Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

RENEWAL & HEALING   Leave a comment

It has been nine months since my dear wonderful husband Randy passed away.  Just before New Years I felt a healing by God over my grief.  I still miss my Randy just as much as I ever did.  I still think about him and even talk to him.  But the daily crying jags and the horrible pain of my loss has lessened quite a bit.

I had the last two weeks of December off, and spent it at home.  I did some things outside my apartment of course but I didn’t make any trips or go out of town.  One of the new things I tried this year (or, retried would be a better way of describing it) was to try paint-by-numbers kits again.

When I was around 10 – 13 years old I did a lot of paint-by-numbers.  You used to be able to buy these kits for very little money in the Five and Dime stores.  Those were the equivalent of Dollar Stores today, for those of you not old enough to get the reference.  I did a lot of them.  Mostly they were horses, since I was horse mad and I enjoyed the pictures.  I don’t know for sure if it started then, but I have always had a love of painting.  Using watercolors and acrylics.  I truly do love to paint, and I am truly bad at it.  I am not being modest – I really am.  I have tried and tried over the years to get some idea, some vision, some memory down on paper or canvas in watercolor or acrylic.  And I have always failed miserably.  It has been pretty frustrating to me, but my love of painting has spurred me on to keep trying.

So when I stumbled across paint-by-number kits on a web site I thought, “Hmmmm….. I wonder if I will like doing this as much as I did when I was younger?”  Turns out, the answer was YES.  As you might guess, they have made a lot of improvements in the paint-by-number kit market in the 40 odd years since I last tried one.  I bought one that was not on the cheapest end, but not in the middle price range either.  And started working on it.

While I can’t paint, I can follow instructions to paint a specific color of paint in a specific area of a canvas.  And when I was all done?  It looked like something!  It looked like what it should look like!  You can actually, you know, recognize what it is!  And the thing is, I found that I enter into a kind of zen state when I paint.  In fact, I found that there were times I sat for four hours at a stretch, painting.  So I have had to set the alarm, and purposefully get up more often.  Painting does something to my crafty, artistic soul.  And I believe it was God-led.  I do believe God pointed me in that direction because He knew I needed it.  He knew what good it would do me.

One of the things I did on my vacation was to go to the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.  It was something I had wanted to do for a long time, but Randy wouldn’t have been able to do all the walking and standing.  I had been there before, about 6 months after it had reopened, and really enjoyed seeing everything again.  I found myself talking to Randy as I made my way slowly through the exhibits, and it was very comforting.  When I was there they had a special showing of minerals and gems, and Randy really loved that stuff.  We had a long conversation about the stones as I looked through all the display cases.  In the rain forest, they had several glass cages set up for newts.  And I heard him clearly in my head reciting the lines from the Monty Python movie: “She turned me into a newt!”  “You’re not a newt”  “I got better”.  He could do the accent, and his timing was perfect and every time he said those lines it cracked me up.  It cracked me up again when I stood looking in at the newts.

My time at the CalAcademy was sad, yes, but it was also fun and loving and warm and … comforting.  It did not make me cry, it made me smile.  It made me happy.  It made me grateful, yet again, that my Randy was in my life and enriched it in all the ways he did.  And that was a blessing, and a healing from God.

Here is a picture of the second paint-by-numbers kit I completed.

tree-pbn

Posted January 9, 2017 by Maureen in Christian, Memories, Uncategorized

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IMPOSTOR   Leave a comment

I feel like an impostor.  Or a fake.

Thanksgiving weekend has always been a big family weekend for us.  As many as can travel from a tri-state area to spend three days together.  Eating, playing, talking, eating, doing activities.  Eating.  This year I was not looking forward to it.  I am not looking forward to my “first” holiday season without my husband.  I didn’t want the sympathetic looks and the “How ARE you’s” from well-meaning family members.  So many emotions all mashed and roiled around together.

It actually wasn’t too bad.  The distractions of the three days helped a lot I found.  And it was good to see family, to catch up on what everyone is doing (and, at our age, the latest health bulletins).  My niece’s son and daughter are at an especially adorable age and they were clearly having a terrific time with the plethora of cousins and Aunts, Uncles, Great Aunts, and Great Uncles.

I talked and laughed with everyone else.  And felt like an impostor.  I could laugh, but I couldn’t sustain the happy feeling.  I could enjoy activities for a short while, but then I would just watch.  When we saw our cousins they asked after me and time and again I saw “the look”.  This is the look that comes over their face when they have asked after my job and gotten updated and then …. they don’t know what to say.  They can’t ask about Randy since he is gone.  They don’t want to ask how I am since that can bring up strong emotions.  So they falter, and the conversation peters out.   I just waited, giving them a few second, and I would jump in and change the subject or start talking about something else.

