Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Farm

I return to the land
where time and again
I find strength and solace.

I don't know if there is magic
in the earth beneath my feet
or in the wind soughing
through the trees
but I feel an energy
that connects with mine.

It may be the spirits
of long dead ancestors
or even animals I once loved
buried carefully along fence rows
so as to remember where they lay.

I hear it whispering to me
in the slow running creek
that I have drank from
for over fifty summers.

I see it in the waving grasses
tall to my knees
bending in silent
acknowledgment of my passing
through the fields.

The buzzing of bees,
jarflies droning and
locust song
weave an eternal symphony
heard now, then and in the future
by those who lives
intertwine upon these hills.

Seasons pass
as do people
but the magic
in this land
lingers.

Kindness

WEEP: to express grief, sorrow, or any overpowering emotion by shedding tears. 
CRY:  shed tears, with or without sound.



This summer has been unusual and intense. My husband, brother, aunt and a close friend all were diagnosed with cancer. I have seen cancer at its best and worst. If there is such a thing as "best" for cancer.

Oddly, my last practicum was with the American Cancer Society. I had to start my practicum at the beginning, with the patients having just received the diagnosis and starting their treatment planning. I progressed through all the stages next, treatment, recovery and palliative care. Then finally I ended with Hospice and death.

None of the phases was easy. I watched and tried to counsel families through their shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. I listened. Mainly that's all I could do, or pat a hand or dry a tear. Sometimes I cried along with them, crossing that clinical/professional boundary. I could not help it, as their pain was so fresh and raw.

Now I know what it is to walk in the shoes of those families. I have been angry, depressed. I have bargained with God. I have accepted the present as it is, as it has to be. I have denied my fears and feelings at times. At other times I have crossed that "clinical boundary"  because I cannot be clinical with my own family.

There is a part of me that can handle the gross anatomy of cancer. I can see the wounds without flinching, I can handle the vomit and cleanup. I can give injections to the hubster, feed him by a tube, watch as they pull all his teeth. I can hold his hand as he struggles with the physical pain. Tubes don't bother me, needles, syringes and changing bandages, just part of the daily battle. I can be clinical to a necessary point.

However, my undoing, several times, has been kindness. I have wept very little during this horrible, terrible, worst summer of my life. A few times I wept out of exhaustion and fear, but not often. The times I have cried though, that is different.
I have cried when kindness has struck me unaware. So many people have come to support us. So many prayers have been said. Gifts of food, money, but more importantly, gifts of an individual's presence have broken my heart with gratitude. Every hug, handpat or expression of love has brought me to tears. Just this morning the nurse was so kind, I started tearing up as she gently handled my husbster, trying not to hurt him anymore.

The doctors who kept pursuing his symptoms until they found the cause: a pulmonary embolism that left untreated would possibly have killed him, made my misty eyed each time they walked the long walk to his room just "to see if he needed anything".  My family calling, emailing, facebooking daily to make sure I was/am OK, brings tears to my eyes. My brother and brother in law building a handrail on the steps in 90 degree weather very nearly slayed me. My mother in law coming for weeks or months at a time to sweep and clean and help in any way she can. Friends from grade school and high school praying for me and my husband daily. Coworkers  checking in to let me know I am not forgotten and am missed. Neighbors mowing the yard and bringing tomatoes. I could go on for pages.

I could have wept with despair this summer. I could have been angry and railed at the unfairness of life. But instead, gratitude has broken my heart and let the tears flow. I have wept because I have seen the power of love.

Thank you everyone. I can never repay what you have given me. I am forever and always, grateful.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Sweet Lady

When I was a teenager I think I was the original "Emo". I was very emotional, yearning for something more, it was indefinable but I remember a deep longing for whatever it was that I did not have...

I spent a lot of time lost in music. Listening to 45's and albums on my record player. Recording songs on my cassette tape recorder off the radio in wee hours of the morning. (All very hi tech at the time!)

I would dream about falling in love, meeting someone who made my heart stop then flutter giddily. I listened to love songs and my favorites were by John Denver. I also had a major crush on him and was sure I would meet someone just as talented and soulful as him at any moment. His songs were filled with beautiful lyrics, melodies that matched the passion and melancholy in my young impressionable heart.

There are certain songs that instantly transport me back through time, back to a feeling, a place. His songs were the songs of a lonely, dreaming 15 year old girl who never had her dreams fulfilled.

Until this week.

One night when my hubster was resting, he called me in and motioned me to lie beside him. He took one earbud of his iPod and placed in gently in my ear. John Denver was singing "My Sweet Lady": one of my favorites. It is from a movie, "Sunshine" about a beautiful tragic hippie heroine dying while her musician husband travels to make money. They have a child, Sam, but she dies a sappy, sorrowful movie death. Very 1970's, very appealing to a hopelessly romantic 15 year old.

