Friday, August 21, 2015

I never knew them...

I'm writing these thoughts on this particular blog because they are *definitely* related to retirement - at least for me. What do you call thoughts that a person has now in their retirement years that never occurred when younger. This is not part of my bucket list. (Actually, I don't have much of a bucket list... maybe a few things that I'd like to do, but they're not super important.)

This is something that has popped up in the last few years and the interest seems to be growing. And I have been wondering if it's just me or if it's part of the normal aging process. By now you're wondering what in heavens name (I could have said, WTF... but decided against it) is she talking about.

I'm talking about *my grandparents*.  I never knew them.

Well, I kind of knew my maternal grandfather for a few years. I was 8 when he died in New Orleans. I remember him as a sweet gentle person that always had something nice to say and spoke with the cutest French accent. He used to remind me of Maurice Chevalier. But I wish I could have known more. 

Mom told me that he was a wonderful father and loved my grandmother dearly. She passed away before I was a year old - so no memories there. Mama said that they only spoke French at home when she was young. Grandma raised 3 girls and 1 boy who were all very lovely people - I did know them. We didn't see my mom's brother too often, but we were very close with my mom's 2 sisters - so us cousins grew up together - which is nice since we are now the older generation  and still stay in touch.

mom, her sisters, my 3 cousins and a friend
Both my paternal grandparents died when I was between 2 and 3, so again - no memories. But there are a few pictures and lots of 'passed down' stories.  My grandfather brought his wife and 3 kids from London to the America 3 times (1918,1919, and 1920). From what my dad and uncle could remember, they came because the cold and damp in London was getting to be a hardship. In 1920, they stayed and settled in Florida. My dad was the oldest and about 12 years old on this last trip.

From what I understand, they never went back and I wonder why. My grandfather's younger brother had immigrated to Canada with his family earlier... but I don't know if their parents were still in England. I do know my grandmother's parents and brother were there.  Wouldn't they have wanted to visit them or vice-versa? Was there a rift?  Was it financial? I know there's a story there, but will probably never know it. We were close to my dad's siblings and their children growing up. Although we may not be as close to them as the cousins on my mom's side, we do stay in touch. My dad moved his entire family  from Florida to New Orleans in 1930. 

There are lots of handed-down stories about my paternal grandfather. He joined the British Calvary and fought in the Boer War. He *supposedly* met Winston Churchill while in Africa when Mr. Churchill was visiting the troops as a war correspondent. Later, he was Captain of a barge, a steamboat, and a gunboat on the Persian Gulf. (I have a postcard that he wrote to dad during this time in 1914 when dad was 7). So he had an adventurous life until moving the family to America in 1920. 

But there is very little I know about my paternal grandmother. Her name was Eleanor. Some called her Nellie. My mom said that Grandma served watercress sandwiches and mom never could get used to that.  And that's about it. I really would like to know more.

So-oo I've signed up for a course this Fall in Genealogy. Maybe I can learn a bit more. I know we must have family in England and perhaps in Ireland since apparently my great grandfather moved to England from Ireland when things were bad. But again... just handed-down stories with no confirmation. 

Another conundrum: I was born an *O'Regan* - but the family name was Regan in England and changed in America upon naturalization. I suspect it might have been O'Regan in Ireland and the "O" removed in England  - only to be re-instated later in America. All supposition. There's a story there too... and I'd like to know it. 

Now I'm ashamed to admit that at 70, it's a bit late to be wondering about these things.  Why didn't I ask more questions when there was someone around the answer them? I'm guessing that we get so bogged down and busy with our own immediate lives and family that the questions don't even arise... until it's too late. Well, now that I have the time, perhaps I can make sure that it doesn't happen to my grandkids. Perhaps I can leave a written record so if and when the time comes, they will have some of the information at their fingertips. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

the news no one wants to hear...

Someone close to us recently got the news that her father has cancer. Of course she and her family are devastated. 

Such horrible news. No one wants to hear this. Yet... there's still hope that all is well... or if not *is*, then possibly *will be* (well). Today Cancer is treatable. It's not easy and it's not fun... but it is treatable. Years ago the big C was a death sentence. And it can still be in some cases, but mostly it's treatable. 

