A little hand mirror

Who says beauty is only skin deep?

Beauty seeps to the soul.

Feeling beautiful

raises your spirits.

When my sister came

to see our mother,

she said,

“Mom would not like her hair like this!”

It had turned gray, flat, and matted to the pillow.

As my mom lies on our dad’s recliner, resting,

my sister takes “frivolous fawn” rinse

and massages it through my mother’s hair,

just as she used

to do each week,

performing her only indulgence,

going to the beauty parlor.

She gave me scissors and said, “It’s too long, let’s cut it.”

I didn’t know how,  

but I held her hair in my fingers–pretending–

snipping off the ends.

We both took the tiny curling iron and took turns

rolling her hair into the fashion, she loved to present to my dad.

He always said, “You look beautiful, darling.”

She used to say, “Daddy loves forward bangs.”

So we gave her forward bangs,

She loves to have curly side burns, toward her face, so we did that too.

We tucked and picked and gently fluffed her flattened, lifeless hair, into a little style.

The back was still flat on the pillow.

She slept through the whole thing, but leaned in each time we gently tugged.

There, we were done.

The only thing we did not do was spray a gallon of

Aqua Net hairspray on it, for fear it would irritate her breathing.

She looked beautiful.

 

Then we sat and waited.

Hours later, she opened her eyes.

We rushed for a little hand mirror

so she could see.

She tentively looked at herself in the mirror.

She reached her weak fingers to touch her side hair.

They trembled, but arranged the little hairs, her way.

She studied her bangs.

In her raspy voice she asked us to

lift the top a little higher

so it was more poofy.

Then she asked for her  lipstick.

She felt beautiful.

She looked and looked.

then weakly smiled.

It took only a moment for us.

A little gift.

Beauty ran all the way through

her body.

And for a moment,

She felt good.

Then

she fell back to sleep.

I promise

One week ago today

I got the dreaded call to come fast…

In a moments notice,

I jumped on a plane rushing

to my mother’s side

hopefully to see her one last time.

I was afraid to see her.

But when I walked in

her bedroom, where she

wants to be,

all of my fear

left.

It is my mamma lying there.

She waited.

Her fragile heart

continues to beat now one week later.

We sit and wait, listening to her breath.

The doctor cannot believe it and says

she is a miracle!

Why, I am asked is she still here?

She only sleeps now.

But, I know why.

She continues to give.

I place my hand in the crook of her arm

and I feel her warmth.

I am comforted

sitting by her

in the quiet.

She has been

my home

my heart

and my rock

my whole life.

She is slowly saying good-bye.

Slowly dimming her light.

Sometimes she holds my hand tight.

I feel her light and love

flow inside me–

When she

leaves

I

will remember

the warmth,

and I will share it.

I promise.

Just a little branch

For some reason

this comes to my memory

as Thanksgiving comes closer…

Several years ago, I had signed up, with my community, to take dinners in to a family who was grieving a fluke summer accident. Their middle school boy had been watching a baseball game at summer camp, and a line drive struck him in the head and he was tragically killed instantly. This boy had been in several of my son’s classes over the years and we knew the family as acquaintances. As I gathered the foil pans of food in the car, I was impressed to grab a tree branch that had fallen in our yard. I ran back inside and gathered some scissors, ribbon, a black Sharpee marker, and a pot with marbles. (I am an artist what did you expect! Not hoarding, just prepared spontaneity and how my brain works!)

I will never forget when I entered into their home. It was November. I felt like I was intruding. The parents were not home and the child who was expecting the dinner, opened the door and then disappeared, without much talk. I felt awkward as I entered into the dim empty kitchen. The house felt sad and cold. I set my dinner tins on the counter, and then I placed the pot in the middle of their table, with the tree branch stuck in the middle. I hurried, like I was doing something wrong and didn’t want to get caught.  I set the marker and cut  ribbon next to the potted miniature “tree” and left a note. Write down what you are thankful for, on this ribbon,  and tie it to the tree. Then I walked out by myself, with the door clicking behind me.

