Highlights, Yes, there were some

The ending to this year was no different than the personal devastation I endured throughout this horrific year of 2017.  Bitter cold temperatures and wind prohibited the otherwise planned trip to be with family this holiday season.

aborted plane after waiting 2 days due to cancellation of original flight

It was to be that I was to spend this holiday alone.  As we all know, holidays are designed for family.  Period.  When you find yourself alone, you realize that more than ever (and a lesson to keep in your heart to help others who you realize are alone during a holiday season).  However, with a bit of perseverance (because I’m that way), do-over planning, and creative thinking, I have come to realize there were actually some highlights to this holiday season of which I am most appreciative.  Here are a few and may help you if ever . . .

Childhood ornaments ~ I did put up a Christmas tree.  Full size from floor to ceiling.  Preferring a real tree but knowing the handling aspects, the artificial had to suffice.  Having long passed along our family’s handmade ornaments, in conversation with my Mother, she offered the myriad of boxes of ornaments she had stashed in her attic, literally a plethora of vintage glass adornments from my childhood.  Boxes and boxes found themselves in my hand and eventually on my tree. This season, when I looked at the beautiful lit tree, Christmas memories of my childhood surfaced rather than the loneliness I was feeling.

Christmas cookie baking ~ Simply said, I made sure to participate in the annual Christmas cookie baking I had set up years, ago with family.  Even though I didn’t feel the spirit, something about the act of kneading dough is quite therapeutic.  The cookies turned out great and it was satisfying seeing the very happy faces of the others.

Volunteer Appreciation Dinner ~ Traveling with the crew of ladies I work with at Habitat for Humanity, dressing up so the men could see we do indeed clean up nicely, it was a lovely evening getting to know more personally those who are teaching me ‘construction’.

Birthday Dinner ~ Temperatures frigid, a beautiful winter scene, I was treated to a birthday dinner from Mom.  With lovely seating and a beautiful view, it was nice to return to a restaurant of ‘yesteryear’ (neither one of us had been there in years) and to a dinner that was warm to the heart and tasty to the tummy.

Dog Walking/Activities with Neighbor(s) ~ Every day walking the dog, taking in the fresh air is a pick me up no med could provide.  And, to be escorted by the neighbor who is just that kind of nice person is a special treat of comfort, kindness, and companionship.

shoveling snow into the air. Why? ’cause the dogs loved it.

Back on Treadmill/Orangetheory ~ Back on the treadmill, again of course, I will need time to rebuild the endurance and training I have lost, but how happy it feels to also be back in class at the local fitness studio (and please, no one look at my data).  I felt bonds of friendship I did not even realize were there until the warm welcome I received upon my return.

Race ~ Well, let’s just say, it was on my radar that day.  Wind chill in the negatives did indeed scare me away.

A Few Finished Garments ~ Believe it or not, even knitting requires endurance. I have turned (temporarily) to smaller projects, pictured here, again hoping to build my endurance of concentration and focus to the longer, more tedious projects I am used to.   I don’t have photos yet of the easy, fashion garments recently finished, but they are beautiful and ready for the wear whenever I am ready to wear them.

for charity

crocheted basket for projects

New Furniture ~ Yep, a fresh start needs a pick-me-up in the furniture department.  Mostly, the living room and bedrooms received the new pieces (area rug not in, yet).  Modern looks, clean lines, and neutral colors fill spaces otherwise filled with memories of recent loss of life.

Fix-its ~ Mostly, learning how.  Keeping water level where it needs to be for proper steam to warm the house, sump pump adjustments, endless plumbing understandings, door(s) removal, paint and staining here and there, becoming familiar with garage and its advantages, ~ all in a home owner’s day in a life.  But, it is feeling very different with the responsibility falling solely on me.

Making New Friends ~ Here is my new mantra.  It’s ok to make new friends.  Female and male.  Purposely going out even when it is dark and cold, signing up for activities never done before, getting together with friends of the past  and friends just met, finding and going to new places to dine trying out new foods (Octopus salad for me the other night), allowing myself to feel the companionship, warmth, and life of another is ok.

Was it a great holiday season?  No, not by a long shot.  Do I have living alone all figured out?  Hardly.  Do I feel guilty about simple pleasures, smiling, and enjoying life, again?  You betcha.  In reflection, these activities and purposeful moves helped me to cope with this holiday season.  I know I have a long road of recovery ahead of me.  I figure with healthy, intentional steps with awareness of the positives, this is an avenue that can lead me back into the game of life.

 

 

My Sister

Today was my sister’s Memorial.  It brought family and friends together, Even friends from our childhood and colleagues from the past attended..  Sweet music, a quiet ambiance, and an Irish poem filled the air with remembrance of Emmy.  I wrote and recited this poem.

My Sister

As a toddler, I was told she was special.
Special? What does that mean?
I thought she was just like me.

So, of course as a child does,
I gave her dirty looks,
stuck my tongue out at her,
pulled her hair,
hit her over the head,
and ate candy out of her toys.

She was my older sister,
my only sibling, then.
Isn’t that what you did?

During our childhood years, Emmy
went away.
In those days,
it seemed the course of action.
Went to live somewhere else.

I didn’t ask too many questions comforted that our parents were visiting her.

Why did she leave us? I wondered . . .
but not enough to ask.

I didn’t think so much about my sister.

Emmy was coming home!
Change was in the air.
School for her like school for me
What was so special about that?

I found myself pondering,

What was different about her?
What was she trying to say?
Did she like me?
What was her favorite toy, color, food?

Inquisitive of her nature
my questions grew
Is that what they meant by saying Emmy was special?
In ways we sometimes
do not understand?

Emmy as inspiration,
I set out for some answers.
Spending time with her
in activities,
choosing teaching as a career.

In adulthood,
my sister once again
relocated permanently to a place she called “camp”.
“I like camp”, she would say.
A home, her home
One we felt might meet her needs.
friends aplenty
activities abound
She became part of a new family,
We so hoped she would be happy.

Now in reflection,
I ask myself,
What have I learned?

We are all special in one way
or another
Emmy, perhaps more . . .

Emmy was:

Someone who offered us life lessons that an entire Nation could learn.

Someone who challenged us, at times, to our wits end.

Someone who knew a language all her own,
and asked us to figure it out.

Someone who knew what she wanted and when she wanted it
even if it didn’t make sense the way we thought it should.

Yes, I finally knew what they meant.
Emmy WAS special.

Traveling through the years I’ve learned something else found right here
within my own heart.

To me, what matters most.

I know that I loved my sister.
And, truly what matters more than that?

 

We loved her smile.

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