Today was delightfully busy. Sipping my first cup of coffee I hear the phone ring and to my delight, It is the voice of Mary A, a Michigan Blogger, and dear friend. We talk through that first cup of coffee and a second before running out of conversation and having to say goodbye. Mary is a great influence on me. She has that mid-west strength about her and takes in strides the bad times, survives, and pushes on. Mary has that ability to find humor in everyday life and to write about it in an entertaining way. Her blog is http://mamascorner.com/ and certainly worth a visit or two.
Finishing early morning chores, I rush off to get my hair done, attend a Journey to Happiness group, and meet old friends for a lunch time celebration of my birthday. New friends are beautiful, but for me there is always something special about old friends and the time spent with them. I am sure none of these friends will like being compared to comfortable shoes, but I will take a risk and say it regardless. There is something pleasant about wiggling your toes in old shoes that have been worn a long time and are stretched to perfection in all the right places. That is the feeling I get when I am with these three women. We have known each other since our children were young, compared notes on life, worked in education, and yes, laughed and cried together.
I hurry home from lunch, brush Lucky, and LuAnn while Bob finds their leashes, and we rush out the front door and into the PT for a trip to Ridgecrest Health Center. Wednesday is our day to visit the residents, and the dogs have new Valentine Day shirts to wear. I carry 30 Valentine cards with the dogs’ photo on them ready to pass out to all I visit. Bob and I have a routine set up. He sits with one dog in the lobby while I take the other to visit in the rooms. It ’s hard to keep track of how many people we visit. It is usually about ten or 12 before the Maltese I have in hand grows tired. So I take it back to the lobby where Bob and a rested dog are waiting. We switch dogs, and I am able to make it back down the hall to meet with 10 or 12 more residents. Guess it is a little like the way the Pony Express riders changed horses way back in the day.
Home and the couch never looked so good so I turn on the news, put my feet up and two white dogs curl up on each side of me. Life is good, but soon it is time to feed all the critters, and I hurry through it all thinking eight o’clock a most sensible time to call it a night. As I pass the bedroom, I see the unmade bed, and I remember Bob was still asleep when I left for yoga. I smile because on busy days like today; I rationalize or perhaps fantasize that beds with rumpled sheets and askew pillows are simply more comfortable and more welcoming. They do seem to have some memory of how we slept best the night before. Thank God, for an understanding husband who is only amused by my ramblings about mussed-up bed coverings and more interested in how much I enjoyed my busy day.
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Certain times in our lives are fairy dust moments; moments so sweet that they can only be seen through the mist of eyes brightened by tears of happiness. I have been blessed with more than my share of these moments throughout my life, but none sweeter or brighter than those of tonight’s celebration of my 79th birthday
We are in San Diego with our Daughter Kristi, her wife, Theresa, and our eight-year-old twin grandkids, Eric, and Danica. We spend most of the day at LEGOLAND. In the morning, the twins take part in an LEGOLAND competition with others from their school, win the obligatory blue ribbon, and enjoy the recognition of achieving their creative goal. In the afternoon, we ride the little tour boat, admire the Lego built replicas of America’s cities and the Seven Wonders of the World. The weather is San Diego perfect; blue skies, gentle cooling ocean breeze, and delightful sunshine. The twins run from one ride to another with the enthusiasm and energy of third graders while their mothers follow closely behind or share the rides with them. Bob and I smile and watched and occasionally find a welcomed bench to rest on before heading to the next ride or exhibit.
Dinner is at Albie’s Beef Inn. It is a restaurant directly out of the fifties with red carpet and piano bar. It also has a wall of delightfully decadent paintings of nude women. The twins come to a dead halt when they first see them; mouth open and eyes wide. After being seated in the dining room, Eric and Danica make two or three trips to the bathroom. These trips are not out of a pressing need to go. Rather it is because the bathrooms are close to the front door, and as they pass by, it provides the opportunity to sneak fleeting glances at the gallery of womanly nakedness and perky breasts.
A competent waitress who has been told ahead of time that it is my birthday comes to take our order. To my chagrin and the others’ amusement she refers to me as “The Birthday Girl”. It seems to be Filet Mignon for everyone, except Eric and Papa who deviate with Chicken Fingers and Ground Sirloin. Our glasses are filled with juice, coke, or wine and dinner is on its way.
And now for the first sprinkling of fairy dust. Eric stands, taps his juice glass with a table knife. He looks around to making certain we are all paying attention and says in a voice resounding with enthusiasm, “Lift your glasses, I would like to make a toast”.
Our grandson is a child with autism. A child whose speech I often have difficulty understanding, who frequently is off in a world of his own, and for whom making eye contact is a challenge. However in this magical moment he speaks with the clarity and the confidence of a veteran Toastmaster.
