Happy retirement party day, Tom…Sick or not, I’m in!…

Last night at 8:45 Tom took me to urgent care.  My voice gone, gut wrenching coughs overtaking me, it was time to address this three week old flu.  

An hour later with prescriptions for Z-Pack and codeine cough medicine in hand, we left the all night pharmacy to return to Karen’s home and some much needed sleep. 

It was a fitful night, tossing, turning, dreaming and coughing.  Trying not to take the cough medicine before bed, like a fool, at 4 am I had no choice with the coughing continually awakening us.  The pharmacist had stressed, “Do not take more than one teaspoon.  Its a new formulation and could be dangerous.”  

“Good grief,” I thought, “Why give me such a dangerous drug?” With only a peculiar looking plastic measuring device that came with the red syrup I struggled to measure out one teaspoon.  My contacts were out.  I couldn’t see. With the intent of erring on the safe side, I poured what may have been a mere 1/2 teaspoon.  

In a matter of minutes I conked out to awaken at 8:15 this morning, head a little less foggy, voice somewhat “hear-able” and the coughing cut in half.  Who says antibiotics don’t work for a virus?  Although still sick, I now can manage to hostess Tom’s retirement party with a renewed expectation that I can make it through the busy day and night.

We invited less than 100 people but with the help of a co-worker and friend of Tom’s, Jer-Bear who enthusiastically invited many more, we could have a substantial turnout. After forty two years on the railroad, Tom with his outgoing and friendly demeanor could certainly warrant a reasonable turnout.  Thanks Jer-Bear.  

The last day of our estate sale is going on as we speak.  They’ve already called me twice asking for our “lowest price” on a few of the bigger items. Hopefully, they’ve been sold.  

Worried as to how much will sell, we are discussing plans for the “leftovers.” We must decide by Monday morning when the estate sale people return to donate, to dumpster and to clean the entire house (for an extra fee, of course).  

This is an angst ridden process: selling everything one owns and then disposing of many of those items that one considered to be treasures.  It not only hurts the pocket but, also the soul.  

We all want to believe that we have impeccable taste and yet, we all want to be unique.  That, my friends, is an oxymoron.  Uniqueness dictates that only certain people will find that which we have as “purchase worthy.”  Others will thumb their noses with their distaste.  So it goes in Life, yin and yang.

Tom’s SUV loaded with party supplies, soon I’ll leave to pick up Camille, my daughter-in-law who has been my loyal and official helper through thick and thin during this entire moving process.  She and I will pick up the food for the party, the cake (I’ll post a photo of the amazing cake next time I write), drive the long haul to the VFW party hall in Coon Rapids, Minnesota to set everything up for arriving guests at 5 PM. 

Tom will drive himself in Camille’s SUV to the party and then I will drive us both home in Tom’s SUV at the end of the evening, designated driver that I am with a relatively inebriated and outrageously humorous passenger in tow.  

As we move into the next phase toward Tom’s retirement date and, our departure date of October 31, 2012, I’m filled with sorrow, anticipation and elation all at once.  

The goodbyes beginning tonight, continuing over the next four days, will surely be the most difficult part of this many month’s long process of planning to travel the world over the next five to ten years, as vagabonds, gypsies, and adventurers. 

Not too bad for two typical Minnesota home bodies, having lived a joyful life of routine and familiarity, who’s world will soon be upside down. 

Memories, light the corners of my mind…

At times we find ourselves listening attentively to an animated senior citizen, hanging onto their every word, of a bygone era filled with breathtaking stories far removed from our own reality.  

Many of us envision a blissful time when we will be that senior, finally at peace with our own mortality, sharing such stories with a younger generation, hoping that they will glean a delectable morsel of the wisdom that ultimately will carry them through life. 

Often, we hear the same stories over and over, to the point that we remember them better than they, finding ourselves filling in the blanks to kindly and lovingly help them along.  Many of the stories go back 50, perhaps 60 or 70 years ago.
Somewhere along the way, time seemingly stood still while no new stories were gathered, to be embellished or to be shared with the wide-eyed young recipients.  In time, to the older crowd, the retold stories are gently perceived as snooze-worthy, tolerated and bemused.  With love, we smile, we laugh, we ask questions we’ve asked many times before, and, we act surprised.
It’s charming. It’s precious. But deep inside that angelic soul, a story is told of a life that was once lived a long time ago. 

Is that our fate?  As we enter the last third of our lives, can we choose to begin again, a new phase, a new chapter, filled with awe and wonder while living in the moment building stories we can share tomorrow, in a week, a month or a year? Can we overlap our stories as we live them to the fullest, events big or small, trivial or profound?  Yes, we can.

Today, we can see a white squirrel run through the trees in our yard, snap a photo to share it tomorrow with an inattentive five year old, and suddenly their eyes look upward in hopes of seeing the flash of white leaping from tree to tree. This becomes a story, relevant, today.

A few days later, we’re playing cards with the neighbors laughing so hard we throw back our head and our glasses fly into the air, landing in the fruit bowl on the table and then, we laugh some more.  This is a story.  We laugh again when telling it, hoping they will laugh along with us.  And they do.

Life is big and small, adventurous and dull, quiet and lively.  Stories of today and tomorrow, interspersed with those of long along, may help us find our way to a fuller life that only ends, when it ends.