Losing a Loved One

Although the calendar now reads the second week of September, in north Texas the daytime temps are still in the 90s. Summer is rolling over into fall and school has resumed, but in this part of the country the air conditioning is still running and it’s not yet time to put away the shorts and sleeveless dresses. That makes it hard to remember that one season has ended and a new season is beginning.

A new season has just begun in my family’s life as well. Late last week, my husband’s mother died suddenly and unexpectedly. My husband, his brother and sister, and their father are still processing her abrupt departure, and our grown children are grieving the loss of their beloved grandmother and trying to explain to their own young children why their great grandmother is no longer with us.

IMG_0237I have nothing profound to say about any of this, but thought I’d share a few random things I’ve pondered as we’re working out way through this experience.

  1. We really never know how long the people we love will be with us. In the busyness of life, it’s easy to let that truth fade from our thinking. Mike's first comment to me after telling me of his mother's death was that it was surreal. The woman who gave him life, a constant in his life literally from his birth, was there and then . . . she wasn't.
  2. Perhaps the hardest thing about the way Mike’s mother died is the fact that no one got to say goodbye. She collapsed almost without warning after supper and was gone long before morning, without ever recovering consciousness. There was no farewell moment at her bedside, no chance to say “I love you” or “thank you” one last time–not for her grown children, and not for her husband. More than fifty years of their life together ended all too abruptly. I can’t even imagine the loss and pain he must be feeling. Every one of us left behind has to deal with the regret of unspoken words.
  3. There is some small comfort in knowing that, as difficult as it is for those left behind, her sudden departure means that she did not suffer a prolonged and pain-filled decline. As I’m approaching my mid–50s, I find myself pondering how my own life will end, and whether there is such a thing as a “better” way to go.193599_1984773097795_658772_o
  4. Like most families these days, our extended family is spread out across the country, so we seldom get to see each other in person. As it happens, though, over the course of this past spring and summer, each of my boys separately had the opportunity to make a trip to western Washington and spend a day or two with Mike’s parents. Our oldest son took his two little boys for their first, and now only, visit to their paternal great-grandparents. Those visits now are cherished memories for which we are all grateful.
  5. This past weekend, when I watched Mike playing his fiddle with the band he joined recently, I felt sad as I realized how much Mike’s mom would have loved to see him play. Like any mother, she was his biggest fan. When he was a kid, she drove him from one bluegrass festival to another in support of his talent, and I think she always regretted that he had “abandoned” the instrument for thirty years in favor of other musical (and non-musical) pursuits. I am thankful that in what turned out to be her last days, through the miracle of technology, she got to see him play his fiddle again after all those years, via videos posted on Facebook.

Like I said, I have nothing profound to say about all this, and certainly nothing new. But pondering the things that have happened over the past week, and the conversations we’ve had about it, I am reminded of the same cliches that often are spoken in the wake of death: Treasure the people you love while you have them with you. Don’t take them for granted, and don’t assume there’ll be time later to speak your heart to them. Celebrate every moment you have together, and take every opportunity to create memories to sustain you when they are gone.

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . . 
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Why I Hate Running, and Why I Do It Anyway

Here are just some of the reasons I don't like to run (in no particular order):

  1. I don't like to sweat.
  2. I don't like to huff and puff.
  3. It's hard for me. I was born with malformed hip sockets, leading to two separate hip replacement surgeries in the last few years (I'm now fully bionic!). Calcification in one of the artificial joints limits my range of motion, and many years of pain-induced inactivity gave me atrophied muscles, so it's just very hard work for me to make my legs run.
  4. I look funny when I run, so I feel self-conscious. The aforementioned birth defect and surgeries left me with legs of unequal length (in addition to those weak muscles), so I have very goofy looking gait when I run. (I'm also very, very slow.)
  5. It takes time. I have a demanding job, a long commute, and family and household responsibilities that are important to me. There are other ways I'd rather use my limited free time instead of sweating and huffing/puffing and working hard.
  6. I'm just basically a lazy person who'd rather lie on the couch and read a book than exert myself.

And here are some of the reasons why I do it anyway (also in no particular order):

  1. I used to be quite overweight, and I did not like how I felt. I don't want to get fat again.
  2. I'm in my early 50s, and as I get older, things don't work as well as they used to. I don't mind getting older, but I don't want to be old and decrepit. Running (and strength training, which I also do a little bit of) is something I can do to make myself stronger and enable myself to stay healthy and active longer.
  3. I prefer the kinds of clothes I can wear when I'm thinner.
  4. Although it seems counter-intuitive, I have more energy when I work out than when I don't.
  5. I spend most of my time indoors, working at a desk. Running gives me an opportunity to get outside.
  6. I can eat more if I exercise (and I do like to eat).
  7. I want to be healthy – running strengthens my heart and lungs as well as my muscles.

Everybody has to decide for herself whether the benefits of exercise outweigh the costs. I haven't yet felt that “runner's high” that I read about in the magazines. The act of running is not fun for me, and there are other things I'd rather be doing, but feeling healthier and fitter ultimately motivates me to put on my running clothes and head out the door. My workout mantra?

I don't have to like it. I just have to do it.

What about you?

How Time Flies

I knew it had been awhile since I last posted here, but I didn't realize that it had been two months! I've thought about blogging. I wanted to blog. I've read a lot of blogs. But I just didn't get back here to do anything about it.

2009 is winding down, and my thoughts have been turning frequently to the coming year. 2010 is a landmark year for me: I will turn 50 in May. Although I haven't yet found the time to sit somewhere quiet and think deeply about what that means, and what I want to do about it (or as a result of it), I do think I want something remarkable to happen in 2010. I want to be able to point back to that year as not just the year I turned 50, but the year I [fill in the blank]. Something. Finished a book? Traveled to Europe?

Don't know. But I want to come up with some goals and dreams for the coming year so that the trauma of turning 50 (where did the years go?) will be overshadowed by the joyous events of 2010.

Don't really know if anyone reads this blog, but if you're out there, have you given any thought to what you want your life to look like in 2010? Do tell.