Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Don't Blink

June 22, 2016

My son-in-law, who we share a home with for five to six months out of the year, is a music hound. He has music playing most of the day.  Now, this is not soothing Indian Flute or Celtic Harp music softly playing in the background. This is (for the most part) Get Thee Up and MOVE Your Body music.  He likes a lot of country western tunes that tell stories or give advice.  Once such tune that he's been playing a lot lately is a little ditty by the name of "Don't Blink" by Kenny Chesney.  This is not a toe tapper.... it is not one you'd grab a partner and swing to.  It's one that makes you want to LISTEN to what is being said... and it's a doozy of a message!  It's my second favorite of the "if you're smart, you're going to heed what I'm telling you" tunes that I am quickly becoming fond of. We will discuss my all time number one choice another time.. and soon.

The gist:

A man who is 102 is being interviewed before the song begins.  He tells the young fella who is conducting the interview to tell your mama and pop every day that you love em.  Especially your mama.  Then the old man goes on to say that 100 years goes by faster than you think.... as fast as a blink.  It made me think about just how quickly I went from a skinny little 10 year old afraid of everything, to a chunky 74 year old who believes she can take on whatever comes her way and.. well, if not always win... at least survive with a little flair.

I remember when I was 14 just how much I wanted to be a 16 year old who had driving privileges and could date.  Then I wanted to be 18 so I could look for an apartment with a friend and be independant.  Then I wanted to be 21 so I could vote and feel like a REAL adult.  I just kept wanting to be a little bit older than I was.  When I was 23, I told everyone I was 25.  When I was 25, I told everyone I was 27.  When I was 27, I told everyone I was 30.  Why?  I don't know.  Maybe I wanted to be told I looked younger than my age. Who knows?  But, what in the heck was the rush?  (By the way.... I always DID look younger than my age)

I'll be 75 this November.  (Wow!  I've lived almost three quarters of a Century.)  And you know what? I'm not in a hurry to be older anymore.  I'm fine being 74 until I'm actually 75.  And I shall remain 75 until November 18 2017, when I really am 76.  Odd how that happened when it struck me that old age wasn't something in my future, was HERE.

What I've learned along the path to being a "senior citizen" is that life really does go by in a blink. I blinked and I was no longer a high school student.  I blinked and I was no longer a happy go lucky young girl in her early 20's, dating and being wooed by a bevy of suitors.  I blinked and I was a wife. I blinked and I was the mother of a beautiful baby boy...blink...two baby boys.  Blink... and a tiny, perfect, pink little girl,  ...Blink...a fourth baby was born.  I didn't mean to, but I blinked again, and these four adorable toddlers were driving, dating, graduating from high school... moving away from home.  Blink... a couple of them went to college. Blink... a couple of them married and had children of their own.  Blink... I am a grandmother.

I lie in bed in the still of the night and remember so many years that were filled with the making of memories. Winters sitting on the heater under a blanket laughing, sharing stories, planning vacations. (too many of them that were never taken)  There were some long nights waiting in the living room for a child to come home from a date, a school or church activity.  Mornings that we ate sleepy breakfasts of french toast, scrambled eggs, face pancakes, or Cream of Wheat.  Long walks were taken together in the orchard. Camping trips were taken with cousins.  Easter baskets were found at the end of yards and yards of string woven throughout the house.  Christmas was...well... Christmas was fantasy come to life.... always with a tree that took up half of the living room, and presents that spilled onto the other half.  Christmas breakfast was face pancakes with a red hat made of ham and whipped cream for fur and a beard.


We can't stop blinking... But, when we aren't, when our eyes are wide open, we can pay attention.  We can look deeply.  We can concentrate, focus.  We can really see .... and record, what's going on in our lives so that the memories will stay a little clearer, a little longer.


We don't camp with extended family any more.... maybe a trip every other year or so.  We don't sit on the heater and share giggles and hopes.  Breakfasts are rarely eaten together, and when we do, they're generally everyone grabbing what they're in the mood for... or have the time for.  The orchards have been turned into a subdivision.  Easter traditions are topics of conversation now and then, nothing more. And they each have their own (much smaller) trees, their own private, individual, time opening (far fewer) presents, and their own breakfast menu.


Those times we shared with one another are gone, the but the memories linger.  These days I try to watch my children and grandchildren with intent.  I lick their daily activities into memory the way I might lick a creamy twist cone on a hot summer day....slowly, savoring every bit of coolness, and the rich combination of distinct flavors.

And I try not to blink.

Monday, June 20, 2016

I think one of the greatest days of my entire life was when I was able to pass my first born child to my husband and watch the tears well as he held his son and realized that he was a father. He was so proud, and a wee bit overwhelmed by it all. It was a sweet moment.

