Sunday, April 19, 2015

Missy & Abby

Missy had to go to the Vet on Friday.  Nothing serious, allergies were making her lick and chew at her paws and I wanted to get her looked at. It certainly wasn't an emergency but they were kind enough to squeeze us in. We checked in at the front desk and turned around to go into the waiting room.  We entered the room and there was an audible 'awwwww'. 

Yup! Missy was now 'in da house'. 

People say that "Missy brings the party" and well, it's true, Missy does bring the party.  This little gal just loves being the center of attention. She radiates sunshine and walked into the room with all the sass of a movie star. She was squirming her butt, wagging her tail and going up to all the dogs as if to say "Hi! I'm Missy! Do you wanna be my friend?"  

Missy lives her life to be everyone's friend. Big dogs, small dogs, men, women, young or old, it doesn't matter to her.  Missy loves everyone and I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't love Missy back. She's a pip.

Missy has a large scar on her back.  It's about 6 inches long and there is no fur growing there. The Greenville Humane Society said that Jade (that was her name then) was brought to them like that and they didn't know how it happened. The scar doesn't bother Missy at all but people always comment on it.  The scar is such a contrast to her playfulness and it definitely makes her unique and even more memorable. 

We found a seat next to a stunning chocolate mixed lab and her owner.  The dog's name was Abby and she was a beauty.  I was smitten with Abby and Abby was smitten with Missy.  They were nose to nose and Abby was giving Missy kisses and plenty of lovin'. They had the whole room captivated and entertained and it was very sweet to watch.

At one point Abby gave Missy a big sloppy kiss on her forehead. Missy just stood there with this big ole lick mark on her head and it was okay.  Missy is that kind of friend.  

About 20 minutes later, Abby got called into the office.  She walked by Missy with one final glance and then she was gone.  Missy watched Abby go, waited a moment, and then looked back around the room.  Missy was searching out her next friend.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Miles Robert

Four-thirty in the morning and I am outside with Missy.  I love the morning sky and find comfort and peace in the start of each day.  For the past two weeks, the light in my neighbor's house has been on.  It's the window on the second floor and it's Miles' room.  Miles is Adrian and Kevin's son and he is two weeks old.

Miles was born two weeks early and is just a little bit of a fella.  He's been steadily gaining weight, but it's been exhausting for Adrian and Kevin.  First time parenting is hard work, even more so when the baby is having a hard time feeding.  He has been slowly gaining weight, it's only ounces, but when you are less than 6 pounds, those ounces add up and are celebrated.

They are not overly cautious parents.  You know the ones; you are expected to scrub like surgeons before you handle their child.  Of course they are cautious about germs while his little body gets stronger, but they are also giving and sharing with their son.

Everyone should be so lucky to have friends and neighbors like Kevin and Adrian.  They are good and solid people. They are the neighbor who will watch your house while you are gone, bring in your mail and give your dog plenty of lovin' and belly rubs.

When it's a good time for the family, I go next door to check in.  A good time is between feedings when Miles is sleeping content with his little belly full. Yesterday, we gathered in the kitchen and the baby was placed in my arms. 

With Miles snuggled in, I talk with Adrian and Kevin.  Kevin is at the sink washing baby bottles and Adrian shares with me some of the pictures the photographer took a few days earlier.  Miles sleeps in my arms with just an occasional stir and sigh and it's one of those moments. One of those moments that make up your day-to-day life. One of those moments that so very often get overlooked because they are just so simple.

So many mornings over the last few weeks, I have seen the light in the window.  I know that Adrian and Kevin have worked out a schedule to allow the other one to get the needed rest and it's probably Kevin that is up with Miles. I look up at the light and I feel and know it in my heart that they are good parents. Miles is one lucky little fella.

I look at the lit window and think about what is happening in their home, in their world. Kevin is gently picking Miles up out of his crib, soothing him while he changes his diaper and then brings him downstairs to fix the bottle. 

In one arm Kevin has Miles; gently rocking and cradling him while the milk heats.  Finally, the bottle is ready and father and son go into the living room.  They settle down onto the couch and Miles gets his bottle.

After the feeding and the burping, they will head back upstairs, Kevin will gently place Miles in his crib, get back into bed and the light will go out



Monday, February 16, 2015

Plastic Wrap

How were we to know that when we walked into that Cosco nine years ago we would be coming home with a new addition to the Alden family? We simply went in for laundry detergent, sliced cheese and peanut butter.  We were so young.  So naïve. So unprepared.

I don't know whose idea it was, perhaps it was mine.  A thought so casually passed; "Do we need plastic wrap?" And we did. Yes, we did need plastic wrap. So we bought plastic wrap. Seven hundred and fifty feet of plastic wrap

Within three months, the detergent was gone, the cheese and peanut butter too.  But the plastic wrap? Why, we barely scratched the surface, a mere five feet at best. 

The years passed.  We moved from Bristol to Bristol and brought the wrap.  A few more years passed, we moved from Bristol to South Carolina.  Bill, Janet and the wrap, 800 miles to South Carolina.  We had become so attached, so fond of our plastic wrap that it was hard to imagine a time when it was not a part of our family. 

