Who could blame the guy?

I posted on Facebook yesterday that even though we didn’t make it to our rec center track, we visited Ikea which was pretty much the same thing. We were crazy happy to find the cabinets,  our reason for coming. I won’t get into that.  But let me tell you what happened on the way out of Ikea.

By he time we passed through the bedding section we were feeling pretty discouraged and insecure. Were we even going in the right direction? “If we don’t get out of here tonight, at least there are beds,” I said. My husband agreed that we’d have pretty much all the household necessities. And then, I swear this is true, he nudged me and pointed out a well-dressed middle-aged man, fully stretched out on one of the beds and sleeping soundly. We snickered quietly as we passed him even though we completely understood. The poor guy had apparently given up.

 

Things I’ve discovered while I’ve had this lousy cold

(and haven’t had the energy to do much but watch TV and look at Facebook.}

  1. You can get addicted to Family Feud just waiting for someone to win the 20,000.
  2. Dale Evans was an early feminist who shot at the bad guys right along with her husband, Roy Rogers. And if you don’t know who these people are, you are not old.
  3. The Lone Ranger wore eyeliner. I’m pretty sure that’s why his eyes stand out underneath that mask. He also always sounded like he had a cold.
  4. Special effects have come a long ways since the fifties.
  5. People start to ignore  you when you post too much on Facebook.

I get a little too involved in movies . . .

Does anybody else get so into movies that when you leave the theater, you still feel like you’re a part of the movie? Call me strange, but when I walk out to the parking lot after an action movie, I feel I should be ready to duck or run for it, in case there might be shooting helicopters or monsters or whatever,  hovering about. Or on the way home, I’m looking around in case some bad guy might screech around the corner and start chasing us.

A day or two ago, after watching the last half of a dancing movie on cable, I felt this strong urge to start dancing with the UPS man who was coming up the walk. Luckily, I controlled myself. Ha ha. I imagine it would have made his day a little more interesting, right?

I realize I’m sounding a little crazy, but I do the same thing with books. I feel a great sense of loss when I’ve read that last page, and it takes me a while to return to my own world. And the characters? I keep thinking about them and wondering how they’re doing.

It’s even worse when I’m writing something. When I was telling my husband about a particular character in a novel I was working on, he said, “You do know these people aren’t real, right?” The poor guy was obviously double-checking to make sure I hadn’t flipped out on him. Well, I hadn’t, and I laughed and assured him that of course I knew that. But then I kind of kept nodding with sort of a sick grin, as I realized that that wasn’t exactly true. They had become very real . . . to me.

Not in the plans . . .

I had a bad attitude at first. My husband’s aunt passed away a while ago and this week we received a bunch of boxes, filled mostly with scrapbooks, to go through—thirty or so. (Aunt Joy had no children, had lived out of state for years, and her husband was already gone)  I’ll be honest. I made an ugly kind of aaaaarrrggghh sound. This wasn’t on the agenda. I’d just gotten rid of several boxes of our own stuff, and I was not thrilled at the prospect of going through somebody else’s.

But as Vaun and I started turning page after page of Aunt Joy’s life, we began getting a sense of this woman’s love of friends and family. It was apparent that despite difficulties, she lived her life fully . We saw picture after picture of the “forest” that she always talked about and brochures of every trip and adventure. We even found a few pictures we hadn’t known existed of family members. There was one of Grandma Zelma in costume, doing a reading before a large group of children. That woman had confidence! There was one of Vaun’s grandfather in the huge, almost infamous garden, that we’d heard so much about–the garden he took so seriously. There was a wedding line with my husband at age four or five, standing next to the little flower girls, as, shall we say, the boutoniere boy? Or wait, the ring bearer? Vaun is the youngest in his family, and we only have five or six early pictures of him, so this was a find.

Although I worry that Aunt Joy might be hovering about, upset that we’re taking apart the scrapbooks she put together with such obvious devotion, I hope she knows this hasn’t been the painful process I anticipated.  It’s been fun and inspiring. No, going through Aunt Joy’s stuff wasn’t on our agenda this week, but what is it they say? Real life is the interruptions. And let’s see, a friend reminded me of this quote: “Life is what happens while we’re making other plans.” We definitely weren’t planning to get to know Aunt Joy better this week, but we feel better about life because we did.

ANOTHER BIG SHINY STAR!

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Here’s the scenario:  I have just finished shopping, and I am trying to get all my groceries onto the check out ramp. But I have pushed my cart up a little further than usual and I accidentally bump a plastic container from the counter with approximately a quarter of a million candies in it. I watch them fly through the air as if in slow motion, then scatter. These are apparently over-achiever candies because some roll across the entire front of the store. I am mortified.”Oh nooooo! I’m so sorry! Don’t worry I’ll get them. Give me a second though.”

