Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Fat Lady Sings....

A decade ago on the first day of school with the kids, the very first day of a new school of a new school year, the school day was called off due to a power outage.  I remember how the day seemed like a dude...all the excitement and then delay.  That day was like--all dressed up and no place to go.  But the second day the kids came because the power was back on and all was forgiven if not forgotten.

Through the years the school had power troubles on windy days and when it rained too hard.  And sunny days for no reason.  There weren't that many outages, but enough.  Recently the power has been pretty reliable.  It seemed as if the line problems were fixed.

Today was the last full day of work, the last full school day of my life.  As I started out to the car to go to work this morning, the cell phone rang.  It was a robo-call.  School was cancelled due to a power outage.  I went anyway just to commiserate with the colleagues about the strangeness of it all.  No make up day either.  Yay!

I went home and took a nap because I had not slept the night before for various reasons.  I wondered what I was going to do with this pre-retirement day.  Then God told me.  The phone rang, the agent had the exact amount I would need for closing on my house on Tuesday.  I could use the afternoon for a trip to the bank.  Then the nurse called from my 95 year old mother's establishment.  I had to drive a paper to the doctor to be signed. This doctor was over 20 miles away.  I had to inform my siblings of the planned move for Mom and I had to schedule an appointment for Friday afternoon.  I needed to get going......

My plan was--school today and clean up to leave forever.  I would stay as late as I needed to, check on the bank thing Friday, and so on,.....change of plans....  But, still tomorrow is the last day the alarm will ring and I will get up and be at school before 8am.  I won't be done....but, I will be working for myself, not a boss.  And tomorrow at 11am, the fat lady will sing.  It ain't over until it is over.  But, it will be over.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Reflecting on the Years

I finished the third and hopefully final retirement party tonight.  I am so happy to think of being done with my job, my current job by the end of next week.  Done.  And although I am usually a sentimental soul, I can only think happy thoughts about leaving my current situation. I hate the broken tablets with keyboards that I deal with, I hate the irresponsibility, the intentional vandalism, the caprious nature of the technology itself.  I am Library Ann, not Techy Sue.

But, it wasn't always this way about my working life.  I have loved my teaching job.  I loved smashing Flat Stanely and squishing him into a envelope.  I loved reading to them, those kids.  I loved boxes and boxes of new books.  I loved alphabet meals and nursery rhymes and multiplication facts and calendars and lining up for the restroom and the marble jar.

I remember when I was teaching third grade and in my early 40s telling the kids to wash their hands after using the restroom.  One little boy chimed up that his mother told him you added five minutes to your life every time you washed your hands.  One little boy, not to be a smart mouth, but in innocence told me that I should go wash my hands a lot because I was old and I could use adding many five minutes to my life.  I was touched by his concern.  Another time I had a student from China whose mother spoke extremely little English.  For Christmas she gave me two bottles of Oil of Olay (back in the day when the only product they made was anti-aging cream). Perhaps there is a theme in those memories.

I had a great time teaching and librarying over the years.  If I didn't love everything, I loved most of the years.  It was a good long run and I am sure there will be things I miss.  And things I won't. But, I will be on to new adventures.  Brand new adventures.  If I can just make it through next week.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

More More More

I have learned to appreciate that God doesn't make deals.  I really have.  Most of the deals I would make would have disastrous consequences.  At least I think they might.  And what do I have to bargain with?  I have nothing that wasn't given by God and He would be who I was bargaining with.  I have nothing.

So, when I lost that second baby it was really hard to take.  I would have bargained anything to have had that baby.  But, I had nothing.   I was sad and rather lacking in hope.  The thing I wanted was completely out of my reach.  I didn't want anything extraordinary or unusual.  People have babies all the time.  Eventually, I came to accept that it was what it was.  I had no control over my life.  I needed to accept the good gifts I had received and not the ones I didn't.  When reality is other than what I had pictured it takes time to adjust.

My friend L has ovarian cancer.  It had already spread before they found it.  It was all over the place.  She had a rough go of it and a rough time in chemo the first go round.  She was hoping and planning for remission.  A good long remission.  The average was 18 months, but she watched what she ate, she exercised, she received excellent care, so perhaps she might have expected a better than average remission.  She didn't get it.  She got 5 months, times two.  And now the chemo really doesn't seem to be working. 

And this is the thing, if God made deals, I would make one for my friend L.  I want her to dance at her son's wedding in a few weeks, and cry in the church at the miracle of it when her daughter gets married next year.  And grandchildren! 

