Words from a Reader

The “Writing Life Stories” e-mails I receive are such treasures. As soon as I see there is one in my inbox, I read it immediately. I look forward to them and never know how they will touch me. They can be interesting, informative, humorous, and/or touching.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Tables Serve up Memories

The old table pictured above has seen better days, I'm sure. Now it is in someone's yard instead of a dining room. 

When I was a child, my family gathered around a table exactly like this one in the dining room of the house on the farm in south Georgia. Looking at this picture, I can see my four brothers sitting around that table along with my father at the head and my mother sitting to his right. I see a high chair between Mother and Daddy with my baby sister sitting in it. I know I am on Mother's right side. My brother Hal sat to my right. If Gay was one year old, I was two and a half years older. Mother helped my plate with small helpings of vegetables and meat and always one of her freshly baked biscuits.

My setting is the dining room of the farmhouse on Fleming Road in south Georgia. My characters are all my family members. We never run out of stories as long as we know our family including our ancestors. My aunts and uncles are also characters in my stories. 

I can think about other tables in my life and other stories come to mind. In our first home, my husband and I had a small rectangular table in the kitchen. Later in our dream house where we spent 25 years together our dining table was a long parsons table, laminated and built for us. It was a conversation piece. We had many interesting people sit at that table. Each of them is a memory for me with their story I can tell. 

Writers circle around the table in my studio. Wonderful memories. Wonderful people gathered here.

Tables are known for bringing people together. My brother Max always asked for a round table when he went to a restaurant. They are much more conducive to conversation, especially for storytellers and he was a good one.

In my home in the mountains, I insisted we buy a round table for our dining area. So many new friends, writers, and poets have sat with me at that table. Meetings for our Netwest group have gathered there to discuss the future of our organization. 

After my husband died, I seldom sat alone at the table for meals. I ate on a tray in front of the television set. My lovely round table has recently become an extension of my computer desk.

 As I continue to downsize in preparation for the future, I wonder what will become of my round table. That table could be enlarged with a leaf in the middle of it. Many times six or eight people have gathered there, family and friends. My round table that we bought on sale in Atlanta and hauled home in segments in our car, is one of my favorite things. Maybe I will be able to keep it if or when I leave that house. But I will always have the memories of the good times and the dear people who sat there with me.

Do you have some tables in your life or in your past life that stir memories of times and people and places? Maybe you can write about them. I do and will continue to write poems and stories that are centered around a table. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Beautiful flowers from Paige, my dear niece

I don't expect to get flowers on Valentine's Day now that my valentine is gone, but this year, on February 14, Paige brought this large beautiful bouquet of flowers to me. Sadly, I was asleep when she came and did not hear her at my door. But she left them anyway with a sweet card.  

Having no children of my own, I am always touched when my nieces and nephews remember me on special days like Valentine's Day. I wish I had been as thoughtful with my dear Aunt Judy who had no children. I loved her and loved being with her, but never thought to send her a card or write her a note on special days. 

If you are a niece or nephew with an aunt or uncle you love, it would please them so, so much to be remembered with flowers or a card showing your love.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Re-Post Valentine's Day

We are not going to heal our divide with more hate, anger, and name-slinging. We are not going to heal by firing our enemies, shaming, belittling, or being cold, hard, and mean. Love is the only thing that softens the heart. It is the only thing that softens rage, and yet it is the hardest gift to bestow on those who push our buttons—be they in our families or in our political spaces

This is a quote from Maria Shriver's Sunday Paper which I follow. Today I learned that she had and loved a horse, just like I did. Another reason I relate to her writing, I think. I hope she represents most of the women in the world, especially in our country. The women I know do love others even if they don't go to the same church, vote for the same party, or pull for the same teams. I learned to love people of a different race when I had been raised in a culture that said I should not.

I am fortunate that I have known great love in my long life
Even those times when I didn't recognize it, I had love.  First from my mother, then from my sisters, and especially from Barry, my soulmate. 
Recently while reading from old journals I've kept for many years, I was reminded by my words then how much I loved him and how much he loved me. Looking back, I realize how wonderful my life was after we married. My memories are precious.

