Monthly Archives: January 2016

A Life of Crime at Ninety? Maybe Not.

Some have read this a year or two ago. But I realized from the response to my last post which was semi humorous, that I have been overly serious and perhaps preachy lately so, I’m going to re-blog several or my early attempts at humor.

Laughter: Carbonated Grace

Not long ago, one of my friends mentioned that she no longer had fingerprints. They had worn off. So, several others of us in our late seventies and early nineties checked, and discovered that ours had all pretty much worn off also. The thought that we could turn to a life of crime now tickled our fancy.
As we speculated about this, mental pictures of us attempting to rob a bank had us laughing helplessly.
Our scenarios varied from the image of us making our getaway on our walkers at a snail’s pace, to attempting to escape with one of us waving a water gun around, another holding the money bag, while the third struggled and had to ask the guard to open the door.
Another possibility got us howling. Since I’m the only one of us able to drive anymore, but am also known for distractibility and erratic short…

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We Ought to Have Our Funerals While We Are Still Alive

Okay….maybe two old people shut up together in an apartment most of a month isn’t good for mental health. Conversation at lunch.
Me: “If I die before you, I’d like my ashes in a beautifully wrapped box like a birthday present, carried down Royal Street in the French Quarter in a little red wagon with our grandchildren and great-grandchildren leading the procession throwing yellow rose petals. And I want mummers marching and playing after the wagon with my family and friends following them.”
Husbands reply: “Well, maybe throwing dead flower petals would be cheaper and I thought you wanted salt shakers so all five kids could have some ashes.”
Me: ” I’m worried that there will be bone fragments left and that won’t work in salt shakers.”
Husband: “Well, didn’t Mike have some experience in sifting those out in Cambodia?”
Me. ” But not his mom’s!! Let’s stick with the box and you can distribute the ashes later or not. I’m not sure I trust Tommy with them after he said that he could drop my ashes over Paris on their way to Italy out the plane’s toilet!”
Husband with sly smile: “Okay. You’re going to trust me?”
Me: “Maybe not. I’d choose Steve, but then there was that thing about me gluing his plastic Easter egg with the money in it together with cement glue. Anyway when the procession gets to Jackson Square I want a really good party there with Dixie Land music and dancing and everyone gets a yellow helium balloon to let go at the end of the party.”
After thinking a moment, Me: ” I wonder if helium balloons cause problems and law suits by maybe coming down and causing wrecks or something. Oh well. Not my problem.”

A Hunger for God

Pretty much all my life I have hungered for God except for a time when personal losses and the suffering in the world overwhelmed me and I sought escape in the diversions the world offers. But they did not satisfy that longing and I began to seek Him in most of the main religions, both Christian and others. But did not find Him. Finally He found me through friends who not only witnessed verbally to the love of God expressed in Jesus, but literally gave up all they had to follow him. I returned with great joy to a Christianity that included people from many denominations who had found a life changing relationship with God through Jesus. As I grew in my relationship with Him, it changed and I found Her in even more and sometimes unexpected places and people who were on the same journey, but a different path. God was bigger than any of our “breadboxes.” I struggled with the differences I found even within denominations between those who had a vibrant obviously growing personal relationship with God and those that seemed to just cling to a spiritual tradition, a spiritual club, a spiritual insurance policy, or a set of rules or formulas that made them feel spiritually superior. (To be continued in: Which of These Is Not Like the Others?  Which of These Doesn’t Belong? Child of God, Loved Unconditionally, Born again, Personal Relationship with God,  Personal Relationship with Jesus, On a Spiritual Journey, Spiritual Seeker, In a Dance of Grace and Response, Process of Sanctification, Saved, Law Abiding, Righteous, Finished?)

