Archive for November, 2010
Trying to find a way to connect after moving to Las Vegas, I offered to teach a Confirmation class at our Parish. Whenever I got to class before any of my students arrived, I often saw a mysterious figure poking his head out of a big garbage dumpster in front of the church. At first I was freightened, but I didn’t say anything to anyone for fear they’d think I was crazy. This went on for several weeks until one day I saw him coming out of the dumpster. He was lanky but I didn’t get a good look at him then.
As I drove to the church for additional meetings and services, I would see a tall, very thin, frail black man walking toward the church or just away from it. I presumed it was the same man. Behind the church was a grocery store and a Walmart in a plaza I sometimes visited. I justified in my mind that he was going to the store. A couple of times I saw him walking into the store, I think to get warm there, but he was always disheveled and dirty. It was then I started giving him a few dollars to buy a cup of coffee and some dollar wings to eat. He never spoke, just bowed his head and shook it yes when I’d tell him what the money was for. It was warm food and he looked so hungry. One of the security cops patroling the parking lot came over to scold me that I shouldn’t be helping the homeless. The city frowns upon such acts of kindness because it then encourages homeless people to stay on the streets and beg instead of going to shelters for help.
I told my son, Brian, about him and what I’d done. A couple of times he was with me for my meetings but he never actually saw the man.
Brian said, “You know mom, it’s not really safe to approach homeless people, you don’t know what they’ll do.”
We’d seen a news clip about some homeless people fighting over a meal that was left at a park where they would camp out. A stabbing resulted because some didn’t want to share. Brian made me promise I wouldn’t approach anyone again. I promised and didn’t, until Thanksgiving.
On one particular occasion I saw this man walking quite a ways away from the shopping center. He was much further down on Boulder Highway than I’d ever seen him before. Striking to me that it was bitter cold, the wind in the high desert blew extra hard that day. There he was, in tennis shoes with the backs broken down so they were like slip-ons. His bare heel-skin could be seen as he flopped out of them when he shuffled to take a step. A thin overcoat covered him and what looked like a tattered shirt was underneath. There was no gloves or hat to help him keep warm. Clutched in his hands and trailing behind him was a light blue, blanket, which had holes, and frayed pieces of fabric waving in the wind. It was tattered and dirty with smudges. The first thought I had when I saw this striking picture was of the comic strip Peanuts character Linus, always carrying his blanket. That would be his name, thereafter. When I spoke of Linus, my husband and son always knew who I meant. Everyone needs a name, it’s respectful.
I remembered my childhood days when I lived by railroad tracks that ran behind our home. Sometimes hobos would come up from the backyard to the house to ask for food from my mom. She always sent me into the house and made them wait on the steps. Then she’d make them a couple of sandwhiches. She gave them fruit or cookies and something to drink. Out of her sense of what was right, she’d pack them a small bag of food to go. Sometimes she gave them one of my dad’s shirts if they were the right size and needed one. One time she even gave a hobo a pair of my dad’s pants. The hobos were always respectful and grateful to her for her kindness. So it was no stretch for me to want to help Linus, but how?
It was our first Thanksgiving in our new town. We didn’t know anyone and Gregg, my husband, got called to work early that evening. We’d already consumed the portion of food we wanted and everything was just leftovers; there was plenty. As Brian and I were settling in to watch a little TV for the evening, Linus came to mind. Was he out there in the cold… did he get anything to eat this day of thanksgiving?
I talked it over with Brian, deciding that we would take him something to eat. I had a good idea where I might find him, in or near that dumpster and I just couldn’t settle in until I knew he was fed. I can’t really tell you why I had that feeling but it was really strong. I just knew it was something I had to do. Also, it was another lesson I could teach Brian. We had literally just escaped being homeless not long before our move. There but for the Grace of God goes us. We’ve been blessed, and our blessing should be shared.I felt a sense of urgency and appreciation that I was afforded this opportunity to do a bit of kindness.