Love is about the way someone looks at you. It's about the way someone talks to you. It's about their tone, especially when they disagree with you. Love is about showing up and caring, even when it’s hard.

I don't think I was easy to love when I was a kid. I was often moody and down. But Mother loved me and cared for me in my worst times. Gay, my sister, loved me, and I know that was not always easy. She, the even-tempered, fun-loving, and kind person, put up with my moods, my ups and downs, and always stood by me.

The Council sisters, June in front, Glenda and Gay.

June, my older sister had an unconditional love for me that I wonder about today. From the time I was a little girl, she was my hero. She made things better for me -- in my family and at school. She was my voice when I did not know I had a voice. She put me on her list of those she loved and cared for. When I was accused of behaving badly, she would not accept it. She stood down my brothers and my father even though it drained her emotionally, and she cried when alone in her room. I saw that same behavior when she felt her children were maligned. She was a bear when those she loved were in trouble and she was not afraid to stand tall and fight. That is what love is. 

In this month of Love with Valentine's Day approaching, I wish we all would think of loving others as best we can, even if we don't agree or have differences. 

If I had let our differences stop my love for my brothers and my father, I would have forsaken the joy of being with them when they told stories, sang songs, and teased me beyond what was fun. I would have missed the love they showed me as we all grew older and needed each other for comfort in our losses. 

One of my sweet brothers, Rex, passed away on Valentine's Day, 2009. This holiday never ceases to remind me of him and how close we became as adults. I know he loved me, and we certainly had different political beliefs. He saw the world through eyes that had seen pain, and sacrifices for his family, and he felt he had damaged them to save himself from drowning in unhappiness. He was generous to me and to Barry. We knew his love and we loved him dearly.
Council Brothers, from left back row. Hal Council, Max Council.
Front row from left: Rex Council and Ray Council - young men in the 1950s

In today's world when the word love is thrown around so recklessly, I try to use it only for those times I really mean it. I love my dear friends Mike and Estelle who are always there for me when I want a friend to listen and help me through the tough times. I am not obligated to love them. They are not my blood relatives, but they are more a part of my life than some of my family now.  

Two people who have been in my life for forty years have changed in many ways from the couple I met so long ago. At times I miss the man and woman I enjoyed back when we were young. To me, they seem more rigid, and more judgmental now, but I know they are good, kind, and loving people, and I love them. I am grateful they have been in my life all these years, through sickness and in health.
I think there is a country song, You can't make new old friends. 

I wish for all who read my writing here that you have love in your life, and you give love to those around you. 

More from Maria Shriver:
  • Don't judge people who differ from you, but give them understanding and reach out with love, not anger or hatred, resentment or revenge.
  • I believe that fear has driven us apart in this country. We are taught to be afraid by what we hear and see on television, especially on the news channels and on social media.
  • If we are afraid of our neighbor, we will not know when he is in need, and will not help him.
  • If he is afraid of us, we might suffer needlessly because he won't know and reach out to us.
  • Don't let fear run your life. It is the enemy of freedom.

Have a lovely Valentine's Day, and remember those who are elderly and those who have no special person in their lives. Remember your parents, if you still have them, and remember the teachers, the people who have helped you become who you are today. Show some love to the young people who need to know they matter. Send them a note to show you care. Let's use this Valentine's Day to show love in every way to the people in our lives.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

A Week into Recovery

This was written last Wednesday.
Happy me. Surgery is done. 

Tomorrow will be one week since I had knee surgery.
Gay went to much trouble and expense to help me recover. I have had some swelling but not as much as I expected because Gay rented a machine that I wore on my leg day and night to keep it iced. A friend of Gay's had used it when she had a knee replacement. For two days and nights, I wore the wrap around my leg. It pushed cold water through the wrap for thirty minutes, then the cold water ran back into the machine until it was time to ice again. This way no one had to keep up with time to change ice packs and I could use ice all night and all day. I think it has made a huge difference in the swelling.

I must say that the pain from the actual surgery has not been as bad as I had thought it would be. However, on the weekend when I could not reach a doctor or nurse the chronic nerve pain in my legs and feet flared big time. My poor sister went through many hours of watching me suffer and feeling helpless because she couldn't help me. She gave me massages, managed my medicine, fed me, put on my shoes for me, shadowed every step I made with my walker, and did everything possible to ease my pain. On Monday she telephoned the doctors' offices and she got results. I am sure I would not have gotten the right person to talk to since I had tried on Friday but got the runaround. Being dopey on pain medicine also made it impossible to telephone and talk with medical personnel. 