Eric eyes each of us and announces, “This toast is for Momma T for finding this great restaurant and for Momma K for driving us here and for the good food that we will have.” We all raise our glasses in a salute and dutifully tap the brim of our glass with that of each family members. The clinking sound resonates as sweetly, to this grandmother’s ears, as musical wind chimes in a gentle breeze.
Fairy dust continues to fall when a few minutes later Eric once again leads us in a toast. This time as robust as the first, but it has more to do with our manners. The toast includes a reminder to use our napkins to wipe our faces and to chew slowly to enjoy our food. It gives us all a good laugh and brings me to my feet to propose a toast to family, happiness, and love. Not to be outdone, Danica stands and toasts the joy of having the second Filet Mignon of her young life on her Nana’s birthday and ends with the most beautiful smile radiant in its confidence and affirmation.
Proposing a toast moratorium so that we can enjoy our food and lively conversation turns out to be a good idea. It is followed by a promise that after-dinner toasts will be welcomed. Then the table is cleared and my celebratory birthday dessert arrives with its lit candle. Happy Birthday is sung, and Papa gives a birthday toast that ends in praise for his grandchildren. Next comes Kristi’s toast; a sweet testimony to our Mother-Daughter relationship and Theresa finishes off the toasts with wonderful words filled with gratitude and love of family.
The bill is quickly paid, and as we stand to leave the restaurant, I glance around at other diners as they smile and nod approval. It makes me think a little of the fairy dust has floated around the room. As we pass the nude paintings, I believe one or two of the women in the portraits wink at me. Perhaps, it is just more magical fairy dust bringing to an end, the most perfect birthday party ever.
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Wow, I think I am ready or nearly ready for the family to arrive. The gifts are wrapped, and the house decorated. It has been a busy week with a therapy dog visit to the local library where young children read to Lucky and LuAnn on Saturday followed by our weekly visit to residents of the Health Center. The dogs wore their holiday costumes, and their little red Santa suits had everyone smiling. I made Christmas Cards with the dogs’ photos on them and gave them out to the residents. Sadly for some, it will be the only card they receive. When I was leaving, I saw one of the residents sharing her card with an aide. She seemed so thrilled, and it made me smile to know the cards were so welcomed.
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I spent the week-end decorating the house and filling my heart with nostalgia. So many of the little decorations are from my childhood, my children’s childhood, my life before Bob and of course, the ones we have added, as well as, all those Christmas photos of the twins as they progressed from babies to toddlers to preschool and the early elementary years.
I am indeed the silly old lady of Christmas. I cannot throw out the old and broken figurines. I put certain ones toward the front of the tree, and think I hear a sigh of relief from an angel with a broken wing. It is as if she has worried all year that next year she will be rejected and left in the plastic tub or worse yet, designated for the trash barrel.
I do feel the years in other ways, too. My back aches a little more after all those steps up an down on a small ladder and the idea of shopping does not hold the thrill it once did. My enthusiasm for meal planning was never great, but now I am looking for pre-made frozen foods and perusing the deli section for prepared specialties. Still I love the season and I would have it no other way.
All of my family will be here around the holidays. Kym and John will arrive for the week-end before Christmas. John Vincent and Rhea will be here for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and bless my Kristi, she and her family will drive up twice so she can visit with both boys and their wives. Then the Sunday after Christmas is reserved for Bob’s daughter Michaele, grand daughter and great grand daughters. His other daughter Dee and her husband Gerry will visit in January.
I am off to lift some weights and try to take off a few of those Thanksgiving pounds that I have gained. Then lunch with old friends and a quick shopping trip to downtown Ridgecrest. I am trying to shop for most gifts in town this year.
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As many of you know from Facebook, Lucky and Luann are now registered therapy dogs. We are just getting started, and it is a wonderful experience. We have had some glitches. Since I can only work one dog at a time, the other was terribly upset about the possibility of being left at home. Bob helped solve this by driving both dogs and me to the Healthcare center and then sitting in the lobby with one dog while I wander the halls meeting and greeting the folks. After a half hour, I go back to Bob and change dogs. This plan seems to work out well for everyone. The dogs love sitting with Bob almost as much as making the patients smile.
Today was my fifth time bringing the dogs to visit, and although I have enjoyed all the other times, this time was the best. More people were awake and in their wheelchairs, and some were beginning to feel like old friends. I am proud of how many names I now know and remember. It pleased me that family members sought me out, asking me to please bring the dog to the room of their loved one. They said they knew it would bring smiles and joy.
And that is what therapy dogs do best. The last time I visited, I walked into a room carrying LuAnn. The nurse was just leaving but stopped for a moment when she saw the woman smile. She said, “Oh my, I have never seen her smile before. This is amazing.” It was amazing to me, too, and her room was the first I visited today. I knew Lucky’s visit today would bring a similar good feeling and smile and was not disappointed.
The dogs are asleep on the couch, and I have slipped into comfortable old pajamas and am seriously thinking of an early bed-time. Not yet though, I want to bask in this good feeling a little longer.
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