The Obituary

17 Oct

I’ve been a cat lover almost from the moment I popped out of the womb. My very first word, according to my mom, wasn’t mommy or daddy, but CAT. A friend that use to occasionally travel with me commented that I could spot a cat a mile away, so when I was skimming through the Sunday paper & had reached the obituaries, the word CAT jumped out at me from the middle of the obituary of a woman I didn’t know. That peaked my interest & I decided to read the whole thing.

What caught my eye initially was the paragraph that said the deceased was preceded in death by a number of people (all were named) “and her not very friendly, but much loved 22-year-old cat, Jenny.” How delightful! I smiled & clapped my hands! And I began reading the obituary from the beginning.

It seems the deceased went into surgery at 8:03 a.m. & by noon she was, “at home with Jesus.” Apparently something very unexpected happened during her surgical procedure, ending her life. The author of the obituary, however, seemed to know the deceased very well, so much so that at the end of that paragraph the author added that she passed away unexpectedly, but peacefully. “She always did love her naps!”

The deceased had had a rewarding career from which she’d taken time out to raise her children. She had many hobbies including, “traipsing all over North Carolina & beyond for horse shows & motocross competitions, tag teaming with her children’s father. Hats off, Mom & Dad!”

There followed a detailed description of how the deceased spent the few days before her surgery; the people she interacted with, snippets  of conversations she’d had & little bits of phone conversations with friends & loved ones. She had “several puppy-petting sessions that she called, ‘puppy therapy’ with Buddy & put her bird feeders out daily for the birds & a few now obese squirrels.”

At the end of the delightful obituary, “friends, family & colleagues are invited to ‘Marti’s Party’ to celebrate her life.” It was also noted that she will be “deeply missed.”

The obituary ended with, “For God so loved the world He gave His one & only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” I believe that ending was the author’s way of saying that this wonderful woman who gave so much would continue in heaven.  He or she found great comfort in that.

This obituary that touched me on so many levels contained all the stuff of obituaries; next of kin, the career of the deceased & things she enjoyed in life, where to send donations instead of flowers, & funeral & family arrangements. But it also said to the reader, Here was a special person. She had so much in her life and so much LIFE. Even the smallest things were important to her. She enjoyed animals & the company of one grumpy cat for 22 years that meant the world to her.

When I finish reading an obituary, mostly I know very little about the deceased unless I knew them beforehand. After reading this one I felt as though I’d actually KNOWN the woman. Through her obituary I had enjoyed her personality & felt, through her, a specific joy in life.

And isn’t that the way we’d all like to be remembered … with an obvious connection to the people who read our obituaries whether they know us or not? I think it’s so very important to be able to smile while reading & remembering.

My hat is off to the author of this particular obituary. Because of the charming way the obituary was written I will remember the deceased for a long time without ever having met her.

And being a cat lover of the highest order, I will also remember that “not very friendly, but much loved 22 year-old-cat, Jenny” & imagine her personality.

 

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Ruby

1 Oct

October 1 is World Communion Sunday; a day shared by many churches & denominations. The observation of the day attempts to promote Christian unity & cooperation. We had communion at our church this morning.

Whether you are a religious person or tend not to be, the simple act of sharing food & drink with people … friends & acquaintances … is most often a pleasant experience & one that brings us closer to our tablemates & encourages us to commune with them.

Taking a cue from World Communion Sunday & its many considerations, our pastor chose today to bring a sermon to his congregation about what it means to be “white” in this country & conversely, what it means to be “black.” It was one of those “out on a limb” topics that sometimes carries with it feelings of discomfort for some listeners, especially in today’s world filled with heightened racial tensions, Black Lives Matter, racial profiling & the rearing up of that ugly head of the  KKK.  While the sermon may have engendered a feeling of discomfiture in some, it was a timely sermon that resonated with me on many levels.

