Archive Page 2

The Last Day of Normal

“Last Days” are sometimes so obvious. Which kid doesn’t know when the last day of school is at the end of the year? The retiree won’t forget the last day of work. Certainly, the last day of a near-perfect vacation is so hard to let go of. Often, we know exactly when that final event occurs. Sometimes though, we are blindsided by last days.

My “Last Day of Normal,” before the Covid 19 changed everything, was Wednesday March 11, 2020. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time. Honestly, in spite of all the simmering news stories, I didn’t think it would happen so suddenly.

I saved my to-do list from that day just to marvel at how oblivious I was to the impending storm. Our darling granddaughter stopped by for breakfast and our weekly walk to her school. It was Wednesday and that’s our routine on Wednesdays.

My suitcase was out as we were traveling the next day to a conference in Atlanta. Tom was presenting on a topic that he was quite excited about. My plans were to soak up the sun and enjoy the time alone in the hotel along with seeing some family members nearby.

I love to pick up a “new” piece of clothing before a trip so right after the school drop off, I drove to one of my favorite resale shops and sure enough, found the perfect top.  Next on the list was my 11:45 exercise class for an hour. Last year, I started bringing my own equipment to avoid cross-contamination but was pleased that day to see a big bottle of hand sanitizer perched on the stage for the first time.

My manicure appointment was next, also a pre-trip ritual. No one was worried. I stopped into the library to grab the book I had been waiting for to read on the trip. Trader Joe’s followed on the itinerary and everything I needed was on the shelves. Same at CVS, my last stop.

Throughout that day though, our four adult kids were sharing their worries about our trip, often. I kept reassuring them how fine/not foolish we would be. They disagreed.

During my packing time, one daughter texted me photos of the quickly emptying shelves at Target. The other daughter chimed in with her photos of the same story at Jewel. I jumped in my car to my local grocery to get a few things to avoid the hassle after the trip.

That was the beginning of the not-normal. I never shop at night.

By 9:30 that evening, the trip was cancelled. I finished my packing hour by unpacking.

Before the end of the day, my exercise classes were no longer available due to closure.

Within a day the schools closed. No more walks.

The resale shop shut its doors. As did the library

Trader Joe’s and CVS are still open but I’m staying home.

I’m keeping track now with journal entrees and photos of the new normal. My first day was March 12, the day after the “Last Day of Normal.”

When was yours?

Hope for the best, Tish

My FIRST New Coat Purchase!

This is the one I got!

The snowy Midwest has been home my whole life and I bought my first new coat this week! I know, it’s hard to believe.

Of course, that fact wasn’t on my mind while I was limping around the mall one week before my knee replacement surgery. Fortunately, I landed a handicap parking spot with my new placard but there was no assistance for walking between stores. except my purple walking stick.

Let me mention, I don’t like shopping at malls, only thrift shops and cute little gift stores. On the rare occasions I venture into a mall, I get quickly overwhelmed by all the options as well as the prices. Somehow, shopping in malls often triggers envy and deprivation. I walk in feeling satisfied and suddenly feel lacking. How do I get by without all those items displayed everywhere?

But I needed a coat.

Don’t worry, I have stayed warm all these winters. My mom started buying me coats when I was an infant. There is a funny family story of how she put me in a snow suit for the 4th of July parade nearly two weeks after I was born.

They would just show up during visits. “Oh, I picked up a coat for you!” These were lovely coats in a variety of styles she located on the deep sales racks at the end of the winter. She knew my size and tastes and kept me supplied. Confession: I hardly wore the leopard print one though. She stopped coat shopping for both of us a few years ago when she could no longer get around.

Occasionally I would pick up a coat for myself too, at the resale shop, to wear in between seasons. Mom’s coats were mostly “dressy,” and I needed some casual outerwear for my everyday lifestyle. I did buy a few new jackets in my life but no winter coats. No need.

I started my coat quest early this fall by checking out all my usual (resale) shops. Nothing seemed right. Too long/short/wrong color or style etc. My goal was to land one before this surgery and now I was running out of time.

Runner-up

My daughter offered to help as she excels in online shopping, but I needed to see it, feel it and try it on. Thus, the trip to the mall. I was sending these pictures to her as I shopped!

Turns out, the experience was fun! I allowed enough time, money and energy and didn’t overspend on any of it.  I only looked in two stores and went back and got the first one I chose.  It was in my budget and then I found out it was on sale. I would have danced except I can barely move my knee ☹

A little sleeve alteration was in order and I was attended to by a lovely woman who probably had been doing this all her life. They will even send the coat to me after the mend for no charge so not having to carry it home was a plus.