I have seen in catalogs Tee Shirts that say something like, "Don't mess with me. You will be sorry because I have a sister." 

My niece, Lee, has been so helpful, too. She helps me with many things like setting up voice mail on my cell phone. She helped Gay by creating a medication schedule with times and doses so I didn't have to think about taking the pills and tablets I was prescribed for this recovery. Gay had it all down on paper. 

My dear sweet brother-in-law, Stu, shopped and brought groceries, picked up food from a restaurant, or picked up meds from the drug store. He even brought me a lovely bunch of tulips in bud. Now they are opening and look so pretty. 

I am grateful to have dear, caring, and loving family and friends. Just a few years ago I was having a pity party alone in my mountain home. COVID-19 had me isolated and fearful of going out to any place where people gathered. Isolated and alone day after day my sedentary lifestyle affected my health both mentally and physically.

But now I look forward to having a life again where I can participate in writing events, give readings, visit with my friends, and attend community gatherings. All the medical tests this past year prepared me for a new lifestyle. The knee surgery will make my life easier I think and hopefully, my energy level will increase with treatment. 

I finally have my apartment in Roswell set up and I find it very convenient. Lexie loves being here and Gay and Stu seem to enjoy her. Stu takes her for walks. I think she has filled some of the emptiness left after Smokie and Sunny died. When I move in for good I know I can be happy here. But I don't feel rushed. I look forward to spending time here and in the mountains. 

I  see changes on the horizon and I am ready for them. We must accept change and be able to adapt. I will look for the good in change and try not to hang on to my past except in my memories. 

Thanks for reading. I love your comments. When you comment as anonymous, don't forget to leave your first name with your comment. I like to respond to your comments and it helps when I know who is writing. 

Have a great week and embrace your challenges. As you overcome them, you grow stronger. 

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Three Days after Surgery

Gay and Lee are here for me.

Today is Saturday, February 4, three days after my knee replacement.
It is amazing what the medical world has learned about joint removal and replacement. Until I had this procedure forced upon me by a knee that refused to heal properly after an injury, I had no idea what knee replacement entails. 

If I had known how painful the recovery would be, I might have decided to continue limping in pain, taking drugs to help me walk. and just missing out on the life I once lived. Of course, it is too soon to know how well I will manage with this foreign material replacing my bones, but I feel confident that life will be better.

You might have had joint replacements. It is being done for the shoulders, hips, and other parts of our bodies. I have only seen and heard high praise for the results. 

The team at Dr. DeCook's office did all they could to prepare me for what was ahead. They are known for having good recovery results and I hope mine will be one of them. 

There were only a few things I wish I had been able to discuss with them before the surgery, but I will carry on as best I can to manage my pain that is not related to the surgery. Having lived with chronic pain for so many years, I know my body and what it needs better than this knee surgery team anyway.

In today's world, it seems every patient is treated just like the one before him and the one after him. I was told when Barry was diagnosed with lymphoma that there was a protocol of treatment that everyone was given and he would receive it. But his case differed from others and no one seemed to know what to do next. I have since learned that cancer is not always a one size fits all. Each of us should be treated in the best way for our disease and our body. 

The number one person you need if you have knee surgery is your advocate, your caregiver, who will be with you day and night, at least for the first few days. When you can't walk and take care of your simple needs, there must be a person by your side to help. Often patients fall after surgery when they think they can walk and go to the bathroom alone. A fall sets one's recovery back and increases the need for better care. I was told that the patient must not try to do too much at first. It is as important to take it easy and rest as it is to push yourself to do more.

I have the highest admiration and praise for nurses, caregivers, and advocates for the sick and injured, elderly and young, who constantly do their best to make a better life for others.   

I have been a caregiver for loved ones and I have watched the pain and frustration endured to help someone get through a hard day and night. Watching someone you love suffer is the hardest thing in this world, I think. Today when many nurses have burned out or have decided they need a respite from the death and suffering of the past three years, my sympathy goes out to them. A human being with a caring and empathetic spirit must take time to replenish their own well so they can go back to caring for others.