I’m not writing this blog entry to argue black & white. We all know the issues, we SEE the inequality that continues to exist today & we try to make a difference where & when we can for a cause we are passionate about. I have very strong feelings about those issues but would certainly over-use my allotted WordPress blog space if I allowed myself to debate those issues or attempt to make a ton of points here on this warm, beautiful, early fall Sunday afternoon. Instead, I’m simply writing this blog entry about Ruby.

Even before my dad died when I was 6, my mom had a close friend. Her name was Ruby. To this day I have no recollection of how Ruby & my mom ended up being friends & neither is alive today for me to check that point with.  At the end of the day, it probably isn’t so important to my story & if it is, I will never know. What’s important to me is simply Ruby & that today, many years after both she & my mom have died, I am remembering her because of a heartfelt sermon delivered on World Communion Sunday by our pastor.

I was born & lived the first 10 years of my life in the south; in Salisbury, NC. My mom, especially after the untimely death of my dad, was the central focus of my life. She worked at the local telephone company as an operator, she took me to movies on her days off, dressed up with me on Halloween, took me to feed stale bread to the ducks on the lake in the park & she had a black friend.

I really can’t remember when Ruby wasn’t a part of my life. She would sometimes baby sit for me when my mom had to work an evening shift & occasionally stayed overnight with me if my mom had to work the night shift. It all seemed very natural to me in an era where such things were considered MOST unnatural.

Ruby took me fishing for the very first time in my life & to lunch at her house where I sat beside a niece who was in a high chair. The baby kept touching my arm, then touching her own, apparently marveling at the color difference & even THAT didn’t seem unnatural to me. It wasn’t that I wasn’t “aware” or that I wasn’t a bright child.  It WAS that Ruby was a part of our lives & we hers, & that was what I considered natural in the days long before it was.

Ruby was a single mom & after my dad died she & my mother had even more in common. She had a job doing what she called “day work” but she was always available to help my mom when she needed someone to stay with me if she had to work a late shift. During those times Ruby became very much like a second mother to me. There are no words for how I loved her.

The very first time that I became aware of the racial difference between us was on a Saturday when my mom had to work & Ruby stayed with me during the afternoon. She decided we should go to a movie & I was excited about it. So we walked the several blocks to the old Capital Theater & Ruby bought our tickets.

In those days … days of segregation … Rosa Parks had not so long before defiantly refused to sit on the back of that bus & white people still sat in the main theater at a movie.  Black people sat exclusively in the balcony with “their kind.”  Because that rule was pretty solid on the day Ruby took me to the movie, & because she was the adult & I was pre-school, we headed to the balcony. I was excited because I’d never sat in the balcony & I was with Ruby.

Children see things so differently. As children we are not born with prejudice. It’s a LEARNED behavior. There is so much to be said for the title of the Star Trek episode, “And the Children Shall Lead.” While it was not one of the best Trek episodes, there is much to consider in the words of the title & so much we could learn from our children; perhaps now more than ever before.

So Ruby & I took our popcorn & found a seat in the balcony; a balcony filled with black people who had suddenly gone totally quiet while staring at me. Just a reminder: I was a VERY white little child with cottony white / blond hair & very blue eyes. I couldn’t have been more conspicuous had I been seated directly under a black light. People in the balcony said things. A couple pointed. Ruby glared at them & told me just to eat my popcorn & watch the movie. After the first little while everything settled down, the movie came on & I was no longer the center of attention in the balcony of the Capital Theater that particular Saturday afternoon.  Like a mother hen protecting her chick, Ruby, with her I dare you to say another word icy stare that she spread around the balcony, saved the movie & saved the day.

When my mom remarried & we moved, I cried from the moment we left NC until we crossed the state line into Virginia. I wept for leaving the only home I’d ever known & for leaving Ruby; a woman who loved me & became one of the most important central figures of my life.

