Sunday, April 23, 2017

LICKIN' IT...


 
"Life is like an ice-cream cone,
you have to lick it one day at a time."
Charles M. Schulz

I began writing a blog because I love to write; I love to encourage.  But my conscience began digging at me and I thought, "You know Vasca, you write all this positive stuff...happy endings...etc.  And here you're doing the opposite of what you've encouraged others to do.  you're in the pits.  That's downright hypocritical, you know!  You'd best fess up and get the beam out of your own eye, don't you think?  Well, yeah...I think." 

So, this is for you...from my heart.  And then you and I will be on the same page of music. 

My sweet mother often told me, as well as others, that I was born asking questions...I might add that I've never stopped asking questions.  I've always wondered and wondered...about almost everything.  How much information or data can a person's mind hold?  I wonder about that because I have a wonderful memory that just piles up stuff like crazy!  I hope I can hang onto that as long as I live.  I am now also Michael's memory!  How 'bout that?

Something I never wondered about though...
was what my life, what our life together would be as we grew old...
and finally when we actually were there...old...actually old.  
I didn't wonder about that...I really never gave it much thought.
  

M and I watched his parents as they struggled with his dad's Parkinson...finally succumbing to its dastardly character and leaving the anguish behind.  His mother had a very short respite from caregiving but that was cut short by cancer.  My father died when he was just into his 60's...mother lived to be almost 95.  Thankfully neither of my parents had a crippling disease/illness. 



The Golden Years ~ ah, that sounds pretty nifty, right?  Well, yeah...it does but here's something else.  I read something like this, "Life is hard and not always fair". 
It's true, life is hard...and some of those hard things are...well, hard is hard.
The definition of "hard"...requiring a great deal of endurance or effort. 
I say that pretty well nails it...that's my understanding.


I never wondered about being a caregiver...I really love being a dependent.  I have been M's dependent from the day we married, living all over the world...he as the leader, me as his follower the dependent.  I loved it ~ I guess I took it for granted that would be the way our 'golden years' would go...ha! Fast forward into the throe's of the Golden Years...I am no longer the dependent, I am the leader and M is my dependent.  Wow, what a switch. 
But here's just a bit of what I can do about it.  Practice, practice, practice...practice what? 


Top of the list has to be PATIENCE.
I tell me...this adorable, gentle, sweet loving man deserves the best I can put out...my best.
So I pray about it...go over and over it in my head full of memories and wonders and do it.
Whatever it is...I do it.  Now...you see...sadly I have crash landed more than many times but I read this that a wise one, Confucius, said,
"It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop."  I'm not about to stop

I would say GENTLENESS is way up there...gentleness.  A soft voice, a kind voice...
John Wayne said, "Talk low, talk slow...


Of great importance is CHOICE OF WORDS...it is so easy to let frustration spew out before I rein in my tongue...oh my!  You can see the hurt in a loved one's face.  And I remember the rest of the John Wayne quote "and don't say too much."  Vasca, do not...do not say too much...some things...many things...are best left unsaid. 

For goodness sakes...NO PITY PARTIES...get over it before it ruins everything.  Life goes on and on!  It does no good for me to dwell on my list of 'what I have' ~ it isn't a contest to see who gets the most attention, etc.


Our repartee goes something along the lines of what one of our physician's told M when he first became his patient.  M has a long, long list of 'what's wrong with him'...and it's legit.  His new doctor became a tad antsy and finally he put both hands on his hips, looked at M and said, "You can only have three things wrong at a time".  And that?  Was that.


Now when M gets carried away I put my hands on my hips, look him in the eye and say, "Okay, Michael.  You can only have three things today...which three will you choose?"  That brings a laugh, a big grin and that's the end of that.  Laughter is good and healthy!  Much better than weeping 24/7.  Right?


Granted I have made too many of our days...well, disastrous!  But I've decided...just Friday as a matter of fact, it's in my hands to make things better...I can make or break it...it's true. 
I have a ton of grit...I mean a ton of it.  Each time M was away...I mean away...I had a major medical problem.  It was just me and the 4 precious little boys...I smile thinking what all we weathered and did it in style...all the way.  God held us in His arms and we made it.


God knows what I'm capable of ~ I know what I can do and I am determined to do my utmost to make each day the best day.  How do I know?  Because...after I determined this on Friday things changed.  I don't tell M everything...there are things he really doesn't need to know...he has enough on his mind w/balancing his physical being. 


When I changed...things changed.  We're like the Michael and Vasca pre-Amy and Parky!  The lights are on, there is a change in the atmosphere...I know, I know.  You're thinking it probably won't last...we'll have the blues...the bumps.  I have no expectations of our lives being sappy happy...but they are going to be as God wants them to be.  Caring, loving, tender, thoughtful, smiling and meaning it.