L hasn't given up and perhaps there is a miracle or two still in store for her, or perhaps not.  Either way, eventually she will dance with Jesus and sometime we all will join her. I am glad God doesn't make deals, I can't imagine how much I would be willing to give up so that L could live.  The take away from this for me is--we have one precious, holy, sacred life.  Be grateful for the gifts we receive.  Be very grateful.  It is okay to want more.  But, not okay to demand more, to need more.  Trusting in God means to accept the good gifts that are offered.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mama Drama, Part Dos

I didn't go over to see my mom on Mother's Day.  I was tired and I had some other things going.  My sister went instead.  That was a good thing because my sister got to see Mom at her confused worst.  They talked about more assisted living.  Mom was for it.

I have all kinds of feelings about this.  Relief is the biggest emotion.  I have worried that Mom isn't taking her medicine, isn't eating her meals, isn't keeping her stuff clean.  But, my siblings were all about saying Mom was doing great for her age and seemed okay when they spoke on the phone.

I have offered to host a BBQ on the Saturday after her birthday for our family.  It should be fun.  I can do most of the food in advance.  I hope Mom is up to coming to it. Being 96 is the pits.  I was dreading a cake and punch reception, but a family gathering sounds fun.

I have had to balance my life with Mom's in the honor your father and your mother thing.  I am trying to do the things I need to do to live and be joyful without neglecting Mom.  It is a delicate path.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Sweating the Small Stuff

I don't like deadlines.  I hate deadlines that I can't work to complete things early so the dead in the line is not there.  I do taxes ahead of time for example.  But some things I have no control over.  And the deadline approaches without resolution.  I get really anxious.  I wish that I didn't.  I wish that I had patient confidence that even if it didn't work out, it would be all in God's hands.

I fret and I try to force solutions.  I have trouble waiting patiently.  And that is where I am right now.  The loan for the mortgage on my house is supposed to be approved by next Tuesday.  The loan processor wants a copy of a wire transfer and a check I deposited.  I don't have those things.  I will go to the bank and try to get them, but even if they have the things she wants, I suspect she will need more things.  And I am heading into a weekend.  And Monday after school I will not be able to race out to the bank because they are holding a little retirement celebration here at school for me and the other retirees.  I have been given orders to be there.  And I want to be.  It isn't like I retire everyday or every year or ever before. It will have to work out.  (Or maybe I won't get this house and maybe that is God's plan, although not mine.)

I am trying to pray and imagine what God is telling me.  It seems like I should do what I can and leave it in God's hands.  Really that is all I can do. It is what I need to do. But, if you had a whiff of me, you could tell, I am sweating the small stuff a little bit.

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And I don't believe that God works like magic and everything turns out alright when I pray, because the world God made isn't like that.  But, this time, the big overwhelming, confusing mess I was asked to straighten out, was fixed with a couple of phone calls after I wrote the above post.  I think it is done.  I am blown away.  God is good all the time.  And I love it when a plan comes together......

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mama Drama

I am so blessed to have my mom, all almost 96 years of her, still living and still functioning very well. Short term memory is a little iffy, but thought processes are pretty good considering her age.  She still goes shopping every other week, I know, I take her to Aldi's, her preferred store.  She has her hair done, keeps up her apartment and sees to 2 of her meals each day and her own medication and clothes washing, etc.  Mom is a wonder.

But then that isn't surprising, she has always been a force of nature.   Determined only begins to describe her.  Self-determined might be closer.  I didn't get along with Mom very well in my growing up years.  Truth be told, I pretty much despised her throughout my teens and young adulthood.  To me she seemed petty, selfish, critical, and hard to get along with. Looking back, I can see that we were similar in some ways and completely different in others, but both strong women.  My mom raised strong women. After my dad died before I turned 30 I decided that the best way to honor him was to treat my mom with all the love and caring I had felt from my dad.  My relationship with Mom grew stronger and I can even say that we grew to be friends.

If Mom wanted something, she didn't sit around and wait for someone to do it for her, she stirred around and planned it herself.  That is how we ended up throwing her 80th and 90th birthday parties.  They were big, lovely receptions with friends and relatives from far and near.  When Mom turned 95 last year I suggested to some of the relatives that a card shower might be nice.  Mom did get a lot of nice cards from an array of people.  She never even guessed that I had prompted the shower of good wishes.

This year she turns 96.  Every year when you get that old and have most of your wits about you is special.  But, Mom lives in a new location miles and miles from where she lived most of her life.  She has a handful of friends, but most of the other residents are strangers. But, my brothers are coming from afar.  So, Mom has started to think we are giving her a party.  She wants to get a "room" and plan something.  In other words--wants me to plan something.

