While Buying Java at the Gas Station

This morning I couldn’t sleep. I was determined to get things accomplished before going on our boat shuttle to Keewaydin Island so I awakened early before 6AM. I found out that the greenskeepers are already working to mow the golf course at that hour with the headlights going on their riding mowers. Did you know that? I never knew!

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Once showered and dressed, I looked up the hours of my favorite market here in Naples, Florida so I could get some special goodies for our afternoon island adventure. You see, today is a very special day. Today is Michael’s 18th birthday. He is my daughter, Clare’s boyfriend and we took him along for our Springtime Easter holiday adventure. I wanted to maker his birthday a very special one.

Along the way, I stopped to get gas. I noticed as I was getting coffee that there was an elderly gentleman who was talking to a younger man. The younger man asked the older man if he had used the shaver yet. Then, the younger man said to the clerk that the older man was all hers.

I was struck by the fact that this man, who was clean shaven and well put together, probably was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. He and I chatted together for a little bit over the coffee pot. Granted, I will talk to just about anyone and can strike up a conversation with any store clerk and usually do.

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This gentleman was a gem. He was sweet, kind and definitely here because he had nothing better to do. He was a people person and maybe lost his wife. I will never know. All I know is that he touched my heart and so did the man who brought him into the store as well as the clerk. What kindhearted people to care for this aging gentleman.

If we could all take a moment and think about the importance of caring for our aging population. If we are lucky, we will one day reach that age. What a wonderful thing it would be to have the knowledge that we could rely on our youth to take care of us at that age.  This is something to teach our children about. No time like the present!

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This is a post written as part of FTSF which is awesome! Each week, we are given the beginning of a sentence, this week it is “The things I’ve seen this morning…” This is then written about and linked up with other amazing writers each week. Go check it out at http://www.FindingNinee.com! You won’t be sorry!

A New Start

20150611_145700Silent as snow falling, Her footsteps fell on the stairs.

No one would hear as she left the cozy, little house.

She had all that she needed packed in her tiny, red bag, to start fresh and new in the big city.

Tears flowed freely as she whispered one last goodbye to the dog she loved and grew up with. It was time.

Time to move on. Time to see if she could make it on her own.

She grabbed her guitar and her red bag and the money she’d saved waitressing. She knew she had to leave now or she’d miss her train.

Scared and excited for what lay ahead, she placed the note on the table. She didn’t know when she’d be back, but she vowed she’d make this work.

Her mama woke, as if on cue. “Sweet girl of mine” she said, “you are destined for greatness. You always have been. I knew this day was coming”.

“Make me proud and make it big. Not just for you, but for all of us here at home. Here’s what I’ve saved for many years.”

“Don’t squander it. Make it grow for you. Now don’t you cry and don’t be late. You have a train calling you.”

With that, the two women hugged like they would never let go, then her mother kissed her and turned away.

She was on her way to a better life to make a new start in the big city with her mama’s blessing. Her determination bigger and stronger than ever. She was going to make it. For her mama.


What not to trust your kids with

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I truly love being on holiday. When I’m not up to speed, it’s nice to know that I can trust the older kids with the care of the young one. There are a few things, however that one should certainly not trust them with.

Cooking is fine for my daughter, Clare. She’s a wiz in the kitchen. Her boyfriend, Michael, however, should not be trusted with peanut butter and mini chocolate  chips! The chocolate chips will scatter on the floor inevitably no matter how many times you tell him to be careful. I think this is part of his male teenage nature. My 8 year old is just as bad but isn’t as obsessed with the chocolate chips.

The Jacuzzi tub and bubble bath isn’t to be trusted with any of them! What the hell are they thinking? Well, the truth is, they think it’s great fun to make a complete and utter mess in there and think nothing of leaving the bubbly remnants behind as well as the wet rugs and wet tile floor. Did I mention this is in my bathroom? Oh yes, a seemingly regular occurrence after swimming or tennis. Tonight, they managed to outdo themselves and left the Jacuzzi on while they each got into the shower in their swimsuits to rinse off. Then, I walked in. Let’s just say, bubbles were so high you would expect to see them on a sitcom, not in your bathtub!

I’ve nipped that one in the bud though. They got to work and cleaned like fiends. I now have a spotlessly clean bathroom with a freshly mopped floor to boot! I know, kids will be kids! Seriously though, don’t leave any bubbles near your Jacuzzi tub or you may live to regret it. I only regret not taking a photo to share with you! It was a truly magnificent sight to behold, but don’t tell them I said that.