The frightening thing about it is that suddenly you find yourself a member of a club you never wanted to join. You have to do things you never wanted to do. And you have to pretend to be brave... and unafraid... at least in public.

But like any adversity, it changes you. It re-organizes your priorities... and possibly the priorities of those around you. In some ways it's like a slap in the face saying, "Hey, pay attention! There may not be a tomorrow... "

But for the moment, it's that dreaded 'just sit and wait' time... when your mind is bursting with all the mind-blowing possibilities and your emotions are in over-drive. 

I believe that thoughts and prayers are powerful. So please pray for her and her family and keep them in your thoughts and prayers. 

For many of us 'in the autumn of our years' this type of news is not new, but it's still traumatic. I guess I'm hoping that perhaps there's some comfort in the knowledge that others care.

Friday, August 14, 2015

a prayer...

My mom had Alzheimer's...

Mom has been gone for 7 years and still the words in the second verse of this poem tear at my heart.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Are there stages to retirement?

Tomorrow is the 1st of July and tonight we gain an extra second to the clock. Think I will consider it an early birthday present... 1 more second to live! Of course it's not only being given to me, but to everyone... so it's a gift for all. Nice thought...

Retirement for me started in August, 2011. So I've had 4 years to enjoy my leisure. But it's probably taken 4 years to get to the point that I am at now. And what is that, you say? Well, I think retirement comes in stages. And I imagine the stages are different for each of us, but for me... 

First there was elation... oh god, I don't have to get up early every morning and rush off to work! This stage probably lasts a few months while your biological clock is being reset - as you still wake up at that early hour even without the alarm. 

Then the next stage is perhaps over compensation - a period of trying to do all the things you never had time to do when you were working... only to realize that even though you now have the time, you still don't have the money... (or not for everything anyway). It's during this time that you realize that you still don't have enough time in the day to do it all... and you wonder how in the h--- did you ever find time to work?

Then there's the 3rd stage - a slightly subconscious panic that suddenly you're redundant - unnecessary, no longer needed... ahead is an endless stretch of days with no accomplishments. So you start setting goals, lists of things that need doing and once accomplished help diminish this feeling. But it's a conscious effort... and it works! 

I think that I'm now in the 4th stage: Comfortable - as lately I've found that it's quite nice to be home with DH with enough time in the week to do what-ever - or not! Lately I even find comfort in taking my time to wash the dishes while watching the feral cats and kittens play in the yard through the kitchen window. If DH and I want to take a walk, we do. If we want to take a nap, we do. Suddenly Time is not the enemy, but the lovely gift I'd always hoped it would be. The fact that we can't travel around the world is not a problem... we'd probably be too tired to do it anyway. We can still travel to see family - and lucky for us we have lots of family right here, kids and grandkids that we adore. Everyone doesn't have this. So we are very grateful. 

This weekend is the 4th of July and also the week I become 70 years old. DH hits this milestone this month too... a few days after me... just enough to tease me that I'm older... which I am (by 9 days). But that's OK because whatever stage this is, I'm suddenly very comfortable with it.  

If you have reached retirement and find any of these things true for you, I'd love to hear how its affected you. Life is short. Let's share the journey...


Sunday, June 14, 2015

a poem...

This is something I have had taped up here by my computer for a long time. Today I was straightening up and reading it made me sad. Thought I'd post it - not to make you sad - but to make you think...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

who is that old lady?

This is definitely a post for Mulberry days (a bittersweet time of life), a post that is even difficult to put into words. But I do wonder how many others who are in this same boat honestly think, "Who is that old lady looking back at me in the mirror?"

I mean, I know it's me... but it doesn't look like me... not the me I remember. And I don't see my mother's face in mine, nor my dad's. I never knew my grandmothers. Guess I could look like one of them at this age (I'll have to check that out). We don't have many photos, but there are a few around. It does still feels like me inside, and it's not like I mind the physical change, just wonder how and when it happened.

