Tag Archives: reflections

30 Cubed – The Second Born


Dakrri stirred in his woolen cocoon. The early morning mist still covered the valley of their camp and the day was barely a whisper in the east. He knew his day would be well started before the sun kissed the mountain tops. Much depended on the choices made in the first few hours of this first full day on their journey.

Crawling out from his warm bed, he stood to begin the process of stowing his bed roll and finding the morning’s small portions and feed his two yaks. Soon, in the pre-dawn light, they would start the fire they had laid the night before and prepare their early breakfast. When ready to travel, lots would be drawn to determine which path each of the seven seekers would take.

Dakrri was not on this mountain top to seek the wisdom of the ancients. To him all paths led back to his village as quickly as he could manage. It was tradition that the second son of the bese’ commit to the life of a seeker while his elder brother was trained to become the next leader. Dakrri’s brother, however, was no leader. To protect his village he felt he must return before tragedy struck. To make matters worse, the young girl that had captured his heart had been given to his brother to avoid a possible conflict in leadership. A year had passed and there was no sign of an heir. No longer able to put off this journey, Dakrri had become one of the seven. Returning from the mountain safe and sane could be a sign to the village that he was the rightful leader. As he thought on these things and his plans for the day he was startled by a shout from a copse of stunted pines at the edge of the clearing.

“She is gone! She, her animals and all her supplies, they are gone!”

Dolma, the only woman in the group, had sought privacy from the rest by taking her bedroll and yaks into the pines. Tired from the day’s journey, and knowing that she, as they, had been well trained in the ways of the mountain wilderness, no one had questioned her move. Now, in the pre-dawn hours, Isho had found her missing.

Dakrri had no idea why Isho would have ventured to visit Dolma’s campsite and suspicion began to fill his mind. Dolma was the sister of the woman he had loved since childhood. He knew her quite well and Isho never was and never would be a person she would take into confidence. What had possessed him to attempt to enter her camp uninvited?

He knew Dolma had her own agenda. They had spoken of it often. It is most likely that she chose to avoid the morning rituals because she knew where she wanted to go and no lot would change her mind. Her disappearance may have troubled him, but not deterred him from his own goals, but now he was concerned about Isho’s agenda. This early morning visit could not have been one of goodwill and it was only the shock and surprise of finding her gone that had exposed him.

Isho came running back to the light of the now growing fire. It was anger that Dakrri saw in his face and not fear or concern. Perhaps today was not the best day to start his ride home.

NOTE:  Although a continuation of “The Seeker,” this piece does use a different character.  Hopefully it is acceptable within the guidelines.  My guess is this will grow into a book one day, we’ll just have to see.


Filed under My Fiction - Very Short Fiction

The File Cabinet Caper – Part II

When last we spoke on this subject, replacement cabinets had been ordered and the project at hand was to move piles and piles of folders and such into another room.  It was also necessary to empty one bookshelf in order to get full access to the patio door.  No other alternative made sense.  Other than wanting me to show him where things should go, help move them and explain (many, many times) what was going on, Sunday and Monday passed with relative ease.

Tuesday morning dawns and we are well on our way to stage two of the adventure.  Both our landlord and the fellow that “helps” my husband are scheduled to show up around noon or so to move the old file cabinets out to the patio and tarp them in order to protect them from the rain.  Now; I was going to get those tarps, bungee cords, and blocks at the hardware store on Monday.  Several emergencies popped up with the day job and suddenly there were multiple newly-imposed deadlines and that trip went out the window with a bang.  Landlord was kind enough to supply said needed materials.

So, around noon our assistant shows up and the three of us go downstairs so I can explain what needs to happen.  There seems to be something amiss.  The bookcase that we had emptied the night before is now full again and back in place in front of the sliding door.  Remember, I’m working on a deadline or two for work so, well, this was not a happy sight.  I deserted our assistant indicating the books had to be moved again but only to a place where my husband wanted them.  Hee hee – time for someone else to share the fun!

Once the re-do was completed, the process actually went rather smoothly.  Pictures were taken to entice possible customers.  All three cabinets were set up so that they did not block any windows that my husband likes to look through. Things were covered up and secured.  Doors closed.  Now, another explanation requiring time concepts that are no longer resident in my husband’s head.  “Don’t move anything until after the new cabinets come tomorrow.”  “What cabinets?”  “Who’s coming?” “When will they be here?”  “I have work to do, I can’t leave it like this.”  “Please just leave it.” “Okay.”

Wednesday morning.  Things have been a bit stressful for almost two weeks at this point.  My poor husband has always had a tender stomach, so off to bed he goes for a nap.  The phone rings.  A wonderful meaningless automated message that does not permit playback indicating that someone is terribly sorry for the inconvenience but the delivery is delayed and should be there on the 15th.  It is the 15th and at this moment it is not late.  I call customer service.  Well, “they” don’t know where the confusion is but the system says it is on the truck.  “They” will contact the warehouse.  It should be there by 3:00.  At 3:30 I call again.  Is it, or is it not going to be delivered today?  Well, it’s on the truck and they must deliver between 9 and 5.  I see.

