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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Short and sweet today.

If Your Actions Inspire People to Dream More, Learn More, Do More and Become More, Then You Are A Leader ~  John Quincy Adams

There are people in my life about whom these words could have been written.  The circumstances for each are different and the leadership is often born by walking through the fire of adversity and coming out stronger. May God bless them as well as those who come to mind for you.

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… and on the 7th day, He rested.

Right back there in Genesis, after the creation of the world, even God rested. Now I am not going to get into a theological discussion about whether or not this really happened nor if it did how long it actually took. I’m merely reacting to the fact that even the Creator of the Universe paused from working.

That being said, if it’s good enough for Him, then it’s certainly good enough for me.

Well, one might say, “Diana, you’ve been resting from working for over two years now. Don’t you think that’s about enough?” I’m not really talking about the absence of working but rather engaging in something different in a restorative act, something that brings wholeness to you and enables you to get back into the foray again.

Restoration is something needed for all of us, and maybe more so for the job seeker because there is little affirmation or success happening … For me, I have felt it especially necessary in 2010 as added to the frustrations of the job search, the heart heaviness of worrying about those close to me who are also unemployed, and recent health issues, my mind and spirit were definitely in need of a clearing. (See Coming through the darkness and And the winner is … The Virus.) Fortunately, there has been progress on all fronts with residuals of the virus finally being gone.

Webster’s tells us that restoring is bringing back to a former position or condition; a renewing!

It’s funny the myriad of things that can cause restoration to take place, many being very simple acts, indeed. That simplicity is truly a gift.

For me, summer itself is one of the biggest. I enjoy being able to be barefoot (I’m guilty of it inside all year round) and jacketless, especially in the evening. Since celebrating our 25th anniversary in Florida in 1992, Bob and I have enjoyed a number of February breaks there. Lying on my back on a winter evening, feeling the warm, moist breeze across my face always makes, especially when it’s snowing at home.

Curling up with a good book, sharing Saturday breakfast or Sunday dinner with my little family, having a tears-running-down-your-face laugh with a bunch of friends, being wrapped up in Bob’s arms after a particularly tough day – all of these work their magic to restore my spirit.

Four years ago I added another restorative experience to my list –what has become the annual family vacation week at Bob’s cousin’s house on the Cape. We have spent many Thanksgivings there with the Schuman cousins over the years and finally took Joan and Strat up on their offer to spend a week at the house overlooking the marsh and Cape Cod Bay. This year, it was even more eagerly anticipated.

So last week, Bob, Kim, Kirt, Britt, grandbeagle Reggie and I made our voyage to this magical place with its many restorative powers: Being away from home with the people most important in my life, sleeping with the windows open to the sea breeze, savoring the uninterrupted marsh view, reading lots of books, watching the sunset over Cape Cod Bay from the upper deck and later lying on our backs searching for shooting stars while we try to discern the constellations, and perhaps the most refreshing of all, using the outdoor shower!

ADDENDUM: After posting this blog entry last evening I was reading the current Guideposts magazine this morning and share this quote with you from Catherine Fenwick, Canadian motivational speaker and author of Love and Laughter–A Healing Journey which I may just have to read:

Your body cannot heal without play. Your mind cannot heal without laughter. Your soul cannot heal without joy.

Our days from July 13 to 21 went too quickly – but my body, mind and soul have been restored. I’m ready to take on my world!

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It’s been a long while since I’ve blogged, not that the spirit hasn’t been willing. I was sick for a couple of weeks and am still pretty tired though improving. There are lots of posts running around in my head that I hope to put to paper.

Today is the 16th anniversary of my dad’s death. He and mom drove from Florida to Illinois in June of 1994 to attend the funeral of one of his brothers. Preparing to head on home, he packed the car, went back into my aunt’s house where they were staying, sat down on the sofa, and died. Yup, talk about a shock. The man my mom had spent six weeks with before he went overseas and six weeks after he came back before getting married and spending almost 49 years with had just faded away with no warning.

My son Kirt wrote a wonderful tribute about Dad which he has given me permission to share with you. The photos are from my parents’ wedding picture in 1945 and one that my mom carried in her wallet that was taken in the early 90s.

Dad 1945Dad 1990s

Flying Fortress

The Boeing B-17 Bomber was the toughest aircraft the allies could put into the sky.  The “Flying Fortress” remains a legend in the history of the Second World War.  It was the plane that struck deep into occupied Europe, in daylight, taking on the might of the Luftwaffe, braving the ferocious flak defenses.  It was the bomber that could hit precision targets from five miles up, then limp home with massive structural damage that would have crippled any other airplane.  It held ten flyboys, many still teenagers, and bound them into one solid fighting unit.