I am very grateful I have my sister, Gay, my niece, Lee, my brother-in-law, Stu and others who are there for me in my time of need. I am surrounded by loving and caring people. I can't ask for more.

Have you been an advocate for a loved one when they were sick, or cared for strangers who were in need?

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Celebrating Life

Celebrate your life. See it and yourself as a blessing. Don’t wait.                                                                                 --- Maria Shriver 

As we write about our lives, we learn much about ourselves. I have learned things about my family that I didn't understand before I began to write about my parents and my siblings. 

I want to celebrate each family member's life because each one was a blessing to me. I wrote about my brother, Ray, recently and as I did, I thought about how blessed I was to have him as my brother.

I plan to write about each family member on this blog as I celebrate their lives. I hope these blog posts will entertain you, my readers, and enlighten you about what life was like for them in the twentieth century. 

I will start with my mother. She was born in Decatur County, Georgia on a farm near a community called Spring Creek. Like me, she was the next to last child in her family, the daughter of William Henry and Lula.  ( I will not use last names due to privacy issues.)

My Mother, Lois, when she was a young woman

The ancestors of both William and Malula had migrated from the Carolinas and Virginia in the 1700s and 1800s. Their fathers had fought in the War Between the States (Civil War) and their great-grandfathers fought for our freedom in the Revolutionary War.

Mother's name was Georgia Lois. She had an aunt Georgia Ann and was named after her. But Mother preferred Lois and never told anyone her name was Georgia unless she had to legally give her full name. 

I believe Mother's life was a blessing to all who knew her. I never knew her to say or do anything to hurt another. She had a tender heart and a caring spirit. She told me how much she respected and loved her father. She said he often took her to the big church in Pelham where they lived. She remembered him taking her by the hand and walking across the railroad tracks to the town where they entered the large Methodist church. 

She didn't mind or feel less worthy because she didn't have fine clothes like most of the other people in the pews on Sunday mornings. 
Lois had a loving family and always knew she was loved. Because of that, I believe she had a good self-image and her confidence in herself was seldom shaken. 

Willie and Lula, Lois's parents were grateful for the textile mill that Mr. J.L. Hand built in Pelham, GA because the farm work all summer in the hot sun was horrible for Lois's sisters and her mother who worked in the fields with the men. Planting in the spring, hoeing weeds out of the corn and cotton, and harvesting in the fall took a toll on their skin and their health. In the 1880s farming was done by hand. There were no tractors, no equipment to make work easier, and certainly no slaves as most people think did all the farm work. The Civil War ended in 1865.

Mother's sisters and brothers were born in the mid to late 1800s. Lois was born in 1904 and that was about the time the family left the farm and moved to the little town of Pelham where life would be so much better for all of them.

The older children worked in the mill but Willie did not. He became the maintenance man for the mill, the mill houses, and Mr. Hand's other properties and his family lived in a house on Wilkes Avenue rent-free. 

 Willie and Lula with their daughter, Mildred in early 1900s

As I heard Mother talk about her childhood and her family, I could tell she was a happy child. The only time she remembered being spanked was when she threw the pan of dishwater on her brother Rudolph as he sat on the steps of the back porch. He had been sick and was recovering from the illness. But Lois was a child, two years younger than he, and she did it because she wanted to tease him. She would never have wanted to hurt him. She adored him.

She always felt bad about that incident. She said, "Mama told me I could have killed him because he was not well and could have gotten sick again."

I have a beautiful memory of the love between this brother and sister. Mother almost died from a ruptured aneurysm on her Carotid artery in 1975. She was in the hospital for a long, long time. She didn't know her own children because her brain was damaged from the swelling. But she recognized love. One day when I went to see her in the ICU, I stopped to watch Rudolph feeding his sister from her food tray. I knew that she knew him or knew she loved him. She smiled at him when he talked to her. She was seventy years old and he was a couple of years older at that time. 

