Saturday, July 16, 2016

Too Much Going On

     Standing on the deck with feisty tiny hummingbirds buzzing near me, I looked across the lake where the wild geese rest in water near the edge of the island shaded by leafy trees overhead. The hot summer air in front of me is filled with young martins gliding in circles while their shadows on the grass below create a duet of grace. I enjoy a moment of calm and peace and hope it stays that way for awhile.
      I had thought that once our anniversary celebration was over that the summer would suddenly be lazily unencumbered with plans or conflicting duties. Not so. The first two weeks of July flew by with needs, responsibilities, and appointments bumping into each other.
      My wristwatch that I felt so smug about quickly replacing with a new battery quit again after two weeks. I really like my inexpensive watch because I can clearly see the time easily, but I guess I need to go back and replace it with more than a battery. I avoid that huge store because I have to park so far away that I once got lost trying to find my car. And once inside the store, there is much more walking to find anything.
      Since my watch quit working, I tried to carry my cell phone more to be able to check the time. When I had pockets that was not a problem; but once when I didn't, I carelessly dropped it and it fell into two pieces. Yes, it was one of the old ones with a little cover. I resisted everyone's suggestion I might need to replace it with a more modern cell phone because I knew how to answer it, make calls, and text. There were some uses I never had bothered to learn, but I sure did not want to figure out a new phone. 
     That breakage, however, required another trip to the mall at the other side of town, where the phone store has limited parking and a long wait. There I found out the clerk had to call Gerald for his permission for me to replace my phone. I listened as she explained there was a $40 upgrade fee but became somewhat embarrassed as she incorrectly told him I'd said he had wanted me to get one of the 99 cent phones. I explained to her afterwards that he had not said I was to get the 99 cent phone, but that was my desire. I had two choices and chose the one with a pull out screen that I hope makes texting a mite quicker.   
        However, the store was out of that one, so I am waiting for it to be delivered and then I will need to either follow directions to set it up or go back to the store and they will kindly and gladly do it for me. Since I am a poor at understanding directions, I suspect I will need to make another trip back to the other side of town once my new cell arrives. I had no trouble parking the other day, but I had a scare when a big truck almost backed into me as I exited. I took comfort that at least it would have been his fault if he had not seen me in time.
      On yet another day, I had finally made the needed appointment to get my eyes checked—at the same mall on the other side of town. I found out the reason I kept thinking my left lens was dirty was that a cataract on my left eye needed to be corrected. Now I've made that appointment for August—the earliest they can take me. There have been a couple of appointments to keep current on my INR level, which I am conscientious about after two hospitalizations in past years for pulmonary embolisms. Now I need to make a check-up visit with the dermatologist since I found out it had been three years when I checked my files.
      The worst summer busyness, however, resulted from serious health threats to loved ones. All three of our brothers had serious problems. Gerald couldn't go see Keith while he was in the hospital because Gerald was fighting an infection himself. The other two brothers both received good enough reports that they did not have to be hospitalized, and Gerald is feeling good again. Katherine, however, had to spend ten days in the hospital at Carbondale to take care of two serious infections and other issues. By the time she returned home, her already short staff was decreased by one, so I needed to go to her home each evening. After many phone calls, texts, and interviews, she thinks she again has a full staff. So today I am not leaving the farm.
      I am using all this busyness as my excuse and not blaming (or admitting) my age caused me to get mixed up on the time for a dentist appointment in Carbondale. Gerald kindly took me for the appointment and dropped me off saying he would complete our recycling job. I had filled the trunk because we like the center in Carbondale where you can recycle all items at once from paper to cans, glass, etc. Our plan after the appointment was to drive down to Keith and Barbara's in rural Union County since Keith had gotten home from the hospital the day before. Imagine my embarrassment when I found out my appointment had been that morning not that afternoon.
      Yes, the office had called me and reminded me, but I either misheard or just got mixed up. I phoned Gerald to come back for me as soon as he was through recycling, and I have to brag on him for not being the least unpleasant about my mental failure. In fact, as we left in the direction of Keith's, he pointed out we were on the same street our friends Rich and Ann Lipe live on. He commented that I'd been wanting to see them, so why not stop and see if they were home! We had a wonderful long neglected visit with the Lipes before going on down and having another good visit with Keith and Barbara. We stopped in Marion for supper and took a bite by Katherine's to feed her supper and give her night pills.
      These time-consuming irritants and obligations and worry for ourselves and family members are small in comparison to the heart-rending news we have heard on television this month. The gun violence and the resulting weeping fill the screen. Once again someone with serious mental problems, increased by his association with hate groups, went on a shooting spree and took five of our finest police, who had just stood with peaceful protesters. We hold our breath to see how things go with Britain out of European Union. And now we hear about the uprising in Turkey, and we feel concern as to how that will affect our fight against ISIS. We worry about the slaughter in Syria. We experience the need to turn the television back on to find out the latest development and at the same time a reluctance to possibly hear of yet another tragedy.
      I am grateful to be able to look out occasionally and watch three bright yellow finches who have finally found the net holding seeds for them there. I am grateful for all the flowers piled in sympathy on the police cars in Dallas. I am grateful for the ten-year-old who wants to become a policeman someday because his mother who shielded him was shielded by a policeman. I am grateful for the wisdom-filled words of grief-stricken15-year-old son whose father was shot by police. I am grateful for those who risk criticism and danger to remind us that black lives matter. And for those who include black lives when they say all lives matter. I am grateful for Chief David Brown and his good thinking and quiet leadership under duress and for his faith that he so naturally shared with the nation. I am grateful for President Bush and President Obama who stood in unity condemning gun violence and encouraging us to become a better nation.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

June 2016: A Month to Remember

June has been a special month—one we will always remember, but the memory may be somewhat blurred because so much has happened this month. Early in the month one night, I'd just organized myself on the computer to be ready the next morning to complete some necessary tasks, and I was ready to go to bed. Suddenly my screen was filled with directions from a nasty virus that I knew were not directions I should follow. And they were impossible to get rid of. So with the computer in the shop, I was not able to record trials or relish blessings as this month unfolded.

