Good dog

So gentle and kind.
That heart warms my soul.

Her days weren’t all easy.
A few took their toll.

Yet strong my girl is.
Though she cannot walk.

She still speaks of peace.
As her eyes still can talk.

Then she kisses my hands.
To prove up her love.

While I whisper “good dog.”
Until called up above.

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Burying those ‘Bah Humbugs’

I was having one of those ‘Bah Humbug’ moments.

I’d just lost a mitten while shopping for my kitten.

I had been busily stocking up on emergency supplies at the store up the hill as a winter storm was coming.

Buying replacement mittens definitely was not on my shopping list.

But kitty litter, bread, milk, and lots of chocolate were. And all were fortunately within easy reach of the Santa cookie tins and one available smiling clerk humming “Let It Snow.”

I’m thinking their placement was geared towards keeping my spirits bright.

However, it didn’t.

I soon caught myself uttering another “Bah Humbug.”

Christmas fell off the top of my favorite holiday list way back when I was six.

That was the year the new doll smell and curly blonde hair of a baby doll delivered by Santa attracted the attention of our young beagle. Our dog thought she made the perfect chew toy.

The doll and my Norman Rockwell holiday were never quite the same.

It seems the annual arrival of frigid sub-zero weather with the holidays hasn’t helped my attitude either or all that crazy commercialism and greed.

Even family celebrations have grown a bit more bittersweet year by year.

It’s hard to forget the Christmas Eve when my late dementia stricken mother stared at her grandchildren across the dinner table and blurted out, “So who are you?”

Or the memories of sharing hospital meals of wilted salads and frosted Christmas cookies with my husband while he was in hospice three years ago.

But things really are beginning to look up.

Even in a year when peace and joy seem a bit hard to find.

Luckily, I just found that favorite mitten.

And I’m playing Santa for a few seniors, an animal rescue group, and the young children I work with.

I’m also hoping to share many more last minute smiles before the big day.

You see I once saw a flying Santa in the skies do the same.

It happened a few years ago.

I’d awakened at 6:00 a.m. to hysterical laughter on a holiday flight returning from Amsterdam.

The plane was packed full of travelers of all colors and nationalities. Many didn’t speak English.

It didn’t matter.

Everyone was looking up at the same movie screen smiling, sharing just a few brief moments of comfort and joy.

As well as those chuckles.

This time of year, no matter your beliefs, perhaps that’s what matters most.

Handsome Man

“You need a handsome man.”

I wasn’t looking for any advice, but recently got some anyway from my five year old grandson.

My daughter Nicole and grandkids had stopped over for a pizza party.

Nicole shook her head commenting, “Where’d he ever pick up that line?”

I quickly turned the topic over to the Mickey Mouse holiday puzzle in front of us.

It will be two years next week since my husband Richard passed from early onset dementia and other health issues. He left the day after Christmas.

In terms of holidays, Christmas has never been my favorite. Thanksgiving’s always ranked number one on my list.

Maybe it’s because I prefer gratitude to the greed that often blooms in December.

Yet I knew Christmas had snuck in the door once I noticed the annual Lutefisk dinner ads posted in the bathroom stalls at the local Lutheran church.

Still no handsome man was going on my wish lists and most of my Christmas decorations were donated as part of my recent move to a smaller home.

With the move, I’m now living a mile from the hospital where my husband passed. And I need to drive by it every night to return home from work.

I’d recently found the gray December weather had made me blue, particularly when the annual holiday light display was turned on at the hospital.

But one night last week I noticed for the first time a shining star to the north while driving by.

It rested atop the hospital brick tower my where my husband spent his final days in hospice.

I smiled as I looked up.

And then I turned the radio over to the all Christmas music station.

As flurries began to fall, I continued driving north to pick up one potential gift I’d put on hold.

This one’s a gift for me.

And I know he will be for others through hospice work.

You see, I ended up taking my grandson’s advice after all.

I went and found myself a handsome man.

Very handsome indeed.

Mom and the blue sky above

Mom had been in hospice for more than a year. I had a call one Friday afternoon from my sister that she wasn’t expected to make it through the weekend.

As Mom entered into her late stage dementia, my sister Nancy had moved Mom to be with her in Colorado. Mom’s decline occurred at the same time my husband Richard was entering into his own late stage dementia back in our home state of Minnesota.

I knew from the conversation with Nancy that I wouldn’t make it to Colorado in time to be at Mom’s bedside. But the rational side of my thinking wasn’t helping my emotional side at all. I’d been at my father’s side when he passed away. And I remembered how hard it was on my sister that she couldn’t be there, too.

All weekend I was tense as Nancy and I exchanged phone calls. By Sunday, we’d been told by the doctor “it was a matter of hours.” I felt I had to do something to keep myself busy.

Weather wise, it had been a gorgeous day with a bright blue sky and perfect temps. I knew there was a 5:00-6:00 pm yoga class nearby so I decided to attend. As I drove up, I was hoping it would be held outside on the deck overlooking the beautiful marsh land. I was so glad to see the teacher was actually putting the mats outside once I stepped out of the car.

I couldn’t help but remember how Mom liked nothing better than to be outside on a beautiful day. However, I was also wondering if I might lose Mom would while I was in class. I tried to stay focused on the breathing instructions from the teacher, but of course my thoughts kept going back to Mom.

Near the end of the class, we did a relaxing yoga pose called shavasana where the students lay flat on their backs. Normally I’d be falling into a nap at this point, but not that day. Instead I looked up at the incredible sky, listening to the birds.

I soon saw something cardinal red floating up higher and higher into the clear blue sky. A balloon maybe, or a satellite?

A tear rolled down my cheek. But still I felt at peace.

Afterwards, I hurried home to check my email. I had a message from my brother-in-law. He wrote that Mom had passed away at 6pm, just as class ended.

My sister called later from the hospital and told me when Mom passed, she saw a single tear had rolled down Mom’s cheek also.

I awoke early this Mother’s Day, the first one with out Mom. I checked in on the cardinal’s nest right outside my window. I saw the baby birds had moved on and were flying into the sky.

I left my nest as well, and drove to a special yoga class honoring mothers.

Once there I shared a special gift with Mom of just one more salty tear.