Not too long after Mother came home and regained much of her physical ability, she and I were called with the sad news that my uncle Rudolph was extremely ill in the hospital. We went there and sat in the waiting room with family members. But we were allowed to go in to see him one time. He was not conscious and was soon to leave this world. Like so many of her family that had passed away, Mother always remembered him as he was when she and he were young. 

Lois's life as a young girl was filled with friends like Mary, who had a crush on Rudolph that was not reciprocated. Lois and Mary would sometimes sit up with the dead. As long as the two of them were together they didn't mind doing that for the older folks. It was a custom then for the dead person to lie in his coffin at home the night before he was buried. Visitation was held at the home instead of a funeral home as is done today. 

Another brother, Dewey, played a large part in Lois's life. When she and Coy Council married in Albany at the Justice of the Peace office, they had no home to go to. Dewey and Sadie, his wife, invited the newlyweds to stay with them until they could find a place to live.

My father had no money when he married my mother but they had been apart for too long and had waited too long to be together. Lois was always appreciative of Sadie who took her in and made her feel very welcome. 

I never heard my mother complain about her lot in life. She had lived in a comfortable loving home before she married my father. But once she married, she had children and also worked outside the home when she could to bring in more income. She said she sold shirts for a while and I am sure she was good at it. But the babies kept coming. Her husband was in Florida when the first child was born and she was in Pelham with her parents. He was working for his brother who had a farm and Coy planned to bring his wife down to Palmetto as soon as he could.

The three years they spent in Florida was the only time my mother was actually unhappy. They lived in a rental house in a bad neighborhood and Coy took a second job working at night. She was overjoyed when, after the second child was born her husband decided to move back to Georgia. 

The next few years were good for the family because they rented a store which my father referred to as the Filling Station because there were gas tanks out front. The family lived in the back of the store and both Coy and Lois worked there. The third and fourth children, two boys were born there. 

But the Great Depression came hard in the late 1920s and thirties. Soon there were no customers because no one had any money. The mills closed and that left many people out of work. Coy and Lois and their kids lived off the food in the store until they had to give up the filling station and move into another house that had been Coy's sister's house. 

Because my parents always found a way to have chickens and a milk cow where they lived, my family did not suffer hunger. But Mother learned ways to stretch a few eggs and a little milk to feed her children. And she seemed to know more than one way to cook chicken. 

Lois was hit hard by the death of her mother, Lula, soon after moving back to Pelham. Seventy-five years later, Lois stood by her mother's grave and said, "I miss you so much. You were the sweetest thing to me and I wish I could talk to you again." Tears ran down my mother's cheeks and I cried as well. After Mother's brain was damaged and she lost her short-term memory, the people she knew and loved when she was a child and a young person were remembered better than her own children. 

Lois Council was the glue that held our large family together. She was the calm one who did not overreact or get panicky. She almost died when her gallbladder burst, but she overcame that and was soon back in her kitchen cooking for us.
At one time she had a little dairy business. She sold milk and homemade butter and buttermilk to her neighbors when the family lived in Lakeside in Dougherty County. Those were some of her happiest times because she had dear neighbors who liked to visit with her. She was in her mid-thirties and enjoyed having morning coffee with the ladies in the neighborhood. Lois enjoyed people and never met a stranger. She would talk to people in the elevator when we went to the dentist. She talked to people in line at the grocery store. I find I do the same thing now.

For six years she lived on a farm in hot south Georgia with no air conditioning and no electricity. She knew coal oil lamps, and ice boxes with a place for a fifty-pound block of ice in the top section that kept the milk and butter cool and meat from spoiling. She knew a kitchen with only cold water coming from the faucet. She cooked vegetables from the garden on a wood stove and sewed on a Singer sewing machine with a treadle. She killed chickens to cook for dinner when a family of relatives showed up unannounced. She seldom used a cookbook when she was in the kitchen and as a result, she left very little of her cooking knowledge to me. The only thing she taught me was how to make biscuits. She was an expert at that. 

The Rural Electric Association ran lines out to our land in 1947. She was glad to get an electric stove and a hot water heater in the house. Electricity made a huge difference in her workload every day. 

When I think about those years when Mother had two babies and didn't have a washing machine or dryer, I sympathize with her.  Everything was washed by hand and hung outside on a clothesline. But she never complained. 

