Sunday, December 10, 2017

Gratitude—#2





Last Sunday I began a series of gratitude postings. This week I want to share with you my Thanksgiving journey to Idaho.

Traveling has become increasingly worrisome for me. I can no longer read the terminal monitors or readily see the gate designations. Moreover, because of Meniere’s, my balance is askew. Couple this with the severe arthritis in my lower back and right hip and I walk slower than I used to and more cautiously. So airports test my resolve to travel. Given all this, I now request wheelchairs to take me between gates. This is a real “perk” of being disabled or elderly.

For this trip, I flew to Salt Lake City and then switched planes and flew to a regional airport in Idaho that serves several nearby small towns. All went well. The SLC wheelchair operator waited for me on the ramp and breezily wheeled me to a far gate for my flight to the regional airport.

The friends I visited have become my second family. I met the mother when I began to blog in 2011. She and her husband have four young children who call me “Grandma Dee.” I’ve never had children. So the six have become a blessing of my final years. I so enjoyed my visit with them and the many things we did together from playing cribbage to sitting in the hot springs of a local resort town. Lots of love and leisure.

The return journey brought stress with it.  I always have to be careful because stress exacerbates Meniere’s. That is, I experience acute rotational vertigo episodes. So it behooves me to stay calm at all times.

Here’s what happened: I had only 30 minutes between when the regional airport plane landed in SLC and when the plane for Kansas City departed. I had to get from the Gate-E-area runway where we disembarked by steps to the Gate D area for departure . . . AND . . . the regional plane was 10 minutes late. So when we landed I had only 20 minutes before the Kansas City plane flew off into the wild blue yonder.

Moreover, the wheelchair wasn’t there. My stomach tightened. Stress.

An employee called for a wheelchair. By the time the operator got to me, we had only about 12 minutes left before the KC plane departed. Remembering our journey today, all I can say is that he must be an Indie 500 enthusiast. Gripping the wheelchair handles, he zoomed me down numerous halls and lengthy passageways, bobbing and weaving between passengers with their carry-on luggage trailing behind them. He was, truly, a marvel of speed. He got me to the door of the plane with three minutes to spare.

The steward checked my name, directed me to my seat, gave the pilot the go-ahead, and within those three minutes the door closed and we began to wheel down the runway. One of my Minnesota friends calls this my “Christmas miracle.”

I still had another event for which to be deeply grateful. When I told a stewardess about the symptoms of Meniere’s—I always do this so as not to frighten anyone should I suddenly pitch forward and start to vomit—she told the head steward. After the plane had leveled off at its cruising altitude, he came to sit by me. “What will we see if you have an episode?” he asked. “Is there anything we can do to make this flight comfortable for you? What can we do to help if an episode happens?” His face. His eyes. His demeanor. All expressed real concern.

You see, don’t you, just how much there is for me to be grateful? The loving family. The mastery of the wheelchair operators. The solicitous steward.

And, finally, the generosity of my brother who drove me to the airport at the beginning of the trip and the friends who picked me back up eight days later. Life is good.


Peace to you now and ever and always.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Belated Gratitude—#1


The past two Sundays found me busy preparing for and then traveling to visit friends for an extended Thanksgiving with them. Consequently, I haven’t posted my gratitude for the gifts of my life this year. So today and perhaps for the next couple of Sundays, I want to do that.

I’ll start with some information that will lead to the gratitude that is welling up in my heart and mind and spirit during these last weeks of 2017. The next few paragraphs may sound like “downers.” However, they don’t represent negativity. They are simply background for my gratitude. Let’s begin.

Because of Meniere’s Disease, I do not hear words in my left ear. Hearing aids do not help with loss experienced by Meniere’s, so I have compromised hearing.

Because of glaucoma, I also have compromised vision. My field-of-vision narrowed so much by October 2015, that I gave up driving. It continues to narrow and because of that as well as continued damage to my optic nerves, I seem to see through a sheer curtain all the time.

To counter the ongoing problem of glaucoma, I put drops in my eyes nine times a day, so the stove timer rules my life. The schedule of those drops determines when I will leave the house and how long I will be gone. When the timer interrupts phone calls, I must conclude conversations. It is essential that I put these drops in my eyes if I want to continue to see well enough to live alone here in my home.

Meniere’s and the compromised vision have affected my balance. That in turn—as well as arthritis in my lumbar area—affects my walking. I used to walk three-to-four miles a day. Now I walk around the block.

Okay, that’s a list of physical disabilities that are part of my daily life. Now let’s get to the gratitude. As those of you who have followed this blog for some time know, my mother often said to me when I was young, “Dolores, you find what you look for. If you look for good you will find it. And if you look for bad, you will surely find that too.”


Hellen O'Mara Ready, 1931. Twenty-one years old.
When I write those words I see her blue eyes as they hold me fast. I see the kindness of her mouth as she forms the words. She’s been dead now since May 1968, so nearly fifty years, but her voice still speaks to me with a wisdom that continues to shepherd me through life.

Thus we come to gratitude. It begins with my mother who taught me through word and example to look for the good in all experiences. To find the good and embrace it. To stop looking at the closed door of loss and to turn and look out the open window at what is being offered. At what is still possible. And so I do. And so I will because there is still so much to appreciate in my life.

Matthew, the racing tiger cat. Eight years old.

I can still hear the purr of the cats with whom I live. Ellie who’s brindle. Maggie, the calico. And Matthew the exuberant tiger who bounds through the house like an Indie 500 racer. He keeps me alert to the moment.

I can still hear them, see them, let them rest against my body as they nap away the day. For them, I am grateful. They enliven my life and my home. They make me feel needed and necessary. Because of them, I must get out of bed each morning. They demand to be fed and for that I am grateful.

Next Sunday, I am going to continue this gratitude list by sharing my Thanksgiving flying travails with you. They left me feeling great gratitude.

Peace to you, pressed down and overflowing in this season of expectation.