Tag Archives: life lessons

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 Those calls are not only very annoying, we felt like we were wasting our money on the unlisted / unpublished number.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.

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Mother’s Day

10 May

At 84 she was frail & ravaged by end-stage COPD when she died due to a 40 year history of smoking. She quit when she was 68 but by then the worst of the damage was done, yet she lived 16 more years, as much by sheer determination as by good medical intervention. Towards the end of her life she described herself, not as frail, but as “fragile.”

After I went through a divorce, she promised not to go “anywhere” until I was settled. And she didn’t. She lived long enough to see me married to my husband, Willy & finally happy.

I loved my mother more than anything, ever. From the time I was old enough to pray with understanding, the main message in my prayers was for the safety of my mom & that I be allowed to have her in my life a while longer. Subconsciously, that was probably in part due to the sudden loss of my father when I was 6 to an unexpected coronary thrombosis. I harbored the fear that my remaining parent might be taken from me just as suddenly.

Throughout my life my mom was my teacher, my mentor, my best friend & my disciplinarian. She saw to it that I had everything I needed & a lot of what I really wanted, even if it meant working extra hours or long weekends at the phone company. Many of the lessons I learned from her were taught to me through her wonderful & unique sense of humor & the optimistic view she had of life, which she held onto even in the face of personal disappointment.

Growing up, my elementary school girl friends loved pajama parties at my house mainly because of my mom & my high school best friend, who couldn’t talk to her own mother, talked to mine.

My mom taught me compassion, understanding & love. She taught me respect, not only for people but all living things. She taught me to believe in myself, my judgement & my decisions but she also taught me humility & how to admit when I was wrong or had made a mistake. She taught me to understand finances, to be independent, how to manage my bank account & my emotions. She was there WITH me & always FOR me.

I believe most everyone’s mom was / is like that but to me my mother was unique in the universe & to this day, she continues to be.

Most of the critical medical problems I’ve had have been since my mother’s death. But, oh, how I wished she had been there with me when they reared their ugly heads. I especially missed her when I was diagnosed with breast cancer & went through nearly a year of chemotherapy & radiation. I believe she would have been proud of the way I handled all that & the life changes I’ve made as a result of it but mainly I wished for her closeness during those times because of her way of handling illness. She would tell me, “It’s going to be alright,” & I always believed her, even though I knew intellectually it wasn’t always going to be.

When she knew her time was limited she tried to tell me things she wanted me to know; from stories of her life she’d never shared with anyone but wanted to, to where important papers were. I couldn’t listen & she responded by gently asking me, “Do you think I’m going to live forever?” My response to her was a very defiant, “I’m counting on it.” And so she told my husband everything she wanted me to know & after her death, when he thought I could handle it, he told those things to me. I came to think of those times as Mama Moments & through his telling them to me from his heart where she’d placed them, it helped keep her alive a while longer when I really needed her to be.

When I feel lonely without my mom & the special feelings of warmth & security we feel when our moms hold us close, I remember her sense of humor & the wonderfully unexpected & humorous things she said. And I smile. Sometimes I burst into laughter & feel her at my side, reaching out to grab my hand while smiling into my eyes & into my heart.

One of the things I miss most, aside from conversations, afternoons shopping, lunches at our favorite restaurants, sharing exceptional books & going to spur-of-the-moment movie matinees is no longer being anyone’s “little girl.” No matter how old she & I were or got to be, I was always that to her & we both knew it & were wrapped in the warm cocoon of that knowledge & that special place we shared. It is a love that is shared only by mothers & daughters & I am forever blessed to have known that in my life & to have been in that special place.

The author, Mitch Albom wrote a novel several years ago called, For Just One More Day.  Its premise is a simple one & here is a description of the premise as it appears in the advertisement for the novel:

A beautiful, haunting novel about the family we love & the chances we miss.

   FOR ONE MORE DAY is the story of a mother & son, & the relationship that covers a lifetime & beyond. It explores the question, “What would you do if you could spend just one more day with a lost loved one?”

I bought the book because I was intrigued with the possibility & the premise set loose in me a huge desire to have just one more day with my mom. What would I tell her? What would she tell ME? How could I ever let her go again?

Mainly I would just like to hug her & feel the warmth of her …  that frail body…  & drown in the hugeness of her personality & her love for me … to be her “little girl” For Just One More Day.

I’d tell her, Happy Mother’s Day & thank her especially for being my Mom.