As Easy as A B C

A: Age – 78 ½. Favorite ages: 35– after doing miserably in college, I went back finally actually wanting to learn and got my degree Summa Cum Laude.   60 – Took up painting and loved it.  75 –started my blog and did my first stand-up comedy gigs.
B: Biggest Fear – Losing my voice. Stopped smoking cold turkey after 3+ packs a day for 28 years after noticing a lump in my throat. Fear of death never motivated me, but the possibility of not being able to talk did. 🙂                                                                                        C: Current Time:– 11 pm. Should be sleepy since I woke up at 5 am and never got back to sleep.
D: Drink I Last Had – A Sprite Zero, no caffeine, no sugar, why do I even bother?
E: Easiest Person to Talk To: Myra, my best friend from high school and college. We’ve stayed connected across long distances for 59 years by mail, phone, a few visits and for the last 15 years by face-book and e-mail. My husband is the easiest person to just be with, without talking.
F: Favorite Song – Dream, Dream, Dream by the Everly Brothers. It was my husband’s and my song when dating in college. (Our teen-age daughter was very outraged when she found that out, because it was her and her guitar playing boyfriend’s song. 🙂
G: Grossest Memory – Had an unexpected visit from a General , who was a friend of my husband’s family in another state. As our toddler was running back and forth in the living room, I nervously served coffee from our seldom used silver tea service. I realized to my horror that he was dropping small balls of poo all around the coffee table. I grabbed him under my left arm while scooping them up as quickly and casually as I could with my right hand and excused myself quickly to change his diaper. Unfortunately, before I could wash my hand, my husband called me to come say good-bye to the General who needed to get to a ceremony in his honor. Of course, he held out his hand to me and I couldn’t think how to avoid shaking it. I often wondered if anyone got a whiff of poo when he was standing in the receiving line shaking hands.
H: Hometown – New Orleans, Louisiana – Lived in the French Quarter in the Pontalba Apartments on Jackson Square until I was four. Would love to have my funeral in Jackson Square with a Dixie Land Band. (Not going to happen.)
I: In Love With – My incredibly kind and low maintenance husband of 57 years who helps me laugh about the challenges that come with getting old.
J: Jealous Of – People who can write beautifully and touch other people’s hearts.
K: Killed Someone? – Not that I know of, but I did once have a confused looking pedestrian simply walk straight into the front of my moving car. I was driving very slowly and stopped immediately, but he sort of bounced off the car and my heart stopped for a moment, until he just rubbed his arm a little and walked on down the street. I still remember the horrible sick feeling though.
L: Longest Relationship – My husband: we dated off and on in college for 3 years and have been married 57 years.
M: Middle Name – Fatherree, which was my mother’s maiden name.
N: Number of Siblings – One, a brother almost 10 years younger than I am, who treated me like a princess when I went to visit him in Houston last September. It’s amazing when you’re the last two people in your family of origin how much more you appreciate one another. All those bratty little brother and bossy older sister memories just fade away. Another one of the few perks of getting old.                             O: One Wish – That I and all those I love and they love will become the people God created us to be. I know it sounds hokey, but it’s true.
P: Last Person I Called – A friend, to invite her over for homemade soup on Wednesday, when the snow is supposed to finally all be gone from the streets.
Q: Question You Are Always Asked – Are you Julian’s wife, Chris, Mike, Julie, Steve or Tommy’s mom?
R: Reason to Smile – 11 smart funny wonderful grandchildren and 7 smart funny delightful great-grandchildren whom I either see in person or on face book frequently, and even when I don’t , I have thousands of marvelous, often hilarious, and many very touching memories to pull out and savor.
S: Song You Last Sang – “When the Saints Go Marching In.” I sang it to try to show a friend from Norway what the Dixie Land Music I want at my funeral sounds like.
T: Time You Woke Up – 5am…….not my normal time…. Woke up mentally struggling over problems I’m having with a piece I’m writing for try-outs for a stand-up comedy show.
U: Underwear Color – plain old lady white. (I really wanted to lie about this!)
V: Vacation Destination – Took a challenging, but very scenic trip to the South West of France in October. One of our sons drove us and since we had a wheel chair, a walker, two CPAP machines and six suitcases, we had to rent a large SUV. It was a lovely car, but not really sized for narrow winding roads in medieval mountain villages and along cliffs and river valleys in the forests. I’m afraid when we returned it, it was a smaller car than when we started out. My favorite city is still Paris, but I also love the visual beauty of Salzburg.
W: Worst Habit- snacking – absolutely terrible about it. In fact, I think I’ll go scavenge through the cabinets after I finish this, even though it’s almost midnight! I’m sure I hear some chocolate calling me.
X: X-rays You’ve Had – (MRI’s, CT Scans, Mammograms included) Brain, sinuses, carotid arteries, various fingers, chest, breasts, gall bladder, stomach, left hip, lower back, knees, ankle, feet. (Does that leave anything?)
Y: Your Favorite Food – Lobster, but I don’t get it often, so fresh artichokes are a favorite that I get to have more frequently.
Z: Zodiac Sign – Cancer, which sounds so awful…..I think it used to be Moon Children or something equally strange, but not as sinister sounding as Cancer.