It wasn’t until later that I realized it was my first coat buying experience ever! I think I will try it again in a few years.

Hope for the best,

Tish

Walking With a Limp These Days

Midway Airport

I surveyed the long concourse last weekend at the airport and realized I couldn’t make it to the gate without help. More help than my ever-present walking stick, aka cane, could provide. I keep pretending I’m out for a hike in the woods with my trusty blue stick except I’m really inside my house or nearby, mincing along.

So, I flagged down some assistance and climbed into a wheelchair to get to my gate. The view is different from the chair. I felt I could notice everyone more clearly and no one noticed me. Certainly no one noticed me for about an hour as I waited for a push to baggage claims when I arrived at Midway.

Hopefully, my limp should be resolved sometime next year after my November knee replacement but for now, it is a daily reality. After months of lament, I’m beginning to stop resisting it and getting closer to embracing it as the next big adventure. After all, what’s the alternative?

For sure, I would like to avoid this invasive surgery. Many prayers have been offered with much resulting peace and presence of God, but no healing has come. At least in my knee. Later on, I will likely be aware of something fresh from the Holy Spirit showing up or waves of gratefulness sustaining me during this season – another kind of healing of sorts. I do trust that I have been heard.

Meanwhile, I am scheduling loads of pre-op appointments, rounding up comfortable clothing for the couch days, reserving books at the library, freezing food for no fuss dinners, thinking about how I will decorate my hospital room (this is fun!) and taking my sweet time getting places.

But before that day comes in a few weeks, with my faithful stick in hand, I’m hitting the road again. Taking the train to New Mexico, the bus to Phoenix, the plane to Chicago, the train again to Quincy and one more drive to a retreat. Many steps for this damaged knee, but these events were on the calendar before the surgery date. I always long for some time to reset after a lot of travel so this time I will get it for sure.

Life is full of plans we make and plans that get made for us. I’m leaning into reaching for the available grace no matter what’s on the table. Well, some days at least.

Hope for the best,

Tish

Do You See What I See? Musings on Looking Older.

Circa 1990

“Are you old, Mimi?” one of my younger grandsons asked. “I’m older than you…and older than your dad, but inside I am young.” That satisfied him and we took off to play.

I really enjoy the age I am. Older, not old. Actually, I prefer “timeless” as what’s a number? When I reflect on my image,  I usually view the version of me that is inside:  Vibrant, full of life, childlike in a good way, “seasoned.”

Apparently, that view isn’t the one shared by my grandson or the grocery clerk at my local store. Tuesday is 10% off for those of us of a certain age and once again yesterday, the senior discount on my groceries rang up without me requesting it.  I wish I could say it was due to her remembering me, but she was new.

Same thing happened at the pharmacy later that day. When I inquired about my flu shot, the young associate quickly told me they were out of the ones for the over-65 crowd. Who told him I was over 65?? Sheesh, is it that obvious?

Don’t get me wrong, I love all the eligible discounts I qualify for and ask for them all the time. I just want to be the one doing the asking! My fantasy is that I am demanded to pull out my driver’s license to prove it. Hasn’t happened yet.

No judgement please. I am not trying to pretend I’m younger. I don’t use products that are “anti-aging.” I’m not getting any “work” done. I have a deep appreciation for all the years behind me and counting on at least 30 more to go.

All that I love so much in my life is NOW and wouldn’t have been possible in an earlier season. Of course, I have a museum of beautiful memories of the years gone by, but I don’t want to go back.

My lament is that my inside and outside no longer match. I miss that.

Oh well.

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

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Bite by Bite: Lunch with My Mother

Birthday lunch a few years back.

Four women eating lunch around a small table on a beautiful October afternoon. Such a common event, one might not hardly notice a group like that. All around the large room, other groups were dining too. As expected, snippets of conversation filled the air.

Two of the four women just met that day. As one of the two newbies, I enjoyed meeting a new acquaintance, Deborah. We exchanged the usual info like our names, family details, and what brought us to this table. Turns out, the same events.

While we were getting to know each other a bit, Deborah and I were also feeding our mothers. The other two women at the table. Like my mom, Deborah’s mom also suffered a stroke some time back. Neither one was now very successful in getting the bites into their mouths without help. We continued chatting like this was the most normal thing in the world. For both of us, it was.

