Monthly Archives: May 2019

I’m Dying . . . .

cemeteryI’m dying . . . but then, so are you.  I am not trying to be morbid, but people seem uncomfortable when hearing words surrounded by the words death or dying.  It will happen to all of us, but none of us really talk about it.  If I do talk about it, even in general terms, like about funeral practices of our and other cultures, I have a feeling people are uncomfortable.  I do find the subject rather fascinating.

From the day we are born, every day is one day subtracted from our life, as we are all going to die one day.  No one gets to escape that reality.  So, why is it that we don’t talk about it?

I would like to think that my children know what I want done when I die, but they don’t.  We have never had that discussion.  Jokes are made around nursing homes and death, but no real discussion is made.  Actually, I would be totally comfortable if one or all of my children would ask me what I would like to see happen when I died.  

A number of years ago my sister told me that our dad’s second wife was very frustrated that when she asked our dad about what he wanted.  He would tell her to put him in a big plastic bag, and place him in the garbage can at the end of the driveway.  Yeah, that was my dad’s humor.  When he lived in Missouri his favorite answer was to put him in a IMG_3081big plastic bag with a bunch of rocks and throw him in the Mississippi.  So, when my sister was moving from the same town as my dad and his wife, going across the country, this was when that discussion happened.  Well, I don’t think it was a discussion.  She just told my dad that he needed to make his plans, so his wife didn’t have to worry about them.  Although, my dad lived several years after this, that year he made his funeral arrangements—at least the logistical part.  He lived in Arizona, but wanted to be buried with my mom (their marriage was 53 years long) at the National Cemetery in St. Louis.  Because he also lived in Arizona, and had been married for eleven years to his second wife at his death, he wanted a service in Arizona because they had a lot of family, and he made a lot of friends there.  Then he was shipped to Missouri for his burial at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.  By the way, his 2nd wife was okay with this arrangement, and she is still with us 9 years after his passing.  What my dad didn’t do is tell us was what he wanted for the actual services.  I shall not complain, because he actually made his arrangements with the Phoenix and St. Louis mortuaries, and prepaid all of that.  

Why don’t we have these discussions?  Why don’t we at least write down what we would like.  I plan to be around at least another 25 years—that would put me at 95 years old.  It’s possible.  I have several family members live into the 90’s and even hit 100.  But, it could also happen tomorrow.  We have no guarantees.  It could be a sudden illness or an IMG_1412 2accident, but sometimes life ends abruptly.  No talks about that at all.  If we discuss death, it’s usually about “when I get really old and die . . . .”  

My mom used to talk about her three score and ten.  What was that?  There is a verse in the Bible that states that we live three score and ten which is equal to 70.  My mom was almost 77 when she died, and she always said that she got a few extra years there!  Some of us get more, and some of us get less.  Who’s counting?  We go on day to day expecting to be here tomorrow, next week, next month, and even next year and more years.  We should think that way.  If we did not, we would never make plans.  We would never strive to do more or see more.  We were created to want to live.  God is the giver of life, and being made in his image, we are also creators, and want life.  That is why we see beauty, art, and music all around us—it is the creator in us, and we also want to see life at its best—why we fight illness to be well and healthy.  That is part of being in the image of God.

God was about life, and life abundantly, so we are created to want to live more, and want to do more.  Therefore, talking about all that ending is contrary to our nature.  We are uncomfortable having those discussions.

I’m not even talking about what happens to us when we die.  As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe I will be in the presence of God at my death.  It will be far better than what my life is here on earth.

Recently, I ran across a Youtube of “Ask a Mortician.”  It is an interesting site.  The young lady, an actual mortician, explains many things that surround death and the process, especially in the United States.  She has a bit of dark humor, but I think her videos are still respectful and enlightening.  It has made me think about the logistics of death.  It has also made me think about what I would like to have my family do if I pass away sooner or later.  I don’t have all these answers, but I am definitely not afraid to deal with them, talk about them, and even plan them.

