Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Gentle Touch

Back in grade school, when they made us go to the old folks home for a service project, I felt sorry for those old people who stared out through wizened eyes, trapped inside bodies that were tired of housing them. I pitied them their inability to walk, to wet their own lips, to carry on coherent conversation. I remember holding hands softened and spotted by age, and I was both drawn in and repulsed by an obvious hunger for human touch.

I never imagined that one day I'd be holding my mom's hand, stroking her soft and spotted skin and listening to her rattle off  words strung together in sentences and paragraphs that make sense only to her. I never realized that time marches relentlessly on, turning the child to parent to grandparent to fragile shell.

Now I know.

As I grew up and came to understand what care of what an aging parent might entail, I started dreading it. These past weeks though, as I 've watched Mom slip away day by day, I've been overwhelmed with the kind of love that wells up in me, a love that I as a selfish kid could never have imagined. The things I always thought would be too hard to handle, the baser aspects of care, are not as difficult as I expected...not because they are easy or pleasant, but because she is my mom and I love her.

I appreciate that there are facilities that will care for the elderly members of our community, but I am so happy that Mom is not in one of them. Instead being cared for by strangers, she is constantly monitored by Dad (married 48 years this week!) and surrounded by both my brothers and I. Our spouses have all stepped up and given us permission to grant the gift of time to our parents. Mom is still able to express her needs on a basic level and has even rallied to offer smiles and encouragement to those who have visited, but she is settling into a quieter time and spends most of her day either sleeping or trying to communicate with each of us. She knows who we are, which is a great comfort most of the time and somewhat hilarious at others (as when she sighs and shakes her head and says, "Oh, Patty." I don't know what I've done, but it's clear she's disappointed in me. I suspect it is because Dad has conscripted me to his side in the ongoing battle over medications.)

In these final weeks or perhaps days of her life, I hope she can feel my love. It's the least I can give her after all she's done for me. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

News to Me

Being naive can only carry you so far. So, you watch the news, read the headlines, and trust the news magazines to give you up-to-date, succinct information on what's important and true. At least that's what I've been doing.

Until now.

Let me preface what I'm going to say by admitting that I am not a political junkie. I am dismayed by what I see happening in government, but I rarely think the choices of candidates that come up will offer any real solutions or do anything to change the status quo. I can't even get my family to change the way we do things. The idea of changing an entire nation is daunting, bordering on impossible.

My husband, on the other hand, is a die-hard Ron Paul fan, has been for years. Before any of the rest of us even knew the Federal Reserve is neither federal nor a reserve, Dr. Paul was calling for an audit. Before we felt the shakiness of our dollar, he was pushing for a return to the gold standard. When my husband would talk about these issues and more, it sounded like "Mwah-wah-wah-wah," like the mother on the Charlie Brown cartoons.

Apparently that's what it sounds like to the media. Over the past months, I've been astounded by the way the mainstream media has handled Ron Paul. Or, to be more precise, the way they have avoided handling him. In a primary where Dr. Paul took 3rd place, the news mentioned those in 1st, 2nd and 4th, and didn't even say his name. In poll after poll and debate after debate, his name is conspicuously missing from follow-up reports.

This week, for example, Chris Matthews spent 8 minutes talking about the results of a favorables/unfavorables poll of the GOP candidates. Not once in the report did he mention Ron Paul, who actually WON the poll!

If this was an isolated incident, I might not even notice, but it's been going on for months. The press feeds us information about Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, and all those other guys who surged and then fell out of the race, but says very little about Paul who is the most consistent in his policies and who refuses to change his tune based on what he thinks voters want to hear.

What else is the press not telling us? Are they covering up information or are they merely catering to a population who wants its information pre-chewed?

Consider Time Magazine and the way it waters down the news for its American audience. While the rest of the world sees cover images of the new president of Italy, the uprising in Syria, the rising star of China, American covers are graced with fluff about dogs who love each other, the uselessness of marriage and...Glenn Beck.


So, much as I hate to dig into what's really going on in the world, I've reached the conclusion that I can no longer trust the news sources I've always turned to. I find myself flipping radio stations between Rush Limbaugh and NPR, hoping that by averaging the voices, I can somehow find truth somewhere in the middle.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Filling My Bookshelf

I haven't had a lot of time for writing lately, but I have done a bit of editing. Editing, I've got to say, is not a glamorous job. It fits me, though, as I can be a bit of a stickler for grammar, punctuation and spelling. I've got great appreciation for a well-turned phrase or a vivid word picture. And I love to have a hand in turning something with potential into something that is ready to be released into the world. One of the funnest things about editing is seeing my bookshelf fill with projects I've had a hand in bringing to life. Each one holds a special place in my heart, each for a different reason.

The first book I had a hand in taking to print was Jessie: The Story of a Genteel Lady in Frontier Alaska, written by my mom. I designed the cover for her and walked through the whole process of writing, editing, formatting, uploading, and (finally) holding a book in my hands. It was a proud day when that first copy of Jessie arrived in the mail. Mom still gets a thrill out of sharing Jessie's story through her book and I'm still proud of her.

Next came Bon Voyage: Interactive Devotions for the Cruise Ship Traveler, a dandy little devotional book by a very talented friend, Laurie Kuykendall.

Nicodemus is a historical novel about the life of Nicodemus by Keith Farris. Keith went through an in-depth study to put Nicky's story down on paper. His knowledge of 1st  century Jerusalem is evident.

Both Laurie and Keith were members of my writing critique group until last year.

It was my great pleasure to help with Jeanne Stinson's book, I Dream of Jeanne, in which she told stories of her own life. From her earliest memories of living in Africa in the 1920s to her adventures living aboard a boat, she recounted the highs and lows of her life for her friends and family to have something to remember her by, not that we could ever forget this dear, sweet lady. It worked, too. Much of her funeral service was read from these pages in her own words. (And if the cover looks familiar, it's because of all the designs I offered her, she chose the one that looked most like Jessie.)

At the end of last year, I helped edit a book that came out in eformat only, the third in an epic series about the tribes of Shem and Cain before the great flood. It is called The First Apocalypse by Gary Reidl.

A couple of years ago, I edited a book for Heidi St. John called The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance: Nurturing Your Marriage Through the Homeschool Years. Next week, her second book will release. This one is called The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight: Managing Your Days Through the Homeschool Years. It was fun to work on both of these books. Heidi inspires me with the way she manages her family of 7 children with energy, humor and grace. I'd say these books are not only for homeschool moms, but for any mom who wants to keep the love alive and who wants ways to organize her world. She's also coming out with a no-pressure journal for busy moms. You can pre-order (with free shipping this week) here.

It's been fun to see my little bookshelf filling with the words of friends who have worked so hard to make their work ready to face the world. I have one other book I hope to add to my shelf next week, but it's not quite ready to reveal . (No, it's not my own. I wish. But I'm almost as excited as if it was.)

Congratulations to all my writer buddies. I'm happy to be part of your writing journey!