Monday, May 25, 2015

Being Free, What A Glorious Feeling!

On this Memorial Day in 2015, take a minute or two and contemplate the notion of being 'free.' Whenever I hear the word, I automatically image being on the wings of an eagle, soaring high above the earth. The air is so pure up here, the view is absolutely amazing so much so that it takes my breath away. While gliding from cloud to cloud, I think I hear the melodic voices of angels. There are million of spirits that have been released from their bodies passing by. Their weighless abandon is refreshing. I find myself wishing that I, too, could be set free from my bodily constraints.

Then returning home from my 'freedom flight,' my thoughts turn to the men and women who fought so valiantly for our country, and gave their lives to let 'freedom ring.'  These folks were firm believers in that what they were doing mattered, not just for the resolution of the war-at-hand, but for the years and years of peace that would follow, allowing not only their families, but all families in the U.S. to live without threat or fear of retaliation. Their sacrifice made it possible for all of us to grow and prosper. Because they gave their lives, we continue to be free to get an education, secure a meaningful career, start a family, choose when to retire, and live in peace and harmony until our own spirts are set free.

About five years ago, the husband of a dear friend of mine died. Gene had served in Vietnam. Many of his wartime buddies attended his funeral. As we gathered at the burial place to say one last good-bye, the veterans stood in the back of the group, with heads lowered and tears in their eyes. After placing a rose on the coffin, my legs guided me to the line of service men. My heart was filled with such admiration for warriors I'd never met, yet felt bound to with unbreakable ties. As I thanked them for their unselfish heroics, each one looked at me but said nothing. No words were needed because their faces conveyed that no matter how much they suffered, they fought so that you and I could be free. The only thing I managed was to hug these brave souls and cry with them.

We owe our veterans of war everything, not just a yearly parade or a flag placed at their gravesites. To those who are still with us, they are entitled to the respect and admiration of a nation. They deserve the best medical care available, a comfortable place to call home, and a job worthy of their time and talent. To those who have passed, they are also entitled to our respect and admiration. They deserve to be interred in a place of honor, their families provided for, and their memory never forgotten.

We are free, able to soar, able to experience that which leaves us breathless, able to hear the voices of angels, able to look forward to the day our spirits will be set free.

What a glorious feeling, being free! Show your gratitude today and everyday to those who made our freedom possible.

Monday, May 18, 2015

With Plants and Newborns, There Are No Guarantees!

The planting season is in full swing, and I've definitely hitched my wagon to it again.  The three hostas my sister-in-law gave me are now enjoying the rick soil under the plum tree. The petunias, geraniums, and those spiky things are bordering the shrubs in front of the house. Since two of my heather bushes were severely damaged over the winter, they need to be replaced. I haven't decided whether to subplant them with dwarf hydrangeas or mimi shrubs. Most likely it will be the hydrangeas, but I could change my mind at the last minute.

The thing about planting is that although your heart is in the right place, you never know exactly what the outcome will be. Digging the hole twice the size of the base, filling it with water, adding nutritional soil, and making sure the plant is lowered to the specified mark should result in lush growth, an abundance of healthy greenery, and a cascade of beautiful flowers. Right?

Well, over the last forty years, my outcomes have been varied to say the least. Many times, after fulfilling all the requirements, I've been rewarded with lush growth, healthy greenery, and beautiful flowers. But, more than I care to admit, after having done everything that is outlined on the planting instructions card, my efforts have resulted in straggly growth, yellowish leaves, and a few deformed buds.

Why I ask myself that if I've followed procedures to the T each and every time, are the end results so uncertain? I know there are many factors that are out of my control. For instance, BUGS! One of my hydrangea bushes was absolutely gorgeous last spring, while the other's leaves began curling as soon as they appeared. By the time I noticed what was happening, most of the foliage had been destroyed. My husband decided spraying vinegar on it would revive its growth, but only served to add to the poor plant's health problems. In the end, flowers of pink adorned the first bush, while brown, brittle lifeless leaves withered on the second one and produced nada in the way of floral beauties.