My mom & I stayed in touch with Ruby until her death in the mid-1980s. Sometimes I would drive the 4 hours to Salisbury & visit with her. On the mantel in her living room was a child’s toy; a stage coach being pulled by 4 running horses driven by a cowboy wearing a vest with fringe. It was a toy I had loved as a child & when I outgrew it, Ruby made it a decorating reminder in her living room of a part of her life that she was all too aware was far ahead of its time.

I am forever grateful to my mother for being the loving, special, strong woman that she was. In many ways she was courageous. In her time & in Ruby’s it took courage to have a black friend, or in Ruby’s case, a white one. Together they taught me to love or dislike a person because of their “character” & not their color. They taught me to appreciate people for their “gifts” & not their race. They taught me to appreciate diversity.

Because my mother was the woman she was who possessed that amazing strength of character & her huge capacity to love, Ruby was a larger-than-life influence & positive part of my life. Without my mom’s direction I would never have known Ruby’s love & that would have been one of the great tragedies.

As our pastor spoke this morning, my mind took me for a quick travelogue experience back to NC & I thought of the beautiful experience that was Ruby. In the midst of current racial tensions we see each time we turn on the nightly news or in some cases, experience, I wish the world could suddenly be transported with me back to all those years ago when I was the only little white person sitting in a theater balcony with the warmth & protection that was Ruby.

Children are often smarter than we give them credit for.

Thank you, Pastor Josh for a lovely sermon & my personal trip down Memory Lane.

Night People and the Green-lipped Mussel

18 Sep

There’s a “maintenance medicine” that women who have gone through breast cancer treatments are prescribed if their breast tumors are “estrogen receptive,” which means encouraged by the presence of estrogen. The medication knocks out any remaining estrogen that happens to be in the body, hopefully eliminating the hormone that encourages that specific type of breast cancer to thrive.

There are several of these medicines on the market & patients are prescribed whichever one best suits their medical needs & breast cancer history. Originally, these medications were considered useful in the prevention of breast tumor recurrences when taken for 5 years following treatment, but the most recent studies show they continue to be useful when taken for a full 10 years following treatment.

These medications, called aromatase inhibitors are very effective but come with a list of side effects the length of a football field. I KNOW this because I’ve been taking one of these medicines for the past 8 years. On the one hand I am fortunate to only have 5 or 6 of those side effects. It seems like a small price to pay to ward off the possibility of breast cancer rearing its ugly head again. Unfortunately, one of the side effects that I confront daily … well, nightly, is insomnia.

I wrote a blog entry a while ago about being awake all night & searching out anything that will help me sleep or at the very least, entertain me. At 3 a.m., television is about the only resource available unless I want to get out of bed & eliminate ANY hope of falling asleep. So I’ve watched every infomercial that clogs up the TV airwaves in the wee wee hours of the night & early morning & can tell you which non-stick pan will give you the best roast in town on a Sunday afternoon. Plus, that roast will slide out of the pan, leaving nary a trace of onion, potato or grease from the meat. I can tell you what exercise equipment to purchase that will keep the fat off your arms & the rippled skin off your butt. I can tell you about every living bra, miracle bra & figure enhancing bra on the market & I can tell you how to avoid the heartbreak of belly bulge AND psoriasis. While I have all this unexpected knowledge & can’t say I haven’t been entertained, I STILL have insomnia.

Lately I’ve been running into the same, repeating infomercial night after night after night … after night. It comes on right after ABC’s Nightline, which I enjoy, & never wavers in the message, content or the enthusiasm of the infomercial’s host. I’m going to refrain from mentioning the name of the product. That’s not important & if it is to someone who is reading this, you can catch it night after night after night immediately following Nightline.

The product is a fish oil-type of supplement that is so different from similar products on the market that you will not get those annoying fishy-tasting after-burps that come along with regular fish oil products. And … here’s the amazing part … it eliminates arthritis, gout, general pain, heart disease, night sweats, unsightly warts & veins, & even cancer because it wipes out inflammation & inflammation is the number one cause of all the medical ills in this world … & then some. So I ask myself, if this one non-fishy fish oil product can do all that AND eliminate cancer, why isn’t that all over the media as the number one topic of BREAKING NEWS the world over? If I can find it on a repeating infomercial & it is truly a cure-all miracle supplement for nearly everything that afflicts us as humans, why haven’t I heard of it during prime time daytime???