As I busily went about getting a small portion of each dish we had for our dinner into throw away containers, I suggested Brian go through some of his socks and tee shirts to share with Linus. We even found an old pair of tennis shoes we thought would fit him. It was a great back and forth Brian and I had talking about the true meaning of being thankful and being able to put our gratitude into action. We had fun thinking of all the things we could put in our bag for Linus. All the tee shirts and I think even a sweatshirt went into the bag. On top of them I placed the very hot food, heating it right before packing. That was a two-fold move, as it would be kept hot with the insulation of the clothes and the clothes would be warm from the food should he want to wear something warm.
Brian and I set off on our Thanksgiving search for our recipient. It would be the first time Brian got to meet him and I was kind of excited. We drove to where I thought he might be, first to the dumpster at the church, but it was empty. Inside you could see a corner of it had been occupied by someone. I discovered it really wasn’t for garbage at all but for collecting old telephone books and magazines. That eased my mind somewhat, at least he wasn’t living in garbage. Next we searched in the plaza with the grocery store and the Walmart behind the church. I drove to the back side of the palza as well. No Linus.
There were several strip plazas leading up to that parking lot where I first saw him, so I thought maybe he might be on the move, walking, we backtracked. No Linus. I doubled back across the four lane highway to see if I’d missed any spots. Brian got out of the car a couple of times to look in dumpsters and behind areas we thought looked like someone might hide from the cold. No Linus. It was just turning dusk when we started, but had spent so much time looking, it was almost completely dark. Disappointment was frustrating me because I wanted him to have a warm meal. There was mashed potatoes and gravey, sweet potatoes, warm bread with butter, corn, and of course turkey with stuffing and gravey. A piece of apple pie and a piece of pumpkin, both with a dollop of whipped cream on top were for dessert. I just didn’t want him to miss out.
We drove back about two extra miles taking in more strip plazas, driving behind them as well looking for good hiding places. No Linus. We were both disappointed. Brian was frustrated because he really didn’t know who he was looking for, and I was frustrated that I just couldn’t find him. So we stopped in a parking lot and waited. The thought came to me we should say a little prayer to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost articles. It was worth a shot, so we prayed. We emplored St. Anthony to let us share our good fortune with someone like Linus. We’d left home some forty-five minutes earlier and time was wasting, we set out on our search one last time.
As we were approaching the church, across the busy highway, in the distance, Brian and I could see a figure walking with his head down as if having nowhere to go.
“There, that’s Linus! That’s him!” I almost squeeled.
We were on the opposite side of the road and traffic was heavy. I told Brian not to take his eyes off him until I could turn the car safely around to deliver thanksgiving to our new friend. There was excitement in Brian’s voice as well as he tracked Linus’s moves aloud.
I made my approach to Linus from behind as we pulled along side him, but he gave a wide birth to the car. Brian got out first and spoke.
“Hey there my man,” he said. Linus stopped in his tracks. Brian offered his hand to shake. Linus, hesitating, finally took his hand in friendship.
Brian asked, “How’s it going?”
“I’ve known better,” Linus spoke.
Brian continued, “I have a warm dinner here for you with some warm clothes and socks and shoes.”
By that time I was out of the car and shook his hand as well.
I asked him, “What’s your name, mine is Kathleen and this is my son, Brian.”
“Robert,” he replied.
“Well Robert, I’ve seen you many times and I just couldn’t let you not have a warm meal this Thanksgiving Day,” I shared. “There’s a whole meal, a little of everything we just had at our table in this bag just for you.”
For the first time, I saw a smile, not a big one, but nonetheless, a smile.
I continued, “ There’s some warm things for you to wear and I don’t want you to share this meal with anyone. It’s just for you!” “Go to your hiding place, and have a warm meal. Put on the shirts even if you have to put em all on, they’ll keep you warm. And, put some socks on and try the shoes so your feet will be warm.”
“Thank you, both of you, and God Bless you,” as he shook his head in agreement, still with the grin on his face. He offered his hand in gratitude to both of us. His look said it all.
“Yes, Robert, God has blessed us in so many ways, and now we can give back to someone else.” Brian and I looked at each other and knew we’d done the right thing.
As we settled into our warm appartment to watch a little TV, Brian looked over at me and asked, “What are the odds that after all that looking, and not finding him, out of nowhere he appeared.”
“I would imagine astronomical,” I answered.
“Mammaw always said, “prayer is powerful” Brian, I think this was her way of letting us know how powerful it really can be,” I added.