Towels. Towels. Towels. Did you know that children think that while on holiday the towel fairy, otherwise known as mom, will magically wash towels each day? Clothes are left in their bathroom as are dreadfully wet towels. God forbid they hang up towels or throw a load of wash in. The washer is right next to their bathroom, too! Great to always be a maid! Never trust these heathens with your towels. God only knows how many they will use once they figure out the location of clean ones.

I know this is a post of complaining, but really, for any mother who has any teenagers at home, or any mother of former teenagers, you completely understand and can laugh at the humour here. They will always make messes and eat you out of house and home. The boys begin early, like my nearly 9 year old son. He’s busy eating his weight everyday and obsessing over an 18 year old girl! Yes, he tells me how “hot” she is and today told me that she has a cute belly button. Lord save me!

I wouldn’t change these kids for anything. Just don’t give them bubble bath or mini chocolate chips and your world might be a slightly saner place. Keep only 6 towels in your linen closet so your laundry isn’t ridiculously immense and voila! Life is beautiful again! If you don’t love them, who will!

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On Gratitude

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There are many things I am grateful for in my life, least of which is my family. But today I want to stop for a moment and write about the little things I’m grateful for. I’m always talking about my family because my love for them is so immense, but sometimes we need to “stop and smell the roses” as it were. We all need to learn to appreciate the little things we have been given.

As you know, I’ve been under the weather this week, but I’m not letting that stop me from enjoying the beauty surrounding me. I’m in southwestern Florida for goodness sakes! Beauty surrounds me! I look outside and I see palm trees of every variety, luscious, green grass, blue skies, birds with long bills and flowers of red and purple and white. The sun is so lovely and warm in my skin when I am out there sitting by the pool or sitting at the beach.

I know I can’t do the things I would normally do on my holidays, but I am so grateful to just simply be here and to have the warmth of the Florida sun. I’m grateful for our church being close by. I say it’s our church when really it’s my parent’s church, or rather my dad’s. I’m grateful that in was able to be there Easter Sunday, even though it was packed and we had to sit on the floor or stand at the back. And we were early!

Those are all big things I’m grateful for. I’m very blessed, you see. I have things that others do not have. I try to share what I have with others on a regular basis. I teach my children to do the same.

We have a home and food and beds to sleep in. They have excellent schools to attend. We have clothes on our back. There are those people who don’t have those things in this world. I’m grateful for opportunities to share what I have with others. I won’t say we are by any means wealthy. We are not. But it will not stop us from sharing what we have with those who do not have.

Teaching our children to give is very important, but the way schools teach charity doesn’t seem to work. Charity begins at home. I’ve taught my children to feed the less fortunate, to clothe them and to give them something they truly need. They’ve seen the faces of those people and seen their appreciation. In school, they pay a dollar for a jeans day to raise money for something or bring in a canned food for the food bank. They never see the result of their charity. That is not truly teaching them charity, is it?

I’m grateful that I’m able to be here for my family and to teach them charity. I’m grateful to see charity being performed by my children. I’m so happy that some lessons I’ve taught them rubbed off.

It’s the little things in life that matter. We all need to remember that in the big picture, the small things will be what We remember the most. Make the most of the day and be grateful!

Relaxing at the Beach

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Ah a day at the beach. Nothing better to lift your spirits than this activity. Even though I haven’t felt my best, it felt so good to spend a few hours at the beach with the kids yesterday. Not only did it satisfy their need to expend some energy, but it got me out into the fresh ocean air, cool breeze and sandy beach that I love. It soothed my soul.

I’m so grateful for my time here, even if a major part of it is spent inside this trip. I simply don’t mind. This is time spent healing for me in a different way. I’m surrounded by my mom’s things as well as dad’s, but everywhere I look, I’m reminded of just how much my mom loves this home.

Dad will be back here, I’m sure of it. I plan on bringing him back in the fall, God willing. His friends have been asking when he will be back. He loves it here and has many friends and activities here, a different life!
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But mom was happy and had friends where here she was. Everywhere I turn, I see her. The plaque she received when she got her hole in one, her photos, her clothes. I still miss her but it isn’t as raw now. Most of the time I can handle it better than I did before. I don’t cry every day. I don’t cry most days.