B-17

*Images are from government files and are all believed to be in the public domain.

Since its first flight early in 1940, this “Battle Ship of the Skies” had a reputation for getting its crew home, no matter what.  It was not unusual for a B-17 to come in on one engine, no tail or rudder, massive holes in the wings and fuselage or a collection of the above. Try as they might, the German’s just could not find a weakness.  Because of its tremendous range, some of its most dangerous  missions were conducted without the aid of a fighter escort.

“She’ll fight her way to the target, do the job, take anything thrown at her and do the damnest to get you home,” stated a young B-17 pilot after he inspected a 10 foot hole in his plane’s fuselage following a successful mission.  There is even an account of a “Fortress” landing itself after its crew had bailed out.

The “Flying Fortress” exceed all expectations.  It always completed its missions with great accuracy.  Most importantly, the crews were proud to say they have spent time in a “Fortress.”  She would take anything dished out at her and just keep on flying.  The B-17 was my grandpa.

The second oldest of ten children, he learned responsibility early.  He worked as a newspaper carrier before and after school and a golf caddy in the small town of Elgin, Illinois, outside Chicago.  He led the typical mid-western childhood.  His strengths in school were definitely in the practical subjects of woodworking and electricity.  He consistently applied himself and his dedication was recognized by his instructors.  He was nearing graduation when he was drafted into the Army Air Corps and chosen to be a crew member of the premier bomber of the war, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.  His training would begin at McDill AFB in Tampa, Florida.

These Florida memories came back to him one day when we were playing golf.  The cart paths of this particular course seemed to be interconnected with other longer and wider stretches of pavement.  Grandpa, quickly recognized the pattern and realized that it must have once been a training facility similar to his in Tampa.  These facilities were exact replicas of the 8th Bomber Group’s bases scattered throughout Europe.  I had a strange sensation as I drove down the same tarmacs that the B-17’s had trained on half a century before.  I was in a golf cart with my only worry being if I should hit a six or a seven iron off of the next tee while fifty years before, kids my age had been learning the ropes of the machine that would be the only device that could protect them from death in the coming months, wondering if the Florida orange grove would be their last sight of the country.

Upon opening a box of Grandpa’s stuff two summers ago, I came across the actual Pilot’s Training Manual from their B-17F.  After a brief overview of the gauges came a section that aided the pilot in assigning positions to his crew.  Under the heading of Engineer it reads:

Size up the man who is to be your engineer.  This man is supposed to know more about the airplane you are to fly than any other member of your crew.

To be a qualified engineer a man must know his airplane, his engines and his armament equipment thoroughly.  This is a big responsibility: the lives of the entire crew, the safety of the equipment, the success of the mission depend on it squarely.

Your engineer should be your chief source on information concerning the airplane.  He should know more about the equipment than any other member of the crew-yourself included.

Generally, in emergencies, the engineer will be the man to whom you turn first.  Build up his pride, his confidence, his knowledge.  Know him personally; check the extent of his knowledge.  Make him a man whom you can rely.

Obviously, Grandpa’s pilot recognized his strengths and made the logical choice.  If I were to trust anyone with my life, it would be Grandpa.  His dedication, perseverance, and loyalty were far beyond that of anyone I know.  When we were children he made my sister a doll house (it was enormous and detailed down to the working electrical outlets in the wall).

Instead of buying shingles, he bought a bag of five hundred tongue depressors and cut each one individually to shingle the roof.  He did this, not because he was cheap, but because he couldn’t find any pre-fabricated ones that were exactly right, so he made them himself and spent over two weeks just shingling the doll house roof.

One of my earliest memories is of Grandpa and me laying on the floor playing with my hundreds of matchbox cars and the tremendous multilevel city structure that he built for my cars.  It had working lights, a lighted helicopter pad,  an elevator and three different sirens and horns.  He was never too tired or too busy to get down on the floor and play with my sister or me.  The kids of the neighborhood quickly figured out their Sunday afternoon visit pattern and seized the opportunity to have Grandpa Clay fix their bicycles.

Today, I can imagine Grandpa cramped up into tight places of the bomber fixing one thing or another on the plane, in order to keep it in optimum running condition.  Knowing him, he probably even spent his free time helping other crews with their planes.  After hearing the stories of B-17’s coming back barely intact, I’m sure Grandpa kept himself busy, on and off of the ground.

