Thursday, April 28, 2011

Making time for the important things

I was watching an interview recently of a same sex couple that had just been married. They spoke on how great it was that society recognized them as a family. A question came up about things like holding hands in public, and the one woman said that it wasn't something they did. She felt that society had come a long way, but was not ready yet, for things like public displays of affection. I thought it sad that holding hands had to be reserved for watching a movie on ones own couch.

That got me on a people watching mission, I was wondering how couples in general interact in public.. Here is what I saw;

Most couples dropping the other off someplace, basically say a hasty goodbye, then leave.. Pick ups are similar.. Most couples walking do not hold hands.. The exception seems to be people in their 60's and 70's, they seem to be aware of something the rest of us aren't. Even sitting at breakfast at a place like MacDonalds, it's not uncommon to see one reading the paper, and the other a book... In public it seems, that many couples interact like distant strangers.
What does it mean? I don't know, I'm sure that most couples love each other and are among other things are perfectly good friends. I think we just grow complacent with time..I don't know for sure what the solution is, but as odd as this may sound, I think that we could learn something from our pets.

I have a 6 year old Standard Poodle, named Brechin... I know that poodles are supposed to be smart, but mine is just a big ol' silly dog. He is a family pet, but he worships my middle son. When my son is home, he sleeps with him, he plays with him.. he follows him around..but that isn't the part that we can learn from... 
When my son leaves.. Brechin barks and carries on, like he'll never see him again. He walks him to the door, he makes it clear that he will be missed. After he's gone, he just goes back to doing "dog" stuff. When my son comes home, whether it's a few hours, or a few days later.. Brechin FREAKS.. It's like he has just come back from the dead. He's happy, he barks, he jumps on him...It's really quite fun to watch.

Now back to us... What would our good byes look like if it were the last one. What would we say if it were the last time? I imagine that songs could be written based on the good bye kiss alone.
If  they walked in the door after we thought that we would never see them again, I'm sure that we would probably stop channel surfing and greet them, like never before.

When I watch older couples walking hand in hand, I think that they've learned something valuable about relationships, and that is to cherish every moment.
It's difficult to do sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of the rat race.. The important things get swept aside , for the things that seem important at the time.
Something to think about though is when ever a disaster has struck anywhere in the world, I have never once heard of someone trying desperately to get to work, or to play golf, or to watch TV...They reach for the ones they love the most... and I guess the question that I would ask is, Why Wait?

I have this friend, he was married to his beautiful wife for 65 years when she passed. If there is one thing that watching them taught me was that 65 years is simply not long enough to be with the person that you love. It goes by so fast that we can not afford to take one single second for granted. We can't waste a moment in anger, apathy or indifference, because the one thing in life that we are guaranteed of is that one day, one good bye, will be our last.
I'm not trying to cry doom and gloom here, just the opposite. I say that whether it's our spouse, parent, child or anyone that we care about.. that we embrace and celebrate each moment. We hug with abandon, we dance at silly inappropriate times, we sing "You are my sunshine" to them when they're sad. Hold hands as if to say "You couldn't possibly be close enough to me". And kiss like it's the very  last time(well maybe not our parents and kids but you know what I mean :-P ).

I've heard plenty of regrets as i have spoken to people in my life, not one has ever been.. "I showed too much love to the ones that I care about".

Something to think about. 

Peace Kiddies 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tribute to Theo

Note: I wrote this several months ago and had not planned on sharing it. However, it occurs to me that there are many who have family in some form of long term care. I thought that maybe they could use some reassurance that their family members are not just cared for, but also cared about.

Peace Kiddies

I work in a nursing home with Seniors. It's an incredible job. I get to meet amazing people from all over the world. I get to help people when they need it the most, and I learn something every day. There is a downside though.. Due to the nature of where I work, you care about people, and one day, they are gone.
People deal with it in different ways. Some act like nothing has changed(until they get home), some shed a tear, and some utter a silent prayer. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. However, as there are people depending on us for their care, depending on us to remain professional and objective. When we leave the office to start our shift, we leave that behind, to be picked up again later. It's part of the job.
Every once in a while though, you meet someone, who becomes more like family.
Theo was one such lady. She was a kindly woman who had had a very full life(by her own admission). She had been a nurse, a volunteer, a Mother, Grandmother and friend. She had traveled all over the world and would share stories of her journeys. I spent many of my breaks just chatting with her. She would ask about my Mom, my kids... Why a nice guy like me was still single(LOL), and she would tell me stories of her children, grandchildren and travels. She loved her family and spoke of them with pride.
She was truly one of a kind. One day during one of our chats she told me "I don't want you to think that I am suicidal, because I'm not.. But I am ready to go on to the next life", when I asked her why, she responded that everyone needs something to look forward to. While she had had an very full life, she was coming to the end, and there was nothing left to look forward to. It was really, one of the saddest things I'd ever heard anybody say. I didn't know what to tell her. Maybe the indoor bowling activity the next day? Or the concert that we were having on the weekend? Maybe that was something to look forward to? I knew what she meant though, and figured that kind of honesty deserved honesty in return. So I said "You may be right, but when your time comes and you are gone, I will miss you", that got me a very large, smile.