Going to the beach reminded me of the time when I was here when my girls were younger. We packed a picnic and went to the beach with mom and dad. It was the first time the girls had seen the beach and the ocean.
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Dad loves to take pictures. He took one that day that I still have of my mom when I posing with jazz hands while sitting at the picnic table. It was a beautiful, sunny day. A dolphin swam behind my oldest daughter that day. I tried to capture that moment on film but wasn’t fast enough. What a beautiful memory though!

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Each time we go to the beach we make new memories to add to our memory bank. These are all things to be grateful for because these are special, but sometimes we have to remember to add those little, everyday memories to the memory bank, too. Those are just as special and things we should be grateful for. Tonight, for instance, I’m very grateful for my 18 year old daughter. She made dinner again and it was delicious. She’s been taking over the mom role while I’ve not felt well and doing a super job!
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So, as you look back on your day, what are you grateful for? If we focus on the positives of life and less on the negatives, we will be much happier people, overall. Forgiveness is the key and the hardest thing to do, but for now, just focus on what you’re grateful for.

Pain in Paradise

So much pain.
“Follow me” they say.
She does her best to keep up.
She sits, they take blood and insert the IV.

They walk away telling her to stay there for a few minutes.

Back out to the waiting room to wait for a room to become available.
Time to follow them again.

So hard to keep up. They are quick and she hurts. The pain is excruciating.
She does her best to keep up, shuffling along.

She sits on the ER bed. Wow! It’s soft and comfortable. Maybe now she can relax just a little.

But the pain. Sharp, stabbing, radiating into her whole abdomen. She can’t get comfortable. Nothing helps.

More people come in. Time to go to ultrasound. That shouldn’t be bad, she thinks.

Oh, they poke and prod into her ribs, into her abdomen, into the pain. Damn this pain. “Take a deep breath and hold it”, she’s told again and again. She’s told, “stop breathing…now breathe”. The only words from the woman in olive green scrubs with the blonde ponytail. Does she have a name?

In her little room again she finally goes. Her daughter is there at last. Now she’s not alone. Thank God she’s no longer by herself.

Next, vitals. Her nurse is lovely. She’s from Ohio. And her doctor wants a CT scan. They found something on her pancreas. Her heart sinks. She’s now in pain and so frightened.

To CT scan she is whisked away, but after she has pain medication. Ah, pain meds. They hit her head fast and she is somewhere far from here. They could do anything now. She’s sleepy and silly.

She moves to the big slab that enters the donut, aka CT machine. They place her arms above her head. She is comfy! They inject contrast into her veins. The sensation is strangely warming, EVERYWHERE!

In moments she is taken back to her little room to await the results. She is so afraid, but the feeling is overshadowed by goofiness because of the pain medicine.

Her daughter laughs at her antics and asks her questions. She makes a grammatical error and corrects herself which makes her daughter laugh. She puts a tiny rubberband on her nose just because she can. Her daughter takes a picture. Wow!  This stuff is wild! She’s so tired but can’t sleep because the doctor will come in.

He enters the room with news. Pancreatic cyst, pseudocyst or cancer. The question is now where to follow up. She is just here for a week. She will follow up at home.

 The physical pain is gone for now, but has been replaced by emotional pain. She will call her husband. She needs his love and support as much as she needs her daughter’s right now.

With prescriptions in hand, She leaves with her daughter. Shocked and saddened but relieved to have a diagnosis at last. The hurt in her heart is a heavy burden but her family are her strength and will help her see this through.

By Deirdre Conran

This has been updated because I failed miserably with copying and pasting this from my poetry blog! I wanted you to have the actual poem and not what was here which was a mess! Thanks fortaking the time to read it!

 

My Grateful Moments

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Often we go through life so busy we fill out mind with just the negative thoughts. It’s no wonder we get so stressed out as a society. We seem to have lost the ability to take the time to smell the roses and appreciate the little things around us. This has been my story for sometime, but over the last few months, I have reconnected with my old self, my grateful self.

This week is my holiday with the kids while my husband is 1250 miles away. It is easy to dwell on the fact that I miss him terribly, but I realize that he is just a text message or phone call away and boy, are those sweet gems in my day!

I spent day 1 of the vacation in bed until heading to the ER with major belly pain. Please understand that I am far from a hypochondriac. I have to be having excruciating pain before I decide that I need help. I’ve been told that I have a high pain tolerance so, I suppose that’s so good after having 4 kids.

I drove myself to the ER and had my 18 year old daughter meet me there later. She had to call a can for the first time which I understand was an experience in and of itself, but I’m so proud of her for doing it! She made it to me before I received the news of my diagnosis which have me strength. I needed her support badly.

