Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Life Is a Mist

Sometimes I hear a message on Sunday morning that speaks to my heart. This Sunday, Pastor Candice talked about the book of James. The gist of the section was we should not brag about tomorrow because we don’t know what tomorrow might bring. I underlined, “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

This really puts into perspective how fleeting life is and what a small speck our years here on earth are in the realm of eternity. So what do we do with our precious time? We fight. We argue. We worry about tomorrow. We think of ourselves as important—at least in our own little corner of the world.

When I was a little girl, I sometimes wondered if people existed when they weren’t where I could see them. Talk about thinking I was the center of the world! I don’t know at what point in my life I stopped those foolish thoughts. At least I was a kid. I know people who think the world revolves around them and they are supposedly all grown up.

The thought that life is but a mist really fits into my line of thought now. As Dorothy said, when she was in OZ, “My! People come and go so quickly here.” If you think about the people in your life, you will see that like the mist, they sometimes surround you with love and other times they vanish into thin air.

We lose people for a lot of reasons. Often, the reason is indifference. They no longer play a relevant part in our lives, and we let them slip away into the mist of the forgotten. Sometimes, the reason is distance. Separation can be caused by miles and miles of physical distance, or by the distance of growing apart philosophically or simply from having nothing in common.

Other people we love regardless of how far adrift they are from our everyday lives. Family ties can transcend any barriers. Friends are the family we choose. True friends can practically pick up in the middle of a conversation although they may have not seen each other for months.

When we are separated from our loved ones by death, sometimes we can feel their presence and at times reach out to touch them in our minds, hearts, and dreams. They are gone, but they are here in a way that can comfort us. Memories can hit with such force that it takes our breath away. The mist clears and we find ourselves in another moment, another time, a different dimension.

Life is a mist. What is important? I remember one time a woman asked me if I was jealous of my sister because she lived in a new, lovely home. At the time, Jim and I were renting an old house with sloping floors and ill-fitting windows. We had old furniture we’d bought from a second hand store. Still, I thought it sounded like a ridiculous idea. “No,” I said. “I’m happy for her.” And I meant it. I had zero jealousy or envy.

What is important to me is not to be famous, rich, or have my name remembered by strangers. I have no desire to be important in worldly ways. All I want is to fulfill the mission I’ve been given in life. I want to give more than I take. I want to love and to be loved.

I want to know the good I can do and then do it. I don’t want to do it for outward recognition; I want to do it for the way it makes me feel on the inside.

When my mist vanishes, I want my legacy to be a life well lived, and more importantly, a life well loved.

Copyright © September 2019 by L.S. Fisher

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Time to Ruminate

Life has been so hectic the past few weeks that I haven’t had time for a fleeting thought, much less rumination. If I could only find a way to add more hours to the day, it would be helpful. 
I guess in a way, I have added more hours. Unfortunately, the hours are stolen from sleep time. I’ve been in the bad habit of going to bed at midnight and due to appointments, conferences, Walk to End Alzheimer’s, etc, etc, I’ve been getting up early, earlier, or earliest.

Lately, if I can’t find two things to do at once, I feel like I’m wasting precious time. I watch TV and play games on my Kindle at the same time. I walk the dog and practice songs for our nursing home gigs. I stop on my way to the basement to play a short song on my ukulele. You get the idea, I’m sure.

Of course, this doubling up can cause chaos at times. I spilled milk two days in a row. Once on my PC and the other time all over the counter and (oops) my husband. Occasionally, I put something in the cabinet that should have gone in the refrigerator, or leave my phone in the living room and pick up the TV remote instead.

Last week, my husband and I mowed our acres of lawn, and I had some quality rumination time while I mowed. Although, I was exhausted, I decided to use the trimmer, but the battery was dead. (Darn the luck!) I put the battery on the charger, took a shower, and a nap.

The next day, I tackled the weeds around our bevy of hydrants. As I was starting to wear down, I looked at my cell phone to see how long I’d been at it. As I pulled the phone out of my pocket, it began to play a Carter family song from the early 1950s “It’s My Lazy Day.” Seriously? Is that irony, or what? My smart phone is a smart-aleck phone.

