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If you aren't having fun, you're doing it wrong!

Jumbo Joke: Good joke: Do You Find This Funny?

I For O

In writing to my Sweetie
   On this itty bitty phone
The tiny QWERTY keyboard
   Shows each letter on its own.
But my attempts at typing
   Have revealed a major flaw,
For I attempt to hit the o key
   The i is what I draw.
I tell my man I love him
   Instead I get I live,
I try to say I still want more,
   But mire is what I give.

The words come out all jumbled:
   Nit for not and if for of.
I hear the rolling laughter
   Of the spelling gods above.
The virtual world of typing
   Creates a spelling knot!
Which turns into a spelling knit -
   And then what have you got?!?
Just think now if I had a son,
   He might become a sin!
And if he does, and if he dies,
   Would Don then raise a din?

Of examples there are plenty,
   I could go on (or in),
But perhaps the most insulting
   Is my altered name: Ribin

Robin Preston

Restless Longing

Lying in my solitary bed, my heart is filled with a restless longing.
From where does it come?
     The change of the season?
          A year of upheaval and changes?
               A life in transition from the familiar what-was to the unknown of what-is-yet-to-come?
I drive in to work and my eyes are filled with tears.
From where does this moisture in my eyes come?
     Is it borne of the suffering from resistance to what is?
          Or the relief that comes from acceptance?
               Or fall allergies?
It is autumn.
The heat of summer is ending and the promise of what summer may have held has passed away.
Thoughts turn to keeping warm.
     Bringing in the harvest.
          Carving pumpkins.
               Long cold nights.
                    Cold, crisp days.
                         Holidays spent with loved ones.
Is the song true?
If you are alone when autumn comes, will you be alone all winter long?
But in a life filled with books and music,
     loving family,
          supportive friends,
               and more things to do than hours in which to do them;
A life in which each day is greeted with a smile,
     with anticipation of the joys it will bring,
          with wags of tails and purrs of loving animals,
               with laughter both shared and enjoyed in solitude;
Can one really be considered "alone"?
I think not.....
So the restless longing?..... probably indigestion.....

(Cue Scrooge - "You're probably a bit of beef, a bit of underdone potato! There's more of gravy than the grave in you!")

Robin Preston

Thoughts on the death of a parent...

My mother is now 86 years old. The doctors do not know why she is still alive because based on her physical condition and her choice of lifestyle for the past few decades; the doctors say she shouldn't be. But she is. I come from a family of six children and we have periodically discussed Mom's condition over the past fifteen years or so. My father is her primary caregiver; it is a full time job. Mom needs round-the-clock care - we all have full-time jobs. It is a concern for all of us.

This January my mom had a series of health crises, and ultimately she landed in the hospital for over two months. During that time, I got "the call" twice. My oldest sister and older brother, being the closest geographically to my parents, each took two of the remaining siblings and they kept us informed of Mom's progress and prognosis. I live farther away than any of my siblings; everyone else is within walking distance or a few hours' drive. I am a two-day drive away. The first time I got "the call" I was home alone. My sister advised me of the situation and I was so calm that she wanted to make sure I understood what she was saying: Mom could die at any time. I assured her I understood.

I then spent several days in holding-my-breath mode: waiting for the "Come now!" call, waiting for the "It's too late, she's gone." call, looking at my leave balance and trying to figure out how I could stretch things out such that if I went up immediately, and then she didn't die for another month, would I have enough leave (and money) to make the trip again. The state only gives two days of administrative leave for a death, if I drive, that is enough to get me up there, nothing more. I checked in to the cost of plane tickets and quickly determined they were well beyond my budget. Basically I went through all the morbid realities of dealing with the mechanics of an impending death, while simultaneously dealing with the routine stuff of daily life - work, home, pets, spouse, my own health, etc. It was exhausting and my health suffered. My mom rallied and the urgency of travel eased.

Then I got "the call" again three weeks later and found myself back in the quandary of what to do, how to do it, when to do it. Mom rallied again. She was moved to a rehab hospital. Then she was sent home. I figured she would take a turn for the worse again and continued to wait for a summons for the final goodbye. Now, two months later, it has not happened, she is still home, and the doctors are again shaking their heads in amazement that she is still alive. I guess there is much to be said for sheer force of will to stay alive.

