Monday, July 25, 2011

A Mom's Love

This story is from 1993. I was on my way home from work and decided to stop by my in-laws house to say hi to Evie, my mother-in-law. She was at home all of the time. Not working anymore. She had undergone chemo and was recuperating. I thought I would stop by and just say a quick hello. I knocked softly in case she was sleeping. I opened the door and walked in equally as quiet. Evie? I called. In here. And there she was stretched out on the couch listening to some sort of nature sounds. Actually, I think it was whales and oceanic recordings. I asked if she was meditating. As much as I can, was her reply. She added, I wish I would have taken more time to do this earlier in my life.

When we had visited a while I said I should be going. Stay, she said. I said you're tired. I know she said. I'm always tired. And I know I'm dying. Will you stay? Of course I will. Let's make those fabric wrapped fruits that I have on my kitchen table. A crafter I am not. I don't think so. You know I'm challenged in that department was my excuse. I'll teach you was how Evie responded to that. We cut, shaved and shaped styrofoam circles into "fruit." Then we ripped fabric strips and glued them onto the fruit. In the end we laughed and cried and I actually did learn how to make a craft that day. We cleaned up and I started to bid my farewell. Evie said, call Scott and see if you can stay for dinner. Oh, I don't want to impose. Family never imposes was what she said. We stayed for dinner and enjoyed a lovely meal and great conversation. Hugs and kisses were exchanged and Scott and I went home.

What I had planned to be a quick visit to say hi turned into a four hour talk, craft session and dinner. I don't regret a minute of it. It was one of the last times that I was able to spend alone time with Evie. It is a day I will always remember. I will always cherish. She shared things with me about life that are priceless. She told me stories about her son, my husband, that no one else could ever tell. Sweet memories. She taught me that it's ok to meditate and take time for yourself. It's ok to throw your plan for the day away. It's ok to try something new. And it's wonderful to take time to be with the ones that you love. You never know how many of those precious moments you will have. I am so blessed to have known such a beautiful human being.

©2011 Ann M. De Broux

Friday, July 15, 2011

Automatic Always Best?

Lots of things are automated these days. We have ATMs. We can check out our own books at the library. We can run our car through the car wash without a person in sight. At the doctor's office you can fill a prescription without a pharmacist. All of this is for the sake of convenience. And believe me, I am all about efficiency and convenience.

But here is where I draw the line. Automated toilets. If you are a parent of a young child you know that the automatic flushers can literally scare the crap out of the kids. Well, what better place to be you say, than on a toilet. Right. My own offspring was scared to death of these things when she was four. These toilets are incredibly loud, have a gust of wind involved and are just plain scary. I had to do a lot of convincing on a trip that we had taken to Maine. We had just gotten off the plane and into the bathroom we went. She sat down to do what she needed to do and at the end of her business she was so traumatized that it took the purchase of candy and a stuffed animal to bring her back. From there on out she would have me enter the bathrooms and push the stall doors open and announce to her whether these toilets were "safe" or not. I felt like a cop doing a search for a criminal in the stalls. Instead, I was on the hunt for the big bad automatic flushers.

On this same trip to Maine we were shopping at one of my favorite stores in one of my favorite towns. Anyway, we were shopping and I needed to use the restroom. I inquired. The clerk, a very handsome young college student, suggested that I use their new facilities. State of the art toilet. The most ergonomically, efficient toilet on the planet. I'm game, I said. In I went. Indeed I was comfortable. I did what I needed to do. I was no more than a centimeter off the seat and the toilet flushed. Efficient beyond words. The g-force of this flushing was something I would have never imagined. And it's something I don't want to experience again. Ever. Suffice it to say that one doesn't even need toilet paper! I gathered my wits about me, washed my hands and exited the restroom. Scott was waiting to use the facilities. I told him he had better not consider sitting down because he will forever be a changed man. With a really high voice. The clerk happened to overhear our conversation and was convulsing with fits of laughter. He thanked us for making his day.