Before this season of post-stroke, my mom and I shared thousands of lunches over the years. Such sweet times over her kitchen table or later, mine. Some in restaurants like truck stops in Missouri others, in places like Harrods in London. Most somewhere in between.

The first few hundred, she was feeding me, just like I am her now. It all comes around. I wonder if she thought about then that someday our roles would be reversed. A thought I usually don’t have when I’m lunching with one of my girls now. Just as well, those musings would take away the pleasure of the moment.

After lunch, Deborah and I pushed our moms in their wheelchairs into the courtyard and mostly sat in silence. A wind chime filled the air with occasional tones and the breeze felt good. I think Mom liked it. Sitting outside was always one of her delights.

Meeting Deborah was lovely. I hope we lunch together again sometime. Another unexpected gift from this season to add to the pile I have already opened.

No one asked for these events but much grace is present.

Resting in the courtyard.

Hope for the best,

Tish

Miss You Today On Your Birthday, Dad*

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Tish around 4 years old.

Happy Birthday Dad!  Wish we could celebrate tonight with a pineapple upside down cake and off-key singing. You were always hard to buy for, as many men are, but now I could shop online for you and surely find something unique…but of course, you’re not around to open my gift.

Did I ever thank you for teaching me how to play baseball or ride a bike?  I didn’t like it at the time when you insisted I learn how to drive stick shift before I could get my license but I am so grateful now.  I taught my husband you know 🙂

There are cool stories about you floating around like how you were the Adams County tennis champ and your brief stint as a police officer.  I wish I could hear about those adventures in your words.  I know you worked hard for us, sometimes two jobs at a time.  BTW, I loved that second job at the drive-in when we all watched the movies over and over under the stars.  It probably wasn’t as much fun for you.

I know we had 44 years together but there was so much more we both could have said.  “Relationship Parenting” was not an operating principle in your generation but I knew you loved me.

I wish you could have met these fabulous great-grandchildren of yours.  I hope you can see them from your vantage point and you will be glad to know, Mom dotes on them every chance she gets.  Don’t worry, I will pass on the stories so they will know you too.

Tony Wiewel around 14 years old 9/3/1923-2/25/1994

So cheers to your 96th!

Love, Your “Cutie”

Hope for the best,

Tish

  • originally published 9/3/12

Happy Birthday America Breakfast! *

Gabe & Grandchildren

We used to dress the kids in red, white and blue when they were little now sometimes they choose it for themselves!

Looking for a fun way to start the 4th of July?

Holidays call for special food and our annual 4th of July breakfast features the patriotic Red (strawberries or raspberries), White (whipped cream in a can for fun distribution) and Blue (blueberries) waffles.

Did I mention…we celebrate outside on the picnic table and the large flag hangs on the garage as part of the birthday decorations.  The last couple of years, Tom has brought the waffle iron outside too with a long extension cord so less trips running back and forth.

We don’t sing Happy Birthday to America but after breakfast we read the full length Declaration of Independence.  In the early years, Tom and I did the reading, then we started passing it around, each one taking a turn reading a paragraph or two.

I’m not going to tell you our young kids sat spellbound through the reading as fidgeting abounded but I think they would recognize the words anywhere and hopefully, they GOT it.

Uncle Gabe helping with the reading.

Uncle Gabe helping with the reading.

From…

“When in the course of human events.to...with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor

…we remind ourselves and each other of the magnitude of this document and what a different world we would all be in without it.

Sometimes we add a little quiz on the Founding Fathers or read more about their personal histories but the Declaration is the centerpiece of the morning.

Happy Fourth of July!

Hope for the Best,

Tish

* Annual Post

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Summer!

Today is the first full day of Summer! *

Plenty of time left to make it one of the best and some intentionality goes a long way.

Here are my top ten ways to celebrate summer.    

  • Eat outdoors often.  This includes any meal anywhere you can feel the sun and the breeze.  Breakfast is especially nice.

  • Read a fun book, preferably while sitting outside.  I like to read books with summer themes in the evening and add something by Madeline L’Engel to my morning basket.

  • Listen to live music outside.  Free summer concerts play about every night of the week where I live. Check your local listings.

  • Go the beach/pool/lake and get in the water.  OK, I don’t always get in the water but it sure is memorable when I do!

  • Stop at garage/yard sales.  The ONE item you didn’t know you needed might be waiting to delight you.

  • Take a road trip somewhere. I love to keep on going once we hit the road.  Just a few hours away can feel like another world.