We were the thankful ones that Thanksgiving Day. Thankful I could teach Brian a special lesson, and thankful I wasn’t homeless with him. We certainly have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day.
Hello all my viruses and germs!
First, I got my flu shot, uh, ooooooouch! Take that all you nasty bugs! Now that’s out of the way.
Ok, so I had an exceptionally fruitful week… I had lunch last week with a ghost writer to help me jumpstart my writing…I’VE JUST GOT TO FINISH THIS BOOK! Let me tell you how the meeting went down…
B R as I will call him for now is a ghost writer I met at two weekend’s ago book festival in downtown Las Vegas. We spoke briefly and he said to shoot him an email and we’d set up lunch to discuss my project… his business partner was coming into town at the end of the week and we could all talk….I thought to myself…. “what harm could it be to have a nice lunch and just talk”….I figured at the very least I’d get a polite “thanks for your interest, but at this time we’re really buried, but we’ll keep you in mind.” I couldn’t have been more wrong!
B B, B R’s business partner, was warm and friendly from the moment I shook his hand. A tall distinguished looking man in blue jeans with a wonderful smile and a gentle demeanor, he sounded genuinely interested in what I had to say. B R and he did a lot of asking, but it was all the right questions. (you just know when someone is interested in project when they ask all the right questions) The one question that has stuck out in my mind was the first one, “Is this a true story?” It ran through my mind that I never thought it could be anything else but true but I shared that, yes, it indeed was all true. They both shook their heads. Honestly, for mine and Brian’s sake I wish it weren’t. I had advanced the first three pages of my book to them (it was my hook, for those of you who know what that is) and they were hooked.
The meeting progressed while I offered for them to meet Brian if they wanted. They eagerly agreed. Brian was on stand-by at home waiting for my call should they how a desire. I was mid-sentence when Brian arrived walking in from their backside so I could see him but they couldn’t. Talking with my hands as I do, they didn’t catch me motioning to Brian to hang back until I was finished with my sentence which I led into with…”and if you’d like to meet him, Brian, meet BB and BR. YOU SHOULD HAVE SEE THE LOOK ON THEIR FACES! It was mint! It never gets old seeing the look on someones’ face after telling them all about Brian’s condition and setbacks and handicapps and then having them meet him…They were stunned!
They engaged Brian in conversation getting a feel for how much input he had. It truely was a meeting of the minds…. we had the warmest back and forth about our story I think I’ve ever had so far. At one point BR asked me what my direction or motivation for getting this story out was. I said that every time I tell someone about the struggles Brian went through, invariably they ask, “so when’s the book coming out?” I feel compelled to tell our story to give others hope. And that they might pick up some pointers as to how to handle some really impossible situations.
The lunch ended on a great note, them offering for me to stay in touch to keep them abreast of my writing progress. I walked away from that meeting feeling invigorated with the motivation that I’ve found someone I can lean on who can help me accomplish what I want. BR asked me what it was about him that drew me into him. In a word, his handshake. It was warm, and genuine, and solid. He was an accomplished writer himself so he had nothing to prove to me… his confidence showed. I liked his candor and his honesty and the warmth of the conversation he carried on. It was like that for both men for me, I felt safe telling them about my story and didn’t feel at all like I was being scrutnized as a first time writer.
Almost the first thing I did was go online and type in BB’s name on google. HOLY CRAP! I had no idea who I was just sitting in the presence of! It turns out BB is a producer/director in Los Angeles with a list of VERY noteworthy credits to his name! I shot a thank you email off to BR and BB to which they both returned one stating that anytime I need help they’re there for me at a moment’s notice. (I know in my heart I’ll get this done now for I don’t want to let them down.)
WOW! I started to shake a little, how could I get so lucky? Then I thought about the date, it was November 12th, what would have been my mom’s 89th birthday! Since she’s been gone she lets us know she’s still with us protecting us, along with my dad and other family members who’ve passed. Brian got notified about his Wish from Make A Wish on mom’s birthday too. I try to keep track of significant dates in their lives, because they end up being significant dates in our lives. I think it’s just because we remember to not forget them.
