A Good Home, Flowers, Friendship

Amaryllis Flowers for John

My dear friend John

The gardener one

Has been unwell quite lately

~~

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Solo Bloom

And so I send

These flowers for him

The ones I think most stately

~~

I know John may

Of course prefer

That flow’r that’s caused some conflict

~~

Between us friends

And made me near

Become a horto-convict

~~

johns-wisteria31

For stealing John’s

Wisteria vine

That bloomed and bloomed all summer

~~

While ours had been

A true disgrace

A non-performing bummer

~~

Blog Photo - Green wisteria 4

But John, my dear

It’s cold out there

And vines are not in flower

~~

So will you please

Accept these blooms

Now flow’ring at this hour?

~~

Blog Photo - Amaryllis in Vase January 2018.JPG

They bring much love

And happy thoughts

Of better days before us

~~

And best of all

They’ll bloom again

With gusto and with no fuss.

~~

Dedicated to our dear friend John, in hopes that this excruciatingly bad poetry will make him laugh, and to his loving wife and son.

 

 

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A Good Home, Family Moments, Mishaps

The Ungodly Godmother

Maybe — now that I’m going to become a children’s book author — my blog should become more respectable?  I hope not. But just in case, I’m sharing this post before Myrtle is published!

~~

The “Ungodly Godmother” of one of our children drove hours on her first day off work to visit me after my recent mishap.

Time spent with her is a gift. She’s caring, smart, and makes us laugh. Updates about her life, her town, mutual friends — are all told in witty, ironic and ‘salty’ language.

It’s partly why our children have always loved her. The laughter. And because she was that rare adult who didn’t clean up her language when they entered a room. Thus the name she gave herself: “The Ungodly Godmother”.

Blog Photo - Cast with messages by Hamlin Grange

Before she left our home this time, she autographed my cast.

Not that I could see it clearly.  Too far down the cast, near my heel.

~~

We hadn’t been to church since I fell and injured myself.  I’ve missed the quiet Sunday morning rituals, the readings from the old Book of Common Prayer, in our tiny historic chapel.

Blog Photo - St Thomas Church Altar

So my husband and I were grateful when the priest called, offering to bring us communion.  

Father Tim spread a handkerchief-size white tablecloth on our coffee table, then placed two tiny gold jars on it, his prayer book to one side. He read a prayer for the sick, and Hamlin and I followed along as he read. He opened one gold jar and gave us the wafer (the bread), then opened the other and anointed our foreheads with consecrated oil.

The sacred ceremony complete, we got to talking about light and pleasant topics. You know:  politics, journalism, original sin.

Before he left, I asked him to sign my cast.

~~

“There’s room next to Liona’s.” My husband pointed to the space next to Liona Boyd’s signature and drawing of her guitar. 

Blog photo - Cast with Liona Guitar

She’s a famous classical guitarist and Father Tim, a fan of her music, happily placed his signature near hers, complete with the sign of the cross.

Blog Photo - Cast message from Fr. Tim

Days later, I saw my husband’s photos of the cast and made a surprising discovery.

To the right of Father Tim’s signature was Liona’s — yes. But to the near-left was the message from our dear friend, The Ungodly Godmother.

Blog Photo - Cast message from the UG

It said, simply: “Get this effing thing off!”

“Do you think he noticed?” I anxiously asked my husband.

“Don’t worry”, he said. “He’s a priest. He’s seen a lot worse.”

The Ungodly Godmother had struck again.

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Home, Acts of Friendship

6 WAYS TO HELP A SICK/INJURED FRIEND

Thanks for your support in recent weeks. It reminds me: it’s so important to reach out to others in times of stress, illness or other need. I offer these tips (please add your own):

  1. Call. And call again. It matters to your friend, even if they can’t come to the phone. Some friends called even when I couldn’t think or speak clearly. They ended up talking with my husband. We both appreciated their effort.
  2. Send a card. In these days of quick email, a personal card is a valued touch. Personalize it with your own caring or inspirational words. A few friends reassured me: “This is just a temporary  setback, Cynthia. You WILL recover!”  
  3. Use email. Some friends sent me uplifting e-cards and jokes. Some sent me photos of their garden. And friend Carl visited and took photos of our garden, since I couldn’t go to see it myself. Then he sent me a picture of one flower every week. Those jokes, e-cards and photos cheered me.
  4. If possible, bring soup! Family friend Eva showed up with soup and magazines. I had a concussion and couldn’t read at first. I also had no appetite. But that soup kept me going in the early days after my fall. Later, friends John and Anne travelled a long way to bring us a delicious meal and spend time with my husband and me.
  5. Ask “How may I help?” My friend Gail, a great cook, kept asking. One day, I realized that I wanted Jamaican food. So Gail cooked oxtail and broad beans (with rice ‘n’ peas) and both couples had a great evening together.
  6. Pray. Let your friend know you’re sending good vibes and/or praying for him/her and their loved ones. I could see that my family was deeply distressed in the first three weeks after my fall. Knowing friends at church and elsewhere were praying for them was a comfort.