My 70th birthday is coming up. This too astounds me... and may be (what's the right word?) the instigator of all this.  I guess birthdays never really affected me much until this one. Again...not that I mind. I'm certainly glad to have the opportunity to celebrate it. But still...70! Wow! (You see a lot of 70's in the obits)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

simple enough...

this is my idea of retirement

and these next pics are my ways of implementing living simply...

traveling to Hill country

My legs are short, so stretching them out in the car is very comfortable. This is how I like to travel...

Ghost and I reading together at night
And this is how I enjoy spending my nights...

Monday, April 27, 2015

time... is it an illusion?

It's funny. Some of us were talking about "time" just recently at the pottery studio. We talked about how we wanted or felt we needed to spend the time we had left. Most of us (but not all) are now retired and living the life... of the *paycheck-less*. 

This of course has it's advantages and disadvantages. For those who are lucky enough to have both time and money, there are more options. But the majority seem to now have the time... but the money - although sufficient - is not enough for world travel nor to open the door to endless possibilities. So, perhaps in some ways, this is a blessing. Less options simplify life. 

And simplifying leads to prioritizing... just what IS important and what is not?  What dreams might still be attained and which should be cast aside in favor of something else? 

For me *creating* is important - it fulfills me for whatever reason. Time to do this is extremely precious to me.  Whether it be writing, sketching, watercolor, pottery, quilting.... etc. it fills a void and adds to my contentment. 

And as I've said before, it really isn't the end product... but the process that does this. Why? I don't know. But I do know that it's different for everyone. What fills the void in you? 

And is time just an illusion? We divide the day into 24 hours, the weeks into days, and the days into months, etc. But that's just man's way of handling things. Time doesn't really *pass* as it were, it just *is*... and we pass through it. What we do as we pass through it is our choice.

I tend to be introverted... need time alone... and if it wasn't for family and friends, would possibly never socialize. And I know that socializing is important - to some extent. People need people. 

When I was growing up, my early perception of *being social* was that it was superficial and false. It seemed to me that small talk was meaningless, so why do it? In my young mind, there was an undercurrent of suspicion - that people didn't mean what they said, but had a hidden agenda. I chose to abandon that perception somewhere along the line and actively chose instead to always give people the benefit of the doubt. It made my life happier.

I've heard from people that moved South from up North that they had trouble adjusting to Southern Hospitality. It was good manners and courteous, but not always sincere. They said that up North people said what they meant. If you didn't like someone, you didn't pretend you did (which I guess Southern Hospitality over-rules). Interesting, yes? And of course I've also heard the opposite argument, that Northerners were downright rude...  all of this (IMO) stems partially from upbringing and perception. 

But back to questions about *Time*... 

Is time travel possible?
I think so.
Because we can think it. And I believe that if we can think it, it's probably do-able.
(DH would say that's not logical) non-the-less...

How about astral travel?
I believe in that too.

And vampires, magic, etc.?
Yes, yes, and probably yes... but sometimes it's a matter of semantics. By this time, you may be thinking, this gal is nuts! And that's OK too. Agreeing to disagree is perfectly acceptable in my book.

The thing is... communication is not infallible. If someone asks if I believe in God, I would certainly say "Yes"... but what I believe may be totally different from what you believe. And that's why when someone says they're an Atheist, I'm not sure that they mean what most people think they mean. Do you see?

I just read a book given to me by a friend who's an avid reader and is constantly ordering from Amazon or frequenting the Half-Price Bookstores. She keeps me in books - all kinds! Anyway this was not a book I would have picked up on my own although I know it's a popular series. It's called "The Sookie Stackhouse Novels" and contains 3 books written by Charlene Harris. In it the *vampires* have *come-out* - meaning they no longer hide the fact that they're vampires. Apparently a synthetic blood was created which made it possible for them to live among humans without violence. Of course they are not totally accepted... and thus it goes. Also Sookie although human, is also a Telepath.... which means she can read minds. Because of this she is also aware of other *creatures/non-human species*? that exist, but have not *come out* as such. There are werewolves, shape-shifters, elves, etc. Sounds strange, but as I got into it, I soon realized that I appreciate Harris' imagination as much as I appreciated JK Rowlings' when she came out with Harry Potter. There's something absolutely amazing about the possibilities of our imaginations!

