Poem a Day 6: A Night Poem

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cartoon sleepNighttime never tormented me –
until I was an adult
and my husband said.
“Honey, you sure are snoring a lot.”

The snoring was followed
by periods of not breathing
and then
gasping to automatically revive myself,
which resulted in –
you guessed it!
MORE SNORING!

Each night challenged me
daring me to
recline,
relax 
and refresh.

And then,
There was the sleep study
and temporarily placed electrodes secured
onto my pulse points,
adhered with airplane-smelling adhesive.

Why do they call it a sleep study
when you DON’T snooze well
or soundly?
But I digress.

In a separate room,
A young man in primary blue medical scrubs,
and trained in polysomography,
observes me and my circadian rhythms through the night.

He watches with electronic eyes of closed circuit technology.
He monitors his marvelously impressive medical machinery
To note and record hypopnea events
(the times I stop breathing for at least 10 seconds.)

 Finally morning arrives.
In several weeks, the follow up visit occurs
And the prognosis is decreed
Severe obstructive sleep apnea.

The prescription?
Learn to use a CPAP machine at night
To keep my airways open.

Now the snoring is gone
The gasping has ended.
I stay awake ALL day.

And my only concern
is how badly I’ll feel tomorrow
If the electricity that powers my machine goes out tonight. 

Family: I Was Meant for Motherhood

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See what happens when you “just add water” and a few years?

It wasn’t just by happenstance

I saw my baby’s loving glance

Fragile hands reached up and out

About this role I had no doubt.

I was meant for motherhood.

 

As a girl, dolls I knew

But football, trees and sledding, too

Played a part in making me

The mother I am meant to be.

I was meant for motherhood.

 

As I grew and learned to care

I saw love blossom everywhere

From tiny ones to men, oh yes

I think nurturing them is best.

 

I was meant for motherhood.

 

And now adults my children are

And from their hearts I’m never far

Yet schedules change and time expands

The times we’re close, but love is grand.

I was meant for motherhood.

Family: By the Bedside

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Note: Recently in class,  I had my students pick a drawer, shelf, box or cabinet about which to write. I wanted them to think about why it was their favorite and know what it contained. Why was it special? That sort of thing.

Many times I will write alongside my students so they can see me responding to what I ask them to do.

Here’s what I wrote.

I don’t know that I’d say it was my favorite but  I’m going to write about the drawer in my sister Karen’s nightstand.

Karen, one of my two younger sisters, and I spoke frequently on the phone and our relationship was a close one even though we lived seven hours apart.  However, it wasn’t until I cleaned out this drawer after her passing that I realized how much more alike we were than I had previously thought.

First, I was almost unable to open the drawer because of its scattered contents and their precarious positions within. But when I pulled it out, I immediately saw more writing utensils than any human should be allowed to have! Aside from the fact that she simply loved buying office supplies, she wrote regularly in personal journals. She wrote notes to people. She simply wrote.

My drawers – as well – are filled with pens, pencils, markers, colored inks.

Next, I found notes and handmade cards from her boys. You’d find the same type of  “tucked away treasures” in my drawers.

Then I observed a collection of miscellaneous electronic cords – for phone chargers, cd players, etc.  Oh yeah, and scissors! Very important. Where there is paper there should always be scissors. Besides moms must always be prepared for cutting price tags off new clothing, using them as a makeshift screwdriver and slicing through cellophane wrapped purchases.

As I dug more deeply –  beneath the receipts and other items – there were her devotional books and a Bible, special items that were part of her daily reading.

As I removed these items out, I organized “the keepers” on top of her dresser.  I took the various writing implements and traveled to the kitchen, where I tried to cram them into a large clay pot on her kitchen counter.  It was brimming with like items and had reached its maximum capacity well before I had emptied my hands. I was unsuccessful wound up stuffing them in another nearby drawer.

You might think it odd to relate to the stuff inside a drawer but looking inside it was like having her here again.

And I loved it.

Just wondering: Is there a favorite box, drawer or cabinet in your life? Share your story. I’d love to hear it.