Leaving you to ponder that question as I have, I’m moving on to tell you the source of this miracle drug. The source is the … are you ready? … green-lipped mussel. And this green-lipped sea creature is found in the far away waters of New Zeeland. This means we can’t snatch up the kids or grandkids & go for an afternoon of fishing for a green-lipped creature that can cure cancer. Instead we have to book a flight or cruise to that area half a planet away & obtain or update our passport looking for a sea creature that can cure nearly every ailment known to man from fleas to tumors but not known to the medical community OR the press. WOW!

So moving right along again, my sleep-deprived brain wants to know how is the green-lipped mussel identified … should I ever find myself scuba diving off the coast of New Zealand on a lazy Sunday afternoon? I assume those on the quest for the mussels know where to look & don’t go haphazardly fumbling around from body of water to body of water. So I’m also assuming there is a map or at least an urban legend for locating the mussel, but is it lying around on the ocean floor with other species or does it occupy it’s very own, specific space untouched in the delicate balance of nature by other creatures of the sea?

The mind boggles ………….

Now here is the big question that makes me crazy. Assuming that these mussels are actually harvested by divers instead of boats with nets, how do the divers KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that the mussels they harvest are the proper ones for making the miracle fish oil product without specifically checking the lips of each & every mussel to make sure they are green? And how on Earth do you go about checking (or even finding) mussel lips? My mind is reeling & now maybe yours is, too. And I wonder why their lips are green? Is it some kind of oxygen deprivation or is it just a bad make-up choice? Where is a cosmologist … or is that cosmetician … when you need one?????

This whole train of thought has worn me out (in combination with the insomnia) so please do me a favor. If David Muir comes on the ABC Nightly News at 6 O’clock with BREAKING NEWS that answers all my well thought out questions, please call me. I’m going to take a nap …

Green-lipped mussel, native to NZ

 

 

Remembering Martha…

25 Aug

When I met Martha in 2003 she was already well into her 70s. A dynamo of a little woman who could see no reason to retire long after she actually had, I met her when I was trying to find a location for an auction my science fiction club had planned. Just 3 weeks before the event, our venue had canceled & I was desperate to find another location. As a non-profit, our club was hoping to find an alternative venue that would charge us little or possibly nothing for a new location so I had called the county offices hoping for the best. Martha answered the phone. It was one of her days volunteering with the county.

Immediately Martha took up the challenge & attempted to find a venue for our auction; not because she felt particularly sorry about our circumstances but because she was drawn to the number of charities we supported with the proceeds.

After speaking with the county (Martha) to no avail, I moved on, checking local venues, hoping for the best as time became shorter until our event. But Martha, who never gave up in the face of a challenge, soldiered on, searching for some way to help me. Several days later she returned my call telling me she’d found a venue for the auction.

And so, in 2003 we held our Charity Auction in the large meeting room at a building owned by a local realtor. Martha saved the day … & the auction. The evening of the auction she showed up to see just what kind of an event we were having.

And the rest, as they say, is history. She not only showed up, she joined our club. Years later she would continue to say, “I don’t know diddly about Star Trek & science fiction but I like what you do in the community.” As she learned more about our club & became familiar with our personalities, she would add, “…and I just enjoy your entertaining members.”

And we enjoyed Martha.

After her first year with us, Martha’s husband, several years her senior, started coming to our meetings with her & after a while, he joined us, too. In some strange way, I believe we, our club members, were entertainment for them or maybe we reminded them of their youth or they simply enjoyed our determination to make a positive difference in our community. Whatever – we shared a unique relationship from which came nothing BUT positives.

They participated. They raised funds. They worked rings around some of our younger members & they worked their way into our hearts. They became “family.”

