Bonding Experience

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My youngest son is really into British culture, especially fashion. He has looked for a hat like this one for months. We found a similar one a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t what he really wanted and was a bit small.

Since my grandfather’s passing earlier this week, my grandmother has been cleaning out his personal belongings. Today, as the family was going through my grandfather’s hats, I found this. It is exactly what my son wanted and the bonus is that it belonged to his great-grandfather.

It was sweet looking through my grandfather’s things and sharing stories with family members, many of which I haven’t seen in more than 40 years. I saw old census records, my mother’s History report card from her junior year in high school, and several old photos.

As much as this is a sad occasion, it is also a bonding experience. I already feel closer to a family I barely knew.

Bent Time

I have been reading a book that explores, among other things, the concept of time.  Incidentally, I am also preparing to embark on a journey that I know will distort time.  My mother and I will be traveling to Colorado to attend her father’s memorial service.

Something I have noticed is that death seems to slow time for those who suffer loss.  Maybe it’s because we become more aware in the days following the death of a loved one, and maybe it’s because we simply slow down.  Either way, I have noticed that the time immediately following a loss or tragedy seems to become a precious capsule to be cherished.

I remember the time surrounding a life threatening surgery my Dad underwent several years ago.  The trip to Florida, the night preceding the surgery, and the moments just before he was wheeled into surgery (in particular) are etched into my brain.  The weeks, days, and months just before my father’s death are even more clear in my mind. And I suspect this weekend will become burned into my memory just as clearly.

I was not close to my grandfather, but my relationship with my mother will make this weekend one of those time-bent weekends.  We will be spending hours in airports and on an airplane together.  Then we will spend a weekend focused on the life and death of the primary man in my mother’s life.  Time will slow and, at times, stand still.

I know these moments frozen in time will become a pat of our life stories.  So I am ready.  I am ready to take in the stories, feel the agony of loss and the joy of reminiscence, and enjoy the time with my mother.  And I am grateful that time bends to make these times stand out in our memories.

Finding Dimes

finiding dimes

I have to preface this post by saying that I had drafted a post prior that was about writing “fluff” for the sake of keeping my writing agreement.  I wasn’t judging myself, but I was committing to writing the posts that had been lurking in my head but I had not taken the time to write.  Ironically, I lost the draft in cyberspace.  I have never had that happen.  It literally disappeared.  So instead of trying to recreate that post, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and get one of the defining moments of my life out of my head and out into the blogosphere.

People that know me know I tend to be a bit “airy fairy.”  (If you are intuitive, a healer, or have some other spiritual gift, please don’t think I am being flippant.  I believe the reason Angels can fly is because they take things lightly… including themselves.)  I am always looking for signs and symbols.  I consult my dream book on a regular basis.  And I have had lots of uncanny experiences.  I have no problem with the the notion that I have these because I am looking for them.  I do believe that perception is reality.

A few months after my dad passed away, I began finding dimes.  It struck me as odd because I began to realize it was always dimes, not quarters or pennies, not other objects, but dimes specifically.  I found them everywhere and often.  The first few times, I thought little of it.  After a few weeks, I began to think about this oddity more and more.  I had never heard of anyone else having this experience, but it had become so pronounced that I began to talk about it to other people.  Finally, my teenage son decide he would “Google it.”

Knowing my son, I don’t think he really expected to find anything.  I think he was doing it more for comic relief because he was sick of me telling him where I found my latest dime.  I was blown away when I read all the accounts of people who had begun finding dimes after losing a loved one.  Much of what I read held that finding dimes in random places were signs from a loved one that had passed.  Some think the message is specific, other think it can be very individualized.  Now before I lose you, hear me out on this.  It doesn’t matter whether you believe this or if you think it is utter nonsense.  When I read the internet articles on the subject I gained something very valuable.

I chose, after reading extensively on the subject, to view these dimes as a message from my father.  This message was one of love and comfort.  My dad had a way of letting me know things were going to be all right, especially when it seemed as though things were hopeless.  Notice I said, “chose.”

Whether the fact that the dime is the thinnest coin, with the smallest diameter, thus easily lost, or whether it is an instrument of communication used by those from the great beyond is irrelevant.  For me, the end result is the same.  When I find a dime in the washing machine, on our lawn, under the seat of my car, or at the bottom of a swimming pool, I heed the message.  It doesn’t matter whether this message is from the great beyond or from my own memory banks.  “Dad loves me, and it’s going to be all right” comes across loud and clear.