And yes, my friends who wrote via my blog and Facebook: I read your caring wishes as soon as I could. Those wishes warmed my family’s hearts, as well as mine. Thank you.

Cynthia.

Photo below by Hamlin Grange

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Magnolia CU by Hamlin

A Good Home, Old Friends

Good Friends

 

 

The problem with old people is that they have a habit of dying.

And the problem with me is that I know this, but I keep loving old people.

~~

Last time I checked, roughly half of my close friends were over eighty.

I’m decades younger myself, but from hanging out with these friends, eighty has come to seem positively young to me. Not to mention fun.

So I don’t temper my naughty jokes because a person is eighty or ninety.

I only realize that I’ve referred to octogenarian Jane as “Kiddo” or to Muriel as “my dear girl” if someone else points it out.

They are my pals. Jane, Muriel, Mae, Marion, Merle are among my closest.  Harry, Mr. Smith, Henry, Bryan were also my pals. My mother, Louise, most of all.

I love them. I loved them.

Elderly people make the best friends and I love being in their company.

Which makes The Grim Reaper my big enemy.

I find myself wanting to fight off The Grim One, wrestle him to the ground, or at least tell him to take a hike.

~~

Old people speak their mind.

“I’m not elderly. I’m old!” says my 80-something friend. “It’s okay to use the word. I don’t mind.” I can almost hear her shrug into the phone.

It’s as if being candid is not an option at this stage in their lives, but mandatory. After all, with a relatively short time left on the earth, who has the time to lie?

Yet they have also learned to temper their frank assessments with grace. At least the old people that I love do.

They have a way of passing on affection with criticism, of pointing out the error of my ways without drawing blood.

Sometimes, it’s delivered in an observation so astutely phrased, it makes me want to rise above my knuckle-headed ideas about how to solve a problem.

~~

“With your manner, Cynthia, I just know you could manage to get the point across without causing hurt”.

Gosh, that’s diplomatic.

“Have you ever thought that this person may just be very shy and intimidated by all your qualifications?”

Well no, I hadn’t thought of that. But now that you’ve mentioned it, I’ll have to review my harsh assessment of that person we were just discussing….

Offering criticism in such a positive way is a skill you can learn in school or in the great learning-place of life. Most of my elderly friends have learned at the latter, and that makes them experts.

~~

Elderly people have tons of insight to share, if you’re willing to listen.

It may take a little time. They may have to insert a story from long ago, a memory of something or someone that helped them learn an important life lesson.

“I remember when…”

The moment you hear these words, you may think “Here goes another long story… how much time do I have?”

But chances are, whatever I’m about to learn is more than worth my time.

Elderly people keep in touch, sensing when you need them to call and make you laugh at life’s travails.

One moment I’m howling with pain, a long-term gift from a car accident. But minutes later, the phone rings and I’m howling with laughter.

It’s one of my old friends, telling me a dirty joke, knowing that I need to laugh.

~~

When I reconsider, I think what I’m trying to say is that my elderly friends are wise and kind people. And that I’m blessed to have their friendship.

~~

But, there is still that problem: the fact that they tend to die.

I should temper that blanket statement with this explanation: It’s not that they necessarily want to.

Some, though barely mobile, still love life. They love to do things, to hang out with their friends, to go shopping, to share a good joke. They’d like to stick around much longer. 

But some people, it’s true, simply want to die. I had one such friend.

He was ill, with no improvement in sight. He depended on others to take him around, sometimes even to get from one room to another. He couldn’t enjoy the activities that gave him pleasure.

In some cases, there’s no-one left who shares the person’s memories. No-one to remember the people they grew up with, the times they lived. They’re left trying to explain an era to younger people like me, who love them but don’t remember.

Worse is when the person him/herself can’t remember.  In their clear moments, they’re terrified of a future in which they’ve lost their ability to recognize loved ones, or even themselves.

Whatever the reason, they’ve had enough of living. They’re tired. It’s time to go. 

~~

I’ve come to understand this: the problem isn’t theirs.

It isn’t just that they die, or that one or two may really want to.

The problem is mine. That even as The Grim One makes his plans for us all, I love my friends, and I’m never quite ready to let them go, no matter what their age.

I have to work on that.

Luckily, some old friends will still be around — with wisdom to share. Bless their hearts.

In Memory of Harry.