We love our dogs. Each year we spend $$$ on their health and happiness. Last week I spent $700 for emergency care and tests and meds for my beloved Bella. She stayed close to me during my cancer treatment so I figure she should get good medical care, too. And a new gel foam bed for her aging body.
One man says he owes his life to his dog, Casey, a service dog who detected explosives in Afghanistan. But they were separated when Marine Sgt. Ross Gundlach went home and Casey stayed behind. After some searching, Gundlach learned that Casey was now in Iowa, working. Gundlach pleaded his case for her return to him as her handler. And soon some very kind compassionate Iowans surprised Gundlach with a reunion – and a gift: Casey.
A happy story from Afghanistan to home.
(S-R archives photo)
NPR's Morning Edition had an excellent report on the Boston bombing which happened one month ago today.
Only one business has not reopened. And the reporter talked to many witnesses who were there that day.
Their comments reflected how grief works.
One man said his birthday was coming up soon and after that, he was putting the memories away.
“If you dwell on it, it will swallow you up. Every wound needs to heal.”
A grief therapist said there should be no timetable to the grief. Some will move on; others it will take a long time.
Several said: “The vision of that will never disappear.”
One young man choked up when he said: “I remember walking over people” and he thought: Not as hurt as some others. So he walked to the more injured. But he wonders: Who am I to make the decision?
A firefighter friend gave him this advice: “You cry. You let it out.”
It is good our culture is getting more conversant in grief. And so many are willing to step in and help others as they struggle through grief that lasts a lot longer than one month.
(S-R archive photo)
When I heard the news yesterday about Dr. Joyce Brothers, I remembered meeting her and writing a story about her. I remember that, somehow, I picked her up at the airport and we did the interview in the car. I remembered she was kind of crabby. And that's all I remembered.
I spent an hour searching our digital archives for the story I wrote about her. I was sure it was in 1994 or later. Our archives were stored digitally in 1994 and beyond. No luck.
I finally went down to our newspaper library and in Brothers' clipping file, I found the story I wrote March 19, 1990. Memory is odd that way. It's nearly impossible to remember anymore if something happened five years ago or 10.
Brothers had come to town, sponsored by Hospice of Spokane, to talk about grief. Her husband had died the year before.
In the story, I reported (in a fairly gentle way) on her slightly rude behavior at the airport when her luggage was lost and how distracted and aloof she seemed in our interview.
Her coldness and aloofness were all I remembered thinking back, but the story reminded me that at the end of our interview, she cried about her husband. And at her talk, she cried, describing her grief. And her words about grief — before I understood myself about grief because I hadn't lost then any of the people I have lost since — were so right on the mark.
For instance, she said: “The only thing I regret is that I discovered how right he was about all the small things, and I can't tell him. For example, he would always come in the kitchen and close the cabinets. I cook and I always leave the cabinets open. He'd say: 'You are going to hit your head.' And by God, I did. And I wish he was here so I could tell him.”
When she sobbed during her talk in front of 800 people, she said: “I wouldn't be human if I didn't cry.”
And the audience was amazing. They let Brothers cry. “They took off their glasses, wiped the tears away and then placed the glasses on their faces again.”
Godspeed Dr. Brothers. Thanks for the memories.
(Spokesman-Review archive photo of Joyce Brothers in the 1960s)
I have not cared for Angelina – given all that she did to mess with Jennifer Aniston’s marriage to Brad. But today…my heart has softened. Her story of facing her high likelihood of breast cancer – genetic certainty – will offer hope to the women who receive their diagnosis today and tomorrow and next week and…
Women make all kinds of difficult decisions when faced with their own mortality in the middle of motherhood. And death at an early age is not an option when parenting sweet children who need and love you – and worry.
In the years to come, Angelina will grow stronger in her conviction she made the right choice, her children will grow in their understanding of what she struggled with and how remarkably brave their mom is…and how much she underwent so she could continue to love them and accompany them on their journey through life. She will not be preoccupied with endless mammograms or freaked out with twinges within her breasts, wondering if it is cancer growing menacingly within her. Those twinges will be of love she carries in her heart, life’s joyful adventures, not agonizing over what may be quickly killing her. And today, I identify with an actress I now see as a woman of courage – the same courage I once needed and found, too.
(S-R archives photo)
Boomers may work longer than their parents for many reasons. But interestingly, perhaps the US economy needs you at work just as much as you need to be working.
A colleague tells me that his retirement simply meant that he was allowed to choose where and when he could work. Of course, he has a very portable career. So, what choices are there for you? Change jobs? Leave fast-paced office for easier work and friendlier environment? Less stress? Take a chance and start that business?
What plans or choices have you made about retirement?
