SENIOR SATISFACTION

It was Senior Week here at home recently.  Wow…tea parties everywhere. (I just typed ‘tear’ parties) and yes, ‘tear’ parties too as we recalled those that no longer share these events with us.   But we do share a lot of memories.

One of the events took place at our local Library. A tour of the Art Gallery preceded the ‘tea’ and a young lady explained the various paintings, sculptures. etc to us…somehow large aluminum balls did not look like’art’ to me but I did get something out of some of the paintings.  Later I spoke to the conductor of the tour and she was from Germany.  I told here we had lived there from 1955-58 and we had a great discussion going.  I shared that my youngest daughter had been born there and had been named after my German land-lady.  After a while she questioned…”You’re a story teller, aren’t you?”  I wondered if I was wearing a big sign.

It really made me wonder what else I was revealing when I appeared before people.  Certainly my white hair and ‘smile wrinkles’ give a lot away, but opening your mouth can reflect a lot more than you realize.

She went on to explain that some people expressed things in sculpture, some in paints and some in words.   Before we said goodbye she asked me my last name.”Schneider”, I said and she started to laugh and then pointed to her name tag. “It’s my name too!”  We exchanged a laugh and I left, shaking my head.  What a strange old world it is at times.

The other day I was at a function where a friend of mine was in charge of the entertainment.  She was having trouble being heard and seemed a little out of sorts. I picked up on it right away…that was not the usual demeanor of this delightful lady. And yes,she had had an upset earlier.  It did give me a chance to email her and congratulate her on her presentation…we all need a note of comfort and reassurance now and again.

A new person to the church was added to my Elder’s list.  I don’t know her very well yet she came up to me on Sunday and put her arm around me and said. “I am so glad you’re my church Elder.”  That one comment set me up for the whole day…and to add to it the next week a friend who is having a rough time medically whom I had hugged a few times to comfort her, came up to me , gave me a hug and said …”I love you.”.

Those are kind words that we all need once in a while.  Both comments reflected God’s love for us…and isn’t that we we are here to do..to reflect His love?  I think so and I hope I am doing just that!

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LOOKING BACK

I hang up the phone.  I have just spoken with my best and oldest friend.  I have known her for about 75 years.  Her voice is exactly as I remember and we laughed and teased much as we did through all our school years.

She is a widow now and somehow her name just popped into my mind and I knew I had to phone her.  What a gift God has given us, in still being in touch all these years.  She had lived just down the street and we shared so many memories.

Yesterday, my bible study group listened as I sang them a song I remembered from way, way back.  It was an anthem I had learned in Junior Choir.  The ladies are used to my odd ways of sharing our study guide but this was a first.  I had never sung for them before.  There was no applause of course, just a smile and a nod.

So this morning when I was on the phone I thought…why not sing that song to Chris, she might remember it.   And she did !!  She had stood beside me in Junior Choir for so  many years and was delighted to hear again an anthem that was in her memory bank too.

In “Christmas Star” by Thomas Kincade and Katherine Spencer, there is the expression “Life should be lived forward but can only be understood backward.”

I have been blessed to be able to look back, way back and see the blessings God showered on me, even at a very young age.  My friend Chris was one of those blessings.  We were inseparable…did our homework together, were cheer leaders together, attended church and choir together and were in CGIT together.  We were going to “teach” together too but one practice session with the grade one class convinced me that that wasn’t a good fit.

We finally both married.  She stayed out west and I went east.  We saw each other while my mother was still alive and then our paths went different ways…but birthdays and Christmas we sent cards and nowadays we sometimes phone, as the spirit moves us and it did this morning and we laughed together as in the past.

Today I looked backward and have seen God’s blessing in the past and I have looked forward this day and seen how he has blessed me in this wonderful relationship I still have with my friend of seventy-five years.

A MARRIAGE OF THE MINDS

In Davis Bunn’s book “Florian’s Gate”, he used the expression “The gift of intense listening.”  That was it!  I was out of my chair and onto the computer in about three seconds, for it perfectly describes my friend Mary.  After my husband’s death, she offered me that gift and still does.  I had not thought of it in that way.  I just loved her because she was so compassionate.   I never hesitated to knock on her door as I knew that there would always be a kind word and a ‘kleenex’ available.

I have been blessed with many friends and still haven’t figured out why God is so good to me.  Some offer laughter, some offer companionship, but Mary and a few others offered “the gift of intense listening.”

