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Christmas Island

In the backseat of my car, Niki, age eight and Tammie, age four happily sang along with me, “A-b-c-d-e-f-g!” I stopped singing as we entered the outskirts of town. My older daughter finished the song with her little sister.

As my daughters began to chatter to each other after the song, I thought about how long it had taken Tammie to learn how to talk. She had been fully three and a half years old. My wise pediatrician advised me not to worry, “She’ll begin speaking when she’s ready. She’s been busy concentrating on getting over her medical problems and surgeries.”

I would have worried more, but Tammie’s ability to communicate without words was so good that some nurses at the hospital thought she had used words instead of eye contact and gestures!

Tammie was born with Thrombocytopenia with Absent Radius syndrome, TAR for short. Besides missing both of her fore arms, her body made too few blood platelets, had leg deformities and intestinal problems. Until age three, she was hospitalized frequently for blood transfusions, leg surgeries and complications. The last complication resulted in an emergency tracheostomy shortly after her third birthday. I had commented to my husband, Arnie, “Tammie will probably learn how to speak soon, now that it’ll be a bigger challenge.” Continue reading

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Discounted

Arnie and I gratefully sank into opposite sides of the booth we were shown. Relieved we were somewhere warm, we slipped off our coats. Turning over the menu, Arnie exclaimed with a smile, “What do you know, we’re eligible for the senior discount!”

Our winter birthdays were one month apart. He had turned 55 years old at Thanksgiving. At Christmas, so did I. Up until then, we thought senior discounts started at age 65. This restaurant started them at 55. It was a small perk, but it warmed our hearts on that cold and blustery January day.

Arnie liked to tease me by telling our children that I was much older than he was. After my husband died unexpectedly, four months after he turning 56, I thought to myself as I grappled with grief, “Now I will truly be older than Arnie. What a cruel joke!” Then the years began to roll by as I continued to live and work.

Two years before I retired from being a Certified Nursing Assistant, I had a patient one day who touched my heart. It was an old man who hadn’t received any company during the previous week. Not a single flower or plant had been sent to him. I resolved to spend a little extra time talking with him as he washed, changed gowns and brushed his teeth.

Later, as I charted my activities, I happened to notice that the patient’s age was listed as 63 years of age. That was exactly how old I was at the time. Shocked, I realized I had thought of him as an old man. Soothing my sensibilities, I rationalized, “Surely, we’ve aged at different rates!” Continue reading

Leaf Me Alone

My daughter gestured toward the tree in her front yard and exclaimed, “Eve is so messy! In the spring she drops thousands of seed pods. I suppose this fall she’ll drop a ton of leaves!” In a grumpy tone she added, “I’m not looking forward to raking them up.”

I nodded sympathetically and pointed out, “There’s a lot of yard work when a person owns their own home, even when their yard is as small as yours.”

In early November my daughter Tammie will be celebrating her one-year anniversary as a home owner. The day she took ownership and signed the papers, we met Susan, the former owner.

As we waited for the realtor to collate the paperwork, Susan told us, “When my granddaughter, Eve, was in third grade, she gave me the maple tree that stands in front of the house. She came home from school one afternoon with a sprouted maple seed in a Styrofoam coffee cup. I planted it and now I can’t believe how big it’s grown. In my granddaughter’s honor, I’ve named the tree, Eve.” Continue reading

Mother’s a Fickle Dame

We never bothered to turn on the radio when we returned home from church. In the soothing quiet of the living room, the only sound was of the rustle of the Sunday newspaper. I had just finished reading the funnies when my husband Arnie, put the sports section down and announced, “It’s a beautiful spring day. I’m going to go for a walk, do you want to come with me?”

Eagerly jumping to my feet, I responded, “You bet I do! Just let me go and grab a sweater.”

“You won’t need one.” Arne pointed out. “It’s warm today.”

I nodded in agreement as I replied. “This whole month of March is warmer than usual. The last of our winter snow melted away last week.” With a chuckle I admitted, “Once the snow is gone, the refrigerator breezes go away, too.”

Sunshine on the deck behind the house felt as warm as a summer day. The breeze was pleasantly warm as well, so I needed nothing more than the light-weight, short sleeved shirt I wore.   Continue reading

Big Banana Tree

I frowned when I looked at the pole beans. They weren’t a lush, happy green. Some of the leaves were turning yellow. A few had turned brown and fallen to the ground. This had happened last year, too. Were pesky insects or a virus damaging my bean crop?

Shaking my head, I leaned into the shovel as I dug a hole between the garden rows. When it was deep enough I picked up a bowl filled with potato peals, apple cores, crushed egg shells and banana peels, that I had brought out from the house. Dumping the compost materials into the hole, I covered it with dirt.

Leaning on the shovel, I thought about how I tested the soil several years ago, shortly after my husband Arnie had died. My son-in-law, Mike, had taken over Arnie’s Farm Care business. When he read the results to me, he advised, “You need to add organic matter to the soil.”

Because of his advice, every summer I bury kitchen scraps and in the fall and gather dried maple leaves for the soil.  Glancing around at my walkway vegetable graveyard, I announced to my garden, “The soil needs to be tested again. I have a feeling that something more than organic matter is needed.” Continue reading

Hot Fishing Spot

Sweat dripped off my face as I carried my suitcase from the bedroom to the entryway. Putting it down, I said to my daughter sitting at the dining room table, “The name and the telephone number of the fishing resort where we’ll be staying is on the table.

Fanning herself, Tammie sighed, “Don’t worry Mom. I’ll be fine. I just hope it’s cooler in Canada for you and Daddy.”

Stepping out onto the back deck, I watched my husband tighten the trailer straps holding our boat down. Heat radiated up from the wooden deck boards, making my feet uncomfortably hot. Arnie glanced over at me and said, “Thelma and Gene will be here soon. Bring our suitcases out and put them in the truck.”

Shaking my head wearily, I said, “It’s 100 degrees today. I’m leaving them in the house until we’re absolutely ready to drive away so our toiletries don’t get cooked and ruined!” Continue reading