Before I can pick up the candies I need to finish getting my cart unloaded and pushed out of the way, and I need to pay.  I’m a little worried. My right leg has been giving me some problems and if I go down, I might not be able to get back up. The checker and bagger have already kind of rolled their eyes at each other, so I’m not counting on them to help. Anyway, I’m responsible. I’m the one who made the mess.

But then I notice that two women/girls around college age behind me in line are already picking up the candies near them. “We’ve got this!” says the taller one. “Yeah, we’re on it,” says the other.

This kind of stuff gets to me, and I get a little teary. “You are wonderful!” I say with a catch in my throat.  “Seriously, you’re so nice!”

“No problem at all!” says the shorter one as they continue going after the candies.  “We’ll get them all.”  I think about offering them something—a five dollar bill? But I don’t. I know from experience that handing out money for this kind of thing kind of takes the joy out of it for the person helping. So I swallow, thank them profusely again, and push my cart out the exit. As I’m putting the groceries into the back of my van, I realize I should have taken their picture. They deserve a gold star! Grabbing my phone, I hurry back. But the girls are gone. Apparently, they left out of the far door. Or maybe they just disappeared like the angels on TV do. You never know.

I hope that by some miracle, these two darling people will see this blog post. I hope they know that a kindness like this leaves a lasting glow in a day and in a life. Thank you again, ladies who were behind me in the check out lane today. You are  AWESOME!

 

I was thinking today about Rosemary.

Rosemary and I became friends in college. We were both majoring in English and trudged through all those Elizabethan sonnets and Shakespeare tragedies together. We found out we were  both dating the same premed student, but instead of becoming rivals or enemies, we became even better friends. Soon after college we both got married. (Neither to the premed student.) Rosemary got married first and I hosted a bridal shower for her. When my husband and I got engaged not long afterwards, Rosemary and her husband had us to dinner. During the next few years Rosemary had two girls and then a boy. So did I.

Three kids can keep you busy and I hadn’t seen Rosemary for a few months when one day I happened to glance at an old newspaper and there was her picture in the obituary section. When I was finally able to breathe, I frantically called her family to confirm.Yes, her sister let me know, Rosemary had gone to the hospital with a severe case of the flu and had died there. It was sudden. Her voice was clogged with grief. I called my husband, the news exploding from me. He tried to comfort me, but couldn’t. I went into the kitchen and laid my head on the counter and sobbed.

During the weeks that followed, I went about my chores listlessly and in confusion. How could my friend be gone? How could she not be washing her dishes and changing diapers and doing all those things we’d both been doing daily?

As the weeks went by and Rosemary’s death became one of those sad facts that I would need to deal with, something else seeped in. Fear. Because our lives had been so parallel, I became afraid that what had happened to Rosemary might happen to me as well. Would I end up leaving this life early too?

But I did not leave. I was allowed to stay. I did, however, stop more often to breathe. I began looking into my children’s faces with greater appreciation. I began really watching them and listening to them. I began to worry less about things that didn’t matter. Was the house as clean as it needed to be? Would someone see I was less than perfect? Who cared? I was here.

Yes, I lived despite two bouts with cancer. I lived through difficulties and a few tragedies, but I trudged ahead. I was blessed to actually be able to use my major in college and had the privilege of sharing my thoughts in magazines and books. We added one more daughter and I was able to watch my children grow, be at their performances, help at their schools, take them to church, and support them as they moved through their own life experiences. In what seemed like no time at all, my husband and I became empty nesters as our children went away to college and married and then had children of their own. Now we are growing old together and helping out with those grandkids.

But today I asked myself again, Why did Rosemary go, and why did I stay? It’s one of those mysteries I don’t anticipate solving while I’m here on earth. I wish I could talk to my friend again. If I could I’d probably say, “Rosemary, I hope your husband and children were eventually okay and able to live happy lives. I hope what they say about the other side is true and that it is glorious and that you have been happy as well. Most of all, my friend, I hope that you are okay and that you have found peace.”

 

 

A Big Shiny Star to Alicia

gold starMy friend, Alicia,  posted something a few weeks ago on Facebook that gave me a chuckle, but let me know she was looking out for a fellow shopper, fellow mother, and fellow human being. She definitely deserves a gold star for living the golden rule.

Alicia says:

if you’re in the checkout at Walmart and other people are laughing at you because you have a long strip of toilet paper hanging out of the back of your pants, I hope there’s someone there who will discreetly let you know. And if I’m there and see it, I might smile first, but I’ll be sure to (tell you) ASAP. Poor lady—with a newborn baby too! she was mortified when I told her. I just hope someone will do the same when it happens to me.

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May we all have Alicia watching our back.

