Decompose

We had been with my daughter and her family for three weeks, helping them through the adjustment of adding newborn Caleb to their existing children, two-year-old Josiah and three-year-old Hannah. In addition, we had spent several days packing and hauling boxes as they moved to Missoula, Montana, from Seeley Lake, about an hour away. We were exhausted as we began our drive back to the Seeley Lake house, the car quiet now that the young family was settled enough in Missoula to spend a first night in their new place. I offered to drive. “No, thanks,” said George. “I need to drive for a while to decompose.” “Umm…decompress?” He thought for a moment. “What is it you do when you die?” he asked. “Decompose,” I said. “I meant the other word, but maybe decompose is more...

Not Quite Good Enough

Are you one of those people, like me, with unreasonable self-expectations? I demand more of myself than of anyone else and offer myself little mercy. It’s not surprising there’s an official OCD diagnosis in my medical history. I work hard and aim for perfection so it’s no wonder I often feel not quite good enough. Let me recount some painful failures. At age seventeen I was college-bound, considering a major in piano.  That summer, though, I got sick with severe pain and swelling in my joints. The diagnosis: rheumatoid arthritis. The disease made it difficult to even climb a flight of stairs; long hours of practice on the piano were unthinkable as was any chance of majoring in music. I was ready to leave home, fly to independence, but instead, couldn’t get out of...

Cutting Off the Years

After a year in retirement, I was feeling old and drab. Perhaps it was time for a change. My hair was long, all one length and worn in a ponytail. I wanted to freshen my look with something new so it was back to shoulder-length hair with layers. The natural curl bounced back in and, since the hair now hangs loose, the gray prominent around my hairline is covered. The result is that I look less gray–without using hair dye! I didn’t realize quite how different my appearance was until an encounter with a little neighbor girl, Arden. Arden knows me as Mrs. Karen and is always excited to see me. On this particular day, she gave me a big hug, but then asked her mom, “Is this Mrs. Karen’s daughter?” You’ve heard the phrase, what a difference a day makes. But I...

The Screaming Lady

As George and I were about to enter Jim & Nick’s Bar-B-Q, a man came out pushing an old lady, presumably his mother, in a wheelchair. As he wheeled her through the door, she let out such a terrified scream we stopped in our tracks, not knowing if she was about to fall out of the chair or was at the point of death. We had no idea what to do. Then she shouted, “It always jumps up at me!” I looked around anxiously. What jumps? The sidewalk? The outdoors? Did she just get new glasses or was Alzheimer’s involved? Whatever it was, it didn’t seem to bother her son, who continued on towards their car. He was apparently accustomed to such behavior. And the lady—well, she quickly got over it and seemed oblivious to everyone around her. I laughed later about the...