Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's All In A Name

A few days ago my memory was nudged as I was asked about a student I taught in Bassett, Virginia, in 1988.  At first, I drew a blank when asked about this particular student, but then today in a burst of brain activity, the whole memory flashed back.
I was teaching sixth grade at Bassett Middle School.  Bassett was a mill town in southern Virginia, and the students I taught mostly came from factory worker homes, and there were lots of cousins in my classroom.  Many of the children lived outside of town in family “hollers”, and had very little experience with the world outside of Henry County.  Names were unusual, to put it mildly, and I had to learn how to spell names in very unusual ways.
One day in mid-year, a wiry little guy was escorted into my classroom by the principal as a new student.  I greeted him, and asked him his name.  It sounded like he said Drunarb, with the accent on the”narb.”  Trying not to embarrass him or make him ill at ease, I mumbled his name as I introduced him to the class and showed him to an empty desk.  Grabbing a pad and pencil from my desk on the way down the row to his seat, I was ready to figure out what his name was.  As he sat down, I pulled up a chair next to him, and asked him again his name.   He mumbled it again, and again, I couldn’t understand what he was saying.  Putting the pad on his desk, I asked him to please spell his first name.
He began, “D-r-a-n-r-e-b”.  I wrote the letters on the pad as he spoke.  When he was finished,  I tried to pronounce it, and he corrected me.  “It’s Dranarb,” he said. 
“That’s an unusual name,” I said.  “I’ve never heard of it.”
“I’m named after my father,” he answered.
“Oh, your dad’s name is Dranreb?” I asked.
“No,” he countered. “His name is Bernard.  I was named after him.”
The lightbulb in my brain finally fully turned on as I looked at the letters spelled out on my pad , I was flabbergasted, but couldn’t stop there.  “That’s great that you were named after your dad. Do you have a middle name?”
“Yes,” he said.  “My middle name is Siwel.”    He spelled out the letters while I wrote them down. 
Ok, I got it.  I looked at him and said, “You’re dad’s name must be Bernard Lewis.  Am I right?”
Dranreb nodded and smiled.
What more could I say to that!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Every Path Has Its Puddles

I heard this statement the other day, and immediately wrote it down on the note pad on the table next to my bed.
This statement can be taken two ways, as I see it.  A puddle can be an obstruction on one’s journey, or it can be an opportunity for a little bit of fun.  I choose to select option Number 2.
I remember loving rainy days as a child.  If there was no electricity in the air in the form of lightning and thunder, Mama would let me go outside with my raincoat, umbrella, and galoshes to play in the puddles.  My best friend, Marcia, and I spent many happy hours sloshing through the puddles and playing in the gutters of our street.   We’d come back into the house soaked from our ankles to our knees, where Mama would have hot chocolate and home-made cookies waiting for us. 
More recently, I enjoyed a rainy afternoon with Brian, who had flown down from New York City to be with me.  It was a steamy day in July, the day after I sneaked  out of my home.  I had met Brian at the home where I would be spending the next two months of my life.   We were sitting on the deck enjoying a glass of wine at my temporary home when a shower blew in.  We watched it rain for a few minutes when we decided that we needed to play in the rain.  We ran out onto the open portion of the deck and began to dance and twirl, lifting our faces toward heaven, and letting the rain completely soak us.  The little girl in me had been reawakened. We laughed and cried and hugged, getting soaked from head to toe with the fresh rainwater.    I think this was the first step for me in my healing from the ordeals of the past five months.   
Yes, I’ll choose to look at puddles along my path as a good thing.  It’s too much of a temptation for having a little fun!  And besides, as my Daddy used to remind me, I’m not made of sugar, so I won’t melt!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Betty, the Adventurer

Betty Gibson (not her real name) stopped by the kennel this morning to see if we had space to board her dog, Molly (not her real name, either!), for the Thanksgiving holiday.  She had decided at the last minute to drive up to Massachusetts to visit her daughter, and planned to be gone about ten days.  She couldn't finalize her plans without knowing we had room for Molly.

The kennel is full, but Betty holds a special place in our hearts, and we told her that yes, we would be happy to keep Molly for her.   With a smile on her face, she said she had to go home to pack, and that she’d be back later in the day.

Promptly at 4:00 pm, we saw Betty’s little Toyota driving up our long driveway.  She pulled in and parked, got out of the driver’s seat, opened the back door, and out bounded Molly, her big German Shepherd.  Molly has been at the kennel so many times, she headed straight for the door to the runs.  Ashley grabbed her leash and escorted her back to her run while Betty approached the reception desk to check in.

 I finished getting Molly’s reservation made, and talked to Betty while I put the final touches on the run card.  Betty told me that she was driving alone to Massachusetts.  This surprised me, because Betty isn’t a spring chicken, she is hard of hearing, and it takes every ounce of her energy to keep up with enthusiastic Molly.  I guess my face gave away my concern about her driving all that distance alone, because she told me that her daughter tried to convince her to fly.  Betty said that she wanted to take the back roads north, and that if she ran into any bad weather, she’d just turn the car around and drive back home.  She said that she enjoyed driving and that she planned to take her time, look at some pretty scenery, and enjoy herself. 