Since that meeting I’ve been organizing things to do a marathon writing…from November 30th to December 11th I’ll be off the grid as they say…writing my brains out and calling for help to these two who offered. I can’t let them down, but more importantly, I can’t let myself down….it’s time now to get this writing done. Brian agreed that he will fend for himself while my husband, Gregg is out of town visiting his very ill mother. No TV, no shopping, no out of the house until it’s done….OH WAIT! I have to go to PT and I have to go swimming and singing rehearsals for Midnight Mass! OK, so nothing else besides those prior commitments! I’ll need a break anyway so I don’t go crosseyed! LOL BUT THAT’S IT… Brian said he’s gonna have a boatload of business plans to write anyway so we’ll both be holed up throwing chicken bones over our shoulders and typing furiously with greasy fingers to get our respective projects accomplished. We will emerge victorious! Well, maybe not that dramatically, LOL, but I’ll have a somewhat finished rough draft to send to BB & BR. I’m actually excited.
I neglected to share with you the intimate details of the conversation BB & BR and I had so it can be a post for a later date. I don’t want to give all of it away right now but suffice it to say… there’s more….LOTS more to come if I can just get this ADHD brain to focus enough to get it done!
On another quick note, Skittles and Candi are doing much better and Skittles has even gotten some of his hop back in his step! I’m very pleased with the meds the vets gave them…We have hoppy bunnies once again!
I’ll post more later, but as always, remember to take care of you and yours,
Hello my friends,
I’d like to say it’s been a rollercoaster week. Ordinarily I’d be overjoyed telling you about my good news but, I’ll temper my enthusiam with reflection… For all of those who prayed for my Aunt Jay, thank you. She passed away Monday evening. She was the last remaining relative I had of the “older generation” and with her, at 90, goes all the tales of my mother’s side of my family. No, we weren’t close, but I did have a great deal of respect for her. Hers’ was not an easy life by any stretch, though at times it was every bit as stellar as any you’d see on the big screen.
Her late husband was a chemical engineer who, unbeknownst to him until MUCH LATER, had worked on a part of the Manhattan Project. That was the secret government project to build a neuclear bomb. But, that wasn’t the only thing he did during his life. Some of the perks of working for a chemical engineering firm was to attend gala events to either raise money for a project or to celebrate a project’s completion. My Aunt was an accomplished seamstress and often made the formalwear for her husband’s co-workers’ wives at her dress shop.
I’ll never forget the story she told us about the time she’d been so busy at her shop doing her designing and assembly that she’d forgotten to make her own dress for a particular event. She hurriedly took some yardage similar to a sheet and assembled a toga-styled one-shouldered gown in like two days. Off she and my Uncle went to the event and, when she walked in all eyes turned to her. She looked absolutely stunning in the dress and many of the woman wanted to know what designer she was wearing. She acted coy and deflected the answer, but inside was laughing hysterically at these people who, if they only knew it was a bedsheet, would have just died! She never told them and they were non the wiser!
I always remembered that story when I was working at JCPenney’s as an assistant buyer in the misses department. I was hell-bent to own a 3/4 sleeve jacket to wear with several of my dresses so I wouldn’t ruin my dress. I looked and looked for one but couldn’t find one so I made it, no big deal I thought. However, as I was standing with my immediate boss from the department as we were setting my area for a huge sale, some lady comes walking toward me saying, “That’s it, that’s the exact jacket I want! Where can I find that jacket?” To which I had to answer her that to my knowledge, there was nowhere she could buy it….I had made mine. My boss was livid. She tuned to me after the lady was gone and told me never to wear my homemade clothes to work again.
What she failed to realize was that most of my clothes were homemade. A lot of them very nice, nicer than a lot of what I sold! She told me that as an assistant buyer I was there to promote the products I sell. I told her I was there because I needed to take a paycheck home, not to buy all the latest fashions that were on the floor and that if she wanted me in those clothes then they could provide me with clothing from the store once I got to work. I’d be happy to change into whatever they wanted me wearing, and at the end of my shift I’d leave them there.
They only did that once, at a Halston promotion they wanted me in a Halston dress. The problem for me was that the dress they wanted me to wear was like 79 bucks! I told em I couldn’t buy it, so they let me change into it and then give it back to them when my shift was over. They never asked me to do that again!