Just over a week ago, my Theo got her wish. I had been off for a couple of days, and a very kind hearted co-worker e-mailed me to let me know, so I wouldn't be surprised when I came in to work.

I never got to say good bye, I never had the chance to say thank you. Now when I go to work, there is another very nice lady in Theos room, but last night, while doing rounds... I opened her door to check on her, and for a brief second, was surprised that she wasn't there. I guess this letter is my way of saying goodbye.

Dear Theo,

I was going to say Rest in Peace, , but no, that is the last thing that I wish for you. You had plenty of time to rest while you were here.
I hope that where ever you are, you are very busy. I hope that there are thousands of things to do and millions of things to look forward to, and I hope that there are wonderful people to share it with.
May the world you live in now have lots of traveling, and exotic foods. May it have loud singing and joyous dancing, and dogs... and Bridge. I hope that there just isn't time to do it all.
However, on those rare occasions where you just need to sit down and take a break. Remember that there are those on this side of the veil, who miss you and are grateful for your friendship.

Be Well, and Be Happy.

Your Friend..... Mike

Monday, April 4, 2011

Being Average

I was reading recently something that that was written by someone around my kids age, on how they wanted to focus in on something and become a master of their craft. A noble aspiration, I mean, most of the really cool stuff we have come to us from people who had the need to strive for perfection.
It's something that I have thought about a lot over the course of my life. The thing is, is that I don't really excel at anything. I do however come from a family that does. Both my parents are accomplished musicians, with albums, cd's and awards. My Brother is a great guy, who also happens to be a 5th degree black belt. He teaches the students in his Martial Arts school so much more that just karate, PLUS he has an awesome band, that I'm sure soon will have their own awards on the mantle to show off. My sister is not musical, but she is gifted in working with her hands.. You could sheer a sheep, dump it on her porch and within a few hours she could have a 3 dimensional felt farm for your kids to play with complete with buildings, animals, people and crops.
Then there is me... Not really musical, I can't fix anything.. heck I don't even own tools.. I love to laugh, if I can make you laugh too, I consider my day well spent and some refer to me as a nice guy.

It used to bother me sometimes.. It felt like I was living in everyones shadow.. and then one day I thought of the people in the world that influenced me... Some of the people that made me the person that I am today.. Of course family has had  a strong positive influence, and on another day I will write about that.. But today I'm writing about others, who's kindness has stayed with me through my whole life.

I know that I have mentioned Alex Harding before, but when I was a kid, he and his wife kind of adopted our little family, and Alex would take me to things like father son dinners, talk to me if I seemed troubled... and basically be a good friend. My fondest memory of him was one Christmas, when I was around 11 years old. He took me out to buy a Christmas tree. I had $10.00, which at the time was a good chunk of cash for a tree. I looked for trees and fell in love with this Scotch Pine.. It was stunning with it's long needles. Then I noticed the price... 15 bucks, so downplaying it, I went in search of a tree that I could afford, and found a really nice one. Mr. Harding told me that he liked it, but he thought the other one would look better in my living room. He said that he was pretty sure that I had enough money for it, so we grabbed it and went to the counter. I dropped my 10 down, and he placed a 5 on top of it.. A simple thing and yet here I am years later, tearing up just remembering.

When I was 16, a man named Jerry Buffington taught me to drive his stick shift truck... I promptly drove it over a stump in the field. Jerry never skipped a beat, he never got angry, in fact he told me a funny story about when he learned to drive stick. We spent hours, digging, chopping and chain sawing that stump to get his truck out. His wife was waiting for him at home, but to Jerry it seemed to be exactly how he planned on spending the afternoon.

The truth is, that I could go on, writing pages of amazing  people that influenced me over the course of my life... and without fail, these people were not masters of anything, they weren't great artist, or  scholars.. They were just average Joes, working stiffs, but their choices made my world a better place to be.

I am grateful for those few who excel in the world, who's desire to master their chosen field makes our world what it is today. Truth be told though, when I write in my Gratitude journal, or whisper a thank you prayer... Those aren't the people that I think about, I think about the highschool teacher, who always made me feel like I was smart, or the  nurse in the hospital once who kept coming in on her breaks, because I was afraid to sleep, and my friends and family today who laugh at my jokes, put up with my singing and smile when they see me. They make an average Joe, feel uniquely special, and to them I say, Thank you for your kindness and examples.
You are the ones that I strive to emulate.

Peace Kiddies