I remember so much about Martha & Millard. I remember his wit & the stories he shared & his jokes on Talent Night. I remember how much he enjoyed Ice Cream Sundae Night every June & the costumes they both wore at Halloween parties.

I remember Martha slipping me $15 frequently to pay the fee for using the Meeting Room at the local library for our monthly meetings & her calls to me with her concern when Millard, at age 90 continued to climb a ladder to clean out the gutters on their house. She stayed on the phone with us one Sunday afternoon when Millard didn’t come home from a hospital visit when she expected him to. As a retired minister he made frequent visits at the hospital on Sundays after church & was always home at the expected time. That particular Sunday when she began to worry, she called us & we talked to her until she felt better. When she became worried again she called us back. Finally, arriving back home close to 7 in the evening, Martha called to tell us he had “made an appearance.” She apologized for bothering us, and then added, “He is 90, you know.” She was 85 at the time.

On an occasion when our club needed plastic bags for a project, Millard said Martha had plenty & to come on over & get some. When we got there they led us to a closet filled almost to the top with plastic grocery bags & Millard laughingly explained that he was sure she had the first one she’d gotten right after they began using them in grocery stores.  She insisted she wasn’t a hoarder … just a keeper of things that someone might need later on.

I went with Martha to visit 2 doctors when she had an obvious medical problem. Each suggested she have further care but she refused. She said she’d been living with the condition for years & wasn’t going to have anything done at that late date. And she didn’t. She only wanted to stop the immediate part of it that was bothering her, so that’s what she did. There was never a more stubborn woman & I loved that about her, even while worrying that she wasn’t getting the attention she needed. In the end she was right. That wasn’t the condition that took her out of this life. She was wise beyond her years … no matter how many of those there were.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Martha was the first one of our friends I told. In my confusion & fear I so missed my mother who had died several years earlier. There was comfort in being able to tell Martha & have her hug me, much like my own mother would have done & tell me it was going to be alright.

Millard died at 90+ years old & Martha never was quite the same. She said how difficult it was not to have someone with her that had been for more than 60 years of her life. They were a team & a team divided never worked as well as it did when it was whole.

Martha died today … one day following her 91st. birthday. She had begun a steady decline in the 2 weeks beforehand. The members of our club will miss her, each for their own reasons.  I will miss her for mine.

If I close my eyes I can hear her laughter & see her smile. I can see her sitting across the table from me at our meetings. I remember her in her wheelchair on July 4th. this summer at a club party at the lake, hoping she wouldn’t accidentally roll into the lake in a run-away wheelchair. I have saved the notes she wrote to me between meetings.

Martha was a dynamo. She knew how to get things done & she did them. She was determined & stubborn & full of life until losing Millard. I hope they are together again sharing whatever it was that brought them such joy for over 60 years. I hope she is at peace.

If there is a heaven I’m guessing Martha is there organizing stuff for God & making sure Millard isn’t climbing on ladders & cleaning out heaven’s gutters.

Martha & Millard … together & individually inspired us. They taught us that age is just a number while inside they were both still 30 or 40 or whatever age they remained in their minds & hearts.

They weren’t just our family, they were a PART of us & we were truly blessed to have had them in our lives. Just like in Galaxy Quest, they inspired us to never give up …

 

“Have a Nice Day ….”

21 Jul

“Have a nice day …”

I wonder who said that for the very first time, to whom & under what circumstances. I imagine it was said with real feeling to someone who was a genuinely nice person after a pleasant time spent together. And I wonder if the person who was on the receiving end of that salutation liked & appreciated it so much that he or she passed it along.  Maybe that’s how it all got started & became one of the most often used things we say, not only to friends & loved ones, but to perfect strangers as well.

It not only may be used in a positive way but may also be used with an air of sarcasm, like, “Have a nice day, you creep,” said to someone who has been particularly obnoxious. But I like the positive use much more than the negative.