So after many giggles at the expense of my girl's fear of the auto flushers (of course we never laughed in front of her), I could now relate. We have adapted to this modern marvel. We have faced our fear and can enter a restroom without breaking into a cold sweat. Efficiency is good. Convenience is even better. All for it. Auto flushers? Jury is still out on that one.

©2011 Ann M. De Broux

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Simple Touch

Yesterday in church I was reminded of something that happened a while back. We were at church and during the Lord's Prayer we hold hands. At the end of the prayer I always give a little extra squeeze to the people I've been holding hands with. Sometimes I know these people. Sometimes I don't. On this particular Sunday I was holding Scott's hand on one side and an older gentleman on the other side. At the end of the prayer, the older man leaned close to me and said that it was nice to be back in church. It was nice to have a little bit of human contact again. He said thank you to me. I thanked him in return. I don't know this man. I don't know his name. I'm not sure of his story. Where had he been? Had he been ill? Was he a snowbird and had spent his winter in Florida? I don't know. I do know that he had a need for human contact. A simple touch.

I come from a touchy family. Lots of hugs and kisses for everyone. We joke that we have the longest goodbyes ever in my family. Some may be uncomfortable in these situations. I know folks who are not comfortable with this kind of greeting or way of saying goodbye. This is ok. But after recalling the story I told about holding hands in church, I really got to thinking about the power of the human touch. I remembered studies that my class talked about in college. There was this study done relating to how much babies were and weren't touched and held in the first year of life. This study was conducted by testing orphans raised in third world countries. The people that were operating the orphanages were overwhelmed and unable to do much more than meet the basic needs of these babies. To hold them and to cuddle was out of the question. These babies had to be bathed and clothed and fed. Everything was done quickly and efficiently to the best of their abilities. There was no extra time for loving and cooing and cuddling. When a fortunate baby was adopted, they often didn't know how to react to sweet and loving attention. The newly adopted baby had to be taught how to accept love and touch. This study broke my heart then and does to this day.

I think we underestimate the power of touch. The small touch of receiving change from a store clerk. Shaking hands with a friend. Holding hands in church. The reassuring touch of a nurse or doctor. Even if only for a few seconds. This is the stuff we live for. It's simple. It's free and it's yours to give. A simple touch from you could mean the world to someone else.

©2011 Ann M. De Broux

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Creatures Of Habit

I know. Today is Tuesday. In my mind this is Monday. The holiday is throwing me off a bit. This is a work day. Not a play day. Big difference. So all day, at least so far, I have been off a day. Even yesterday when my dad asked if I had written my blog, I said I have until tomorrow. Completely thrown off. Out of my routine.

We were up north this weekend and the power went out. This is livable and sometimes even fun. Flashlights and candles. Spooky stories. You know the drill. After a while it gets old. You flip on a light switch. No light. Oh right, no power. You open the refrigerator and think the light bulb has burned out. Wait. Your brain catches up. Again no power. My neighbor got up in the middle of the night and realized we didn't have power and ran right into the wall. Pure habit. He thought he was at his other house. I woke up on Saturday to still no power. I thought maybe I should run into town and see what's happening. What if the gas station has no power? I won't be able to buy ice, coffee and a paper. Then I remember that I have internet access on my new phone (which I am still getting used to by the way. I have butt dialed at least a dozen times and if one of the calls has been to you, I apologize). So I Google WPS and find out that there are twelve power outages involving almost five thousand customers. We are one of those customers. Terrible wind storm last night. I grab my keys and some money and hope that there is power in town. Just as I am about to step out the door, the power comes back on.

I can make Gracie laugh hysterically when I shift my "new" car. New is in quotes because it's my new, used car. I'm used to the shift located on the steering column. This car has it on the floor. So when I grab at the place I expect it to be I turn the windshield wipers on. Cracks her up every time. Aren't we funny creatures, we humans? We love a routine. We wake up and go to bed by the sun. We eat at designated times. We put things back in their place and expect them to be there when we go to use them again. Oh wait, that's a dream of mine! We are able to adapt, thankfully. It sometimes takes a while, but we do adapt. Off to reset my weekly clock. Maybe by the end of the day I will know where I am.

©2011 Ann M. De Broux