Cross Weave (First Intermission)

I write. I’ve always owned the question, “Why?” and avoided the questioning, “Why Not?”

There is a line of fear that I have not crossed and may never cross, either. The line exists solely due to a carefully balanced imaginary scale I believe will undoubtedly tilt my expression toward obligation or enjoyment.

It’s not always enjoyable. It’s easier sometimes than others. Drawing blanks is sometimes an issue. Deciding what comes next, what should come next constantly wars. True time telling lends logic to the story. Topically timely stories in tune with the season or current events bring bits of the past to current focus and perhaps make more of an impact then straight-forward biography. I’ve only recently recognized it’s just not straight-forward.

I can’t call my documentation a hobby because it is not always enjoyable. Always enjoyable seems to me to lack in purpose and nothing is created without an end-user in mind. Artists create for expression – it’s our process for making our thoughts and feelings known. We know how we feel. Our projects convey messages open to interpretation. No one creates to be misunderstood, and we can only hope they get it right.

It’s not an obligation because no one is demanding or commanding I must. I seek self-challenge. On my own terms. Unfortunately, imposing a non-challenge on me is a lot like expecting pudding to cling to a mirror. I’ll slide away. Regrettably, leaving little bits of me behind.

I acknowledge this: My perfection obsession has dwindled. My aim and style and candidness has surely evolved over 485 weeks. I’m no longer writing snippet excerpts. I’m no longer dryly paragraphing, ‘this is what happened.’ I’m imparting values, occasionally offering wisdom, attempting to cross-weave of all our lives.

Quote for the week:

2017 06 13 We cannot build a solid peace without the cross weave jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Write: Typos

Write: Legacy

Who is: Dr. Andrew Weil?

Once a Week

As near as I can tell, I began my first on-line blog in February 2008. The only semi-proofs I have are a binder-clipped, wrinkled paper table of contents printed on December 27, 2013, and an entry dated November 10, 2009 that indicates I’d been at it for 89 weeks.

The announcement that the University of Michigan library would be offering a free movable type publishing platform arrived in a daily news email. Known as ‘mblog’ the site hosted my weekly entries until December 2013.

I eased into blogging by rolling away from a previous weekly publishing. What started as a weekly email to 37 people turned into a way to update family, friends and coworkers on a 2007 mission trip.  I called the original email newsletter, “Midweek Encouragement” and it offered just that. The standard header on each weekly Word document read, “One Page, Once A Week for the Promotion of Learning and Love.”

When mblog ended, I had to find a new way to keep sharing. I researched a bit and ended up on WordPress. The reviews indicated it was an easy-to-use site, the yearly fee was reasonable and instead of having to email a link directly to my readers, the link could be auto-sent to any subscriber.

The subscriber thing didn’t exactly take. The direct email list is now 64 participants, and the WordPress subscriber list has stalled at 58. Exposure on Facebook and Twitter is auto-linked and between the two, there are at least 250 potential exposures.

February must be an historically slow month for me because that’s the month I chose to enter the Instagram world in 2016. I’m hovering around 175 followers there.  To be honest my average weekly WP stats show about 25 average views per week.

The most read week I ever had was October 4, 2016 with 131 views, not so coincidentally the near 10th year anniversary of my husband Jeff’s  passing. This isn’t a pity party. It’s just me contemplating my strange dedication to maybe being heard, at least once a week.

Here’s what I do know, though. 484 weeks in, the answer to the hard and frequent question addressed in that November 2009 passage hasn’t changed much.

Quote for the Week:

2017 06 06 Its been said to take a minimum of 3 weeks jakorte

 

 

Broth – no ‘el’

Nannee went back and forth a few times, but eventually settled into an extended stay with us.

That was precipitated by a very bad flu. She had terrible coughing fits, trouble keeping anything down, and was reluctant to eat. Through badgering, I finally got Nannee to agree to try some beef broth and crackers.

When I brought them to her, she looked up at me tiredly and apologized ‘for being such a burden.’ “You shouldn’t be taking care of me,” she said. “You should be doing what young people do…”

“What do young people do?” I laughed, as I set down the tray. “Nannee,” I told her. “We want you here with us. The only time we feel you’re safe is when you’re here.”

What I meant was if she was with us, we weren’t worrying about her at home alone. It didn’t come out that way, of course. She distastefully screwed up her face, looked at me sidewise, and said she was going to rest.

“Ok,” I replied, backing out, well aware I’d managed to insult her again. This time by inferring she was incompetent and couldn’t take care of herself.

I didn’t get a chance to explain it all to Jeff when he came home because he stopped in Nannee’s room first.

After a while, he came into the kitchen and gave me a look of complete unfathomableness.

“Why,” he asked, extending his arm and thrusting out his pointer finger, “did you tell Nannee the only time we have sex is when she’s here?”

“That’s not what I said!” I protested.  “What I said was – the only time we feel you’re safe is when you’re here!”