Waiting until five is not the best idea because it throws our routine out of order.  If you have ever dealt with dementia you know that routine is absolutely required to keep things from getting out of hand.  At this point I have delayed going to the grocery store so long we have to go: so where is the delivery?  Hoping to salvage something I fix dinner, clean dishes and – 5:15 – no delivery.

Third call to the vendor asking whether or not my order is on the truck?  Well, ma’am we show it is on the truck but there is some kind of hold up and the warehouse has not returned our calls.  I see.  Now I hear the UPS can deliver as late as 7:00 in the evening.  I think I got a bit, well, unhappy.  The lady on the other end of the line starts trying to say sorry once per second and informs me they will be sending me a coupon to mitigate the problems I am having.  They even offered to cancel the order (oh, me, please no).  At 5:30 I leave a note on the door about where to put the boxes (in the rain) and we leave for the store.  Back at 6:30, no boxes.  Forgot coffee – must have coffee.  So back out we go to the neighborhood stop and rob to pick up something that would have been cheaper at a fancy latté counter.

Exhausted, I climb into the tub for my evening back treatment prepared to try to get some work done.  Not necessarily a good idea.  Our routine is, when necessary grocery, Victoria’s back, dinner, evening science program, bed (for him)/work (for me).  Now we are all discombobulated (Word actually knew how to spell that).  I get out of the tub and he has set the table for dinner.  It is easier to fix a bed time snack than explain that we already had dinner.  Finally, I get back to my computer.

Thursday.  After all of this commotion and disruption, he is really not feeling well.  We haven’t been up all that long when he decides he needs to go back to bed.  After much prodding he tells me that he is feeling nauseous and tired.  Is he sick, or stressed? At this point it is impossible to tell.  I promise to wake him later.  Finally the cabinets show up.  Three cardboard boxes, some assembly required.

In this day and age of “some assembly required” it is not uncommon for folks to purchase things that come in cartons which must then be unpacked and assembled.  If you have participated in this great adventure you may have noticed that the item seems to weight a whole lot more in the box in the back of your vehicle than it does when you have it assembled and move it around in a room.  This is a function of something called density.  Even though the mass and weight may be relatively the same, it feels heavier because everything packed snugly together creates density.  One hundred and fifteen pounds of steel is not particularly light.  And I get to put it together.

I have, actually, assembled a great deal of our furniture.  Cabinets, desks, bookshelves, computer stands.  This is not something strange and daunting.  Except that I have a job.  So, how do we manage to get these things put together quickly enough to satisfy waiting husband while still trying to meet certain obligations on a work schedule.  There’s always lunch time.  And our science program today will be: “How to assemble a storage cabinet.”  First one went up that day.

assemble1Friday.  Still feeling poorly, he barely makes it through breakfast before he wanders back to bed.  Well, at least I can catch up on some things and maybe I can get him to wait until Saturday for the next cabinet.  He does get up but seems rather lethargic and I start to get really worried.  After a few calls to consulting nurses, we end up at the Urgent Care center on Saturday morning.

The concept of going to the doctor seems to be more appealing than actually being at the doctor’s.  This is something I have experienced before, so I try to make sure we do need to go so I can be more firm while we are there.  We actually got in rather quickly and the nurse did all those things they are supposed to and the doctor ordered fluids.  So, after blood went out the door we were told to wait for x-ray.  Took a bit to find out there was some mess up on that and it had to be reordered.  By now we had been there for a while and he started to get antsy.  I expressed concern that I may have to take him home and wait for results.  No problem, but we should have something soon.  Sigh.  Maybe the blood work was stuck on the office supply delivery truck?  Toward the end of the 3rd hour after arriving, he was ready to go.  Go now.  If he had to take the IV with him, he was going.

This is one of those times when I wish that emergency room physicians had at least some training regarding the behavior patterns of patients with dementia.  If he was ready to go there was no way I could keep him in that bed unless he was restrained which I would never allow unless the situation was life threatening.  Since all they had found by then was that he was a little dehydrated, that was not the case.  The doctor got huffed up and informed me we were leaving against medical advice.  I responded that I understood that.  He emphatically stated he wanted to leave.

It took another half hour for the nurse to show up and remove the IV.  This had been a very attentive nurse up to that point and from her attitude and the total absence of the doctor my guess is she was told to stall as long as she could.  Thanks Doc.  I wouldn’t really want to wish this on anyone, but someday you may have to deal with a person suffering from dementia and you may (I repeat may) gain an understanding of the issues at hand.  I was unable to get him to admit whether or not he needed to go to the bathroom until I was actually getting him dressed.  I grabbed the opportunity.  And managed to provide that last sample I believe the doctor wanted.

