Friday, October 10, 2014

"Those We Love Are Never Really Gone...........

I have often quoted my favorite author, Carmen Agra Deedy.  Her book, The Last Dance, is my favorite book of all time.  Although it is a children's book,  it is meant for any age.  The message about the importance of family is beautifully written.  In the story, the grandfather tells his grandchildren that every human being has the right to three things in life:

To Dance.  The great thing in life is not so much to dance well,
but whether one is willing to dance at all.

To Sing,   Even if you sing off-key.  The crow has as much right to 
a voice as the nightingale.

To Tell Stories.   Those we love are never really gone as long
as their stories are told.
This past week was an emotional week for me.  October 6th was the 12th anniversary of my mom's death and October 8th would have been her 97th birthday.    Since she died, our family has tried to get together each year about this time to tell her stories.   She was quite a character and so there are always a lot of laughs.  Last night, Teresa, Judy, Ken, Kerri, Chris, Cameron and I went to dinner at Cafe Roka in Bisbee to celebrate her life and to tell her stories.   We laughed about so many of them.  
When my children were little, she was very strict with them, as she was with me when I grew up.  But when Cameron was born, that all changed.  She was absolutely crazy about him and I saw a side of her that I had never seen before.   My mom was never the "cookie" making mom or anything like that.  She was a tough little lady who got things done in her own way.  
One of the many stories we told last night was  just before she died.   We had gone out to dinner in Mesa for Kerri's and Cameron's birthdays in early September.   Cameron had just turned four.  My mom was no longer able to walk because of a stroke that she had so she was sitting in a wheelchair at the head of the table.   Cameron started to do something that he shouldn't have and Kerri corrected him.  Well, that was not okay with his "Great" as she proceeded to try to stab Kerri in the hand with her fork.  It was hysterical.   Cameron loves this story so we have to do a reenactment every year!!
This tradition has become very important to us.  Last night, something happened that I think was a kind of message.   There was a mix up with the time for our reservation so we had to wait a bit and then had to go up one flight of stairs, which was a bit difficult for Teresa.   So the waiter brought out some appetizers on the house because of this extra wait.  One of the appetizers was named "Margaret's olives.........."   My mom's name was Margaret Olive!!!    I think that maybe that was her way of telling us she was with us.

I miss her every day and I am thankful to have had such a wonderful mother.  I learned so much from her and I know she would be proud of me being down here in Douglas with Teresa and for the job that I am doing!!  "Those we love are never really gone as long as their stories are told!!!"   We will continue this wonderful tradition I am sure.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Living a Long Life

 I found this a few months ago on Facebook and shared it then.  It is really powerful and  so pertinent to my time here in Douglas with Teresa.


"My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”... Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way... remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day... the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked.

When those days come, don’t feel sad... just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love.

I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you... my darling daughter."

- Unknown

Although Teresa is my aunt, she is just like a mother.  Judy and I were fortunate to grow up with two mothers and if you count Mary, which I do, three.   Three wonderful women all strong in different ways.  

Teresa turned 92 in July.  I have seen a big decline over the past 6 months or so.  So many of the things that are mentioned in the letter, I am dealing with  her.  I have to be careful not to say "remember" and many times it is hard to be patient.  

Of course, I always have to find the humor in things.   The other night we were sitting watching TV.  Teresa had the remote.  I asked her to please turn to Channel 13.  About 10 seconds later, I told her that she needed to use the remote and not her cell phone to change the channel.  We both laughed.  And I know that this is hard on her because she is such an intelligent woman and I can only imagine how frustrating things can be.   

These past four years with her have been a blessing for both of us as I have said before.  She is truly one of the best human beings around!!!!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones, But Names Will Never Hurt You.....................

I remember always hearing this saying as a kid and I guess I never thought much about it.  After I became a teacher and then a principal, I really thought about how untrue this particular saying is.   I want to talk about this further in this post, but I am going to digress for just a minute.

Two weeks ago when Teresa and I were in California for my cousin Eddie's wedding to Jody, I broke my foot.  It was really a fluke accident as all I did was stand up to go get ready for the wedding.  I turned my foot really badly and it really hurt.   However, I have had so much trouble with my feet all of my life that I truly am use to both of them hurting.  So I got ready for the wedding and limped my way through it.  It was at a vineyard near San Francisco and everything was beautiful.  

The next morning, we got up early as we had an early flight so that we could get back to Douglas.  I walked (limped) through the entire SF airport, Phoenix airport, got our luggage and helped Teresa.  By the time we got to Gilbert, my foot was very swollen and black and blue so I thought I better get to the doctor.  A trip to Urgent Care and then my orthopedic doctor confirmed that it is a fracture of a bone in my foot.   I am currently in a boot and go back in two weeks to see how it is healing.  The doctor told me it could take 3 to 4 months.  I am just thankful that it was my left foot.   I can still drive!!!   Several years ago I had surgery on my right foot and I couldn't drive for 4 months.  I was totally dependent on others.  

Now back to the names.............I always talked to each grade level at the beginning of the year when I was the principal.  I went over the school rules and then talked to the kids about how they should treat others.  One of the things I would always tell them is that if you break a bone or get a cut or something like that, it will eventually heal.  It may take some time, but it would eventually be okay.  I then talked to them about what they said to each other and calling others names.   I would tell them that this hurts our hearts.   While we can see an outward cut or bruise, the heart is hurting and can't be seen.  And many times those hurts don't ever go away.   I think all of us forget about the good things that happen or that people say to us, but we ALWAYS remember the bad things.   Treating each other with dignity and respect was the cornerstone of the community that was Gilbert El.

Since I have been in  Douglas, I still talk about this.  I always tell our faculty and staff that no one's job is more important than the next.  We each have something  to contribute in order for our District to run and to run well.

Over the past year and a half, I have dealt with some very negative people who believe it is okay to call others all kinds of very detrimental names.     I know in my position I can't possibly have everyone like me, but this has gone beyond that.    It is so sad to me that there are people out there who want to destroy the good things that are happening.   However, I can hold my head up and I am very  proud of the job I have done.  I have withstood this nastiness and know that I am a better person today after having withstood this.  My job here is not finished and I know that I have a lot of support from so many  people.   I hear it all of the time.

 My friend, Mike Rochin, posted another beautiful saying that I believe fits with this post:

"Life is a series of memories, some good and some not so good. The good memories bring joy to your heart when they come to mind and the not so good ones can bring pain or sadness. The idea isn't to only think of the good ones and be thankful for them and curse the other, but to also be thankful for the other because through those times came growth and strength. You are, in part, who you are because of all your past experiences. Use them as building blocks to continue growing and becoming a better you."

My foot will heal in a few months, but it might take my heart a little bit longer.   One of my  favorite quotes is "that sometimes it is better to be kind, than right."     In this case, I know that I have done the right thing and I will continue to treat people with kindness and respect. And I will use all of my past experiences as a building block to continue to grow and become a better person.  I truly am blessed!