Timeless Deeds

Last Christmas, I was not glowing from head to toe from radioactive iodine thyroid testing nor from the sheer glee of getting engaged. In fact, I wasn’t glowing at all….well yet.

See, the sales representative for the travel company I work for decided to take me on a road trip to Austin. We were to meet a new client I would be assigned to. This was great. A whole day off work. A ride three hours to Austin and three hours back. Lots of time to talk and catch up. I have worked with Debbie over 17 years. We have been through a lot together. Grown a lot together. It’s not just a friendship. It is a history.

I soon discovered road tripping with Debbie was not all it was cracked up to be. She liked to stop – a LOT. I am a get there kinda gal (similar to a guy but not quite). So we stop. And we stop. And we stop again. I went inside the store and got a Coke to drink. I figured why not. I need a good caffeine sugar rush. I leave the store right behind Debbie. She goes to the driver side to get in. I am walking towards the passenger side.

I am looking at the ground. I remember thinking to myself the parking lot was flat. There wasn’t a step. Just as I thought that, I felt my foot hit not pavement but air. Unfortunately foot number two was already following close behind. Instantly, I had no footing and down I went. One hand held a Coke so it splayed outward, the other hand – my right – caught the concrete. HARD.

It was not pretty or graceful. It was SPLAT. I fell forward landing on knees and one arm. I ripped a hole in my pants on the right knee. My Coke was broken and spewing. I was really bummed about that. I was pretty stinkin’ poor and didn’t want to dish out another buck for a Coke. I stood right up and shook myself off. Debbie was shocked. The truck passenger next to us, also shocked. But I was okay. I WAS. I was embarrassed to no end, but just fine thankyouverymuch.

The nice lady in the store gives me a free Coke (bless you). Onward we go to Austin, and my wrist begins to swell nice and round. Then it hurts. Debbie stops so I can get ice. Debbie stops to get cookies from a bakery for the client. I can no longer open the car door with my right hand. We stop again at the clients place. I can no longer open car doors, office doors, and now shaking hands is a real booger. Nice to meet you. OUCH.

We head back. Debbie is extremely worried. I am still very much embarrassed. I feel like a dufus. I FELL OFF A CURB. I assure her. At the most it is sprained, please don’t worry. I wasn’t going to. And I didn’t. Back in Dallas, the swelling has not gone down. Now I am bruising down the inside of my arm. A friend comes by and sees it. He thinks I should have it checked out. Debbie is texting me, begging me to get it checked out.

Finally, I decide to go to the doctor just to make sure. I head to the CareNow clinic by Jason’s house. This is when I saw him again after a two month break, what a great excuse to see him. How could he resist? I was maimed. The doctor x-rays my hand after a quick diagnosis of movements. I could not lift my hand up, flexing from the wrist. (FYI-I was still able to text). She comes back into the room with the results of the x-ray.

“Do you think your injury is severe?”

I put down my phone with my right hand, stopping a text to give her full attention. I shrugged, “I think it’s sprained. I fell down. It’s really embarrassing.”

“Ms. Sims, your hand is fractured not just in one place but TWO.”

Oh yikes, suddenly my texting ability is gone (I switch to my left hand). My hand feels funny now. Not a good funny. “Are you serious????”

“Yes, I am. This is a very dangerous break. You have broken a carpel bone that has blood flow in it. If not properly casted in seven days the bone could die. You also have a buckle fracture to your radius bone in your forearm.”

WHAT? She slips a splint on. “You can take this off but don’t use the hand. It’s very important you see an Orthopedic doctor within seven days.”

Holy Moly. This is serious. I friggin’ BROKE my arm. My RIGHT arm. OMG!

Life as I knew it changed dramatically. I will ask you to try (just once) brushing your teeth with your left hand. Opening doors with your left hand. Pulling up, and buttoning pants ONE handed. And I won’t even ask you to try writing because..well, that’s just mean. I went from completely independent and freakishly strong to – a weakling. Not only a weakling, but a weakling incapable of the smallest tasks, a weakling incapable of the smallest tasks AT CHRISTMAS. Ahhhhhh!