This preceding paragraph may not seem like it belongs here in my post about time... but it does. Reading is another way I spend my time. And although it may not be creative, it stretches my mind... it enables me to see things that I may not have seen otherwise. And it doesn't really matter if the book is fiction or non-fiction. I know there are people who don't read at all... and there are some that only read fiction or non-fiction. I read everything - well, not everything - but some of almost everything. I don't go for things that are too gory or too explicit - but that's just a matter of preference.

Going to close this with a comment about *family and friends*... which of course is another wonderful way to spend one's time. True, I'm not a very social person, but family and friends are the exception. How to explain... I mentioned that I believed reading stretches my mind ... well, family and friends stretch my heart. There's something about experiences that involve love that open up areas in one's heart and soul that never would have opened other-wise. And 'as our sun dips west', this bond becomes even more important.

And to my online friends (who I've never met and probably never will) you too are important to me. I love sharing your life through your posts. Love seeing the pictures you take and hearing what you think and feel. The Internet with all it's unpredictability and dangers does make the world smaller and friends more accessible... and possibly less lonely for many.  

I do belong to Facebook, but only go there to check in occasionally and pull pictures of family off to print.  And I've never understood the pull of Twitter... although I do like Pinterest (which my grand daughter got me on). It's actually an alternative to watching boring TV - I'll sit there in the evening and go through Pinterest to get ideas for quilting, pottery, etc. 

Enough!  Have a wonderful week and enjoy the Spring weather where-ever you may be...  

Monday, April 20, 2015

My mulberry days...

Sometimes... it seems like I'm feeling my way into *old age*... slowly, cautiously, but with optimistic trepidation? 

This particular blog I've decided to concentrate wholly on things pertaining to old age and retirement - my old age and retirement.  I decided to call it "my mulberry days" - a peaceful serene bittersweet time of life - similar to the old BBC Series that you can still find on PBS.

I also thought of calling it, "my days of wine and roses" - but decided that wasn't really appropriate since I can't drink wine due to my migraines and although I like roses (especially the very light pink old world ones), roses aren't my favorite flower (daisies and sunflowers are). 

Anyway, this morning I'm thinking how sad it is that DH and we don't live closer to water. I grew up with the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain on our doorstep and really found this closeness comforting. Sometimes I think that I'd love to live on a cliff overlooking the ocean... or near a beach where I could walk by the water and pick up shells and treasures. I remember the little coves that we walked on in Dingle, Ireland (still have the rocks picked up there). And the roaring ocean and caves that we saw when visiting Tintagel Castle in Cornwall. Even the secluded beach we visited in Maine felt like home to me. But alas, it is not to be. Texas is our home now and I doubt that we will ever move again. 

And don't get me wrong, I do like Texas... a lot... but there's something about the peace that comes living by the water (unless there's a storm - but even that has a majesty about it.)

On another subject entirely - do you dream? I dream a lot - always have. But lately my dreams are less serene and more confrontational?  And I don't know why. Maybe because my actual life in not confrontational, that my dreams are - possibly to find some sort of balance? None of them ever relate (to my knowledge) to anything actually going on - except possibly TV episodes that almost all involve conflict (Sensible solution: stop watching TV at night?). Does age make one more susceptible to emotion? 

I think age tends to make us more sentimental... family and friends more dear. There's a poem about this...

The days grow shorter, the nights grow longer;
The headstones thicken along the way;
And life grows sadder, but love grows stronger
For those who walk with us day by day.

The tear comes quicker, the laugh comes slower;
The courage is lesser to do and dare;
And the tide of joy in the heart falls lower, 
And seldom covers the reefs of care.

But all true things in the world are truer,
And the better things of earth seem best, 
And friends are dearer, as friends are fewer, 
And love is all as our sun dips west.

Then let us clasp hands as we walk together,
And let us speak softly in low sweet tone,
For no man knows on the morrow whether
we two pass on - or but one alone.

- Ella Wheeler Wilcox