If I was not in my new grateful state of mind, I would have been in the “poor me” phase still. The “when is the negative karma crap going to end for this family” state of mind. Luckily, I have re-learned to think that the glass is half full again. It’s not to say I don’t have times when I feel sorry for myself, but they are fewer and fewer these days. Everyone has crosses to bear and those that enter my life are mine to handle with grace and dignity.

Oddly enough, I got a similar diagnosis as my dad did on Christmas eve. I got mine in Easter eve. He had a pancreatic abscess surrounding a cyst. For me, it looks like either a cyst, pseudocyst or worst case scenario and least likely, pancreatic cancer. I’m a nurse and with everything presented to me so far, my educated hypothesis is a cyst. Having pain is a good thing when it comes to your pancreas.

The lesion is on the head of the pancreas. It is painful but the fabulous ER doctor, Dr. Bethel, prescribed good pain meds to get me through my holiday and home again. My husband is taking the day off on Friday and flying down here to drive us all back home. God bless that sweet man.

While my daughter and I were in the ER, her boyfriend and my 14 year old daughter cleaned our condo completely spotless, made dinner and cleaned up and took care of my crazy, wonderful 8 year old son. How incredible to know that these kids that are usually silly and sometimes wild can be super responsible, thoughtful and so kindhearted! I love them each so much! My only regret is getting sick on their holiday. They’ve been looking forward to this for so very long. I don’t like being I’ll and I’m not good at it, but I know I have to take care of myself. I’m still learning, but it’s great to know that I am so surrounded by such love and gratefulness too. In life it’s not just the big things, it’s the little things that really count.

When in Paradise…

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Sometimes unexpected or bizarre things can happen when you’re on your holidays and this vacation I’m the cause. Earlier in the week, I was feeling ill enough to head out to the ER at home, 1250 miles from where I am right now. I had terrible belly pain. Please know that for me to go to the emergency room, I really, REALLY, have to be sick, but that night, I couldn’t take the pain anymore. The pain has lasted for 2 days and wasn’t moving. In fact, if anything, it was worse. My wonderful husband, the loving, faithful and patient man that he is, took me to Prompt Care first. They decided that a trip to the ER was in order. Yuck!

Obediently, we went there and waited for our allotted 2.5 hours prior to getting a room and being attended to. I will say our caregivers were kind and thoughtful but the place was hopping. Not unusual for a Monday night but so difficult when you have that much pain.

When I left there at 1:30AM, I had been diagnosed with gastritis and a urinary tract infection. Okay. But I still had pain. I dutifully took my meds and improved over the next few days so off to Florida we drove. Well, minus my sweet husband, that is. He was unable to join us due to his work.

Our van, loaded up, we arrived safely 24 hours after leaving home  and many, many potty breaks and one stop for dinner at IHOP with tired kids and an exhausted mom. The problem came the next day, our first full day in paradise.

Did I happen to mention that it’s Easter weekend? Oh yeah, something always happens on holidays in our family. Always. My mom passed away the day before Thanksgiving last year, dad was misdiagnosed with pancreatic cancer when it was a pancreatic abscess, and now there’s me. I spent my evening in a wonderfully organised, well staffed ER while here in paradise. Didn’t expect to be making that trip!

The belly pain came back and it’s not been diagnosed as a UTI or gastritis this time. This trip they did more than run blood work and have me pee into the tiny cup. They did a long, very long ultrasound of my abdomen then decided to clarify something using a CT scan. The diagnosis you ask? Well, it’s on the head of my pancreas. Its either a cyst or pseudocyst or a small possibility of cancer. Are you kidding me? Thank God my 18 daughter was there by my side since my husband is unable to be here.

I had fabulous care and amazing drugs which make me do very silly things. I kept my daughter amused at any rate. This diagnosis is similar to my dad but I’m 39 years younger than him. At least no one said I have cancer though. That alone makes me feel relieved for now.

I have never received that level of care before in an ER. I pray that I won’t need to return to another one anytime soon again either. If I happen to need it while I’m here, however, it’s nice to know it’s here too!

For now, my view of paradise has been from bed. I would never wish this unrelenting pain in anyone. For now, it’s pain relief until I get home again and then follow up appointments. For now, it’s still a holiday. My husband will be taking a flight later this week to drive us home. How could I not absolutely love this man!