Now with my computer's repair and factory reset—whatever that means—some things are new, and I have to reenter passwords to get on sites. I still cannot email out from my one remaining email account. (Microsoft destroyed my long-standing Hotmail account one night in May with no warning, and I lost all the archives including some important research. I still had an older email account I used for genealogical correspondence that I seldom used anymore. But for some reason, now in order to send an email I have to give some information about IMAP and SMPT that I do not have. I do not even know what the screen is “talking” about. GRRRR.) So modern technology has definitely been one of my trails this June.

But enough griping! Technology is amazingly wonderful and unbelievably productive and valuable. I just wish I were more competent to use it. I also wish that people with evil intent were less competent. Why are terrorists able to mislead young adults to join their wickedness? How can we use social media instead to entice them to try love for their fellow man instead of lured toward hatred and murder?

Our children used social media to communicate between themselves and to announce to others plans for a 60th wedding anniversary party for us. They asked for our permission, which I was reluctant to give because they have busy lives and Gerald and I have busy lives. I was not sure that our celebration needed to be public. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it would be wonderful to see friends and family, and especially it would be great for our children to have opportunity to see their extended family and their hometown friends. Two of our four children live away, and I thought it would be especially good for them. Just keep it simple was my only request.

Although the other two of our children live here, I knew in all likelihood Katherine would not be able to attend because she is so ill with advanced multiple sclerosis. That was another reason I hesitated to agree to a party. No mother wants one of her children to be left out. To survive the daily heartbreak of watching a beloved child suffer, one has to learn to not feel but to simply accept. But holidays and special events make that more difficult. No one would have enjoyed seeing everyone more than Katherine. But she was kind and understanding and accepted one more disappointment in her limited life when her efforts to attend failed.

Despite my distorted face when a gum swelled up as the dentist had warned might happen and my having to see him on Friday afternoon for an antibiotic and pain pill, Gerald and I were immediately made joyful as children and grandchildren started arriving for our special weekend. Gerry and Vickie arrived very early Thursday morning with grandsons Maddux and Payton after driving all night. Jeannie arrived after first driving from northern Illinois to Nashville, TN, attend her son-in-law Mike Thompson's graduation from the police academy there.

Because granddaughter Erin married Josh Simons right before he was sent to South Korea, we had not had the privilege of meeting our newest grandson-in-law except by social media. This spring Josh had safely returned to Fort Hood, and he and Erin have bought a house in the nearby community where she teaches. When they learned at the last minute that yes Josh could be off that weekend and they both were coming to Illinois, the party planners suddenly cooked up a last minute family wedding shower to welcome them.

What they did not realize was that Hank Williams, Jr., was in town, and there was not a restaurant in town available for a party. So Erin's Johnson family and her Glasco family gathered at Woodsong on Friday night for dinner that our daughter-in-law Vickie carried in for over 20 of us from the Blue barbecue stand down at Creal Springs. After I ate their delicious food, I understood why I'd heard so much about their business. We could stay together and visit as long as we wanted without competing with Hank on the streets of Marion. The bride and groom cut their cake and opened their presents, and our weekend celebration was off to a great start. Everyone was impressed with Josh, who was so pleasant and whose smile was contagious. We also loved meeting little Lily Mae Rongey, and people were competing to hold her. When Gerry and Vickie lived here, Vickie gave great birthday parties, and we had regular get-togethers with the Johnsons. So it was like our old good times.

We also had our first wonderful and carefully guarded surprise Friday night. Brianna had told me how disappointed she was that going back to work at Disney World this summer would cause her to miss our anniversary. When the Taylors walked in for Erin and Josh's party, beautiful Brianna was with them! She had been able to arrange to be off work and fly up just to help us celebrate.

The next morning, our children were busy at our village school multi-purpose room getting ready for the afternoon gathering. Of course my 90-year-old sister in Texas and my almost 88-year-old brother up at Mattoon could not come, but we were eagerly anticipating our local extended Glasco-Wenger families being there as well as friends. Imagine the amazement when I looked up and saw a man with a long white beard that could only be our brother-in-law Don Gamble from Rock Springs, Wyoming! And then I immediately saw Ernestine, Gerald's only sister! What a glorious surprise for all us us! And I was just as thrilled when my Goreville cousin and wife, Dick and Irma Stanley, walked in, so I had a Martin relative attending! They both looked great and we had an excellent visit—the first since the tragic unexpected death of their beautiful son Grant.

Then as friends and neighbors came in, I was so grateful for this opportunity to connect again with so many I rarely see anymore. Age and responsibilities have made our participation in community affairs very limited. There were old friends and new friends; and although with so many there at once, visits were not as long as I hungered for, I was made very happy. When our grandchildren sang “Blessed Assurance,” and then Leslie, Elijah, and Sam each sang a solo, my happiness soared even more.

All good things must end, and it was sad to see everyone depart at various times just as it had been joyous to see them arrive. It helped that Ernestine and Don visited with each brother through the following Thursday; consequently there were breakfast gatherings in Jonesboro and Marion for those who could make it.

Grandson Trent used his prize-winning camera skills to give us a great photographic record of our big day, and I am spending much time enjoying them now that my computer is home. I feel certain Gerald can be persuaded to make me hard copies, which I am even more partial to. I have also been reading and then reading again all the lovely cards and notes we received, and we are still getting them in the mail. A busy blurred June will be cherished the rest of our lives.