Another deciding factor of how well plants do is the amount of water they receive on a weekly basis. Most instructions call for watering every other day. It is usually advised that application should be at the base of the plant rather than on its leaves. Whatever the specifics are, I'm on it. Yet when the plants fail to thrive, I'm told that either I watered too much, or too little. Sometimes you just can't win no matter what you do!

Success in raising plants is comparable to raising children. You can read all the books in the world, take care of yourself throughout your pregnancy, give birth in a fine facility at the hands of a well-qualified obstetrician, prepare a nursery fit for a king or queen, breast feed or bottle feed with the best available formula, and devise a schedule resulting in long naps and a full night's sleep.

You would think that with all that preparation, your baby would be a dream come true from the get-go. Well think again! Some infants will be exactly that, an absolute pleasure. But, for most of them, their nights will be days and their days will be nights. Feeding will be spotty at best since your baby will fall asleep at exactly the same time the nipple or bottle is presented. The moment you head for the nursery to place him or her in the crib, their eyes and mouth will pop open at the same time. You will repeat this process again and again hoping for a positive outcome, but nine times out of ten, you'll be disappointed. The schedule you've carefully devised may as well be burned at the stake since that's about all it's good for right now.

Will this unruly being ever become the healthy, flowering human you've planned for? In time you'll begin to see promising buds indicative of growth and development. Don't get me wrong though, there will be times when his or her strides will be short-lived, regressing to former negative behavior. Their adherence to schedule will be spotty. Showering them with all the hugs and kisses in the world might have little to no effect on them for a while.

But there is no need for despair. As months pass, as long as you've checked for bugs, and made sure your hubby didn't accidental fill the bottles with vinegar instead of formula, your new addition to the family will become the most beautiful rose in your garden. I promise!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dreams Really Do Come True!

In 1954 when I was ten years old, I asked my mother if I could play the trumpet. Mom let out a resounding 'no' because back then 'girls didn't play the trumpet' according to her. But I loved the sounds of the brass horn, and the way I felt when hearing its strong, piercing, pleading voice. In the end, I chose the accordion, but dropped it after a year. The 'squeeze box' was no match for the trumpet as far as I was concerned.

My one and only granddaughter, Brenna, is a third grader at a private school in Cleveland, Ohio. In fourth grade, every student is required to choose an instrument and play it for two years. Afterwards they can elect to pick another one, join the choir, or opt out of the music program altogether. About a month ago, Brenna called to say she'd made her choice for next year, it was the trumpet. And when she begins her lessons, she'll be ten! Funny how what goes around comes around, wouldn't you say?

Yesterday was Mother's Day. Since I was visiting two of my children and their families in the South last week, I was gifted with dinner, flowers, and great company early. So naturally I wasn't expecting much on the actual day, but boy was I surprised! Hubby and I went to eleven o'clock Mass, sat in our usual back seat and visited with the folks that have also claimed the back seat as their own, and awaited the beginning of the service. As the priest and servers paraded down the aisle, the amazing sound of trumpets filled the church. Two teenage girls proudly stood to the side of the altar, calling all in attendance to celebrate the Eucharist. My heart leapt for joy realizing that girls do play the trumpet, and eloquently I might add.

The sisters (I found out) accompanied the choir in every song throughout the service, and just when I didn't think things could get any better, it did! Towards the end of Mass as we sat in meditation, one of the girls stepped to the front and again raised the brass horn to her lips. The entire congregation was mesmerized as 'Ave Maria' floated over, around, and through us. I'd never heard my favorite religious song done on my favorite musical instrument before. It was a magical moment for me, one I will never forget for so many reasons. As tears filled my eyes, I returned to the day I'd pleaded with my mother for a chance to play the trumpet and whispered, 'yes, mom, girls do play the trumpet!' It wasn't that I wanted to be right, because in those days a girl playing a brass instrument was rare, but I was celebrating the fact that we'd come such a long way since then. Having these two teens masterfully sounding the trumpet gave testament to the power of change no matter how many years go by before that change happens.

Perhaps this experience can be trumped, pun intended, when my one and only granddaughter, Brenna, will be standing tall in front of the altar, playing Ave Maria on the trumpet with her Grammy in the back seat beaming with pride and knowing sometimes it takes a while, but dreams really do come true!