Saturday, December 31, 2011

Life Lessons, Miracles and Happy New Year

This is kind of long but I haven't blogged in a while and you'll see why.

Again, I deal with the ups and downs of life. I've been fortunate but I've also had a see-saw, turbulent, happy, sad and sometimes uncertain path. I didn't find the right answers very often until I made the monumental, life-altering decision that I couldn't do all this on my own and turned to Jesus. (Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things with Christ who strengthens me") It didn't happen until I was 30 (I'm not usually that slow)

This past ten days has reminded me in many ways of the necessity of that constant focus on what matters and what doesn't and, again, that I can't do everything I want to do and certainly that I'm never alone. I can't fix things; make things happen; be perfect or even try to be.

Lenny's health hasn't been the best in the past few years. When we married seventeen years ago he was a bundle of energy, healthy in mind, body and spirit. The last was the most important, of course. But, and there are always 'buts' 'whats and 'whys' in life, aren't there? There came a time not too long ago when we both realized he wasn't his old self but we all slow down with age. Then, it wasn't just slowing down and we found he had Parkinson's disease. He also was diagnosed with neuropathy in his legs and feet and slight dementia. He's had macular degeneration for years so his eye-sight was challenged but, again, it was getting a bit worse. The number of pills and doctor visits increased but he still has his wonderful sense of humor and optimistic outlook. So he walked a little slower and needed the cane and walker. So? We were still active in our community and enjoyed our life together.

On December 20th I noticed a bigger change. He was slower, less in the moment if I can use that expression here. He shocked me when he said he didn't want to play cards on Tuesday, something I never thought I'd hear him say. He loves to play cards at the clubhouse. On the 21st he was even slower and confused about simple things like the time of day or things he should know. I suggested that since he wasn't himself we should get some help but the independent Lenny surfaced and he said we didn't need help. Not yet. By midnight I knew differently. We did need help and I called 9ll. He was admitted and the hospital circus began. What was it? Test this -- test that. He was not able to stand or walk and his imagination took on monumental proportions of weirdness. Still no answers. Maybe this, maybe that. He had pneumonia Meds were changed and I watched and waited, praying constantly.

The diagnosis became multiple suggestions; perhaps it was an intensifying of the PD or dementia; perhaps it was a change of Meds; perhaps it was an infection (the pneumonia?) Maybe it was a combination of two or more of the maybes. Four days ago he was sent to a Rehabilitation facility in Sebring. By now my resolve was weakening and I was praying constantly. Praying for answers, for strength, to be a comfort and make the right decisions; praying for miracles and always giving thanks and praise for the wonderful blessings we had enjoyed together.

Never think that miracles only happen in a monumental manner. Tiny miracles also happen. Like he almost stood up two days ago; like he is rational again; liike today he not only stood up but took a few faltering steps. He is trying so very hard to do the therapy and keep his spirits up. He wants to get strong enough to come home. We spent Christmas day in the hospital and we'll spend New Year's Day in the Rehab facility. We don't know all the answers and we may never know them. It doesn't matter. Once again the miracle of faith has been given to us. A gift, not wrapped in pretty paper and topped with a bow. A gift that goes to the heart, that lifts our spirits. A gift that reminds us to be thankful for the difficult times because it only makes us stronger and more aware of the wonders God can do; the power of prayer and the gift of basic faith that relies on the Father we both turned to many years ago.

I am grateful for these life lessons. They make me stronger (even though I might feel weak). Tomorrow we begin 2012. We are going to celebrate in the dining room of the rehab facility with a couple of friends who want to share the day with us.

Happy New Year everyone and God bless you. Remember the blessings and forget the trouble, they sometimes are blessings in disguise.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Season

The 'season' has begun. Here in Florida that means it's somewhere between October and April. That's when all the snowbirds return after flying away the previous spring. As soon as the weather gets a bit dreary up north, they return to our sunny haven. We love having our snowbird friends return. It's great to renew friendships and kind of pick up where we left off when they headed back north. Of course, the highways are clogged, the stores are filled and the lines at restaurants are a bit longer, but that's okay. In many ways it's kind of like getting parts of your family back.

It also means more activities. Living in a senior community, we are always busy here; things at the clubhouse, the tennis courts, the pool, the golf course and in the Florida rooms of our homes makes for more entries on the calendar. It also is good for business, if you know what I mean. A boost to the local economy and additions to our personal calendars. Mine has begun to fill up, not that it is ever empty. I manage to keep busy 12 months of the year, but the 'season' adds even more.

Tomorrow I have to be at the Mall by 10:00 to set up for the Heartland Cultural Alliance event "Arts & Music Fest" which also includes sculpturing, wood carving, and book signings. Of course, the latter is what I'm doing. It's a three day event, December 2,3,4 and I'm going to be there (with two other writers from my writing group). It should be a good venue but we've never done this before so we are all excited to break this ice. I won't be able to be there for the first day (because of my Friday writing group) but I'm going to have my table set up with free handouts announcing my next two teaching events, brochures and business cards. I've also had a large poster made at the local Office Max with my picture and the covers of 6 of my books. The poster states, "Please Santa, all I want for Christmas is an autographed copy of one of Sunny's books". Hope that catches a few sales.

In the meantime, our community newsletter came out yesterday with a long list of holiday events for us to participate in (or not) as we choose. This is always such a busy and happy time of year. The newsletter also had a little write-up about my latest awards (submitted by a dear friend)so the phone has been busier because not only are people calling to congratulate me but also to ask for the new book. And it isn't even published yet!

Of course, I have the steady regular things I do, like my writer's critique class every Friday, the book club, the FWA monthly meetings and the twice monthly writers' reading event at a local coffee house. (We manage to slip in some card playing time several times a week, too.) Seems there is always something to do. My calendar is filled with 'things I have to do' along with 'things I love to do' so it's a nice balance. You know about the things I love to do, the other things are doctor's appointments, etc. The necessary things that everyone has on their calendars. Soon I'll be getting ready for the creative writing class I'll be teaching at SFCC in January and February. Another thing I love to do.

So, not only am I looking forward to all the above, I'm beginning to get into the "Holiday Excitement." I'm blessed because the things I love far out-weigh the things I must in many ways.