My point is that my Aunt Jay had inspired me years earlier to make and design my own clothes. They were far less expensive and I stood taller when I wore something I made with my own two hands. It’s sad to know that today’s woman will not know that feeling because making and designing their own clothes is VERY rewarding.
There were other things my Aunt did in her life like become a welder, where she worked side by side with men, holding her own in a demanding, often very hard job for thirty some years. That was after my Uncle died and she was left to care for her only child, a daughter, who as smart as her father, went to college and also became a chemical engineer. (I think the term is the wrong one, I don’t believe she’s a chemical engineer, but for the life of me I can’t remember what that term is. She corrected me once a couple of years ago, but I’ve just forgotten. It’s close enough to what she became that for these purposes it will do.) LOL Silly me!
On Tuesday, the bunnies went to the vets for what was supposed to be a routine visit. Well, the vet ran long on a surgery. She called and asked if I could pick them up the next day. So Skittles and Candi went on an adventure to her home until the next day when Candi got her teeth ground down. She’d lost almost a full pound from not eating! Often when a bunny is in captivity they haven’t got the grit to keep their teeth ground down as they’re eating dirt along with grass and other such treats they comsume. Skittles got an x-ray of his back and as we suspected has some arthritis setting in. He’s almost 7 now and showed signs of it by not coming out of his cage and down the steps… he could go up them, just not down them. The morning after he got some medicine to help that he came down the steps on his own for the first time in months! I was so happy for him I called the vet crying for joy to tell her! LOL Silly me!
I’ve been continuing my healing journey going to PT religiously Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. I think I’m having a setback due to a mistake I made while doing one of my exercises. The good news is Amanda thinks I can recover from it, but it will be slow in coming… I’m getting so disheartened by my lack of evident progress. I had a heart to heart talk with her Friday and she came to the conclusion that I may almost be at the best I’ll ever be with my healing. That’s good in some respects because I’m doing SOOOO much better than before the surgery which is their litmus test for progress and recovery. I just thought I’d come back further than this in my healing… but at least I’m not in severe pain like before so I guess I should be grateful. I go Monday to discuss the next surgery with my surgeon. That will hopefully be the last of the surgery needed to make me whole again. I want to function “normally” like others.
I do have more to share but will add it later so as not to take away from the sadness of this post. Not that this note must be sad because I do believe I celebrated a life well lived here today. My Aunt Jay’s body may have been broken beyond repair, but her spirit was vibrant to the very end. She went quick which I am sure is the way she would have wanted it. May her soul and all the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen
Remember to take care of you…
Hope all is well with you and yours.. I’m excited tonight for a couple of reasons. First…my son is home, although I sad that his girlfriend isn’t with him… she’s such a sweetheart…I really, really, really, really love her! (is that enough reallys?LOL) Secondly, my flowers that Brian had sent to me for no special reason except I’m the mommy, that’s why! Thirdly I get to rehearse after mass tomorrow! I can hardly wait!
Had my MRI and x-rays taken yesterday so this coming week I should be getting back in to see my surgeon to find out what he has to say after he sees them. I’ll keep you posted.
I’d still like for everyone to keep my Aunt Jay in your prayers. She had a stroke in the last week or so and is not doing really well at all. My cousin, an only child is having a time dealing with all the stuff that goes along with putting her mother into hospice care. It’s been so tough on her, she could use your prayers too. And her husband, who, had been my cousin’s rock as well as the cousin who is a priest. They are helping her as well. This aunt is my last remaining relative of the older generation, she is my mother’s older sister. When Aunt Jay goes, there will be no one left on either side of my famlies to share any more family history. I’m glad I talked as much about that with my mother that I could when I had the chance. Please keep them in your prayers.