After we left we stopped for lunch and he became all talkative and close to his normal self again.  I had rescued him from a fate unknown.  Back home we went.  Note to self, try forgetting to offer coffee for awhile and offer juice instead.  Research Dehydration since the discharge papers were completely silent on the subject even though doctor said that’s all she could find.  Check online thingy later for further test results.

Back home.  Back on my computer and trying to finish a few things still undone from the week before.  Buzzing along quite nicely and then: I hear that peculiar twang a steel sheet makes when being moved.  He must be checking out the new cabinet.  It shouldn’t twang like that.  Maybe I should check out the new cabinet.  Arriving at the file room downstairs I discover he has opened one of the two remaining boxes and is taking pieces of cabinet out.  Great.  I guess it’s time to assemble another storage cabinet.

There appears to be a problem.  One of the pieces is bent.  Doesn’t appear to be something that he did because the paint is not scratched.  No, probably something that happened in the warehouse or during shipping.  Under any normal circumstances I would stop, call the provider and have the thing replaced.  Not particularly interested in that option at this point.  Soooo, is it a door?  I can order a replacement door rather easily.  Of course not. It’s a side panel.  Near the hinge.  Sigh.  Well, maybe I can make it work.

assemble2He actually helped on this one a bit.  Tightening a few screws, holding pieces while I bolted things together.  Then the moment arrived to try the bent panel.  Pushing didn’t help.  Pulling didn’t do it.  Finally, squeezing the panel and the door together I got the hinge pin in place.  Does it work?  Yep.  Done deal.  Time for the break I was going to take before I felt the sudden need to check out noises.

Sunday.  Today I decided to circumvent any curious goings on in the basement and went downstairs fairly early to assemble the last of these trouble makers.  As it was I had to track down a few of the supplies and tools I had left in the room with instructions that they must stay until things were done.  The photos are from this go round.  I’m usually pretty fast at this sort of thing.  I will admit I get a might confused on the direction of screws or nuts when hanging upside down and using my left hand, but in the end it usually goes together pretty fast.

Did I solve the problem that started almost a month ago?  Not really certain yet.  He hasn’t started “moving in” to the new cabinets, but he has been rather specific about where he wants them.  Well, the assistant is here tomorrow.  I think it’s time someone else focus on the hows and wheres of files and papers.

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Filed under Caregiving Backstage, Personal Journeys

Reflections on 12-14-12 Part the First: Pain ~ and Peace

It’s a cold, February night on a nearly deserted Texas highway. A family of four and their friend and business associate are traveling to San Antonio for a brief vacation, a weekend of R & R. At the wheel is a conscientious but inexperienced teenaged driver. This part of Texas does not see much snow, but there is ice. On this night it is black ice that appears, as such things do, without warning. Even experienced drivers with great skill find it difficult to maintain or regain control once a vehicle loses traction, especially at highway speeds, and however moderate that speed may be. For a young lady just short of her 17th birthday it was a situation completely beyond her expertise.

The Suburban left the road and rolled somewhere between one and three times. Hard to count when you are bouncing around or unconscious. Later investigation by police and medical teams indicated that she had died on impact with the steering wheel; probably before the vehicle even left the road. Her small, slim body was ripped from the seatbelt and thrown through the window. As it happens, I was in that vehicle. Regaining consciousness I realized that her parents were outside of the car with her, responding with whatever emergency training they had, refusing to believe what they most likely already knew. In the car with me was her ten year old sister. Crawling back into the seat I reached for her and held her until help arrived. Luckily, a ranch family not quite ready for bed heard the crash and saw the rolling vehicle. Time was meaningless but it didn’t seem all that long before the scene was flooded with helping hands and emergency vehicles.

The loss of a child is a pain so unlike anything else. This was not my child, but she was part of a tangle of emotionally intense relationships I had with her family. She knew me well enough to trust me in time of urgency. Something she did not give lightly. If her mother was not available, it was me that she would call. No, she was not my child; but the grief was still overwhelming. It seemed as though we remaining four had become scuba divers. Sounds, sights, feelings seemed muffled somehow. Her mother wrote poetry. Beautiful, heart wrenching poetry. Her father closed up on himself. Her confused little sister became uncertain of her place in a family torn into ever smaller pieces. The consequences reached far, far into the future. At the time we were lucky to have a church family prepared to envelop us. There were always quiet people near us to answer the phone, answer the door, organize food, ferry people to and from the airport, the doctor, and the funeral home. Quiet, gentle angels that kept the world at bay until we could, bit by bit manage to communicate once more with the land of the living. We huddled together in our own private hell, holding the broken pieces close until they started to heal.