And I felt like a fake.  I was totally faking being okay and that I was getting along just fine.  I was an impostor this past weekend.  I wonder how many people I fooled?

Posted November 27, 2016 by Maureen in Married Musings, Memories

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Dream/Awake   Leave a comment

The news has been so bad lately I hate to look at any web page, check Facebook, or turn on the TV.  It hurts my heart, all this violence.

Today I wrote this poem.  It was especially hard to wake up from my dream this morning, which inspired this poem.

THAT PLACE BETWEEN DREAMING AND WAKING

Am I still asleep?  I feel like I am still dreaming.

I can remember details, and want

to find out

what comes next.

But, the day intrudes.

I hear the fan; I hear the train;

there goes my alarm, and it is not part of my dream.

My dream melds and mingles with the start of my day.

 

Struggling to climb up from the

soft pleasant wallow of my dream

I hold onto the threads

remembering the details.

Thinking to myself:

I hope I dream that again

Posted July 8, 2016 by Maureen in Memories, Musings, Poems, Uncategorized

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FORGIVENESS   Leave a comment

I recently sat down and talked with one of my sisters about two things that she had said and done that really hurt me.  It was hard for me.  Our family does not share feelings among ourselves.  We were taught well by our parents not to.  We have the feelings, and I’m sure all my siblings have people in their life they can share those feelings with.  We just don’t often share them with each other.

I don’t know if I am unique in this, but when something (or someone) makes me mad or hurt, the deeper I feel hurt or mad, the longer it takes for me to be able to talk about it.  I know from past experience that I have to really think through my feelings and not start talking about them right away.  If I do, it turns into incoherent, disjointed, and non-logical emotional rambling (or even raving) that leaves everyone confused and me feeling horrible with no resolution.  I don’t stew about it – I process it.  Examine myself and my motives.  Pinpoint my feelings and why I’m feeling that way.  Think about and pray about my response.

This one sister had hurt me very deeply on Christmas day.  Yes, that means I took about 5 months to process.  Like I said – I was hurt deeply.  Once I got over the worst of my hurt and also got past the self-righteous aspect of my feelings (“She had no right!  She was in the wrong!”) I was able to spend time asking God what I could have or should have done differently, and what my response should be.  Miscommunications and hurt are very seldom only one person’s fault, and if I was in any way at fault I wanted to own that and admit it.  And I wanted to respond in a Christian way, since this sister is not a Christian.

It took me almost 5 months, but I was at the point where I could talk about it without getting all emotional and incoherent.  So I sent an email.  Probably should have made a phone call, but with an email I can be sure to put my thoughts down, reword them, change things around, and all without being interrupted.  So yes, I will often write things down in an email when I have to communicate something that is hard for me.  She responded, and then we decided to meet face to face.

I was surprised that she thought I hated her.  She was surprised that I was hurt by her response, as she thought I had different motivations than I did.  We explained to each other.  She didn’t apologize, but then I never expected her to, nor was it why I met with her.  We communicated.  We cleared the air.  We saw things from the other person’s perspective.  And I think it made a big difference in our relationship.  And, I was able to do all that in love and non-hateful way, which I believe was a good witness to her.

So I give glory to God that He was able to heal me and help me be a better person, and use an opportunity to witness my Christian walk to someone.

Posted June 5, 2015 by Maureen in Christian, Memories

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Unusual Kindness   Leave a comment

Last Sunday Pastor was talking about the passage where Paul is shipwrecked, and everyone ends up safely on the island of Malta and the people living there showed them “unusual kindness” (I think that is NLT).  He asked us if we had known (or shown) unusual kindness, and it took me right back to Russia in 2002.

I was on a missions trip, visiting orphanages and old folks homes.  Our group split into two for the weekend, and I went with the group who made the long trip north of where we were staying to the twin cities of Gubaha and Berizniki.  When we got there we went to a handicapped orphanage in Gubaha.  This was a huge orphanage – I think it was 5 stories high and had probably 1,000 kids there.  The place where everyone gathered to hear us was crowded, and I finally persuaded a child to sit on my lap. He shuffled over to me, barely able to walk and stay upright, and I hoisted him onto my lap and we enjoyed the program.

As soon as he sat down it was obvious he had soiled his pants.  It was all soaking into the jeans I was wearing, but I didn’t care.  He was so happy!  He kept smiling and leaning back and putting his hand on my cheek.  He didn’t understand me, but I prayed for him and told him what a precious child of God he was.  We knew we would be staying overnight in Berizniki so we had packed for it – I had brought a change of socks and underwear and a shirt.  But I only had the one pair of pants.

Afterwards we went through each floor, hugging, playing, and interacting with the kids.  In the infant floor we picked up babies who were stiff and unresponsive because no one had the time to hold them and they didn’t know how to react.  Many of them wore urine soaked clothing and my shirt got soaked with it.