I went to the Vegas Valley Book Festival this morning for a seminar about writing a memoir. It was very helpful and I got a picture with Mayor Oscar Goodman, a very colorful character indeed! Along with seeing some old writing buddies I haven’t seen in a while, I also met someone who will possibly be helping me finish my book…THE MOVIE WILL FOLLOW shortly after! If I have my way about it! LOL Here’s hoping it will go to big screen, not be made a movie for TV. A writer can always have her dreams! LOL I think I’d like Katherine Heigl to play me, whaddaya think? LOL
I’ll be writing more as the weeks go on and I know a little more, but for now know that I’m gonna be in hot pursuit of finally finishing my book!
well for now my friends, remember to take care of you and I’ll post more soon,
hugs to all,
I know, I know, it’s been a few days since I posted…. But the good news is I was out playing with my girlfriend from high school. She flew in to see me and attend a scrapbooking convention with me… WE HAD A BLAST! We laughed and carried on and were able to stay the whole day! We even went back for a second day after going to mass! It was awesome to walk around and think about what people were explaining to me about the different techniques…instead of thinking about the pain in my leg and back. I am so privileged to be up and walking and having fun again!
I have to tell you that I’m just happy to be doing the things I am these days. The lady from NuVasive asked me to take a picture of me doing something I haven’t done in a long time because of the surgery…I had a hard time choosing some one thing because there were so many things I’d given up. Simple things that wouldn’t make for a very good picture, like bending over to pick something up off the floor and I’m even being taught how to swim the front crawl! Amanda, who knows how important it is to me to swim like I used to and she’s found a way to modify my stroke…. She’s just AWESOME! I know I keep using that word to describe how I feel about things but there aren’t many words in the English language I can use that describe just how good I feel… about everything and everyone!
I went out the other day and trimmed my rose bushes… another thing I couldn’t do that I now can. I want to plant some red geraniums around the tree in the front yard for the Christmas season…. a natural red and green combo! I’ve been thinking about how to decorate for Christmas too. Oh so many things to think about and none of it involves pain! Oh, yes, I do still have some stuff going on that’s gonna be looked at real soon, but I’m just relishing in what I’ve got right now!
Brian is away visiting his girlfriend and for those who haven’t heard yet…HE GAVE HER A PROMISE RING! This was her birthday weekend so he decided it was time to claim her for his own. She is such a wonderful young lady. AND, she’s learning how to cook for him!! They really are good for one another, I am so happy for them. I really like her a lot! No, I love her! She’s as cute as a button! And I just want Brian to be happy…and she makes him happy!
I came home from PT today to a box from 1-800-flowers… it was a HUGE boquet of lillies from Brian… He’s allergic to lillies and got them for me while he’s away so I could enjoy one of my favorite types of flowers! He’s just sooo cool that way! I love him to pieces. This was for no special reason… just because! Amazing! I can hardly wait till they all open so I can take a picture of them!
I sent an email letter to the president and owner of the mattsmith physical therapy company I’m going to to let them know just how wonderful they all are to me. I just felt it was time their bosses knew how much dedication these folks have. They deserve a huge thank you and pat on the back! They must have a really cool boss because before I got to PT he’d already sent them a copy and gave em an atta boy! I was pleased by his actions that he recognized them right away. I thank them but sometimes I felt it just wasn’t enough!
I’m going to be taking Candi, our 3 year old bunny in to get her teeth ground down next week. Some domesticated bunnies don’t have the proper diet in that everything is handed to them clean… in the wild a bunny would be eating all kinds of dirt with the foods they find which would grind down their teeth but Candi and Skittles are spoiled and can’t get ground down so we have to take her to the vet to have it done. Otherwise, the teeth would grow over her tongue and she’d die from starvation because she wouldn’t get the nutrients she needed from her food. This little bunny has cost us a forture unlike her cohort Skittles who’s had a pretty uneventful life…. he just chills and eats and poops! Oooops, did I say that??? My bad! Sorry! LOL
Well it’s time for me to start my Christmas cards, I hand make them each year. It’s my gift to my friends… if you would like to receive one please leave your address in the comments so I can put you on my mailing list. OR, send me a private message on facebook. The first year I did it I sent out 23, last year I sent out 78, this year….well I’m not sure but I may have hit a new high… please send me your address so you won’t be left out! (last year’s took 17 steps to make.. I have no idea what I was thinking when I chose that design!) I usually make about 8 different designs and then choose from them which one I’ll be doing. HOWEVER, last year when I did that, I had two too close to choose, so this year I’ll be making one of my designs from last year. But I promise you won’t be disappointed! I loved it so much I framed it!
So for now, remember to take care of you, and I’ll be writing soon,