She never said, "I am so tired I need to lie down and rest." 

She woke up early and cooked a big breakfast for her large family. And as soon as the kids were off to school or everyone went to work, she started the noon meal which we called "dinner". In the summer the first thing she did was go to the garden and get peas, beans, corn or okra to cook. Sometimes she had no meat but made a delicious vegetable meal. With her hot biscuits or hoecake cornbread, no one ever complained. 

No matter how much she had to do she always had time to sit down with me and let me tell her about my day or my troubles. She made me know she cared. I feel sure she was the same with each of her children.

Next time, I will tell about my mother as she aged, the sorrows that befell her, and the joys she experienced. I was the only daughter who lived near her and we spent much time together. She was always good company and always a good listener. In spite of the hardships and sacrifices she made, Mother said she had a good life.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

A New Year, A Good Year?

My brother, Max, and dear cousin, Virginia both died in the past three years. I miss them. 

Sunday will be the first day of 2023. 
I am optimistic about the coming year. 

Like most people, my life has made some drastic changes--good and not-so-good.

The changes for me began in early 2020 when I became sick. I was alone in my mountain home and sicker than I had ever been while living alone. I had a fever and one night in bed I was wheezing when I breathed and when I coughed. I thought about calling 911, but I made it through the night and the next day I drove to an urgent care facility a few miles from my home. For the first time in my life, a nurse swabbed my nostrils. 
"What are you doing that for?" I asked. 
The nurse said, "To see if you have the flu."
They said I didn't have the flu but had a respiratory infection and prescribed antibiotics. At home, I took antibiotics for a week and was still very sick.

My neighbors, Marsha and Alice, brought food to me but didn't come in because they were afraid they would catch what I had. I hardly ate. 

I made an appointment with my primary care doctor. When I told her my symptoms included pressure in my chest, she had me take an EKG. She told me many who had COVID developed heart problems. The EKG showed no change from the one I had previously.

She said, "You don't have an infection. You have a virus. Antibiotics will not help you." 

A few weeks later I began to hear about a virus they were calling COVID-19.  
Then I heard my brother, Max, had been hospitalized. We believe now that he had COVID but was not diagnosed with it. He had to be put on a ventilator for breathing. For both Max and me, this virus changed everything.

He came home from the hospital and could not get his strength back. We talked on the phone every week and he was frustrated that the doctors had put him on blood pressure drugs and were not doing anything to help him get back to normal. He had walked a few miles every day for years, but after his illness, he could barely walk to his mailbox and back.

While he was in and out of the hospital, I was dealing with extreme fatigue, loss of taste and smell, and feeling overwhelmed because I didn't have the energy to take care of my everyday household duties. I slept poorly and had brain fog most days. Because the virus was rampant in our area, I became a recluse in fear of catching it again. I learned what it meant to be alone and lonely. I am a people person and days of not seeing or talking with another person depressed me terribly. 

Adding to my problems, I hurt my knee that I had injured years ago and it would not heal this time. Soon I was seeing an orthopedic doctor and having injections for the pain in an effort to forestall having surgery. I began physical therapy hoping that would help me grow stronger and more fit.   

My new primary care doctor told me that my fatigue could be caused by the virus I had in 2020. She ordered an Echo Cardiogram because she heard a heart murmur.       

That started me on this long trek from local medical care to Atlanta and heart specialists located in Atlanta where I did not feel comfortable driving. I am grateful for my sister, Gay, and her husband, Stu, who get me down there to the hospital and also have a place for me to stay

While we all thought 2021 would bring the end of COVID, it only brought more confusion and fear of illness. My sister-in-law died in February, and the funeral home streamed the service at our family cemetery which made it possible for me to attend virtually. I am at high risk for COVID and was afraid to attend. 

I was getting over a second round of COVID in January 2022 at my sister's house when I learned that my dear brother had died.

Thankfully, by then I had taken my vaccinations and I used oxygen at home so I didn't end up in the hospital. Still, I was quite sick for several days. I attended his funeral in person in south Georgia.