Smiling, I looked her straight in the eye and said, “Betty, I sure do want to be like you when I grow up.”  Her eyes twinkled, and her wrinkled face lit up.  “How old are you?”  She asked me.  I told her my age, and she replied, “I’m 82.  When I was your age, I drove with a friend from San Diego all the way to Alaska.  I can’t do that anymore, but I am looking forward to driving to Massachusetts.” 

We talked for a few minutes longer about some of the things she has done since retiring.  She said her memory is beginning to play tricks on her, and that she is signed up to be a part of a memory study at Emory University when she returns.

As she left, I wished her Godspeed and safe travels on her trip.  I don’t know how much longer Betty will be able to drive alone on her trips, and I hope that God will have some extra angels in the car with her watching over her on this one.  I know Molly will be happy to see her when she returns home, and I will, too!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Healing Within

Last week-end when I experienced my first 13th Octave La Ho Chi healing, I knew that something significant had happened to me.  

After the session was over, and the burning sensation in my feet and under my left arm had cooled down, and the tears and the uncontrollable trembling had run their course, I was smiling, enjoying a glass of wine, and laughing with my friends.  My healer told me that whenever I felt the need to cry, or felt paralyzed by fear and anxiety, that I should wrap myself up in the blue cloak of Mother Mary - that she was always with me.  I asked her if this was the same Mary as Jesus’ mother, and her durect answer to me was, “Of course it is.” 

It felt as if a weight had been lifted from my spirit.  While I still have many trials and challenges facing me, I could almost feel the brush of angel wings all around me sweeping them away.  It also seemed as though I was seeing things through clearer eyes, and my fears were lessened.    

On Wednesday, I went shopping and found a light blue Sherpa blanket at one of the department stores I visited.  As I felt its softness, I knew that I had to have it. This was the blue cloak I needed to wrap up in.   As soon as I got home, I unfolded it from its packaging, sat down in my comfy arm chair, and enveloped myself within it.  Overcome with sudden emotion, I began weeping.  As I cried, I drew the blanket up closer to my face and let the tears flow.  Soon, all the tears were expended, and I was warm and cozy, all wrapped up in my Mother Mary cloak.   Not only did I feel close to Mother Mary, but I could feel the presence of my own mother comforting me. 

I’m not sure I understand what happened when I had the healing session, but I know that I feel different than I did this time last week.  I also have the reassurance that I am surrounded by the Holy Spirit along with an army of angels ready to protect me and guide me.  As I write this, I know it sounds weird, but I can only attest to how I feel and what I experienced.    It is like the broken pieces in my life have been put back together and that my heart has been opened to receive more of what God wants me to have in my life. 

It is a very good feeling.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Embracing a New Simple Life

I have told people for years that I live a simple life.  Little did I know that my life could become even more simple.  Now that I am living alone in a small apartment, I understand more fully what the word simple really means!

My sister-in-law and I talked over the phone yesterday for our weekly Saturday check-in.  She asked me what I still need for my new home.  I thought about it, and had a hard time coming up with a list for her.  There are still many of my personal belongings still at the house where I used to live, and I am hopeful that I will get them back in the divorce.  I don’t want to duplicate these items until I know for sure whether they will still be available for me.  I wasn’t sure what to tell her.

Downsizing is a word I hear quite often from my baby-boomer friends as they sell their homes and move into smaller spaces.   We are discarding the unessential things from our lives, and making critical decisions on what is important to us.  This is what I did on September 8, when I went back to my home to claim my belongings and move them out.  Unfortunately, I was unable to get many of the things that I wanted and/or needed that day, but looking back on that stressful day, I know that I made some good choices, and I am now surrounded by a few things that hold special meaning for me.   I am mourning over those that were unavailable to me on that day (the reason for this is another story), but now almost two months later, I am doing quite nicely without them, and if I have to do it, I can live happily without them.

I am working on my budget for my new life.  It is going to be a strict one for the next year until I begin drawing Social Security.  But again, I am discovering that I don’t need much, and simplicity is truly an integral part of my life.   There are still things that I would like to have in my new home, but I am living very comfortably and finding that the simple life is indeed a good one.

 My days are changing, my life is definitely changing, and the road I am now traveling is cluttered with new adventures and discoveries.  Even with all the pain and fear of this year, I am collecting blessings along the way, which are making me a new person.   I don’t like snakes, but I keep thinking of the snake skins I used to find when I was camping or hiking, and know that, like the snake, I am shedding my old skin and creating a new one that fits me better. 

Downsizing, embracing a simple life – call it what you want.  It is something that I am living each day.  My days are still worth collecting!