A few months ago, I noticed the roll getting smaller.  I needed to tell Bill.  He needed to prepare.  I needed to prepare. The thought of not having plastic wrap in our life, why it never occurred to us.  Oh, when I think of my plans about taking the wrap to our new home.  I had no way of knowing, so sure we were that we that we would outlive the plastic wrap.

I was home alone yesterday and, as I feared, I came to the end of the wrap. 

I am not ashamed to admit, I waited for Bill to come home. I couldn't do it.  I wasn't strong enough.  Besides, he had a right to be here.  We had to say goodbye together. 

I used the last of the plastic wrap to cover my oatmeal cookie dough, wiped a tear and Bill got his keys.  We were going to Cosco.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


I went to go see Ruth this morning. She has been in Magnolia Place since May of last year and I visit her every three or four days. She is my 91 year old friend and I love her dearly.

I go in the morning to help her with breakfast.  Sometimes when I get there, she is still sleeping and I sit by her bed until breakfast comes.  She will tell you that she never sleeps here, but as I sit by her bed, she is sleeping soundly and I let her sleep. 

When she is woken up by the nurse, she is almost always cheerful and says "Heeeyyyyy!" and she gives them a sweet little wave using her fingers on her right hand.  And then I come into her line of vision and say "Good morning sweetie".  She reaches out to me to give me a hug and says "Heeeyyyyyy! I've been missing you".

When I went to visit Ruth at her house (across the street from us) she would always say the same things to me:  "I've been missing you" when she sees me, and "Come back" when I leave.  She always said these two sentiments to me, even if the last time I saw her was that morning when I brought her the newspaper. I always felt welcome, wanted and loved.

One day, we were sitting outside in her yard and she told me that my name should have been "Jewel".  Because that is what I am.  I am a "Jewel" to her*.  It's a name she calls me often and she will always tell me exactly why she calls me Jewel.

Ruth was my very first friend here in South Carolina.  Our house was built on her property. Ginger was with us when we moved here and I was taking her for a walk when I first met Ruth.  She was in her front yard with her granddaughter Katelyn and I went over and introduced myself. 

I told Ruth that I am out every morning with Ginger and if she liked, I could bring her newspaper to her door. It was January and it was cold and dark in the morning and I was concerned about her walking on the gravel driveway to get her paper.  She said to me, "Well, I suppose that would be alright".   It wasn't long after that I started to bring her cookies and the afternoon mail. Soon, I would be taking her to the library, doctors and store.  She has been my best friend ever since.

I like to visit Ruth in the morning, at first it was because I was concerned she wasn't eating.  The staff at Magnolia Place are all very hard working health care aides and they have a lot of patients to attend to.  I wanted to be there so I could help Ruth and I wanted to be sure that she ate. She is doing better and can feed herself, but now it has become something that we both look forward to. Our early morning visits. 

I am at Magnolia Place most mornings before the administrative staff arrives.  Most of the patients are still in bed, although some are up and in the dining room and hallway.  They are in their wheelchairs, put into place and rarely do they move beyond where they are placed.

As I walk the two hallways to Ruth's room, I see a lot of the same residents. I always look them in the eye and smile and say "good morning".  Some just stare as I walk by and some smile and return the greeting. 

I have been coming to visit Ruth a couple times a week for just about a year. I look forward to my visits with her, but the walk down the first hallway always fills me with sadness.  I think about the people I pass and I think about the health care aides that work so hard for our elderly community.  I think about my own future, and I think about my past. My heart breaks to know that there are residents that do not have any visitors or family.  And I am ashamed to admit that at one time, both my grandmothers were in convalescent homes and I very rarely visited them.  They could very easily have been any one of these residents longing for companionship.

During my 20's and 30's, I was working both full and part time, taking night classes and I was a member of the CT Army National Guard.  It sounds like a lot, but now, to me as I walk these halls past the residents, it just sounds like a bunch of excuses. I was not a very good granddaughter and it shames me to I admit that.  As I walk the second hallway, I vow to be a better person and give Ruth, my family and my friends my whole heart.     

If it is ready, I pick up Ruth's tray off the cart as I'm walking by. I know how Ruth likes her grits, with just a little bit of butter and salt, and that she really, really likes orange juice. The first thing I do when I get her tray is unwrap her juice, put the straw in the glass and hand the glass to her.  She doesn't put the glass down until it is empty.  The second glass she savors and drinks as she eats her breakfast.  She's not a big eater and soon I am taking her tray away. 

When I return, I lower her bed, turn off the overhead light and turn on "The Golden Girls".  Ruth can't hear the TV, but the characters are always very animated and Ruth follows along by watching their facial expressions.  Soon, Ruth will fall asleep, but before she does, I tell her I am going. I don't want her to wake up and see an empty chair.  She reaches out to give me a hug and a kiss.  She tells me she loves me and to "Come back". 

