Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Andrew d'Elia: 1917-2012

Routine, traditions: daily practices that maximize function and efficiency. Keys labeled and placed in a box. Mail sorted into separate piles; the right leg inserted into the trousers first; the daily banana, cut in half, one piece put aside for lunch, the other, peeled and sliced with precision and added to the cereal bowl.

At sunset, without fail, the shades drawn and the small lights turned on, illuminating the pair of windows that face the street.

The faded American flag, a Veteran's pride, hanging below the window for 25 years. The two cars like sentinels, side-by-side in the driveway. The thread-bare mat by the door.

Farewell Andy; farewell.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A good life, this.

The birds have vanished into the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.
Li Po

Godspeed Andy. Go in peace.

Monday, February 27, 2012

An open heart begins with an open hand

To live in this world, you must be able to do three things:
to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones
knowing your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.

Mary Oliver

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The heart that truly loves never forgets

A journal entry: "I was reading aloud something I had written for Dad in 1980; she (Mom) and I both cried and I got up to hug her. Her steady tears continued as she offered, 'It must be very hard to see your parents this way.'
We hugged often during that weeklong visit, sharing remembered stories and easy laughter. Newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's that surely has been lurking for some years, she now grieves for a life muched loved and cherished, fearful of losing Andy, her home, and all she knows that anchors her in place."

Perspective, perception; objective and subjective threads, braided as a single strand. What does she see? How does she make sense of her world?
I can intellectualize till I'm blue in the face, but my intuition tells me this: Mimi is here among us in this precious moment; not framed by history and dreams of the future, but rather here, now. Like an infant responding to cues- facial expressions, body language, tone and volume, quality of touch- she gleans and in an instant, responds accordingly.

I recognize that I have a choice in what I express and convey to others. And I've learned from my mother, masterful teacher that she is, that, you do in fact, reap what you sow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Carry on baggage of a different sort

We all do it; tote around baggage, seen and unseen, weighed down, inhibited by a burden we can't seem to let go of. Sometimes we don't even know we're doing it, like the 13 years I spent carrying the loss of my stepfather's tragic death in my psyche, a dark, hulking heaviness that reared its head each year in February like clockwork.

On a recent walk along the Napa River Trail this man passed me, his breath labored and noisy from the aerobic demands of his fast pace and weighted vest, his gait akimbo under the self-imposed strain. In a hospice facility on the opposite coast, my (current) stepfather carries a burden of a different sort, invisible to the naked eye, but apparent none-the-less. Ailing and diminished from advanced cancer, he remains tethered to this earthly realm, reluctant to relinquish his role in my mother's affairs.

I've learned that what we choose to carry has ramifications that go far-beyond ourselves. And I ponder what role, if any, we each have in helping one another to lighten our respective loads.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stepping out, stepping in

My mother used to say that the best part of going away was coming home. For her, particularly in her vibrant entrepreneurial years, the coming home meant resuming her busy professional life and slipping back into the familiar. She loved her life and what she had carved out for herself and her family.

There is much about that sentiment that resonates with me, in part, I think, because I too love my life and all it encompasses. Am I chomping at the bit to get back to a classroom or rehearse with the choir? It's more the anticipation of weaving new learnings and understandings into the fabric of my daily life.

Kudos to author Miriam Beard for shining light on this notion: "Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living."

Now please pass the brussel sprouts.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The steady comfort of flowers

op·ti·mism   [op-tuh-miz-uhm]
1. a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.
2. the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.
3. the belief that goodness pervades reality.
4. the doctrine that the existing world is the best of all possible worlds.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Godspeed Andy

Dear Andy,

I'll admit it has not always been easy to love you. There have been times when we did not see eye-to-eye regarding the care needs of Mom and a great chasm opened between us. Somehow, over time, we've come to a place of reconciliation. I am grateful for that and I trust that you are too.

In December, I sat in your kitchen and looked into your eyes and said goodbye. I told you I was sorry for the things I've said and done that were hurtful; I expressed forgiveness to you for the times your actions were hurtful to me; I told you I loved you and would miss you when you die, and I said I would always carry you in my heart. I meant every word.

As you live out the final days of your long and storied life, may you find yourself in a place of gratitude and deep peace.

Love, Jenny

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A substitute teacher gets a love letter

Dear Mrs. Sinanan.
Your one of the Best
substots in my
whole kid life.

from Neelima

A lovely day was had by all today in room 901 at Cedar Way Elementary. Here's hoping your Valentine's Day was suitably sweet!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A thing called love

Last night my dear spouse asked, "What shall we do for Valentine's Day? What day is it again?" Priceless, but quite in character. True to form, I suggested we make each other a card and call it done. His facial expression spoke volumes: bottom line; "What does she want? Glitter? Poetry?"

I bested that request by opening my desk drawer and unearthing the card he gave me last year, its sentiment made sweeter with the passage of time. Gracious man that he is, he offered to inscribe "ditto" next to his signature, which I took as a sign that things are still feeling pretty good between us. Low maintenance; that's us!

Our beautiful niece, Eliza, married last April, sent us this link today, featuring her own sweet love story.

Ain't love grand?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A tight squeeze

She crashed through the house tonight at high speed, bouncing off walls, retreating briefly under my desk, going airborne down the stairs, knocking over books and a stereo speaker, then woosh- she vanished, gone from plain sight.

Thirty minutes later, we found her, huddled under the chair by the fireplace, hunkered down, seeking refuge from the offending tennis shoe, which somehow she managed to get entrapped in, laces drawn taught with only her hind quarters exposed.

Oh, Delilah, dear girl. Play with the laces any time, but keep your head out in the open and leave the wearing to me!

Friday, February 10, 2012

A beautiful heart

I started my day this morning in a darkened room while someone I love dearly underwent transthoracic echocardiography (TTE). The literature describes it as the primary noninvasive imaging modality for quantitative and qualitative evaluation of cardiac anatomy and function.

When the technician completed the 40-minute procedure, he shared his perspective: "A beautiful heart."

I could have told him that at the outset if he had only asked.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

No ball game here!

After a long slow drive on an old sugar cane road that resembled a muddy washboard, we arrived at Polihale Beach. A mere handful of folks were taking in the beauty of the misty shoreline as we pondered how deserted the beach was.

Later, back at the condo in Poipu, loud whoops brought the answer. When I mentioned the Super Bowl, my dear spouse asked what type of ball is used for the event.

There is so much about that man to love.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mask on, mask off

Dear Faith,

I felt like writing about you today, but then I realized it would be much more satisfying to write to you instead.

Good morning dear heart. I miss you. Before Mika and I left home last Saturday, I had already begun to picture us here in Kauai, taking early morning beach walks and long, refreshing swims before lunch, and later, closely examining the eclectic selection at Papalani's Gelato, just across the street. I thought it would be highly likely that I would feel your presence here, having savored two Hawaiian vacations with you and Viyda in 2007 and 2010. And I have.

There are many of us, Faith, who have bountiful memories of you, who miss you dearly, and who feel your influence upon our lives day after blessed day. This may come as no surprise, but I want you to know that I feel your steady, gentle hand when I feel the most vulnerable. It's in the territory of intimacy that I often sense you at my side, giving me the courage to lean into my life with an open heart.

It's the product of our cherished relationship, Faith, and I am so grateful for that sacred gift. Warm tears, unleashed laughter, long conversations, silent foot massages, spicy meals, meandering in and out of shops. These are some of the things I'm recollecting today. Meet me at the beach in 20 minutes.

Over and out,