It was also the engineer’s duty to man the top ball turret.  I’m not sure if he ever shot anything down.  He did give me a shell that he had saved.  At the time it was bigger than my forearm.

After the war he took his expertise and opened up one of the first TV repair shops in Manhattan.  He successfully owned it for many years until moving to Massachusetts to take a job with the ever expanding Honeywell corporation.  He worked there using his hands and thoroughly enjoying it until he took a early-retirement offer in 1989.  He quickly became bored and began working for five dollars an hour as the handy man for the local Sears.  Of all of his jobs, that was probably the one he absolutely loved the most.  In fact when he moved to Florida, the store manager called the Daytona store and had that manager create the same position down there for him.  I remember one day he came to visit and bragged about how a shelf had cut off a big chunk of his thumb.  Just like the old bomber he got the stitches and returned to work the next day.

I had not realized how huge this parallel between the plane and my grandfather was until after he died.  He had been fighting severe kidney problems for over fifty years, yet you would never hear him complain.  He was one of those men who didn’t care what he would have to go against; he would never say no. If you needed something at four in the morning, Grandpa would be dressed and out the door before you could tell him what you needed.  He would drive from Florida to New Hampshire non-stop without getting tired.  He could not keep stationary for more than an hour, unless it was if he was reading his favorite book, “The Little Engine that Could”, to somebody.  In the end it was part of Grandpa that was the most powerful and worked the hardest that eventually quit, his heart.

Grandpa took a lot in his life but just kept on going.  He never asked for anything.  He appreciated everything.  He left Elgin like a brand new plane and went off to war where the paint began to dull.  After returning, the mission continued in New York, Massachusetts and Florida, each year taking hits and making repairs.  Ironically, the final leg of Grandpa’s mission was the limp back home to the home base of Elgin where he turned in his wings after living a wonderfully successful mission.

Thank you, Kirt, for summing up so well this special man who was loved by so many. The love lives on …

In Memoriam: Clarence (Clay) Hansing, February 14, 1925 – June 15, 1994

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Last evening our doorbell rang. There was a woman asking about the house next door to us, which has been for sale since fall and has not been regularly occupied for about two years. The owner had been around a few weeks ago to move out some things; but other than that, there has been no activity.

The woman has driven by the house a few times and noticed a cat in various windows and was concerned about it. My husband asked about the coloring of the cat, and it matched the one reported missing about 3.5 weeks ago by the young family that recently moved in across the street.

The realtor listed on the sign lives locally, so my husband called her and explained the situation. She came down with a key. A few minutes later, our neighbor was inside trying to capture his long-missing cat who was doing all it could to hide, energy apparently not an issue. We’re assuming that the cat must have gone inside when the doors were left open during the partial move.

I’m not sure I want to know what the cat has been eating and where it has been resting; but from what Bob said, while it’s a bit scraggly, it doesn’t appear to be any the worse for the experience.

Two parents, four kids, two dogs, and one cat, are all home safe and sound on the Sunday night before school vacation.

All is well with their world.

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It’s been quite a while since I have blogged. After reading today’s entry, you will understand why.

The sun was streaming through my bedroom window last Sunday morning. It felt so good on my face as I lay there in the quiet. I immediately started singing John Denver’s words in my mind: “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy. Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry. Sunshine on the water looks so lovely. Sunshine always makes me high.”

While far from a “sun worshipper,” I find being in the warm sunlight so restorative to my spirit. So I was disappointed when the recent trip my husband and I took to Florida during spring break in March proved to be pretty cold and windy. While it was good to get away, not getting to spend some time just relaxing with a book while sitting outside in warm sunshine (oh, and maybe taking a nap there too), left me unable to truly pull back from the cares of my life and really relax.

And I so needed to do that. Relaxing had become foreign to me …

You see, the events of the last couple of months converged leaving me in the darkness. Anxiety had become my constant companion. I’ve been nervous each morning before I head to class and each time I have to be part of a group. My confidence is shaken and my self-esteem is low. While I have been in some new situations for sure, this is so uncharacteristic for me. Added to those feelings and exacerbating them were some medical concerns. Some meds I had started shortly before the start of the new year made my blood pressure go crazy. This, of course, created anxiety of its own. As my primary care provider worked with me to adjust meds and get my BP down, I found myself falling into a depression. I found myself at a very low point just as we came back from Florida.