I also think it’s a salutation we just use because we’ve heard it a thousand times & it seems like a good thing to say. On the other hand, the person saying it to us (or that we may say it to) could have said something entirely opposite to us, like, “Screw you!” So looking at it that way, I’m convinced that when most of us say it, in some small way we kind of mean it or we would have thought of something else to say first … & that’s just cool.

All that went racing through my mind yesterday at my semi-annual dentist appointment. I was tilted WAY back in the chair; a light was blinding me from above & the dental hygienist had a scraping tool, a water-sucking tool, a drilling tool & both her hands in my mouth, mere inches from my brain. With what felt like yet another hand, she had a vice-grip lock on my lower lip. My first thought was, “Gee … I hope she’s not having a bad day …” AKA “I hope she’s having a nice day.” Anyone who is “up in there” that close to my brain needs to be feeling good, having some really swell thoughts & having had some great experiences before she got to me.

At the end of my appointment, my teeth were lily white & in great shape (“Look, Ma … no cavities”), I’d thought a lot about telling people to have a nice day & now I have a subject for this blog entry. Not bad for an hour in a dentist’s chair praying that the woman ministering to my teeth & gums has had absolutely EVERYTHING going her way for not only the hours before she & I had our encounter, but several days beforehand. (It’s all about the proximity to my brain.)

I thought about, “Have a nice day” off & on all day long yesterday. I thought about the dental hygienist & how, if I’d thought it would have ensured that she was having a nice day before she & I got together on a Wednesday morning & she spent that time “up in there” close to my brain with all those cutting / slicing tools, I would have sent her a greeting card by Hallmark designed especially with her in mind; hoping it would be a positive Hallmark Moment & send the message, “Have a nice day …”

At dinner I told my husband all this. While he seemed to be paying attention I’m not sure it was undivided (the TV was on & he’d worked a long day in 90+ degree weather). But I persevered.

As an afterthought, which got his attention, I added, “The 3 people I want most to ‘have a nice day’ are my dental hygienist, my gynecologist & the guy who does my colonoscopy. Each of them spends a lot of time ‘up in there’ & I want it to be positive quality time. From now on I’m sending them ALL a Hallmark card.” That obviously got his attention, although he stared at me as though I’d just landed at our dinner table from Mars.

He replied, “Absolutely …”

So now I’m sharing all these deep thoughts with you & hoping this encourages you to have some deep thoughts of your own about this subject.

Thank you so much for reading this &, oh …  have a nice day …

 

The Keyboard of Life

5 Jul

My husband & I have an unlisted phone number. We got it for many reasons, not the least of which was avoiding annoying calls when I had been up all night working in the OR assisting with emergency surgery & attempting to sleep the following day.

Adding an unlisted number to our phone service costs us approximately $60 a year; not a lot but enough for a nice evening out or to buy a pound of hamburger (these days) to enjoy on the grill.  What it doesn’t do is stop unwanted robocalls, calls from non-profits, calls from political affiliates wanting to be certain we’re going to vote for their candidate (mostly those calls fall on deaf ears), & calls from bogus IRS representatives telling us (on the answering machine) that we will face a stiff jail sentence if we don’t heed this final warning & pay them the back taxes we owe them (which we know we don’t). Those calls are not only very annoying, we felt like we were wasting our money on the unlisted / unpublished number.

I’ve called the phone company & all they could do was give me advice, “Don’t answer the calls if you don’t recognize the number. Don’t talk to the caller – hang up. Never give anyone your personal information. Here’s a number to report those calls.” I’ve reported the calls. I’ve enlisted the help of every agency, the phone company, the FCC & we’re on every national “Don’t Call” list there is but the calls just kept coming. Sigh … I grew weary of just hearing the phone ring.