Grace for a Bottomless Pit of Needs and Wants

“Simply realize who is hidden within you.” –osho
“Story telling has always been at the heart of being human because it serves some of our most basic needs: passing along our traditions, confessing failings, healing wounds, engendering hope, strengthening our sense of community. …………….when our discourse becomes more abstract, the less connected we feel.” Parker J. Palmer (These are quotes from the blog: makebelieveboutique.com)
They really hit me where I live. Not very many people relate to my writing because I tell, instead of show. I’m a theory person in that I explore the world through concepts, connections and possibilities.
But my responses to daily experiences come straight from my emotions. That makes me feel very vulnerable, so I stay focused on the outside world of theories as much as I can.
I have many “God” experience stories that are beyond statistical coincidence. But most of them came out of my struggle with repeated failures to love, because of being a bottomless pit of needs and wants. Needy people are not people who are able to love unconditionally. We may do a lot for others, but it is at least partly, if not mostly, out of our need for constant confirmation that we are worthwhile people.
My favorite autobiographical spiritual writer is Anne Lamott, because she too is a needy person who has often messed up big time because of it, but has found the grace to be open about her flawed humanity through her ongoing experiences of God and His love.
To be honest, I’m not sure I really want that kind of courage enough to ask God for that grace. But I am becoming increasingly uncomfortable with where I am, so like it or not, that may be where God is calling me.

The Heart of True Religion

The heart of true religion is spirituality. Then and only then can it become communal. If our faith communities are not made up of people with a humble personal relationship with God based on our own ongoing needing and receiving forgiveness, our faith communities will become legalistic, judgmental, unforgiving, about pride and power, and ultimately conflict ridden.

The heart of the spiritual life is a personal journey from recognizing our human weakness and failures, then experiencing forgiveness and unconditional love, to an ongoing response to this grace of becoming more and more able to love others in the same way. It’s an ongoing cycle of repentance and grace and growth in the freedom to love.

The heart of unconditional love is forgiveness. No one is perfect. We all need forgiveness and new beginnings throughout our lives. Truly accepting forgiveness and forgiving others are interdependent. And forgiveness and love are inseparable. We can’t accept or give one without the other.

Each day we are called to open our hearts and minds to God, to find God’s grace in: a first cup of coffee, morning birdsong and sunlight, star filled darkness, storms, fear, difficult people, beauty, a tearful child, a faithful pet, sharing our daily bread, our own and others’ brokenness, sorrow, joy, forgiving, laughter, loss, love, every moment, every human experience, every human relationship, and every human being. When we have “God” eyes, we see God and God’s love everywhere. When we are filled to overflowing, God’s love can pour out for everyone, even those who need our forgiveness.

In Our Hearts We Are One

When things fall apart and we can’t get the pieces back together, when we lose something dear to us, when the whole thing is just not working and we don’t know what to do, this is the time when the natural warmth of tenderness, the warmth of empathy and kindness, are just waiting to be uncovered, just waiting to be embraced. This is our chance to come out of our self-protecting bubble and to realize that we are never alone. This is our chance to finally understand that wherever we go, everyone we meet is essentially just like us. Our own suffering, if we turn toward it, can open us to a loving relationship with the world. ~Pema Chodron
From the blog: Make Believe Boutique

The Adventures of Nanu and Granddaughters Bella and Emma

When Bella was four and Emma was eight, Nanu used to take them to the marvelous Adventure Science Museum. This is Nanu’s account of one day of adventures there.