And I am not going to kid you. It HURT like nobodys business. It hurt worse than anything should hurt. Not just pain, but an ache, a constant ache that no medicine could cure. I won’t go into the drama of getting it casted but let’s just say, two doctors, and a dozen frantic calls later. I get a cast. A cast that feels like it weighs FIVE pounds. A cast that I did NOT get to pick the color. It was yellow. Not just any yellow but like a highlight marker yellow. This picture does not do it justice.

I mean why not tape a caution sign to my back too. Let’s just announce what a hazard I am. Beep. Beep. Beep. Big yellow bus coming through. I always thought having a cast would be cool. NOT.

Well, I have to give myself credit. I can be pretty ingenious when I want to be. When I am faced wearing a bright yellow cast, I get ingenious. So, I decided to buy some fabric marker pens from Michaels and paint that sucker!

Here is the result.

Beautiful ain’t she? You could hardly see the yellow. I was pretty proud of myself. If I was going to get noticed for a cast, let it be for a purple one. Not a dang yellow banana!

I somehow learned to type (because my job depended it on it) with a casted right arm. I typed FAST. It was pretty incredible. It HURT horribly. My shoulders ached from the offset of the cast, then from having to hoist my arm up all day to type with the four fingers sticking out. At night was the only time I took a pain pill. I had to take baths. It’s really hard to scrub with just one hand. Go ahead, try squeezing soap, with one hand, on a buff or a washcloth. Nope, don’t cheat. ONE HAND. The other is in a cast wrapped in five plastic bags, you don’t even have fingers to use.

The simplest things were a challenge. Like washing my hair one handed. At first, I tried a friend washing my hair in the sink for me, but that did not work at all. Then, I figured out a system, in the kitchen sink, with small dixie cups filled with shampoo and conditioner. It worked quite well I thought.

Eventually, I got bored with purple. I thought..black would be better. Black goes with anything. Another portrait on my arm.

Yeah, uhh, black over purple over yellow. Eh. Not so good. You know what? Nothing I could do about it. I made it another week and colored it again. (well, first we tried to SAND the black off, then color it). I think my cast dang near FELL off from abuse. It didn’t. It ended up green. (yes I know I should have left it purple) In my defense, I was in a cast for SEVEN weeks. SEVEN.

My daughter and her boyfriend, so kindly, put up the Christmas tree. They hung every ornament. Every wreath. Every candy cane. They cleaned every week for me. They carried in groceries. Anything they could do to help me, they did. I can not even tell you what a blessing that was. There is not much worse than a broken arm, and the brokenness you feel as a person. To have two teenagers step up in compassion and care was truly amazing.

Last Christmas was NOT easy, but I will never forget the Timeless Deeds those kids performed.

Merry Christmas, may it be as bright and cheery as my yellow cast.

And just in case you wondered if a cast stopped me from trying anything fun……….I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness,heart, talent, guts. That’s what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice.

-Bethany Hamilton-greatest female surfer of our time.

Timeless Affection

Once upon a time there was a little girl with blond curls, who went to Grandma’s house. Sometimes the trip was a long ride in the car, sometimes a shorter ride in a plane. Either way, along with her brothers and sister, she ended up at Grandma’s. A place filled with love, games, and snow. See, Grandma’s house was in Pueblo, Colorado. Grandma’s house had mountain views.

It was a magical place, smelling of peppermints, and home cooked meals. Decorated with crotchet, lace, and soft cushions. The little girl had her own bedroom that was simple, stylish and right out of her favorite TV show The Brady Bunch. The twin skirted bed featured a foam mattress sheeted, and covered with psychedelic swirls of bright green and yellow. Grandma always turned down the covers for her little body to snuggle beneath, tucked away from the cold Colorado nights.

Grandma’s house had stairs. Oh, the wonderful stairs behind the kitchen, to bounce, and pounce upon. Up and down, again, and again, and again. She never tired of it. They led to a basement of wonder. A delightful place for a curious child, filled with many treasures.

A sewing room featuring pictures of all the family and artwork. Another living room with a sofa sleeper couch for the boys, a TV, and an overflowing bookcase. A bedroom for her sister, and even a bathroom. It had a stand up shower, not a bathtub, which she found very different, but a great place to hide. All the windows peeked out at ground level. How exciting to see feet, and wonder whose they belonged to.