 

I like Halloween/I don’t like Halloween

I like the color orange, all shades. I like decorating our flower garden with different sizes and kinds of pumpkins. I like smiling Jack-o-lanterns. I like decorating the inside of our house with cute little ghosts and a witch that rocks as she sings, and a little haunted house that lights up. I like seeing the creative costumes people come up with, and watching my grandkids switch from one idea to another as they try to decide what they want to be. I like giving out candy with my witch puppet. I like babies dressed up like puppies or kittens. I like hot chocolate and chili. I like ordering Halloween children’s books. I like candy corn, mini Snickers, and Kit Kats. Oh and Mounds. I love Mounds mini bars. I like pumpkin cookies and pumpkin soup and pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin everything. I like when my grandsons sneak up behind me to scare me and laugh till they fall over when they succeed so amazingly well. I love the fun and funny parts of Halloween.

I don’t like scary faces on Jack-o-lanterns. I don’t like spooky masks or vampires with protruding eye-teeth. I don’t like hairy were-wolf costumes. I don’t like princess costumes that include blood. I don’t like haunted houses or scream movies. I don’t like cobwebs on my face. I don’t like feeling like an overgrown sloth because I’ve overindulged on Snickers and Kit Kats and Mounds bars and pumpkin everything. I don’t like that even though I knew exactly what my grandsons were up to and what was coming, I still lurched back and screamed a piercing Aaaaaah when they jumped out at me. I don’t like the scary part of Halloween.

A Halloween Poem

I first saw this little poem attached to a Jack-o-lantern on a teacher’s desk. I loved it!

I can’t remember what I did yesterday, but I’ve remembered this poem for forty-five years.

THE STRANGER IN THE PUMPKIN

THE STRANGER IN THE PUMPKIN SAID:

“IT’S ALL DARK INSIDE YOUR HEAD.

DON’T YOU KNOW THAT HEADS SHOULD SHINE

FROM DEEP INSIDE THEMSELVES LIKE MINE?

DON’T JUST SIT THERE IN A POUT

WITH THAT DARK DOME STICKING OUT.

IT MAKES ME SICK TO LOOK AT IT.

GO OUT AND GET YOUR CANDLE LIT!”

by John Ciardi

I HAD A LIST, BUT FORGOT MY HUSBAND

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We went on a family trip last week along with thousands of others because it was UEA (Utahns Entering Anaheim)

This vacation I started a list early, determined not to forget anything major again like underwear or medications. I wasn’t even going to forget anything minor like glasses, socks, deodorant. In fact, I packed everything we could possibly need and even considered taking the toilet plunger which, as things turned out, we could have used. In other words, there wasn’t much left in the house when we left—well, except my husband of almost forty-five years, the father of our children, the grandfather of our thirteen grandchildren. We forgot him.

I’m still not clear on how this happened. We’d planned everything so carefully. Because there were so many of us, we’d decided that this trip Vaun and I would ride in separate cars so that we could help our children with their driving and refereeing. The plan was that I’d start off with my son and his family and Vaun would go with my oldest daughter and her kids.

My daughter-in-law needed to make a quick stop at a Provo rehab so she could deliver some flowers to her grandmother. That’s when, luckily, my daughter called. She’d just passed Provo and she wanted to know where we were going to meet. Also luckily, I asked to talk to Vaun.

“I don’t have Dad with me,” she said. “I thought you had him.”

“But you were going to pick him up.”

“Nobody told me that.”

“Ha ha,” I said. She kids me sometimes. Once, when we had an ad in, she disguised her voice and said she wanted to rent our two-bedroom apartment with five kids, a “small” pit bull and two “well-behaved” great Danes.

“No, Mom, I’m totally serious. I promise I don’t have Dad with me.”

It was one of those moments when you can’t locate your lungs. “So we left him? We left Dad? Oh my gosh!” I felt terrible. I pictured Vaun upset and hurt like that Macaulay what’s his name in HOME ALONE. I pictured him frantically trying to remember our smart phone numbers, or racing to our daughter’s and back again, trying to figure out where everyone was.

“I’ll try to call him,” said my daughter.

I tried as well and ten or fifteen minutes later we’d worked out that he would drive to the Spanish Fork Walmart where we’d meet him and then we’d leave the extra car at our daughter-in-law’s grandmother’s house.

“So are you upset?” I asked him when we connected.  “I guess I thought you’d worked it out with Nicki and you thought I had, and she apparently wasn’t in the loop. Are you going to be emotionally scarred for the remainder of your life because your family left without you?”

“Not really,” he said sheepishly. Then he explained that when our daughter hadn’t come by he’d just figured she was running late and he had laid down and “shut his eyes” for a few minutes. In other words, he’d pretty much slept through it all. And the fact is we live in an amazing electronic age with phones that operate anywhere. Consequently, It turned out okay. We all made it to California by ten-thirty that night—just an hour or so later than we’d planned.

Sigh. But then we misplaced our debit card; our hotel cancelled our reservations for some mysterious reason ; and oh, some of us got stomach flu. That’s life, right? But Disneyland was still Disneyland–the same crazily happy place.