It is such a complement when someone hands you a gift like this.  It means they have set aside their own thoughts, desires, heartaches and experiences to get involved in yours.  You are no longer alone in your angst, or your concerns, or even your delights and happiness, someone else shares them with you.  It is a marriage of the minds.

I usually am on the other end of the gift, talking a mile a minute.   Story tellers can be good listeners but oh they do love an audience.  Perhaps that is why I love my ladies at bible study.  I sit with book in hand and look across the room.  We’ve had our prayer and they know what will happen next…there is anticipation in the silence and it almost makes me smile…and  then I start reading the story and then they give me “the gift of intense listening.”

Like small children, they know there is a prize at the end.  Before ‘question time,’ there is coffee time and it is not long before I have to ring my ‘angel bell…a special gift from my angel Mary…my listening friend) and then we get back to the lesson.

I believe that God gives us ‘the gift of intense listening’.  His ears are always open to the cry of his children…and they don’t have to be cries of grief.  This morning I opened up the drapes and called out to Him…”Look Lord, look what you have given me this day…the sky is blue, the unexpected snow has vanished, the farmers can get back on the land and there are two blue jays in the spruce tree.”  And I think he shares my delight and gives me again this beautiful gift of “intense listening.”

 

THE FINAL YEAR

No, this is not a blog about my last days (at least I hope not).  But rather it is about the beginning of a letter I received quite a while back.

It was from an old friend. (In retrospect, I have a lot of “old friends.”).  She had sent a note telling me that there would be a School reunion that summer.   But it was the advisement on the top of the invitation that sent me into gales of laughter.  It was entitled “Final Year.”.  I guess she is getting tired of organizing the reunion (which she had done for many years), and there will be NO reunion next year…that opportunity has now been lost to any of us that survive until next summer.

Age humbles many of us, but it does leave us with a great sense of humor.

Wrinkles, and white hair are expected in your senior years but not the announcement that this is “The Final Year.”

I no longer travel and am a bit sad that I missed this “Final Year” but after the first half hour of hellos I wounder if we would have much to say to each other.  Our lives have gone in such different directions.  Well, except for one couple, who are Presbyterians, that I have known since Grade one.  We exchange Christmas cards but that is about all.  Who would have thought that of all the faces in our Graduation picture, those two would still be a part of my life so may years later.  God does work in mysterious ways.

One of the joys of my “Senior ” years has been in sharing this blog with so many friends…old and new.  What a delight (as a chatter-box) to tell you all about my life and my faith.  I hope I will be allowed to do this for a while yet and that my friend’s pronouncement will not become fact  and that this will not be my “Final Year.”

BLOWING BUBBLES

When the great-grandchildren were here last summer, I spent time blowing bubbles for them.  Such fun!

I’ve been blowing bubbles lately..not the soapy variety, but small “what if’s” for that is all bubbles are…a promise that often deflates before fulfillment.

There has been some changes in the family structure with my move into a retirement home. Trying to accommodate this new thing is somewhat difficult and there have been moments when I felt like I was doing exactly that…blowing bubbles…great ideas that just died in the water…but we are working on it and praying for wisdom and discernment of God’s will.

I recall my granddaughter telling a family member, “Watch out for grandma, or she’ll just try and fix you.”

What is this driving force in me that wants to “fix”things”…a messed up house, garden or whatever seems to cry out to me, fix me, tidy me, hug me.  And “Patient Pat”, is not the sub-title of my life.  I am somewhat impulsive but very much a realist.  I am glad the Lords understands me for at times I don’t understand myself.

But today is a new day and there will be decisions made that hopefully will result in more than bubbles floating by.  I pray to God and want to add…”And I’d like this to happen NOW”, then I recall the words of the song “Beautiful”…In His time, in His time, He makes all things beautiful in His time.”  I’m not good at the waiting game.

I believe the word retirement is misnamed.   The job at the office may be gone and even some of the church responsibilities but the job of being a Mother is there forever..and yes, I will no doubt continue to try to fix things.

Rick Warren, in one of his CD’s speaks of the joy of tying his daughter’s shoe laces.  she had faith that he knew how to perform this difficult task.  Similarly, I know my heavenly Father can tie up these laces of life that are dangling right now.  These small difficulties will disappear and the time of chasing bubbles will too.  His plan for me will be achieved…and this I truly believe.

TEA AND WHAT IT MEANS TO ME

“If you get tea ration stamps for me, now I am twelve, I think I should be able to drink tea!”