Family: An Abecedarian in Karen’s Honor

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Christmas without Karen

After midnight, at 12:05 a.m. exactly
began a new round of family
celebration – with one conspicuous absence.
Dare we go on and be
excited about the day’s symbolism,
familiar family routines and traditions?
“Go ahead, it’s OK,” is my
heavenly mandate.
“I’m celebrating, too, and I can’t wait to see you,” she says.
“Join the singing!”
Karen is in the presence of the Christ-child
loving Him,
making sure that His story is
never forgotten and that it lives on through
our lives, our decisions, our
prayers – for ourselves and others – even when the
quickness of sorrow, pain and loss
remind us that she’s not here. However, we know
she would say, “Continue celebrating and
though we are not in each others’ company, it won’t be long
until we are reunited as promised in Scripture.” Continuity in Christ
validates faith because it cannot be accomplished on our own. So,
we pray and we say, we WILL see you, Lord! Enable us to grow and share.
examine us as we live to propel
YOUR light, YOUR message, YOUR hope – and while 
Z may be alone we  know that WE are NOT!

Thank you Jesus for making sure of that!

Family and Fun: How Cheesy

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Today, it was buggy-to-buggy traffic inside my hometown Publix. I was mom’s assistant and hoping to help her pare down her errand list so she could enjoy Christmas Eve without added food runs to feed the 14 – the number of hungry mouths when all our nuclear family is present.

 As mom chipped away at her list, I searched for a certain, softspread wedge-wrapped cheese I had tried the night before at my sister’s. While we’re not trashing the Laughing Cow brand, our initial venture into this cheese land, we deemed the new brand better suited. And while I loved the new treat, I neglected to remember its name. So I was on a mission to find it. After exhausting the regular cheese area and the Laughing Cow cheese spread area, I happened over to the import section. I saw more cheeses than I’d ever imagined snuggled into a refrigerated case near another case where two chefs performed various cheese tasks and doled out culinary tips on wine parings.

My big discovery was a wine bottle chiller – not new to probably most of the planet, but a simple and fun surprise to me as I found that 8 minutes in the chiller made the wine “just right.” I poked around tentatively looking for said softspread wedge-wrapped cheese.

“Are you finding what you need?” the friendly female chef asked.

“The truth or a lie,” went the conversation within my head. “Should I really bother her with my lack of ability to find said, softspread wedge-wrapped cheese?”

I decided to bother her. Her name was Kitty. She was tall and patient and delighted in the buggy-to-buggy traffic I mentioned earlier.

“I’ll give you an escorted tour,” Kitty said as she glided between the paused and parked carts with food and without drivers. She paused at the Laughing Cow display where we did a thorough examination to make sure I hadn’t overlooked anything. I told her I had already made my way to the other cheeses, shredded and otherwise, in the dairy area. From there she took me past what she called the “wall o’ yogurt,” which was pretty amazing when you consider how simple the whole idea of yogurt is.

“I used to be an accountant until I became a chef four years ago,” Kitty volunteered.

“Really?” I replied. “I’m married to one!”

Then Kitty proceeded to explain to me that every 10 years a large survey is conducted about Americans and their food preferences. She did a Vanna White-type wave toward the “wall o’ yogurt” as we passed by telling me that the last survey had seen the biggest increase in Americans loving and eating yogurt.

“Dang,” I thought. That’s some pretty privileged trivia born out in the 3,000 flavors of yogurt that particular store offers. And as interesting as it was to know, I still wanted to find that wedge-wrapped cheese.

Our tour continued to the one last place Kitty thought to look and although we were unsuccessful, I rather enjoyed the diversion of being on such a hunt and getting the inside scoop on Americans and eating. I showed Kitty the Boursin (light) cheese spread I had selected as a back up.

“You can’t go wrong with that,” she commented. “And you can eat twice as much and not feel guilty!”

I loved her idea and then she made a confession – that she had bought two of the same product for a friend coming to visit her over Christmas.

“I realize now,” she said, “I can’t keep this around my house. I ate both of them!”

And with that I was off – without my wedge-wrapped cheese – but thankful for a break in the monotony of dodging distracted drivers on the grocery store aisles and helping mom.