In the meantime, I am going to live life to the fullest, because that is how I believe God has created me.  I am 70 years old, and am just starting to live and seek continual new adventures—one is never too old to do that.  One might become too unhealthy to do that, but as long as I am healthy, I will go forward and discover!  One day that might end, but in the meantime, I chose life!Verse

The Kids’ Table

Have you ever been relegated to the “kids’ table”?  You know, there is a big family dinner.  Not everyone fits in the dining room at the dining room table, so the youngest of the bunch gets relegated to the kitchen, AKA the “kids’ table.”  

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My paternal grandparents had us all at the table — I’m the little girl whose head is barely poking out on the far right next to the adults,  

Yeah, that was the story of my life.  I was the third of three girls, my sisters being 6 and 4 years older than me.  My aunt and uncle, who we were the closest to because sisters married brothers, had 7 children.  When we got together with our maternal grandparents for a holiday, there was not enough room at the dining room table for all of us to fit.  Therefore, there was the grownups’ table, and the “little kids” were relegated to the “kids’ table” in the kitchen.  When I was little, it didn’t matter, but as I got into adolescence, I wanted to be with the grownups.  

The age split never made sense to me.  My two sisters got to be at the adult table along with the two oldest of my cousins.  In my feeble childish brain that was unfair.  Why I was only a year and a half younger than Susan, and Peggy was a whole two years younger than me, so shouldn’t I be at the grownups’ table with Susan rather than the kids’ table with Peggy?  Of course, in my pea brain eleven year old thinking, I was totally discounting Glenn, who was 6 months older than me, since he also sat at the kids’ table.  I have to laugh when I think about all this because it is all unimportant in the big scheme of things.  On the other hand, in 1959, it was pretty dang important!  Today I have a great relationship with all these cousins, and we are now all the same age!

I don’t remember when I got relegated to the adult table, but it was probably in my early teens.  I have to thank my Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe for having three more kids after Peggy was born to increase their children count to seven.  There was a bit of an age gap between Peggy and the next three siblings.  Thus, in their family Richard, Susan, Glenn, and Peggy were known the “big kids,” and Ron, Debbie, and David became the “little kids.”

About 60 years later, I got thinking about this.  How funny were we when we were kids?  All we wanted to be was grown up.  I mean, when I was a child, my life was pretty much carefree.  My parents bought my clothes, put a roof over my head, fed me everyday, and paid all those bills a kid doesn’t even know exists, like the water, gas, and electric bills.  We didn’t worry about if we would be fed or clothed.  I worried about when I would get promoted to the grownups’ table!  Now, I’d like to be back at the kids’ table.  The longer one sits at the grownup’s table, the closer one is to death!

I worked really hard not to create a “kids’ table” if possible.  I tried to get enough tables for everyone to fit, and if I had several tables, I made no rules of who got to sit at what table.  Sit where you would like.  Usually, the kids end up sitting with each other, but it’s by their choice.  

Life is short.  No need to worry about the small stuff.  That was a lesson that took me a few years to learn.  

What’s the small stuff you worry about today?  We get wrapped up in worry about unnecessary issues.  I find myself doing it.  I look in the mirror, and hope every hair is in place, the makeup is just right, the clothes don’t make me look too fat (Ha!), and all of this is so unimportant in the big scheme of things.  Does it matter what others think about us?  Does it matter if people see I finally got to the grownups’ table?  Or, is it more important, in fact, most important how God see us?

God sees us as his perfect creation.  Through Christ he sees us at our best.  He sees our heart.  Beauty and adulthood are only skin deep.  Stop worrying about the small stuff.  Start focusing on what is truly important in this world.  I’m a child of God, therefore, I guess I am still at the kids’ table, and that’s a table where I rejoice to sit.

birds with verse

 

Less Is More

1 HOUSEI had guests at our Arizona home a few weeks ago, and I got asked a very interesting question. It was, “Where is your stuff?”  I looked around the home, which is downsized to 1,600 square feet.  There is artwork hanging over the living room sofa, there’s a collage of decor on the kitchen wall.  I have my “wall of fame,” the wall of some of our ancestors and family.  I have another decorative wall in the front foyer.  The bedrooms have some art hanging.  I have a bookcase that along with books also has photos and a few nicknacks.  Am I supposed to own more “stuff” than that?