And now, I watch my son as a father and it's such a joy to see the baton passed.

Honestly? Can I say it? I like Father's Day so much more than I do Mother's Day. I enjoy every part of it more. I love watching the kids with their dad. They are so tender...and so playful when they interact. I love knowing that these children are a gift that I gave him. I love knowing that a part of my husband will live on through his children and I played a major role in that legacy. It fills me! Yup! For me, Father's Day trumps Mother's. There I said it. Don't get me wrong, I like Mother's Day...well, all but the primary program/sacrament meeting part. I really, REALLY love being a mother! But, I don't know how to express the joy I receive from paying homage to the man who made it all possible, not just through his seed...but because he has provided for and protected us in every way. He has been a comfort, a companion, advocate, and teacher through both word and example. Happy Father's Day Wayne. I raise my glass to you, and to father's everywhere... young and old.
June 19, 2016 at 1:20 PM

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day to daddy's and dad's, papa's and pop's, father's, grandpa's and "Poppy's" everywhere.

I was going to post a few thoughts on Fathers here, but I already said pretty much what I had to say in a comment I left on Lin's blog.  And truth be told, I don't know if anyone at all will read anything I blog but, I am dang SURE that not one single daddy, dad, papa or pop that I know will ever see this. Not one of them would have a clue how to get on anyone's blog, nor do they have an interest in doing so.  So, I think I'm going to give a big hug, a handmade card, and a little gift to each and every one of them on my list.  This is not a viable platform for me to send them smooches and happy wishes...not to mention smooches are a lot more fun face to face.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Well.... whaddaya know?  A couple of my cyber pals from years ago sent me a surprise!  A sweet little note to let me know they were still out there and that they thought maybe I should post again. So.... I think I will.  What to say?  Let's see....  How about I start with:


At the moment, I'm sitting on a small deck that is just outside the french doors to my bedroom.  It has tall, VERY tall pine trees in front of me and to my right.  To my left, there is scrub oak, lawn and a creek.  One of my several flower beds is growing lavishly underneath the pine trees that are on my right.  It's a glorious place to spend time.

We spend half of the year (the winter months) in St, George Utah.  It's a cute little home with some unusual views of mountains and valleys for that area.  We enjoy it immensely while we're there....but, that being said, I forget while we're gone just how much I love it here!  Life moves at a slower pace in Pleasant View.  Oh, not the town in general.... but OUR lives, our home among the pines. The tender breeze coaxes the windchimes to softly sing their melody.  The Mourning Doves and Finches chatter and banter, claiming their territory, as they flit among the higher branches of the Oak trees.  I love the throaty whisper of the creek, and all of the emerald shades of the leaves, grasses, and stems bobbing with their heavy heads of blooms. Our yard is my own private Eden.  I sit on my deck in complete wonder at it all, and I am forever and always full of gratitude for the sweet blessing of living here.   We are so fortunate, so lucky... so blessed.  And, the best part of it is, I get to share it with a hunk of a guy who makes me laugh, still gives me butterflies, and is one of the most honorable men ever to breathe.  Yup! I LOVE MY LIFE!

Is it odd that I have found that such happiness is often tinted with a light Cobalt  blue shade of melancholy? There is an underlying touch of sadness when I reflect on how many women are struggling daily to find some measure of joy...just a smidge of peace.  I want to find a way to have all of them share in what I have.  I don't mean by giving them a good lunch or dinner now and then,  I do that.  I volunteer at the local homeless shelter, and I have learned that a hot plate of meatloaf and a baked potato may very well fill the belly, but it doesn't begin to fill the void left by loneliness and the nagging fear that no one really loves them.  One evening late in the month last October, I saw one of the women who comes to the shelter standing on the street.  It was mildly chilly outside and she was rubbing her arms through a thin sweater.  I waved, she waved back and gave me a nearly toothless smile.  I stopped my car, talked to her for a few minutes, took off my heavy scarf, wrapped it around her shoulders, took her face in my hands and told her I'd see her tomorrow  The look in her tear filled eyes was the warmest coat I wore the remainder of that winter.  It takes so little of the abundance that some of us enjoy to fill the bucket of those who walk with dropped shoulders and a gut wrenching emptiness in their lives.  Anyway... I'm beginning to sound a tad lugubrious, here...  Let's move on.

Well....enough for one day. I shall be back.  Hopefully soon, although I make no promises.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

So.... it's been a lifetime since I posted anything.  Other than Lin, (Oh, and Cake Wrecks)  I wasn't even sure people still blogged.  None of my family does it anymore.  But, this morning I got a hankerin to check in on some of the folks I used to keep track of and found a few had kept up the fine art of sharing with others.  Nice.  So, as soon as I can move my upper body fast enough to shake some of the sawdust out of my brain.... I may just join the throng.  Okay, maybe not a throng exactly... more a select group.  I tried to remember how to post a photo, and I failed miserably.  I am SO not a techie!   Anyway, this could be the start of something, or a fluke.  Who knows?  The "Shadow knows".  Gads!  Where did that come from?  Some pretty deep recesses... that's for dang sure.  This is sort of a test run to see if I can even post a blurb.  Here goes, ready to pull the handle.