I know that eventually her indomitable spirit will not be able to stand up to the reality of time and infirmity. I know that eventually the woman I have known all my life, literally, will no longer be a living presence in my life. How does one prepare for that? I have had nearly two decades to contemplate, plan for, imagine, and try to prepare for my mother's death. But realistically how does one "prepare" for the loss of a parent? Studies have shown that some children find the death of their parents liberating, they can finally emerge from the parent's shadow, real or imagined, in which they have always lived. Other children feel the ache of the loss the rest of their lives and never stop missing their parents. Some respond with anger because the chance for the loving relationship they longed for, but never had, is now lost forever. Some feel relief that the pain the relationship caused has ended. Some feel relief that the parent's pain has finally stopped. Some feel guilt for feeling relief. No one can really know how he or she will respond until it happens, one can only imagine.

Death is permanent. Once your parent is gone your opportunity to be heard, to make right past wrongs, to heal old wounds, to share another laugh, to identify the unknown faces in those old family photos, to hear the often-repeated family stories told in the oh-so-familiar voice, to look again in to those eyes that beheld you as an infant and watched you grow to adulthood and that you have watched fade and grow dim with age, are all lost. Their face and smile and voice and laugh live on in your memory, but the life that was behind each of them is gone.

We all have a parent or a parent-figure in our lives, whether it be biological, adoptive, a relative, a mentor, or some other person that fulfilled that role for us. Regardless of the relationship with that person, and whether the relationship was a happy one or not, they were a huge part of our lives and they helped shape us in to the people we are. How does one prepare for that person to no longer be? Realistically can a person prepare for a death of a person while still enjoying and being present for the life that is still going on in that person? Can one fully be in the moment that is now while simultaneously preparing for a future moment yet to come?

I will be visiting my parents this summer. I have less time with them than any of my siblings due to the distance between us, so the time I have with them is precious. The thought has crossed my mind, as it has for the past several visits, that this could be the last time I see either one or both of them. My father is in excellent health, but he is 87 and he is not immortal. I relish the time I have with them in that beautiful location. I spend time talking and laughing and reminiscing. Two summers ago several of us spontaneously began singing together, complete with harmony, as we did so long ago when Dad would play the guitar and we would all sing. In my time with them I make memories I know will be bittersweet when they are gone. And when my vacation time is over and I have to leave, I always wish for just a bit more time. I hug them knowing that I may never be able to hug them again, and I hold on a bit longer, and hug a bit tighter, and I know they have the same thought in their minds too, because I feel them doing the same to me.

Robin Preston

September Morning Musings

Over the summer, I have taken great delight in watching the Canadian Geese standing by the pond in the morning on my drive to work. As the sun was climbing in the east, and I was stopped at the light by the pond, I could see them all standing together on the bank, facing the rising sun. On occasion I would see one or two birds already in the water, but the vast majority was all standing facing the sun, the goose version of the sun salute, as the great orb rose, brightening the sky, dimming the stars, and warming their bodies from the chill of the night. September arrives, and the earth continues its gradual, almost imperceptible shift on its axis. And one day I notice the sky is still mostly dark as I make my morning trek to work. I sit at the stoplight and I don't see any geese standing on the bank for their morning sun ritual. I miss them. I enjoyed sharing the morning rituals with them - me my drive to work and them their sun salute. Then one day I am running late for work and by the time I leave my house the sun has risen. I barely notice the change, until I reach the stoplight by the pond where I casually glance over not expecting to see the geese - but there they are. They are all standing grouped together on the bank, only one bird is in the water, all of the others are standing facing the sun, some stretching their wings, most just standing enjoying the warmth of the rising sun. I realize the geese haven't stopped their ritual, they are continuing it as they do every morning, and for them it is happening at the same "time" - that being the time the sun rises. I, on the other hand, am bound by a different "time" - that being the time on the clock. While the geese's rhythm stays in concert with the natural world, mine is forced to twist and bend to the contortions of man's clock. So I drive in to work in the dark while the geese are sensibly still sleeping waiting for the sun to rise. I think the geese have it right...

Robin Preston

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