Friday, November 28, 2008

Singleness of heart

Grateful with singleness of heart


Give us truth in our thanksgiving that we may be grateful with singleness of heart.

We are thankful for the extravagance of the harvest:

For flavors, fragrances, melodies, shapes and colors;

For love, and the love that makes love;

For new babies and old friends;

For the strength that comes from courage;

For the joy that is born of integrity; For the peace that flows from tenderness; For good books, interesting places and unexpected beauty;

For artists who make music, prophets who love justice, statesmen who make peace; and saints who make little heavens in places of distress.

We are grateful for work and for days off; for letters from dear ones and someone to write to; For things that touch our hearts and bring tears to our eyes; for laughter and fun; For children who keep us young, experiences that make us wise, and friends who make us necessary.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It is the best of times . . . .

This, our first summer in York, was almost magical. Our pretty yellow house with its big back deck is tucked into a wooded hollow down a narrow tree lined lane. It offers privacy and cool summer breezes all season long.

We purchased pretty and comfortable deck furniture. This was a major undertaking; we are not very materialistic when it comes to furniture. But we found chairs that recline. Ottomans and side tables. A big glass dining table with an umbrella. They were delivered and we spent the entire day assembling and getting ready for a season of grilling, relaxing and reading the morning paper, sunny lunches, and sharing with friends and family.

And we did all of those things. And more.

Around the house and in the yard, Larry worked his usual magic on flowers that decorated the deck and hung from the house, over the front door and twined around the iron railings. Morning glories that added spark to the day, petunias and nasturshams. Angel's trumpet. Lilies and gladiolas. Begonias and more.

This house is only two years old. The grounds were pretty raw. But Larry made a circle of heirloom tomatoes behind a tall fence to keep away the deer and interspersed them with Japanese eggplants and lettuce.

Beautiful green zebra striped tomatoes, deep red Brandywine, tomatoes from the Ukraine, peach and yellow colors with their sweet suculence.

Each heirloom has its own color, flavor and texture; Larry has been growing them for years and years.

Nearly every morning he woke to deer outside his window nibbling at the undergrowth at the edge of the woods. One day a red fox. Later in the season, wild turkey by the dozens loping stupidly from the woods into the lane.

Larry is a good son.
He just didn't make room for his 93 year old dad to live with us. He continually gives him gifts of time and self --
Theater tickets.
A bridge group.
A computer class.
His favorite meals.
And trips to favorite restaurants.

Oh, he has said he isn't always gracious.
Says he sometimes loses patience and feels frustrated that this is not the retirement he'd planned.
But always he continues on. Always.
Because it is the right thing.
Because he is a good and generous man.

Larry loves books. He is an avid reader and usually has more than one 'going' at a time. Mostly non-fiction but he has been 'studying' the older suspense writers reading their entire body of work. Some books stacked by the bed. By the fireplace. In the great room.

Larry is also a book collector who enjoys the thrill of hunting books at auctions and estate sales. He has a great eye for good buys and often makes a nice profit on those he chooses to sell. Regional history and turn of the century bindings are favorites.

Larry wanted an MP3 player..... but he also wanted it to have an FM tuner..... so last Christmas I bought him an 80 mg Zune that he continues to fill with his favorite music: show tunes, big band, folk music, old standards, Leon Redbone, Bill Morrissey, light classical, smooth jazz. And if I sometimes think I am being ignored it really is just that he 'is plugged in' to music ---- or a baseball game ----- or a news program. But mostly music. I try to wait. . . . .

Larry came into my life more than 25 years ago.
And while he never tried to be a replacement for Amy's dad, he has been the closest thing to a father she has had or will have since her dad died when she was 12. Her children are his grandchildren. And to Anthony and Victoria he has given love, attention, gifts of time and memorable vacations.

Of all and everything that Larry is and has done, his love, care, concern support, and encouragement since my diagnosis of first chronic lymphacytic leukemia and then behcet's disease has neve waivered. Never. He comes to each and every doctor's appointment and is as much a participant as I am. He took me to Canada in 2007 to the first patient advocacy conference because the brightest lights on the planet - experts in research and direct clinical care would be there. And we would learn together.