I leave and walk back down the two hallways saying goodbye to the staff and residents I see on my way out.  I get in my car, and before I start it, I always take a moment to thank God for this wonderful friendship I have with Ruth.  And I thank God for Toni who so kindly shares her mother with me. 

I can not change the person I was in my younger years, but I can try to be a better person today.  And yes Ruth, I will "Come back".  Most definitely.

* Jewel has become a special word for me and it shows up as little angel lights in my life.  ('Jewel' blog 12/22/14)

Monday, December 22, 2014


I was upstairs in my studio working.  It was late in the afternoon and it was that time of day, not long before the sun sets. I didn't need a light, but I would need one soon. 

I was taking apart the seams on a white eyelet jacket. It was well made and the seams were double stitched. The material was going to be used to make pendant necklaces and ornaments and I needed to be careful as I worked. 

A few days earlier I was given the jacket along with three more tops by Beth. The clothing belonged to her mother, Jewel, who had passed away about four weeks earlier. 

Beth saw my crafts using old quilts.  She contacted me and we arranged to meet.  She wanted Jewel's siblings, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and close friends to have something to treasure and hold dear this first Christmas. The moment I met Beth, I felt the kindness in her. She is a lovely woman and I knew this was going to be a special project.   

As Beth was bringing out the clothing, she shared her mother with me.  She told me how it was for her mother growing up and what it was like for her to be the wife of a career military man.  She told me that Jewel loved to knit, read and travel.  She said her mother was small in size, but just full of spunk. As I listened to Beth, I could see the love in her eyes. Her mother was clearly a woman who loved and was loved in great measure. 

I felt it then and I feel it now as I work in the waning light. I appreciate the softness of the clothing and the faint, gentle scent of Jewel. I think about the woman who wore these tops and how I have been invited to be part of her memory. 

I create because it fills me with joy and it truly nurtures my heart and my soul.  To be asked to create and be a part of someone else's life is gift I will treasure forever.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014


As long as church bells ring on a Sunday morning, young children say "please" and "thank you", and families wait outside the Humane Society to adopt a family pet, I will have hope.

As long as men and women place their hand over their heart when they hear our National Anthem, young people continue to enlist to fight for our right to live free, children sell lemonade in their front yard, and people go out of their way to buy it, I will have hope.

As long as little girls make fairies, little boys play fetch and children still desire to grow up to be teachers or nurses or police officers, I will have hope.  

As long as families bow their head at meals, strangers hold the door, families dress up for church and children play with grandma's button jar, I will have hope.

Hope, by definition, is "an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one's life or the world at large"  When used as a verb, hope means to "expect with confidence" and "to cherish a desire with anticipation".  
As long as people send hand written "thank you" notes, libraries have patrons on a Saturday afternoon, people buy products made in the USA, and laundry is hung on a back yard clothes line, I will have hope. 
As long as older couples hold hands, people continue to pay respect at funerals, leave flowers at grave sites and close their eyes to make a wish when blowing out their birthday candles, I will have hope.  
As long as people still laugh at corny jokes, bake apple pie from scratch and sell tomatoes from farm stands, I will have hope. 
Hope.  What a lovely word. Hope. "The feeling of desire for something, and confidence in the possibility of its fulfillment".  That is hope.
I still have hope. Somewhere along my journey, I lost my way. I hurt those I love deeply and I have been hurt deeply by others. But I have hope. I have hope in people and I have hope in myself.  Hope.  I still have hope.






Monday, August 11, 2014

Phyllis Goodman

Wednesday evening I attended a memorial service for a woman I never met, but who has touched my heart and stayed on my mind since. The service was for Phyllis Goodman and she was the 85 year old mother of our friend Jeff.
I didn't know Phyllis, but I know Jeff and I know you can not raise such a fine man as Jeff without being pretty spectacular yourself.  I knew I needed to pay my respects.
I was late because I couldn't find a parking spot, and as soon as I walked into the facility, I understood why. The seats were all full and people were lined up along the walls and outside the room.

As I looked up at the front of room, I saw tables filled with scrapbooks, crocheted hangers, necklaces, party hats, framed pictures and paintings.  Sherry (Jeff's wife) was speaking about Phyllis and at that point was explaining what the items in the front of the room represented. These were just some of the things that Phyllis loved and held dear.  These were some of the things that made Phyllis "Phyllis". 
As I was looking at the treasures on the front tables I felt tears come to my eyes. I was not fortunate enough to meet Phyllis, and yet, my heart was filled with such love and kindness for her.  I truly felt honored to meet Phyllis and get to know her in this special and lovely way.

After the service I was driving home still teary thinking about the evening. We live in a very different and fast paced time. I know that I am guilty of getting caught up in my own life and sometimes forgetting to pay attention.  I don't like it and I try hard to stop it before it gets away from me.

Knowing that there are people like Jeff and Sherry in the world gives me hope.  It gives me hope that we really are connecting and making a difference. We will not be forgotten. 

Thank you Jeff and Sherry for sharing Phyllis with us and showing us special she was.