Fun and Family: Making Do

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There's something cool about using what you DO have and not worrying about what you DON'T.

“So, did you and dad get tired after putting 15 ornaments on the tree?” my oldest son asked the other night.

His question brought to the forefront that life is changing – kids are moved out – kids are working and the only people together most of the time are me and my husband. No complaining here!

“No one was around except me and dad,” I explained.

“I didn’t get an invite,” he responded.

“Well, now that you’re here for dinner, you could put on a few ornaments. The box is still out,” I hinted.

“Not my idea of entertainment,” he surmised.

And there it was. My tree with 15 ornaments.

What was I to do?

Make do.

Let me explain.

Yes, it took me 2 weeks to completely decorate the tree. To be honest, I would have been fine with the 15 ornaments  but I did find fun unwrapping the bits of family history and placing them on our fake but lovely evergreen. There’s the 40+ year old milkweed pod I painted in first grade. The ancient felt elf my grandmother hid in her tree. And the NASCAR ornament of my husband’s favorite racing driver. And more.

Actually, the tree looks pretty respectable now.

“What happened to the ‘O’?” my husband asked surveying the area where our family Christmas stockings hang. I have the letters N-O-E-L as stocking hangars. Usually we spell ‘N-O-L-E’ since we are FSU fans, but this year, it’s just N-L-E. I couldn’t find the ‘O’ in my box.

Then disaster struck while I was wrapping presents! Horror of horrors, I ran out of tape! Since I am a woman of determination I kept working by using the next best and most convenient item – clear packaging tape. I rather enjoyed its wider width and found myself taping with more confidence and ease than ever before! The only thing more fun might have been duck tape – but it would have clashed with my gift wrap.

And so, while my tree, our stockings and my gift wrapping aren’t a vision of perfection,  let it be known that I am finding again that joy in the season is deeper than all three.

Family: More Ties and More Love

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You may not know this about me but I am adopted.

Meet my adopted parents!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my natural, nuclear, biological family, but I also have another and I’d like to introduce you.

My new family adopted me in the city where I attended college my junior and senior years while pursuing a journalism degree. I remember waking up the first Sunday morning I was in said city, living in a scholarship house with 17 girls, 9 on the second floor and two roommates in my particular bedroom.

Freedom hit and I realized I was truly in control of my comings and goings. Eventually, I found myself going to a church even though I didn’t have to. There were lots of other college students and it seemed like a fun place to meet people. That’s where I met Bill and Becky Dye, my adopted parents.

Why did they do it? You’ll have to ask them but with three boys under the age of 7, they reached out to me through that church’s “adopt a student” program, which linked local families to students for the duration of their time there.  The frequency of visits or exactly how the relationship shaped itself was decided by participants – encouragement being the main goal and having a “family away from family” the other.

I was Bill and Becky’s first student and their only girl, so they tell me I have a special place in their hearts. I experienced this again recently after crisscrossing my alma mater’s campus with my youngest son who is on the “college tour circuit.” After the well-polished presentation in a new and shiny building just for guests, after the walking tour where I discreetly pointed out places I had liked while there, it was time for our pre-arranged rendezvous.

This couple attended my college graduation, sat in the family section of my wedding, knows my parents and even their “adopted grandchildren” – my sons. They surprised me with balloons and birthday cake on my 21st birthday – my first away from my nuclear family. This couple didn’t play “church police” when I wasn’t there but who invited me into their home and their lives – they fed me, they let me play with their kids and they included me in family events.

After a leaving campus and heading to the other side of town, my son and I met Bill and Becky for a visit before heading back to Jacksonville. It amazes me how some relationships in life lend themselves to being put down and picked back up with ease, how time can pass and the next “together time” is just as sweet as any other. This time was no different.

So on mom’s break for filling in for a preschool teacher and dad taking a break in his day, my son and I exchanged hugs with them and caught them up on life. When time was up, we snapped a quick picture and here it is for the world to see. Me and my adopted parents.

Throughout the years they opened their hearts and home to many other adopted students – one even played football for the school. They might still be recovering from the food bill for that guy!

So what’s the point? Love goes on ….and on….and on.

I’m living proof.