I lay curled against my husband and the words rang painfully true. We stayed curled together listening to all of John Denver's songs. All of them taking on a new meaning, all of them drawing together the past, present and future. Some reminded me of family, some of friends and places now long gone from my life. Some reminded me of the 15 year old me, yearning to find someone to share her life with who would understand her.

35 years later that dream has come true. Nestled against the hubster's side, holding hands, sharing the headset, we listened and sang together, smiled, wept and whispered our love to one another.

The past and present joined and the broken heart of a 15 year old girl healed.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Boys from the country



This song reminds me of both my big brothers (BB1 and BB2). Both were brought up in the country, on the same farm where we all were conceived and born. BB1 still lives there, walking on the ground where father and grandfather walked and where his son and grandchildren walk. It is a beautiful farm, woods of hickory, oak, and cedar. Fence rows covered in blackberry vines, ponds filled with the most beautiful sounding frogs and peepers. Between his house and his son's lies the ground where my grandmother planted daffodils and butter cups, and where her garlic still comes up every year. The same creek runs cold but smaller than I remember. I love to visit him there. It feels like home in my heart.

My other brother, BB2 traveled away. For a while he lived in cities, both large and small, but the country called him to come back. He lives in Colorado, no gentle rolling hills and creeks for him, but instead soaring mountains and rushing rivers. He embraces the wilderness, foraging for mushrooms and game in season. He flew me out once and it was the most glorious vacation the hubster and I ever went on, we still talk about it years later.

Both my brothers are attached to the land and I somehow think this keeps them real and authentic. They are two of the best men I have ever known. Strong yet gentle. They cry as easily as they laugh. They are jokesters and have filled my life with laughter, surprise and delight. They both have dried my tears and cried with me through out my life. I think I waited so long to marry because I could not find a man who had these qualities. My big brothers set the bar high. Luckily they did not shoot my husband upon meeting my Yankee fiance but instead over the years have embraced him as a brother.

Neither brother has had it easy. Both have had trials that would lay low any other person. They have not only survived them but have triumphed. They inspire me to be just as tough, just as stubborn and strong as they are.

They are boys from the country, they know Life at its best. They know the cycles of birth, death and rebirth. They live close to the land, walk among the trees and love with all their hearts.
They are my heroes.

Because he called the forest brother
Because he called the earth his mother
They drove him out into the rain
Some people even said the boy from the country was insane

Because he spoke with fish in the creek
He tried to tell us that the animals could speak
Who knows, perhaps they do
How do you know they dont
Just because theyve never spoken to you

Boy from the country, he left his home when he was young
Boy from the country, he loves the sun

He tried to tell us that we should love the land
We turned our heads and laughed
And we did not understand
Sometimes I think that the boy from the country
Is the only one who sees
Because the boy from the country
Doesnt want to see the forest for the trees

Boy from the country, he left his home when he was young
Boy from the country, he loves the sun.
(Michael Murphy, sung by John Denver)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Survivor

This has been an interesting summer.
Here are the facts:
I turned 50.
My 22 year old cat, Buddy Love died.
3 family members were diagnosed with cancer within the same month.
I am on leave from work to take care of one of those family members, my husband of soon to be 21 years...

I have had hard times before and survived them. I know in my heart I am a survivor.
I may fall down, get up, fall again, cry, curse, but then I will get up and pull myself together.

However. I cannot do it alone. I need my friends, my family, my coworkers and neighbors.
These are recent realizations: That I am strong and that at the same time I need people, that it is okay to ask for help AND receive help.

I have experienced go much generosity and love this summer that I have begun to believe that humans, at heart, are good. I forget that from time to time doing the work I do. I see suffering and pain. I cannot save the world. I cannot save an old frail cat or even my husband, brother or aunt. I am learning to let go of control and depend on God. Not easy for a control freak, fix it all, caregiver, peacemaker, social worker like me...

I have learned that love exists everywhere despite time, distance and space...
I have learned that the internet can be a conduit for that love too.

I have learned that I can state that I am a survivor, that I am strong, that I need help.

Not a bad beginning for a summer.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cobbler time.

A quick and easy peach cobbler recipe; you can substitute any other fruit, like Blackberries!
Or strawberry & rhubarb! If using fresh fruit I cook w/ 1 c sugar and 1/4 c water for 5 minutes to let the juices flow! If you use rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
Cook Time: 45 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Ingredients:

* 1 cup self rising flour
* 1 cup milk
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 stick of melted butter
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 large can of sliced peaches in syrup, undrained, about 28 to 32 ounces

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350°. Put melted butter in 13 x 9 pan. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, milk, vanilla extract; stir until blended. Pour batter into pan and top with the peaches. Bake at 350° for a total of 45 to 60 min.

I also like to switch it up sometimes and use almond extract or lemon or orange extract instead of vanilla in the batter.