The Dying Place or a Loving Responsibility

There are those (many) that begin to need assistance as their age advances.Some time ago I was hired to produce a resource guide that would be a state publication. Its purpose, to assist family members in finding the information and resources needed to care for an aging member.

As a part of the project I went to many different establishments involved in the care of senior citizens.

The one I remember most was my visit to an assisted living residence. As I sat waiting to interview the manager there, seated near me was an older gentleman in a wheelchair, he had on a cowboy hat, wore cowboy boots, and had a rough weathered face. He looked to be quite a character.

I pleasantly said “Hello”. And he responded back. We began to talk. He told me he’d been a cowboy and had worked on a ranch for many years until he got his “bum leg” Which he tapped for me to see. He asked me if I was visiting someone there. I said no and explained why I had come to see the manager, to gather information about amenities and the services available.

He laughed. But it was a hollow sort of laugh and then he said softly in the loveliest low timber of voice, “Oh I can tell you everything you need to know”. He went on “This here’s the waiting place.”

“A waiting place” I asked? Curious as to his meaning. “Yup,” He replied, “it’s where you come to wait.” I wanted to understand what he meant by that so I said, “The waiting place?” And he answered. “Well, as I’ve got it figured out,” He paused a moment and then continued, “this is the place you come to wait until it’s time to go to the dying place.”

I knew where this was going but I couldn’t help myself so I said “The dying place?”

And he answered, looking directly into my eyes while he spoke. “Yes, the dying place, with rows of beds and nurses who come and go and you’re left alone to slowly die.

I did not make this up. This is a true story. He had accepted his lonely fate as he did not want to be a burden to his family. A BURDEN TO HIS FAMILY. If you haven’t visited any “residences”, care facilities, or nursing homes recently, I suggest you do so. It is a sad commentary on what has not only become permissible but is now considered to be the right thing to do in the enlightened country of the USA.

When we are young, most of us, are nurtured by the adults of our family, cared for and supplied with much of what we need to grow up and become responsible loving adults. Why is it then that those who did the caring when we were young do not receive the same love and care from their family when they become old? Why is caring for our elderly considered a “burden” when caring for our children is a “loving responsibility? …Why?Addendum:

I published this post last night, North American time, around midnight. I have received some very caring, concerned and loving comments responding to this post today. This afternoon, one comment in particular stood out from the rest, so compelling that I felt the need to add it here for all to see. Please read:

Christina ~

July 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I read some very powerful words a long time ago…wish I could remember where. The point — We send our little ones off to daycare and our elders off to nursing homes….we are a generation that lives perpetually in the present…no future (little ones) and no past (elders). It is a sad heartbreaking truth.

I (a new single mom) understand that having little ones and the need to care for elders can be more than challenging…but even a thoughtful gesture towards those that paved the way before us…visiting them, playing a game, reading…talking and learning…feeling loved and appreciated and most importantly feeling “needed”.

Every one of us has a unique story…and it breaks my heart that some stories are put away to be forever forgotten instead of valued, shared, cherished, and added to not only this but also future generations.

Yes, a tough situation…but if we each did a very small act, even once in a while…what a difference that would make!

Blog, the missing letters

I’ve been giving some thought to the word blog. Where it came from? What it means? How it sounds (Ick!) What I think about the word?

The original meaning of the word blog meant a chronicle or a written diary (web log – blog). That was then. But this is now. Blogging has evolved for the private individual and the enterprising soul.

Blogging has become a personal highly interactive form of communication. Where not only our written thoughts and ideas are shared, but also our creative muse, whatever format this takes.

The new breed of individual blogger cares, and wants to be nurtured in return with comments and words that will further them along in their endeavors, their hopes, their dreams, their goals, their disappointments, their pain, their successes, their joy, their laughter. Blogging has become much more than a written diary but now is a personal connection and a medium of exchange in the finest, truest and most meaningful manner.

I think that blogging and bloggers are pretty wonderful. But the word, I’m convinced it’s not the true word to describe who we are and what we do.

And then it dawned on me. There are a couple of letters missing from the word blog. So I’ve added them and here they are:


Belong. That’s how I feel when I sit down to write, upload a photograph or share some thoughts, ideas, art, music, food, anything. I feel connected. And when I’m reading other people’s words or viewing their visual images I’m filled with a feeling of making a difference with my comments. And when I read their comments to me that inspire and make me feel better about myself, then I feel a part of something enriching and vibrant. I finally feel I’ve found a place where I fit in, where I – belong!

And now in closing a final photo of my guys who define belonging.

A young boys words

This is Jack. He’s Emma’s older brother. At the start of the weekend of his 10th upcoming birthday he, his dad and mom were busily redoing his bedroom in preparation for his birthday party to be shared by family and friends. He was very excited and really looking forward to it.

