Sunday, December 31, 2017


Mom, Dad, my brother, and I
 at the Swope Park Zoo in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1939.

During December, I have been posting about gratitude. I’ve saved the best for this last Sunday of 2017. This past year has been somewhat difficult for me. However, friends and family members have generously helped me with the gift of phone conversations, blog postings and comments, or chatting while riding to doctor appointments, shopping sprees, and restaurants. All of this meeting—via phone or presence or blogs—helped me let go of my own self-absorption.

I am deeply grateful also to Julian of Norwich, a 14th century mystic, who said, “And all shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be exceedingly well.” While sometimes my belief that all shall be well has dimmed, mostly I have been able to stay positive about my life. Julian has been a true friend to me.

For all family members, friends, and bloggers, I am deeply grateful.

In the remainder of this post, I’m going to look to the past and mention others who have helped me become who I am today. I’ll begin with those who raised me, especially my mom and dad. They always said, “Dolores, you can do anything you put your mind to.” They never dismissed the hopes and dreams I had for my future.

Mom frequently said, “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.” Those words are the foundation of my whole approach to life. They keep me positive. Only when I don’t get enough sleep or enough socializing do I sink into self-pity and self-absorption and forget Mom’s words and Julian’s.

My brother, too, taught me while we were growing up and when we were young adults. One day after he'd married, he talked to me in his garage and encouraged me to enjoy the present moment and not to always worry about the future. He has been and is a blessing in my life.

I also remember today my Aunt Dorothy who had a satisfying career as a single woman in the mid-twentieth century. She became the model for me. I remember, too, my Great-Aunt Pearl and my Great-Uncle Clarence. Content with their lives, their simplicity spoke to me even when I was a child. They helped me understand that “less is more.”

As to those who educated me, I could mention every teacher’s name here. The two I most remember from grade and high school are 1) Sister Mary Lee, who incited in me a love of poetry, and 2) Sister Mary Edith, who made Latin exciting.

I want to mention three college professors who taught me as much by example as by instruction: 1) Sister John Marie: Her teaching ability influenced me when I, too, became a teacher. 2) Sister Juanita: Ancient Greece enthralled her. She passed that on to me and I’m writing a novel about Bronze-Age Greece. 3) Sister Jeannette: Her generosity of spirit filled me with awe.

I was fortunate also in the women and men who taught me in grad school. Professor Sibley stands out because he stressed ways to look for the peace-filled possibilities to every situation.
Now to all those who befriended me during my life. I am so fortunate in my friends but I want to mention one especially—Yvette. She saw me through the eighteen terrorizing months of my progressive and intractable Meniere’s Disease. We spoke each day so that she could be sure I hadn’t fallen and injured myself. In a real way, she kept me alive.

I am grateful to all those who raised me, taught me, and befriended me in the past. They helped me become who I am today: a contented woman with a passion for writing and a spirit filled with gratitude for the wonder of all of you who have touched my life with goodness. And . . . a woman who is deeply grateful for the unconditional love of cats with whom she has lived.


Sunday, December 17, 2017


This is my third posting on the gratitude I am feeling during the season of Advent. This gratitude gives me hope that all shall be well in my life because all has been well. I can look back over a long life and see that all has worked out to good. For that I am deeply grateful . . . and hopeful for the future.

Today I want to list the many inventions and services that have helped me adjust to my compromised vision and health. I find myself grateful to inventors and those with creative minds who come up with ideas that make my life easier. So let’s begin.
  •  Magnifying glasses that I can put over a recipe page so as to see the difference between a ½, a 1/3, and a ¼ teaspoon of baking powder, salt, soda, or vanilla.
  •  A city that offers an exceptionally inexpensive van service that comes right to my home so as to take me to doctor appointments, restaurants, or stores. This service lessens much of the stress of no longer being able to drive. The loss of independence demands a real adjustment of attitude and this service makes me feel less dependent.
  • My iPad that lets me adjust type size and spacing for e-book reading.
  • A fine library system that offers a plethora of e-books. It also offers “Books-by-Mail” for those of us who cannot easily get to the local library.  Through this service I can order books, CDs, and DVDs from the library. Then what I’ve ordered is delivered through the mail, coming in my post box in a green canvas bag. I send everything back in the same bag simply by putting it in my mail box. There is no charge for this service, and I pay nothing for return postage. This is truly a meaningful way to use our tax dollars.
  •  Glaucoma drops that help keep my pressure in the safe zone.
  • Eye lubricants that keep my eyes from getting dry. (Dry eyes can damage the optic nerves; my left nerve is already severely damaged, thus blurring my vision.)
  • My house has no steps and thus my astigmatism doesn’t “trip” me up. (Glasses no longer help my astigmatism.)
  • Canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. I do not use the first two items yet, but being able, when I fly any airline, to use a wheelchair—provided by the airport—alleviates the stress of travel.
  •  Chairs. This may seem like a strange invention for this list, but I have severe arthritis in my lower back so standing for any length of time—say 10 minutes—can cause deep aching. Wrapping my Christmas gifts this year while sitting, instead of my usual standing, made such a difference to how I felt by the time the last gift was under the tree.
  • A four-foot-permanent/artificial tree that sits on my card table so I can easily decorate it. No bending, no stretching up to the seven-foot tree top of the past.
  • A sturdy, wide, two-step Rubbermaid® stepstool that enables me—even with the occasional light-headedness of Meniere’s Disease—to get kitchen items down from the top of the pantry shelf.
  • The handrails in my shower and bathroom that help with both the problems that come with compromised vision and Meniere’s vertigo.
  • Pillows that support my lumbar area when I sit.
  • The stove timer that I set nine times a day for the drops I take for my eyes.
  • The movable timer that I set for ½ hour whenever I’m sitting at the computer. The neurosurgeon doesn’t want me to sit for longer than that without getting up and walking around

Well, this list is not exhaustive, but it does represent many of the wonderful helps I have that make my life much less stressful. I can count on these inventions. They please me mightily.

Next Sunday, Christmas Eve Day, I hope to express my gratitude for all the many family members and friends and strangers who help me navigate these years of my life. They are true blessings.

I wonder what inventions or services or creative ideas you are grateful for. I’d love to read your lists!

Peace in this season of hope and expectation.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


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.