Is he perfect. No and nor am I. But for nearly a quarter century he has been my life's partner and my best friend. And tonight, the second in a row, I cannot sleep while he is in the hospital for cardiac problems.

Come home, Larry.

What Nature Did . .... .

What nature did was remind her that ripeness is all,
that autumn is the richest season,that preparing for snow means building a shelter,that warmth within withstands whatever winter howls without.

(from the poem, "Ripening" by Joanne McCarthy)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, I present . . . . .

The First Family/Elect.

I wept when CNN called the race for Obama.

I wept for the wonder of it; for the rightness of it.

It touched a place deep inside that opened a well-spring of tears that just would not stop.

I cried for hope and optimism and for all that Obama represents, his extraordinary intelligence, vision, and for his beautiful family .... his beautiful and quite extraordinary Michelle who will no doubt bring something fresh and new to the role of first lady. I just could not stop crying.

And then on Wednesday Larry and I saw The Secret Life of Bees at the cinema. I read the book a few years ago; loved it. It was one of those books you love to love. I fell into it and only wanted to turn pages -- not think about mundane obligations like cooking and eating and work.

The book is a civil rights story, 1964 South Carolina. President Johnson has just signed the Civil Rights Act.

The books, the film were made all the more poignant by the extraordinary events of the day before and I cried more and again to think that finally after the generations of injustice to blacks and 44 years after signing of the Civil Rights Act, we as a country have finally done the right thing. We did the thing right and the right thing.

I am proud to be American. Proud that we can and will have a smooth and near seamless transfer of power. And proud of 52% of Americans who gave all the little boys and girls the ability to truly say, "I can be anything" "even president of the United States".

Thursday, November 6, 2008

America wins!

It's over. At last and finally, the long electoral process is over.

I wanted to believe that we Americans would on Tuesday make the best decision for the country. Oh but I was skeptical.

On election day, I rose early and drove to the local high school to cast my ballot without incident in a process that took less than 15 minutes from start to finish. And then with hope in my heart, I kept on the move for the remainder of the day. After an early dinner, I returned to the television to watch and wait the results.

Television is not my preferred mode of entertainment; I probably don't tune in more than a few times a year. But in the last few months I have become a news junkie who needed a daily fix of Keith Oberman, Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, Brooks and Shields. I know..... I know ...... And when not on the tube, I was surfing the web seeking international perspectives and political blogs. (Newspapers are not my news-drug-of-choice; I don't like the format; I hate just getting into an interesting article and then having to search for the remainder on some distant page; I hate the dirty ink. But most of all, I hate the assault on my senses of rape, murder and pillage every day. Often front page. Often above the fold. Too much. I have always agreed with Andre Weil, 'we need to take vacations from that assault of bad news in the print media.'

Well, on Tuesday night I found MSNBC a bit too hyper for my temperment and they were just a little too eager to call the election ~~ and far too early ~~ and so I opted for the News Hour on public tv. With a cup of tea and settled at my work table, I was prepared for a long night of counting electoral college votes and watching red turn blue (or so I hoped). And as the evening wore on, hope grew larger and larger until it seemed to be reality. Pundits began to sound as though it was a done deal.

When the race was called for Obama I ran to find Larry who was connected to his Zune. We looked at one another and spoke together. Or tried; my words were choked beneath a torrent of tears. A sobbing from the depths and the tears just ran ceaselessly down my cheeks and onto my shirt.

An unbelievable story; a marvelous victory for America.

I waited for John McCain's concession speech. And then again for the real deal, the real reason for staying up so late on this night of nights ~~~ Barack Obama's speech. And still I cried. I cried in joy and hope realized. I cried for possibility. I cried for generations of injustice against people of color. I cried in the wonder of that beautiful young family ~~~ Michelle, young and intelligent, a first lady who will undoubtedly bring a new dynamism to the role, and their lovely young daughters, living in the White House.

And I cried for the millions of children who can say now with a degree of certainty that they can do and be anything. Even president of the US.