They weren’t really in my room but, oh my I could feel them staring at me.
“Ah, stop whining. You’re a tough old broad. Get up.”
Privately I stuck my tongue out at them, laughed and did as I was told.
“Ok, ok I am up.”
This morning’s seven are part of a much larger group of resilient role models in my life. I admire them all. I think the seven who showed up today, though, did so because I needed their tough kindness. They face life with a variety of challenges and so could I.
“Dawn” was the one who rolled her eyes at me this morning, tossing cowboy boots for me to put on. Dawn raises horses, goats and other assorted creatures while coping with serious medical issues. I suspect she’s an Annie Oakley clone. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her riding down main street standing on a horse,twirling a shotgun. She kind of scares the crud out of me when I am not smiling with love.
“Karl” and “Dena” are one of my favorite couples.They packed up their old life to take full-time care of Dena’s dad who has Alzheimer. I never hear them complain about her dad though his disease has changed him and them. Instead they talk about the tender or quirky things he does now.
“Tina” is the one on the left. She gets along with everybody. She ignores their oddities. No, that’s not quite right. She delights in their oddities and encourages people to see themselves as wonderfully unique . . . bad hip and all.
Four of my morning visitors have lost a child. You need to have a core of toughness to keep living after your child has died. You need the balance of kindness to live well. All four have that balance.
“Tom’s” daughter died of a brain tumor 10 years ago. Tom knows the sorrow of anniversaries and the passing years. He ponders things like his daughter would be in college or married or traveling had she lived. Tom could have given up many times over but he hasn’t. He celebrates his daughter’s life each year with his family, sometimes at the beach with dozens of bright, colorful balloons. He lives with the loss but LIVES.
“Jessica’s” son died a few years ago. I watched her with admiration as she wandered with increasing purpose through the “land of after” a child dies. She created a scholarship in honor of her son so his memory would give wings to other people’s dreams of education. I have seen her help families and children through her work and focus on her own family history, sharing delightful old photos.
I am not sure if she realizes how much her attitude and grace helped me when one of my son’s died. Her attitude helped me this morning too when my whole world seemed like an aching, pathetic, hopeless hip.
“Karla” lost a daughter and a son. We have not met in person, only through an online site for parents who have lost children. She posts pictures and thoughts about their life and despite the sorrow she must face, gets up each day.
“Jamie” lost one of her sons recently. She probably wonders how she will live with her grief but she will manage and do it well. That is who Jamie has always been. She has to be one of the sweetest, most tender women I know. Knowing she is so new in the Land of After, I could not stay in bed feeling sorry for myself.
Tonight my hip still hurts and I try not to anticipate the tossing and turning that has become part of my sleep routine for weeks now. It won’t last long. I have hip replacement surgery in a few weeks. In the meantime I find myself chuckling at the idea of who will arrive to get me out of bed tomorrow.
ABOUT THE BOWLING PIN PEOPLE DRAWINGS
I started drawing bowling pin shaped people after my first husband Bruce died. I looked around me and found there were many people who were not letting life bowl them over. I began doodling as I watched them across streets, in meetings, sitting in cafes. Their faces and especially their eyes drew me in.
I have drawn more than 400 bowling pin people since then and take pleasure in revisiting their images.