Friday, October 31, 2008

I Didn't Realize How Much I Was Missing

I'm on every Do Not Call, Do Not Solicit, Do Not Bother, Go Away! list you can imagine, so I don't get a lot of telephone solicitations even during election years.
I have always found robotic calls annoying and am somewhat pleased by the lack of those intrusions this year - of course it may be because Amy and I can rarely find our home phone in time to answer it, but that's another story.

In past years I've had recorded Governors and even Presidents call begging for my vote. However I've apparently missed a lot by getting myself off those lists and now feel a little like techno-troglodyte.

Especially after I heard this call initiated by a robotic election hustler in San Francisco.

Wow! Back in my day folks paid money to call numbers where they talked like that, now they call you for free.

The obvious correlation between politicians and dirty talk need not be explored further I suppose.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Little Update

I meant to write something earlier today but got sidetracked...if it's any consolation I also meant to get more of the housecleaning and the laundry done and that got sidetracked too.

I did get to the kitchen and some of the laundry.

I have an excuse for being distracted...and she's a cutie:

Say,"Hello" to Tatyana!

She's almost one, unbelievably.

Tatyana - Taty for short - is the daughter of Ana Gomez.

If you're a longtime reader - God bless you - you'll perhaps remember Ana, her mom Lee, and brothers John' and Michael.
If you just stumbled across my ramblings, God bless you too, but you can read more about the Gomez clan and how they landed in our home for six months or so after fleeing Hurricane Katrina in various posts but this one, this one and this one are three I like the best. Admittedly they are some of the more upbeat posts from period, although all are bittersweet in one way or another. There were a lot of trying times during those six months for everyone involved...having a selective memory is useful sometimes.

Anyway this morning, just as I was about to start tackling the kitchen I swear, our doorbell rang. No one usually rings our doorbell without us knowing before hand unless it's the UPS guy. We don't get a lot of visitors and I do my best to scare away door to door salespeople. I have "NO SOLICITING - NO KIDDING" labels on the doorbell itself - really.

To have the doorbell ring unexpectedly on a Saturday morning made us suspicious, and also required us to quickly check our basic grooming - hey, it's Saturday! We were just lazing around, although I was of course vigorously prepping for kitchen duty.

So there at the door are Lee, Ana and Tatyana and suddenly the fact our house was a mess and I had bed head didn't seem to matter.

It's been too long since we've been able to visit and Tatyana is a joy.

We caught up. Lee is working, taking care of Tatyana and trying to keep John' under control while also taking some college classes over the Internet. Ana just quit her job so she can hopefully expedite her plan to get into "boot camp." She enlisted in the Navy and then, well...Tatyana resulted use a seafaring analogy, an "impromptu course correction." So she's experiencing motherhood and is still perpetually happy. That girl is always laughing and it's infectious.

We haven't been very good at staying in touch with Lee and the kids. We haven't worshiped together for a long time and between Amy's health and my work hours it's hard to maintain relationships.

But we spent some quality time together today - not enough but hopefully it will open the door to more.

I have a feeling that seeing Taty on a regular basis may be exactly what the doctor ordered...even if it does result in housework being put off for another day...or two.

Our children and their children will get in on this, as the word is passed along from parent to child. Babies not yet conceived will hear the good news - that God does what He says.
- Psalm 22:30 (MSG)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Seeing Through The Ring

We are fallible little beasties.

We misinterpret a lot and I believe we have for eons and many of us misinterpret the same things today that our ancestors and their ancestors misinterpreted, even without the benefit of new forms of communication which make miscommunication so much easier.

How many of us for example learned the first commandment this way:

'You shall have no other gods before Me.' ?

All you need to do is Google the ten commandments and you'll likely find a couple zillion places that list that as the first commandment.

It's a matter of interpretation I suppose...misinterpretation in my mind. Which leads me to this story I've been waiting to write...

His ring is silver and shiny. It is new, bought to commemorate a relationship. An anniversary gift to himself. An anniversary of death.

That's not what it really symbolizes to me but that's sort of how he explained it during one of our most recent breakfast conversations. He didn't really have an explanation since the act of buying the ring runs completely counter to the words and feelings he's been unleashing and unloading on me week after week...for more than a year.

The ring is new but the conversations are old. He tells me how he is doing better and then minutes later he's rehashing the same bitter memories. His now dead wife wronged him. The pain from her last actions has caused him to doubt the validity of their entire relationship. She died without seeming to care about him. Her depraved children from a previous marriage stepped all over his grief, robbed him of the opportunity to mourn and raped him of the good memories. The echoes of suffering which never seem to fade.

Oh! He is doing fine!

He always is for the first four or five minutes of our talks, but moments later the pain bubbles back to the top, no matter how I try to steer the conversation to any other topic. It's like watching your friend repeatedly rip the scab off a wound every time you start to notice a semblance of healing.

Every week he is over it...every week he reminds me about everything he is over.

Every week I wonder if he'll ever actually get over any of it.

I no longer try to rephrase my responses, find a new analogy to offer him counsel. I've tried everything I know, so now I only try to be certain I get the message in. I remind him how well he is doing, how much better he is than he was a year ago, how few real worries he has, that there's no telling what the future may hold, that he has to be open to seeing God's blessings.

These things are true. He's going to church, meeting new people, staying active. His health is good, his finances great...but his heart remains shattered.

Sometimes he will tear up as he tells me of his daily conversations with God. He prays every day for God to send him someone with whom to share his life. He trembles at the prospect of living the rest of his life alone.