I didn’t do it initially, but now when I find a dime, I keep it.  I had a pile of them on the nightstand beside my bed.  Now they are on the top of my dresser beside some flowers from my father’s memorial service.  They serve as a daily reminder that I am loved and that everything will be all right.

Do you have any signs or reminders for yourself?

Memory Lane

I am writing this post from a hotel room in a town where I spent my adolescent/teen years.  My husband, brother, and I are here to attend the funeral of my stepfather’s mother, who passed away on Thursday.  Although she was not our biological grandmother, she was always kind and welcoming to my brother and me.     

My step-father isn’t doing well.  He has been dealing with COPD for some time now, and has just lost his mother.  The four-hour drive here, a change in elevation, and recent illness have left him unable to attend the visitation tonight.  We aren’t even sure he will be able to attend the graveside service tomorrow. 

Earlier today, a snowstorm came in from the north, so traveling on back roads leading to tomorrow’s destination will be dangerous.  Quite frankly, if the roads are not clearer tomorrow, my husband, brother, and I may not be able to attend the funeral ourselves.  

Amid the sadness, however, it has been good to spend time with my brother.  We don’t see each other much, even though we only live an hour away from each other.  It felt very strange to drive into this town we hadn’t spent any significant amount of time in for decades (20 years for me, 30 for him). It brought back long forgotten shared memories for us.

When we arrived, we met a mutual friend for dinner. We reminisced about our middle and high school days. We laughed about things that weren’t funny back when they happened. We talked about our families and just enjoyed each other’s company over dinner.

Now, as I sit in front of this screen, I am thinking about so many things. The sadness of losing a grandparent, the worry over a sick parent, the love for siblings and children, the gratitude for good friends and a loving spouse, and the nostalgia of a place I used to call home.

So tonight I will allow myself to set aside the present I so often try to stay in, to go down memory lane. I won’t stay there too long, but while I am away from the responsibilities of home I will indulge myself.

Karen

My mother called me today and I could tell by her tone she had something important to tell me.  She said she had to tell me about an almost spiritual moment she had, that she knew I would understand.  I could hear the emotion in her voice as she began her story. 

She had gone to have her hair done, which she normally doesn’t do during the week.  When she arrived, another woman was in her hairdresser’s chair.  The woman had long salt-and-pepper hair which she was having blown dry.  She was apologetic because she had been a walk-in and she knew she was cutting into my mother’s appointment time.  My mother was happy to be out of the house for awhile and assured the woman it was fine.   

My mother, who claims she is not good with names, readily remembered Karen’s.  Karen explained the she was going to donate her hair, as she had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.  But first, she was going to go out to a local state park to have her picture taken for her memorial service and she wanted her hair to look nice for the picture.  

My mother was surprised that this woman that she had only met minutes before was sharing these intimate details of her life, and impending death, but she just listened.  Karen had been a writer for the Chicago Tribune.  She had a falling out with her family, so she had moved here to the south.  She added that her family has since mended their relationships, yet she is still here alone.  

She had only been diagnosed the week before, yet was carrying a binder with the plans for the memorial.   Karen shared her music playlist for the service, which included a couple of Beatles tunes, and (One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying) Purple People Eater.  She’s obviously maintained a sense of humor. 

She is sixty.  

My mother connected with Karen in many ways.  We had lived in the Chicago area.  My youngest son is a Beatles buff.  And my mom knew about illness.  She has been caregiver to several people the past few years, and is now caring for my step-father who is living with COPD. 

Taking care of people that are sick has heightened my mother’s sense of compassion and her appreciation for life.  It has also reinforced her priorities.  My mother said she didn’t ask Karen questions, except whether she had family. 

When Karen’s hair was done, she told my mother that she needed a hug.  My mother hugged her for what seemed like minutes, and Karen left. 

My mother was so touched by this moment she shared with a complete stranger, that she had to share it with me.  I could hear the tears in her voice, and knew that we share a gratitude for our family.  We are always here for each other, in sickness and in health, and with hugs to spare.  As for Karen, I don’t know what the rest of her journey looks like, but I think my mom made today a little better for her.