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The Family Wall of Fame

1 MESSY ROOMWhen I was a child I was a terrible cleaner.  I would be told to go to my room to clean it, and I had no idea where to start.  On occasion, my oldest sister would come in the room and make a game out of my cleaning.  She would tell me that she would count to 7 and see if I could pick up a particular garment, and get it put away in the proper drawer or closet.  She counted to different numbers just to have me scampering through my room picking up and getting my room orderly.

I didn’t get that cleaning up skill until much later in life.  Of course, as a teenager, I was a disaster.  I guess I wasn’t much better when I was in college.  My dad told me I couldn’t get married until I cleaned my room.  In the spring of my senior year, I got engaged.  I call my friend back home to tell her the good news, and her first questions was, “Did you clean your room?”  Funny, Dee Dee!  My response to her was that I think my dad was glad to get messy me out of the house!

I did struggle with house cleaning.  When I was 10 years old, my mom hired a cleaning lady.  She came once a week to change all the bedding, vacuum all the 1 TIRED MOMrooms, clean bathroom fixtures, scrub floors, and overall give the house a nice clean look.  My mom had worked with my dad for years, and as their business became successful, she became busier, but also now had the income to hire some cleaning help.  The downside of that, I didn’t learn how to scrub floors, and toilets.  Some lady came to our home weekly to do these duties when I was the age to learn these new skills.  Thus, into my adulthood, I struggled with knowing how to clean properly.  I muddled my way though it and got better at it as I practiced.  Having four children within six years caused a lot of “stuff” to be laying around the house—there were toys, baseball cards, bicycles, and everything else that four little boys owned to add to the clutter of the home.

Eventually they all grow up and they all move away.  Now it seemed really easy to keep everything clutter free and clean.  But, in the basement lurked shelving that held old stuff.  Anything I didn’t know what to do with ended on those shelves in the basement.  Amongst those shelves were also things that belonged to my children, that as they moved away, they left their “stuff” lurking on those shelves.  Not only on the shelves—there toys that the grandkids played with over the years, things I inherited when my parents died, furniture that my kids left that no longer had a home—just lots of “stuff.”

1 us with birdsFast forward a few more years, and I meet Dennis.  Birds encircle our heads. They sang songs of love, and the next thing you know, I am engaged, selling my home, and moving 90 miles away to where he lives.  What do I do with all that stuff, especially the stuff lurking in the basement?

Packing my belongings on the main level of the home was pretty simple.  All my furniture went with me since it was only a few years old.  I loved my dishes and my cookware, and it all came along.  I finally started posting photos on Facebook of things in the basement.  I had an old sewing machine, a couple 6’ tables, a couple desks, and lots of toys.  I offered these items free to anyone who was interested.  The big stuff went.  Old televisions and computers went to a place that does whatever they do to them—I don’t know, but they happily take them!  The boys had cleared out anything of theirs they wanted.  What was left was trash and shelving.  We got rid of the trash and took the shelves for the large garage of my new home.

Fast forward another five years, and Dennis and I are having a home built in Arizona.  We will be snowbirds for a while, and then eventually, make the new home our permanent home.  We decided to put our Missouri home on the market.  This home is almost 4,000 square feet.  It is a big box that holds lots of “stuff.”  We knew we would stay around Missouri for a while, but we didn’t want to be bogged down by a large home, and we know some wonderful family will want to live there.  We started clearing out the house, closet by closet.  We donated thousands of items, and that  is not an exaggeration.  Just to get an idea, we donated 2,434 books.  Yes, I inventoried everything donated.  At first it was hard to make decisions of little things in the house.  We always asked our children if they wanted any of the “stuff,” and of course, for the vast majority of the items, there was no interest.  As we continued going through the process, letting go got easier.  We realized the stuff was only stuff.  It was not our parents or other loved ones.  We have memories and photos (all digitized on our computers).  We kept a few items, but not many—things that really brought either one of us joy.

