|Me, Norma Jean, Zen and Icarus, taken by Peter|
We grew up together and even though as adults we have had long decades apart, she's my soul mate. She and I share memories that nobody else who is still alive shares; even though I have my other sisters and my brother, they are all much younger and weren't around when we were little. It always amazes me, though, how different our memories can be of the same time in our lives. As an extrovert (me) and an introvert (her), we see the world through very different lenses. And I am more than two years older as well. Still, she complements me and I feel complete when I'm with her.
We are both active people and have been for many years. Decades ago, when I would visit her, we would go for a run together with her dog Freckles. She'd take me on her usual runs, and when we visited our parents, we'd go out for a run in the Texas countryside. As the years have passed, we have both been forced to give up running, but we still walk together whenever we're together. This past week we walked around her retirement community, but mostly we swam at her local YMCA early in the morning, as soon as the pool opened. Once we got ready to swim, we stood inside the locker room and waited for the lifeguard to open the door. There were usually a few other regulars there, too, waiting. All older women who swim for fitness.
I suffer from ear wax buildup and when I swim, I try everything I can to keep the water out of my ears, so I wear ear plugs and a bathing cap, and it takes me a little longer to get ready, but it still didn't work: I got water in my right ear on the second day of swimming, and suddenly sounds dimmed and no matter what I tried, I couldn't clear my ear. This happened last time I visited, too, and I intended to bring my arsenal of tricks from home, but I forgot. I called my doctor's office to make an appointment to get my ears cleaned out, but I didn't want to miss my Thursday hike, so it had to happen this past Friday. It did, but I was moderately successful in the shower using my Rhino ear washer to remove the wax well enough that I could hear out of that ear again. After my doctor's appointment where her assistant used the same exact tool, I was really astonished at how much better I could hear. In fact, loud sounds startled me until I got used to my restored hearing. What a relief!
Yesterday morning I joined my walking group at Lake Padden for two loops around the lake (5.25 miles) in the rain. What a hardy group we are: ten of us showed up in our rain gear and gamely set out in less-than-perfect weather. In this part of the country, you take what you get and keep on walking. I was pleased that my new rain jacket works well, and before we had finished the first loop, the rain had diminished to practically nothing and I was able to tie it around my waist.
One of the ladies who lives nearby invited us over after the walk for coffee and scones. She lives in a lovely home just a few minutes walk away, so we headed over there instead of a coffee shop for a visit. She has a "mud room" right inside her front door, so we removed our shoes and slipped on some warm furry slippers that she keeps right there. She raised her kids in this home and told us how much the lake figured into their lives throughout the years. It reminded me of my parents' home in Lake Worth, where my younger siblings grew up, right on the lake, and what a big part of their lives it was. I was already grown and gone but visited there and was a little envious. When I was growing up we moved often and never had a permanent home.
By the time I returned home yesterday, the rain had started up again, so I was happy that I had gotten my exercise in the period between storms. Our hiking group was all ready to hike in the rain on Thursday, but during the six hours we were out, we only experienced the fierce wind that preceded it. The rain came later and hasn't really stopped yet. I see that one of our local rivers has reached flood stage, but it appears to have crested and with the rain winding down for a couple of days at least, it shouldn't be much of a problem.
Along with the rest of the world, I was glued to the television set on Friday evening watching the horror that unfolded in Paris. It was so unbelievable and horrible that I couldn't take it in. It's only Sunday and I'm still in shock: 129 dead and 99 critically injured. Coordinated attacks that were obviously designed to do exactly that: shock and terrorize Paris and the rest of the world too. My eyes fill with tears and my heart constricts when I think of it. People from fifteen countries were killed, and most of them young people who were enjoying themselves on a warm November night. I am heartbroken, because I don't know how we will be able to do anything. Martin Luther King once said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." How does one find anything to love in this nightmare?
I'm afraid that I will simply turn my head away and distract myself from it, because I don't know anything else to do. I know my country's actions are not blameless: drone strikes that kill innocent people, money and weapons sent to God knows where. I vote for those I think can make a difference, but I don't know what else I can do. I give money to organizations that promote peace, and I selfishly hope that I and my loved ones will escape the wrath of the perpetrators. And I try, really try, not to allow hatred and revenge to enter my heart. That's all I know how to do.
Monday I have my first interview to become an EOL (End of Life) facilitator. If they decide I am a good fit, I'll begin the serious training to be able to help others make their own EOL choices. I was so impressed with the help we received when making these decisions ourselves with the Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement End of Life choices. Death comes to all of us, and now that my own documents have been notarized and filed with the hospital, and those who will make decisions for me if I am unable to do so myself have been identified, I'm relieved. Now I'm hoping I can do the same for others.
Well, this post didn't end up being very uplifting, but times are dark and uncertain right now, so I guess it's appropriate. I know that war and strife are part of life, and that I won't be seeing peace and harmony across the world during my lifetime, but I am hopeful that each of us individually can make a difference in our own lives. I cherish my blogging family, my physical family and friends, and I wish every one of us will enjoy some love and harmony this week. I wish you peace.