Saturday, December 20, 2014

Getting Out Christmas

Wasn't going to decorate this year...wasn't sure I could handle the pain of taking it all down after New Year's. But this may be my daughter's last Christmas at home (she hopes) and I asked her. YES was the reply.

December 20th. Raining. Dishwasher going. Listening to KING FM 98.1 online Christmas channel. My favorites are carols from around the world...Huron Carol, Still, Still, Still, A La Nanita Nana and others.

I set up my Nativity first...solemnly contemplating that still night when Jesus Christ was born. I have pictured this night since childhood as mild with a small, fresh breeze. I can now feel the sweaty hair rise slightly from Mary's brow as the wind washes over her after her travail. I can hear the steady breaths of her sleep as she rests from her labor. I can smell the straw of the stable, the earth so near and the warmth of the nearby animals.  I can see Joseph, awake, watchful of his wife and the Child -The Child, who would change the way humans regard God, sin and forgiveness. I touch the babe, Jesus, as he squirms free from his swaddle. He grips my finger. I smile.

And now I continue through my mess, determined to make Christmas happen for my family, when really now, I have all I will ever need to have of the season - A testimony that Jesus Christ is my Savior. Every thing else is fluff.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wind's a blowing. Joints a aching. Bright blue sky, though, and fresh air. 

Was going to walk with a friend this morning but when I woke up, I was so warm I didn't want to leave my house. Just took recycling out a bit ago...still pretty frigid. It's supposed to be, of course, it's November!

So, I'm staying put this Veteran's day, contemplating so many who have kept our country free. I'm snuggling with my cat, using the computer, and alternately writing a picture book, doing laundry and dishes. I can't come close to imagining what people have gone through over the years to keep our nation free. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

And After...

This post was somehow not published when I meant it to be. Here it is now.

Sometimes we lose battles. Sometimes we lose friends. Sometimes we lose family. Sometimes we lose all three.

Jerry has succumbed to cancer. He passed in his sleep on February 3, 2011. Exactly 20 years after my friend from school, Carolyn Saxon passed from the same wretched disease. Gerry was 62. Carolyn was 29. I will forever call this day my Personal Cancer Day.

"My Loving Bother" fought death many times and won. He bested the bastard at least three, maybe four times in the last calendar year. When I spoke with him on January 30 he said he felt good, was not ready for hospice yet and was still expecting a miracle, after all, "They happen every day," he told me. Soon after he admitted to my sister that he had used his miracles up and thought maybe cancer was going to beat him. A week and a half ago he recieved news that he had more cancer in his lungs than healthy tissue; and though his tumor under the arm had shrunk, the cancer had spread to his brain. He was given at most a month. They stopped treatment and decided to live as best his remaining days.

He did not want to be drugged so that he was not clear his final days, but the pain became so bad that Hospice was called on Monday and set up on Tuesday. He died around 3:30 am on Wednesday morning. Jo Ellen called me around 2:15 am Pacific time, about 45 minutes after she found him. Jerry Jr was there and Kim was on her way from Tenessee. She had planned a weekend visit. She had not made it in time.

I am sad that he had to suffer. I am sad that his family is now missing him desperately. I am sad that he is the third child his mother has burried.

I am happy he loved the outdoors and enjoyed hunting and those other "manly" activites. I am happy he loved my sister and spent 43 years with her. I am happy that they were happy.

I am sad for my sister that she now must go on alone in life. I am sad that she has lost her soulmate. I am sad that I cannot go to her currently because I recover from foot surgery.

I am happy she loved him so much. I am happy that my mother loved him as a son. I am happy that he survived Vietnam, though it eventually killed him in the form of cancer, quite likely triggered by Agent Orange.

I am sad that so many people suffer in the world from diseases, neglect, abuse, murder, war, oppression and disasters. I am sad that I can only help but a handful of these sufferers in my life.

I am happy that people come back from sorrow. I am happy that Jo Ellen is a survivor and will carry on, as she said a year ago when the cancer first came back. I am happy she is my sister.

And so, even with my faith, knowledge and testimony of  passing through the veil of death and the life beyond, I just can't seem to stop crying. I cry because I am grieving, and I need to let myself do it. I can't do it all at once. I am famous for saying "Healing comes in pieces." Right now I need to take my own advice.

I need to sit at the ocean and look at the life giving waters that pound the coast. I need to breath deep the air and let myself feel the depth of my pain. I need to let go. One day at a time.
Autumn once more finds me hunkering down, reading and writing. A new challenge this year is the University of Washington's Writing for Children class. I'm taking it with 19 other women interested in writing for children. I'm learning what I want to learn, not how to write as much as what to do with it when I'm done. I've met some amazing women with awesome ideas, and have heard published guest speakers talk about their experiences in the writing world. I'm loving it.

Writing has always been a passion of mine, and since I love children's literature, the two are married perfectly in my goal to become a published children's writer. As I continue to teach and watch my daughter mature, I know that I now have the time I need to listen to myself and work toward a second career after I retire for public school teaching.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

First Amendment of the US Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

(Worship what you may. Let me worship my way. If you don't agree, that's fine. My love for you as a human being does not depend on what or who you worship or do not worship. Don't get upset because I have the right to worship what you do not agree with.)

...or abridging the freedom of speech,

(Say what you think. Let me say what I think. Don't tell me you know what I think and I won't tell you I know what you think. My love for you as a human being does not depend on what say or don't say. Don't get upset because I have the right to say what I think, even if you do not agree with it.)

...or of the press, 

(Read and write what you want. I will read and write what I want. Don't tell me what to read/write and I won't tell you what to read or write. My love for you as a human being does not depend on what you write or what newspaper you read. Don't get upset because I have to right to read or write what I choose to, even if you disagree with it.)

...or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petitition the Government for a redress of grievances.

(Assemble where you may. Protest what you may. Support what you may. Do not be upset because I have the right to do the same, even if you do not agree with it. My love for you as a human being does is not affected by what causes you support or protest, or your right to do so. Allow me the same rights.)

The constitution guarantees my rights as well as yours.

This country is a republic. Laws and ordinances are developed and approved by majorities. In elections, majorities win, minorities lose. The losers always complain the loudest. For the good of all, if you are not satisfied with what is going on then exercise your rights to redress grievances, and don't complain because I have the same rights, guaranteed by the Constitution of the US.

Penny Lee Soutar copyright 2014