Wow! Very brave words from a young girl.  In retrospect, I think it was almost my first act of independence.  Poor Mom, she had no idea that she had lost complete control…from then on I would call the shots.

But she did trust me and that trust never failed.  Yes, I messed up sometimes but nothing serious…but I loved to sing…something my mother did too.  One of my first memories is of being rocked in her arms and her singing, “Sweet and Low.” When Dad died I was fifteen but determined to finish my schooling so took three part time jobs…I ushered at the theatre on Friday nites and Saturday afternoons, helped at the dentist after school and typed up the local Chamber of Commerce minutes once a month.  I also brought home a dark haired young man whom she adored and who eventually became her son-in-law.  I like to think I didn’t add too many gray hairs to her head.

The war years marked all of us, young and old. “Turn out the lights, don’t waste this, don’t waste that, don’t lose your mittens, they’re you last pair, watch out for your little sisters etc, etc.” Life was one big responsibility after another.

Radio’s were played only to hear the news and of course there was no TV but I had an orchard in the back yard, with apples that tasted like bananas (I kid you not), green gage plums that melted in your mouth and behind the yard was a “forest” filled with burned out trees and brush and adventures to fill the imagination of any child.  And life was safe,  It is hard to explain the freedom we had as children and my heart aches for the youngsters of today that are closed up inside like prisoners in a cell.

As I became a teen-ager I spent most evenings at my friend Chris’s, drinking tea (I do love my cup of tea) and working on our homework.  Her round kitchen table was more familiar to me that the one at my house.  I remember her Dad used to drink his tea from a saucer…to each their own.

Tea followed me across Canada to Europe in 1955 where we were stationed with the RCAF for three years, back to our posting in Ontario in a little town with friendly people.  One of my first experiences there was opening the back door to a five year old who looked up and said “Mom says, would you like to come over for a ‘tup” of tea.”  Who could refuse?

Recently I was asked to “pour tea” at a luncheon at the church. I guess my white hair marks me as capable of handling the silver tea pot.  After an hour I took a break, a full tea pot can get rather heavy at times.

Tea speaks of different things to different people and folks like it served in their own particular way.  People feel the same way about their faith…each of us experiencing the taste of our faith in different ways, we like our tea in our own little cups (or churches), a bit afraid of trying a little different variety.  I am still not fond of herbal tea but I keep trying it.  I am still not fond of the new “praise” music but will admit that many others like it.

God has made us all as different as the snowflakes so I guess it is okay with Him if we approach our faith in different ways.  In Psalm 34:8 it says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  And that is what each of us needs to do.

 

EXPRESSIONS

I am amused how expressions have changed through the years and unless you are speaking to someone of your own vintage, you can be completely  misunderstood.

Years ago, anything that was a-okay was “hot stuff” including the good looking boys…now everything is “cool.”

I have watched styles appear and disappear every decade or so.  I recall pencil line skirts so tight at the bottom, that even with a four-inch slit, you could barely step from the road to the sidewalk.  And “drapes”…now there was something to see and no young man looked so “with it” as those who wore drapes.  Often the knee measurement was up to 15 inches.  I once expressed to my boy-friend at the time, that I didn’t much like them.   The next day he presented me with two pairs and I was able to make two skirts out of them, one for me and one for my sister.  The photo I have of him in a pair of them, is still around and brings a smile to my face.

Similarly, I have seen Christianity move in different directions through the years, especially the Catholic faith and the Protestant relationship with it.  We have both warmed up to each other.

There is a new Catholic church in town…it is almost a cathedral and I love going inside and enjoying the beauty and majesty of the place.  I have good friends who worship there…friends who discuss their faith with me and I occasionally pray with.  They have been to my church and enjoy our smaller community of faith and the kind of fellowship it offers.  I do not always agree with their ideas about things but then not everyone agrees with mine either.

My daughter visits often. Several times I have expressed something, only to find I have been completely misunderstood.  (This happens in all families I know).  Often the problem is I am thinking in terms of the past and those terms have morphed into something entirely different.  It is a puzzlement.

I find that Scripture I read a decade ago, often speaks to me now in an entirely different way and expressions leap off the page that had laid silent for years.  I think God is leading me and so are my Bible Study ladies, who so often are full of wisdom.

The different versions of the Bible can be helpful (but sometimes confusing) and it doesn’t hurt to read a few of them to gain new insights.

I hope I have grown in my beliefs…I like to think I have but I also know God is not finished with me yet.  I still have a lot to learn.