When people say we have the best health care in the world, they are so, so wrong. I have not been able to speak to a doctor in Atlanta where I have had several expensive tests done in all these months I have been waiting. I found the phone number for a nurse practitioner in the offices of my heart specialist and she has tried to help me get answers, but she says the tests don't show enough heart damage for Medicare to pay for a procedure to fix it. It will get worse in time and then insurance will pay for the procedure I need. As my condition worsens I will have more symptoms. Does that make sense?

Why did it take eight months for them to make a decision? Why didn't a doctor or someone in authority talk to me and explain what is going on?  The NP says she doesn't understand how I "fell through the cracks" and could not get any answers.

My brother's son said to me tonight," When you are an older person who has taken care of yourself so you could live longer, the doctors don't seem to want to help prolong your life. It seems they think you did well to live this long, and we don't need to spend any time or effort to keep you living." 

He told me my brother was sent to a larger hospital from a smaller one in February because he needed to have fluid drained from his lungs. But once he was there, no one did anything for him. He was there for two and a half days before he had a heart attack and died. 

My nephew said the doctors had not even discussed his health or why he was sent there. They simply let him die. After all, he was in his nineties so no need to prolong his time on this earth.

As I enter my senior years, I am seeing the lack of interest the medical world has in my welfare. I plan to have my knee replaced in February 2023. I will go through a difficult recovery and I am prepared for that.

I hope I will be able to walk without pain and live alone again. That is why I am optimistic about 2023. I will teach again and write again and visit with my friends. I will be independent and unafraid. Those are not resolutions. They are my plans. Of course, I don't plan to be ill.

I hope you have good plans for the coming year and that they come to fruition. I would love to hear what you want to do in 2023.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Christmas lights in the city

Tonight Gay and Stu and I had dinner out. Then we rode around Roswell to see all the homes decorated for Christmas. The houses were strung with white lights from top to bottom and many pretty scenes were set on the front lawns. Some were overdone for my taste and some were simply beautiful. Many had Santa and the Nativity Scene on their lawns, but not together, thank goodness.

I was told that the tall rooftops were adorned by companies that are paid to fasten those strands of lights and I wonder about the cost. I don't have much decoration for the holidays here in my apartment, but I have enough to look festive. I think I might string some lights on my little deck overlooking the lake.

In years past, Barry hung lights on our upstairs and downstairs decks. We have a wreath on the wall of the top deck. It is dark this year. I am a little nostalgic for the way we celebrated Christmas in years gone by when Barry was still a part of me. 

We participated in the music for church, singing special songs all during the month of December. We sang in the choir and for several years Barry was the choir director for our little Presbyterian church in Hayesville. Though small, we had a loyal and devoted group who practiced every Sunday and when we were planning for our cantata, we rehearsed for weeks. 

Barry also sang in a men's group, The Singing Disciples.  
Singing makes you happy. I was always happy at Christmas in our house in the mountains. 

1995, our first Christmas in our mountain house

Barry loved Christmas and never minded going to get a live tree, hauling it up the stairs, and fitting it into a stand. It was lots of work. 

It has become evident to me that when we get older, we have to face the inevitable -- Live trees are too much physical effort for us. In 2008, after he became ill, we bought an artificial tree. It seems like a rite of passage to elderhood. 

Last year Gay and Stu finally gave up the live tree, too. I have given away my most treasured ornaments. I won't be decorating another tree. 

In the years after Barry died, I put up a small tree on a table. I decorated it with tiny ornaments and it was pretty. Gay came and helped string lights on my deck. I liked to have my women writer friends over for a Christmas luncheon. We had such a good time. I miss those days.

But life is different now.  The only thing that never changes is CHANGE. It happens all the time and we must accept it if we are to continue living and doing what is important to us. Every day I find something good in my life and realize that I am surrounded by love and caring people. What more could I ask for?

I hope you, my dear readers, have a safe and happy holiday season filled with love and joy. I hope we can all put aside our differences and remember to love one another as friends, family, or neighbors. 

Barry is the second man, left side, second row

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Christmas in Ukraine


William Everett is a friend of mine and an excellent blogger and poet. This week he wrote a moving poem that touched my heart. We see on television the horror of bombed-out buildings, but this poem goes deeper when we hear a baby crying. 
I hope you will visit William's blog and read his poem.

Take time, please, to read about this man who is exceptional in many ways.