In the spring I ran into the mother of this family. She came right up to me. She said that for a long time that tree branch sat on their table empty. No one was thankful. They were heart broken and angry. But, then one day,  she noticed that the Sharpee had been moved, or the ribbons left messy. She said, then one day, one of her children wrote on the ribbon and tied it to the branch. Then on another day, one more ribbon was tied to the branch. Gradually the tree became filled with ribbons and she said, most of the comments were about the son that had died. But then, it began to be gratitude for other things as well. They left the tree up long after November. She said to me, thank you, for helping our family begin to heal with that simple little branch.

I did not plan it. I carried out a spontaneous impression. I believe it was angels whispering to me. Perhaps this family needed just a little branch to help them express their love and gratitude during their sorrow. Healing takes time, and often with a nudge.

I love this memory. It reminds me to listen when the angels prompt! God know us and I am thankful for that.

When “wrong” is the wrong word!

Babies bring anticipated joy;

 All the firsts.

 The time is pure, innocent, and exciting.

 Life is full of wonder—

                                                                   Wonderful!    

 But…

 when the world expects baby

 to meet the charts,

to meet the goals,

to meet the base lines,

and to act like all other babies,

                                                                   and baby

                                                                   isn’t…

 then the question is posed,

 “What’s “wrong” with THAT baby?”

“Does he… ?” “No”

“Does he…?”  “No.”

 “Does he…?”  “No.”

                                                                   To us, baby is perfect!

We are at the beginning stages of that “what is wrong” journey.

 “Special,” is the new term.

 We feel frightened, concerned, and often  heavy and heart sick.

                                                                  Baby to us, is beautiful.

                                                                   Baby to us, is sweet.

                                                                   Baby to us, is joyful…

                                                                   Our family’s  gift.

 But the world keeps asking…

 What’s “wrong” with THAT baby…

 Baby doesn’t know anything is wrong with him.

He is just right!

 He doesn’t know why we take him to see so many people who

place him on crinkly paper couches,

take blood from his little arms and feet,

 place him under machines which make strange clicks,

 and keep pushing him to do things which hurt, or feel strange.

 He is frightened all these strangers keep touching him.

                                                               He is Happy—All the Time—At Home.

 But the world expects so much from him.

 And what they are expecting,

he may not need to do…

                                                                He already has changed how WE view things…

 He has a very big job

 to teach us!

                                                                 He shows us each day all the “rights” he possesses

                                                                 and how courageous HE is to live in a complex world

                                                                 where HE is viewed with lots and lots of “wrongs.”

I think we are in for an amazing journey ahead!

 Hard, yes.

 But some of the best journeys are the hardest ones.

 He is perfect, pure, and…so right!

 Here we go…

hold on to us tight earth angel–

Together will be the best way!

Come along with us…

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(Babers has been diagnosed with a neurological condition. We are still waiting for further test results and information to better his progress and prospects. We feel blessed to have him, and he and his mommy and daddy can always use lots of prayers.)

Bit by the Bitter Bug

A cancer diagnosis is shocking and frightening!

I will admit that I felt angry and hurt over and over through the process.

Everything felt too much

and it was very easy to get caught in bitterness.

But bitterness sucks life out of you.

It does not heal you.

I found a quote which I read often to remind myself:

“Bitterness is a poison that snuffs the light of our souls,

hardening us to life’s pleasures, and joys

by keeping us focused only on what is wrong.”

The best way to combat bitterness is to begin to notice

simple things in your life

during your moments with cancer,

that you are grateful for.

Some people even keep a gratitude journal.

“I want my soul to shine with an overflowing of love,

and practicing gratitude is one of the best ways i know how to do it.”

I still catch myself feeling bitterness at times.

But I choose not to stay too long in that place.

It’s too dangerous.

“Gratitude is an inner light that we can use to illuminate our souls.”

Wow, have I grown!

(Quotes from m. j. ryan, Attitudes of Gratitude)

For Dr. Capase
For Dr. Capase