Because this is how we changed the channel at my house.

pic of slip joint pliersChannel changers.

Say what?  Pliers?  Noooooo, those are channel changers.  To this day, that is what my family calls them.

See, the plastic dial on the TV that you gripped and turned had broken off of our old black and white set, leaving only a metal stick-shaped piece jutting out.  Being the good steward he was, Daddy figured out everything still worked perfectly well if we took the channel changers, gripped the metal piece and turned.  Voila! Perfection.  The only problem was when those blame things had been carried off to be used for something other than their intended purpose–changing the channel.  (And this was not a job you could do with your fingers–believe me, I tried.)  That was when whoever was trying to watch something different could be heard calling from the living room–“Where are the CHANNEL CHANGERS?!?!!!” Well, that and you never knew what channel it was on until you sat and watched for a few minutes.  Oh, and that was the other thing, we only had one television set.  In the whole house.

The thing I love about my conversation with my friend is that we both were acting as though we had it SO hard growing up.  And maybe by the standards of some, we did, but I don’t think either one of us thought we had it hard when we were living it.  It was just the way it was.  And life was pretty doggone good.

Tonight I’m thankful for great friends and laughing over the past together.  I give thanks for my resourceful Daddy who could fix just about anything.   He taught me to see beyond something’s prescribed purpose and be a problem solver.  Though I may not know where the screwdriver or hammer got off to, and even though I don’t need them for that purpose anymore, I always keep the channel changers handy.  Because you just never know.