Heritage Funeral Home and Crematory always offers some interesting programs each Memorial Day weekend, coming up May 25, 26 and 27.
This year it's a tribute to veterans with displays and memorabilia, classic cars and musical entertainment all three days in the Heritage Chapel. Plus a brass band concert at 6 p.m. Sunday May 26 in Greenwood Memorial Terrace Cemetery.
But Heritage is also offering free CPR classes, using the hands-only method that recent research says is effective. Some people are too intimidated to perform mouth-to-mouth, so the hope is that the more people who learn the hands-only method, the more people will do CPR in emergencies.
The staff at Heritage had training because people sometimes pass out at memorial services, according to funeral director Paula Davis.
The staff learned so much that they are offering free lessons to members of the public, in partnership with American Medical Response.
The classes will be offered at every hour on the hour all three days, starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m.
No need to sign up in advance. Just show up. You could save a life someday because of it.
(S-R File photo of hands-on CPR)
Anna Quindlen’s column on motherhood continues to be the best reflection on the experience of every woman who has raised children. The days are long, the years fly by.
Take a moment and read her words. Then grab your child and go outside and play.
These trees in my neighborhood bloom magnificently for just a short while.
Even in their prime days, the blossoms begin to shudder onto the street, especially if there's a wind.
It's hard to know how to behave in the face of such beauty. I sat on the curb across the street from them for a good 10 minutes with my grandchildren Saturday. And we just talked about those blossoms.
My grandchildren were my excuse to pause and appreciate. But why can't I do the same during morning walks by the trees? Sit right down there and stare for many minutes. Instead, I rush by, eager to get a workout in.
In this world that can be so ugly, beauty should always be a show stopper.
(Tony Wadden photo)
Gonzaga University is bidding farewell Wednesday to the COG.. The COG was the university's central dining hall for 58 years. A new university center will be built in its place.
Sunday, I walked through the COG for the final time, snapped this cellphone photo of the outside, and memories filtered back from 1973-1974, my freshman year, when I ate three meals a day there.
The linoleum in the bathroom near the entrance is exactly the same linoleum. The cafeteria smell is the same. I peeked in the windows and the way the food was arranged looked different. We didn't have salad bars, for instance. One night a week — Saturday? — was steak night. Might have been just one Saturday a month.
People complained about COG food, but I loved it! And I gained the Freshman 15. It took until my junior year in Florence to walk it all away.
An open house is scheduled for GU community folks and alumni between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday. I can't make it, so I said my own goodbyes yesterday.
Susan Crandall’s new book reveals what dating after 50 can be like. Men and women are having fun together, savoring romance, discovering true love.
Some of her findings in Thinking about Tomorrow: Reinventing Yourself at Midlife follow:
People are nice — way nice and you see old friends in new ways. Sparks may fly with someone you already dated - when we have lived a few decades into adulthood, perhaps all that experience influences our view of a potential mate.
Puppy love still exists. When friends of ours fell in love - one a widow, the other divorced - we commented, “Oh, they got to fall in love again. How exciting!”
We’re comfortable with our sexuality - we know who we are and are more confident expressing passion.
Nobody sweats the small stuff - life has taught us what is worth getting worked up over and what is simply not worth making a big deal about.
You don’t have to change each other. As anyone who has been married for five minutes knows: the plan to re-model one's mate never works.
Have you dated after 50? What was the experience like for you?
(S-R archives photo)
He was my first professor at graduate school that summer of ‘79 and he taught “Theology and Spirituality” – a broad title for a class taught by a slender man. Kevin Seasoltz, a Benedictine monk, was a contemporary Renaissance man. He spoke without wasting one syllable; every observation was a tightly phrased, perfect comment. He integrated science, literature and theology, applying theory to real-life circumstances. We read six books in six weeks and wrote six papers. I was busy – and attached myself to his every thought.
“The evil of the day is sufficient thereof…” no need to seek suffering in an attempt to prove one’s attention to faith. Life will provide suffering enough. Man, that was an understatement. And on leadership: “to be in a position of authority requires one to “author” life into others;” lead them with grace and humility. “Surround yourself with excellence” and you will succeed in your work and be a better person. Do not be afraid of the giftedness of others – they do not threaten, they bless.
People who touch our lives, even briefly, can have a sustaining presence and impact on us. Kevin may never know how his ideas, comments or advice influenced me - and others - for decades. I still seek people who are smart, wise, compassionate and kind. Kevin was right: I am enriched, not diminished.
Kevin died last week. He enjoys now the magnificence of a new life he often reflected on: “life does not end, it is just different.” May he enjoy the company of angels and saints, friends and family who have gone before him and may the God he served so faithfully, welcome him home.
I have several retired people in my life, and they often have to think a minute to remember what day it is.