The last room in the basement was the laundry room. The likes of which she had never seen. A concrete floor sloped to a drain. Two wide basin sinks lined the wall, alongside counters. An old fashion contraption sat in the middle of the room with a tub, washboard, and a crank. She loved to crank the clothes through it, even though it was hard, and she needed Grandma’s help.

They would come out stiff, and flat. Then be taken outside to hang on the clothesline to dry. How different from her Mom’s house, where they had square machines that made funny whooshing noises.

At the top of the stairs, she loved to go up, was the backdoor that led to a carpeted covered porch the size of a large room. It was home to a ping-pong table. That’s right. Grandma loved games. Playing ping-pong was a favorite of hers, and everyone else in the neighborhood, but most especially her brothers.

Down the sidewalk to the back of the yard, just past the clothesline, but before the vegetable garden was a little red house with a door. A real playhouse with windows like she had always dreamed of. Chock full of dolls, stuffed animals, and a tiny – just the right size – table for tea, with dishes to match. Oh, the fun she had imagining for hours on end.

My sister at the playhouse in Grandma’s backyard.

Grandma’s arms were always open. Her laughter exceptionally sweet, her cheeks always rosy, and her twinkling blue eyes shined merrily. She loved her grandchildren. She loved that they visited her all the way from Oklahoma every year, nary a snowstorm could stop them. The games they would play together – Yahtzee, Monopoly, and cards. She would take them to Church. She would take them on trips. She would tirelessly take them all on – all four of them.

The many memories of Grandma’s include the thrill of summertime camping, in the mountains at a place called, Gopher Creek. Taking the ride puttering up the mountain in Grandma’s RV. Sleeping in the top bunk, snuggled next to other little bodies, crammed in the cove above the cabin, to keep warm from the chilly windows. Traipsing up the tree filled hills chasing squirrels, touching the icy mountain creek water, and roasting marshmallows by a blazing fire. The wonders never ceased to amaze with every outing.

Soon every Christmas was held on Thanksgiving at Grandma’s.

Four year old Angie, opening gifts with Grandma’s help.

As the little girl grew older, a trip to Grandma’s house included great mountain adventures in the snow. Skiing. The child endured a queasy stomach ride up the mountain to Monarch for the day. A ski resort at the highest elevation. The mountain always had snow this time of year. It was a wonderful Christmas present Grandma, so graciously, gifted. Not just for the fun of skiing, but for the memories created, and retold.

She bundled herself up with gloves, long johns, thick woolly socks, and a big (new) winter coat. She took the gusty ride on the ski lift, dangling her legs wearing big chunky ski boots, and long skis locked on. Gleefully flying down the mountain in the pure white, taking bitter cold tumbles, then breaks in the lodge to warm up.

After a long day on the mountain, they made the trek back. Spent, sore, with a red chapped face, the drive took hours to navigate the curvy mountain roads. As they arrived in Grandma’s driveway, she glimpsed through the car window at the warm glow of the kitchen window. Grandma had a hot meal, a hot chocolate, and a heartwarming welcome waiting for them. It was heaven.

When the young girl turned sixteen, she began ticking on her fingers whose Dad was whose. Her mother was twice divorced, and remarried to her Step Dad. Her Mother’s Mother was Grandma Dorothy who died before she was born. Mom’s first husband fathered her older sister, and brother. Mom’s second husband, her Dad, fathered her, and her brother Lonnie. Her Dad’s mother was Granny in Oklahoma. Her oldest brother Jay, and her older sister Deedy’s Dad was Davey, and he lived in Colorado. His Mother was Grandma Owens – who lived here. Her Grandma.

But wait a second…..after all those years, she realized – the bloodline did not cross. Her Grandma was not her Grandma by blood. She was not even related to her. How could this be?

She asked her mother when she got home, and her mother told her this story.

“When I was married to your Dad, and your brother was little, he did not understand. He heard his brother and sister calling her Grandma. He wanted to know who she was to him. He went to her with his big brown eyes and looked up at her. He said, ‘You my Ganmaw too? You my Ganmaw too?’ Grandma looked down at that little boy all of eighteen months old and her heart melted. She picked him up in her arms and said, ‘Yes, I your Ganmaw too.’ That is how she came to be your Grandmother, not by birth, but by love.”