What would it mean to go through such hell in a fish bowl? How would it feel to have people battling over the whys and wherefores before you even knew if your child was among those who had not survived? How would it feel to become everybody’s symbol of whatever agenda they needed to push before you even had time to internalize what had happened? How would it feel to hear so many squabbling over causes and small bits of inaccuracies like vultures? Of what importance are the reassurances that someone, somewhere isn’t going to let it happen again? How shattering a “body count,” as if your child was nothing more than a bag to be counted. With your life in pieces around you, you are not prepared to care about the next time. For you it is already too late. All this before you had time to somehow stop the rush in your mind of all the things that your child would never be or do. Mute with hurt and pain, how could you shout loud enough to tell them all to be still? “Let me breathe, please just let me learn to breathe again.”

As an author I am currently involved in research for a book about Job. Many of my feelings on the book do not fit within the boundaries of common interpretations. There are messages I see and feel that I do not find in the literature. If there are hints they are brief puffs in the wind. I believe that one of these messages is the real error of Job’s friends. For the last few days we have been very much like them. Too busy looking for whys and how comes and not nearly busy enough supporting those in pain.

As an active participant in a number of groups and a growing reach of friends and fans on Facebook, I have seen anger, despair, raw emotion and bitterness ripple through the community like a digital tsunami. However, now is not the time to shout from the treetops, jump up and down and announce our own surefire way to fix the problem. That time will come but something MUST come first. First, you must heal. Not all at once and not completely; but you must at least climb out of the “scuba dive” and be a reasoning, thinking individual again. Someone prepared to enter into effective debate, discuss alternatives, check facts, understand more about the who, how, and when. Now is the time to heal.

Part of the raging argument is related to what God’s part may or may not have been in all of this. I intend to make this a multi-part blog and this will be one of the focal points. For now I want to point out why I think Job’s friends so seriously missed the boat.  It is something that is found in sacred texts around the world. The way we heal is to love one another. The way we heal is to support each other in our suffering; to provide for the widowed, the orphan, those who need, and those who hurt. Some will tell you that this is not part of the Old Testament thundering God of the Hebrews. I have news; it is.

In Leviticus 19:18, we find, “You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbor as yourself. I am Yahweh.” (Jerusalem Bible) Jesus, you see, was quoting scripture. Throughout the Old Testament some of the things that upset the prophets the most were not the tiny little sins and indiscretions, it was the treatment of widows and orphans. It was the sacrifice of human lives (which may or may not have included children) and the treatment of the poor and suffering.

Jesus himself tells us that the two most important commandments are to love God and love your neighbor – as yourself.  He even says that all the law and the prophets hang on these.

Many will be familiar with pieces at least of I Corinthians 13: “If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. … If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.” (Jerusalem Bible)

In the first part of Revelations where Christ addresses the seven churches, His complaint against the church at Ephesus was, “you have less love now than you used to.”

Whether or not we come to an understanding of why things happen, whether or not we find in ourselves some faith in some hovering over-protective Sentient Being keeping watch over us, or whether or not we are driven from any faith at all because we cannot tolerate a universe with any Supreme Being that won’t protect us from our own evils great and small; we must love one another. We must find support and concern for each other. We must be the Good Samaritan, the person who shares burdens, the one who answers phones, warms up meals.

There will be a time when we must, as a nation, address the systemic causes of violence in our streets and in our homes. Not just for those who died thinking they were safe in their schools and neighborhoods, but also for those who walk our streets each night not knowing if they will make it home safe just one more time. There will be a time; but first, we must heal. First we must envelop our wounded. Let them learn to breathe again.

If you want to make that commitment an active one, I suggest you research benefits for the families.  Groups or charities that can be checked out that are helping with expenses suddenly incurred and not expected.  This is, evidently, a neighborhood of financial stability.  That security can go out the window quickly when you suddenly must pay for plane tickets, funerals, or time off work beyond bereavement leave (usually about 5 days).  Some of the families and perhaps some of the remaining students are sure to incur counseling costs.  Maybe you can physically travel to the town and protect the families from media and harassment by being part of a human shield.  Do something creative, something healing, something that reaches out and touches.  First, find peace and learn to breathe again.

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Filed under My Journey with Job, Personal Journeys

Reflections ~ November 25, 2012

If I could
chase away
the watchers
in the yard
the voices
in the night

If I could
drop everything
fix the phone
fix the bookcase
find your friends,
make it work

If I could
find the lost
you can’t describe
move the things
you never saw
put it back

If I could
say where she went
where he went
why we’re here
and not there
wherever there
might be

If I could
know what
you’d eat
what you won’t
what you’d wear
or not and when

If I could
I’d change
your world
give it shape
and harmony

I’m sorry, love
I truly am
I only wish I could

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Filed under Caregiving Backstage, Personal Journeys