And truth be told, I don't want to.  I am not sure Mom is up to it.  I am sure that I am too busy (retiring, moving, concerned about a sick friend).  Seeing the brothers and maybe the nieces will be enough.  Enough!  Mom is scheming and I am fearful that I am going to be roped into something that I really don't think anyone wants or needs.

The thing is I am the pushover and Mom can usually get me to do it her way.  But, I have a secret weapon.  My sister was the baby of the family.  She can usually tell Mom "no" without making her mad.  I have my sister on the case.  Hopefully, we will have a nice family visit and not some awful reception with a line of strangers offering cards in exchange for a piece of cake......Mama drama, for sure.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Lector/ Lecture, Tomato, Tomato.....

I lectored the second reading at T's funeral yesterday.  It was a beautiful service.  I wish T could have been sitting with us there. She is with Jesus and no longer suffering.  But, despite my hope to see her in Heaven, I miss her.  It was weird being back in my old church after more than a year and lectoring after even longer than that.  I was a lector when that church building opened some years ago now.  Archbishop Burke was our bishop then, so it has been a while.

I was happy to become a lector when that church opened.  My dad was a lector in our small rural church back in the day when they began having lay people do that.  In our small rural church it was always men who were invited to lector in the beginning anyway.  I always thought that was a shame because most of the farmers were not well educated and didn't practice the readings ahead of time.  They butchered all of the names and many of the longer words.  Their wives would have done better.  My dad was an exception to the rule.  He practiced, asked the priest if he didn't know how to pronounce something and he was educated so he knew how to read well.  When I became a lector I felt that connection to my dad who has been gone for over 35 years.

I don't lector at my new parish.  I have a problem with one eye that makes reading in various light difficult at times.  I am divorced and have only begun the annulment process, so I don't feel like putting myself out there either.  But, it was familiar and right to do the readings for T's funeral.

I always pray to be a hollow reed when I lector.  I want to convey the reading with as much meaning as I can put forth, without calling attention to myself.  It is a fail to me if someone tells me I am a good lector.  I would rather they noticed and paid attention to the readings.

And the title of this piece?  Auto correct keeps turning lector into lecture.  It is crazy.  I have to yell at it or something like that to get it to let me lector, lectored, lectoring......  Wouldn't it be terrible if I had lectured at T's funeral? LOL

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Okay, Enough, Already

And it rained and it rained and it rained.......I am done with rain.  I could use a little sunshine. I have had enough rain.  I am ready to see the rainbow.

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And tonight I went to a retirement dinner for my school district. It was a cold driving rain as I went there to the dinner.  I am a retiree.  I got a glass thing with my name on it.  Very classy.

But as I headed west for home in the twilight, the clouds made a sharp and profound break.  There were NO CLOUDS at the western edge of the horizon.  Thank You, Lord, for the promise of sunshine tomorrow and the end to all of this rain.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Let It Pour

We have been having a lot of rain lately.  Rivers are over-topping their banks.  I thought I heard we had ten inches of rain over the weekend and then there was a lull.  But the rain is back at it today.  Roads are closing, things are molding, and businesses are getting flooded.  Floods are sort of slow motion disasters.  They start out as a simple rain shower, but then the rain either comes too hard and too fast or goes on for too long. All of this rain has gotten me thinking of Noah.  Forty days and forty nights is a depressing amount of rain.

Rain is essential.  I am happy to live on a part of the earth where the rain is abundant and water is not in short supply.  The rain is mainly fine and good.  So many of the images of God involve water.  Water is life giving.

But, with all this rain and flooding lately I have been joking about booking passage on Noah's Ark river cruises, until someone reminded me of the rainbow, God's promise that He will never completely flood the earth again.  So, perhaps I need to book temporary passage on the Rainbow Tours, God's Promise boat ride.  Let it rain.....

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

New Every Morning

I have no doubt already titled a post with this title.  It comes from a favorite hymn.  And Lamentations.  "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, new every morning, great is thy faithfulness, O God.  Great is Thy faithfulness."

Each new day I am called to put my trust in Him.  To let go, and let God, if you will.  Or to quote the more contemporary scholar--Don't worry, be happy.....well, not really.  It isn't all happy, but don't worry.

On the face of it, I have this one down.  I don't think of myself as a worrier.  But, sometimes a new challenge can get me going. Right now it is all the paperwork required for the loan for my house.  Copies of this, copies of that.  So many copies and proof that I am who I say that I am and I can do what I say I can do.  But, ultimately, I believe that God has got this and it will work out.  I need to do my part, but I need to give it over and not worry.

With the new dawn, the challenge seems more surmountable.  God and I have got this.  And if something falls through and gets ugly, there is something new ahead.  Great is Thy faithfulness.