TA DA... this is a codicil.  I did it.  hmmmmm..... maybe this will be fun again.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A tsk, tsk, a tasket, and an overflowing basket

My youngest son has spent a large part of the last several years backpacking through some of the farthest reaches of our wonderful world.  He's stayed with impoverished families in their huts in not often traveled valleys and hilltops of many countries.  He's shared meager meals of rice and roots that have been unfailingly offered by generous people who have little to share.  He's seen both sadness and joy in the eyes of little children too soon grown old.  He's been warmed by the welcome of men and women who could carry all they own in smaller bags than we use to carry home our weekly groceries. 

He asked me the other day if I ever stopped to think about the things that I have enjoyed that much  of the world has never even imagined....will never have a memory of.  It was one of those "tsk, tsk, shame on me" times that brought me to my knees... literally... as I began to list a few small pleasures that so many will never know.  Here are a few.

How many are there who have never:

toasted a marshmallow over a campfire
owned a pretty pair of earrings
bent down to breathe in the fragrance of a rose growing in their own garden
wrapped a birthday present for their child
gone to grandma's house for Sunday dinner
beachcombed for sea glass, agates, or sand dollars
tasted a fresh strawberry
known the delightful sight of hummingbirds gathered around a feeder
sat on the patio drinking hot cocoa under the stars
whispered secrets and giggled under a blanket with their best friend
held a healthy, chubby, baby in their arms

My list is much longer than this.  My basket is bountifully filled, and I am blessed.  Not because I have a lovely home or leather upholstery in my car... not because I have a large variety of stores nearby filled with an abundance of wares, and the cash in my pocket to buy them.  But, because I have so many small, tender moments filled with such sweetness.  Because I know what a marvel it is to discover a small piece of blue glass washed and polished by the sea. 

I would ask that if anyone reads this, they take a pen in hand and make a list of their own.  It's a good thing for us to remember and reflect on those little, too often unnoticed, things that are precious in our lives.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The storyteller

A few years ago I worked for the American Red Cross.  I was the director of the AIDS Education and Information Program in Northern Utah.  It was a job that I loved.  My work week often ran into 60+ hours.  It  could be exhausting, frustrating, always interesting, and often gut wrenching.

I used to tell stories as a part of my living.  They were true stories about the families I worked with. Some of them amusing, many of them inspiring, most of them sad.

It became important to me that my audience didn't remember them as "Caryn's stories", or as "other people's stories",  but that they realized that they were our stories... their's and mine.   Each one of us gathered together any given day could have easiily stepped into one of the roles in every story that I told.  I wanted them to ponder the part they would have played.  Could they have taken a bow for the lines they spoke?  Would their mothers, their spouses, their children have applauded their performance?  Would they have been pleased to have me use their name as I shared their part with an audience? 

It amazes me how many times we're remembered for something we've done that seemed so insignificant to us.  The phone call we did or didn't make.  The helping hand or listening ear we did, or didn't offer.  The times we did or didn't defend a neighbor's reputation when we heard something unkind said about them... The times we did or didn't share a tender thought we had about someone.

I'm not going to say that we need to get wrapped up in how important we are... but, I do wonder if many of us realize the impact we have on the people who move through our lives.  I still remember the way I pranced throughout the remainder of the day when a total stranger, an older gentleman, pulled up next to me at a stop sign and yelled through my open window, "You are one very pretty feminine, young lady".  It was so random, so completely unexpected.  A gift freely given to me by someone who just spontaneously blew a verbal kiss to a girl he never expected to see again.   As the light turned green, he turned left and drove out of my vision and into my memory.  It changed me.  My fear of saying something nice to someone I didn't know magically disappeared along with his yellow convertible. 

My mother had taught me since I was tiny to "Be nice... to everyone... all of the time....twice as nice as you think you ought to be."  "Say something kind to at least three people every day."  She had voiced those words to me thousands of times, and given me a constant and consistent example to follow.  She lived what she taught.  I understood the concept.  What I didn't understand was how important it could be to those that I gave a kind word to.  Not until a sunny, California summer day when someone I didn't know noticed me and told me he thought I was a girly girl, said out loud that he thought I was pretty, then drove away. 

I think if I knew his name, and used it in telling this story... he could feel good about the role he played.  He could take a bow.  I would , and do, applaud him.