By the time we made our way back to where we were staying — I didn’t smell very good.  I knew that I would have to rinse out my pants.  I was already ripe — there was no way I could go another 24+ hours wearing those jeans without cleaning them.  I explained to our translator.  She told me that the apartment where we were staying, home to Victor and Luba, did not have a washing machine or dryer.  I assured her it was ok, I understood, but I needed to be shown how to use the bathtub and where some soap was.  I would hang up my jeans and wear them wet the next day if I had to.

She explained to Luba.  Her husband Victor was the pastor of the church in Berizniki, a large church. He was away on a seminar, but Luba had already shown us her wonderful hostess skills.  Silently, she listened to what the translator said, and then she looked at me and held out her hands. Now, by this time it was after 11:00 at night.  We were all tired, and Luba had had hostessing duties on top of everything else that day.  I did NOT want her to wash my jeans.

I insisted I could do it, I didn’t mind, I just needed to be shown where things were.  Without a word she kept her hands held out, gazing at me steadily.  I knew I had to give over my jeans.  I had to let her wash them.

When we got up in the morning, here came Luba in our room, smiling, holding her arms out with my jeans folded neatly on her hands.  I thanked her profusely (I could at least say that in Russian).  You have probably worn jeans that were not dry all the way.  Maybe you were in a hurry and didn’t let them dry all the way, or just didn’t notice they were not all the way dry.  The seams, where they are thick, and especially the crotch where the seams come together, hold the moisture more than the other parts.  They are uncomfortable to wear when they are wet.  I had fully expected to be wearing wet jeans all day.

Not only were the jeans dry and smelled terrific — there was not a speck of wet on them. I could not feel any moisture in any seam anywhere.  They felt brand new!

I have no doubt that not only did Luba carefully clean them, but she also ironed them dry. Have you ever done that?  Do you know how long it takes?  How long do you think it would take you if you didn’t have an electric iron?  I don’t know for sure if she had an electric iron, but chances are high she did not.  Chances are high she had one of those manual irons, where you put the bottom iron part in the oven to get it hot, then grabbed it with the tongs or top grippers and ironed until it cooled, where you then had to put it back in the oven to get hot again.  It must have taken hours.

It was an unusual kindness shown to me when I really, really needed it.  It was a huge blessing, and I have never forgotten it.  What kind of unusual kindness can you show to someone?

Posted May 5, 2015 by Maureen in Memories, Stories

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Emotions   Leave a comment

My fiancé and I have been talking about our wedding, and all the things that go with that.  Interestingly, and unexpectedly for me, it has brought up emotions.  In both of us.

For myself, I’ve been divorced 30 years now, and I worked out my feelings towards and about my first marriage and my former husband a long time ago.  We are friends and are friendly and it was all in the past.  But – talking about plans has brought up things that happened, and the emotions along with the memories.  Things I haven’t thought about nor talked to anyone about in years.

For my fiancé, we are preparing to leave where we are each living with roommates so we can live someplace together.  That means sorting, packing, giving away, garage sales, etc.  And for him it has brought back memories and the emotions that go with them of being forced to downsize, and downsize again and again, after he got laid off and was unable to find work again.

Now of course with the wedding planning comes lots of good emotions, also. We are both in agreement with what we want and don’t want, and we can talk about it for hours – it is exciting and fun for us.

What about you?  What emotions have you been experiencing lately?

Posted December 1, 2014 by Maureen in Being Single, Memories

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Engaged   Leave a comment

It is official.  We picked out my rings 2 weeks ago, but I am now officially proposed to, and engaged to be married.  He wanted to wait to find the right words to say before he gave me the ring.

My honey and I were getting ready to go out to do some errands a few days ago.  I was going down the list with him:

“Do you have your sunglasses?”

“Right here in my pocket”

“Ok – you have your cane – where is your tea?”

“Got it”

“Do you have the list?”

“Yes – in my wallet”

And then we were ready and all of a sudden he said, “No – we forgot something important!”

“What?”

“Something really important!”  and he started a frantic search in his pockets.

“What!?” I exclaimed, not understanding what could have been forgotten to be so important.  And then he pulled out the little box with the ring in it.

I won’t share what he said because it was pretty personal, but it was really sweet and sentimental and was heart-felt.  I also shared some very sentimental and heart-felt words with him, and I said “Yes”.

We haven’t set a date yet, but it will be sometime next year and we will be eloping.  I feel very blessed by God that He brought to me someone who I love and respect, who is truly my partner.  A man who is my cheerleader and my protector; a man who is not perfect but who loves me, who is also not very perfect at all.

Posted November 18, 2014 by Maureen in Memories

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