I love music...oh, I do love it.  I keep Pandora radio playing my favorite artists most all day; it totally relaxes me.  Well, last week Michael had been in the other room a long time and he said, "You know, I really like that music...it totally relaxes me."  I'd not considered it affecting him at all.  It's the little things that count, yes?  Indeed.  


I caught Michael watching me Saturday while I was in the kitchen and I'll tell you, the look on his face sent my heart into overdrive.  He told me things that were...way up there...way up there.  That's love, that's the love we all should have.  And the tears that are falling this minute are tears of joy, of love.  I so appreciate what I have, what God has given me, us and what He continues giving. 


Tell you what, I do not intend to disappoint Him...not in the least.  I'm giving this my all.
And now, I'm wondering...I fell in love and I feel like I'm falling in love all over again...
I wonder, is that possible?  My goodness.  Or I wonder, maybe I'm growing in love!


From my loving heart...to yours, Vasca

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

LIFE 101...



I always thought I was truly brave...I've weathered some crisis that almost did me in...oh yes, I was brave.  It helps that I have a very high tolerance for pain.  I've never forgotten the one 'near death experience' I experienced.  Okay, there are those who pass such things off as nonsensical but you should believe me when I say those things really exist.

I didn't speak about mine to anyone for several years; I suppose I feared being laughed at (ah, that bugaboo that so many of us have)...fear of being laughed at.  Well, I got over it...along with some other things that once plagued me...poor insecure me.


Some of you know, some of you don't but I was addicted to prescription drugs for thirteen long years!  Me?  Yeah, me.  It would be great to say I became addicted due to the pain I lived with but there were more causes than that...I had a weakness in my life...my fault.

With God's help...along with the men in my life...all five of them, I was able to overcome the death trap I had gotten myself into.  I so regret wasting those years and the pain I caused others but the experience has been a great help...I've been able to share my story with others and contribute/receive help along the way. 

One thing has stuck with me about sharing...we moved to a new community and I was cautioned about telling the addiction thing to people there because they might not understand...more like they would label me and misunderstand.

I didn't take that advice...I shared and I continue to share.  By no means does that imply I trumpet my experience whenever and wherever to whomever.  I'm sharp enough to know the differences.

My point is this; I am sincere; John Wayne puts it so well:
I suppose my best attribute, if you want to call it that, 
is sincerity. I can sell sincerity because that's the way I am.

I write the way I do because...I am sincere...I am transparent.
My husband, my precious love, has Amyloidosis and Parkinson's...quite a combo!  Someone asked 'what does a good day with Parkinson's look like to you'?  For us it is just a day of clear eyes, fairly good recall, a loving smile and some laughter sprinkled with love...lots and lots of love.  That's what I'd call a good day w/Parkinson's.

Hey, we're in great shape and you know what?  It could be so very much worse...we have friends out there who are suffering so much pain and anguish with no hope.  We have some hope remaining...we continue doing the best we can each wake up!
 
I never found the classroom for Life 101...never found it.  You couldn't find it because there wasn't one, Vasca.  I experienced the fire and the hard knocks...one by one...they added up to plenty.  For me, the good news is, I have survived...and I'm still surviving. 

We have a beautiful plaque hanging in our main bath...never fail to see and read it...
"Come, grow old with me; the best is yet to be."  One of our wonderful older friends saw it when he visited us several years ago.  He looked me in the eye and asked "How do you know that"?  He was such a wise man that I didn't know how to answer him...took me by surprise.  I finally replied that I just knew it because I'd always heard that said about aging. That was Virgil Bentley who was so much wiser than I'll ever be...he had experience! 


It seems, in many instances, the best is rather rocky.  Of course as one ages the body seems to become somewhat 'disjointed' so to speak.  The parts begin wearing, gyrating (wow, they can be downright obstinate); this wonderful bod can't always perform as one would like or demand.  Demanding doesn't seem to work very often, does it? 


I don't demand, I beg...and plead...and cry; when my loved one seems to come apart at the seams that breaks my heart and I can hardly bear it.  So begins more pleading and begging and crying.  Then, as I collapse,  God shines His light and wonders begin taking place; hope is alive and well.  It never was gone it just took a little more time than I had anticipated.  When you tell God you haven't a clue what to do...when you are helpless and you give it to Him...He moves.  And His move stirs something in the heart that gives it a jump start...it revs the valves...excitement goes into action...and what happens?  I wake up to the fact that God is at work, in charge and He is taking care of my concerns, my loved one.  
I wrote a bit earlier in this post that I never found the classroom for Life 101; actually I have found it and it was right there under my nose...God's book...Life 101...a perfect blueprint for life w/all the ups and downs...anything you need...it's all there for the looking.
At times I admit I almost lose it...actually I totally lose it.  But, as always, God steps in and I get it back...with hope added.  We're not getting old, we are old.  But hey, a checker Raphael, in Trader's Joe, told me he was 66 and I said I was 86...he was like shocked.  Who cares if he was serious or not?  Not me...he was just very sweet and nice...stuff like that makes a day!  
I'm gonna' do my best to make every day wonderful for me, for my sweet M, for every person I come in contact with...each day is going to be bright no matter what happens and like Forest Gump said about his box of chocolates "you never know what you're gonna' get" and it really doesn't matter...I'm gonna' make the best of it...I'm gonna' think "You Go Girl"...with an added "You Go Girl with God"...I'm in His care and I cannot go wrong now, can I?
From my heart...to yours,
Vasca