I know in my heart everything will be just fine. I just know it will be. Now though, I’ll be seeing paradise through mind fogging spectacles. Good grief, what a holiday to remember!

And So It Begins…

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Walking into the condo for the first time alone, knowing I am the first of our family to be here since mom’s death was more than difficult. The anticipation kept me awake and cranky, as if 4 excited kids weren’t already doing that, on the last leg of our 24 hour drive yesterday. Not having the comfort of my husband here to hold me was excruciating. I wanted nothing more than to collapse in his arms and fall apart, but I had about 4 minutes to wipe my tears and get my happy facade back up and plastered firmly on my face.

It’s the first Easter without mom. Not only that, but I’m here alone with 4, count them, 4 crazy kids! We stopped once for dinner which took 1.5 hours so we only stopped for gas and potty breaks the remainder of our trek to paradise. Just for emphasis, again, me and 4 kids! Mom would be impressed after telling me I was mad as a hatter!

I am impressed that no one was injured but there were several moments along the way that got a bit, well, interesting. First, 3 kids belong to me, ages 18, 14 and nearly 9. My extra kid will be 18 on Thursday. Conversations are always unique and my youngest has become wise beyond his years with such an age gap. If we heard it once, we heard it a thousand times, Liam thinks and 18 year old classmate of the older two is “hot”. He informed us of many things such as this and let’s just say, I’m not sure he’s safe to release in public. I’m not sure he has a filter anymore after this car trip.

The more tired this lot became, despite the fact that they all slept, the weirder the conversations became. I told them all just to please “shut up, shut up, SHUT THE HECK UP”! Well, it may not have been heck at that point.

The oldest 2 graciously took charge unloading the van, going shopping for groceries and making dinner. The only problem was, they forgot to take ‘the boy’. I needed sleep after not sleeping. I calculated that I slept 30 minutes in 30 hours. As I attempted to sleep, my darling son said, “mom, stay awake. You can’t fall asleep. No one else is here.”  the words I used were more than likely not something very nice, but I was trying desperately to explain my plight to the little lad. He wanted none of it. Grrrr… I finally got some blessed sleep.

Today will be day two of our great adventure. I still feel sleep deprived, but perhaps I’ll take a nap! I can do that here. For now, I have 4 sleeping kids and quiet time for myself. Life is beautiful.

Time Travel Back and Forth

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Getting ready for a vacation can be stressful, but it’s also filled with the anticipation of good times and an escape from the everyday humdrum life we lead. At times I wish I could just blink and be there already, sort of an ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ moment. Other times I wish I could relive my past holidays but take my family with me. I guess I would need to have a ‘Back to the Future’ vacation for that to happen though.

If only I could meet Doc Brown and Marry McFly and travel through time in the DeLoreon, I think the first place I would go is back to the Ireland of my youth. The thing is, I’d would want my husband and kids to go there too. I loved those holidays more than anything. Sure, we worked on my grandparents farm, but it was good, honest work. I learned so much about the small farm and what it took to run it. I had a place there. I fed the chickens, helped with the milking of the cows, made haystacks, cooked, made butter, collected eggs, and washed clothes by hand. Honest, hard work. But it was fun! We were together with my cousins and my grandparents. I wish my children had that experience. Those were the years of 1970’s through 1985.

I would use that DeLoreon, van sized, of course, often just to visit the places I’ve been with my family as a child, but you know, I’d like to see the future too, just a little bit. I think I’d travel to 2036 to see what my kids are doing. By then they should be settled into careers and have families of their own. I will be 66, God willing, if all goes well and hope to be a grandma then. By then, my oldest 3 should be established in their careers–  one nurse, one doctor and one graphic or digital artist and my son will hopefully be an engineer if he keeps up that line of thinking and doesn’t change his mind 10 times along the way.

I want to see in this magical future, 20 years from now, if my house  is finally clean. Where do my kids live? Who have they married? Did they get married? 2 We’re my husband and I finally able to lose our flab and become healthier? What dogs do we have? Did my brother get married?

So many questions I never really thought of because I’m always thinking about today and the immediate future. It’s difficult for me to look past what’s happening now. I look to the past and think about the future but now, I believe I’ll think about it just a wee bit more. My kids are growing so fast.

This fall, 2 will be at university and I’ll just have 2 at home. That concept blows my mind. Where did that time go? How did it go by so fast and when did I blink? I don’t remember blinking and telling them they could grow up. I’m proud of each of them though. They will do well I know as long as they follow they’re hearts. I don’t need a time machine for that.

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