Yesterday was a learning experience for all three of us with lots of delights, but some challenges.
I learned that Bella has outgrown riding on my walker through the Adventure Science Museum and has become adventurous enough to disappear quickly through tunnels, and slides and climbing things to other “levels.”
I felt sick with terror when I realized she had disappeared.  Fortunately, Emma can climb those same things and found her fairly quickly. Since Bella didn’t know she was lost, she was just happily exploring new things.
I also learned that Emma is smarter than I am. When I got upset with Bella, Emma said, “Nanu, Bella doesn’t understand, ‘Level.’ You should have said, ‘Don’t go up or down.”
I also learned that I can no longer do two very physical days in a row, so the great adventure was shorter than the more energetic two would have liked.
But still, Emma, wearing a harness, got to “fly” like Peter Pan and feel weightless like our Astronauts and Bella got over her fears of the darkness and learned to love the enchanting “star room” as much as Emma and I do.
And this old lady learned a lot about her own limits.  Grandchildren are not only the greatest joys in our lives, they are also great teachers.

Letter to Politicians on Four Issues Relating to Anti-gay Marriage Resolutions

1. I believe freedom for and from religion are the same thing. As a “born again” Christian in America, I want to protect that legal freedom.

2. Homosexuality runs in families. It isn’t a choice. I had a great-great aunt that became a pediatrician in the late 1800’s and established a health clinic for the poor. She was our family’s best kept secret, because she lived with the same woman all her life. I have a kind and deeply spiritual brother who has been in a 25 year monogamous relationship with another man. I have a son, who with his partner of 17 years, teaches at an orphanage for children born HIV positive in Cambodia.

3. The most important thing in my life is my relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. I want all people to have the chance to accept the unconditional love of God expressed in Jesus as Savior, so He can truly become their Lord. But I think history shows that making people be nominal Christians by law, violence, fear, family tradition or cultural pressure doesn’t accomplish that.  Jesus died for sinners and He spoke against judging others more than any other sin.

4. Having been married to the same man for 57 years, I have come to believe that marriage is the institution designed by God to not just populate the world, but to challenge, teach and enable us to learn to love another imperfect human being up close long enough to love them as they really are. (Admittedly, some people need more practice than others, but it is still our best bet.) I want that choice for all people. I do not want to limit any people by law to promiscuity or deceit in order to experience human love.

I realize that the way that I have come to understand faith in the love of God is not necessarily shared by all Christians. The freedom for that diversity of how our faith is lived out is part of what I am wanting to protect. But, I also understand that you are elected officials who live with the tension between what your conscience says and what your electorate wants.
All I ask is that you seriously consider all sides, and if you are a person of prayer, that you will prayerfully listen to the many ways God speaks to our minds and hearts.

Death Where is Your Sting? or The Dance of Eternity

In my seventy-eight years of life I have held the hands of those I love as they died, I have lived to walk again after years of a crippling condition, survived to laugh again after scary strokes, and suffered enough prolonged pain to free me to embrace the relief of death.  And I have, in turn, been freed by each of these to experience greater joy in living.
One of the gifts of age is learning not to take the smallest beauty, kindness, insight, or experience of love for granted. I can see the door from here, which reminds me daily that this moment may be the last of life as I know it now. Yet knowing that life’s greatest mystery lies on the other side of that door gives an aura of light around its darkness.
Though I realize that getting through that door may be terribly hard, sometimes I imagine all my atoms,  with my spirit now one with the Spirit of All within them, being freed from the limits of my body to join in the dance of eternity.  I can almost feel them shooting off joyously into the farthest embraces of the exquisite glory of pure beauty, truth, and love…..in other words, God.