I rose early this morning, pulled on boots, zipped up the parker and grabbed my camera. Out the door I went into the little woods in back of my house. It’s the last morning before the new year. Everything seems so fresh and sparkling and I silently give thanks. I look forward to tomorrow morning and the beginning of 2016. Blessings to all!
It’s early Sunday morning and I make my way out to my favorite bench at the end of the pier overlooking Portsmouth Harbor. I’ve sat in this same place countless times enjoying tea and a muffin. I usually have this spot to myself and today it was just myself and the seagulls looking for pieces of muffin.
All of a sudden, I turned around and looked behind me to the other side of the pier. I don’t know why, it felt like someone tapped me on the shoulder. Of course, there wasn’t anyone there. That’s when I realized that it was the same place where I had taken photographs of a co-worker’s daughter many years ago. We had been out all morning taking photos for her senior pictures. It was the last stop we made. I wanted the harbor and boats as background. The light wasn’t cooperating, so I had the girl’s mom hold up a large silver reflector. Sally was short and she had to stand on tip toes to hold the reflector high enough. She danced around like a ballerina holding the reflector while I took shots at different angles. She looked so funny. We laughed, it was a good day.
Sally died a few years ago and while I think of her often, this was the first time I remembered that long ago day on the pier. As I said, I’ve been out to this spot so many times just to sit and enjoy.
I haven written anything or picked up my camera for a while. I’ve been in some kind of funk. I’ve been trying to get back on schedule, but it just seems easier to sit and “be.” But this morning I took out my pen and scratched out a few words. I didn’t have my camera with me, so I took a couple of pictures with my IPAD. I can remember that day so clearly now. I can practically see Sally dancing around on her toes trying to hold up a reflector almost as big as she was. I can see her daughter smiling at the camera. I can see myself and remember how much I love photography and writing.
What a strange morning. It really felt like someone had tapped me on the shoulder, but there was nobody on the pier but me.
I find her in her bedroom, sitting in a wheelchair in front of a big window. She is up close to the window panes intently looking out. I pull up a chair and lightly touch her arm. She looks at me and smiles. I tell her who I am. I always have to tell her who I am. I ask her what she is looking at and she says the cars going by. She looks at me a second longer and returns to staring out the window. I sit in silence. We have always been comfortable in silence.
I can hear the ticking of the second hand of the large white clock on the wall. The walls are high in this quaint victorian bedroom. The floor is a rich dark mahogany, along with the door and window frame. The clock keeps ticking, only now it sounds louder. I look at her tight gray curls and the moss green shawl that covers her shoulders. I watch her fingers play with the long fringe.
I look over at the old silver radiator as it comes to life hisses and clanging. The big house always seems to be cold, even in April. I can still hear the ticking clock amid the hissing and rattling of pipes. I hear the echo of voices from somewhere in the back of the house.
By the window there is a small table with half a dozen framed pictures displayed. All the people in the photographs are long gone, but she knows them all. There is one picture of a red cardinal perched on a branch covered with white, pinkish apple blossoms. Whoever took the photograph used a telephoto lens. It looks professionally done with the soft blurred background. She has told me before that she loves birds.
The ticking clock sounds even louder as I sit next to her writing. I hear my pen scratching across paper leaving soothing words behind. She has fallen asleep. I close my notebook and put my pen away. It is time to go.
(I am a hospice worker traveling from home to home. Along the way, I meet special people and would like to share those moments.)
When I walked in the front door, I found my husband standing there proudly holding a freshly baked birthday cake. My big, burly husband held a square pan in his hands. Inside was a chocolate cake with vanilla icing smeared on top in varying degrees of mountains and valleys. Stuck precariously in the icing were six pink candles blazing brightly.
I said it wasn’t my birthday until Thursday. He said that today was the only chance he had to bake it and surprise me.
Surprised I was indeed! The man had gone out, gotten a Duncan Hines cake mix and vanilla frosting and did this wonderful thing for me.
I bit into the still warm devil’s food and it tasted like love – the best taste in the world.