After I finished with the yard work, I put Walk to End Alzheimer’s signs and some of the pinwheel flowers from previous walks in our yard. Once I went inside, I signed copies of “Ruminations of a Caregiver” to hand out at Saturday’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

While I was frantically trying to get everything done, I was home alone when I started having chest pains. Yes, I’ve had them before, and had three stress tests that showed my heart was in A-1 shape. I took the meds that should have stopped the pain, but it kept right on coming. I was 99% sure it was nothing to worry about, but that bitty 1% warned that my pain was classic heart attack symptoms. All I have to say is never think you might be having a heart attack without taking a book to read. I spent the better part of the day being poked and prodded, just to reaffirm that I had a non-emergency, emergency.

Anyway, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s was a resounding success this year. We had beautiful weather, great attendance, and exceeded our goal. So Saturday was a long day, but a fulfilling day.

Whew. Finally, I felt like I could rest, except Sunday was music practice; Monday, a doctor’s appointment; and Tuesday, advocacy training; Wednesday, we played music at the first of three nursing homes.

Thursday, I had my oil changed, tires rotated, and brakes worked on. It was time well spent because I logged on to the wi-fi and played my game while I waited. Soon, I was speeding down the road, listening to music on Sirius FM. I switched between stations listening for songs I might want to sing. Music is soul food and conducive to rumination.    

Copyright © September 2019 by L.S. Fisher

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Car Conversations

We had our annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraising “Traffic Stop” on Labor Day. As usual, the day had its busy times and its lulls. Our collections depend on the traffic building up at the stop sign in my hometown.

We took our positions along the road with our collection buckets. My granddaughter entertained with her purple flag. She threw it in the air and after it whirled around, she caught it, whipping into a pose. Several people applauded, others cheered, and some commented on how impressive she was.

“You are helping my collections,” I told her. I commented on her poses after she caught it.

“I’m not showing off,” she said. “I went down on my knee because that’s how I was able to catch the flag.” She laughed and tossed it high. “If I wanted to show off,” she said, “I would do this.” She caught the flag and did the splits.

This year, the city police officer decided to direct traffic—to avoid the backlog. This has only happened a couple of times in the 21 years we’ve collected. As the traffic approached us, the officer stood in the intersection, gesturing for the cars to keep moving.

One lady stopped in front of me, ignoring the urgency of the officer. She dropped a donation into the container I held out for her. With tears welling up in her eyes, she said, “My husband died from Alzheimer’s about this time last year.”

With those few words, we connected. “I’m so sorry. I lost my husband to dementia too,” I said. She paused a moment, as if she had much more to say but couldn’t find the words. Then she drove through the intersection.

“He isn’t doing us any favors,” I told my sister. “It’s a little hard to collect when the traffic is whizzing by.” At least he wasn’t there all the time. He would leave and return periodically.

Car after car ignored the opportunity to go through the intersection as they paused to give us collections and share their stories. My granddaughter said, “The officer underestimated the generosity of people.”

The cool morning turned into a warm afternoon. We had mini-conversations with the donors. One woman handed me a $20 bill. “This is to honor my mom and my grandma. They both have Alzheimer’s.”

After each donation, I said, “Thank you, have a safe trip home.” Several people automatically said, “You too.” Some of them seemed to hesitate as they realized they had wished me a safe trip. One lady seemed particularly frustrated that she had said it. I laughed. “Everyone says the same thing,” I assured her.

One man told me, “I don’t have any money, but I’m going to the bank. I’ll be back,” he promised.

The day wore on. I heard stories about moms, dads, sisters, brothers, and friends who were living with dementia or had died with it.

The officer had left the intersection and we saw his car on a side street. We assumed he was keeping an eye on the traffic from the comfort of his car rather than standing in the middle of a hot street. We heard a siren. He pulled a car over in front of where my daughter-in-law Stacey was collecting. After he finished writing the ticket and walked back to his patrol car, I saw a hand come out the window to give Stacey a donation.

The afternoon sun was beating mercilessly down on us, so we began to gather up the signs and pinwheels. A car drove onto the side street behind us and handed Stacey a $20 bill.

After he drove off, she turned to me and said, “That man told me he had to go to the bank.”

“He told me the same thing! I never really thought he meant it,” I said.

I guess you just can’t underestimate the generosity of people.

Copyright © September 2019 by L.S. Fisher