Dear Grandma Owens,
You were the Grandma I was raised to love, and know. You cherished me like your own. You never withheld your affections, or your gift of them. The door to your heart opened wide for me and my brother. You welcomed us into your family, into it’s safety, and warmth. What a blessing you were to our young lives. You knew how much we loved our brother and sister, and you wanted to keep us all together on summer trips, and holidays. So you did. You took a sledgehammer to the ex-in-law boundaries, and what love is “supposed” to be. You bulldozed those walls. You loved us. And Grandma, we loved you too. Thank you for the gift of your affection. It is timeless to me. Timeless to us all. Our definition of family is different because of you. I promise, I will pass this gift on to every child I meet.
Love,
Your granddaughter

Grandma went to heaven, December 1st, 2008. Three days before her 91st birthday. She would have been 92 today. Happy Birthday, my sweet Grandma.

You are dearly missed, and dearly remembered.

I don’t “do” Black Friday

It scares the wee out of me.  Aggressive trampling crowd, elbows flying, sprints to endcaps, a tug of war over the last one, where you end up beaten bloody on the floor -crying Mama – while you rock back and forth sucking your thumb.

Um, no thanks!  Okay, I’m sure that’s not what really happens, but I have no desire to find out otherwise. I’ll just lounge in my PJs, thankyouverymuch.

Yesterday was my first Thanksgiving with Jason’s family. His mother graciously welcomed me, my mother, and my daughter Sydney to the grand feast.  The table was decorated with ceramic pumpkins, fancily folded napkins in rings, and beautiful china. The food was a foodie lover’s dream, so friggin’ delicious. She went above and beyond. That is one mother who LOVES with all her heart, and it spills over into all the hard work she puts into this Thanksgiving dinner for her family.

Even more beautiful was the children racing around, giggling, screeching, and constantly filling their bellies. I have decided my delight in  children comes from a long line of family genes. Goes back as far as we know to teachers in the previous generations. Except it ended with me, because I loved travel more, but I digress.

I got a kick out of watching my mother, mingle, laugh, and enjoy the meelee. Most of the children in our family are grown, so this was a sight to see and reminisce.  It was eerie how well she fit in. But I’m not surprised. Good people with the same values, and upbringings as ours, which is why I love them so much.

Black Friday kicks off the start of the countdown to Christmas.  Black Friday is a shoppers dream. Black Friday reminds me of the time my car was broken into. I was running on the trails in Fort Worth.  It was somewhere around six or seven miles.  I get back to find a policeman next to my car which has a shattered drivers side window.

That wasn’t even the worst of it. My purse was in the car. Yes, I know –  how dumb. I went to the back hatch opened it, popped the hidey hole, and voila there was my purse. Then I checked the middle console where my keys were (to the car, house, etc). Yep! Still there. Oh the cop was none to happy about that, but seriously – jogging with a big wad of keys? – or jogging with a very small remote to the car? Yeah, I chose remote – shamefully.

I was very lucky. I never parked there again, and at the time – I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to jog again. Husband 2 was a tyrant. He went ballistic over this infraction. Of course, it was my fault, and I was never to jog again, EVER. Insurance does not pay for that, so we had to fork over a few hundred dollars. Some Black Friday, huh? See why I don’t like them.

But the gift was that it could have been so much worse, being my purse was in the car, and keys. All I lost was a lousy tinted window.  I have never parked there again, in fact, I started parking in a shopping center and walking to the trails. I never, ever took my purse with me.  So, it all worked out, I got to keep running at my favorite park and learned some valuable lessons.

That brings me to what I promised myself, that I would begin a series of posts,  from now until Christmas titled Timeless Gifts. You know what those are – things you can’t price – just revel in the majesty of the gift. Instances of  kindness that blow you away, or movement of the season to make you really realize what Christmas is all about. An unbelievable act that has you falling to the floor, shouting  “I’m not worthy!”  Yeah, those kind.

I have a lot of those in my life. The car breakage is one.  Can you imagine right before Christmas to have your I.D and bank card stolen? It would have made for a tough time, to deal with all that, and wonder if you’d ever be safe again – not to mention the fallout, and punishment from #2.

I, for one, was very grateful it wasn’t that bad and still am. My eyes were opened to the Timeless Gifts that happen all around. I hope I can share them with you. I hope I do the stories justice in the coming weeks. Until then….

Happy “black” Friday! I hope you get gifts galore at half the price.