I sit in the corner of Adelle’s sipping the last bitter drops of my tea that had gone cold. It is chilly and windy outside and I am reluctant to leave the warmth of the cozy little coffee shop. I sit for a few moments more watching the barista make something hot and foamy. I suddenly think of my daughter, Morgan, who loves the foamy chi tea here. We always delighted in the design the barista would swirl in her hot drink.
It was only a few winters past, that Morgan and I would meet every Monday at Adelle’s. The small hole-in-the-wall establishment always seems to have a warm golden glow to it. It must be the light reflecting off the art filled walls. A mixture of all sorts of folks come and go. Adelle’s is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the palette.
Morgan only stayed one winter, then moved back home to Florida. Mondays always seem a little empty without her at Adelle’s. I can still picture her sitting across from me blowing on her hot chi tea, telling me all about what was going on in her life, her plans and dreams.
These Monday memories are like old faded photographs carefully tucked away in the scrapbook of my mind. To be taken out and looked at, remembered and cherished and then tucked away again.
I finally push back my chair and grab my book and car keys and head for the door. I think I will call my daughter when I get home.
My best friend was sitting on the sofa patiently waiting for me to finish cooking her dinner. I placed a small bowl of white rice and boiled hamburg in front of her and watched her gobble it up. She is finally eating and drinking, but she is not “out of the woods yet.”
A few days ago, my healthy, bouncy eight-year-old terrier mix fell critically ill. The veterinarian was able to operate, but Gigi’s bladder was damaged. Fortunately, the doctor is a passionate and talented veterinarian. He has been treating Gigi since she was a puppy and refused to give up. He sent Gigi home with a “strong” fifty-percent chance of survival.
When I brought Gigi home, she snubbed her nose up at the nice bed that I made for her and chose her favorite corner of the couch to bed down on. My husband and I took turns sleeping with her during the first crucial nights. We worked as a team giving her antibiotics, pain meds, washing bedding and changing absorbent pads. Things are better and her bladder seems to be working properly. Her stitches will be removed Christmas Eve morning. Her prognosis isn’t great, but then what in life is permanent? If there is one thing that I have learned is that we will always know illness and loss. It is not how long you get to live, but how you live your life that really matters.
As I write this little Gigi is lying by my feet, as she usually is when I am at my computer. I know that there will come a time when she won’t be there. But for now we have these moments. I will remember to cherish these times and just “be” with her. We are best friends and this is the season for miracles.
This is one Thanksgiving I will remember well. Approximately 180,000 people lost power in New Hampshire after a nor’easter struck the New England coastline. My husband and I were no exception. Thankfully the heavy, wet snow had stopped by Thanksgiving morning. Unfortunately, we were left in the dark.
Fortunately, my sister-in-law didn’t lose power, so we loaded our holiday fare into the car and had Thanksgiving dinner at her place. The day was saved and we were happy, full and grateful for each other. The hard part was going home to a cold, dark house.
Plenty of blankets, long underwear and a wood stove got us through the next couple of days. I kept reminding myself that this was nothing to what others are going through. I could be keeping vigil over a loved one in an intensive care unit, dodging bullets in a war torn country, or watching my child starve to death. I really am lucky for the life I have.
My husband and I took turns going to the gym for showers. One was always home keeping the wood stove going. He spent most of his time listening to a battery powered radio and I read by candlelight and wrote in my journal.
I am always amazed how simple life becomes when the power goes out. The telephone in the kitchen is silent and our cell phones are turned off to save the battery. There is no checking of email or surfing the internet. There is just conversation, books and thoughts. I went to bed early and awoke rested.
This afternoon, the power was restored. I rejoiced as the heat kicked in and the lights went on. After my husband went out for the afternoon, I turned off all the lights and placed candles around the living room and kitchen. I turned the computer on just to post on my blog and I kept my cell phone turned off.
I will remember this Thanksgiving as a time spent by the wood stove reading by candlelight and talking to my husband. I will remember the silence that the snow brought and the gathering of my thoughts.