Jack and his dad had just finished putting up the new shelves on the walls in his room when his dad got a call from someone. They needed his help to move a larger size aquarium from their home. As always his dad (a generous and kind man) said he’d be right over. Jack, Emma, Jordan and their mom never saw him again.Just a few blocks away he was struck and killed by a meth using driver who failed to yield.

When I wrote “Ethereal Life” and spoke of …in a heartbeat it can be gone… it was true and extremely personal. Just a few days ago Jack had picked the puff ball and was demonstrating to me how quickly it could be blown away, that was when I got the inspiration to write the poem.

I have watched this family struggle for the past two years since the most devastating day of their life.

In Jack’s case it was particularily hard. It happened during what would have been a celebration of his birthday. Jack is a very special boy. He is highly sensitive, he see’s most things in black and white. Borderline Aspergers, intellectually off the charts, but in a few areas, emotionally immature. Prior to his dad’s death he was well on his way to overcoming many of the characteristics common to his type of personality. After his fathers death there was a reversal, but slowly he’s progressing forward again.

On the day of his dad’s eulogy, the family’s church was packed with people. Hundreds. His dad had been well loved and admired in the community for his many acts of kindness and giving. The pastor standing in the front of the gathering had asked all those with a special memory of this man to stand and share. Many did, one after another. Towards the end the pastor asked if there was anyone else who wished to share.

And then amazingly, young Jack who is not an outgoing boy at all, solemnly stood up and turned to the very large group of gathered family & friends and stated … I have some things to share about my dad. And then the most heart breaking, soul wrenching words came forth from him. He held himself upright and spoke quietly and with dignity about the dad he knew and loved.

He spoke of his love and about all the things he would miss and why he loved him so much. In closing he said he was glad his dad was in heaven but he was really going to miss him. Then he quietly said “that’s all” and sat down. The silence in the large filled room that day was broken by the sound of many – crying  tears of sadness over Jack’s earnest young words.

As I said Jack is very special. He’s introspective about people & life. If you’ve been following my blog you met his sister Emma recently when she posted a blog of her own. Jack watched and the other day he approached me and asked if he could post a blog too. Of course I said yes. For him to reach out and share is a sign of some very good things happening in his mind.

For those of you who have commented on Emma’s Post, she is most grateful and I thank you. In a little while soon I will post Jack’s first blog. He is as excited about it as I am for him and his wanting to reaching out to others. I will be most appreciative of all who read this today if you can take just a few minutes to come back, read and comment to him when Jack’s Post appears. Again thank you.

3:30 a.m.- love, light and technology…

…to chase away the fears.

It is the middle of the night. Very very stormy outside. Thunder and lightning in all its magestry. Initially sleeping I discover I’m waking up, the sounds of the storm arousing me. It is the beginning of what will be the start of a very early morning.

A small hand touches my arm. “G.P.?”  A small quiet voice in the dark questions. “Yes, Emma?” I respond softly. I live in a household that consists of several children, two adults, and assorted animals. As a reference point I am called ‘G.P.’ (a nickname) by all.

The youngest has woken. Th result of very loud thunder and bright flashes of lightning from a summer storm raging outside.

 “The thunder woke me up, it’s scary,” she said. “It did me too.” I say.

In very short order Emma is in bed next to me, wide awake. I get up, turning on the bed lamp before I leave to make coffee. A short while later I’m back, bringing a cupful of nice hot “wake me up” brew along with my laptop, a cup of hot chocolate for Emma and her DSI (Hand-held game/system). Since both are wireless, we can use them safely during the storm.

Franky, one of my two cats is also afraid of the storm, so at 3:30 a.m. we snuggle, occupy ourselves with our electronics, sip on warm beverages, and weather the storm with love, light and the technology of the day.

“G.P.?” Emma says as she settles in to play videos on her DSI.

“Yes, Emma?” I answer.

“I love you.” She replies quietly.

“Me too.” I reply in an equally soft voice.

And all is well at 3:30 a.m. in an otherwise very stormy night.


An EmmaPost

Every now and then there will be a special EmmaPost for you to enjoy. This is at Emma’s request. She wants to share her creativity with you.

If you read my post from June 28th, 2012 – Cuddles, Wuba’s and Unconditional love then you’ve already been introduced to Emma and know that at the age of 10 she has had far more than her fair share of adversity. In addition to the loss of her father and the almost loss of both her mom and her home, Emma was born with lungs not fully developed for  the first year of her life and was in and out of hospitals during that time. At the age of three she took a nasty fall on a trampoline that almost ended her life with a neck injury. She spend six months with a special brace on her neck. Physical she is “all better now”, emotionally she’s doing quite well!

And yet she is gentle, loving, caring and creative, most especially creative. She expresses herself and her feelings through her drawings, her words and her photos. Oh she has also been making original short cartoon videos. So without further ado I present to you for your pleasure and consideration an EmmaPost :

“Hi my name is Emma I am a humungous cheese and kitty lover!”