1 CHAIRWhen we got ready to close on our home in Arizona, we purchased new furniture.  Only two items came from our Missouri home — the rocking chair and the monkey lamp.  We did bring the artwork and photos, that hung on the Missouri walls, to Arizona since it will be our permanent home in the future.  But, the question I was asked a few weeks ago is true, there is not a lot of “stuff” in the house.  There is furniture and decor, and a few memorabilia items.  On the whole it is a clean slate.

I love the house that way.  I am now pretty good at cleaning, and it is so much easier to clean when there isn’t stuff everywhere.  I love open floor plans with clear areas for movement.  I look around and I see lots of stuff, but from other’s point of view it is missing 50 years of collecting stuff.  It is so freeing not to worry about these things.  We can get the house clean from top to bottom in no time, and we get to spend our time hiking mountains, or visiting with friends and family.

Where is all my stuff?  It’s in my heart.  My memories of wonderful years, that I don’t need a piece of paper or a trinket to remind me.  My stuff is my faith, and my husband, our children and grandchildren, our extended relatives, and our friends.  That is our “stuff,” and I like that just fine.

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No Photos, Please!

“I hate having my picture taken.  I hate when someone wants to take my photo.  I hate to see it posted on social media.  None of the photos make me look as young as I feel or as thin as I think I should be.”

Do those thoughts go through your head?  They sure go through mine more often than I like to admit.  What is it about our body image that we just struggle on a daily basis to accept?

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Andrea around 35 & at 70 (both are natural hair color)!

For those of you who do not know me personally, I am 70 years old.  I don’t know how that happened because last night I was just 35, and today I woke up and I am 70!  Yikes!  Where did the time go?

We are bombarded by the media to look like we have no fat, no wrinkles, no blemishes, and no whatever else we shouldn’t look like according to some advertising agency out there who we think we should believe.

cameraAll of this really woke me up recently when I wanted to take some photos at a party I was hosting, and one of my guests freaked out.  She did not want her photo taken.  She did not want her photo posted anywhere on social media.  This person could have been my mom years ago.  My mother hated her photo taken.  She was overweight most of her adult life, and over the years her weight fluctuated from slightly overweight to really overweight.  The sad thing is that I have very few photos of my mom from my childhood.  She hated the way she

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Two of the very few photos with my mom–she was hiding behind us.

looked,  so she either refused to get her photo taken, or she tore herself out of the photo.

That really struck me.  I have never been too thin, but I have been all over the place being overweight.  I see some photos of me and I cringe.  Now it is not only the weight.  I now see photos, and I see the lines and creases, and all the aging and sagging that has joined me over the years.  My chest just too big, so I hate photos of the giant shelf on the front of my body, not counting the spare tires that I blame for giving birth to four children, and several abdominal surgeries.  

I am working very hard to love my body just the way it is.  It’s far from perfect, but it is alive.  Not only it is alive, I have great blood pressure.  I don’t have any (knock on wood!) age related or weight related diseases.  The only prescription medications I take and have ever taken consistently are the eye drops for my dry eyes.  I am healthy.  I should be celebrating that, rather than worrying what someone thinks of how my body looks.

I have yo-yo dieted all my life.  I was pretty much sedentary for the first 60 years of my life, and the last few years, I found I love getting outside and hiking for miles.  I like how 1 Smilemy body feels when I do this—how much more energy I have, and how my systems seem to work better.  The weight doesn’t drop off, like it does for others doing this, but I feel good.

I don’t want my kids and grandkids to say they have no photos to remember me by.  I think they love me regardless of a few bulges here and there.  Now when my photo is taken, I silently pray that they won’t post it on social media, but if they do, I will have to accept it.  It is what I look like after all, even though I picture myself looking about 95% better than the photo—oh, I love my imagination!  

So, the next time someone points the camera your way, just smile.  Know you are making memories, and that seems to be more important than what is chatting away in our brains telling us we are not good enough, not pretty enough, not skinny enough.

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