During our most recent breakfast, he is fiddling with that new shiny ring on his right hand. A simple silver band with a cross.

It's an oddity really. He was never especially religious. He is Jewish, although in the 15 years I've known him he's never been a practicing Jew. His dead wife was Baptist.

Years ago, at least for a little while, they attended services together at a Messianic Temple. He drifted away from that until his wife was dying. Then he joined the Baptist church she began attending. When she started losing her battle for a grip on earth, he quickly lost faith in church.

He left the Baptist church when his wife died...telling me it was because of the memories.

Some months ago, he called me excitedly to say he was joining a Methodist church. I was happy for him, a little befuddled, but he had apparently found community. This week he told me he really joined because "they had a single's group." He also confessed he had stopped going to that church and started attending one of the giant churches in town...the Methodist's single's group was full of "old women."

Church or Temple has never really been anything but a "place" to him...a place where he at least wasn't alone, and he has been lonely. Yet despite not cultivating any relationships with women, he was cultivating a relationship with God...perhaps never inside any formal place of worship...but at night, crying aloud, begging God for a chance for happiness again.

I don't think he's realized that relationship, at least not fully. We pray together. I've learned to pray during our meals since he can tend to send up quite a prayer and let God in for what's usually my normal dose of 'unloading'...and my food gets cold.

There is much he doesn't understand. He wants God to tell him why his wife died and why she seemingly treated him so poorly after all their years together. He wants to know if his wife went to Heaven.

Like all of us he has questions for God which only God can answer.

Week after week, I've attempted to provide a steady force feeding of reminders that he should trust in God, look to the future, cherish the good memories, forgive, unburden himself of the past, dwell less on what he no longer has, and thank God more for all the blessings which surround him.

In all honesty, my menu for "moving on" has never seemed to satisfy his hunger. It's all I can offer, a recipe of hope.

He was better the last time we shared a meal. He was happy and I knew why because he had called me the night before and told me, sparing few details. He has found love again. A woman who 'gets' him, tolerates him, needs him but can be independent of him. Their relationship is moving very fast and today I learned they plan to marry in January.

I whole heartedly endorsed his relationship over that breakfast meeting, and his marriage plans during our phone call today. He's in his 60's, life is too short and can end too soon. Take a chance, cover your bases but reach for it all. It's out there, but you have to reach for it.

As we scarfed down our food that day I barely had the chance to speak as he told me all about this new woman in his life, how perfect she is, how much better he is...and finally I saw that he understood how time yields perspective.

It was then he showed me the ring. It was an odd transition. From a new love to a dead love to a new ring marking an anniversary of death. I understood it. I'm not sure he did. I'm still not sure he does.

As we talked today and he told me of his wedding plans, he said he barely thinks of 'her' - his dead wife - at all these days. Well, maybe once in a while, but he doesn't tear up...much. He's not angry...or at least as angry.

I mentioned to him quietly that even when he puts a new ring on his hand in a few months and on the hand of his new bride, he should still wear that other 'new' ring on his other hand as he does now.

I'm not sure he understood why. I'm not sure he will. We misinterpret so many things.

Yes, his wife died and it was a terrible death and the circumstances that followed were evil in how he was haunted by the final memories.

Yet that ring...that ring is a testament to a relationship that ended AND a relationship that is really unexplored and unlimited. Not the relationship with his soon to be wife. His relationship with his Creator.

There are blessings all around us. All of us. Everyday.

How we look at the world, head up or head down, dictates how or whether we see them.

My friend is amazingly blessed. He's realizing that now. I hope as his relationship grows with his new wife, he won't misinterpret the first commandment.

"I am the LORD your God
You shall have no other gods before Me."

That's the way I interpret the first commandment. It doesn't begin with"You shall " It begins with, "I am the LORD your God"

Maybe He should have been more clear, "l am your loving God. I created you. Nice to meet you, I want a relationship with you, Please don't ever overlook the very first words I spoke to you. I want this relationship to last for all eternity. Stick with Me won't you? You'll be amazed at the blessings you'll see when you do."

That's a lot to fit on a tablet I suppose.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Everyone Has Heard Of 'Cat Ladies'...

Amy is in Ohio for the wedding of yet another nephew (I think I've run out of nephews to marry off now) so I spent the weekend watching TV, ignoring the lawn, and um...watching TV.
Most of the time I was joined by our youngest and largest hound, Gabby, who likes to lounge almost as much as much as I do.

Once she settles down from the excitement of jumping on the bed or couch, Gabby is usually content to sit there and watch a movie or whatever I'm viewing. She did object to "Snakes on a Plane" and I can't blame her, I only made it about 10 minutes in and then thought "cleaning the kitchen would be better than this." She also didn't tolerate the Cowboy's game...they learn so fast (sigh).

Gabby is a slightly gendered confused (soon she's going to be gender neutral) terrier mix whom we 'inherited' from a former resident we threw out for being an indecent human being. She likes to roll around and get dirty...chew on almost anything everything, and generally see what she can get away with...but she's not prissy.

I noticed this morning that in the Fort Worth area over the weekend they had "Barktoberfest."

You can see the slide show at the Fort Worth Star Telegram site, but let's just say Gabby wouldn't have fit in.

Photo credit:Star-Telegram/Bruce Maxwell

I barely have the patience to get the clogs of mud out of her claws...the idea of "painting" her toes makes me believe a lot of folks are howlin' at the moon a bit too much.

They need to find better things to occupy their time... like watching TV and ignoring the lawn.