Relative

I haven’t written in awhile.  My apologies.

About a month ago, my Father’s sister died; his only sibling.  She was the last of my blood relatives from that generation. You might think this seems an odd way to put it, until you get to this point. It feels like another level of being orphaned.

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Actually, the gut punch of being on the precipice of losing this generation came several years ago, when I saw my Aunt for the first time in many years.  My Aunt and Uncle traveled a lot, but I lived well outside their regular route.  We met at my sisters. My Aunt’s health had started to decline and she looked different.  Being the youngest of the cousins on both sides, I think, sometimes causes me to shirk larger responsibilities.  I know I have raised two children to college age, managed my house, had a job with large responsibilities, etc., but the thought of not having the safety net of a generation older than mine around seems scary.

The loss of another relative also brings up memories of my parents’ deaths. I have always seen my their deaths as falling on the opposite ends of the spectrum.  Dad had a heart attack at 66 years old; well before I had thought it necessary to prepare myself mentally for it. He lingered for a little more than a year while I learned to count on my sister for updates as my mother kept insisting he was getting better.  In hindsight, I know Mom was not only dealing with the truth in the limited way she could handle it, but also battling the onset of her dementia.

We then spent the next 15 years or so watching Mom deteriorate from Alzheimers and similar dementia causing diseases.  It’s a different kind of pain to watch a parent lose aspects of themselves and then basic abilities.  There were still glimmers of her personality that showed to the end.

This is just a brief summary of how I recall the whole thing, in summary. My sister experienced it differently.

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My Aunt loved cardinals and she collected mugs with their image.  I went on vacation right after the memorial service and their was a cardinal picture on the wall in my hotel room.  I think she was saying “Hi.”

 

Ethics

Since I left my job in 2013, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways in which I failed at that job. One of the main points of this meditation has been about the lack of fairness I frequently observed and my inability to accept it.

On the one hand, I know that one of the realities of life is that it’s unfair. To some extent, I do view my inability to accept unfairness as a lack of maturity on my part. Maybe I didn’t observe unfairness first hand early enough in my life. Or maybe I observed it too early. Probably unfairness isn’t a factual thing, but an opinion. As in, unfairness is in the eye of the beholder.

What is unfairness? Dishonesty?  Mistakes? Not being Nice?

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We talk a lot about being nice this time of year. And about teaching our kids to be nice. But, do we try and teach nice at the same time that we teach the reality of not being nice? I have someone in my life that told me (near the beginning of my work career) that someone they worked with was unfair, and so they took revenge on them. To be clear, they said they set them up.

When did we get to be such mean people? Have a certain number of people always been this mean? Has it always been okay to take revenge for every time you felt wronged by someone else? Isn’t this why we created laws, courts, judges, and juries?

I used to sing in the children’s choir at church. I never fully appreciated it the time, but I have been thinking about it lately. We had a magnificent choir director and our church ended up having a heavy emphasis on music. Although it is a bit fuzzy as to what songs we sang in the choir and which we just sang as a part of Sunday school, the songs I remember include several classic children’s hymns like “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” and “This Is My Father’s World.” I was recently reminded of a song we sang that has been revisited as a commercial:

 

I used to sing in the children’s choir at church. I never fully appreciated it the time, but I have been thinking about it lately. We had a magnificent choir director and our church ended up having a heavy emphasis on music. Although it is a bit fuzzy as to what songs we sang in the choir and which we just sang as a part of Sunday school, the songs I remember include several classic children’s hymns like “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” and “This Is My Father’s World.” I was recently reminded of a song we sang that has been revisited as a commercial:

“Let there be peace on earth

And let it begin with me.

Let there be peace on earth

The peace that was meant to be.

With God as our father

Brothers all are we.

Let me walk with my brother

In perfect harmony.”

The new commercial omits the word God in their rendition. However, I think the relevant point is peace on earth and that we are all brothers.

Granted, I’m not always as nice as I could or should be, but it’s nice to focus on a goal of treating each other a little better.

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It may be naïve and childish of me, but I would like to wish you Holiday season in which we all strive to be kinder and more peaceful New Year.

 

Exercise

I went to football game over the weekend.  I drove 9 hours to get there on Friday.  We stayed in a hotel with kind of hard beds.  We walked to breakfast and then to the game.  And we turned around and drove home on Sunday another 9 hours.

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And I felt great.  It was almost like being a normal person.  I was worried about it because I have these days where I am exhausted and I just don’t want to get out of bed.  I was exhausted when I got home of course and the next day I slept a lot. But, Wow!

Then on Tuesday, I went to our Aquatic Center and went swimming!  Before noon! It was a bit tiring and I didn’t ‘swim’ much, but it felt good.  I got home and wrote 2000 words in my memoir!

  Swimmin Dogs

(picture courtesy of my husband, Paul Kopp)

I went again on Thursday and that was good, too.  I swam more.  I was really surprised how much more actual swimming I was able to do without getting winded. And then I stood up after crawling out of the pool and thought “Whoa!”  It felt like I’d been on the moon and just come back to earth; like I weighed ten times as much as when I went in.  But, I reminded myself that water is very buoyant and I adjusted pretty quickly, took my shower, and came home.

I wanted to go back to bed when I came home, but I resisted and sat down to stuff knitting patterns into sheet protectors (a new project wherein I throw most of the knitting magazine away and keep just the patterns I like).  Next I knew it was 6 pm. Minus a couple of breaks, I’d been doing this for 7 or so hours.  And I was exhausted.  My whole body ached and I felt like I might have a fever (typical fibromyalgia for me).

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So, I guess I need to work on what works.  I want to keep swimming, but I need to keep things in balance.  At least for right now, its actually making me want to get out of bed.