Jeff let out an uproarious laugh. Then, the doorbell rang. Pastor David had come to give Nannee communion at her request. Jeff ushered him into the guest room and within 30 seconds, I heard more uproarious laughter coming from that end of the house.

Of course, I was mortified. First, because I would have never said what she thought I said. Second, because now the pastor was in on this situation. Third, because Jeff’s brother Eric was also in on it, as well.

After communion, and after Pastor and Eric left, I slid by Jeff. “Nannee,” I sat on the edge of the bed, “I didn’t say that!” “Jeff told me,” she smiled widely, patting my hand with hers.  Jeff started laughing, again, which made me laugh. That set Nannee off into a combo laughing/coughing fit.

When we all calmed down a bit, I noticed she hadn’t eaten anything. I took the tray off the nightstand and told her I was going to warm up the broth, again.

On my way to the kitchen, I heard Jeff laughing again. Although I saw the amusement in the situation, it just wasn’t funny enough to keep carrying on like that. It didn’t last long, so I guessed it was finally over.

I came back in with the reheated cup. Jeff took one look at me and doubled over. He was laughing and sweating and slapping his knee and trying to breathe. “Nannee thought,” he wheezed out.

“Oh, Jeff – don’t… ’” Nannee interrupted him.

“Nannee thought,” he continued after a deep breath.

“Jeeehhhff!” Nannee squawked.

Jeff was determined. “Nannee said…” He straightened up a bit and another deep breath.

“She said,” he hiccupped like a broken record. “She said – ‘Did she say something about a brothel?!’”

Quote for the week:

 

2017 05 30 Speak softly jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

For: softly

Against:  softly

Musically:  killing me softly

The Cornbread Lesson

There’s an obvious family trait passed down from Nannee to Sally and then to Jeff, and Eric and Nicole – having a purpose was and is important to each of them. I don’t know that it’s ever been acknowledged, but the way I’ve seen it, that purpose was always to be sure everyone was treated as if they were the most important person in the world, and to do everything in their power not to be a burden to anyone else.

Jeff and I talked it over and knew Nannee was independent enough, and that she’d be stubborn enough, to not accept our permanent hospitality. We didn’t kidnap her, we just kindly informed her she would be coming to stay with us for a weekend… or so.

The first time Nannee stayed with us was only for a day or so. She insisted that she enjoyed the visit but had to get home to attend to her laundry.

The next time was 2 full days and we brought her laundry with her. She insisted that she enjoyed the visit, but had to get home for her mail.

The third time, Nannee said she had the flu, and welcomed a little more extended stay. She lasted an entire week, and by the end of her visit, she was up and about, doing our laundry and helping cook dinner.

I arrived home about an hour later than normal one Friday night after another long week of 9 ½ hour days and 2 ½ hour vanpool commuter roundtrips to find that they hadn’t waited for me for supper. I was overly tired, unreasonably disappointed and very hungry. There’s a common name for that now: hangry.

They were watching TV, Nannee on the couch and Jeff in his chair, when he called out to me from the den, “There’s chili on the stove and corn muffins on the counter!”

I walked into the kitchen, took a look at the counter and yelled, “What the hell, Jeff?!?!”

“What?” he asked in that hurt and hesitant voice I wish I hadn’t induced many times and wish I could forget now, as well.  “What the hell did you do this muffin pan?” I raged.  “There’re gouge marks in every cup!”

When I peered through the pass-thru, Nannee was looking concerned. Jeff’s eyes were huge. He was shortly shaking his head and doing an abbreviated version of the hand-jive, which dramatically finished with the universal finger across the neck sign for “Stop!” I immediately assimilated what that meant, burst into tears and ran into our bedroom.

When I didn’t come back out, Jeff came in after me. “She was just trying to help out,” he said. “She really wanted to do something nice for us.” When I just kept crying, Jeff continued, “She’s feeling pretty good. We had a fun time cooking together.” I felt like a heel and told him so. “It’s alright,” he said. “It’s not!” I wailed. “Give me a minute and I will come apologize.”

By the time I got myself together and changed my clothes, Nannee had decided to go to bed. I felt even worse about that. “It’s ok,” Jeff said. “She understands. I told her you were sorry and she said that she’s glad you feel like you’re able to be yourself around her.”

Saturday morning, Nannee decided it was time to go home, again. “It’s the weekend,” she reasoned. “You should be able to relax and spend some time together without me here.”

I apologized profusely. If I had known she’d been the one to ruin the pan or even if Jeff had been responsible, I had no right speaking to either of them that way. They’d made me dinner and I behaved poorly.

Nannee just pshaw’d me. “Life has bumps,” she said. “.. ‘t doesn’t make the love any less.”

In this case, it made the love even more.