  • Find a festival. Art, neighborhood, ethnic festivals abound every weekend somewhere.

  • Watch a movie outside.  My Dad moon-lighted at the local Drive-In when I was a girl so I have always loved watching movies under the stars.  Check your local park district outdoor movie schedule or bring your laptop outside and watch one in your own yard.

  • Get on your bike. Ride around the block, down the path or to do your errands.  Wear a helmet!

  • Take lots of photos and get them printed.  Summer of 2019 will never come again.

Hope for the best,

Tish

* Reblog

 

Shelve the Fiction: A Fasting Story.

I love to read. I mean, I’m not one of those fanatical readers who polishes off a few books a week but a short stack a month is my style.

Usually I go for inspiration in the day-time (non-fiction) and entertainment at night with a steady stream of (mostly) historical fiction by my bedside. Reading is my TV and I am never without my bedside novel. In fact, the next one is always waiting in case I finish one before I get to the library.

But not this month.

Our church announced an opportunity to fast from “something” for 33 days to invite God to do something bigger in our national church and in our personal lives. An ancient practice, fasting has been a spiritual discipline for eons for people of all faiths. The idea is to set something you want aside for a period of time for something you want more. Usually it is food of some sort but can also be something else you are particularly attached to.

Like Facebook for some or YouTube or shopping. Or reading novels.

When the idea was first presented, I must admit I thought, “Didn’t we just do this for Lent?” By the next day, though, I was ready to jump in and began to scroll through the usual food give-up list. Frankly, it felt stale. If I am feeling deprived in some way, I want to engage with it, not feel same old/same old.

Brushing my teeth that evening, where many good ideas germinate, I felt a nudge to shelve the fiction for a month. This I knew was not from me.

The night before the fast began, I stayed up late trying to finish my current novel, but sleep took me down. I’ll have to wait until July 1 to find out what happened next. I put a hold on my requested list at the library and gathered up a pile of inspirational books I collected to read “at some point.” I’m on the second one now, it’s going kind of slowly.

Fasting works best when one substitutes prayer for the given-up thing. Sometimes I forget to do that. My long experience with God has taught me that he rarely works according to how I advise him to so I’m trying not to get too specific with an outcome for this fast. It has to be a no strings-attached deal. I’ll give up novels, but you don’t have to reveal all your plans.

Like celebrating at the end of Lent with a chocolate bar or a glass of wine, I’m looking forward to finding out what came next in my novel but I’m OK with waiting. I threw in a bit of the food thing too but find it is easier to do that part. Nine hours on my monthly train ride without a novel is a long ride.

I can say at nearly the halfway point…something’s going on. I hope to define it a little more in the days ahead.

Have you ever fasted from anything?

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

I’ll Take the Train! (Part 3) The next generation.

Aaliyah’s first trip, age 3.

As a lover of train travel, I couldn’t wait to introduce my children to the wonders of the rails. Taking the car was cheaper with that many tickets needed so we didn’t go often on the train but with my parents living on an Amtrak line, it wasn’t long before I ventured out with the four of them.

We all did take the train on December 26 for many years during the middle years as part of our Christmas visit. The most memorable year was in 1983. Our car wouldn’t start due to the below freezing cold, so our neighbor gave the six of us a ride downtown. We never dreamed it was too cold for the train to go too!  While figuring out our next move, my wallet was lifted from my purse. It all worked out and we got to Quincy on the next train and my driver’s license was returned to me eventually.

Familiar station!

Fast forward to 2009. I’m still taking the train often to see my mom. Our grandson (age 1) was quite sick and needed to go to the hospital. Jesh asked me to watch Aaliyah (3) and I offered to take her on the train with me to Quincy. So the grandchildren adventures began! She and I have returned every winter to Quincy on the train and just had our 11th trip this year.

Aaliyah (13) reading “Becoming.”

Two years later, I started taking her brother too. My criteria was 3 years old and toilet trained! Judah and I now go every year too. Lots of Uno in the snack car!

Judah’s first trip at 3 and recently at age 10.

Four more of the other nine have also traveled on the train with me but with a parent along. I have traded juice boxes and crayons for books and games:)

Granddaughter # 3 enjoying the view.

          Granddaughter # 2 keeping herself busy!

Of course plenty of snacks come along too!

I’m leaving again tomorrow on the early train by myself. I always bring more books than changes of clothes but once again will likely stay fixed on the story just out the window. It never gets old.

All Aboard! I’m on my way once again.

Hope for the best,

Tish



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