Friday, March 3, 2017

IMAGINE...IMAGINE...



Imagine...with all your mind.
Believe...with all your heart.
Achieve...with all your might.

As a girl of fourteen I imagined,
with all of my mind, all sorts of things...
at times I imagined myself a nurse;
at other times I imagined myself a mother...
after all, I had four younger sibs.

I believed...with all my heart, that some handsome prince would sweep me off my feet,
carry me off to his castle where we'd live happily ever after.

Achieve...with all my might? 
Not...I wasn't into achievement...I was into coasting!


1958...my prince and many sons later...I was into achievement for the life of me. 

M and I have four men that we are extremely blest to have nearby...we are blest to have them in our lives...period.  Those four guys married wonderful women...lovely wives...we are blest in the same way...blest to have them in our lives.  Between them they have gifted us with ten wonderful grandchildren and one great-grandgirl.  Blessings galore...happiness!

I've lived in every state except two...lived in foreign countries, shared homes with Greeks and Germans.  Even worked in Germany and China...in my wildest dreams that never happened but in real life it was monumental.  And it grew me...or rather, God grew me. 



As our youngest son dubbed me 'a late bloomer'...he spoke the truth.  I was a late bloomer, perhaps a slow learner as well...all depended on the subject I was interested in.  My interests were wide and short-lived.  I didn't stick with anything very long.

The experience of China changed that...quite dramatically.  I lost my reticence in telling others about what God had done and was doing in my life.  Guess I'd say I threw caution to the wind and it was wonderful.

Michael and I came home from China in December, 2004.  My youngest brother Johnny died suddenly in January 2005, my mother died in March 2005...my heart was totally broken.  Both Michael and I suffered severe depression for some time; we just couldn't seem to pull ourselves together...get our feet on the ground.  Those were some days, some weeks...but with God's help we powered through.  We made several trips back to China to encourage His small family there...those were good times. 

Life has its' ups and downs ~ most of us have those times, right?  Oh yes!  M had a couple of health issues that sort of took our breath away for a day or two but we weathered that and continue doing so.  With God it isn't so difficult to keep balanced...at least that's what I've discovered.

Many things have taken place...so many special things have happened along the way and I want to tell you about one thing I call extraordinary...for M and me!

Ken and Debbie Xie were a couple we first met in China.  Debbie was one of our first visitor's in Changsha.  She, along with three other Chinese, called on us (staff at the University where we would be teaching); Debbie sat by me on the couch and said, "I believe you're a Christian aren't you?"  I said that I was.  She said "I thought so". 

The next day she returned, alone.  She stood inside our apartment and said, "I know why you're here."  You do, how is that?  "God has send you, I've been waiting".  Long story short, we baptized her a few weeks later; taught and baptized her boyfriend, Ken.  A year later they married and our relationship continued growing.  They were our children and we, their parents

They came to the U.S. several years later; earned degrees at Sunset in Lubbock, Texas...had a little baby boy...named him Michael.  Returned to China where they work full time for God.  They have a second boy...named Clay, after my grandfather.  If Clay had been a girl she would be Vasca.

In October, 2015 they came to Texas for a month to report on the Chinese work and we had lots of wonderful 'catch-up visit time'. 

Clay and Michael speak perfect English...at that time Clay was 4.  He had never met us so as soon as they were settled w/some friends we arranged to meet for dinner. 

Debbie said that on the way to the restaurant Clay was unusually quiet.  Then he piped up with, "I'm very nervous".  Debbie asked why and he said, "I'm nervous because we're going to meet some important people."  That would be M and me...what?

Okay, dinner went fine...apparently his nervousness subsided and all of us had a good time.  When they arrived back where they were staying his hostess asked, "Clay, did you meet Michael and Vasca?"  "Yes, they are very important people"...she asked why he thought that and he said "Because, they taught my mommy and daddy about God, Jesus and the Bible...they are very important people." 

I wanted to tell you that...to share something so precious from a child. 

There is always, always, always something to be thankful for...always!

Something for me to remember everyday of my life...be thankful, Vasca...be thankful.

From my heart...to yours, Vasca