So with determination & a side order of vengeance, my husband spent a fair chunk of change & ordered a CPR Call Blocker. It is truly an invention of the gods! It’s a small device that hooks to the phone & sits on my desk in my office. It has a window display & when the phone rings the caller’s number is displayed on that little window screen. In front of the window is a HUGE red button, obviously fashioned for the blind … easily accessible & difficult to mistake for anything else. The words in large, bold print on that beautiful red button are BLOCK NOW. When an annoying call comes in – a number I don’t recognize or do recognize as a previously annoying number, I simply limber up my pointing finger & hit that BLOCK NOW button. The word SUCCESSFUL tip-toes across the display screen, which causes such a feeling of accomplishment &, well, success. Not only have I blocked that annoying caller, hopefully for life, it gives me a tremendous sense of power. I’ve even been known to chuckle maniacally after having that button-punching experience. I LOVE it.

The CPR Call Blocker doesn’t stop all the calls. They continue to come in occasionally (& I continue to block them) but not with the frequency they did before the acquisition of the Call Blocker. It has given us peace, mostly, & has leveled the playing field. I’d recommend it to everyone.

So this morning as I poked that wonderful red BLOCK NOW button & sent yet another unwanted call to wherever it is the CPR Call Blocker sends them, I thought about life. I thought how great it would be to be able to hit a BLOCK NOW button when we’re threatened with heartache & disease & difficult situations & people. How wonderful would THAT be?

Then I looked at my computer keyboard that is right beside the Call Blocker on my desk & that made me think a little more (it’s a rainy day so sitting & thinking is a good use of my time right now … & writing blog entries). What if LIFE had a keyboard? What if we could simply hit an ESCAPE button when we found ourselves in unpleasant situations or boring company or doing stuff we didn’t want to do. How cool would THAT be? Well, just cool. If we were miserable, we could just hit the HOME button & leave a bad or annoying situation & be back in the comfort of our homes with the punch of a LIFE button.

I believe the most useful button on the Keyboard of Life would be the PAUSE button. We could PAUSE it to stay in a special moment for an undetermined length of time. We could stay in a wonderful experience or encounter & stop it from ever ending. We could extend special moments with special people & most of all we could hit PAUSE while eating Black Forrest Cake & keep those extra pounds from showing up on our hips by pausing the effect of the calories.

If I could, I would upgrade my Keyboard of Life to include a GO BACK button like we find on our TIVO remote. I’d love to re-experience some of the many exceptional moments of my life; perfect days that I never wanted to end, wonderful days spent with my mom when she was well.

As much as we would enjoy that GO BACK button, I can see there would be pitfalls; we might want to stay in those “go back” moments, which would be counterproductive & interfere with the paths of our lives.

So the Keyboard of Life would also have a CONTINUE button just like that box that records stuff from our TV. Without the CONTINUE button we could not experience all that lies ahead; all that makes us who we are, gives us strength & shapes our lives. Without the CONTINUE button I would no longer know the pure delight I feel when I hit that big red  BLOCK NOW button on our CPR Call Blocker. That would be a tremendous loss & leave a huge vacancy in my life.

If you are continually annoyed by robocalls, non-profits & politicians, you might try investing in a CPR Call Blocker. It may not take you on a trip across the keyboard of your life, but it will give you tremendous joy & a sense of unleashed, unbridled power.

Bossy and the Nature of Science

24 Jun

My husband writes a science article for a monthly newsletter & this morning I interrupted him in his office as he was in the middle of this month’s submission. He subscribes to a magazine called Science Illustrated & gets a lot of ideas for his monthly articles from that magazine. His latest issue arrived in our mailbox yesterday.

Since I’d interrupted him, he told me a bit about the article he was currently working on. It was based on something he’d just read in the magazine that confirmed a phenomenon he & several friends had witnessed on a beach trip back in the 80s. I wondered aloud if their perception might possibly have been altered by some preferred recreational substance of the era but he only scoffed at the idea & said this was a serious article. He read me what he’d written so far & I liked the fact that he’d added a story from his past that related to the scientific elements of the article, even without the enhancement of recreational substances. I told him that & how I enjoyed the “personal element” he’d included.