Quote for the Week:

2017 05 23 life has bumps jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why We Say It: Hangriness

Don’t Say It: Biblically Speaking

Eat This: Cornbread

Kindnapped

I never did take communion with Nannee. I felt it would be disrespectful to take communion on false pretenses. I’d have to be a believer to do that. I obviously wasn’t one and had no intention of becoming one, either.  I’d thought she perhaps just didn’t understand. But, then again, she knew my upbringing and now I wonder if it was her way of trying to “save” me.

As Nannee was getting sick more often, not ever getting fully better, Jeff and I would stop on our way home from work and drive over on weekends to make sure she had everything she needed. We’d pick-up her prescriptions, bring in dinner, do her laundry when she was too tired to go down to the basement.

If she knew we were coming, she’d have dinner ready no matter how poorly she was feeling. If she didn’t know we were coming she’d express her disappointment that she wasn’t prepared by saying, “If I’d known you were coming, I’d have baked a cake.” I always thought that was cute.

About this same time, Jeff’s medical issues began to take over our life. He would miss work because of leg and foot pain. He had difficulty walking long distances. He struggled through his delivery job; struggled to keep his blood sugars in check.

He’d be on and off work as doctors recommended all sorts of ‘hopefully this will be a quick fix’ patches. A week of putting his feet up was supposed to help. Trying a new medication that made me him a little loopy was followed by rising and more frequent insulin injections.

He was in and out of hospitals numerous times, suffering through rampant high blood sugar induced yeast infections, and bouts of excruciating pancreatitis. He gained weight and gained sleep apnea.

After a string of absences and unresolved issues, Jeff was encouraged to apply for FMLA. He happily did so, convinced this was just a temporary blip in his life. However, having to take more time off morphed into short term disability, then continued into long term disability.

Throughout it all, Jeff really wanted to get back to work and fully expected to. Eventually, the pain won and left him with the very much unwanted and depressing status of permanently disabled.

In the middle of all this, Jeff and I kindnapped Nannee.

Quote for the Week:

2017 05 17 Some people always see blue skies jakorte

 

Apologetic Delay

Certain times a year, the regrets really pile up. Lately, I’m practically buried.

So many things went wrong. Small things became disproportionate disasters. Mostly, due to my stubbornness, but always with help from Jeff.

I’m being stubborn again, all by myself. Memories are flying in from all directions and I want to accurately order them. Actually, I feel I have to accurately order them. I so want to skip over the regrets. I do want to include them, too. Our story’s weave will be weak without them.

Apologizing to people who may not have known they were slighted won’t make me feel better. Probably won’t make them feel any better, either.

I’m also a bit uninspired from having to sort through some rather uninspiring parts of my recent life. It would be nice to be self-inspired, but that’s not working so well.

Pushing a stalled car may get you somewhere, but it’s still going to be stalled when you get there. I’m trying but I could use a little outside inspiration… and a magic wand.

In the meantime, while I’m unrealistically waiting for my thoughts to spring from my being onto paper or into my computer, I’ll tell you about the start of something. But first, let me tell you about the start of the start of our most important journey.

About Nannee, Mary Vincze was a strong woman with a strong faith. She buried her husband young and lost her only child, her daughter Sally. They were close and I do believe that she struggled, although she would never admit it. Nannee was a smart woman, worldly wise, I’d say. She’d seen much in her lifetime; poverty and boons, war and peace, births and deaths.

She never hesitated to put a positive spin on any situation, often quoting condensed bible verses. When Jeff and I would take her to church, she’d always advise me that I could indeed take communion because it was “open to anyone.”  I’d just smile politely and shake my head, “No.”

Quote for the Week:

2017 05 09 if regrets really were a dime a dozen jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

 

 

Counting in Moments

Before I began this WordPress journey, I used a now defunct free library blog. Before I began A Year of Memories, which is now in its second year, I would just write. Whatever was on my mind; informational editorials and advice, mostly to myself.

I often go back to my archives looking for a specific story: to find an outline, for the facts, for details and any memories I might have forgotten. I didn’t find what I was looking for tonight. I found April 16, 2013, instead.

There were paragraphs before this excerpt and paragraphs beyond, as well. It may seem like an interruption, but it’s a crucial part of the story. It’s what allowed me to have stories to share. I won’t lie and say from here on it will all be laughter. There are more sad moments coming. There are also tender moments, happy moments, hilarious moments.

Still, if there is only one lesson to be learned from storying the past, it is this:

Being pleased with your life is a wonderful long-term thing, but happiness…?
Happiness is a notch above, usually for a shorter time than we’d like.
How could we know what happy was if it didn’t sweep in and out of our lives?

Happiness can only be counted in moments.
So, count them.
Immediately.
Safe-guard the memories.

Someday ahead, you’ll need them to remind you
that you were indeed happy once, and for a while.

Trust that now may not be your time.
Act on this: happiness is something you can give away,
To whomever you choose;
even if you don’t have any, at this particular time.

Quote for the Week:

2017 05 02 Happiness can only be counted in moments jakorte

“Whosoever trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.” – Proverbs 16:20