Monthly Archives: December 2012

When Your Forgettery Works Better Than Your Memory

I’m not sure why I packed for a month, but I did. I felt like a bag lady with my oversized duffle, bulging backpack, and large purse. But, with a limited time to pack and no idea what weather in Florida would be like over the week of Christmas, I just threw in everything. It has literally been years since my whole family has taken a road trip together. So long that we no longer have a car which fits everyone, but thanks to the use of our friends’ van we were soon on our way from Southern Illinois to Florida with a two night stop in Tennessee for a wedding.

The call came in somewhere between Tennessee and Florida. There had been a car accident. It’s the kind of call no one wants to get. Details were sketchy. Grandma had been airlifted to a hospital in Ocala. Grandpa was taken by ambulance to a near by hospital. Things seemed stable but not good.

Apart from some broken ribs and back pain my grandpa was doing well physically, but he suffers from Alzheimer’s and is unable to live on his own. He came home in time for Christmas, and we were all there. My aunt cooked Christmas dinner at her house and brought it over. All the good stuff—ham, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes.

Part of us went to visit Grandma. Her leg was shattered to the point of needing surgery, and the pain medicine she is on is making her delusional. The hospital staff say this is common in someone her age, but it is hard to see someone you love not recognize you and insist that they are cooking a meal in their own home while they are laying flat on their back in a hospital bed. Snippets of the conversation made sense, but most was gibberish as Grandma reached up to invisible shelves attempting to put away invisible dishes.

The last couple of days have been mushed together. My family had to head back to Illinois. My sister is leaving to teach for a semester in Kenya and has less than a week to pack and get on the plane. Everyone else has jobs and previous commitments to return to. Thankfully, I have a flexible job at the moment and am able to stay a little bit longer while things get settled.

My aunt and uncle and Florida cousins have been amazing finding a beautiful assisted living facility for my grandpa to move in to and really making it feel like home. Grandpa resisted at first insisting that he was fine staying on his own, but when you can’t remember how to make a telephone call it is not good to stay by yourself. My mom and aunts had the hard job of making decisions and getting all of the details to fit in place. My job has been much easier listening to my grandpa tell stories and helping out with little things. Even though I’ve heard the same set of stories over and over during the last couple of days it has been good at times, and I even heard a couple of new ones. But, it’s hard explaining to my grandpa who I am over and over, and it’s not easy listening to him talk about how he thinks he should still be able to drive even though the state of Florida has revoked his license.

“It’s not easy getting old,” he says, “my forgettery works better than my memory.” I have to agree with him. Loosing your independence must be a very difficult thing. But it was good beyond words to see him today start to settle into his new home. What could have been a very difficult thing turned into a beautiful transition as he slowly went from hostile to happy. He liked the food. He liked the staff, and by the end of the day he had convinced himself that he had stayed in this facility once before after a surgery. I wasn’t going to argue with him. It’s not the home he built and has lived for many, many years, but it can become home and at least he is finally willing to give it a try.

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A Child Like This

What Child is This“Who are you texting?” my friend’s daughter asked as she looked up at me as I entered numbers on a handheld calculator.

“I guess I’m texting the calculator,” I answered with a bit of a smile. I love kids. The crazy things they say, the imaginary worlds they live in, the simple yet complex way they look at life, it all fascinates me.

Kids are often so innocent and unaffected by the things that plague adult life. To them, life is a curious adventure, and they are content with love, attention, and the chance to be themselves. I help out each week  with a kids group at my church called AWANA, and honestly it is my favorite part of the week. This week I got cornered by a group of kids who had heard that I am going to be moving, and they peppered me with questions, begging me not to leave. I wish I could tear myself in half sometimes and follow my dreams but still stay with the people I care about. I love those kids so much and it’s not that I have done anything extra special for them it is just that they love someone who stops and pays attention to their world.

When I listen to the kids each week talk about their day, what they want for Christmas, and how they view life, their excitement leaves me seeing more good in the world then I did before I walked in the door. They inspire me. Each week I walk away reminded that life is often about simple pleasures. Seeing a child’s joy and excitement over something as simple as a decorated cookie may seem unimportant, but it is a beautiful thing.

As Christmas approaches, some people get stressed planning parties buying gifts and trying to juggle all of the demands of holiday programs and family expectations, but Christmas is about a child. A tiny, helpless baby who has so much to teach the world. Christ, the King of Kings, became small and weak a dependent infant who, through weakness, provided a way for people to become right with God.

Even today, children continue to show the world what is important. Young children do not care if their friend is wearing designer jeans or if their friend’s skin color is the same as theirs. Kids aren’t concerned with how much money their playmate’s parents make in a year. They just want to play and explore the world. As they grow older, society begins to dictate how they should act, what friends they should and shouldn’t play with, and what people will raise their status in life, but  maybe it is time to stop telling kids who they should be and start learning from them.

Kids are precious, incredible mini human beings; and I don’t think they should be seen and not heard like some adults seem to think. I think they should be listened to and listened to carefully. Children as small as they are have the ability to change the world. I know they change my world every day, and I am a better person because of it.

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Talk is Cheap

It’s easy to talk, get into a debate, post an angry rant on Facebook but what does that change? It usually results in more talk and even more debates where both people walk away unchanged thinking that their side won.

I find it sad how rare it is that someone actually comes up with practical solutions to a problem. Talk really is cheap. Everyone has their two cents but so what? If you really want to make a difference, if something truly matters, why not act on it. Even small things can bring about change, and a single person’s actions can have a ripple effect.

This Christmas a friend of mine decided to do more than just talk about two things that are close to her heart. She’s doing a charity drive for the 5900 floor of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and for the Covering House in St. Louis. The 5900 floor of the hospital is the floor where Leukemia patients receive bone marrow transplants. My friend, whose mother lost her life to Leukemia this past February, spent many long hours on that floor. The list of items being collected is very practical: used books, DVDs, CDs, games, socks or blankets or even just a card to let patients know someone is thinking about them. “Anything that can make the place feel more at home,” my friend wrote. “From personal experience, it’s the little things that can bring great comfort.”

The second drive is for The Covering House which rescues and rehabilitates girls who have been victims of sex trafficking. The Covering House is just starting out so they are looking for items like staples, paper clips, post-its, organizational calendars, tape dispensers, and things of that nature for their new office spaces. They also need items for the girls whose average age is 11-14 although some are younger. The Covering House suggest journals, coloring books, gardening tools (new), craft materials, exercise balls, equipment storage bins, and things of that nature.

It is amazing to see someone helping in such a tangible way. I’d like to extend the drive to this area, so if anyone has any of the above items they would like to donate to either of these causes please contact me before December 14th, and I will see that they get to the right place.

There is a lot of need and hurt in the world, but that doesn’t mean that nothing can be done about it. We can talk or we can actually act. The Covering House posted this William Wilberforce quote on their facebook page- “You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say that you did not know.” A powerful quote especially knowing that it came from the man who helped bring an end to the slave trade in England. One person can help alleviate suffering and stand up for those who have no voice.

Whatever it is you are passionate about, whatever causes are close to your heart I encourage you to look for ways to help out practically. Maybe that will involve monetary support or maybe just volunteering some time, or starting your own charity drive.

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