From that point he started telling me about some of the very interesting articles that were in this month’s Science Illustrated. There was, in addition to the subject of the article he was writing, an article about how long it would ACTUALLY take to colonize planets like Mars to make them habitable for humans, & a pretty extensive article about global warming.

The global warming article included a graph showing the history of global warming as it has been tracked extensively over the last 100 years, plus a look back at the previous 200 years.  It also specifically pointed out particular events … like the Industrial Revolution that had added to a problem that could not have been foreseen at the time. It was a fascinating article & we talked about it a bit.

Way back when I met my husband some 30-odd years ago & throughout the 20 years of our marriage, one of the things I have continued to appreciate about him is his sense of humor. He has kept me laughing during some pretty serious points in our marriage & for that I am forever grateful. Just as I am grateful that he continues to delight me with his humor at the most unexpected times.

So knowing Willy the way that I do, I was not surprised that he brought up the staggering contribution to global warming that is made by cows & the amount of methane gas they spew into the atmosphere on a continuing basis through their flatulence. I asked him if that was included in the article in Science Illustrated & he told me it wasn’t, although the cow flatulence angle has been verified repeatedly by scientists who study that kind of thing.

And thus began an interesting, but strange conversation about global warming & how it has been influenced by cow farts. (Sigh …) It raised the question with us both whether cow farts are REALLY an ingredient in the vast question of global warming or if that’s just a load of hot air??? (Sigh again …)

Willy pointed out that there are absolutely HUGE numbers of cattle … not only in our country but most countries around the world. He said that the numbers are larger because more cattle are being raised for food, not to mention the number of cattle that are revered in some countries & NEVER enter the food chain (apparently they just stand around in the fields eating & farting … & contributing to global warming until they arrive at the end of their charmed lives…WOW!)

The situation would not be nearly as critical if the choices of creatures being raised for food were primarily chickens, which, unfortunately is not the case. Willy speculated on the amount of methane that would be produced by a large flock of chickens & said it was impossible to even guesstimate. And besides … it is unclear whether the methane farts produced by cattle are a direct result of their diet or if all living, farting creatures produce methane. If they do, where does that put humans on the graph? Suddenly cow farts pulled ahead of the Industrial Revolution in the grand scheme of global warming. It was obviously a very deep question that led to even more speculation & calculation. (I was getting a headache …)

So at that point in our conversation Willy came up with a possible solution for the polluting aspects of cow farts & suggested that GasX be added to the diets of all living, methane-producing creatures. He looked at me & said, “Do you have any idea just how much GasX that would take?”

And so I went back to the kitchen to fix breakfast with questions swirling around in my head about cow farts, GasX, the seriousness of global warming & speculation about just how many couples were having the exact discussion Willy & I just had before breakfast. I’m convinced that we were unique in the universe, at least for a little while … & maybe that’s a good thing. If not good, I know it’s pretty cool.

Flipping pancakes I realized just how cool it is to be married to someone with a quirky sense of humor. Life is never boring & is always some sort of adventure, whether it’s shopping with him in Walmart or discussing the seriousness of global warming, but with a twist. I remember how that sense of humor made getting me through chemotherapy for breast cancer bearable & has seen us through the bumps in the road that we’ve run into during the journey we’ve shared over the last 20 years. It has been a blessing.

I can’t imagine being married to anyone without a sense of humor.

Recently I’ve thought how wonderful it would be if I could make Willy available to the government … both sides, red & blue.  Through Willy’s influence they might be able to see dire situations with a little bit of humor & that would make it better for everyone all around. And when someone called & wanted to speak to Willy on the phone, I could simply say, “He’s on loan to the government.”

Why are cows so often named Bossy, anyway? Well, not that anyone really cares, but here it is –  Bos primigenius is the scientific name of the species (I think that’s what it said … Remember? I have a headache).

See? … we all have learned quite a lot today. And it all started with a discussion about cow farts.