When you work, the week organizes itself. So I always know when Friday rolls around.
It's a great feeling to do the countdown to the end of a work week, especially a week like this past one where everyone was working so hard all around me to launch the newspaper's new Friday 7 section. They did a great job, and it's wonderful the newspaper is growing again.
Tick, tick, tick. Minutes away from going home.
What replaces this feeling when you retire?
Can you celebrate Friday for Friday's sake?
Many people will say, “God told me…” But how? And how do we authenticate those messages? Are they from God or from our own longings, imagination? How do we tell the difference?
Swimming last week (the pool is my favorite location for intense prayer – laps back and forth create a rhythm without distraction) I was praying and pleading and longing for guidance. As I touched the wall and prepared to turn, I could “hear” with my heart and my head, “Trust me.”
Jesus promised he would send his Spirit, an advocate, who would guide us – perhaps with messages we can hear. For now, I am listening.
Have you ever heard the voice of God?
(S-R archives photo)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a sad and troubling report today.
Suicide deaths rose fairly dramatically, across the entire country, for all age groups, but especially for aging boomers.
The report does not analayze why. But now that this sobering report is out, I expect the theories will begin.
Some of the findings:
This morning in water aerobics several of us reminisced about May traditions, including baskets of flowers left on porches and all the Mary crowning ceremonies that took place in Catholic schools during May.
Mary crowning ceremonies still happen in some schools.
There are special Mary hymns, too. But it took three of us to piece together parts of them.
It takes a village these days to remember…
(Tony Wadden photo)
Cathy and I pulled the plug (pun intended — kind of) on our Endnotes columns today. We'll keep this blog, hoewever.
I've been a journalist for 34 years, and I believe it's important to recognize that everything has a lifespan, including columns.
When I was a parks department “park lady” in the 1970s, our supervisors said to always stop children's activities while they were still interested in them.
We hope people still liked the column, but it was time to let it go. Questions were dwindling down and we noticed that issues of illness and death and dying appear now in every advice column. We knew the topic was trendy early on.
So thanks for reading the column. Please stay with the blog. And Cathy, thanks for all your hard work.
Here's the last column. Thanks for reading it.
…we all scream for gelato? Oh, yeah. As anyone who has tasted the treat will tell you: “It’s sooo much better than ice cream!”
And it is another gift a Florentine (Bernardo Buontalenti credited for inventing gelato) has shared with the rest of the world. While clicking here will not allow you taste this satisfying concoction, you will read about its success – and then perhaps make a quick trip to the store. Buon Appetito!
(S-R archives photo: Gelato Joe's offers many flavors of Italian gelato. The Smiths fell in love with the dessert during a trip to Italy)
We have seen the image often: the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima. The man who was responsible for that flag raising has died.
The images of historical moments are part of our American story and become even more meaningful when we know the whole story.
(S-R archive photo:Joe Rosenthal won a Pulitzer Prize for this image of six World War II servicemen raising an American flag over battle-scarred Iwo Jima, taken on Feb. 23, 1945. )
My friend Chris, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, is now in the radiation phase of the treatments. She goes five days a week for six weeks.
In the waiting room yesterday we spotted a basket filled with hats and scarves, and they mostly looked handmade — either knitted or sewn.
No note explaining, just a basket of kindness left there by people who cared enough to donate them.
It was another sign of the quiet community of people connected by an illness that, despite its pink symbol, is not pretty at all. Chris said yesterday that she finds helpful the more honest writing about cancer done by writer Barbara Ehrenreich who calls the pink stuff the “brightsiding” of cancer.
Ehrenreich wrote during her 2001 illness: “The effect of this relentless brightsiding is to transform breast cancer into a rite of passage — not an injustice or a tragedy to rail against, but a normal marker in the life cycle, like menopause or graying hair. Everything in mainstream breast cancer culture serves, no doubt inadvertently, to tame and normalize the disease: the diagnosis may be disastrous, but there are those cunning pink rhinestone angel pins to buy and races to train for.”
Kindness and reality — you find them both everywhere as you journey with a friend with cancer.
Washington State University has a flasher on the loose. See story. Police think he's been involved in at least six incidents.
My EndNotes co-author and I — Hi Cathy — were flashed by a guy years ago during our GU in Florence days. A guy drove by on a bike flashing away. On a bike. Don't try that at home!
When you're young, it's difficult to react with any amount of sarcasm or cool. It's so creepy. But we need to encourage older women like us to rehearse some witty retorts.
Perhaps start singing “Is that all there is?”
Because this should be a G-rated blog, I will offer no more suggestions on how mature women could respond.
But your suggestions are welcome.
(Sketch courtesy of WSU police)