Sunday, November 08, 2015
Years ago, two dogs back I used to walk our dog there. That dog--an English setter (show not hunting) loved to see the squirrels there. One day, she spotted a squirrel who had not seen her, and for at least 15 minutes she inched up on that squirrel. Our dog's muscles were all aquiver as she silently inched one paw in front of the other. I think the squirrel must have had a near-heart attack when our dog suddenly pounced...but the squirrel got away.
Anyway, after a time, there came a day when the cemetery posted a big prominent sign you could not miss: NO DOGS ALLOWED. I was annoyed, and bemused. I thought--ok, no dogs. But squirrels, chipmunks, Canada geese, and foxes all running amok. But, no dogs.
About a year ago, I decided to see if the dreaded NO DOGS sign was still there...by now, we had another dog, a lab mix--our sweet Ziva. She gets many daily walks, so adding the cemetery aka park
Since dogs like to take their time--sniffing every tree, or blade of grass, or whatever--we spend some time there. And I have taken to reading cemetery plaques. These plaques or stones are flat on the ground, some made of marble and some of brass. Whatever their composition, they all tell a story.
Herewith some examples:
--A name with a birthdate in the late 1890s, but death date. Someone was forgotten? Or didn't die (unlikely). Or the family either did not know or had not recalled where that burial plot was.
--Many graves with death dates in the late 1960s, most of them of young men in their early 20s. Most likely killed in Vietnam--my generation's war.
--Two names side by side--or actually a double stone but with a name removed from its prior place. The one side has birth and death date, the other...blank. No doubt, the surviving spouse found someone new, remarried and decided to be buried elsewhere.
--several small stones with birthdate and death date the same day.
--finally, a stone with four names on it, all one family: mother, father, daughter, son. What happened? Some tragedy. But what? An accident? or some other untimely end?
Whatever the circumstances, every stone a story.
Friday, September 25, 2015
Of course, then comes autumn. Much as I love autumn, I always rue to impending death of the flowers I have enjoyed. Of course, as I garden I observe, and muse, and draw conclusions about life...about living.
Much of my time of late has been taken up in continuing to help my father and step-mother as they age and transition. In many ways, it is like the life cycle I observe in the flowers. (Before anyone takes offense, I am not suggesting that people aging is the same as plants aging, but as in everything nature has much to teach humanity.)
Since my parents live in a retirement village, and are now in sheltered care, transitioning to nursing care, I observe many facets of what it means to age. Frequently, when I am visiting I encounter other elderly people--people I don't know. But I always try to be cheery, to be helpful, to say a kindly word. And it is the reactions that amaze and baffle me.
A few people simply don't/can't hear me, and so my cheery comments fall on "deaf" ears. A few reciprocate--smiling and responding, even if briefly. It is the other portion of responses that always surprise--the people who harrumph, and complain and are downright unpleasant. One day, as I was exiting the elevator, I caught and held the door for an elderly man on a motorized scooter who was entering the elevator. Rather than say "thank you" to me for holding the door, he snarled I CAN DO IT FOR MYSELF. OK, then. So much for being nice.
While that example is somewhat extreme, it is not an isolated example. And what it has made me do is examine my own aging process and the way I respond to people. Of late, I find myself very intentionally cultivating an attitude of being grateful, of expressing thanks.
In every encounter I have at this retirement village, especially with staff, I try to say--THANK YOU. Thank you for the work you do, for the care you give, for the thorough professionalism you display while you are also showing great care and compassion. Maybe my efforts of overdone--but given that I have observed so much ingratitude I feel my verbal affirmation is the least I can do.
As I deliberately try to show gratitude, I am hoping that it is also cultivating in me a growth tendency--as the twig is bent, so the tree's inclined. If the day comes that I am a resident in such a facility, I hope the attitude I display will not be curmudgeonly and grudging.
Maybe by now you are scratching your head and thinking--wasn't she talking about fall flowers. Well, yes I was. The way a flower grows, even as it draws near the end of its season, is greatly influenced by the encounters along the way. I know, I know--the analogy is imperfect. A flower can't decide to water itself to enhance its growth and beauty. But it can make the most use of the water and sunshine it receives.
Where does that take me? What I have determined for myself is that I will cultivate gratitude and thankfulness. I do not want to be the person who pushes away help with a curt--I CAN DO IT FOR MYSELF. I want to be more like a flower that blooms in its time, in response to water and sun. The beauty of that flower remains long after the petals have fallen.
Sunday, August 09, 2015
|Why, yes, that is me riding a carousel with a special girl.|
Remember that children’s rhyme? The next line was “I’ve been to London to see the Queen.”
Well, yes—we’ve been away.
Advertising the second test of the Ashes. OK—if you have to ask, you don’t know what it is. Cricket. Enough said.
The second test was played at Lord's Cricket Ground--sort of the Holy Grail of cricket. But, already I've exhausted my knowledge of this sport.
(The fourth test of the Ashes has now been played elsewhere, and England did rather well.)
The St. John's Wood church is one of my favorite churches in the world. Now, I have not been in that many...considering how many there must be worldwide. But I've been a few and I love the classic interior of this church, with its fantastic acoustics. The church has an 8 member choir--that's all. And yet they sing beautifully, full voiced and thrilling to hear.
The remaining sights were personal and familial.
|A little girl who likes to jump in muddy puddles|
|a little girl showing Papa the ropes!|
|Two little girls with crash helmets...which they need when they ride their scooters!|
|A tractor picking up trash in the park|
|An air ambulance picking up a patient|
|Two dear people riding a teacup! |
BUT, BEST OF ALL, WE SAW THESE PEOPLE! (and one is brand new)
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Saturday, June 20, 2015
David was born in 1919, and is the baby in this photo. While he was born in Pennsylvania, when he was less than 2 years old, his parents, along with him and his older brother, went as missionaries to southern Africa.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Because you look like a woman?
Or have a body like a woman?
Well, what is that?
* Lawrence Summers--former president of Harvard, among other accomplishments. He "famously" stated that there aren't many women in math and science because of "biological differences."
Monday, May 25, 2015
So on this day, Memorial Day, I say thank you to Larry and to Jay (friends who died in Vietnam), to all the young men and women who lost their lives in Vietnam, in Lebanon, in Kosovo, in Bosnia, in Iraq, in Afghanistan.
Childe Hassam's painting Flags, Fifth Avenue