Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Christmas Past

December 24, 2016

I love Christmas Eve. Something about the excitement in the air. The kids on the street are happy and joyous and, in Southern California, the weather turns a nice kind of cold that we can actually lite up the fireplaces (although I’m sure my friends in the midwest think we are insane).

It’s a cool 45 degrees. This year my significant other (hubby of almost 40 years) is recouping from back surgery, so we’re taking it easy. Making Chinese food and watching the Godfather trilogy. While I do miss the kids coming over for crab legs and cole slaw, it’s nice that one of my sons picked up the tradition and is right now hosting more than 25 people at his house. Good thing he’s doing it this year because next year he’ll have a couple of 1 year olds running around and this tradition just may be coming back to grandma’s house.

Got another son who will be cooking up some Aebleskivers tomorrow morning (that’s Danish pancakes for those who don’t know). Another tradition handed down.

And so it goes. My mom passed 10 years ago on Christmas Eve. She had a good life and we always said it was a good day to die for a nice Catholic lady. Celebrating the birth of Jesus in Heaven. Not bad.

But it did get me to thinking about a Christmas years ago. My mom was mad at my dad. Don’t know why but she decided not to do Christmas that year. Mind you, there were about six of us then (the other 3 came later). My dad, ever the romantic and holder of all things family, made a run to the gas station to buy us gifts (remember, this was about 100 years ago and not many stores stayed open on Christmas Eve). That year we got car fresheners, key chains, maybe a metal toy truck or car and candy. I pretty sure we didn’t care. For us, it was magical.

My mom must have come around because I really don’t remember it badly. Of course, I may be the only one of my siblings who remember it at all.

Which brings me to 2016. All things change, including Christmas. All those years of crab leg Christmas Eves, 25 to 30 people for Christmas dinner, toys, bikes, skateboards, quads, Playstations were fun but exhausting. Last year, Christmas set me on my heels (like Christmases before) when we lost someone close to us. It seems like a bad time of year for death, but then again, when is a good time to be sad.

The excitement is still in the air. The kids across the street are playing with their race cars and drones, my husband is sitting in front of the fireplace with the two old labs and I’m thinking about Christmas past.

While I’m not a big fan of Christmas (I like Thanksgiving so much more), I’m happy to see people happy. It was a tough year. I’m hoping people in general will stop worrying about the end of the world (ala Trump victory) and focus in on really how good we have it. Because it may just be an air freshener from a gas station, but there is something magical about Christmas and we should enjoy every minute we spend with our family and friends.

Merry Christmas and peace to all.

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ear worms – the gift that keeps on giving

March 24, 2015

“Once there was this little old ant. tried to move a rubber tree plant. everyone knows that ant – can’t – move a rubber tree plant. But he has High Hopes”

Yup. Keep that running through your head as soon as you get up in the morning and back again when you are trying to go to sleep. Instant insanity.

If this happens to you, don’t just assume you are going insane, there is actually a name for it – Ear Worms. And apparently, even though millions have this problem, there is no cure. (Although I did read one site that said if you sing “The Girl from Ipanema” it should get rid of your ear worm. It doesn’t. It becomes a super ear worm.)

red-wiggler-worm

They say you may get ear worms if you are stressed or your mind is not working to its full potential. Could be my case. But I also read if your ear worm song reminds you of a good moment, you just have to play it in your head all the way through.

By the way – I’ve been singing High Hopes to my 6-year-old grandson for years. Just recently we learned the words to the second verse – you know, the part about the ram and the dam. We nailed it!

Could be the reason I have this ear worm.

A Face to the Ice Bucket Challenge

August 20, 2014

Mention ALS today and you think “Ice Bucket Challenge.”

Ice cubes in a glass

Ice cubes in a glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That wasn’t the case 25 years ago when the disease first entered my world.

 

In 1988, my father-in-law, Carl Rasmussen, was retired and living on a small ranch in Sand Canyon. Born and raised on a farm in Fort Collins, Colorado, he had come full circle after years in th

 

e construction business and was now enjoying life, raising Appaloosa horses, enjoying his many grandchildren and dating a nice lady. He was 68 years old.

 

That summer of ’88, Carl noticed he was having difficulty holding on to the reins of the horses he exercised each morning. Thinking it was arthritis, he would take pain meds and knead his hands to help ease the suffering. But the pain got worse and he eventually went to the doctor who performed a series of tests.

 

After ruling out several possibilities, the doctors informed Carl that he was in the early stages of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The prognosis was not good. The cause of ALS was unknown, the doctor explained, but it was painless, non-contagious and cruel. The motor function of the central nervous system is destroyed but the mind remains fully aware to the end – or like my husband likes to say “A front row seat to your own demise.”

 

All we, the family, really knew about ALS was about Lou Gehrig who at 38 years old was forced to retire from baseball because he couldn’t run anymore. But that was 1941.

 

Our journey into ALS became one of seeking information. As Carl progressed through the symptoms – not being able to walk or talk, eat or swallow, we kept asking questions and seeking relief for this man who was so kind and gentle and needed our help.

 

My husband Charlie, sister-in-law Susan and my nephew Tony, deserve a lot of credit during this period. They were there by Carl’s side as he slowly declined. Whether reading stories to him from his favorite author, Louis L’Amour, or massaging his hands and legs so they wouldn’t atrophy, Charlie, Susan and Tony never left his side.

 

Carl died in May 1989, just 8 months after receiving his initial diagnosis. As sad as it was to say goodbye, I was happy he didn’t suffer long. But I have some great memories of that period also. One in particular involved Game 1 of the World Series with the Dodgers playing the Oakland Athletics. Yup, we were there that night when the sick and injured Kirk Gibson stepped up to the plate at the bottom of the ninth as the Dodgers were trailing 4-3.

 

It is well known that many Dodger fans leave around the 7th inning. We were still there because it wasn’t easy for Carl to get around. When Gibson hit that home run, we watched the folks in the parking lot heading back into the stadium to see why we were all screaming. The Dodgers ending up winning that game and a World Series title and oh, how I loved to see the twinkle in Carl’s eye that night.

 

Through the years following Carl’s death, my husband’s family has spent a lot of time and money working with the ALS Association as they try to find a cure. It is a strange, horrible and unknown disease.

 

Ice Bucket Challenges have been around for years and usually it is to raise money for one charity or another. According to Wikipedia, social media put the face of ALS on the ice bucket when the Golf Channel Morning show televised and performed a live on-air challenge in June. Golfer Chris Kennedy challenged his cousin, whose husband had ALS. The cousin, Jeanette Senerchia of Pelham, NY, put her video on Facebook and the connection and challenges began.

 

I do worry that the seriousness of the disease is being overshadowed by the silliness of the bucket challenge but I’m happy to hear the ALS Association has received millions for research because of this Ice Bucket Challenge.

 

If ALS is to have a face, we now have millions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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