“My cat loves cheese so I love her even more. Her name is Naynay and she is 15 years old so I have known her my whole life.”

“Here are some pictures of Naynay I took this morning. I hope you like them.”

“In this one she is being crabby.”


“In this one I made her look like an alien.”

“In this one I did the cool shading in the background.”

“And this last one is Naynay looking beautiful”

“Good bye. I hope you like my post.”


Morning Dew – Nature’s art and lesser beings

I welcomed the sun early this morning. When everything seems fresh and new.There was a brilliant blue sky and the smell of clean damp grass, an earthy fragrance. Pleasant to the senses.

Up close and personal, I witnessed nature’s artistry.

Droplets of dew clinging to a gossamer fine spider web. For your pleasure and enjoyment I captured the moment.

One of nature’s lesser creatures was also out and about so I took a moment to capture him too. It was a joyous morning.

Greater or Lesser isn’t Mother Nature wonderful?

I’m listening…

…And I hear you!

Isn’t that what we all want? Each one of us?

To be heard! To be noticed.

To be needed, an essential part of things but recognized through our own individual expression.

Reaching out to others on our own terms. To explore, experience, learn, grow and share all with the strong desire to make a positive difference while learning to understand the nature of who and why we are.

I spent much of last night reading the postings of many bloggers and I was moved.  I read interesting and well-crafted words presented by a wide variety of people from around the world. I also read the often times moving comments of other bloggers sharing in the experience.

I viewed beautiful and well executed photography. I read inspirational and moving thoughts and ideas, reflections that ranged from new knowledge in a given subject to that of experiencing and coping with pain, joy, beauty and laughter – and last but not least the powerful and creative written word.  All through the medium of blogging.

We have a need to share, to connect – express ourselves and be heard. We need to make a difference and we want to grow and learn about ourselves while we do so.

Blogging is an artistic medium for individual expression

 I for one revel in it!  – Penny L Howe, 2012

Your kidding Right?

So the weather channel is calling our current weather conditions “WESTERN WARMTH“. Warmth? Say again … Warmth? Um that’s the term I use to imply cozy as in comfortable and schmoozy. You know feel good all over. That is so not what’s happening out here. Yesterday it was 107 degrees and today out here, well look at today’s weather forcast and the 86 degrees was at around 9:00 this morning. It’s going to be a balmy 104 today with storms no less:

I decided to recall some “COOLER CLIMES” through some of my photo’s during a retreat in the hills of Chehalem, Oregon.  Worked for me!

I really enjoy the shot of franky and jonny “enjoying?” the view of the “cool” weather. Okay actually they were watching the brave little birds eating while during the falling snow. Here’s hoping you enjoy my take on warm and cool!

What a day for a daydream…

“What a day for a day dream…custom made for a daydreamin’ girl.” (Lyrics from the musical group The Lovin’ Spoonful during the late 1960’s and the words were actually “custom made for a daydreamin’ boy”, so I took a little bit of liberty here.

Still whether you are a boy or girl (or cat? Giggle!) the thought holds true.

Do you daydream? I hope so. Did you know that the meaning of daydream is – a dreamlike musing or fantasy while awake, especially of the fulfillment of wishes or hopes. (Okay so franky may not be in tune with the whole…while awake…approach but I’m sure he’s daydreamin’.)

I, for one, am most definitely a daydreamer. I’m guessing I excel in that area. Nothing can surpass the imagination when it comes to thinking about where we’d like to be, what we’d like to do and what we wish would happen. And often dreams can lead to inspiration which leads to motivation which leads us to…the actual fulfillment of the dream.

So if you’re not a daydreamer…perhaps you should be. Give it some thought…daydream about it.

Have a very relaxing and happy Sunday and may all your daydreams come true!

The Accidental Gift – Part 3

By the time I reached high school I had acquired a huge capacity for living and loving life but just did okay in the classroom. I still retained all of the emotions associated with a negative feeling of self-worth that had begun at a very early age.

My junior year in high school I was among a group chosen to have an I.Q. test administered by nearby Oregon State University for the purpose of some research being conducted at the time.

As it turns out I tested quite high. (Yeah, I even had it checked again later on while at Penn State University – and I’m really smart! Who knew?)

My parents were notified and appeared very confused by the results. After the earlier debacle regarding my hearing, they had decided that while I wasn’t retarded I was just average, although a good artist and reader (yup, I spent lots of time alone). They were sure that my other siblings were the brainy ones having inherited this from my dad (his IQ was well above 140).

After the results from the IQ test and my introverted nature my parents decided I must be an under achiever as I spent so much time reading and drawing. With very little encouragement I grew up wondering about that myself.

…to be continued.