My birthday that next week was celebrated back at the doctor’s office where I arrived in tears. While relieved to learn that one of the meds being used to control my BP and also relieve some of my anxiety can cause depression, I realized that hitting a second birthday without full-time employment was also contributing to my downward spiral. I was not feeling sorry for myself but was unable to stop those feelings of inadequacy and failure that had surrounded me, also pulling me towards the abyss.

As I write this, I am not completely out of the woods. However, my BP is under control, my newer meds don’t appear to be causing any issues, and I feel less nervous. I’m still a bit unsure as I leave the house each day, but I have not cried in a number of days. I am still very tired a good part of the time, but I am laughing more and finding joy again in those simple pleasures of a husband and family who love me and all the other blessings in my life.

It’s cold and rainy in Dover again, weather so different from the first day of spring almost a month ago and the beautiful warm Easter weekend of two weeks ago. But this, too, shall pass. This is New England after all, where the weather changes regularly. It is because of that change that I so appreciate the warm sunny days when we have them.

And so it is with life.

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As I’ve gotten older I’ve thought about that phrase above and how it has changed over time from when I took it literally as the 4th Commandment and assumed it meant absolute obedience to anything my parents would have expected from me. Like many things, as I got older, I realized that the phrase itself is just the beginning of the depth behind it.

My mother-in-law, Eva, was a sweet gentle spirit with twinkling blue eyes. She loved to read and work crossword puzzles till advanced macular degeneration took away that pleasure. She substituted books on tape till her dementia made it hard for her to remember how to work the tape machine and left her confused sometimes thinking that her vision had gotten bad that morning rather than years before. She always knew, however, when I entered her room and always had a kind word for me and an inquiry about how my job search was going. I’m thinking about her this New Year’s Eve remembering that my little family of husband Bob, daughter Kim, son Kirt, and daughter-in-law Britt were with her when she left us around 3:30 PM, December 31, 2008.

In pausing to reflect on the last months of her life, though others would disagree, my husband honored her when the doctors recommended that she move to a nursing home because the care she needed was more than could be given at home, her safety and well- primary concerns. It was a tough adjustment as being anywhere new was uncomfortable for her because of her sight. In the 18 months she was there, she won the hearts of the staff with her quiet demeanor, appreciation of anything anyone did for her, and her wry wit which would always catch folks off guard because she so rarely spoke.

During her last month, she would repeatedly ask my husband how old she was and he would gently reply that she had recently turned 92 and her sister in Texas was 100. She would quietly respond that 92 was too old and that she didn’t want to live to be 100. She was making her wishes known to us in her own way as she confirmed that desire by eating less and less. Others encouraged my husband to arrange for a feeding tube and do whatever was necessary to keep her alive. My husband would calmly reply that this was her wish and he respected her decision — honoring his mother by understanding that this was the last thing in her life she had any control over.

Christmas Eve came, and we realized that we needed to share a family tradition with Eva one last time. Of all the traditions we have for Christmas, reading The Night Before Christmas is one of the strongest. Bob’s dad had started the tradition when he was a young child with a copy that had fuzzy Santa suits and stockings just meant for rubbing. Bob continued the tradition each Christmas Eve with our kids, even now that they are adults. We shared a tradition that encompassed more than the reading of a secular story, a tradition that for us means family, love, caring, memories, and more, a way to connect our past, our present and our future and honoring all that has been. We read each page in turn, sometimes choking back our tears. And when we took her hand to rub the fuzzies, we knew that she was aware of what was happening. We were struck with all this moment meant for each of us as Bob read the final words, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.” We were given the gift of Christmas at that moment and knew that we were honoring her in a most special way.

As mentioned above, she passed away a few days later and the acts of love and caring (dare I say, honoring?) continued in a variety of ways. As we were gathering our things in preparation to leave Evas’s room, I said that I was going to go home and make pasta with meat sauce, a definite comfort food for me. My daughter-in-law replied that she would take care of that and I should go home with my husband – honoring, this time a mother-in-law.

No one wanted to be anyplace else than with each other that evening, so after dinner we gathered in my daughter’s apartment upstairs from ours and watched a silly movie — honoring my husband and me with their presence then and throughout the following days.

My son and daughter helped me write both the obituary and the eulogy I would deliver – showing honor not only to their grandmother but me as well.

There are many more examples I could site as I am sure you can too from your own stories. But I think what I have discerned from my remembering today is that honoring is simply another word for love.

May 2010 be full of joy and love for you and yours.

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